Jeremiah 7:27
Therefore you shall speak all these words to them; but they will not listen to you: you shall also call to them; but they will not answer you.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(27) Therefore . . . also.—Better, in both cases, though thou shalt speak, yet they will not hearken; though thou shalt call unto them, yet they will not answer thee.

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.Rather, Though thou ... yet etc. 27. Therefore—rather, "Though thou speak … yet they will not hearken" [Maurer], (Eze 2:7), a trial to the prophet's faith; though he knew his warnings would be unheeded, still he was to give them in obedience to God. Therefore thou shalt speak all these words unto them, viz. revive upon them all that thou hast been speaking to them from me these forty years and upwards. Whereby God shows that there is nothing wanting on his part; for notwithstanding all their perverseness, yet he still warns them by his prophet, which will leave them the more inexcusable, Ezekiel 2:5,7.

But they will not hearken to thee: this must needs be a great trial to the prophet, that he is assured that he shall speak to them in vain. But this God acquaints him with beforehand, partly for Jeremiah’s sake, that he should not be discouraged, but the more emboldened, though he saw no success, Ezekiel 2:7; and partly for the people’s sake, that being foretold of their obstinacy, they might bethink themselves and repent, if yet there might be hope, Lamentations 3:29.

Thou shalt also call unto them, but they will not answer thee: this shows their further refractoriness, that were not only deaf to God’s message by his prophet, but though he cried loud, followed one exhortation with another, yet they would make no return unto it. Therefore thou shalt speak all these words unto them,.... Before mentioned in the chapter; exhortations to duty, dehortations from sin, promises and threatenings:

but they will not hearken to thee: so as to reform from their evil ways, and do the will of God; they will neither be allured by promises, nor awed by menaces:

thou shalt also call unto them; with a loud voice, showing great vehemency and earnestness, being concerned for their good, and knowing the danger they were in:

but they will not answer thee; this the Lord knew, being God omniscient; and therefore, when it came to pass, it would be a confirmation to the prophet of his mission; and being told of it beforehand, was prepared to meet with and expect such a reception from them; so that he would not be discouraged at it; and at the same time it would confirm the character given of this people before.

Therefore thou shalt speak all these words to them; but they {n} will not hearken to thee: thou shalt also call to them; but they will not answer thee.

(n) By which he shows that the pastors should not leave their flocks in their obstinacy, for the Lord will use the means of his servants to make the wicked more faulty and to prove his.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
27, 28. For And thou shalt speak … say unto them, LXX has only And thou shalt say unto them this word, pointing to a probable amplification on the part of MT.Verse 27. - Therefore thou shalt speak etc. rather, and though thou speak... yet will they not, etc.; and though thou call unto them, yet will they not answer thee. The multiplication of burnt and slain offerings will not avert judgment. Your burnt-offerings add to your slain-offerings. In the case of the זבחים, the greater part of the flesh was eaten at the sacrificial meals by those who brought them. Along with these they might put the burnt-offerings, which were wont to be burnt entire upon the altar, and eat them also. The words express indignation at the sacrifices of those who were so wholly alienated from God. God had so little pleasure in their sacrifices, that they might eat of the very burnt-offerings.

To show the reason of what is here said, Jeremiah adds, in Jeremiah 7:22, that God had not commanded their fathers, when He led them out of Egypt, in the matter of burnt and slain offerings, but this word: "Hearken to my voice, and I will be your God," etc. The Keri הוציאי is a true exegesis, acc. to Jeremiah 11:4; Jeremiah 34:13, but is unnecessary; cf. Genesis 24:30; Genesis 25:26, etc. This utterance has been erroneously interpreted by the majority of commentators, and has been misused by modern criticism to make good positions as to the late origin of the Pentateuch. To understand it aright, we must carefully take into consideration not merely the particular terms of the present passage, but the context as well. In the two verses as they stand there is the antithesis: Not על דּברי did God speak and give command to the fathers, when He led them out of Egypt, but commanded the word: Hearken to my voice, etc. The last word immediately suggests Exodus 19:5 : If ye will hearken to my voice, then shall ye be my peculiar treasure out of all peoples; and it points to the beginning of the law-giving, the decalogue, and the fundamental principles of the law of Israel, in Exodus 20-23, made known in order to the conclusion of the covenant in 24, after the arrival at Sinai of the people marching from Egypt. The promise: Then will I be your God, etc., is not given in these precise terms in Exodus 19:5.; but it is found in the account of Moses' call to be the leader of the people in their exodus, Exodus 6:7; and then repeatedly in the promises of covenant blessings, if Israel keep all the commandments of God, Leviticus 26:12; Deuteronomy 26:18. Hence it is clear that Jeremiah had before his mind the taking of the covenant, but did not bind himself closely to the words of Exodus 19:5, adopting his expression from the passages of Leviticus and Deuteronomy which refer to and reaffirm that transaction. If there be still any doubt on this head, it will be removed by the clause: and walk in all the way which I command you this day (והלכתם is a continuation of the imper. שׁמעוּ). The expression: to walk in all the way God has commanded, is so unusual, that it occurs only once besides in the whole Old Testament, viz., Deuteronomy 5:30, after the renewed inculcation of the ten commandments. And they then occur with the addition (למען תּחיוּן וטוב, in which we cannot fail to recognise the למען ייטב לכם of our verse. Hence we assume, without fear of contradiction, that Jeremiah was keeping the giving of the law in view, and specially the promulgation of the fundamental law of the book, namely of the decalogue, which was spoken by God from out of the fire on Sinai, as Moses in Deuteronomy 5:23 repeats with marked emphasis. In this fundamental law we find no prescriptions as to burnt or slain offerings. On this fact many commentators, following Jerome, have laid stress, and suppose the prophet to be speaking of the first act of the law-giving, arguing that the Torah of offering in the Pentateuch was called for first by the worship of the golden calf, after which time God held it to be necessary to give express precepts as to the presenting of offerings, so as to prevent idolatry. But this view does not at all agree with the historical fact. For the worship of the calf was subsequent to the law on the building of the altar on which Israel was to offer burnt and slain offerings, Exodus 20:24; to the institution of the daily morning and evening sacrifice, Exodus 29:38.; and to the regulation as to the place of worship and the consecration of the priests, Exodus 25-31. But besides, any difficulty in our verses is not solved by distinguishing between a first and a second law-giving, since no hint of any such contrast is found in our verse, but is even entirely foreign to the precise terms of it. The antithesis is a different one. The stress in Jeremiah 7:23 lies on: hearken to the voice of the Lord, and on walking in all the way which God commanded to the people at Sinai. "To walk in all the way God commanded" is in substance the same as "not to depart from all the words which I command you this day," as Moses expands his former exhortation in Deuteronomy 28:14, when he is showing the blessings of keeping the covenant. Hearkening to God's voice, and walking in all His commandments, are the conditions under which Jahveh will be a God to the Israelites, and Israel a people to Him, i.e., His peculiar people from out of all the peoples of the earth. This word of God is not only the centre of the act of taking the covenant, but of the whole Sinaitic law-giving; and it is so both with regard to the moral law and to the ceremonial precepts, of which the law of sacrifice constituted the chief part. If yet the words demanding the observance of the whole law be set in opposition to the commandments as to sacrifices, and if it be said that on this latter head God commanded nothing when He led Israel out of Egypt, then it may be replied that the meaning of the words cannot be: God has given no law of sacrifice, and desires no offerings. The sense can only be: When the covenant was entered into, God did not speak על דּברי, i.e., as to the matters of burnt and slain offerings. על דּברי is not identical with דּברי עולה .על־דּבר are words or things that concern burnt and slain offerings; that is, practically, detailed prescriptions regarding sacrifice.

