Jeremiah 9:26
Egypt, and Judah, and Edom, and the children of Ammon, and Moab, and all that are in the utmost corners, that dwell in the wilderness: for all these nations are uncircumcised, and all the house of Israel are uncircumcised in the heart.
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(26) Egypt, and Judah . . .—The nations enumerated were all alike, the Egyptians certainly (Herod. ii. 36, 37), and the others, as belonging to the same race as Judah, probably, in the fact of circumcision, and are apparently brought together not without some touch of scornful humour. How could Israel pride itself in that which it had in common with some of the nations that it most abhorred. The later Idumaeans seem to have abandoned the practice till it was forced upon them by John Hyrcanus (Joseph., Ant. xi. 9, 15:7). Jerome (in loc.) affirms that the nations named practised circumcision in his time, and its adoption by Islam indicates its prevalence among the Arabs in that of Mahomet.

All that are in the utmost corners.—Better, all that have the corners (of their temples) shorn. The epithet, like our “cross-eared” or “round-head,” was obviously one of scorn, and was applied (as again in Jeremiah 25:23; Jeremiah 49:32) to a wild Arabian tribe who, as described by Herodotus (3:8), shaved their temples and let their hair grow long behind. The “wilderness” is the Arabian desert to the east of Palestine, inhabited by the Ishmaelites and other kindred races. As if to complete the contempt which he pours on circumcision, the prophet speaks of the barbarous people, whose customs were specially forbidden to Israel (Leviticus 19:27), as in this respect standing on the same level with Israel. If circumcision by itself were enough to secure immunity from judgment, they too, as practising a rite analogous though not identical, might claim it.

All these nations are uncircumcised.—The English Version makes the prophet say exactly the opposite of what he really said. All the heathen (not “these nations”) are in God’s sight as uncircumcised, whether they practise the outward rite or not—and the state of Israel was not a whit better than theirs, for she too was uncircumcised in heart. Once again Jeremiah is the forerunner of St. Paul’s Romans 2:25-29. It may be noted that the same nations are enumerated afterwards as coming under Nebuchadnezzar’s conquests (Jeremiah 25:23).

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 that are in the utmost corners - Really, all who have the corners of their hair shorn. The people meant are those Arabs who cut the hair close upon the forehead and temples, but let it grow long behind. See Leviticus 19:27.

For all these nations are uncircumcised - Or, "for all the pagan are uncircumcised." circumcision probably prevailed partially in the pagan mysteries as a sign of special sanctity, but to the Jews alone it represented their covenant-relation to God.

26. Egypt—put first to degrade Judah, who, though in privileges above the Gentiles, by unfaithfulness sank below them. Egypt, too, was the power in which the Jews were so prone to trust, and by whose instigation they, as well as the other peoples specified, revolted from Babylon.

in the utmost corners—rather, "having the hair shaven (or clipped) in angles," that is, having the beard on the cheek narrowed or cut: a Canaanitish custom, forbidden to the Israelites (Le 19:27; 21:5). The Arabs are hereby referred to (compare Jer 25:23; 49:32), as the words in apposition show, "that dwell in the wilderness."

uncircumcised … uncircumcised in the heart—The addition of "in the heart" in Israel's case marks its greater guilt in proportion to its greater privileges, as compared with the rest.

In the utmost corners: some refer this to the place of their habitation, as in corners, and remote parts of the wilderness, as it were separated from other nations, and therefore might think themselves furthest remote from danger; but some rather choose to refer it to their manners, as in cutting the corners of their hair, which was forbidden the Jews, Leviticus 19:27. The like description in Jeremiah 25:23.

Uncircumcised in the heart: see the foregoing verse. God regards not the outward sign, but principally respects the circumcision of the heart. Here ends that sermon that began at Jer. vii. Egypt, and Judah, and Edom, and the children of Ammon, and Moab,.... Places and people among which the Jews were dispersed, and whose punishment is predicted in Jeremiah chapters forty six through forty nine, and whose countries are now under the dominion of the Turks: (h).

and all that are in the utmost corners, that dwell in the wilderness; who dwelt in the desert of Arabia; these, according to Kimchi, were the Kedarenes, and the kingdoms of Hazor, a people that dwelt in the utmost corners, whom Nebuchadnezzar smote, as Jeremiah foretold, Jeremiah 49:28. Jarchi's note is,

"them that are cut off in a corner of the wilderness;''

that live by themselves, and have no communication with other people; were at the greatest distance, and secure; dwelt alone, and had neither gates nor bars, as is said of the same people, Jeremiah 49:31. The Septuagint version is, "upon everyone that shaves what is about his face, that dwells in the wilderness"; and so the Syriac and Arabic versions; to which agrees the Targum,

"upon all that round the corners of the head, that dwell in habitations in the wilderness,''

The Arabians used to shave the extreme hairs of the head round about, as the forehead, temples, and behind the ears, which are the corners of the head; so Herodotus (i) reports of them, who seem to be meant here; though some think the Jews are intended, to whom this was forbidden, Leviticus 19:27,

for all these nations are uncircumcised; in the flesh; though they were not punished on this account, because it was not commanded them, as Kimchi observes; but is mentioned to show that the Jews were no better than they, though circumcised, and that they should be punished together:

and all the house of Israel are uncircumcised in the heart; had not the circumcision made without hands; or were not circumcised in heart, to love the Lord, fear and serve him; the foreskin of their flesh taken off availed not so long as that on their heart remained, and they were stupid, impenitent, and disobedient.

(h) Written about 1750. Editor. (i) In Thalia, vel l. 3. c. 8.

Egypt, and Judah, and Edom, and the children of Ammon, and Moab, and all that are in the utmost corners, that dwell in the wilderness: for all these nations are uncircumcised, and all the house of Israel are uncircumcised in the heart.
Verse 26. - All that are in the utmost corners; rather, all that are corner-clipped; i.e. that have the hair cut off about the ears and temples. Herodotus tells us, speaking of the Arabs, "Their practice is to cut the hair in a ring, away from the temples" (3:8); and among the representatives of various nations, colored figures of whom are given in the tomb of Rameses III., we find some with a square place shaved just above the temples. The hair below this shaven place was allowed to grow long, and then plaited into a leek. It is to such customs that Jeremiah alludes here and in Jeremiah 25:23; Jeremiah 49:32. A prohibition is directed against them in the Levitical Law (Leviticus 19:27; Leviticus 21:5). For all these nations are uncircumcised; rather, all the nations, etc. Another obscure expression. Does it mean (taken together with the following clause), "The Gentile peoples are uncircumcised in the flesh, and the people of Israel is equally so in heart?" But this does not agree with facts (see above, on Ver. 25). It is safer, therefore, to assume that "uncircumcised" is equivalent to "circumcised in uncircumcision" (Ver. 25). The next clause will then simply give the most conspicuous instance of this unspiritual obedience to a mere form.

Death comes in through (in at) the windows, not because the doors are to be thought of as barricaded (Hitz.), but as a thief in the night, i.e., suddenly, in an unexpected way. Perhaps Jeremiah was here thinking of Joel 2:9. And comes into the palaces, i.e., spares no house, but carries off high and low. The second clause is not to be very closely joined with the first, thus: Death comes into the houses and palaces, to sweep the children from off the streets; this would be self-contradictory. We must rather repeat "comes" from the first clause: He comes to sweep off the streets the child at play. That is: In the houses and palaces, as upon the streets and highways, he will seize his prey.
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