Jeremiah 9:5
And they will deceive every one his neighbor, and will not speak the truth: they have taught their tongue to speak lies, and weary themselves to commit iniquity.
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(5) Deceive.—The word is commonly translated, as in the margin, mock. (So in 1Kings 18:27; Judges 16:10; Judges 16:13; Judges 16:15.) The context here shows, however, that the kind of mockery is that which at once deludes and derides; and as the former meaning is predominant, the text of the English version had better stand as it is.

To commit iniquity.—Literally, to go crookedly, or, in the strict sense of the word, to do wrong.

9:1-11 Jeremiah wept much, yet wished he could weep more, that he might rouse the people to a due sense of the hand of God. But even the desert, without communion with God, through Christ Jesus, and the influences of the Holy Spirit, must be a place for temptation and evil; while, with these blessings, we may live in holiness in crowded cities. The people accustomed their tongues to lies. So false were they, that a brother could not be trusted. In trading and bargaining they said any thing for their own advantage, though they knew it to be false. But God marked their sin. Where no knowledge of God is, what good can be expected? He has many ways of turning a fruitful land into barrenness for the wickedness of those that dwell therein.In a state of such utter lawlessness, the bonds of mutual confidence are relaxed, and suspicion takes its place.

Utterly supplant - An allusion to the name of Jacob Genesis 27:36. It might be rendered, "every brother is a thorough Jacob."

Will walk with slanders - Or, slandereth.

5. weary themselves—are at laborious pains to act perversely [Maurer]. Sin is a hard bondage (Hab 2:13). They will deceive, Heb. mock, or deride; they are scoffers. They have taught their tongue to speak lies; they have so framed their tongues to it by custom and constant use, that lying is become so familiar to them that they cannot leave it. The same word is applied to the wild ass, used or taught to the wilderness, Jeremiah 2:24 13:23.

Weary themselves to commit iniquity; they use a great deal of industry, diligence, and contrivance in it, Psalm 7:14 Isaiah 5:18. They spare for no labour and feel no weariness in it, whereby they are become expert. And they will deceive everyone his neighbour,.... In conversation, with lying words; and in trade and commerce, by art and tricking:

and will not speak the truth; with respect to facts they report, or goods they sell:

they have taught their tongue to speak lies; and become so accustomed to lying that they cannot do otherwise; it is as it were natural to them:

and weary themselves to commit iniquity; spared no pains to come at it, nor any in it, and go on even to weariness; are more laborious and indefatigable in committing sin than good men are in doing good; which shows great folly and stupidity. The Targum is,

"they are become foolish, they have erred.''

And they will deceive every one his neighbour, and will not speak the truth: they {f} have taught their tongue to speak lies, and weary themselves to commit iniquity.

(f) They have so practised deceit, that they cannot forsake it.

5. Here, and in Jeremiah 9:4, the verbs had best be rendered by present tenses.

deceive] better (as mg.) mock.

5, 6. The MT. has apparently suffered some corruption. The LXX yield a fairly good sense. Dividing the four consonants of the Hebrew word rendered “thine habitation,” so as to end Jeremiah 9:5 with the first two, which thus yield the meaning of turn, and then taking the second pair, which will thus mean oppression (as in Psalm 10:7; Psalm 55:11), they render the whole “they committed iniquity and Ceased not to turn aside. (Jeremiah 9:6) Oppression on oppression and deceit on deceit, etc.,” the latter pair of identical words suggesting the parallel preceding. As Gi. points out, this does not obviate the objection that the verb rendered “weary themselves” always elsewhere (e.g. Isaiah 16:12; Isaiah 47:13) means to do so to no purpose, which is unsuitable here. Hence, and for other reasons, he rejects Jeremiah 9:4-5.Verse 5. - They have taught their tongue, etc.; again an intimation of the unnaturalness (in the higher sense) of vice (comp. on Jeremiah 2:33). The hopeless case of the people and kingdom moves the seer so deeply, that he bursts forth with the cry: For the breaking of my people I am broken (the Hoph. השׁבּרתּי, of the breaking of the heart, only here; in this sig. usu. the Niph., e.g., Jeremiah 38:7. Horror hath taken hold on me, is stronger than: Anguish hath taken hold on me, Jeremiah 6:24, Micah 4:9. Help is nowhere to be found. This thought is in Jeremiah 8:22 clothed in the question: Is there no balm in Gilead, or no physician there? "There" points back to Gilead. Graf's remark, that "it is not known that the physicians were got from that quarter," shows nothing more than that its author has mistaken the figurative force of the words. צרי, balsam, is mentioned in Genesis 37:25 as an article of commerce carried by Midianite merchants to Egypt (cf. Ezekiel 27:17), but is hardly the real balsam from Mecca (amyris opobalsamum), which during the Roman sovereignty was grown under culture in the gardens of Jericho, and which only succeeds in a climate little short of tropical. It was more likely the resina of the ancients, a gum procured from the terebinth or mastic tree (lentiscus, σχῖνος), which, acc. to Plin. h. nat. xxiv. 22, was held in esteem as a medicament for wounds (resolvitur resina ad vulnerum usus et malagmata oleo). Acc. to our passage and Jeremiah 46:11, cf. Genesis 37:25, it was procured chiefly from Gilead; cf. Movers, Phniz. ii. 3, S. 220ff., and the remarks on Genesis 37:25. To these questions a negative answer is given. From this we explain the introduction of a further question with כּי: if there were balm in Gilead, and a physician there, then a plaister would have been laid on the daughter of my people, which is not the case. As to עלתה , lit., a plaister comes upon, see on Jeremiah 30:17.
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