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Full text of "The Book of the Prophet Jeremiah : with introduction and notes"

i,. 3 



I 



Westminster Comsientaries 
Edited by Walter Lock D.D. 

IRELAND PROFESSOR OF THE EXEGESIS 
OF HOLY SCRIPTURE 



THE BOOK OF THE PROPHET 

JEREMIAH 



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THE BOOK OF THE PROPHET 

JEREMIAH 



WITH INTRODUCTION AND NOTES 



BY 

L. ELLIOTT BINNS, MA. 

LATE SCHOLAR OF EMMANUEL COLLEGE ; 

AND SOMETIME CHAPLAIN AND LECTURER IN OLD TESTAMENT HI3T0RY, 

RIDLEY HALL, CAMBRIDGE 



l'** 

9 









METHUEN & CO. LTD. 

36 ESSEX STREET W.C. 

LONDON 



First Published in jgig 



PREFATORY NOTE BY THE GENERAL EDITOR 

rriHE primary object of these Commentaries is to be exe- 
-*- getical, to interpret the meaning of each book of .the 
Bible in the light of modern knowledge to English readers. 
The Editors will not deal, except subordinately, with questions 
of textual criticism or philology ; but taking the English text 
in the Revised Version as their basis, they will aim at com- 
bining a hearty acceptance of critical principles with loyalty to 
the Catholic Faith. 

The series will be less elementary than the Cambridge Bible 
for Schools, less critical than the International Critical Com- 
mentary, less didactic than the Expositor's Bible ; and it is 
hoped that it may be of use both to theological students and to 
the clergy, as well as to the growing number of educated laymen 
and laywomen who wish to read the Bible intelligently and 
reverently. 

Each commentary will therefore have 
(i) An Introduction stating the bearing of modern criticism 
and research upon the historical character of the book, and 
drawing out the contribution which the book, as a whole, makes 
to the body of religious truth. 

(ii) A careful paraphrase of the text with notes on the 
more difficult passages and, if need be, excursuses on any points 
of special importance either for doctrine, or ecclesiastical or- 
ganization, or spiritual life. 

But the books of the Bible are so varied in character that 



vi NOTE 

considerable latitude is needed, as to the proportion which the 
various parts should hold to each other. The General Editor 
will therefore only endeavour to secure a general uniformity in 
scope and character : but the exact method adopted in each 
case and the final responsibility for the statements made will 
rest with the individual contributors. 

By permission of the Delegates of the Oxford University 
Press and of the Syndics of the Cambridge University Press 
the Text used in this Series of Commentaries is the Revised 
Version of the Holy Scriptures. 

WALTER LOCK 



PREFACE 



DURING the past few years the importance of Jeremiah 
amongst the prophets of the Old Testament has been in- 
creasingly recognised; no longer is he overshadowed by the 
massive figure of Isaiah, but rather have the two prophets come 
to be regarded as twin peaks standing side by side and pointing 
the soul to the things of God. If, however, the number of books 
written upon the earlier prophet be compared with those written 
upon the later, it will be found that there is a very great dis- 
proportion between them. It would seem therefore that room 
is left for another Commentary on the Book of the prophet 
Jeremiah. 

Much that is valuable has been written on the book, but not 
much that is recent, at any rate in Great Britain. Exceptions 
to the last statement are to be found in Dr Peake's two volumes 
in the Century Bible (1910 and 1911), and in the last edition of 
Dr Streane's volume in the Cambridge Bible (1913), the revision 
of which he completed only a short time before his lamented 
death. In writing my own Commentary, however, I have not 
made any very great use of these two works, valuable though 
they be, having preferred to go behind them to the great work 
of Cornill {Das Buck Jeremia, 1905), a work which must form 
the basis of every modern Commentary on the prophet. 

In his translation and arrangement of Jeremiah (1906) the 
late Dr Driver, writing of the Commentaries of Keil (1872) and 
Duhm (1901), said that 'the principal task of the future Com- 
mentator on Jeremiah will be to discover the right mean between 
them.' In a humble way I have tried to follow out his advice. 
Other Commentators whom I have found useful are Graf (1862) 
and Giesebrecht (1894 and 1907). To Cheyne's Jeremiah: His 
Life and Times in the ' Men of the Bible ' series I owe many 



viii PREFACE 

fi'uitful ideas, as I do also to Dr Moses Buttenwieser's FropheU 
of Israel (Part I, 1914). My debt to the writers named above 
is very large as will be seen by the constant references to them 
contained in the following Commentary, references which by no 
means disclose the fulness of my obligation to them. 

The scope of the series in which this Commentary appears 
does not permit of any large dealing with the Hebrew text of 
Jeremiah; hence many points of interest to Hebrew scholars 
have had to be passed by almost unnoticed. For a similar reason 
the question of Jeremiah's use of metre, a highly controversial 
and technical subject, has received but slight treatment. In the 
present volume no general review of the origin and development 
of Hebrew prophecy has been attempted, the subject having 
already received admirable treatment in the series, and the 
reader who desires more detailed information on the subject 
cannot do better than consult Dr Wade's note Hebrew Propliecy 
and its Credentials in his Commentary on Isaiah, pp. viii — xvii. 

In conclusion I wish to express my deep gratitude to the 
General Editor, Dr Lock. Dr Lock has been most patient and 
kind in reading through both the MS and proofs of the Com- 
mentary, and to his wise advice and varied learning I have 
frequently been indebted. Canon R. H. Kennett, the Regius 
Professor of Hebrew in Cambridge University, very kindly read 
through the MS of the Introduction and made valuable sugges- 
tions in regard to it for which I am very grateful, as I am for 
the care and affection which he lavished upon me — as upon his 
other pupils — during the years that I studied under his guidance. 

L. E. B. 



Plymouth, 
Lent, 1919, 



CONTENTS 

PAGE 

Peincipal Abbreviations employed xi 

Introduction xiii 

1. The Importance of Jeremiah xiii 

2. The Times of Jeremiah xvii 

3. The Life of Jeremiah xxviii 

4. The Character of Jeremiah xxxvi 

5. The Teaching of Jeremiali xliv 

6. The Book of Jeremiah . . . . . . . . Ixxii 

7. The Style of Jeremiah Ixxviii 

8. The Influence of Jeremiah , . . Ixxxiii 

Chronological Table • . . . Ixxxix 

Text and Commentary i 

Additional Notes 

Jeremiah and Nature 10 

The Ark of the Covenant 34 

The Destruction of Shiloh 69 

Sacrifice in the Wilderness 75 

The ' Intercession of Saints ' in Jewish Literature . . . 129 

The False Prophets 182 

The Condition of the Exiles 222 

The Authorship of xxxi. 31-34 . 241 

Jewish Colonies in Egypt 315 

The Fate of Babylon 373 

Index 383 



LIST OF PRINCIPAL ABBREVIATIONS 

AJTh. American Journal of Theology. 

Aq. The Version of Aquila. 

AV. The Authorised Version. 

BDB. A Hebrew and English Lexicoyi of the Old Testament &c. By Francis 

Brown, D.D., S. R. Driver, D.D., and C. A. Briggs, D.D. 
Buhl Pal. F. Buhl, Geographie des alten Paldstina. 
GB. Cambridge Bible. 
cf. Compare. 

CIS. Corpus Inscriptionum, Semiticarum (Paris). 
COT. Eb. Schrader, The Cuneiform Inscriptions and the O.T. (English 

Translation.) See also KA T. 

D. The Deuteronomic Document of the Pentateuch. 
DB. W. Smith, A Dictionary of the Bible. 

E. The Elohistic Document of the Pentateuch. 

Enc. Bib. Encyclopaedia Biblica, edited by the Rev. T. K. Cheyne, D.D., 

and J. Sutherland Black, LL.D. 
Enc. Brit. Encyclopaedia Britannica. 
ET. English Translation. 
EVV. English Versions of the Bible, 
fr. Fragment. 
Ges.-K. Geseniu^ Hebrew Grammar, as edited and enlarged by E. KaiUzsch. 

Translated from the 28th German edition by A. E. Cowley, D.D. 
H. The Holiness Document of the Pentateuch. 
HDB. A Dictionary of the Bible, edited by J. Hastings, D.D. 
HDRE or HD Rel. & E. A Dictioyiary of Religion and Ethics, edited by 

J. Hastings, D.D. 
ICC. The International Critical Commentary, edited by S. R. Driver, D.D., 

A. Plummer, D.D., and C. A. Briggs, D.D. 
J. The Jehovistic Document of the Pentateuch. 
JBL. The Journal of Biblical Literature. 
Jew. Enc. The Jewish Encyclopaedia. 
JQR. Jewish Quarterly Review, edited by I, Abi'ahams, M.A., and C. G. 

Montefiore, M.A. 
J. Th. S. Journal of Theological Studies, edited by J. F. Bethune-Baker, D.D., 

and F. E. Brightman, M.A. 
KA T. Eb. Schrader, Die Keilinschriften und das Alte Testament. 
KB. Keilinschriftliche Bibliothek (Berlin). 

B. b 



xii LIST OF PRINCIPAL ABBREVIATIONS 

LOT. S. R. Driver, D.D., Introduction to the Literature ofO.T. 

LXX. The Septuagint Version. 

mg. or marg. Margin. 

MT. The Massoretic Text of the Hebrew O.T. 

N.S. New Series. 

NSL 6. A. Cooke, D.D., North Semitic Inscriptions. 

NT. The New Testament. 

OT. The Old Testament. 

OTJC. The O. T. in the Jewish Church. 

P. The Priestly Document of the Pentateuch. 

Parad. Friedrich Delitzsch, Wo lag das Paradies ? 

PEFQS. The Palestine Exploration Fund Quarterly Statement. 

Rel. Sem. W. Robertson Smith, The Religion of the Semites. 

Rev. Bib. Revue Bihlique. 

Rev. Et. Juices. Revue des Etudes Juices. 

RV. The Revised Version. 

SBOT. The Sacred Books of the O.T. edited by Paul Haupt. The vol. on 

Jeremiah is by C. H. Cornill. 
S. & P. or Sin. & Pal. A. P. Stanley, D.D., Sinai and Palestine in connexion 

with their history. 
Symm. The Version of Symmachus. 
Syr. The Syriac Version. 
Targ. The Targum. 
Theod. The Version of Theodotion. 
Vg. or Vulg. The Vulgate Version. 
ZATW. Zeitschrift fur die alttestamentliche Wissenschaft, edited by 

B. Stade. 



INTRODUCTION 

§ 1. The Importance of Jeremiah 

The book of the prophet Jeremiah is the longest in the Bible ^ and 
though the mere volume of matter contained in even an inspired 
writing is no sure or final test of its importance — such a test, for 
example, would make Ecclesiastes of higher value than the Epistles ol 
St John — yet in view of the disappearance of many of the prophetic 
utterances, it is evidence of the regard in which Jeremiah was held by 
the men of the Jewish Church, that they were at pains to collect and 
preserve so many narratives concerning his life, as well as writings 
attributed to him. The importance of the book, however, does not 
depend on its bulk, and had there come down to us only such fragments 
as chh. ix., xv. 15 ff., xvii. 12 ff., and xx. 7 ff. it would hardly be an 
exaggeration to say that Jeremiah was still the most valuable book 
in OT. 

