Jeremiah 8
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
At that time, saith the LORD, they shall bring out the bones of the kings of Judah, and the bones of his princes, and the bones of the priests, and the bones of the prophets, and the bones of the inhabitants of Jerusalem, out of their graves:

Jer 8:1-22. The Jew's Coming Punishment; Their Universal and Incurable Impenitence.

1. The victorious Babylonians were about to violate the sanctuaries of the dead in search of plunder; for ornaments, treasures, and insignia of royalty were usually buried with kings. Or rather, their purpose was to do the greatest dishonor to the dead (Isa 14:19).

And they shall spread them before the sun, and the moon, and all the host of heaven, whom they have loved, and whom they have served, and after whom they have walked, and whom they have sought, and whom they have worshipped: they shall not be gathered, nor be buried; they shall be for dung upon the face of the earth.
2. spread … before the sun, &c.—retribution in kind. The very objects which received their idolatries shall unconcernedly witness their dishonor.

loved … served … after … walked … sought … worshipped—Words are accumulated, as if enough could not be said fully to express the mad fervor of their idolatry to the heavenly host (2Ki 23:5).

nor … buried—(Jer 22:19).

dung—(Jer 9:22; Ps 83:10).

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 whither I have driven them, saith the LORD of hosts.
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].

Moreover thou shalt say unto them, Thus saith the LORD; Shall they fall, and not arise? shall he turn away, and not return?
4. "Is it not a natural instinct, that if one falls, he rises again; if one turns away (that is, wanders from the way), he will return to the point from which he wandered? Why then does not Jerusalem do so?" He plays on the double sense of return; literal and metaphorical (Jer 3:12; 4:1).
Why then is this people of Jerusalem slidden back by a perpetual backsliding? they hold fast deceit, they refuse to return.
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).

I hearkened and heard, but they spake not aright: no man repented him of his wickedness, saying, What have I done? every one turned to his course, as the horse rusheth into the battle.
6. spake not aright—that is, not so as penitently to confess that they acted wrong. Compare what follows.

every one … his course—The Keri reads "course," but the Chetib, "courses." "They persevere in the courses whatever they have once entered on." Their wicked ways were diversified.

horse rusheth—literally, "pours himself forth," as water that has burst its embankment. The mad rapidity of the war horse is the point of comparison (Job 39:19-25).

Yea, the stork in the heaven knoweth her appointed times; and the turtle and the crane and the swallow observe the time of their coming; but my people know not the judgment of the LORD.
7. The instinct of the migratory birds leads them with unfailing regularity to return every spring from their winter abodes in summer climes (So 2:12); but God's people will not return to Him even when the winter of His wrath is past, and He invites them back to the spring of His favor.

in the heaven—emphatical. The birds whose very element is the air, in which they are never at rest, yet show a steady sagacity, which God's people do not.

times—namely, of migrating, and of returning.

my people—This honorable title aggravates the unnatural perversity of the Jews towards their God.

know not, &c.—(Jer 5:4, 5; Isa 1:3).

How do ye say, We are wise, and the law of the LORD is with us? Lo, certainly in vain made he it; the pen of the scribes is in vain.
8. law … with us—(Ro 2:17). Possessing the law, on which they prided themselves, the Jews might have become the wisest of nations; but by their neglecting its precepts, the law became given "in vain," as far as they were concerned.

scribes—copyists. "In vain" copies were multiplied. Maurer translates, "The false pen of the scribes hath converted it [the law] into a lie." See Margin, which agrees with Vulgate.

The wise men are ashamed, they are dismayed and taken: lo, they have rejected the word of the LORD; and what wisdom is in them?
9. dismayed—confounded.

what wisdom—literally, "the wisdom of what?" that is, "wisdom in what respect?" the Word of the Lord being the only true source of wisdom (Ps 119:98-100; Pr 1:7; 9:10).

Therefore will I give their wives unto others, and their fields to them that shall inherit them: for every one from the least even unto the greatest is given to covetousness, from the prophet even unto the priest every one dealeth falsely.
10-12. Repeated from Jer 6:12-15. See a similar repetition, Jer 8:15; Jer 14:19.

inherit—succeed to the possession of them.

