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THE BOOK OF THE PROPHET
1 The time, 3 and the calling of Jeremiah. 11 His prophetical visions of an almond rod and a seething pot. 15 His heavy message against Judah. 17 God encourageth him with his promise of assistance.
HE words of Jeremiah the son of Hilkiah, of the priests that were in Anathoth in the land of Benjamin: 2 To whom the word of the LORD came in the days of Josiah the son of Amon king of Judah, in the thirteenth year of his reign.
3 It came also in the days of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah king of Judah, unto the end of the eleventh year of Zedekiah the son of Josiah king of Judah, unto the carrying away of Jerusalem captive in the fifth
4 Then the word of the LORD came unto me, saying,
5 Before I 'formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I 'sanctified thee, and I 'ordained thee a prophet unto the nations. 6 Then said I, Ah, Lord GOD! behold, I cannot speak: for I am a child.
7 ¶ But the LORD said unto me, Say not, I am a child: for thou shalt go to all that I shall send thee, and whatsoever I command thee thou shalt speak.
8 'Be not afraid of their faces: for 'I am with thee to deliver thee, saith the LORD. 9 Then the LORD put forth his hand, and 'touched my mouth. And the LORD said
unto me, Behold, I have put my words in thy mouth.
10 See, I have this day set thee over the nations and over the kingdoms, to 'root out, and to pull down, and to destroy, and to throw down, to build, and to plant.
11 Moreover the word of the LORD came unto me, saying, Jeremiah, what seest thou? And I said, I see a rod of an almond tree.
12 Then said the LORD unto me, Thou hast well seen: for I will hasten my word to perform it.
13 And the word of the LORD came unto me the second time, saying, What seest thou? And I said, I see a seething pot; and the face thereof is "toward the north.
14 Then the LORD said unto me, Out of the "north an evil shall break forth upon all the inhabitants of the land.
15 For, lo, I will call all the families of the kingdoms of the north, saith the LORD; and they shall come, and they shall set every one his throne at the entering of the gates of Jerusalem, and against all the walls thereof round about, and against all the cities of Judah.
16 And I will utter my judgments against them touching all their wickedness, who have forsaken me, and have burned incense unto other gods, and worshipped the works of their own hands.
17 Thou therefore gird up thy loins, and arise, and speak unto them all that 1 command thee: be not dismayed at their faces, lest I confound thee before them.
18 For, behold, I have made thee this day "a defenced city, and an iron pillar, and brasen walls against the whole land, against the kings of Judah, against the princes thereof, against the priests thereof, and against the people of the land.
19 And they shall fight against thee; but they shall not prevail against thee; for I am with thee, saith the LORD, to deliver thee.
Exod. 3. 12. Deut. 31. 6, 8. Josh. 1. 5. Heb. 13. 6. 11 Chap. 4. 6. 1 Heb. shall be opened Chap. 6. 27, and 15. 20.
8 Chap. 5. 14. Chap. 18. 7. 2 Cor. 10, 4, 5. 10 Heb. from the face of the north. 13 Chap. 5. 15, and 6, 22, and 10. 22. 11 Or, break to pieces. 15 Isa. 50. 7.
JEREMIAH.-There is no prophet of whose personal history and character we have more information than concerning Jeremiah. His book of prophecy includes many details which show the difficulties which attended his ministry, and the opposition which he met with from all classes of his countrymen. We learn from the first verse that he was of the sacerdotal tribe, and resided at Anathoth, a city of the tribe of Benjamin, not far from Jerusalem, and, appropriated to the use of the priests (Josh. xxi. 18). As the priest his father was called Hilkiah. some have sup-i posed that he was the same as the high-priest of that name, who found the book of the Law in the Temple in the time! of Josiah. But there seems no foundation for this conjecture. Had the father of Jeremiah been high-priest, the fact would surely have been mentioned: the name of Hilkiah was also a common one among the Jews; to which we may add, that Josephus says that the high-priests were obliged to reside at Jerusalem, which would alone show that the Hilkiah of Anathoth could not have been the high-priest. Jeremiah appears to have been very young, when he was called to the exercise of the prophetical office; from which he modestly endeavoured to excuse himself by pleading his youth and incapacity; but being overruled by Divine authority, he set himself to discharge the duties of his func-: tion with unremitted diligence and fidelity, during a period of at least forty-two years, reckoning from the thirteenth, year of Josiah's reign. The prophet lived to see that ruin to his country which he had predicted. The Jews who, then, against his remonstrances and advice, withdrew into Egypt, took him with them. He there continued to prophesy, protesting against the idolatrous practices which they there adopted. and foretelling the awful consequences., There is a very old and general tradition that his freedom and zeal cost him his life: the Jews at Tahpanhes taking such offence at his rebukes and predictions, that they stoned him to death. It is added that he was buried there: and another tradition states that the attention of Alexander the Great having been drawn to his tomb, occasion was taken to acquaint him with the prophet's predictions, which induced him to order the removal of his remains to Alexandria, where he erected over them a magnificent monument. All this rests on very precarious authority: but, as Blayney observes, "the a count of the manner of his exit, though not absolutely certain, is at least very likely to be true, considering the temper and disposition of the parties concerned."