But wherein lies the value of the OT. writings, and what inherent 
and quickening quality has enabled them to survive the lapse of time and 
the dangers which arise alike from persecution and from indifFerence ? 
Is it that they throw an unique light on the primitive customs and 
folklore of the Semitic race ? Surely not ; for, though the subject 
aroused the occasional curiosity of the ancients, a deep and sustained 
interest in the origines of nations is of modern growth and in itself 
would hardly have been sufficiently strong to protect and preserve so 
much of the literature of a comparatively obscure and despised peopled 
Nor is it that the writers of OT., taken as a whole, were gifted above 
other men with either critical or literary ability. The literature itseli 
qua literature is of very uneven quality and in many places the text is 



1 That is if 1 and 2 Samuel, Kings, and Chronicles, respectively, be counted as 
separate books. 

2 To the Jews themselves, who first collected the writings, as to the Christians, 
they were not an obscure people ; but their importance was religious not political. 

h2 



xiv INTRODUCTION [§ 1 

so corrupt that no certain clue can be found to its meaning^ Even in 
some of the hnest passages the heavy hand of a later editor has often 
all but succeeded in destroying the noble workmanship of the true and 
skilful artist. It seems impossible to imagine, however, that the whole 
of the poetry of the Psalmists and the noble prose of the prophets 
could ever have been permanently lost. Again, though OT., or much 
of it, does come within Gibbon's definition of history as being ' little 
more than a register of the crimes, follies and misfortunes of mankind",' 
yet the Jewish writers were notoriously lacking in many of the gifts 
which are necessary for the student of history; even in the books 
popularly called 'historical,' that sense of proportion, that freedom 
from prejudice, which are so requisite in the true historian, are con- 
spicuously absents No, the value of OT. lies elsewhere than in the 
chronicling of the pomp of kings and the petty majesty of war ; it 
lies rather in its being a record of the gradual revelation of what was 
to the Jews — or at any rate to the higher minds amongst them — the 
supreme good in life, the knowledge of the living God. 

The peculiar value of OT., nay of the whole Bible, is not therefore 
historical but spiritual or, one might almost say, psychological. Its 
value is psychological because it is through the mind of man quickened 
by the Holy Spirit that God has given the most intimate revelation of 
Himself. Much can be learned of God by studying His handiwork in 
Nature, that open book in which he ' who runs may read ' ; much can 
be learned from His guiding of the events of history, especially in the 
work of preparation for the Incarnation* : but it is from His dealings 
with the souls of men — both collectively and as individuals — that God 
is to be known most certainly. The unique position which the Bible 
occupies, even amongst religious literature, lies in the fact that it 
contains a number of records of such dealings'^, and moreover records 

^ Cf. Driver, Schiceich Lectures, p. 11 note. 'Hebrew texts, from the character 
of the script, are. ..more liable to corruption than Greek texts, and the Ancient 
Versions afford convincing evidence that the Old Testament has in very many 
places been corrupted seriously.' 

- Decline and Fall, &c. i. p. 77 (Methuen's Standard Library Edition). 

* The Jewish writers did not claim to write ' history ' ; even books like Joshua, 
Judges, Samuel and Kings were included amongst the prophets (see p. Ixxiii). The 
omission of the writer of 1 K. xvi. to give to the reign of Omri more than a few 
verses shews his non-historical point of view, for according to the evidence of the 
inscriptions the reign of Omri was perhaps the most important in the Northern 
Kingdom. The only writer in the whole Bible with anything like an adequate 
power of writing history in the modern sense was St Luke, and he was a Gentile; 
see Ramsay, St Paul the Traveller, &c. pp. 4 f. 

* Cf. the Essay by the present Bishop of Winchester in Lux Mundi. 

Cf. W. Temple, The Faith and Modern Thought, p. 39 : 'we should go back 



§ 1] THE IMPORTANCE OF JEREMIAH xv 

that are inspired by that Word of God upon whose sojourn on earth 
all the scattered rays of revelation are centred and in the power of 
whose ascended life alone they are to be interpreted. It is because 
Jeremiah amongst the prophets has left the most intimate and im- J" 
pressive accounts of what God meant to his soul, of the variety and 
richness of his religious experience, that the book which bears his 
name — and which most assuredly contains much that tomes directly 
from him — has such surpassing importance. The value of Jeremiah, 
estimated by this standard, is coming more and more to be realised, 
and the writer of a recent book on the prophets, referring to Jer. xx. 
7 — 9, goes so far as to say that 'Any discussion of the faith of the 
prophets must centre finally in this fervid record of Jeremiah's^' 

■^In the present day there is a tendency amongst the majority of 
people, including the professedly religious, to neglect and in many 
cases altogether to ignore the reading and study of the Bible. Even 
amongst Bible students themselves two equally dangerous attitudes of 
mind are not uncommon, attitudes of mind which regard the OT. on the 
one hand as a collection of obsolete documents, on the other as an 
armoury of proof texts^ The effect in each case is the same, the OT. 
falls into the background and its influence tends to become more and 
more like ' a lingering star with lessening ray.' This modern tendency 
to neglect OT. is fraught with much danger, because the two parts of 
Holy Scripture are so closely linked together that a study and appre- 
ciation of OT. is essential to a due and proper understanding of the 
New. It is not merely that the writers of NT. find in OT. a storehouse 

to the inspired men of the past, not to find a short cut to truth (there is none), 
but to find out how to find truth. These men were in contact with the Divine. 
We can learn something of how their conception of the Divine grew in their own 
minds, and we can learn by what steps they established their communion with the 
Divine, so that following their example we may establish our own.' 

1 Buttenwieser, The Prophets of Israel, p. 10. Apart from his self-revelation 
Jeremiah has a place of tremendous importance in the history of religion from the 
fact that his conception of the relation of God and man was so highly spiritual : 
see further under Teaching and Influence. 

2 This latter weakness marked the learning of the period before the Eeformation. 
' The scholastic divines, holding to a traditional belief in the plenary and verbal 
inspiration of the whole Bible, and remorselessly pursuing this belief to its logical 
results, had fallen into a method of exposition almost exclusively textarian. The 
Bible, both in theory and in practice, had almost ceased to be a record of real 
events, and the lives and teacliing of living men. It had become an arsenal of 
texts ; and these texts were regarded as detached invincible weapons to be legiti- 
mately seized and wielded in theological warfare, for any purpose to which their 
words might be made to apply, without reference to their original meaning or 
con text.... Thus had the scholastic belief in the verbal inspiration of the sacred 
text led men blindly into a condition of mind in which they practically ignored the 
scriptures altogether.' Seebohm, The Oxford Reformers, ch. ii. § 1. 



xvi INTRODUCTION [§ i 

of illustrations and a model of teaching, but, if the meaning of the 
Incarnation is to be apprehended in all its fulness, the preparatory- 
work carried on in and through the people of Israel must be clearly 
understood. 

But the teaching of OT. has a value its own, and in particular 
the teaching of those great forerunners of the Messiah, the prophets. 
Amongst the prophetical books there is none which has a more striking 
message for modern times than the book of Jeremiah. Even in the 
days before the great European "War the value of a study of this book 
was recognised by so clear-sighted a judge as Bishop Westcott, who in 
the notice to the second edition of his commentary on the Epistle to 
the Hebrews (Sept. 1892) wrote as follows : ' The more I study the 
tendencies of the time in some of the busiest centres of English life, 
the more deeply I feel that the Spirit of God warns us of our most 
urgent civil and spiritual dangers through the prophecies of Jeremiah 
and the Epistle to the Hebrews.' But it is since the outbreak of the 
war and amidst all the shocks which the traditional faith has had to 
undergo, that the supreme importance of Jeremiah's teaching has come 
most clearly to be recognised ; and it has come to be recognised 
because the situation in which the prophet found himself has so much 
in common with that of the present day. His message was delivered 
during an age of transition, and delivered moreover to a people whose 
beliefs, founded on material conceptions of God, had been shattered by 
the course of events, by the harsh tragedies of actual life^ 

Jeremiah, like every true prophet, was the product of his age (cf. 
pp. xxxvi ff.), he had an actual living message for his contemporaries; 
but at the same time he was able to rise above his environment and to 
proclaim universal principles such as are vahd for all time, and not 
least so for the time in which we are ourselves living. It is not within 
the scope of this commentary to work out detailed applications of the 
teaching of Jeremiah to the problems of the present day, but perhaps 
I may be allowed to point out that two of his great doctrines, one in 
the religious, the other in the social sphere, are still unreahsed in our 
actual hfe as a Church and as a nation. In spite of the teaching of 
Jeremiah, and of our Lord Himself, religion still tends to substitute 
worship and ritual for obedience to God's commands and for efforts to 
make His will done ' on earth as it is in heaven ' ; how much of popular 



1 For a fuller treatment of this subject see Mr Oliver C. Quick's Essays in 
Orthodoxy, pp. xv ff. 



§ 2] THE IMPORTANCE OF JEREMIAH xvii 

religion, for example, exhausts itself in churchgoing^? Again in the 
matter of justice to the poor and needy, have we not much still to do 
before our methods of procedure would be approved by Jeremiah ? 
People of the more comfortable classes hardly realise how heavily our 
legal system tells against the less influential classes and how the widow 
and the stranger are still the subjects of oppression for the benefit of 
the wealthy. This is seen ^^ our system of punishing offences by fines, 
of inflicting a penalty which to one man may be a month's wages and 
to the other hardly the price of a single meal : and again, the expense 
of legal procedure, especially when appeals are taken from one court 
to the next, often makes it just as impossible for the poor man to get 
justice done for him in our own day as it was under a corrupt tyrant 
like Jehoiakiml 

§ 2. The Times of Jekemiah 

In studying any part of the Bible which claims to be considered as 
history we are bound to take into account, much more fully than does 
OT., the records of contemporary nations. The old-fashioned view 
which would treat the history of the chosen people as though they were 
entirely separated from their neighbours is quite inadequate. God did 
indeed stand in a peculiar relationship to Israel, but that was because 
Israel had a peculiar ability for receiving God's revelation. Those who 
still cling to the old view tend to place all other nations outside God's 
providential dealings. The only worthy and Christian view of history 
is that it is all controlled by God, but that nations like individuals may 
resist the will of their creator. This statement applies equally to what 
we call secular matters and religious matters. 

After the fall of Samaria in 722 b.c. and the consequent collapse of 
the Northern Kingdom, Judah alone remained as the representative of 
the house of IsraeP. Hezbkiah was then reigning in Jerusalem and 

1 Dr Eauschenbusch has made this point very clearly, though not without 
exaggeration, in Christianity and the Social Crisis, p. 7, where he says: 'This 
Christian ceremonial system does not differ essentially from that against which the 
prophets protested... .But the point that here concerns us is that a very large part 
of the fervour of willing devotion which religion always generates in human hearts 
has spent itself on these religious acts. The force that would have been competent 
" to seek justice and relieve the oppressed " has been consumed in weaving the tinsel 
fringe for the garment of religion. ' 

2 Cf. Dr Bauschenbusch, Christianizing the Social Order, pp. 332 ff. He is 
dealing primarily with America but his statements apply to Great Britain to an 
almost equal degree. 

■^ By this statement I do not intend to deny that the province of Samaria 
exercised an important iniiuence on Jewish thought after 722 b.c. 



xviii INTRODUCTION [§ 2 

under the guidance of Isaiah he succeeded in preservingtheindependence 
of his kingdom, though at times it seemed as if the 'overflowing 
scourge ' would engulf Judah as it had already engulfed Samaria. In 
addition to preserving the political existence of the nation from the 
threatening advance of Assyria, Hezekiah carried through a compre- 
hensive reformation of religion; and during his reign, in spite of occa- 
sional relapses, such as the reception of the embassy from Merodach- 
baladan (Is. xxxix. 1 ff.), he seems to have followed the guidance of what 
may be called the prophetic party. Hezekiah was succeeded by his son 
Manasseh, a boy of twelve years of age. The new king was evidently 
the instrument of that party in the state whose policy in both religious 
and secular affairs — the distinction was hardly noticeable in Israel — 
was exactly opposed to that of the late government. Manasseh occupied 
the throne for 55 years and his long reign served to undo all that had 
been accomplished during his father's lifetime ; religion fell back once 
more into the old ruts from which it had been raised, and not only so, 
but fresh forms of heathenism and superstition were introduced by the 
royal power, and eagerly adopted by the people (2 K. xxi. 2 ff. &c.). 
This period is amongst the darkest of Hebrew history, though outwardly 
there was peace for the greatest part of the reign, and the true wor- 
shippers of Jehovah had to remain in hiding, hoping and praying for 
the coming of a new monarch and the reaction which would almost 
inevitably accompany his accession. Later ages looked back on the reign 
of Manasseh as finally sealing the doom of Judah and rendering un- 
avoidable the captivity of the nation^. Manasseh was followed by Amon, 
but the son walked in all the ways of his father and his government 
brought no relief to the devout. Their time of waiting was however 
nearing an end ; the reign of Amon was suddenly cut short by a palace 
intrigue, and the king was murdered. The conspirators do not seem to 
have had influential support and the movement apparently collapsed ; 
at any rate the dynasty was preserved, Josiah the youthful son of Amon 
being placed on the vacant throne and his father's murderers being put 
to death. 

