Commentary Critical and Explanatory
on the Whole Bible
The the Septuagint omits the first four verses, but other
Greek versions have them.
1. The first of the four clauses relates to the third, the second to
the fourth, by alternate parallelism. The sense is: They are as keen
after idols as if their propensity was "graven with an iron pen
on their hearts," or as if it were sanctioned by a law "inscribed with
a diamond point" on their altars. The names of their gods used to be
written on "the horns of the altars"
As the clause "on their hearts" refers to their inward
propensity, so "on . . . altars," the outward
exhibition of it. Others refer "on the horns of . . . altars"
to their staining them with the blood of victims, in imitation of the
Le 4:7, 18),
but "written . . . graven," would thus be inappropriate.
table of . . . heart--which God intended to be inscribed very
differently, namely, with His truths
your--Though "their" preceded, He directly addresses them to charge
the guilt home to them in particular.
2. children remember--Instead of forsaking the idolatries of their
fathers, they keep them up
This is given as proof that their sin is "graven upon . . .
that is, is not merely temporary. They corrupt their posterity after
them. CASTALIO less probably translates, "They
remember their altars as (fondly as) they do their children."
groves--rather, "images of Astarte," the goddess of the heavenly
hosts, represented as a sacred tree, such as is seen in the Assyrian
"Image of the grove." The Hebrew for "grove" is Asherah,
that is, Assarak, Astarte, or Ashtaroth.
by the green trees--that is, near them: the sacred trees (idol
symbols) of Astarte being placed in the midst of natural trees: "green
trees" is thus distinguished from "groves," artificial trees.
HENDERSON, to avoid taking the same Hebrew particle in the same
sentence differently, "by . . . upon" translates "images of Astarte
on the green trees." But it is not probable that images, in the form
of a sacred tree, should be hung on trees, rather than near them.
3. mountain--Jerusalem, and especially Zion and the temple.
in the field--As Jerusalem was surrounded by mountains
the sense probably is, Ye rely on your mountainous position
but I will make "My mountain" to become as if it were in a plain
(field), so as to give thy substance an easy prey to the enemy [CALVIN]. "Field" may, however, mean all Judea; it
and "My mountain" will thus express the country and its capital.
(GESENIUS translates, "together with," instead of
"in"; as the Hebrew is translated in
but this is not absolutely needed), "the substance" of both of which
God "will give to the spoil."
thy high places--corresponding in parallelism to "My mountain"
as "all thy borders," to "the field" (which confirms the view that
"field" means all Judea).
for sin--connected with high places" in English Version, namely,
frequented for sin, that is, for idolatrous sacrifices. But
makes the rendering probable, "I will give thy substance
. . . to . . . spoil . . . on account
of thy sin throughout all thy borders."
4. even thyself--rather, "owing to thyself," that is, by thy own
discontinue from--be dispossessed of. Not only thy substance, but
thyself shall be carried off to a strange land
5. Referring to the Jews' proneness to rely on Egypt, in its fear of
Assyria and Babylon
(Isa 31:1, 3).
trusteth--This word is emphatic. We may expect help from men, so far
as God enables them to help us, but we must rest our trust in God alone
the Hebrew is translated, "bare," "naked," "destitute"; but as
the parallel in
is "tree," some plant must be meant of which this is the characteristic
Margin), "a naked tree." ROBINSON
translates, "the juniper tree," found in the Arabah or Great Valley,
here called "the desert," south of the Dead Sea. The "heath" was one of
the plants, according to PLINY (13.21; 16.26),
excluded from religious uses, because it has neither fruit nor seed,
and is neither sown nor planted.
not see . . . good--
Jeremiah first removed the weeds (false trusts), so that there might be
room for the good grain [CALVIN].
shall not see--that is, feel. Answering to
whereas the unbelievers "shall not see (even) when good cometh,"
the believer "shall not see (so as to be overwhelmed by it even) when
heat (fiery trial) cometh." Trials shall come upon him as on all, nay,
upon him especially
but he shall not sink under them, because the Lord is his secret
strength, just as the "roots spread out by a river" (or,
"water-course") draw hidden support from it
careful--anxious, as one desponding
drought--literally, "withholding," namely, of rain
he here probably alludes to the drought which had prevailed, but makes
it the type of all kinds of distress.
9. deceitful--from a root, "supplanting," "tripping up insidiously
by the heel," from which Jacob
took his name. In speaking of the Jews' deceit of heart, he
appropriately uses a term alluding to their forefather, whose deceit,
but not whose faith, they followed. His "supplanting" was in
order to obtain Jehovah's blessing. They plant Jehovah for "trust in
and then think to deceive God, as if it could escape His notice,
that it is in man, not in Him, they trust.
Trust in one's own heart is as foolish as in our fellow man
10. Lest any should infer from
"who can know it?" that even the Lord does not know, and
therefore cannot punish, the hidden treachery of the heart, He says, "I
the Lord search the heart," &c.
even to give--and that in order that I may give
Hebrew, korea, from a root, "to call," alluding to its cry; a
name still applied to a bustard by the Arabs. Its nest is liable, being
on the ground, to be trodden under foot, or robbed by carnivorous
animals, notwithstanding all the beautiful manoeuvres of the parent
birds to save the brood. The translation, "sitteth on eggs which it
has not laid," alludes to the ancient notion that she stole the
eggs of other birds and hatched them as her own; and that the young
birds when grown left her for the true mother. It is not needful to
make Scripture allude to an exploded notion, as if it were true.