Much has been said of the style of Jeremiah, as distinguished from that of other prophets, particularly Isaiah. Je rome considers his style distinguished by its rusticity, as compared with that of Isaiah, Hosea, and some others. This he attributes to his having been born and bred at Anathoth, where he probably had no opportunity of acquiring that elevation, elegance, and purity of style which is seldom found except in capitals and the courts of princes. But the proximity of Anathoth to Jerusalem renders this rather an unsatisfactory explanation, even were the premises ad
mitted. Bishop Lowth does not subscribe to Jerome's opinion as to the style of this prophet; and is unable to discover the rusticity which he regards as its characteristic. Although deficient neither in elegance nor sublimity, Jere miah must, indeed, give place in both to Isaiah: and while his sentiments are not always elevated, nor his periods uniformly neat and compact; yet his style is in a high degree tender and beautiful, when he has occasion to excite the emotions of sympathy and grief. This observation is strongly exemplified in the Lamentations, where these are the prevailing passions, and in the earlier portion of the book of prophecy. These parts are chiefly poetical. The middle of the book is almost entirely historical, and is written in a prosaic style, suitable to historical narrative. The latter part. again, consisting of the six last chapters, is altogether poetical, and contains several distinct predictions, in which the prophet makes a near approach to the sublimity of Isaiah. Upon the whole, about one-half of the book may be regarded as poetical. See Lowth's Lectures,' xxi; the introductory note in Blayney's Translation; Calmet's 'Préface sur Jerémie, &c.
Verses 11, 12. "A rod of an almond tree... for I will hasten."-The almond tree seems to have derived its name-expressing haste or vigilance-from its being one of the first, if not the very first of trees, to put forth its blossoms and bear its fruit. From this circumstance it seems to have become a symbol of that which its name expresses; and, in the present instance, the symbol denotes the speed with which the judgments announced by Jeremiah should be accomplished: and, accordingly, this prophet lived to see most of his prophecies fulfilled.
1 God, having shewed his former kindness, expostulateth with the Jews their causeless revolt, 9 be
yond any example. 14 They are the causes of their own calamities. 20 The sins of Judah. 31 Her confidence is rejected.
MOREOVER the word of the LORD came to me, saying,
2 Go and cry in the ears of Jerusalem, saying, Thus saith the LORD; I remember 'thee, the kindness of thy 'youth, the love of thine espousals, when thou wentest after me in the wilderness, in a land that was not
of Jacob, and all the families of the house of Israel:
5 Thus saith the LORD, What iniquity have your fathers found in me, that they are gone far from me, and have walked after vanity, and are become vain?
6 Neither said they, Where is the LORD that 'brought us up out of the land of Egypt, that led us through the wilderness, through a land of deserts and of pits, through a land of drought, and of the shadow of death, through a land that no man passed through, and where no man dwelt?
7 And I brought you into a plentiful country, to eat the fruit thereof and the goodness thereof; but when ye entered, ye defiled my land, and made mine heritage an abomination.
8 The priests said not, Where is the
LORD? and they that handle the law knew me not: the pastors also transgressed against me, and the prophets prophesied by Baal, and walked after things that do not profit. 9 ¶ Wherefore I will yet plead with you, saith the LORD, and with your children's children will I plead.
10 For pass over the isles of Chittim, and see; and send unto Kedar, and consider diligently, and see if there be such a thing.
1 Hath a nation changed their gods, which are yet no gods? but my people have changed their glory for that which doth not profit.
12 Be astonished, O ye heavens, at this, and be horribly afraid, be ye very desolate, saith the LORD.
13 For my people have committed two evils; they have forsaken me the "fountain of living waters, and hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water.
14 ¶ Is Israel a servant? is he a homeborn slave? why is he "spoiled?