Josiah was only eight years old when he came to the throne, and 
during the early part of his reign the government was evidently carried 
on by the princes of the royal house. Their policy followed the same 

lines as that of the two previous reigns, and one who looked upon their 

— — — — . ^ 

^ 2 K. xxiv. 3 f. and Jer. xv. 4. This latter v.^ is almost certainly not by the 
prophet himself as it is not in agreement with his constant teaching (see note ad 
loc.) but it represents the judgement of a later age. 



§ 2] THE TIMES OF JEREMIAH xix 

administration with no kindly eye has described them as 'filling their 
master's house with violence ^' For this cause therefore the first years 
of a reign which was destined to leave a permanent mark on the religious 
history of Israel were distinguished by no change of religious policy. 
Under the surface, however, there was growing up a strong movement 
towards a more spiritual religion; men were disgusted and wearied by 
the long barren years since the time of Hezekiah ; everything was ready 
for a puritan reaction and the return to power of the prophetic party. 
But the return to power of the prophetic party was not likely to take 
place of itself; what was needed was some striking event to rouse men's 
minds and to stir the country to its very depths. Such an event was 
not long delayed. Josiah had hardly reached the thirteenth year of his 
reign when the dark and mysterious barriers of the North were uplifted, 
as they had been many times before, and the Scythian hordes came 
rushing forth to invade Palestine^. Not very much is known of the 
history of this people ^ who issued from their homes North of the Black 
Sea and spread terror and devastation wherever they went. The flood 
of invasion swept over Palestine as far as Egypt where the bribes of 
the reigning Pharaoh, supported by the strongly garrisoned frontier, 
succeeded in checking it. The Scythians retraced their steps through 
Palestine and turned aside into Mesopotamia which thus had one more 
element of disruption added to it for the next twenty years. Judah 
seems to have been left untouched by the invader, thanks no doubt to 
the natural inaccessibility of its situation and to the absence of attractive 
plunder, but the danger was sufficiently threatening to call forth the 
voice of prophecy, so long silent in the land, and it is to this period 
in all probability that the book of Zephaniah belongs, and even more 
important, the first utterances of .Jeremiah. The advent of a prophet 
and the presence amongst them of messengers whose words stamped 
them as truly accredited of God roused the king and the people, and 
in the eighteenth year of his reign Josiah put himself at the head of 
the reforming party and began to repair the temple*. During the repairs 

1 Zeph. i. 9. 

- Cf. i. 15 : ' out of the North shall evil break forth upon all the inhabitants of 
the land.' 

^ See Herod, i. 103 ff., iv. 64. The Scythians were looked upon by the Greeks 
as typical of all that was worst amongst the barbarians and their savagery was 
proverbial. However in the Kingdom of Jesus Christ there is hope even for the 
barbarous Scythian (of. Col. iii. 11 ; Justin, Dial. §28). For fuller details of the 
history of this people see Eawlinson, And. Monarchies'^, ii. 225 f. ; Driver, LOT.^ 
pp. 252 f. 

* So 2 K. xxii. 3 : according to 2 Ch. xxxiv. 3, in the twelfth year. It may be 
noted in passing that the account in Kings makes the reform depend on the 



XX , INTRODUCTION [§ 2 

'a book of Torali^' was discovered by Hilkiah the priest and banded 
on to Shaphan the scribe, who read it and, recognising its importance, 
immediately carried it to the king. The contents of the book filled 
Josiah with alarm, and rending his clothes he sent to make enquiries 
of a certain prophetess named Huldah who was the wife of one of bis 
officers^ Huldah returned the answer that judgement must indeed fall 
upon 'the guilty nation but that it would not be in the lifetime of the 
king himself. In spite of this reply^ which was calculated to check all 
attempts at reform, Josiah determined to make a vigorous effort to 
cleanse the religion of his country and to bring it nearer to the ideal 
which was presented in the newly discovered book. As a first step 
towards reform a popular assembly was convened in the temple area 
and the book was read to the people. At the close of the reading, 
which evidently moved all present to a sense of their peril, the king 
and people entered into a solemn covenant before God to adopt the 
commands of the book as the national law. 

According to the somewhat idealised account in 2 K. xxlii. the 
reformation was effected in five main directions, though in all proba- 
bility many of the abuses there stated to have been remedied succeeded 
in escaping, at any rate in part, the attentions of the reformers. («) The 
temple was purified from all traces of Baal worship; and even the 
sacred objects, including the Asherim (see note on xvii. 2) and the 
pillars (see note on xxvii. 19), were destroyed. These had originally 
been taken over from the Canaanites, but by this time must have been 
considered a part of the national cultus (see vv. 4, 6, 11; cf. Dt. 
xii. 3, xvi. 22 and contrast Ex. xxiv. 4). (b) The 'idolatrous priests' 
were put down together with their altars and images (v. 5). The 

finding' of the book ; whilst in 2 Ch. xxxiv. — xxxv. the reformation is carried 
out first and the book is discovered as a direct result of the reforms. Probably the 
later -writer could not understand the king's action in continuing a reform when 
the prophetess had said that it would be of no avail in saving the nation. (Cf. es- 
pecially 2 Ch. xxxiv. 8 with 2 K. xxiii. 2ff.) 

1 See note on ii. 8 for the meaning of Torah. There has been much disagree- 
ment among critics as to what is here referred to, it can hardly be the whole 
Pentateuch as the document was read through in one sitting. Most scholars think 
that what Hilkiah discovered was Dt., or at any rate the kernel of it (see Driver, 
Deut. p. xlv). At the same time it ought perhaps to be pointed out that the 
account of the discovery in 2 K. xxii. — xxiii. shews marks of a Deuteronomic 
compiler and that many of the coincidences both of language and of matter may 
be due to his influence. 

2 It is strange that there is no mention of either Jeremiah or Zephaniah in 
connexion with the king's enquiry. 

3 The form of Huldah's reply, however, is probably due to the later Deuteronomic 
historian ; cf . 1 K. xxi. 28 f. 



§ 2] THE TIMES OF JEREMIAH xxi 

'chariots and horses of the sun' (v. 11) were doubtless borrowed from 
Babylon where the sun-god was represented as riding in such a chariot 
(cf. Dt. xvii. sy. (c) Those who engaged in immoral rites in con- 
nexion with religion were destroyed, as well as all wizards and magicians 
(m 7, 24; cf. Dt. xxiii. 17 f., xviii. 10 b— U). (d) The offering of 
children to Molech was forbidden (v. 10; cf. Dt. xviii. 10 a). (e) The Pnob: «-.MoIj 
high places and local sanctuaries were destroyed {vv. 8 f. ; cf. Dt. ^ , ■ j^^j. 
xii. 13 f.). This last reform was in effect the disestablishment of every 
sanctuary outside Jerusalem, together with its priests. There can be 
no doubt that in many of the local shrines the worship offered to 
Jehovah had become very corrupt ; it must be remembered that there 
was much rivalry between the various sanctuaries (cf. Am. v. 5, viii. 14) 
and that their guardians in the endeavour to attract worshippers would 
be tempted to countenance every kind of vicious practice. Wellhausen 
compares the advice of Luther to the princes of Germany that the field 
chapels and churches should be destroyed, on the ground that they 
were 'devices of the devil used by him to strengthen covetousness, to 
set up a false and spurious faith, to weaken parish churclies, to increase 
taverns and fornication, to squander money and labour to no purpose, 
and merely to lead the poor people about by the nose-.' In as far as it 
did away with such abuses the policy of centralisation was a step in 
the right direction. 

The actual carrying out of the reform must have been made much 
easier by the destruction of forty-six of the fenced cities of Judah at 
the time of Sennacherib's invasion (2 K. xviii. 13), a disaster from 
which they could hardly have recovered, but which had left Jerusalem 
untouched and consequently supreme in material power, and, what was 
even more important, with the reputation of being an inviolable sanc- 
tuary. At the same time the destruction of the local shrines meant 
that the priests whose livelihood was gained by attending them were 
thrown out of employment, and that ill-feeling was aroused against the 
'Jerusalem monopoly.' The effect upon the common people could hardly 
fail to be to remove God out of their everyday life and to make the 
outward part of their religion mainly a matter of pilgrimages and visits 
to the distant capitaP. It must, however, be remembered that Jerusalem 

1 The ancient Greeks dedicated chariots and horses to the sun who needed 
them, so they believed, for his journey across the sky: cf. J. G. Frazer, Magic 
Art, I. p. 315 ; H. Zimmern in KAT.^ pp. 369 ff. 

2 Prolegomena, p. 27. 

2 Cf. Driver, Deut. p. xxix : ' The limitation of the public worship of Jehovah to 
Jerusalem... may seem indeed to us to be a retrograde step and inconsistent with 



xxii INTRODUCTION [§ 2 

was not at a very great distance from any part of a kingdom whose total 
area was not much more than that of an EngHsh county. According to 
2 K. xxiii. 15 ff. the reform penetrated to Bethel which was outside 
the nominal territory of Josiah. There is nothing improbable in this 
extension, and other evidence exists of a close connexion in matters of 
religion between Jerusalem and the inhabitants of what had been the 
Northern Kingdom (Jer. xli. 5 ff.) ; and Josiah did not scruple to traverse 
the territories of Assyria if he found it necessary (2 K. xxiii. 29) ^ 
The weakness of the reformation seems to have been that it quite 
evidently set a standard of religious life for which the nation as a whole 
was not yet ready ; the truth of this criticism is clearly demonstrated 
by the violent reaction which followed the death of Josiah. The king 
was apparently of an enthusiastic and even fanatical disposition^ and 
no doubt he carried with him in the movement many who had no real 
desire for reform. It is almost certain that in this, as in all similar 
enterprises, amongst the ranks of the reformers were men who were 
moved by very mixed motives, who in the desire to obtain the favour 
of those in power pretended to share in their lofty aims, members of 

' That ungracious crew which feigns demurest grace.' 

It is a strange and at the same time a notable fact that Jeremiah seems 
to have taken no part in the revival — possibly there is a reference to 
his having done so in xi. 1 ff. (see notes ad loc.) — and in his references 
to Josiah's memory he praises him not for his efforts in purifying religion, 
but for his just and upright rule (xxii. 15). Perhaps the prophet felt 
that the reforms did not go far enough, especially in the matter of 
sacrifice (cf. vii. 21 ff.); or he may have suspected the motives of the 
reformers, or have felt that the king was being used as a tool by the 

the author's (of Dt.) lofty conception of the Divine nature (x. 14): but partly it 
was a result of the national feeling of Israel, to which the prophets, even in their 
most exalted moments, were hardly ever wholly superior, and which looked up to 
the national Temple on Zion as specially honoured by Jehovah's presence ; partly 
it arose out of the circumstances of the age, which made the local sanctuaries 
centres of impure or unspiritual rites.' 

1 Canon Kennett rejects the historicity of 2 K. xxiii. 15 ff. , probably correctly, 
see ' The Origin of the Aaronite Priesthood ' in J. Th. S. for Jan. 1905. 

