Commentary Critical and Explanatory
on the Whole Bible
Many of these figurative acts being either not possible, or not
probable, or decorous, seem to have existed only in the mind of the
prophet as part of his inward vision. [So
CALVIN]. The world he moved in
was not the sensible, but the spiritual, world. Inward acts were,
however, when it was possible and proper, materialized by outward
performance, but not always, and necessarily so. The internal act made a
naked statement more impressive and presented the subject when extending
over long portions of space and time more concentrated. The
interruption of Jeremiah's official duty by a journey of more than two
hundred miles twice is not likely to have literally taken place.
1. put it upon thy loins, &c.--expressing the close intimacy
wherewith Jehovah had joined Israel and Judah to Him
linen--implying it was the inner garment next the skin, not the
put it not in water--signifying the moral filth of His people, like
the literal filth of a garment worn constantly next the skin, without
GROTIUS understands a garment not bleached, but
left in its native roughness, just as Judah had no beauty, but was
adopted by the sole grace of God
"Neither wast thou washed in water," &c.
4. Euphrates--In order to support the view that Jeremiah's act was
outward, HENDERSON considers that the Hebrew Phrath here is
Ephratha, the original name of Beth-lehem, six miles south of
Jerusalem, a journey easy to be made by Jeremiah. The non-addition of
the word "river," which usually precedes Phrath, when meaning
Euphrates, favors this view. But I prefer English Version. The
Euphrates is specified as being near Babylon, the Jews future place of
hole--typical of the prisons in which the Jews were to be confined.
the rock--some well-known rock. A sterile region, such as was that
to which the Jews were led away (compare
6. after many days--Time enough was given for the girdle to become
unfit for use. So, in course of time, the Jews became corrupted by the
heathen idolatries around, so as to cease to be witnesses of Jehovah;
they must, therefore, be cast away as a "marred" or spoiled girdle.
10. imagination--rather, "obstinacy."
glory--an ornament to glory in.
12. A new image.
Do we not . . . know . . . wine--The "bottles" are those used in the
East, made of skins; our word "hogshead," originally "oxhide," alludes
to the same custom. As they were used to hold water, milk, and other
liquids, what the prophet said (namely, that they should be all filled
with wine) was not, as the Jews' taunting reply implied, a truism even
literally. The figurative sense which is what Jeremiah chiefly
meant, they affected not to understand. As wine intoxicates, so God's
wrath and judgments shall reduce them to that state of helpless
distraction that they shall rush on to their own ruin
(Jer 25:15; 49:12;
Isa 51:17, 21, 22; 63:6).
13. upon David's throne--literally, who sit
for David on his throne; implying the succession of the Davidic
all--indiscriminately of every rank.
As a potter's vessel
15. be not proud--Pride was the cause of their contumacy, as humility
is the first step to obedience
16. Give glory, &c.--Show by repentance and obedience to God, that
you revere His majesty. So Joshua exhorted Achan to "give glory to God"
by confessing his crime, thereby showing he revered the All-knowing God.
stumble--image from travellers stumbling into a fatal abyss when
overtaken by nightfall
(Isa 5:30; 59:9, 10;
dark mountains--literally, "mountains of twilight" or "gloom," which
cast such a gloomy shadow that the traveller stumbles against an
opposing rock before he sees it
(Joh 11:10; 12:35).
shadow of death--the densest gloom; death shade
Light and darkness are images of prosperity and adversity.
17. hear it--my exhortation.
in secret--as one mourning and humbling himself for their sin, not
self-righteously condemning them
just as kings and leaders are called pastors.
18. king--Jehoiachin or Jeconiah.
queen--the queen mother who, as the king was not more than eighteen
years old, held the chief power. Nehushta, daughter of Elnathan, carried
away captive with Jehoiachin by Nebuchadnezzar
Humble yourselves--that is, Ye shall be humbled, or brought low
(Jer 22:26; 28:2).
your principalities--rather, "your head ornament."
19. cities of the south--namely, south of Judea; farthest off from
the enemy, who advanced from the north.
shut up--that is, deserted
so that none shall be left to open the gates to travellers and
merchants again [HENDERSON]. Rather, shut up
so closely by Nebuchadnezzar's forces, sent on before
(2Ki 24:10, 11),
that none shall be allowed by the enemy to get out (compare
wholly--literally, "fully"; completely.
20. from . . . north--Nebuchadnezzar and his hostile army
(Jer 1:14; 6:22).
flock . . . given thee--Jeremiah, amazed at the depopulation caused
by Nebuchadnezzar's forces, addresses Jerusalem (a noun of multitude, which accounts for the blending of plural and singular, Your
eyes . . . thee . . . thy flock), and asks where is the population
"flock") which God had given her?
21. captains, and as chief--literally, "princes as to headship";
or "over thy head," namely, the Chaldeans. Rather, translate, "What wilt
thou say when God will set them (the enemies,
above thee, seeing that thou thyself hast accustomed them (to be) with
thee as (thy) lovers in the highest place (literally, 'at thy
head')? Thou canst not say God does thee wrong, seeing it was thou that
gave occasion to His dealing so with thee, by so eagerly courting their
Jer 2:18, 36;
as to the league of Judah with Babylon, which led Josiah to march
against Pharaoh-necho, when the latter was about to attack Babylon
22. if thou say--connecting this verse with "What wilt thou
skirts discovered--that is, are thrown up so as to expose the person
heels made bare--The sandal was fastened by a thong above the heel
to the instep. The Hebrew, is, "are violently handled," or "torn
off"; that is, thou art exposed to ignominy. Image from an adulteress.
23. Ethiopian--the Cushite of Abyssinia. Habit is second nature; as
therefore it is morally impossible that the Jews can alter their
inveterate habits of sin, nothing remains but the infliction of the
extremest punishment, their expatriation
by the wind--before the wind.
of the wilderness--where the wind has full sweep, not being broken
by any obstacle.
25. portion of thy measures--the portion which I have measured out
false gods and alliances with foreign idolaters.
26. discover . . . upon thy face--rather, "throw up thy skirts over
thy face," or head; done by way of ignominy to captive women and to
The Jews' punishment should answer to their crime. As their sin had
been perpetrated in the most public places, so God would expose them to
the contempt of other nations most openly
image from the lust of horses; the lust after idols degrades to the
level of the brute.
hills--where, as being nearer heaven, sacrifices were thought most
acceptable to the gods.
wilt thou not . . . ? when--literally, "thou wilt not be made
clean after how long a time yet." (So
Jeremiah denies the moral possibility of one so long hardened in
sin becoming soon cleansed. But see