Jeremiah 9:25
Behold, the days come, said the LORD, that I will punish all them which are circumcised with the uncircumcised;
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(25) I will punish all them which are circumcised with the uncircumcised.—The passage is difficult, but the English verse is misleading. Better, I will punish all those that are circumcised in uncircumcision—all, i.e., who have the outward sign, but not the inward purity of which it was the symbol. In the day of God’s judgments (this being the connecting link with the preceding verse) there would be no difference between the Jew and other races who like him practised circumcision on the one hand, and the outlying heathen world on the other. Here, again, Jeremiah anticipated St. Paul, “To the Jew first, and also to the Gentile; for there is no respect of persons with God” (Romans 2:9). The true circumcision is that which is “in the spirit, not in the letter” (Romans 2:29).

Jeremiah 9:25-26. Behold the days come, &c. — Blaney translates these two verses, “Behold, the days are coming, saith Jehovah, that I will punish all the circumcision with the uncircumcision; Egypt, &c., and all those that have their coast insulated, those that dwell in the wilderness: for all the nations are uncircumcised, and all the house of Israel is uncircumcised in heart.” The Greek word ακροβυσια, which properly means uncircumcision, is several times used by St. Paul for the persons who are uncircumcised, as περιτομη, circumcision, is put for persons circumcised. See Romans 2:26-27; Romans 3:30. Because the Jews valued themselves so much upon their circumcision, God here tells them that, when he should send his judgments abroad into the world, they should find no more favour than those that were not circumcised; and, accordingly, in mentioning the heathen nations whom he would punish, he places Judah among them, because they were, in effect, uncircumcised as well as the heathen, contenting themselves with the outward sign of circumcision in the flesh, without seeking that internal circumcision, which is of the heart and spirit, and the purification and holiness signified thereby. By those that have their coast insulated, as Blaney renders one of the clauses of Jeremiah 9:26, he supposes the Arabians are designed, which he thinks may be fairly concluded from the connection in which the same words. קצוצי פאה, stand with the context, in Jeremiah 49:32. Concerning the precise meaning, however, of these words, he justly observes, “interpreters differ very greatly. Some represent them as signifying persons cut off from other people, by being thrust into a remote corner; in which light the translators of our Bible appear to have considered them, when they rendered them in the text, All that are in the utmost corners, and in the margin, cut off into corners. But all the ancient versions understand them as expressing the peculiar manner in which the Arabians cut the hair of their heads or beards,” expressed also in our marginal reading; which reading, Dr. Durel says, ought doubtless to be received into the text; the Arabs, who are meant, he thinks, by this periphrasis, being accustomed to cut their hair short, particularly about the crown of the head; and in respect to their beards, leaving only a tuft of hair growing about their chins; a practice which was forbidden to the Jews, Leviticus 19:27. But it seems much more probable that the words have a respect to the peninsular form of the country, surrounded on all sides by the sea, excepting only the isthmus to the north; and thus almost insulated, or cut off, from any other land. 9:23-26 In this world of sin and sorrow, ending soon in death and judgement, how foolish for men to glory in their knowledge, health, strength, riches, or in any thing which leaves them under the dominion of sin and the wrath of God! and of which an account must hereafter be rendered; it will but increase their misery. Those are the true Israel who worship God in the Spirit, rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh. Let us prize the distinction which comes from God, and will last for ever. Let us seek it diligently.All them which are circumcised ... - Rather, "all circumcised in uncircumcision," i. e., all who though outwardly circumcised have no corresponding inward purity. 25. with the uncircumcised—rather, "all that are circumcised in uncircumcision" [Henderson]. The Hebrew is an abstract term, not a concrete, as English Version translates, and as the pious "circumcised" is. The nations specified, Egypt, Judah, &c., were outwardly "circumcised," but in heart were "uncircumcised." The heathen nations were defiled, in spite of their literal circumcision, by idolatry. The Jews, with all their glorying in their spiritual privileges, were no better (Jer 4:4; De 10:16; 30:6; Ro 2:28, 29; Col 2:11). However, Eze 31:18; 32:19, may imply that the Egyptians were uncircumcised; and it is uncertain as to the other nations specified whether they were at that early time circumcised. Herodotus says the Egyptians were so; but others think this applies only to the priests and others having a sacred character, not to the mass of the nation; so English Version may be right (Ro 2:28, 29). I will punish, viz. by the Babylonians, all them which are circumcised: q.d. Do not think to insist upon your external privilege of circumcision, that you are Abraham’s natural seed, and thereby distinguished from other nations, as you sometimes were wont to do of the temple, that you had God in the midst of you. Do not think that shall privilege you: for you shall see it shall not be long ere I bring the Chaldeans upon those other nations, which either are circumcised in the flesh as well as you, and upon you also, who are uncircumcised in heart as well as they: or whether circumcision was lost, as being cast off by them, and so they were indeed uncircumcised; God tells them they shall fare alike: hence in the next verse he ranks Judah next to Egypt among the other uncircumcised nations; for he looks to the circumcision of the heart, not of the body; to inward worship, not outward only; therefore some read it the circumcised in uncirumcision. Behold, the days come, saith the Lord,.... Or, "are coming" (h); it seems to respect the time after the Babylonish captivity, when the punishment after threatened took place, and not before:

that I will punish all them that are circumcised with the uncircumcised; Jews and Gentiles together. The circumcised. Jews trusting in their circumcision, and being, as is said in the next verse, uncircumcised in heart, were no better than the uncircumcised Gentiles; wherefore both being transgressors of the law, and despisers of the Gospel of Christ, are threatened with destruction; see Romans 2:12.