2 Commenting on Josiah's violence against those whose ways he condemned. 
Dean Stanley remarks: 'It was the first direct persecution that the kingdom of 
Judah had witnessed on behalf of the True Keligion. Down to this time the 
mournful distinction had been reserved for the half-pagan King Manasseh. But 
the cruelty had here, as in all like cases, provoked a corresponding cruelty ; and 
the reformation of Josiah, if from his youth and his zeal it has suggested his 
likeness to our Edward VI, by its harsher features encouraged the rough acts 
which disfigured so many of the best efforts of that and other like movements of 
the Christian Church.' Jewish Church, ii. p. 425. 



§ 2] THE TIMES OF JEREMIAH xxiii 

Jerusalem Priesthood. The expedition against Pharaoh Necho in which 
Josiah met his death is probably another exhibition of the same enthu- 
siastic and visionary spirit as inspired the reformation ; whether this is 
so or not and whatever the motives or hopes which may have prompted 
it, the expedition to Megiddo was a disastrous failure, and as Dr Pusey 
has well said 'in Josiah's death the last gleam of the sunset of Judah 
faded into nights' After the battle of Megiddo Necho evidently con- 
tinued his advance, leaving Jerusalem for the time in peace. The op- 
portunity was thereupon seized by the people of the land to choose 
their own king and to place on the throne Josiah's younger sou Jehoahaz. 
The new king almost certainly intended to continue his father's anti- 
Egyptian policy and his election was no doubt inspired by the prophetic 
party. It is to be noticed that in Jeremiah's lament over Jehoahaz under 
the name of Shallum (xxii. 10 — 12) there is no trace of any disapproval 
or criticism (contrast the conventional and late comment of 2 K. 
xxiii. 32) ; and according to Ezekiel the king was already famous as a 
warrior (xix. 3 f ). If the prophetic party entertained any hopes from 
the prowess of Jehoahaz and the similarity of his policy to that of Josiah, 
their hopes were speedily disappointed, for his brief reign of three months 
was ended by a summons to appear before Necho at Riblah. No record 
remains of what took place at the interview but the Judean king was 
deposed and carried in chains to Egy|3t. 

Having disposed of Jehoahaz in this summary manner, Necho pro- 
ceeded to place on the throne his elder brother Eliakim and changed his 
name to Jehoiakim. He also imposed a tribute upon the land of 100 
talents of silver and one of gold (2 K. xxiii. 33). In view of the long 
period of peace during the reign of Josiah and the opportunities which 
it must have given for increasing the prosperity of the kingdom, this 
tribute was not an excessive amount; Jehoiakim, at any rate, does not 
seem to have looked upon it as exhausting the wealth of his people 
and he raised heavy taxes from them for his own private building 
schemes^. These operations were evidently conducted on a large and 
generous scale and the chief ambition of the king appears to have been 
to rival the courts of neighbouring powers. In the historical books this 
extra taxation is barely mentioned (2 K. xxiii. 35) ; Jeremiah, however, 

^ The motives which underlay Josiah's action are very obscure owing to our 
lack of information and I have discussed them elsewhere (see J. Th. S. xviii. pp. 40 f .) ; 
possibly he felt it was his duty as the vassal of Assyria to endeavour to stop the 
Egyptians ; or it may well have been that he hoped to restore the boundaries of the 
ancient Jewish monarchy. 

2 Hitzig compares Sallust, Bell. Jug. 31 ; Tacitus, Hist. iv. 2. 



xxiv INTRODUCTION [§ 2 

gives a much more detailed account, also stating that the new king 
was extravagant and unjust in the use which he made of forced labour 
(xxii. 13 — 17). It has been suggested that Jehoiakim's efforts were 
intended to strengthen the kingdom against its foes (cf. xxii. 23), but 
it is hardly likely that Necho would allow a vassal to add to the forti- 
fications in his territory. The king seems to have been a bitter opponent 
of the prophetic party and had at least one prophet put to death 
(xxvi. 20 — 23); his eff"orts against Jeremiah and Baruch were less 
successful owing to the protection which was aff"orded them by some 
of the princes (xxxvi. 26 ; cf. v. 25 and xxvi. 24). Jehoiakim may have 
been, as Josephus says, 'unjust and malignant; neither holy towards 
God, nor forbearing towards man'/ but as he appears in Jer. he is a 
real man, one who is able to make up his mind and to carry out his 
plans. The kings of Judah are for the most part mere names and 
though Zedekiah is described with some detail, yet he is so feeble and 
characterless that he seems to glide across the prophet's life like a feature- 
less ghost. Jehoiakim by the single incident narrated in xxxvi. 20 ff". is 
revealed as a person of strong and determined character. It is only 
necessary to study the action of the nobles in his reign, when even the 
strongest sympathisers with the prophets had to work in secret and 
in fear (xxxvi. 19), with the insolent and overbearing conduct of their 
inferior successors in the reign of Zedekiah (xxxviii. 24 ff". &c.), to 
realise the difference between the two men. 

The Egyptian supremacy in Asia which had been the cause of 
Jehoiakim's elevation to the throne did not last very long; in 607 or 
606 B.C. Nineveh fell before the Medes and Babylonians, and in 605 
Necho himself was completely crushed at Carchemish by Nebuchad- 
rezzar, the son and general of Nabopolassar the new Babylonian monarch. 
A description of the battle, one of the most important in the world's 
history, has been preserved in Jer. xlvi. 1 — 12, which tells how Egypt's 
'mighty ones were beaten down, they fled away and looked not back; 
their swift and mighty men stumbled and fled.' Nebuchadrezzar was 
not able to take immediate advantage of his victory, as the death of 
his father and the consequent unsettlement demanded the presence 
in Babylon of the new monarch. The Chaldeans, however, eventually 
returned and Jehoiakim had perforce to submit. As the nominee of 
Egypt Jehoiakim may be presumed to have been pro-Eg}^tian in his 
sympathies, and he seems to have found the yoke of Babylon very 

^ Ant. X. v. 2. 



§ 2] THE TIMES OF JEREMIAH xxv 

heavy; accordingly after three years he refused tribute and entered 
into open rebellion (2 K. xxiv. 1). Josephus tells us that it was in 
reliance upon the assistance of Egypt that he took this step\ If the 
people of Judah expected to receive help from their neighbours such 
expectations were soon proved to be vain ; on the contrary the nations 
round about looked upon Judah as a lawful prey, and bands of Chal- 
deans, Syrians (? Edomites), Moabites and Ammonites speedily invaded 
the doomed country intent on plunder (2 K. xxiv. 2). Jehoiakim died 
before the extent of his folly became visible and his son Coniah was 
left to face the fury of the Babylonian advanced 

The new king adopted the name of Jehoiachin (he is called Coniah 
in xxii. 24, and Jeconiah in ^xiv. 1 and in 1 Ch. iii. 16). His reign 
like that of Jehoahaz lasted only three months and he seems to have 
been very much under the influence of the queen-mother Nehushta 
(see note on xiii. 18). The men of Jerusalem were wise enough to 
submit after a very short siege and so the city was spared, for the time, 
the horrors which afterwards came upon it; the king however and his 
principal nobles, together with the craftsmen and warriors, were carried 
away to Babylon^. Jehoiachin was perhaps the most fortunate of the 
later kings of Judah as he was apparently well treated by his captors, 
and Evil-merodach, the successor of Nebuchadrezzar, released him from 
confinement and 'spake kindly to him, and set his throne above the 
thrones of the kings that were with him in Babylon' (Jer. Iii. 32). 
Nebuchadrezzar placed on the throne of the enfeebled kingdom the 
youngest of Josiah's sons and therefore the uncle of the last king. He 
exercised what seems to have been the suzerain's right by changing the 
king's name from Mattaniah to Zedekiah. Zedekiah seems to have 
been chosen for his weakness of character, and all through his unhappy 
reign he appears to have been at the mercy of the man or the party 
which was nearest to him for the time being. In considering the people 

^ Ant. X. vL 2. 

^ I follow tiie account contained in 2 K. xxiv., which says that Jehoiakim was 
buried in peace {v. 6), and that Jerusalem did not fall until the next reign (v. 12). 
The chronicler makes Nebuchadrezzar carry Jehoiakim in chains to Babylon 
(2 Ch. xxxvi. 6) but his account evidently confuses Jehoiakim and Jehoiachin; 
Josephus (Ant. x. vi. 3) states that Jerusalem was entered by the Chaldeans on 
friendly terms and that the king was treacherously murdered by them. 

^ It should be noticed that among the captives taken to Babylon in the first 
dejDortation was the prophet Ezekiel, and that he dates the beginning of the 
Captivity from the first fall of Jerusalem. There is some difficulty in arriving at 
the actual date of the city's fall ; in 2 K. xxiv. 12 it is said to have been in the 
eighth year of Nebuchadrezzar (i.e. 597 b.c.) but in Jer. Iii. 28 the seventh year is 
given as the date of the beginning of the Captivity ; this latter date agrees with 
the statement in 2 K, xxv. 27, where see Skinner's note. 



xxvi INTRODUCTION [§ 2 

who controlled him it must be remembered that all the best and most 
experienced of the nation had been carried away to Babylon. 

Jeremiah spent all his energies in trying to keep the king faithful 
to the oath of allegiance which he had sworn to Nebuchadrezzar (Ez. 
xvii. 13 ff.) and for a time he was successful, though in the fourth year 
of his reign (594 — 593 B.C.) the king entered into certain negotiations 
with Moab, Ammon and Tyre (xxvii. 1 ff.). Necho had died in 594 
and it is possible that the plotting against Babylon which broke out 
about this time in Palestine was inspired by his successor Psamme- 
tichus II. Cornill thinks that the conspiracy failed to come to a head 
because war broke out suddenly between Egypt and Ethiopia and so 
deprived the smaller states of that support^ without which any attempt 
to throw off the yoke of Babylon would have been mere foolishness^ 
According to Jer. li. 59, Zedekiah made a journey to Babylon about 
this time probably to explain his conduct to his overlord and to give 
pledges of his loyalty. The inevitable end, however, could not be long 
delayed; the weak king surrounded by ambitious courtiers and tempted 
by the promises of the neighbouring peoples made common cause with 
Moab and Ammon and appealed to Egypt for protection. Jerusalem 
was immediately invested ; it held out stubbornly for a year and a half 
but at length a breach was made in the North side (2 K. xxv. 2—3) and 
the king and his army fled out by the opposite gate. The fugitives were 
captured near Jericho and taken to Nebuchadrezzar at Eiblah, The 
long and troublesome resistance of Jerusalem made any plea for mercy 
vain; the king's sons were slain in their father's sight; his own eyes 
were put out, and he was taken to Babylon in chains, there to remain 
until his death. The temple and palaces of Jerusalem were razed to 
the ground together with the walls, and the bulk of the population 
was taken captive to Babylon, seventy of the principal men being exe- 
cuted (2 K. xxv. 4 — 10). This final and overwhelming disaster was 
undoubtedly due to the feeble and vacillating character of the king, 
who in words which Bishop Stubbs applied to John of England had 
'neither grace nor splendour, strength nor patriotism.' Zedekiah is 
indeed a pitiable example of a man occupying a position of responsi- 
bility for which he was not fitted and for which he probably had no 
desire. The gifts of kindly feeling and the desire to do what was right 
which he possessed would have been estimable virtues in private life, 
but, unsupported as they were by strength of character or the power 
of taking any decisive step, they brought about the ruin of his country. 
1 Das Buch Jeremia, pp. 305 f . 



§ 2] THE TIMES OF JEREMIAH xxvii 

Zedekiah had just enough power to retain his throne, yet not enough 
to be the real ruler of the nation ; he had just enough fear of God to 
prevent his doing anything violently wrong, but not enough to make 
him active in God's service. He is a typical example of lukewarmness, 
one who was neither hot nor cold and whose final doom was worse than 
that of a thoroughgoing and determined despot like Jehoiakim. 