MAURER thinks the reference is to Jehoiakim's
Probably the sense is more general; as previously He condemned trust in
He now condemns another object of the deceitful hearts' trust,
unjustly gotten riches
(Ps 39:6; 49:16, 17; 55:23).
He himself, and all, shall at last perceive he was not the wise man he
thought he was.
12. throne--the temple of Jerusalem, the throne of Jehovah. Having
condemned false objects of trust, "high places for sin"
and an "arm of flesh," he next sets forth Jehovah, and His
temple, which was ever open to the Jews, as the true object of
confidence, and sanctuary to flee to. HENDERSON
makes Jehovah, in
the subject, and this verse predicate, "A throne of glory, high from
the beginning, the place of our sanctuary, the hope of Israel is
Jehovah." "Throne" is thus used for Him who sits on it; compare
He is called a "sanctuary" to His people
So Syriac and Arabic.
13. me--"Jehovah." Though "Thee" precedes. This sudden transition is
usual in the prophetic style, owing to the prophet's continual
realization of Jehovah's presence.
all that forsake thee--
written in the earth--in the dust, that is, shall be consigned to
oblivion. So Jesus' significant writing "on the ground
(probably the accusers' names)"
Names written in the dust are obliterated by a very slight wind. Their
hopes and celebrity are wholly in the earth, not in the heavenly
book of life
(Re 13:8; 20:12, 15).
The Jews, though boasting that they were the people of God, had no
portion in heaven, no status before God and His angels. Contrast
"written in heaven," that is, in the muster-roll of its blessed
Also, contrast "written in a book," and "in the rock for ever"
(Job 19:23, 24).
14-18. Prayer of the prophet for deliverance from the enemies whom
he excited by his faithful denunciations.
Heal . . . save--not only make me whole (as to
the evils of soul as well as body which I am exposed to by contact with
but keep me so.
my praise--He whom I have to praise for past favors, and therefore
to whom alone I look for the time to come.
15. Where is the word?--
Where is the fulfilment of the threats which thou didst utter as from
God? A characteristic of the last stage of apostasy
16. I have not refused Thy call of me to be a prophet
however painful to me it was to utter what would be sure to irritate the
&c.).; therefore Thou shouldest not forsake me
to follow thee--literally, "after thee"; as an under-pastor following
Thee, the Chief Shepherd
neither . . . desired--I have not wished for the day of calamity,
though I foretell it as about to come on my countrymen; therefore they
have no reason for persecuting me.
thou knowest--I appeal to Thee for the truth of what I assert.
that which came out of my lips--my words
right before thee--rather, "was before Thee"; was
known to Thee--
17. a terror--namely, by deserting me: all I fear is Thine abandoning
me; if Thou art with me, I have no fear of evil from enemies.
18. destroy . . . destruction--"break them with a double breach,"
On "double," see on
19-27. Delivered in the reign of Jehoiakim, who undid the good
effected by Josiah's reformation, especially as to the observance of the
gate of . . . children of . . . people--The
gate next the king's palace, called the gate of David, and
the gate of the people, from its being the principal
thoroughfare: now the Jaffa gate. It is probably the same as "the gate
of the fountain" at the foot of Zion, near which were the king's garden
Ne 2:14; 3:15;
20. kings--He begins with the kings, as they ought to have repressed
such a glaring profanation.
21. Take heed to yourselves--literally, "to your souls."
explains, "as ye love your lives"; a phrase used here to give the
greater weight to the command.
sabbath--The non-observance of it was a chief cause of the captivity,
the number of years of the latter, seventy, being exactly made to agree
with the number of Sabbaths which elapsed during the four hundred ninety
years of their possession of Canaan from Saul to their removal
(Le 26:34, 35;
On the restoration, therefore, stress was especially laid on Sabbath
Jerusalem--It would have been scandalous anywhere; but in the capital,
Jerusalem, it was an open insult to God. Sabbath-hallowing is
intended as a symbol of holiness in general
therefore much stress is laid on it; the Jews' gross impiety is
manifested in their setting God's will at naught, in the case of such
an easy and positive command.
(Jer 7:24, 26).
24. A part put for the whole, "If ye keep the Sabbath and My other
25. kings . . . in chariots--The kingdom at this time had been brought
so low that this promise here was a special favor.
remain--Hebrew, "be inhabited"
26. plain mountains . . . south--
The southern border had extended to the river of Egypt, but was now
much curtailed by Egyptian invasions
(2Ch 35:20; 36:3, 4).
The Hebrew for "south" means dry; the arid desert
south of Judea is meant. The enumeration of all the parts of
Judea, city, country, plain, hill, and desert, implies that no longer
shall there be aught wanting of the integrity of the Jewish land
one constituent of Judea's prosperity is mentioned, namely, its
kings on David's throne, the pledge of God being its guardian;
so in this verse another constituent, namely, its priests, a
pledge of God being propitious to it
27. burden . . . in . . . gates . . . fire in the gates--retribution
answering to the sin. The scene of their sin shall be the scene of their