Jeremiah 7:22
For I spoke not to your fathers, nor commanded them in the day that I brought them out of the land of Egypt, concerning burnt offerings or sacrifices:
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(22) I spake not . . . concerning burnt offerings or sacrifices.—“Concerning” is, literally, for, or with a view to, the matter of sacrifices. The words seem at first hard to reconcile with the multiplied rules as to sacrifices both in Exodus and Leviticus. They are, however, rightly understood, strictly in harmony with the facts. They were not the end contemplated. The first promulgation of the Law, the basis of the covenant with Israel, contemplated a spiritual, ethical religion, of which the basis was found in the ten great Words, or commandments, of Exodus 20. The ritual in connection with sacrifice was prescribed partly as a concession to the feeling which showed itself, in its evil form, in the worship of the golden calf, partly as an education. The book of Deuteronomy, representing the higher truth from which Moses started (Exodus 19:5), and upon which he at last fell back, bore its witness to the original purport of the Law (Deuteronomy 6:3; Deuteronomy 10:12). Its re-discovery under Josiah left, here as elsewhere, its impress on the mind of Jeremiah; but prophets, as in 1Samuel 15:22; Hosea 6:6; Hosea 8:11-13; Amos 5:21-27; Micah 6:6-8; Psalms 50, 51, had all along borne a like witness, even while recognising to the full the fact and the importance of a sacrificial ritual.

7:21-28 God shows that obedience was required of them. That which God commanded was, Hearken diligently to the voice of the Lord thy God. The promise is very encouraging. Let God's will be your rule, and his favour shall be your happiness. God was displeased with disobedience. We understand the gospel as little as the Jews understood the law, if we think that even the sacrifice of Christ lessens our obligation to obey.The meaning is, Increase your sacrifices as you will. Acid burnt-offering to peace-offerings. All is in vain as long as you neglect the indispensable requirements of obedience and moral purity. Eat flesh is equivalent to sacrifice. The flesh of animals offered in sacrifice was usually eaten by the offerers, and this meal was regarded as a symbol of reconciliation. God and man partook of the same victim, and so were made friends. This passage Jeremiah 7:21-28 is the Haphtarah (lesson) from the prophets, after the Parashah, Leviticus 6-8, or Lesson from the Law. The selection of such a Haphtarah shows that the Jews thoroughly understood that their sacrifices were not the end of the Law, but a means for spiritual instruction. 22. Not contradicting the divine obligation of the legal sacrifices. But, "I did not require sacrifices, unless combined with moral obedience" (Ps 50:8; 51:16, 17). The superior claim of the moral above the positive precepts of the law was marked by the ten commandments having been delivered first, and by the two tables of stone being deposited alone in the ark (De 5:6). The negative in Hebrew often supplies the want of the comparative: not excluding the thing denied, but only implying the prior claim of the thing set in opposition to it (Ho 6:6). "I will have mercy, and not sacrifice" (1Sa 15:22). Love to God is the supreme end, external observances only means towards that end. "The mere sacrifice was not so much what I commanded, as the sincere submission to My will gives to the sacrifice all its virtue" [Magee, Atonement, Note 57]. Some would argue from hence that sacrifices were at first an invention of men, as papists and Socinians; and because they should not be used to idols, God gave way for the introducing them into his worship; but it is evident in Scripture that they have been of Divine institution ever since Adam, Genesis 4:3,4. As to the meaning of the words, God doth not condemn them, or deny them, save only comparatively in respect of obedience, not so much these as obeying his commands, 1 Samuel 15:22 Hosea 6:6, i.e. mercy rather than sacrifice. Negatives are often put for comparatives, Genesis 45:8 Exodus 16:8 John 5:45. Hence the Hebrew is, the matter of burnt-offerings; for sacrifices were not instituted for themselves, but for other uses, and to be signs of faith in his promises, and obedience to his commands, as in the next verse, where the condition, promise, and end are all set down. For I spake not unto your fathers,.... Meaning not Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, but Moses, Aaron, and others, who were living at the time of the bringing of the children of Israel out of Egypt, as appears by what follows:

nor commanded them in the day that I brought them out of the land of Egypt, concerning burnt offerings, or sacrifices; these are not in the decalogue or ten commands; these are no part of that law or covenant, but are an appendage or addition to it; and though they are of early institution and use, yet they never were appointed for the sake of themselves, but for another end; they were types of Christ, and were designed to lead the faith of the people of God to him; they never were intended as proper expiations of sin, and much less to cover and encourage immorality; whenever therefore they were offered up in a hypocritical manner, and without faith in Christ, and in order to atone for sinful actions, without any regard to the sacrifice of Christ, they were an abomination to the Lord. These were not the only things the Lord commanded the children of Israel; nor the chief and principal ones; and in comparison of others, of more consequence and moment, were as none at all; and which are next mentioned.