Gedaliah, the son of Ahikam Jeremiah's protector, was put in charge 
of the ruined province. Jeremiah himself went at first with the other 
captives as far as Ramah, but on permission being given to him he 
returned and threw in his lot with those who remained in the land. 
Jerusalem having been destroyed, the headquarters of the new com- 
munity were fixed at Mizpah, and to this centre there gradually col- 
lected the roving bands which had escaped from the Babylonians. For 
two months all went well and the beginnings of what must have seemed 
to the prophet a new social order were successfully made, when an 
unexpected disaster overtook the community \ The governor was slain 
by Ishmael, son of Nethaniah, acting for the king of Ammon ; where- 
upon the remnant of the people fled to Egypt, taking the reluctant 
prophet with them. 

The experiment which Nebuchadrezzar made in appointing a Jew 
as governor of the conquered province exhibits the Babylonians in a 
very favourable light. It was a policy attended with grave risks in 
view of the continued rebellions of the people of Judah in the past, and 
though the experiment failed it was through no fault on the part of the 
new governor, unless indeed excessive trust in the good faith of others 
can be termed a fault. Gedaliah had evidently been chosen with great 
care, and he seems to have gained the trust of the Jews as well as of 
the Babylonians, as is shewn by the crowds of fugitives who returned 
to take refuge under his protection. His murder was most probably 
the act of one who was utterly opposed to any submission to Babylon 
and to any recognition of its right to appoint a governor. Ishmael 



1 Canon Kennett thinks that the governorship of Gedaliah may have lasted for 
a mneh longer time than is usually supposed. He writes to me as follows : ' The 
date of the murder of Gedaliah is very doubtful. Jerusalem did not fall till the 
7th day of the 6th mouth of the lltli year of Zedekiah. After that the incidents 
related in Jer. xxxix. 4ii. must have taken some time, and also the return of the 
fugitives related in xl. 11, 12. If Gedaliah was murdered in the 7th month there 
scarcely seems time for all this to happen. Jer. lii. 30 mentions a third deportation 
not recorded in Kings, and this third deiDortation must have been in consequence 
of some insurrection. It seems to me probable that it was in consequence of the 
murder of Gedaliah, and I should therefore regard his governorship as lasting 
seven years.' 

B. C 



xxviii INTRODUCTION [§ 2 

may also have been disgusted that a member of the royal house should 
accept such a degrading position and act in a subordinate post under 
a conqueror. 

§ 3. The Life of Jeremiah 

There are men to whom God's voice comes as they wander in some 
lonely garden at the cool of the day; there are others who hear it 
amidst the blaze of a midday sun upon the open highway ; but, when- 
ever the hour and wherever the place, the true servant of God is 
always ready to welcome the Divine message, to receive which his 
mind and conscience have long been preparing him. But though this 
preparation may have been long, going behind even the birth of the 
person concerned ^ yet it does not follow that he himself has been 
conscious of the process. Such seems to have been the case with 
Jeremiah, who evidently first realised his vocation at the time when he 
was called to fulfil it, and who had remained ignorant of the Divine 
care which had watched over him from his very birth. 

The name of the prophet's father according to the heading of 
the book (i. 1) was Hilkiah, but nothing is known of his history or 
character (there is no reason for identifying him with the high priest of 
the same name mentioned in 2 K. xxii.). His home was at Anathoth, 
a small village lying amongst the heights of Benjamin, 'just out of 
sight of Jerusalem V but on the great highway from it to the North. 
The outlook from Anathoth towards the wilderness was stern and 
desolate and doubtless influenced the mind of Jeremiah, as is shewn 
by the images which he used (cf. ii. 31, iv. 11, &c.); 'from its site the 
land falls away in broken barren hills to the North end of the Dead 
Sea. The vision of that desert maze was burnt into the prophet's 
mind, and he contrasted it with the clear ordered word of God^' 
Anathoth is included in the list of priestly cities in Josh. xxi. 18 and 
is associated with the priestly family of Abiathar (1 K. ii. 26), but it 
is quite uncertain whether Jeremiah or even his father were members 
of the priestly guild (see on i. !)■*. 



1 Cf. H. p. Liddon, ' When God forms a human life to do some appointed task, 
His preparatory action may be traced in the circumstances of hereditary descent 
not less than in other provisions whether of Nature or of Grace.' 

2 Dean Stanley, Sin. and Pal. p. 166. 

3 G. A. Smith, Hist. Geog. p. 315. 

^ If Jeremiah was a priest when the call came to him he must be reckoned as 
the fii'st of the canonical prophets who had such an origin. 



§ 3] THE LIFE OF JEREMIAH xxix 

It is greatly to be regretted that no descriptions of the appearance 
of Jeremiah have come down to us ; what would we not give to have 
some slight sketch, it may be, of the young prophet as he was when 
first God's voice came to him, sketches such as St Thomas of Celano 
has preserved of St Francis in his early days when he was pondering 
over the claims of the Divine will upon his life and allegiance? And 
even if such a detailed picture be denied to us, some single illu- 
minating touch — as when it is said of David that ' he was ruddy, and 
withal of a beautiful countenance, and goodly to look upon^ ' ; or of 
Saul that ' he was higher than any of the people from his shoulders and 
upwards^' — would be of untold value in helping us to realise that 
Jeremiah was an actual living and suffering man such as we ourselves 
are. We tend so constantly to look upon the prophets as ' personified 
qualities in an allegory' and quite fail to invest them ' with the reality 
of human flesh and blood.' The Hebrews as a whole seem to have had 
but little interest in the physical appearance of their great men, nor 
do they seem to have regarded that other aspect of their physical 
being, bodily health. Jeremiah can talk of the state as being sick 
unto death, and can liken the false prophets to unskilled physicians, 
but he does not seem to have realised that his own constant change 
of mood, now unduly depressed, now too highly exalted, may have been, 
in part at any rate, the result of the humours of the body. 

Jeremiah reveals nothing of his inner life before God's call came to 
him, though from his general attitude it seems certain that his longings 
and desires were of a religious nature. He had probably studied the 
works of ihe earlier prophets, his predecessors, with a loving diligence ^ 
and was no doubt familiar with their histories as handed down to his 
own times, and this knowledge may have had much to do with his 
hesitation and shrinking back when he was called to the same office. 
Who was he that he should dare to take his place beside the prophets 
of old, beside Amos and Hosea, Isaiah and Micah ? 

The call evidently came to him when he was still quite young 
(though 'child' in i. 6 is not to be taken literally, see note ad loc). 
It came to him first in the thirteenth year of Josiah (626 B.C.), which 
was also the year in which Esarhaddon's long reign of forty-two years 

1 1 S. xvi. 12. 

■' 1 S. X. 23. 

3 His vsTitings bear marks of the influence of Hosea especially (see p. Ixix) ; it 
must not, however, be taken for granted that Jeremiah's study of these writings, 
antedated his call, though from the nature of the case it is exceedingly likely. 

c2 



XXX INTRODUCTION [§ 3 

came to an end : possibly some disturbance in connexion with the 
succession unknown to us may have quickened Jeremiah's prophetic 
instincts, but it is much more likely that he first realised the state of 
his nation and the imminence of judgement by the near approach of the 
Scythians which took place about this time (see p. xix.). Jerusalem 
itself escaped the danger, and Jeremiah's credit as a prophet must 
have been severely shaken ; he knew however that he was not mistaken 
as to the final fate of the nation if repentance were delayed, and 
during the remaining eighteen years of the reign of Josiah he con- 
tinued to attack abuses and corruptions both in the moral and in the 
ecclesiastical life around him. It was stated above that Jeremiah 
took no active or at least no prominent part in the reformation of 
Josiah, but even so his teaching must have prepared for it and 
reinforced its lessons. At the same time he warns the people that 
mere ceremonial is useless, even though it be performed at a purified 
sanctuary. Such opposition as Jeremiah encountered during the reign 
of Josiah, and apparently he exercised his ministry continually (xxv. 3), 
must have been of a private and spiteful character as he was probably 
countenanced by the king. With the accession of Jehoiakim, how- 
ever, all was changed, the prophet's life became a burden to him and 
constant persecution was his lot for the remainder of his life. 

Such a series of experiences was involved in his acceptance of 
God's call to him, as he doubtless realised at the time, for though the 
philosopher may, as Plato says, 'stand out of the way under a wall 
until the driving storm of sleet and rain be overpast,' the prophet of 
God can never think of himself or the dangers of his mission and the 
hardships which it will involve ; if he does so, he will assuredly unfit 
himself for his vocation and be put to shame in the presence of those 
who oppose him (i. 17). Until his message is delivered the prophet 
should know that nothing that he fears can overwhelm him, and so he 
must go about amongst his people with perfect confidence, sharing if 
need be in the dangers and discomforts of their situation, making 
them aware of the source from which these have come and of the sin 
which is their ultimate cause. But at the same time it is no necessary 
part of the work of the prophet to find solutions for all the problems 
of the times in which he lives. His duty is rather to point them out, 
to discover their significance, and to define the limits within which 
they are really vital ; and if in addition he points men's minds to the 
ever-present reality of a living God in whom all problems find their 
solution, then may he entrust to others the working out of the details 



§ 3] THE LIFE OF JEREMIAH xxxi 

of his teaching. In other words, the function of the prophet is to deal 
with principles, and to leave to the priest and the ruler their application 
to everyday life. 

Such a course of action is always bound to result in suffering and 
persecution, and the prophet often finds himself standing alone as the 
witness of righteousness. Loyalty to his mission and to the con- 
victions which inspire and sustain him compels him to attack customs 
and beliefs which are the cherished possessions of those in power, the 
sacred deposit which must be defended by every means against the 
desecration of the profane. In a state like Judah where religion and 
politics were hardly to be distinguished, and where, in the words of a 
recent writer, ' religious conceptions ' were ' mixed up with angry 
political passions and carnal dreams V any attack on the one could not 
be carried out without a collision with the other. The prince and the 
ecclesiastic were the joint guardians of the established order. If 
Jeremiah had restricted his teaching to the promulgation of the mystic 
truth that God is a spirit and that therefore He demands spiritual 
worship (without definitely stating that sacrifices and offerings were 
not spiritual), very possibly he would have been allowed to go on 
his way as a harmless enthusiast; but when he attacked the temple 
worship and the maladministration of the authorities he became 
dangerous, the threat to vested interests was too obvious and pressing 
to be ignored ; all parties combined to crush him. Once the true 
inwardness of his teaching and all that it involved were discovered, 
his life became a burden to him, and his sensitive soul was wrung by 
the hatred of those around him (xv. 10, 17 f.). He was openly con- 
tradicted (xxiii. 17, xxvii. 9 flf., xxviii., xxix.) and mocked (xvii. 15, 
XX. 7 f, xxiii. 33); false accusations were brought against him (xx. 10, 
xxxvii. 13, xxxviii. 4); he was repeatedly imprisoned (xx. 2, xxxii. 3, 
xxxiii. 1, xxxvii. 13 — 21, xxxviii. 6 — 13); twice he was beaten (xx. 
1 — 3, xxxvii. 11 — 16); and on at least four occasions his life was 
threatened, sometimes by treacherous attacks (xi. 18 — 21, xviii. 18 — 
23), once by the royal command (xxxvi. 26), and once by the more 
subtle methods of legal procedure (xxvi. 8 f.). 

