Commentary Critical and Explanatory
on the Whole Bible
GOD, AS THE
ILLUSTRATED IN A
FORM BY THE
2. go down--namely, from the high ground on which the temple stood,
near which Jeremiah exercised his prophetic office, to the low ground,
where some well-known (this is the force of "the") potter had his
3. wheels--literally, "on both stones." The potter's horizontal
lathe consisted of two round plates, the lower one larger, the upper
smaller; of stone originally, but afterwards of wood. On the upper the
potter moulded the clay into what shapes he pleased. They are found
represented in Egyptian remains. In
alone is the Hebrew word found elsewhere, but in a different
4. marred--spoiled. "Of clay" is the true reading, which was
corrupted into "as clay" (Margin), through the similarity of the
two Hebrew letters, and from
"as the clay."
6. Refuting the Jews' reliance on their external privileges as God's
elect people, as if God could never cast them off. But if the potter, a
mere creature, has power to throw away a marred vessel and raise up
other clay from the ground, a fortiori God, the Creator, can cast
away the people who prove unfaithful to His election and can raise
others in their stead (compare
Isa 45:9; 64:8;
Ro 9:20, 21).
It is curious that the potter's field should have been the
purchase made with the price of Judas' treachery
(Mt 27:9, 10:
a potter's vessel dashed to pieces, compare
Ps 2:8, 9;
because of its failing to answer the maker's design, being the very
image to depict God's sovereign power to give reprobates to
destruction, not by caprice, but in the exercise of His righteous
judgment. Matthew quotes Zechariah's words
(Zec 11:12, 13)
as Jeremiah's because the latter
was the source from which the former derived his summary in
Zec 11:12, 13
7. At what instant--in a moment, when the nation least expects it.
Hereby he reminds the Jews how marvellously God had delivered them from
their original degradation, that is, In one and the same day ye were the
most wretched, and then the most favored of all people
8. their evil--in antithesis to, "the evil that I thought to do."
repent--God herein adapts Himself to human conceptions. The change
is not in God, but in the circumstances which regulate God's dealings:
just as we say the land recedes from us when we sail forth, whereas it
is we who recede from the land
(Eze 18:21; 33:11).
God's unchangeable principle is to do the best that can be done under
all circumstances; if then He did not take into account the moral
change in His people (their prayers, &c.), He would not be acting
according to His own unchanging principle
(Jer 18:9, 10).
This is applied practically to the Jews' case
11. frame evil--alluding to the preceding image of "the potter,"
that is, I, Jehovah, am now as it were the potter framing evil
against you; but in the event of your repenting, it is in My power to
frame anew My course of dealing towards you.
12. no hope--Thy threats and exhortations are all thrown away
Our case is desperate; we are hopelessly abandoned to our sins and
their penalty. In this and the following clauses, "We will walk after
our own devices," Jeremiah makes them express the real state of
the case, rather than the hypocritical subterfuges which they
would have been inclined to put forth. So
Isa 30:10, 11.
(Jer 2:10, 11).
Even among the heathen it was a thing unheard of, that a nation should
lay aside its gods for foreign gods, though their gods are false gods.
But Israel forsook the true God for foreign false gods.
virgin of Israel--
It enhances their guilt, that Israel was the virgin whom God had
specially betrothed to Him.
14. Is there any man (living near it) who would leave the snow of
Lebanon (that is, the cool melted snow water of Lebanon, as he presently explains),
which cometh from the rock of the field (a poetical name for
Lebanon, which towers aloft above the surrounding field, or
comparatively plain country)? None. Yet Israel forsakes Jehovah, the
living fountain close at hand, for foreign broken cisterns.
Jer 17:13; 2:13,
accord with English Version here. MAURER
translates, "Shall the snow of Lebanon cease from the rock to
water (literally, 'forsake') My fields" (the whole land around
being peculiarly Jehovah's)? Lebanon means the "white
mountain"; so called from the perpetual snow which covers that part
called Hermon, stretching northeast of Palestine.
that come from another place--that come from far, namely, from
the distant lofty rocks of Lebanon. HENDERSON
translates, "the compressed waters," namely, contracted within a
narrow channel while descending through the gorges of the rocks;
"flowing" may in this view be rather "flowing down"
But the parallelism in English Version is better, "which cometh
from the rock," "that cometh from another place."
be forsaken--answering to the parallel, "Will a man leave," &c.
