Jeremiah 8:5
Why then is this people of Jerusalem slid back by a perpetual backsliding? they hold fast deceit, they refuse to return.
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(5) Slidden back . . . backsliding.—The English fails to give the full emphasis of the re-iteration of the same word as in the previous verse. Why doth this people of Jerusalem turn away with a perpetual turning? Here, so far, there was no retracing the evil path which they had chosen.

I hearkened and heard.—Jehovah himself is introduced here, as probably in the question of the previous verse, as speaking, listening for cries of penitence, and hearing only the words of the evildoers.

Rusheth.—The word is primarily used of the rushing of a torrent (Isaiah 8:8; Isaiah 10:22; Isaiah 28:17), and is applied to the frantic impetuosity with which Israel was rushing into evil, and therefore into the misery that followed it.

8:4-13 What brought this ruin? 1. The people would not attend to reason; they would not act in the affairs of their souls with common prudence. Sin is backsliding; it is going back from the way that leads to life, to that which leads to destruction. 2. They would not attend to the warning of conscience. They did not take the first step towards repentance: true repentance begins in serious inquiry as to what we have done, from conviction that we have done amiss. 3. They would not attend to the ways of providence, nor understand the voice of God in them, ver. 7. They know not how to improve the seasons of grace, which God affords. Many boast of their religious knowledge, yet, unless taught by the Spirit of God, the instinct of brutes is a more sure guide than their supposed wisdom. 4. They would not attend to the written word. Many enjoy abundance of the means of grace, have Bibles and ministers, but they have them in vain. They will soon be ashamed of their devices. The pretenders to wisdom were the priests and the false prophets. They flattered people in sin, and so flattered them into destruction, silencing their fears and complaints with, All is well. Selfish teachers may promise peace when there is no peace; and thus men encourage each other in committing evil; but in the day of visitation they will have no refuge to flee unto.When men act as in Jeremiah 8:4, why is God's own people alone an exception?

Slidden back ... backsliding - The same words as "turn" and "return" in Jeremiah 8:4. They should be rendered, "Why doth this people of Jerusalem turn away with a perpetual turning?"

Deceit - i. e., idolatry; because men worship in it that which is false, and it is false to the worshippers.

Refuse - From a feeling of dislike.

5. slidden … backsliding—rather, as the Hebrew is the same as in Jer 8:4, to which this verse refers, "turned away with a perpetual turning away."

perpetual—in contrast to the "arise" ("rise again," Jer 8:4).

refuse to return—in contrast to, "shall he … not return" (Jer 8:4; Jer 5:3).

By a perpetual backsliding: either a universal backsliding; or rather, obstinately resolved to hold on, though they see they are out of the way; not out of levity or inconsiderateness. The Hebrew word signifies strength, the same used Psalm 13:1, and translated for ever, implying a strong, stiff, stout refusal. See Isaiah 57:17 Jeremiah 5:3. Deceit: either their injustice and cozenages in circumventing one another, which was so frequent among them, Jeremiah 9:4-6 Micah 7:3,4; or their hypocrisy, whereby they thought to deceive God, but they did indeed deceive themselves; the great impediment of their repentance, Isaiah 44:20; or rather, their sticking close to their false prophets, who did deceive them, thence encouraging themselves in their wickedness, and pleasing themselves that their miseries should not come upon them. See Poole "Isaiah 30:10"; See Poole "Jer v. 31"; See Poole "Jeremiah 14:13", &c. Why then is this people of Jerusalem slidden back by a perpetual backsliding?.... These people fill into sin, and rise not again by repentance; they turn out of the good ways of God and religion, and return not again; they backslide and revolt from the Lord, and they continue in their revolt and rebellion; their backsliding is an everlasting one; there is no hope of their repentance and recovery: it is a vehement and passionate expostulation about the people of the Jews, founded upon the former general observation, showing them to be the worst of all people: it is a common saying, "it is a long lane that has no turning"; but these people, having departed from the Lord, return no more. A very learned man renders the words, "why does Jerusalem turn away this people with an obstinate aversion?" (b) that is, the rulers and governors of Jerusalem, as in Matthew 23:37 or rather thus, "why does a stubborn aversion turn away this people, O Jerusalem?" and so they are an address to the magistrates and inhabitants of Jerusalem.

They hold fast deceit; practise it, and continue in the practice of it, both with God and man:

they refuse to return: to the Lord, to his worship, and to the right ways of holiness and truth, from whence they had erred; see Jeremiah 5:3.

(b) "quare avertit hunc populum Hierosolyma aversione pertinaci? vel quare avertit populum hunc", O Jerusalem, "aversio pertinax?" De Dieu.

Why then is this people of Jerusalem slidden back by a perpetual backsliding? they hold fast deceit, they refuse to return.
5. slidden back … backsliding … return] All three expressions are from the same root; “turn back … backturning … to return.”Verse 5. - Slidden back... backsliding. The verb is the same verb (in another conjugation) as in Ver. 4, and the noun is a derivative from it. The Authorized Version, therefore, has slightly weakened the force of the argument. They hold fast deceit. They cling to a false view of their relation to their God (comp. Jeremiah 4:2; Jeremiah 5:2). Even the number of the dead will be so great that the corpses shall remain unburied, shall become food for beasts of prey, which no one will scare away. This is taken almost literally from Deuteronomy 28:26.
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