Of the prophet's life during the later years of Jehoiakim the book 
gives us little information. After his attack on the temple and the 



^ The author of Pro Christo et Ecclesia in the volume entitled Concerning 
Prayer, p. 148. In their original context the words are applied to a later period of 
Jewish history, but they are equally true of the times of Jeremiah. 



xxxii INTRODUCTION [| 3 

whole sacrificial system', an attack which nearly cost him his life, 
Jeremiah seems to have gone into retirements But such a with- 
drawal from actual preaching did not mean that the prophet was 
inactive; on the contrary, he seized the opportunity to dictate, in 
response to the Divine command, a summary of his discourses, which 
he thereupon had presented to the king by the hand of his scribe 
Baruch, son of Neriah. The indignant and blasphemous conduct of 
the king has already been referred to, he burnt the roll and tried to 
apprehend its author, but without success, Jeremiah was ' hidden by the 
Lords ' 

We are told nothing of the prophet's fortunes during the first siege 
of Jerusalem, but on the accession of Zedekiah he once more appears 
upon the scene. During this, the last reign of Jewish history, Jeremiah 
had to meet with much opposition from prophets whose claim to be 
representatives of Jehovah was exactly the same as his ownS The 
message of these prophets was, however, unlike his, one of hope, the 
exiles were to return from Babylon and to bring with them the vessels 
of the temple which had been conveyed thither after the fall of the 
city. The encounter between Jeremiah and one of these prophets, 
Hananiah by name, is described in detail, together with the subsequent 
fate of the latter, and there can be but little doubt that this incident 
is only one instance of what was continually occurringS In spite of 
his gloomy views of their future and his denial of the possibility of 
any speedy return, Jeremiah had a very high regard for the members 
of the first deportation, that is in comparison with those who remained 
behind, the difference between them was similar to that between good 
figs and bads He further shewed his interest in them by sending 
to Babylon a letter of warning and advice, a letter which aroused 
some amount of indignation both in Babylon and in Judah itself. 
When Zedekiah finally threw in his lot with the Anti-Babylonian 
party and revolted, Jeremiah's position became one of great difficulty, 
and he suffered at this time many of the indignities to which reference 
was made above, on one occasion his life was only preserved by the 
courage and humanity of an Ethiopian eunuchS During the course 
of the siege the prophet was frequently consulted by the king, and 

1 See vii. 1 ff. and xxvi. 1 ff. with notes. 

2 Whether this retirement was compulsory or voluntary it is impossible to say ; 
see on xxxvi. 5. 

3 xxxvi. 26. * See Additional Note, pp. 182 ff. 
5 xxviii. Iff., cf. also xxiii. 9fl. 

^ xxiv. ^ xxix. ^ xxxviii. 1 ff. 



§ 3] THE LIFE OF JEREMIAH xxxiii 

appeals were made to him for soiiie promise of consolation and hope\ but 
he remained steadfast to his message that in surrender alone lay the 
hope of safety. Teaching such as this was bound to be resented by 
those responsible for the defence of the city, and when, in an interval 
of the siege caused by the advance of an army of relief from Egypt, 
Jeremiah essayed to go down to his native village, they seized the 
opportunity of arresting him as a deserter". This attempt of the 
Egyptians to relieve Jerusalem, which in the end proved abortive, was 
a cause of the prophet's gaining further disfavour with his fellow- 
countrymen. Inspired by fear of punishment and perhaps hoping for 
Jehovah's favour, the men of Jerusalem had released their slaves 
in accordance with the requirements of the law ; but when the 
Babylonians withdrew they once more enforced their claims for service. 
Such contempt for the rights of God and man could not be allowed to 
pass uncondemned by the representative of Jehovah, and the prophet 
was unmeasured in his denunciations I When the Chaldeans finally 
entered the city Jeremiah received special care at their hands, though 
the exact sequence of events is hard to follow*, and in spite of the 
opportunity of going to Babylon he chose to remain with the scanty 
remnant of the nation gathering round Gedaliah at Mizpah. For 
a short time a new hope seemed to dawn and then darkness once more 
descended for ever, Gedaliah was slain and the prophet taken down to 
Egypt, where, so tradition says, he met his death at the hands of his 
fellow-exiles. If this tradition is true, as it well may be in spite of 
its late date, his death was a fitting climax to a life spent in the devoted 
service of an ungrateful nation ^ 

If the life of Jeremiah be judged according to the standards of 
worldly success and failure, that is by reference to the ends which he 
set before himself, or even by comparison with the achievements of 
other prophets and reformers, it must be reckoned a failure. A study 
of his utterances shews that the prophet's ministry had two main 
objectives ; first, to arouse the people to a more worthy conception of the 
character of God, and of the worship due to Him ; and then by means of 



^ xxi., xxxvii. Iff., xxxviii. 14 ff. 

' xxxviii. 11 ff. 

'^ xxxiv. 8 ff. ■* See notes on xl. 1 — 6. 

* For a collection of traditions regarding .Jeremiah's sojourn in Egypt and his 
subsequent fate see Enc. Bib. 2368. The tradition that the prophet was stoned 
comes from Christian sources (Tert. Scorpiace 8; Jerome, adv. Jov. ii. 37). 
According to the Jews he escaped from Egj'pt and went with Baruch to Babylon 
where he died. 



xxxiv INTRODUCTION [§ 3 

a newly-awakened national conscience to influence the rulers in such 
a way as to banish injustice and oppression at home, and to bring to 
an end the system of petty intrigues and alliances which had become 
traditional in the foreign politics of the nation. 

A comparison between the two somewhat similar ministries of 
Isaiah and Jeremiah — similar that is in aim rather than in performance, 
though both prophets were witnesses of reforms in religion and both 
went through the experience of a foreign invasion — suggests that the 
reasons for the success of the one and the failure of the other lay in 
the difference between (a) their outward circumstances ; and (b) their 
inward character. 

(a) Jeremiah had an infinitely harder task to perform than had 
Isaiah, for the period which elapsed between them had been one of 
decline in nearly every department of the national life\ Though the 
ministry of Isaiah had been a success and the policy suggested by him 
had been adopted by the leaders of the people^, yet his warnings and 
the more spiritual parts of his teaching had been ignored. In fact the 
very success of his policy had tended to confirm the men of Judah in 
their conviction that Jehovah would never desert Jerusalem and that 
it was therefore inviolable. Furthermore, Isaiah was able to command 
the support of an influential party and of the king himself during the 
greater part of his ministry ; Jeremiah, on the other hand, always 
gives the impression of one who stands alone^ and though he probably 
had the support of Josiali, yet after the decease of that monarch he 
had to undergo the opposition of the successive rulers of the nation 
or at best their languid patronage. The death of Josiah and the 
failure of the reformation which he had attempted made the work of 
the prophet exceedingly hard, as these events seemed to be a Divine 
judgement upon all attempts at purifying the worship of the nation 
and raising its standard of life ; moreover, the tradition that Jerusalem 
was God's holy seat and that He would protect it, which had been so 
strikingly upheld in Isaiah's day, had hardened into a superstition, 
and one which had become quite divorced from the moral and religious 
context which it occupied in the teaching of that prophet himself ^ 

1 Cf. pp. xlix ff. 

2 There was a reaction, however, a'-ainst the teaching of Isaiah, in the reign of 
Manaseeh, under whom the prophet, acoording to a late tradition, was sawn 
asunder. 

2 It must be admitted that Jeremiah was apt to be pessimistic and Hke Elijah 
to overlook the seven thousand who had not bowed the knee to Baal. 

* The comparison between the prophetic careers of Isaiah and Jeremiah reveals 



§ 3] THE LIFE OF JEREMIAH xxxv 

'There are times,' as Dean Stanley said, 'when ancient truths become 
modern falsehoods \' 

(b) Jeremiah's failure, however, was largely due to his own personal 
limitations. In the first place, he seems to have been unable suffi- 
ciently to sympathise with those to whom he was sent, or perhaps 
it would be more accurate to say that he was unable to shew his 
sympathy; his attitude was too uncompromising, and his preaching 
often gives the impression of one who desired to put things as bluntly 
as possible, and even to shock people. Doubtless such a course was 
necessary with the self-satisfied audiences whom he addressed, but he 
seems at times to be needlessly harsh. Very possibly this seeming 
harshness arose from his love for those whom he was compelled to 
condemn, for paradoxical as it may sound, a teacher is often most 
fierce, when he has to criticise those whom he most loves. Jeremiah's 
love for his country was also a handicap to his preaching in another 
way, in that it tended to make him seemingly inconsistent, and there- 
fore hard to understand. There were ever two impulses stirring within 
him, which issued sometimes in stern denunciations, sometimes in tender 
appeals. After all it must be remembered that the prophet is not the 
inventor of a perfect system by means of which every little detail of 
life can be fitted into its appropriate place, and play its part in con- 
tributing to a logical and balanced whole^. He is not one who depends 
largely on the promptings of his intellect at all ; but he is above all 
one who follows the guidance of the voice within and who feels deeply 
the truths for which he has made his standi It therefore happened 
that Jeremiah, like the other prophets, had a strong and almost 
fanatical grasp of a few great principles which he did not hesitate to 
apply to every obj'gct of thought or discussion, and in so doing he was 
quite regardless of the effect upon other men's minds. He was essentially 
deductive in his methods and not concerned with the actual facts of 
the matter in hand, the principle was to be followed at all costs, the 
facts must find their own place. In other words, he was according to 
present-day judgements unpractical, a dreamer, and a visionary. He 

an apparent paradox : Isaiah was a success as far as men could judge, Jeremiah 
a failure ; yet the teaching of the former was perverted and became a stumbling- 
block, the teaching of the latter became the basis of all future progress in Hebrew 
religion and culminated in Christianity itself. 

^ Jewish Church, ii. 441. 

' Cf. pp. XXX f. 

3 ' The modern reformer may study tactics and opportunities, but the great 
prophets of old on great occasions follow without questioning the admonition of 
an inner voice.' Canon Streeter, Foundations, p. 123. 



xxxvi INTRODUCTION [| 3 

was lacking in that sense of statesmanship which enabled Isaiah to 
seize and use his opportunities, and he does not seem to have had the 
same sure touch in dealing with practical problems. In this respect there 
are many parallels to be drawn between him and the gentle saint of 
Assisi, for St Francis too was quite unable to cope with problems of 
government and practical politics \ 

Jeremiah, in spite of the fact that many of his proposed reforms 
must have seemed utterly radical to his fellow-countrymen, was in 
reality a conservative ; his great object was to bring back the purer 
conditions of that past upon which his heart so frequently meditated^. 
But he was not able to sway men's minds and to make them sharers in 
the same vision ; his influence, however, survived his lifetime, and the 
ideals which then seemed impossible have not in later times been 
without their measure of realisation ; and, moreover, it is in them that 
the hope of the future lies^ Jeremiah failed, not because like the 
Stoic, he 'revealed a disease and palsy of human nature which he 
could not cure'*,' but because he was unable to make the patient 
realise the seriousness of his state, or to get him to adopt the only 
possible way of health and safety. But it must not be forgotten that 
the prophet was chosen by God for his task, and, as will be seen later, 
his apparent failure brought about the teaching of the New Covenant. 
The Almighty, if He had so wished, could have forged an instrument 
which would have saved Judah as a nation. He chose one rather which 
made possible Judah as a church. 



§ 4. The Chaeacter of Jeremiah 

God's revelation through a prophet has always to be mediated by 
means of the prophet's personality^ If God makes use of a messenger, 
that messenger is bound to influence the form in which the message is 
delivered. The message which was entrusted to the various prophets 
came to them in various ways but almost always by means of the 
incidents of their ordinary occupations or by the events of contem- 

1 Of. Father Cuthbert, Life of St Francis of Assisi, pp. 270 f. 

2 Cf. ii. 1, vi. 16 ff., XXXV. Iff. with notes. 

' For the influence of Jeremiah's teaching see pp. Ixxxiii ff. 

* The Bishop of Winchester in Lux Mundi '^, p. 106. 

5 Cf. Dean Stanley, The Jeivish Church, i. p. 94, ' In grace, as in nature, God, 
if we may use the well-known expression, abhorret saltum, abhors a sudden un- 
prepared transition. "The child is father of the man" : the man is father of the 
prophet.' 



I 4] THE CHARACTER OF JEREMIAH xxxvii 

porary history. They realised God's voice speaking to them through 
their surroundings ; then they declared His will to the people amongst 
whom they dwelt. In the case of Jeremiah, as of Hosea with whom he 
has remarkable similarities of teaching, the experience of his own life 
led the prophet to a conception of God such as had been reached 
by none before him. This being so, a short sketch of the prophet's 
character and its development is a necessary preliminary to the study 
of his teaching, as well as being a fitting sequel to the narrative of this 
life. 