For {k} I spoke not to your fathers, nor commanded them in the day that I brought them out of the land of Egypt, concerning burnt offerings or sacrifices:

(k) Showing that it was not his chief purpose and intent, that they should offer sacrifices, but that they should regard, why they were ordained: that is, to be joined to the word as seals and confirmations of remissions of sins in Christ: for without the word they were vain and unprofitable.

22. The passage is of the highest importance in its bearing on the epochs at which the different parts of the Pentateuch were severally composed. It is now held to be made up from elements of very diverse dates. Careful examination has shewn that in Jeremiah’s day the “Priestly Code” (P) which emphasizes and elaborates the sacrificial ritual had not been added to the earlier constituents (J and E). It is true indeed that those earlier constituents are not devoid of reference to sacrifice (see Exodus 23:14-19), nor is Deut. either (e.g. Jeremiah 12:5 ff., Jeremiah 16:1 ff.), but (in Peake’s words) “there is a very marked difference between the attitude of the earlier Codes and the Priestly Legislation. In the latter the ritual system is of very high importance, and sacrifice fills a prominent place, in the former sacrifice holds a relatively insignificant position.” See further on Jeremiah 8:8 as to Jeremiah’s view.

In general it may be said that obedience to the moral law always ranked first (cp. Jeremiah 11:4), and sacrifices were, as is here taught, wholly worthless when offered by the immoral. Moreover, the “outward ceremonial of sacrifice is discounted, in view of the danger of dependence on it” (Buchanan Blake, How to read the Prophets, Part I. p. 222). For the relation between prophecy and the ritual law, see further in C. B. Introd. to the Pentateuch, pp. 174–181. The Jews (it may be added) read in their services this portion of the prophets as the Haph tarah (2nd Lesson) in connexion with Leviticus 6-8. (as 1st Lesson), thus supporting the view that sacrifices are but secondary. Cp. for the sentiment of the Jeremiah 7 :1 Samuel 15:22; Isaiah 1:11 ff.; Hosea 6:6; Amos 5:22 ff.; Micah 6:6 ff.