15 The young lions roared upon him, and "yelled, and they made his land waste: his cities are burned without inhabitant.
iniquity is marked before me, saith the Lord GOD.
23 How canst thou say, I am not polluted, I have not gone after Baalim? see thy way in the valley, know what thou hast done: thou art a swift dromedary traversing
24 A wild ass 20used to the wilderness, that snuffeth up the wind at "her pleasure; in her occasion who can "turn her away? all they that seek her will not weary themselves; in her month they shall find her.
25 Withhold thy foot from being unshod, and thy throat from thirst: but thou saidst, 23There is no hope: no; for I have loved strangers, and after them will I go.
26 As the thief is ashamed when he is found, so is the house of Israel ashamed; they, their kings, their princes, and their priests, and their prophets,
27 Saying to a stock, Thou art my father; and to a stone, Thou hast "brought me forth: for they have turned their back unto me, and not their face: but in the time of their "trouble they will say, Arise, and save
28 But where are thy gods that thou hast 16 Also the children of Noph and Taha- made thee? let them arise, if they "can save panes have broken the crown of thy head. thee in the time of thy trouble: for "uc17 Hast thou not procured this unto thy-cording to the number of thy cities are thy self, in that thou hast forsaken the LORD gods, O Judah. thy God, when he led thee by the way?
18 And now what hast thou to do in the way of Egypt, to drink the waters of Sihor? or what hast thou to do in the way of Assyria, to drink the waters of the river?
19 Thine own wickedness shall correct thee, and thy backslidings shall reprove thee: know therefore and see that it is an evil thing and bitter, that thou hast forsaken the LORD thy God, and that my fear is not in thee, saith the Lord GOD of hosts.
20 For of old time I have broken thy yoke, and burst thy bands; and thou saidst, I will not transgress; when "upon every high hill and under every green tree thou wanderest, playing the harlot.
21 Yet I had planted thee a noble vine, wholly a right seed: how then art thou turned into the degenerate plant of a strange vine unto me?
29 Wherefore will ye plead with me? ye all have transgressed against me, saith the LORD.
30 In vain have I smitten your children : they received no correction: your own sword hath "devoured your prophets, like a destroying lion.
31 O generation, see ye the word of the LORD. Have I been a wilderness unto Israel? a land of darkness? wherefore say my people, "We are lords; we will come no more unto thee?
32 Can a maid forget her ornaments, or a bride her attire? yet my people have forgotten me days without number.
33 Why trimmest thou thy way to seek love? therefore hast thou also taught the wicked ones thy ways.
34 Also in thy skirts is found the blood of the souls of the poor innocents: I have not found it by "secret search, but upon all these.
22 For though thou wash thee with nitre, and take thee much sope, yet thine Rom. 2. 20. 7 Or, over to. 8 Chap. 16. 20. 9 Psal. 36. 9. Chap. 17. 13, and 18. 12 Or, feed on thy crown, Deut. 33. 12. Isa. 8. 8. 13 Isa. 3. 9. Hos. 5. 5. 10 Exod. 15 17. Psal. 44. 2, and 80 8. Isa. 5. 1, &c. Matth. 21. 33. Mark 12. 1. 19 Or, O wild ass, &c. 20 Hb. taught. 21 Heb. the desire of her heart. 24 Or, begotten me. 25 Heb. the hinder part of the neck.
9. 13. Chap. 5. 3.
31 Matth. 23. 29, &c.
26 Isa. 26. 16.
10 Heb. become a spoil. 11 Heb. gave out their voice 14 Or, serve. 15 Isa. 57. 5, 7. Chap. 3. 6. Luke 20. 9. 17 Job 9. 30. 18 Or, O swift dromedary. 22 Or, reverse it. 23 Or. Is the case desperate? 27 Isa. 45. 20. 28 Heb. evil. 29 Chap 11 13. 33 Heb. we have dominion. 34 Heb. digging.
35 Yet thou sayest, Because I am inno- | of Egypt, as thou wast ashamed of Assycent, surely his anger shall turn from me. Behold, I will plead with thee, because thou sayest, I have not sinned.
36 Why gaddest thou about so much to change thy way? thou also shalt be ashamed
37 Yea, thou shalt go forth from him, and thine hands upon thine head: for the LORD hath rejected thy confidences, and thou shalt not prosper in them.