The character of a living person can be estimated and described 
after some acquaintance with him and after some enquiry amongst his 
familiars ; but even liere a certain amount of difficulty arises because 
every man, even the most simple, leads to some extent a dual existence ; 
there is the outward life known to his acquaintances, and the inward 
life known only to himself. In estimating the character of Jeremiah 
both classes of evidence are fortunately available; as was seen above 
(pp. xiv f.) the book which bears his name, though much of it is the 
record of others, contains passages of priceless value as being sincere 
and unreserved revelations of the prophet's secret soul in its highest 
relations \ This help to the understanding of Jeremiah's character is 
all the more valuable as that character is one of much complexity and 
its outward seeming must often have deceived his contemporaries ; few, 
if any, imagined that beneath 'the pillar of iron and brass' there beat 
the nervous and hesitating heart of one who confessed that he was but 
'a child.' The prophet's inner life might be pictured as some lonely 
mountain tarn, sometimes visited by fierce winds, sometimes smiled 
upon by the sun and the tender myriads of the stars, but always upborne 
by the might of the everlasting hills. Jeremiah, like every other true 
prophet, was the human agent of a Pivine master, and the weakness of 
the agent was ever shrinking back from the compelling power of the 
Master-. Deeply sensitive and tender hearted, he was at the same time 
intrepidly brave ; liable to fits of deep emotion, he had a piercing judge- 
ment and was also capable of great endurance. His judgement and 
knowledge had not been formed like those of Elijah or Amos in the 

1 Fortunately there is little question of the genuineness of all the most im- 
portant autobiographical passages which throw so much light on the prophet's 
character and teaching. There is one exception to this — and it is a great exception 
— that is the question of the New Covenant (see Additional Note, pp. 241 S.). 

^ Bishop Gore contrasts ' the life of divinely given authority in insight and 
foresight, based upon the divine word communicated and the vision of God vouch- 
safed: and side by side with it, the life of intense personal trial and dismay.' 
Bampton Lectures'-, p. 155. 



xxxviii INTRODUCTION [§ 4 

loneliness of the desert, but he was a townsman and familiar from 
childhood with the scene of his future ministry\ At the same time his 
affectionate and sympathetic nature enabled him to enter into the 
feelings even of those whom he condemned, little though they might 
realise it, and so he never really seems to be detached from them as 
was Amos or Ezekiel ; on the contrary he uttered his condemnations 
with an aching and broken heart. 

Such was the character of Jeremiah in general terms, but a more 
detailed treatment is necessary in regard to certain outstanding traits. 
(«) His timidity. As was seen above the book of Jeremiah contains 
a number of self-revelations by the prophet which shew that the outward 
sternness of his life only concealed an inward conflict. These records 
of his physical cowardice and shrinking make Jeremiah a figure much 
more human and like unto the ordinary Christian of to-day; and those 
who share in his weakness have the consolation of knowing that they 
can also learn the secret of his strength. There are not many men who 
are heroes by nature, but there are fewer still who may not become 
heroes by grace". The call of Jeremiah is the first event narrated in the 
book which bears his name and it is a record of the spirit in which the 
prophet carried out his whole life-work. Great self-distrust and inward 
fear overcome by the power of God are the marks of Jeremiah's ministry. 
He did not like Isaiah^ volunteer to go on God's errand, but like Moses* 
he shrank back from it. God gave him power by touching his lips, and 
then commanded him to speak out all the words which had been given 
him, otherwise his cowardice would be openly shewn in the sight of his 
enemies ^ There can have been few men in the history of the world 
who have undertaken tasks less congenial to them than did Jeremiah 
when he became the prophet of Jehovah ; the weakness of his nature 
made his life one long perpetual struggle, he cursed the day on which 
he was born and even rose to the height of blaming God Himself. His 
timid spirit and the extremity of suffering which he had to undergo 
drove him almost to madness; hence his strange boldness towards God. 
He felt that it was for His sake that he had borne reproach, and that 
God, as it were, had forced him against his own will to undertake the 
life of pain which oppressed him and at times threatened to overwhelm 
him". Tliese strange outbursts are the strongest possible evidence of 

1 Duhm's theory that Jeremiah had not visited Jerusalem before the incidents 
described in v. 1 ff. can hardly be correct, see the introd. to that chapter. 
^ Cf. Cheyne, Life and Times, p. 36. 
3 Is. vi. 8. ■ ^Ex. iv. Iff. «i. 6ff.,17. 

« XV. 15—18. XX. 7—12. 



/ 



§ 4] THE CHARACTER OF JEREMIAH xxxix 

the desperate state to which the prophet had been reduced, a state of 
despair such as comes to 'many a lofty soul which feels itself misunder- 
stood by men, which can hardly believe that it is not deserted by God\' 

(b) His power of endurance. Jeremiah then was timid and awarfe 
of the horrors and difficulties of his heavy task; and the more one 
studies his life, the greater becomes one's wonder that he was able to 
endure at all. For the most considerable part of his ministry he had 
to stand practically alone; he had no enthusiastic body of followers 
who might on the one hand have supported him in his policy and urged 
him on to fresh efforts, and at the same time concealed from him the 
strength and ruthlessness of those by whom he was opposed. But as 
Dr Payne Smith has said : ' Naturally despondent and self-distrustful, / 
there was no feebleness in his character ; and he possessed a far higher 
quality than physical courage in his power of patient endurance".' All 
Jeremiah's powers of patient endurance were needed as his ministry 
proceeded and as he became more and more convinced that Judah 
would not give heed to his message. The secret of his courage and 
endurance was to be found in the God who had called him to His service 
and whose promise of continual help never failed him. At the same 
time the Divine power acted as a compelling as well as a helping force. 
The prophet was decidedly not one of those who from the desire for 
publicity or fame preach startling sermons, and his shrinking and retiring 
nature needed the stimulus of God's awful compulsion before the pro- 
clamation of his message was possible. Newman's description of the 
steadfastness of the Christian might well be applied to Jeremiah. ' The 
foundations of the ocean' he says, 'the vast realms of water which girdle 
the earth, are as tranquil and as silent in the storm as in the calm. So 
it is with the souls of holy men. They have a well of peace springing 
up within them unfathomable; and though the accidents of the hour 
may make them seem agitated, yet in their hearts they are not so^.' 

(c) His sensitiveness. Jeremiah has come down to later ages as the 
'weeping prophet,' mainly it may be supposed because the book of 
Lamentations was traditionally attributed to him, and his name has 

1 Stanley, The Jewish Church, ii. 454. 

2 In the Speaker's Commentary on i. 17. 

3 Parochial and Plain Sermons, v. p. 69 ; cf. also John Keble's lines in his poem 
for the Twenty-third Sunday after Trinity in The Christian Year : 

' Watching in trance nor dark nor clear, 
Th'appalling Future as it nearer draws : 

His spirit calmed the storm to meet, 

Feeling the rock beneath his feet 
And tracing through the cloud the eternal Cause.' 



xl INTRODUCTION [§ 4 

been turned into a byword for pessimistic denunciations. But Jere- 
miah's denunciations were no more severe than those of the other 
prophets, his outlook on the future no darker. Why then was it that 
he above all other prophets should be chosen out to bear the term of 
reproach? It is almost undoubtedly for two reasons amongst others, 
(i) The soul of Jeremiah, with the possible exception of Hosea, was 
more sensitive than that of the others. He was not one who heard the 
deep sighing of the poor and left it unheeded, rather was he one of 
that noble but suffering band 

' to whom tlie miseries of the world 
Are misery, and will not let them rest.' 

It is true that to him as to them all there came times when (to continue 
the quotation) he did desire to 'find a haven,' not indeed 'in the world' 
but rather from it. This longing, due to natural reaction in one of a 
highly strung and sensitive nature, is evidence of the extremity of his 
suffering rather than of his desire to avoid responsibility, and was soon 
put aside and no doubt repented of with tears, (ii) Just as Jeremiah / 
felt the miseries of the individual Israelites so he felt the horrors of t\ie\J 
fate which was coming upon the nation at large. His naturally affec- 
tionate disposition, cut off from the love of wife or child, poured itself 
out in overflowing measure upon his country. Isaiah or Ezekiel could 
utter the most scathing condemnations of Israel or Judah, could forecast 
for t^em the most desperate fortunes and apparently remain unaffected 
themselves ; but such was not the case with Jeremiah, he was no mere 
'looker on of this world's stage' and the sorrows of the nation were as 
his 'own, its hopeless and pitiable fate moved him till as he himself 
said his eyes became 'fountains of water.' The horrors which were 
coming seemed to fascinate him, he could not take his mind from them, 
and so it is that he seems almost to delight in dwelling on scenes of 
destruction and in picturing God's thirst for vengeance slaking itself in 
the most awful carnage \ Jeremiah's life as a prophet was constantly 
darkened by the character of the message which he had to deliver; and / 
like a judge compelled to sentence his only child, his soul shrank in*' 
dread from the words of condemnation which his lips were bidden to 
utter. What made the position harder for the prophet was the know- 
ledge that by warning the people of the coming of judgement he was 
making more certain their ultimate punishment, for it has been proved 
time and again that 'the judgements of God, public or personal, though 

1 Cf. xii. 12, XXV. 30—33, xlvi. 10, 1. 25—29. 



§ 4] THE CHARACTER OF JEREMIAH xli 

they ought' as Coleridge says 'to drive us to God, yet the heart, un- 
changed, runs the further from God\' Again and again he even ventures 
to expostulate with God Himself on behalf of the people, sometimes with 
a boldness which is surprising, verging as it does on irreverence. This 
attitude of mind is brought out more clearly still by a comparison with 
Jeremiah's younger contemporary Ezekiel, whose message had so many 
points in common with his own. Ezekiel had no mental conflict, all was 
clear to him, nay he ever delighted to carry the Divine message even if 
it involved the destruction of his native land. Ezekiel is always on the 
Lord's side, and sees nothing but the sin and wickedness which have 
called forth the Divine anger ; there is indeed something grim and stern 
about his attitude which is in strong contrast to the tender yearning 
of the earlier prophet, who often dares to take the part of his people 
even against their rightful Lord and to defend and excuse them (of. 
xiv. 13, &c.). 

Jeremiah loved Jerusalem and all that it stood for 'as an Athenian 
loved the city of the violet crown, as a Roman loved the city of the 
seven hills,' and it was this wonderful love that enabled him to pierce 
below the surface of the national life and to discern the evil which was 
slowly sapping its strength. He alone of all those who took in hand the 
cure of the unhappy country could heal its malady because he alone 
had sufficient insight to diagnose the disease from which it suffered. 
The politician and the religionist cried 'Peace, peace' when there was 
no peace, trying to soothe with soft words the patient whose ills they 
had never investigated ; but Jeremiah's purpose went far deeper, he was 
determined, in Bacon's words, 'to search the wounds of the country, 
not to skim them over'; and whilst they poured in the oil of the 
physician, he constantly declared that the only hope of salvation lay 
in the surgeon's knife. But in all truth he had a hopeless and dis- 
tressing task and his experience might well be described in words which 
were written of another. 'It is difficult to conceive any situation more 
painful than that of a great man, condemned to watch the lingering 
agony of an exhausted country, to tend it during the alternate fits of 
stupefaction and raving which precede its dissolution, and to see the 
symptoms of vitality disappear one by one, till nothing is left but 
coldness, darkness and corruption ^' Jeremiah remained constant in 
his love in spite of the apostasy of the nation, in spite of the sufferings 

^ Aids to Reflection, xcvn. 

^ Macaulay, Essay on Machiavelli. This same quotation has been applied to 
Jeremiah quite independently by Dr Streane. 