in the day] i.e. at the period of their history.Verse 22. - I spake not unto your fathers, etc. An important and much-disputed passage, from which Graf, Colenso, and Kuenen derive one of their chief subsidiary arguments for the post-Exile date of the Levitical legislation. The prophet here appears to deny in tote that Jehovah at Mount Sinai had given any injunctions on the subject of sacrifice. But the prophet must at any rate be consistent with himself; he cannot utter anything by Divine command which is fundamentally at variance with other equally authoritative declarations. Do the statements of Jeremiah elsewhere justify us in accepting the words in their literal, superficial meaning? There are three other passages which have a claim to be considered. In Jeremiah 17:26 the prophet draws a picture of the happy condition in which the Jews might be, were they only obedient. One of the features of this picture is that the Jews would still bring all the various kinds of sacrifices to the house of Jehovah. In Jeremiah 31:14 a similar description is closed with the promise to "satiate the soul of the priests with fatness," implying that there would be a great abundance of thank offerings in regenerate Israel. In Jeremiah 33:11, among other blessings of the future, the prophet mentions the praiseful exclamations of those who would bring the sacrifice of thanksgiving. These passages do not contain any statement respecting the origin of the sacrificial system; but they do expressly assert that Jehovah contemplates that system with pleasure, and apparently that he designs it to be permanent among his people Israel. Let us now turn to Jeremiah 33:17-24. Here the prophet, in the Name of Jehovah, declares that there is a Divine covenant "with the Levites, the priests," who shall never "want a man before me... to do sacrifice continually." A covenant with the priests implies a covenant with the people, the priests being the representatives of the people. This passage, therefore, is more distinct than those previously quoted; it does appear to maintain that the range of the Sinaitic covenant included the duties of the priesthood, i.e. sacrifices. On the other hand, it should be observed that the genuineness of this latter passage is not beyond dispute, the whole section in which it occurs (Jeremiah 33:14-26) being omitted in the Septuagint. We have now to inquire, Is there a real discrepancy between the words of Jeremiah (strictly speaking, of Jehovah) in the verse now before us, interpreted literally, and the passages adduced above? Are they more inconsistent than such an utterance as Jeremiah 6:20 (first half of verse), which appears to deny the utility of sacrifices altogether? If the latter may be explained as a forcible oratorical exaggeration, why not also the present passage? Jeremiah sees the people attaching a pernicious importance to the opus operatum of sacrifice. On one occasion he tells them that Jehovah cares not for sacrifices; he means, as the context shows, the sacrifices of men without spiritual sensibilities. On another, that Jehovah never commanded their fathers to sacrifice; he means (may we not presume?) the mere outward forms of the ritual, divorced from the sentiment and practice of piety, which, as Hosea tells us (Hosea 6:6), Jehovah "delights in and not [equivalent to 'more than'] sacrifice." There is, therefore, no fundamental inconsistency between the passage before us and the three passages first quoted, and if so there can be no real discrepancy with the last-mentioned passage, for the priests (as was remarked) perform their functions on behalf of the people, and the permanence of Jehovah's covenant with the priests depended on the spiritual life of the people they represented (read Jeremiah 33, as a whole). This view seems less arbitrary than that of Ewald, who thinks that the sacrifices spoken of in our passage are merely the free-will offerings of the rich; and than that of Dahler, who interprets, "My chief care was not to prescribe rules for holocausts and sacrifices, but this is what I commanded thee above all," viz. moral obedience. According to it, the prophet's denial is not absolute, but relative - relative, that is, to the notion of sacrifices entertained by the Jews whom he addresses. Of course, Graf's view, that the denial is absolute, will equally well suit the context. The people were surprised at Jeremiah's objurgations, because they thought they had fulfilled the claims of the covenant. Jeremiah's purpose is equally well fulfilled whether his denial is qualified or unqualified, absolute or relative. Our object has been to separate the exegesis of our passage from a still doubtful controversy, and to offer a tenable view of it, based upon grounds purely internal to Jeremiah. It may be suggested, however, to the student of Leviticus, that even if the Levitical legislation in its present form were proved to be of a pest-Exile date, it would still be doubtful whether any believing temple-worshipper could help assuming that Jehovah had, from the first existence of the nation, given his direct sanction to the offering of sacrifices. If so, it is comparatively unimportant (except with regard to the progressive revelation of the strictness of the law of truth) whether the Levitical code was given to Moses at Mount Sinai in its present form or not. This punishment will be turned aside, neither by intercession, because the people re2fuses to give up its idolatry, nor by sacrifice, which God desires not, because for long they have turned to Him the back and not the face, and have not hearkened to His words. - Jeremiah 7:16. "But thou, pray not for this people, and lift not up for them cry and prayer; and urge me not, for I do not hear thee. Jeremiah 7:17. Seest thou not what they do in the cities of Judah, and in the streets of Jerusalem? Jeremiah 7:18. The sons gather sticks, and the fathers kindle the fire, and the women knead dough, to make cakes for the Queen of heaven, and to pour out drink-offerings unto other gods, to provoke me. Jeremiah 7:19. Provoke they me, saith Jahveh, not themselves, to the shaming of their face? Jeremiah 7:20. Therefore thus saith the Lord Jahveh, Behold, mine anger and my fury shall be poured out on this place, upon man, upon beast, upon the trees of the field, and upon the fruit of the ground; and shall burn, and not be quenched. Jeremiah 7:21. Thus saith Jahveh of hosts, the God of Israel: Your burnt-offerings add to your slain-offerings, and eat flesh. Jeremiah 7:22. For I spake not with your fathers, nor commanded them in the day that I brought them out of the land of Egypt, concerning the matters of burnt-offering or slain-offering. Jeremiah 7:23. But this word commanded I them, saying, Hearken to my voice, and I will be your God, and ye shall be my people; and walk in the way which I command you, that it may be well with you. Jeremiah 7:24. But they hearkened not, nor inclined their ear, and walked in the counsels, in the stubbornness of their evil heart, and turned to me the back, and not the face. Jeremiah 7:25. Since the day that your fathers went forth of the land of Egypt until this day, I sent to you all my servants the prophets, daily from early morn sending them; Jeremiah 7:26. But they hearkened not to me, nor inclined their ear, and were stiffnecked, and did worse than their fathers. Jeremiah 7:27. And though thou speakest all these words unto them, yet will they not hearken unto thee; and though thou callest unto them, yet will they not answer thee. Jeremiah 7:28. Thus speak to them: This is the people that hearken not unto the voice of Jahveh its God, and that receive not correction. Perished is faithfulness, cut off from their mouth."