(h) "dies sunt venientes", Schmidt, Montanus; "venturi sunt", Junius & Tremellius, Piscator.

Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will punish all them who are {t} circumcised with the uncircumcised;

(t) Meaning, both Jews and Gentiles, as in this next verse he shows the cause, Jer 4:4.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
25, 26. circumcised in their uncircumcision] probably meaning circumcised in body but not in heart. “Judah cannot rely on a rite which she shares with the heathen, indeed the corresponding inward circumcision is as lacking in her as in them,” Pe. See on Jeremiah 4:4. The statements in Jeremiah 9:26 are confirmed as to Egypt by Joshua 5:9 (where “reproach of Egypt” means that the Egyptians would despise them as long as they remained uncircumcised), and by Herod. II. 104. The other nations, as tracing their descent from Abraham, would naturally observe the rite; so too the Arabians, as claiming Ishmael (see Genesis 17:23 ff.) for ancestor. Josephus (Ant. I. xii. 2) also testifies as to these last. The Philistines, on the other hand, are frequently designated contemptuously as uncircumcised (e.g. 1 Samuel 14:6; 1 Samuel 17:26).

that have the corners of their hair polled] i.e. cut off from the temples. See also Jeremiah 25:23, Jeremiah 49:32. According to Herod. (III. 8) it had a religious significance with certain Arab tribes. Hence its prohibition in Leviticus 19:27.

the wilderness] the desert of Arabia, eastward of Palestine.

all the nations are uncircumcised] The true circumcision of the heart is as much lacking with them as with Judah.Verses 25, 26. - A further enforcement of the doctrine that no outward privileges, if dissociated from inward moral vitality, will avail. Verse 25. - All them which are circumcised with the uncircumcised; rather, all the circumcised in uncircumcision, or, as Ewald turns it, "all the uncircumcised-circumcised." But what does this enigmatical expression signify? Hitzig, Graf, and apparently Dr. Payne Smith, think that it has a twofold meaning: that, as applied to the Jews, it means circumcised in the flesh, but not in heart, and, as applied to the heathen, simply uncircumcised (the one-half of the phrase neutralizing the other, like "a knife without the blade," "angels with horns and hoofs," etc.). The latter meaning, however, is surely very improbable, and it would only become necessary if it were proved that circumcision was practiced by none of the nations mentioned but the Jews. This is not the case. There is no doubt that the Egyptians were circumcised in very early times (see the drawing of a bas-relief in the Temple of Chunsu at Karnak, given by Dr. Ebers in his 'Egypten und die Bucher Meets'). The assertion that only the priests underwent the operation has no older evidence than that of Origen (edit. Lommatzsch, 4:138), "in whose time it is quite possible that the Egyptians, like the later Jews, sought to evade a peculiarity which exposed them to ridicule and contempt." As to the Ammonites and Moabites, we have, unfortunately, no information. With regard to the Edomites, it is true that, according to Josephus ('Antiq.,' 13:9, 1), they were compelled to accept circumcision by John Hyrcanus. But it is still quite possible that, at an earlier period, the rite was practiced, just as it was among the ancient Arabs, the evidence for which is beyond question (see the writer's article, "Circumcision," in Encyclopaedia Britannica, 9th edit.). (On the statement that "all these [the] nations are uncircumcised," see below.) Jeremiah 9:18 gives the reason why the mourning women are to be called: Loud lamentation is heard out of Zion. Ew. takes "out of Zion" of the Israelites carried away from their country - a view arbitrary in itself, and incompatible with Jeremiah 9:20. "How are we spoiled!" cf. Jeremiah 4:13; brought utterly to shame, because we have left the land, i.e., have been forced to leave it, and because they (the enemies) have thrown down our dwellings! השׁליך, cast down, overthrow, Job 18:7, cf. Ezekiel 19:12, and of buildings, Daniel 8:11. Kimchi and Hitz., again, take "our dwellings" as subject: our dwellings have cast us out, and appeal to Leviticus 18:25 : The land vomited out its inhabitants. But the figurative style in this passage does not justify us in adopting so unnatural a figure as this, that the dwellings cast out their occupants. Nor could the object be omitted in such a case. The passages, Isaiah 33:9; Micah 2:4, to which Hitz. appeals, are not analogous to the present one. The subject, not expressed, acc. to our view of the passage, is readily suggested by the context and the nature of the case. The "for" in Jeremiah 9:19 gives a second reason for calling the mourning women together. They are to come not only to chant laments for the spoiling of Zion, but that they may train their daughters and other women in the art of dirge-singing, because the number of deaths will be so great that the existing number of mourning women will not be sufficient for the task about to fall on them. This thought is introduced by a command of God, in order to certify that this great harvest of death will without fail be gathered. אזנכם and בּנתיכם have masc. suffixes instead of feminine, the masc. being often thus used as the more general form; cf. Ew. 184, c. In the last clause the verb "teach" is to be supplied from the preceding context.
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