For they have healed the hurt of the daughter of my people slightly, saying, Peace, peace; when there is no peace.
11. (Eze 13:10).
Were they ashamed when they had committed abomination? nay, they were not at all ashamed, neither could they blush: therefore shall they fall among them that fall: in the time of their visitation they shall be cast down, saith the LORD.
I will surely consume them, saith the LORD: there shall be no grapes on the vine, nor figs on the fig tree, and the leaf shall fade; and the things that I have given them shall pass away from them.
13. surely consume—literally, "gathering I will gather," or "consuming I will consume."

no grapes … nor figs—(Joe 1:7; Mt 21:19).

things that I have given … shall pass away—rather, "I will appoint to them those who shall overwhelm (pass over) them," that is, I will send the enemy upon them [Maurer]. English Version accords well with the context; Though their grapes and figs ripen, they shall not be allowed to enjoy them.

Why do we sit still? assemble yourselves, and let us enter into the defenced cities, and let us be silent there: for the LORD our God hath put us to silence, and given us water of gall to drink, because we have sinned against the LORD.
14. assemble—for defense.

let us be silent—not assault the enemy, but merely defend ourselves in quiet, until the storm blow over.

put us to silence—brought us to that state that we can no longer resist the foe; implying silent despair.

water of gall—literally, "water of the poisonous plant," perhaps the poppy (Jer 9:15; 23:15).

We looked for peace, but no good came; and for a time of health, and behold trouble!
15. Repeated (Jer 14:19).

We looked for—owing to the expectations held out by the false prophets.

health—healing; that is, restoration from adversity.

The snorting of his horses was heard from Dan: the whole land trembled at the sound of the neighing of his strong ones; for they are come, and have devoured the land, and all that is in it; the city, and those that dwell therein.
16. his horses—the Chaldean's.

was heard—the prophetical past for the future.

from Dan—bordering on Ph´┐Żnicia. This was to be Nebuchadnezzar's route in invading Israel; the cavalry in advance of the infantry would scour the country.

strong ones—a poetical phrase for steeds, peculiar to Jeremiah (Jer 47:3; compare Jer 4:13, 29; 6:23).

For, behold, I will send serpents, cockatrices, among you, which will not be charmed, and they shall bite you, saith the LORD.
17. I—Jehovah.

cockatrices—basilisks (Isa 11:8), that is, enemies whose destructive power no means, by persuasion or otherwise, can counteract. Serpent-charmers in the East entice serpents by music, and by a particular pressure on the neck render them incapable of darting (Ps 58:4, 5).

When I would comfort myself against sorrow, my heart is faint in me.
18. (Isa 22:4). The lamentation of the prophet for the impending calamity of his country.

against sorrow—or, with respect to sorrow. Maurer translates, "Oh, my exhilaration as to sorrow!" that is, "Oh, that exhilaration ('comfort', from an Arabic root, to shine as the rising sun) would shine upon me as to my sorrow!"

in me—within me.

Behold the voice of the cry of the daughter of my people because of them that dwell in a far country: Is not the LORD in Zion? is not her king in her? Why have they provoked me to anger with their graven images, and with strange vanities?
19. The prophet in vision hears the cry of the exiled Jews, wondering that God should have delivered them up to the enemy, seeing that He is Zion's king, dwelling in her (Mic 3:11). In the latter half of the verse God replies that their own idolatry, not want of faithfulness on His part, is the cause.

because of them that dwell in a far country—rather, "from a land of distances," that is, a distant land (Isa 39:3). English Version understands the cry to be of the Jews in their own land, because of the enemy coming from their far-off country.

strange vanities—foreign gods.

The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved.
20. Proverbial. Meaning: One season of hope after another has passed, but the looked-for deliverance never came, and now all hope is gone.
For the hurt of the daughter of my people am I hurt; I am black; astonishment hath taken hold on me.
21. black—sad in visage with grief (Joe 2:6).
Is there no balm in Gilead; is there no physician there? why then is not the health of the daughter of my people recovered?
22. balm—balsam; to be applied to the wounds of my people. Brought into Judea first from Arabia Felix, by the queen of Sheba, in Solomon's time [Josephus, Antiquities, 8.2]. The opobalsamum of Pliny; or else [Bochart] the resin drawn from the terebinth. It abounded in Gilead, east of Jordan, where, in consequence, many "physicians" established themselves (Jer 46:11; 51:8; Ge 37:25; 43:11).

health … recovered—The Hebrew is literally, "lengthening out … gone up"; hence, the long bandage applied to bind up a wound. So the Arabic also [Gesenius].

A Commentary, Critical, Practical, and Explanatory on the Old and New Testaments by Robert Jamieson, A. R. Fausset and David Brown [1882]

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