The purport of Jeremiah 7:16, that God will not suffer Himself to be moved by any entreaties to revoke the doom pronounced on the wicked people, is expressed by way of a command from God to the prophet not to pray for the people. That Jeremiah did sometimes pray thus, however, we see from Jeremiah 14:19. (cf. Jeremiah 18:20), when to his prayer the same answer is given as we have here, and all intercession for the corrupt race is characterized as in vain. The second clause: lift not up for them crying, i.e., supplicatory prayer, expresses the same, only more strongly; while the third clause: urge me not, cuts off all hope of success from even the most importunate intercession. The reason for this command to desist is shown in Jeremiah 7:17, by a reference to the idolatry which was openly practised throughout the land by young and old, men and women. Each takes part according to strength and capacity: the sons gather wood together, the fathers set the fire in order, etc. The deity so zealously worshipped by the people is called the Queen of heaven, and is mentioned only by Jeremiah. Besides here, there is reference to her in Jeremiah 44:17, where we see that her worship was very diligently cultivated, and that she was adored as the bestower of earthly possessions. (מלכת is stat. constr., either from the Chald. form מלך, or from מליכה, after the analogy of גּברת, st. constr. of גּבירה; but perhaps it has מלכת in stat. abs.) This worship was combined with that of the stars, the host of heaven, which especially prevailed under Manasseh (2 Kings 21:5). Thence it may be presumed that the Queen of heaven was one of the deities who came to Western Asia with the Assyrians, and that she corresponds to the Assyrian-Persian Tanais and Artemis, who in the course of time took the place once occupied by the closely related Phoenician Astarte. She is originally a deification of the moon, the Assyrian Selene and Virgo caelestis, who, as supreme female deity, was companion to Baal-Moloch as sun-god; cf. Movers, Phnizier, i. S. 623ff. With this accords the statement of Steph. Byz., that σελήνη is also πήπανον τι τῷ ἄστρω παραπλήσιον. The offerings which, acc. to this verse and Jeremiah 44:19, were brought to her, are called כּוּנים, a word which would appear to have come to the Hebrews along with the foreign cultus. By the lxx it was Grecized into χαυῶνας, for which we find in glossators and codd. καυῶνας and χαβῶνας. They were, acc. to the Etymol. magn. and Suidas, ἄρτοι ἐλαίῳ ἀναφυραθέντες or λάχανα ὄπτα (? cooked vegetables); acc. to Jerome, χαυῶνας, quas nos placentas interpretati sumus. In any case, they were some kind of sacrificial cakes, which Vitr. put alongside of the πόπανα of Aristophanes and Lucian; cf. the various interpretations in Schleussner, Lexic. in lxx s.v. χαυών. These cakes were kindled on the altar (cf. מקטּרים, Jeremiah 44:19) as a kind of Minchah (meat-offering), and with this Minchah a libation or drink-offering (נסכים) was combined. הסּך corresponds to לעשׂות, so that ל has to be repeated; cf. Jeremiah 44:19, Jeremiah 44:25, where we find libations poured out to the Queen of heaven. In the 18th verse the expression is generalized into "other gods," with reference to the fact that the service of the Queen of heaven was but one kind of idolatry along with others, since other strange gods were worshipped by sacrifices and libations. To provoke me; cf. Deuteronomy 31:29; Deuteronomy 32:16, etc.

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