Jeremiah 8:3
And death shall be chosen rather than life by all the residue of them that remain of this evil family, which remain in all the places where I have driven them, said the LORD of hosts.
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(3) The residue of them that remain.—Once more the emphasis of re-iteration, “the remnant of a remnant.” The “evil family” is the whole house of Israel, but the words contemplate specially the exile of Judah and Benjamin, rather than that of the ten tribes.

Jeremiah 8:3. And death shall be chosen rather than life — Not through a lively and well-grounded hope of happiness in another life, but through an utter despair of any ease in this life. It denotes the extremity of misery, when men have no comfort left wherewith to alleviate their calamities, or render their lives tolerable. This appears by the next words to be spoken chiefly of the miseries which those should suffer who should survive the siege, and either flee or be carried captive into divers countries.8:1-3 Though no real hurt can be done to a dead body, yet disgrace to the remains of wicked persons may alarm those yet alive; and this reminds us that the Divine justice and punishments extend beyond the grave. Whatever befalls us here, let us humble ourselves before God, and seek his mercy.This evil family - The whole Jewish race.

Which remain - The words are omitted by the Septuagint and Syriac versions.

3. The survivors shall be still worse off than the dead (Job 3:21, 22; Re 9:6).

which remain in all the places—"in all places of them that remain, whither I … that is, in all places whither I have driven them that remain [Maurer].

And death shall be chosen rather than life; a description of the unexpressibleness of their misery, that notwithstanding all the barbarism of the Babylonians exercised both upon the bring and the dead, yet a small matter in comparison of what the living would feel, of the greatness of which misery there was a double cause; not only their being led into captivity, but God’s displeasure following them, even in their banishment, being sorely oppressed; one of those threatenings Leviticus 26:36,39: see Job 3:20,21 Kings 9:6. Which remain in all the places whither I have driven them; some dispersed among the mountains and hiding-places of Judea, others in the desert of Moab and Idumea, whither they fled for fear of the Chaldeans, and all other places where God would scatter them; an hypallage.

The Lord of hosts, he that hath all the creatures as an army at his command, can do this against those with whom he is displeased. And death shall be chosen rather than life,.... By them that should be alive in those times, who would be carried captive into other lands, and be used very hardly, and suffer greatly, by the nations among whom they should dwell; see Revelation 9:6. The Septuagint version, and those that follow it, make this to be a reason of the former, reading the words thus, "because they have chosen death rather than life"; see Deuteronomy 30:19, but the other sense is best, which is confirmed by what follows:

by all the residue of them that remain of this evil family; the nation of the Jews, become very corrupt and degenerate; so the people of Israel are called the whole family of Israel, Amos 3:1, now it is foretold, that those which remained of that people, who died not by famine, or were not slain by the sword, yet should be in such a miserable condition, as that death would be more eligible to them than life:

even which remain in all the places whither I have driven them, saith the Lord of hosts: for, though they were carried captive by men, yet the thing was of the Lord, and a just punishment upon them for their sins.

And death shall be chosen {b} rather than life by all the remnant of them that remain of this evil family, who remain in all the places where I have driven them, saith the LORD of hosts.

(b) Because of the afflictions that they will feel through God's judgments.

3. The thoughts correspond closely with Leviticus 26:36 ff.; Deuteronomy 28:65 ff.

family] See on Jeremiah 3:14.

which remain] repeated in MT. by the error of a copyist.Verse 3. - Which remain. The words are certainly to be omitted in the second place where they occur. In the Hebrew they stand after in all the places, and the word for "places" is feminine, whereas the participle, "the remaining," is masculine. The Septuagint and Peshito have nothing corresponding. There is a clerical error in the Hebrew. Therefore the Lord has rejected the backsliding people, so that it shall perish shamefully. - Jeremiah 7:29. "Cut off thy diadem (daughter of Zion), and cast it away, and lift up a lamentation on the bald peaked mountains; for the Lord hath rejected and cast out the generation of His wrath. Jeremiah 7:30. For the sons of Judah have done the evil in mine eyes, saith Jahveh, have put their abominations in the house on which my name is named, to pollute it; Jeremiah 7:31. And have built the high places of Tophet, which is in the valley of Benhinnom, to burn their sons and daughters in the fire; which I have not commanded, neither came it into my heart. Jeremiah 7:32. Therefore, behold, the days come, saith Jahveh, that they shall no longer say, Tophet and Valley of Benhinnom, but, The valley of slaughter; and they shall bury in Tophet for want of room. Jeremiah 7:33. And the carcases of this people shall be meat for the fowls of heaven and the beasts of the earth, with no one to fray them away. Jeremiah 7:34. And I make to cease out of the cities of Judah and from the streets of Jerusalem, the voice of mirth and the voice of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom and the voice of the bride; for a waste shall the land become. Jeremiah 8:1. At that time, saith Jahveh, they shall bring out the bones of the kings of Judah and the bones of his princes, the bones of the priests and the bones of the prophets, and the bones of the inhabitants of Jerusalem, out of their graves. Jeremiah 8:2. And they shall spread them before the sun, and the moon, and all the host of heaven, which they have loved, and which they have served, after which they have walked, and which they have sought and worshipped: they shall not be gathered nor buried; for dung upon the face of the earth shall they be. Jeremiah 8:3. And death shall be chosen rather than life by all the residue which is left of this evil race, in all the places whither I have driven them that are left, saith Jahveh of hosts."