MAURER translates, "dry up," or "fail"
the sense thus being, Will nature ever turn aside from its fixed
course? The "cold waters" (compare
refer to the perennial streams, fed from the partial melting of the
snow in the hot weather.
15. Because--rather, "And yet"; in defiance of the natural order of
This implies a previous knowledge of God, whereas He was unknown to the
Gentiles; the Jews' forgetting of God, therefore, arose from determined
they have caused . . . to stumble--namely the false prophets and
idolatrous priests have.
the paths which their pious ancestors trod. Not antiquity
indiscriminately, but the example of the fathers who trod the right
way, is here commended.
not cast up--not duly prepared: referring to the raised center
of the road. CALVIN translates, "not trodden."
They had no precedent of former saints to induce them to devise for
themselves a new worship.
In sign of contempt. That which was to be only the event is
ascribed to the purpose of the people, although altogether
different from what they would have been likely to hope for. Their
purpose is represented as being the destruction of their
country, because it was the inevitable result of their course of
wag . . . head--in mockery
As "wag . . . head" answers to "hissing," so "astonished"
answers to "desolate," for which, therefore, MUNSTER and others rather translate, "an object of
17. as with an east wind--literally, "I will scatter them,
as an east wind (scatters all before it)": a most violent wind
Thirty-two manuscripts read (without as), "with an east
I will show them the back . . . not . . . face--just retribution: as
"they turned their back unto Me . . . not their face"
Let us bring a capital charge against him, as a false prophet; "for
(whereas he foretells that this land shall be left without priests to
teach the law,
without scribes to explain its difficulties; and without prophets to
reveal God's will), the law shall not perish from the prophet," &c.;
since God has made these a lasting institution in His church, and the
law declares they shall never perish
(Le 6:18; 10:11;
the wise--scribes and elders joined to the priests. Perhaps they mean
to say, we must have right on our side, in spite of Jeremiah's words
against us and our prophets
(Jer 28:15, 16; 29:25, 32; 5:31);
"for the law shall not perish," &c. I prefer GROTIUS' explanation.
with . . . tongue--by a false accusation
(Ps 57:4; 64:3; 12:4; 50:19).
"For the tongue" (Margin), that is, for his speaking against us.
"In the tongue," that is, let us kill him, that he may speak no more
against us [CASTALIO].
19. Give heed--contrasted with, "let us not give heed"
As they give no heed to me, do Thou, O Lord, give heed to me,
and let my words at least have their weight with Thee.
20. In the particulars here specified, Jeremiah was a type of Jesus
(Ps 109:4, 5;
my soul--my life; me
I stood before thee . . . to turn away thy wrath--so Moses
So Jesus Christ, the antitype of previous partial intercessors
21. pour out their blood by the force of the sword--literally, "by
the hands of the sword." So
MAURER with JEROME
translates, "deliver them over to the power of the sword." But
In this prayer he does not indulge in personal revenge, as if it were
his own cause that was at stake; but he speaks under the dictation of
the Spirit, ceasing to intercede, and speaking prophetically, knowing
they were doomed to destruction as reprobates; for those not so, he
doubtless ceased not to intercede. We are not to draw an example
from this, which is a special case.
put to death--or, as in
"perish by the death plague" [MAURER].
men . . . young men--HORSLEY
distinguishes the former as
married men past middle age; the latter, the flower of
22. cry--by reason of the enemy bursting in: let their houses be no
shelter to them in their calamities [CALVIN].
digged . . . pit--
Ps 57:6; 119:85).
23. forgive not--
(Ps 109:9, 10, 14).
blot out--image from an account-book
before thee--Hypocrites suppose God is not near, so long as they
escape punishment; but when He punishes, they are said to stand before
Him, because they can no longer flatter themselves they can escape His
deal thus--exert Thy power against them [MAURER].
time of thine anger--Though He seems to tarry, His time shall come
(Ec 8:11, 12;
2Pe 3:9, 10).