Verse 16. "Noph."-This is generally, and with very good reason, believed to have been the same as Memphis, the renowned capital of Lower Egypt. The site has been much disputed. Dr. Shaw and others contended strongly that it must be sought at Ghizeh, nearly opposite to Old Cairo; but a great number of the most eminent travellers and geographers have rather been disposed, from a comparison of the statements in ancient authors with existing appearances and traditions, to fix its position considerably more to the south, near the village of Metrahenny, on the western bank of the Nile, where there are manifest indications of extensive ruin in the form of mounds, channels, and blocks of granite, many of which are covered with sculptures and hieroglyphics, and which are locally considered to form the remains of Memf (Memphis), the royal seat of the Pharaohs. So complete is the desolation foretold by the prophets, that nothing remains to form an object in a pictorial illustration; and we therefore are only able to offer a representation of the village of Metrahenny, to mark the site of the ancient Memphis. Concerning this great city and the present remains, we shall take an early opportunity of furnishing some further information.
22. "Nitre."-This well-known word comes from the Hebrew neter; being the same as the virgo or airge of the Greeks. This nitre, or nitron, must not be confounded with the nitrate of potash, or saltpetre, to which the term is now most usually applied. The word occurs nowhere else in Hebrew, except in Prov. xxv. 20; and in his note on that place, Jerome identifies it with the famous natron of Egypt, observing that the word comes from Nitria, the name of the province in Egypt where that product was most abundantly afforded. Whether the province took its name from the product or the product from the province, is not very clear. The natron, or carbonate of soda, is derived from a chain of lakes to the south-west of the Delta. Their bed is a sort of natural trench three or four leagues long by a quarter wide, the bottom of which is hard and stony. It is dry for nine months in the year; but in winter there oozes from the earth a water of a reddish violet colour, which fills the lakes to the height of five or six feet: the return of the great heats causing this to evaporate, there remains a bed of this salt, two feet thick and very hard, which is broken with bars of iron. (See Volney, i. 15.) These lakes also furnish common salt. The natron obtained from this and other sources, was applied to various uses by the nations of the Levant; and, among them. one of the most important was its use as one of the substitutes for soap in washing; for the ancients had no soap like ours. It was employed thus, not only for cleansing clothes, but in purifying the person, particularly in baths; and it continues to be used for the same purposes in the East.
"Sope."-For an explanation of this, see the note Mal. iii. 3. Is not the employment of the articles here mentioned so as to convey the idea that the use of them implied an extraordinary, and perhaps luxurious, attempt at purification; and thus showing that the Hebrews did not at this period commonly employ any thing but water for the purpose? Burckhardt gives a translation of a Bedouin poem, in which the liberal entertainments of a certain sheikh are warmly praised. In describing the after-dinner washing, the original has, "clean washed with soap;" in compliment to the sheikh, who did not grudge such a rare article as soap is in the Desert, that he might do honour to his guests.
23. "A swift dromedary.”—This word bikrah, is understood by the rabbins to mean a young camel, or as others, a swift camel-that is, a dromedary; for a dromedary is properly a camel, distinguished from the common one only by its breed and training, as a saddle-horse is distinguished from a cart-horse. This breed is called swift with respect to other camels, not with respect to other animals; for the camel is not eminently a swift animal, and those most renowned for their fleetness are not in any way comparable to the horse. The best trained riding camels cannot sustain a gallop above half an hour, in which at a forced speed they may make about eight or nine miles. This is their highest exertion. A forced trot is not so contrary to the camel's nature; and it will support it for several hours without evincing any symptoms of fatigue; but even here the utmost degree of celerity of the very best bred dromedary does not exceed about twelve miles an hour; and it is therefore in this pace also less expeditious than a moderately good horse. "It is not therefore," says Burckhardt, to whom we owe this statement," by extreme celerity that the hedjeins and delouls are distinguished, however surprising may be the stories related on this subject both in Europe and the East. But they are perhaps unequalled by any quadrupeds for the ease with which they carry their rider through an uninterrupted journey of several days and nights, when they are allowed to persevere in their own favourite pace. which is a kind of easy amble, at the rate of about five miles or five miles and a half in the hour." (Notes on the Bedouins,' p. 262.)
2 Lift up thine eyes unto the high places, and see where thou hast not been lien with. In the ways hast thou sat for them, as the Arabian in the wilderness; and thou hast polluted the land with thy whoredoms and with thy wickedness.
3 Therefore the 'showers have been withholden, and there hath been no latter rain; and thou hadst a 'whore's forehead, thou refusedst to be ashamed.
4 Wilt thou not from this time cry unto me, My father, thou art the guide of my youth?
3 Deut, 28. 24. Chap. 9. 12.
4 Chap 6. 15.