In these verses the judgment of Jeremiah 7:20 is depicted in all its horror, and the description is introduced by a call upon Zion to mourn and lament for the evil awaiting Jerusalem and the whole land. It is not any particular woman that is addressed in Jeremiah 7:29, but the daughter of Zion (cf. Jeremiah 6:23), i.e., the capital city personified as a woman, as the mother of the whole people. Cut off נזרך, thy diadem. There can be no doubt that we are by this to understand the hair of the woman; but the current opinion, that the words simply and directly means the hair, is without foundation. It means crown, originally the diadem of the high priest, Exodus 29:6; and the transference of the same word to the hair of the head is explained by the practice of the Nazarites, to wear the hair uncut as a mark of consecration to the Lord, Numbers 6:5. The hair of the Nazarite is called in Numbers 6:7 the consecration (נזר) of his God upon his head, as was the anointing oil on the head of the high priest, Leviticus 21:12. In this sense the long hair of the daughter of Zion is called her diadem, to mark her out as a virgin consecrated to the Lord. Cutting off this hair is not only in token of mourning, as in Job 1:20; Micah 1:16, but in token of the loss of the consecrated character. The Nazarite, defiled by the sudden occurrence of death near to his person, was bound to cut off his long hair, because by this defilement his consecrated hair had been defiled; and just so must the daughter of Zion cut off her hair and cast it from her, because by her sins she had defiled herself, and must be held as unconsecrate. Venema and Ros. object to this reference of the idea to the consecrated hair of the Nazarite: quod huc non quadrat, nec in faeminis adeo suetum erat; but this objection is grounded on defective apprehension of the meaning of the Nazarite's vow, and on misunderstanding of the figurative style here employed. The allusion to the Nazarite order, for the purpose of representing the daughter of Zion as a virgin consecrated to the Lord, does not imply that the Nazarite vow was very common amongst women. Deprived of her holy ornament, Zion is to set up a lament upon bare hill-tops (cf. Jeremiah 3:21), since the Lord has rejected or cast out (Jeremiah 7:30) the generation that has drawn His wrath down on it, because they have set idols in the temple in which He has revealed His glory, to profane it. The abominations are the image of Asherah which Manasseh set up in the temple, and the altars he had built to the host of heaven in both the courts (2 Kings 21:5, 2 Kings 21:7). Besides the desecration of the temple of the Lord by idolatry, Jeremiah mentions in Jeremiah 7:31, as an especially offensive abomination, the worship of Moloch practised in the valley of Benhinnom. Here children were burnt to this deity, to whom Manasseh had sacrificed his son, 2 Kings 21:6. The expression "high altars of Tophet" is singular. In the parallel passages, where Jeremiah repeats the same subject, Jeremiah 19:5 and Jeremiah 32:35, we find mentioned instead high altars of Baal; and on this ground, Hitz. and Graf hold התפת in our verse to be a contemptuous name for Baal Moloch. תּפת is not derived from the Persian; nor is it true that, as Hitz. asserts, it does not occur till after the beginning of the Assyrian period, since we have it in Job 17:6. It is formed from תּוּף, to spit out, like נפת from נוּף; and means properly a spitting out, then that before or on which one spits (as in Job 17:6), object of deepest abhorrence. It is transferred to the worship of Moloch here and Jeremiah 19:6, Jeremiah 19:13., and in 2 Kings 23:10. In the latter passage the word is unquestionably used for the place in the valley of Benhinnom where children were offered to Moloch. So in Jeremiah 19:6, Jeremiah 19:13 (the place of Tophet), and Jeremiah 19:14; and so also, without a doubt, in Jeremiah 7:32 of the present chapter. There is no valid reason for departing from this well-ascertained local signification; "high altars of the Tophet" may perfectly well be the high altars of the place of abominable sacrifices. With the article the word means the ill-famed seat of the Moloch-worship, situated in the valley of Ben or Bne Hinnom, to the south of Jerusalem. Hinnom is nomen propr. of a man of whom we know nothing else, and בּן( בּני הנּום) is not an appellative: son of sobbing, as Hitz., Graf, Bttcher explain (after Rashi), rendering the phrase by "Valley of the weepers," or "of groaning, sobbing," with reference to the cries of the children slain there for sacrifices. For the name Ben-hinnom is much older than the Moloch-worship, introduced first by Ahaz and Manasseh. We find it in Joshua 15:8; Joshua 18:16, in the topographical account of the boundaries of the tribes of Judah and Benjamin. As to Moloch-worship, see on Leviticus 18:21 and Ezekiel 16:20. At the restoration of the public worship of Jahveh, Josiah had extirpated Moloch-worship, and had caused the place of the sacrifice of abominations in the valley of Ben-hinnom to be defiled (2 Kings 23:20); so that it is hardly probable that it had been again restored immediately after Josiah's death, at the beginning of Jehoiakim's reign. Nor does the present passage imply this; for Jer. is not speaking of the forms of idolatry at that time in favour with the Jews, but of the abominations they had done. That he had Manasseh's doings especially in view, we may gather from Jeremiah 15:4, where the coming calamities are expressly declared to be the punishment for Manasseh's sins. Neither is it come into my heart, i.e., into my mind, goes to strengthen: which I have not commanded.

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