The purport of the two verses is accordingly as follows: When the Lord entered into covenant with Israel at Sinai, He insisted on their hearkening to His voice and walking in all His commandments, as the condition necessary for bringing about the covenant relationship, in which He was to be God to Israel, and Israel a people to Him; but He did not at that time give all the various commandments as to the presenting of sacrifices. Such an intimation neither denies the divine origin of the Torah of sacrifice in Leviticus, nor discredits its character as a part of the Sinaitic legislation.

(Note: After Vatke's example, Hitz. and Graf find in our verses a testimony against the Mosaic origin of the legislation of the Pentateuch as a whole, and they conclude "that at the time of Jeremiah nothing was known of a legislation on sacrifice given by God on Sinai." Here, besides interpreting our verses erroneously, they cannot have taken into account the fact that Jeremiah himself insists on the law of the Sabbath, Jeremiah 17:20.; that amongst the blessings in which Israel will delight in Messianic times yet to come, he accounts the presenting of burnt, slain, and meat offerings, Jeremiah 17:26; Jeremiah 31:14; Jeremiah 33:11, Jeremiah 33:18. It is consequently impossible that, without contradicting himself, Jeremiah could have disallowed the sacrificial worship. The assertion that he did so is wholly incompatible with the fact recorded in 2 Kings 22, the discovery of the book of the law of Moses in the temple, in the eighteenth year of Josiah's reign; and that, too, whether, justly interpreting the passage, we hold the book of the law to be the Pentateuch, or whether, following the view maintained by the majority of modern critics, we take it to be the book of Deuteronomy, which was then for the first time composed and given to the king as Moses' work. For in Deuteronomy also the laws on sacrifice are set forth as a divine institution. Is it credible or conceivable, that in a discourse delivered, as most recent commentators believe, in the beginning of Jehoiakim's reign, Jeremiah should have spoken of the laws on sacrifice as not commanded by God? For in so doing he would have undermined the authority of the book of the law, on which his entire prophetic labours were based.)

All it implies is, that the giving of sacrifices is not the thing of primary importance in the law, is not the central point of the covenant laws, and that so long as the cardinal precepts of the decalogue are freely transgressed, sacrifices neither are desired by God, nor secure covenant blessings for those who present them. That this is what is meant is shown by the connection in which our verse stands. The words: that God did not give command as to sacrifice, refer to the sacrifices brought by a people that recklessly broke all the commandments of the decalogue (Jeremiah 7:9.), in the thought that by means of these sacrifices they were proving themselves to be the covenant people, and that to them as such God was bound to bestow the blessings of His covenant. It is therefore with justice that Oehler, in Herzog's Realencykl. xii. S. 228, says: "In the sense that the righteousness of the people and the continuance of its covenant relationship were maintained by sacrifice as such - in this sense Jahveh did not ordain sacrifices in the Torah." Such a soulless service of sacrifice is repudiated by Samuel in 1 Samuel 15:22, when he says to Saul: Hath Jahveh delight in burnt and slain offerings, as in hearkening to the voice of Jahveh? Behold, to hearken is better than sacrifice, etc. So in Psalm 40:7; Psalm 50:8., Jeremiah 51:18, and Isaiah 1:11., Jeremiah 6:20; Amos 5:22. What is here said differs from these passages only in this: Jeremiah does not simply say that God has no pleasure in such sacrifices, but adds the inference that the Lord does not desire the sacrifices of a people that have fallen away from Him. This Jeremiah gathers from the history of the giving of the law, and from the fact that, when God adopted Israel as His people, He demanded not sacrifices, but their obedience to His word and their walking in His ways. The design of Jeremiah's addition was the more thoroughly to crush all such vain confidence in sacrifices.

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