/ 



xlii INTRODUCTION . [§ 4 

which he endured at the hands of its rulers. He knew that the political 
future was dark and so he counselled submission and thus brought 
upon himself the hatred of his fellow-countrymen, and at the end when 
the rulers and the nobles had gone into exile he still clung to the 
broken remnant left in the land. 

(d) His desire for sympathy. One point which must strike every 
student of the life and writings of the prophet is his great loneliness. J 
It is as though throughout his whole life he was lavishing his affection 
upon objects from which he vainly expected some return. Cut off 
from his countrymen as Jeremiah was by the message of condemnation 
which he had to deliver, and hated by his brethren, one might have 
thought that he would have been allowed to find a natural solace in 
the love of a wife and children. The whole nature of the prophet 
seemed to demand such a consolation, for Jeremiah was no ascetic and 
hater of pleasure, and he took a gladsome delight in the young life 
growing up around him ; the first picture which comes to his mind when 
he tries to imagine the approaching ruin is of the fate of the innocent 
children playing in the streets \ But these natural instincts and desires 
were not to be fulfilled, marriage was denied to him^ and the prophet 
knew in his heart tliat his life must be dedicated to the delivery of his 
message. Jeremiah was unique amongst the prophets in this respect, 
so far as we know, though Hosea was unfortunate in his married life^ 
and Ezekiel was forbidden to mourn for the loss of a dearly loved wife, 
'the desire of his eyes' as he called her, who was suddenly snatched 
from him^ As was seen above, the affection which Jeremiah poured out 
upon his nation was turned back into his own bosom and his efforts on 
its behalf entirely misunderstood; some few indeed of his countrymen 
seem to have given him a tardy sympathy and an effective protection, 
and one at least was not afraid to stand by his side and even to represent 
him at the peril of his life ; but on the whole Jeremiah received more 
favour and consideration from the enemies of his people than from the 
people themselves. Yet the prophet longed for the love of his fellows, 
and the fact that they misinterpreted his motives and suspected his 
teaching was a great grief to him. It was probably in order to gain the 
ear of the nation and to make an apologia pro vita sua that Jeremiah 
made public those intimate experiences between his soul and God which 
are of such inestimable value to later generations. The prophet was 

1 vi. 11 and ix. 20 (see Cornill's note on the former passage). 

2 xvi. If. where see notes. 

* Hos. i. — iii. * Ez. xxiv. 1.5 — 24. 



§ 4] THE CHARACTER OF JEREMIAH xliii 

reticent by nature, such at least is the conchision suggested by the 
account of his call, where no attempt is made to describe the appearance 
of the Almighty, or the phenomena which accompanied and heralded 
His approach, though at the same time the prophet does not hesitate 
to claim that it was no seraph who touched his lips but Jehovah 
Himself^ It seems therefore that these passages, unique as they are 
in prophetic literature, are the outstretchings of a deeply wronged and 
suffering man towards those who have done him hurt, but whom he 
still loves and longs to save. In their eyes he had shewn himself to be 
harsh, unfeeling, and one whose denunciations of his country reached 
the point of barely concealed treachery. By his self-revelation the 
prophet wished to let the people see the other side of the picture, he 
wished them to know of all his vain longings and pleadings on their 
behalf and to realise something of the sufferings which were inflicted 
upon him by the fate of his beloved land. This motive seems alone 
sufficient to account for the laying bare of Jeremiah's soul. 

Jeremiah has been likened to many personages in history, generally 
in regard to the bitter experience of his life. He has been likened 'to 
Cassandra, the Trojan prophetess, whose fate it was never to be believed, 
though prophesying nothing but the truth; to Phocion, the rival of 
Demosthenes in the last generation of Athenian greatness^, who main- 
tained the unpopular but sound doctrine that, if Athens were to escape 
worse evils, she must submit peaceably to the growing power of Macedon ; 
to Dante, whose native state, Florence, was in relation to France and 
the Empire as Palestine was to Egypt and Babylon, while the poet like 
the prophet could only protest without effect against the ever-growing 
dangers^.' All these comparisons, as was said above, deal with the fate 
of the prophet rather than with his character. It may perhaps be allow- 
able to introduce another comparison regarding the latter aspect. 
Readers of Miss Evelyn Underhill's 31ysticism will hardly fail to 
recognise the justice of likening Jeremiah to Suso, the German mystic 
of the fourteenth century. Suso was indeed the Jeremiah amongst 
contemplatives, both for his sensitiveness to the hardships of his lot 
and for the habit of self-analysis and self-revelation which made him 
record them^ He had at the same time much of the prophet's boldness 

1 i. 9 ; cf. Is. vi. 1—7 ; and Ez. i. — iii. 

2 This comparison was first made, I believe, by Bunsen, Gott in der Geschichte, 
p. 144. 

^ Dr Streane in Camb. Bible, p. xxxii. 

* Cf . p. 488, ' There is no grim endurance about Suso : he feels every hard 
knock, and all the instincts of his nature are in favour of telling his griefs.' 

£. d 



xliv INTRODUCTION [§ 4 

and endurance in facing the difficulties of his position and the enmity 
of his friends. Nor was he lacking in the insight which made him see 
in the casual incidents of everyday life symbols of his own life in relation 
to Gk)d^ 

§ 5. The Teaching of Jeremiah 

i. His conception of God 

The teaching of Jeremiah, as of the other prophets, was based 
ultimately on his conception of Jehovah. The religious teachers of 
Israel as was said above were deductive in their methods, in other 
words they began by accepting the truth of certain great principles 
regarding the Divine Nature and deduced from them their duty towards 
both God and man. The deductive methods of the prophets, however, 
did not apparently lessen their wonderful powers of observation and of 
reflection, though inevitably they tended to make the facts of life and 
thought which they discovered conform to their preconceived ideas. 
Jeremiah, like his forerunners, assumed the existence of the God whom 
he worshipped and whose will he declared. To a Semite the atheism 
which follows on reflection was unknown, every Semite believed in God 
and paid Him the dues of worship and sacrifice, though this belief in 
God might be accompanied by that more terrible form of atheism, which 
leaves God out of all account in the practical life of the individual and 
nation alike. Such a conception of God as this was naturally based on 
a much narrower review of the facts of life than the similar conceptions 
of modern teachers. It was a conception of God which was fundament- 
ally and entirely religious, and one which owed nothing either to 
natural science on the one side or to philosophy on the other. 

(a) Jehovah is a living God. The book of Jeremiah then contains 
no apologetic, no 'proofs' of the existence of God; He is there, as real 
to the prophet as the nation itself, as real as his own soul. This absence 
of apologetic, which seems so remarkable to a western mind, is accom- 
panied by the omission of any systematic statements regarding the 
Divine Nature. For whilst it may be confidently asserted that the 
conception of the character of Jehovah which each prophet held was 
the basis of his teaching, yet, paradoxical as it may sound, what that 
conception was in each case can only be gathered from incidental 
allusions. The mark of the pre-exilic Hebrew writings was life rather 

1 Of. his conversation with the knight, op. cit. pp. 488 f. 



§ 5] THE TEACHING OF JEREMIAH xly 

than thought; the writers had known Jehovah and felt His influence 
in their souls ; they had not yet been able to find for such knowledge 
a systematic and ordered expression, nay they had hardly felt the need 
for it. Life comes before thought in the spiritual, as in the natural 
world, and experience must ever be the forerunner of reflection; as 
Aubrey Moore has well put it, 'Keligion in its earliest stages is in- 
stinctive not reasoned \' Jeremiah's own conception of God was derived 
from the teaching of the older prophets, as that teaching was current 
in Judah, and as it was interpreted by his own intense spiritual ex- 
periences, experiences which whilst they interpreted the older ideas at 
the same time modified them. 

The predominant mark of the prophetic conception of God was as 
we have seen its unswerving grasp of His reality, that belief in a living 
God which must be the basis of any true religion. The period during 
which Jeremiah was called upon to exercise his ministry was one which 
demanded reality in religion as in everything else, for he lived in a 
time of crisis. There is a sense in which it is true to say that every 
moment marks a crisis, inasmuch as every moment is the meeting place 
of the whole of the past and the departing point of all the future, it is 
the daughter of the ages, and the mother of the years that are yet to 
be. But in Jeremiah's days the sense of crisis, of a time of testing, was 
something more insistent than this; hence the demand for reality. 

(6) Jehovah is the only God. It is not quite clear whether Jere- 
miah looked upon Jehovah as the sole God of the universe, the majority 
of his contemporaries certainly did not, but he was at any rate a 
practical monotheist, and in his eyes the gods of the heathen when 
compared with Jehovah were but nothingness (iv, 1, vii. 30) and vanity 
(xiv. 22, xvi. 19 ff., xviii. 15)^ the work of men's hands (ii. 27 f., 
xvi. 19 ff.), and as such entirely subordinate to the God of Israel (ii. 11 ; 
cf. Dt. iv. 19 f.). Jeremiah's monotheism is further shewn by his 
unquestioning belief that it was not Israel alone which was under the 

1 Lux Mundi'^^, p. 48 ; cf. the quotation from Newman in the same essay, p. 64: 
' As the intellect is cultivated and expanded, it cannot refrain from the attempt to 
analyse the vision which influences the heart, and the object in which it centres ; 
nor does it stop till it has, in some sort, succeeded in expressing in words, what 
has all along been a principle both of the affections and of practical obedience.' 
Avians, ch. ii. § 1. See also W. Temple, The Faith and Modern Thought, pp. 43 f . : 
' it is possible that the man who has the most vital communion with God will be 
least able to make a scientific theory of that experience. I suppose that Shakespeare 
knew very much less about the method on which he constructed his plays than 
either Coleridge or Professor Bradley.' 

2 This view may be compared with the idea current in early Christian literature 
that they were demons. 

d2 



xlvi INTRODUCTION [| 5 

control of Jehovah, but that His rule extended over other nations as 
well (xviii. 7 fF., xxvii. 7, xxviii. 14). The prophet though he recog- 
nised Jehovah's power over the heathen, still felt that there was a 
relationship of an especial character between Him and Judah. This 
can clearly be gathered from the titles by which God is addressed, titles 
such as 'the Hope of Israel' (xiv. 8, xvii. 13), 'the Saviour thereof 
(xiv. 8), He who is in the midst of His people (xiv. 9), as well as by the 
more usual title 'Jehovah, the God of Israel.' 

(c) The attributes of God. It will be convenient to arrange these 
under two heads, those which may be called the physical and those 
which may be called the moral attributes of God. 

(a) The physical att^-ibutes. In the prophet's eyes Jehovah is the 
creator of the universe (xxvii. 5, xxxi, 37), highly exalted (xvii. 12), 
and omnipotent (xviii. 6, xxxii. 26 f.). It is He also who sustains the 
world, ruling it by His ordinances (xxxi. 35), and keeping the various 
parts of the natural creation in due subordination to the whole, and 
even though 

' The ambitious ocean swell and rage and foam 
To be exalted with the threatening clouds ' 

it cannot overpass its lawful bounds (v. 22). God who restrains the 
sea, also controls the waters above the firmament and at His will can 
bring rain upon the earth (v. 24), thus meeting what was one of the 
great tests of Divine power in the ancient world (xiv. 22). Although 
Jeremiah makes use of anthropomorphic expressions, he is very careful, 
as are most of the prophets, to avoid the use of those cruder forms of 
expression such as are found in the Pentateuch, expressions by which 
Jehovah is represented as delighting in the smell of sacrifices (Gen. viii. 
21 ; cf. Ps. li. 16); and as needing to descend to earth in order to become 
acquainted with the doings of men (Gen. xi. 5). Jehovah, to Jeremiah, 
is one who knows all the thoughts of men and is the searcher out of 
the reins and the heart (xvii. 10, xx. 12, xxiii. 24). It is true that in 
one passage weariness is ascribed to the Deity (xv. 6), but the use is 
obviously metaphorical. The prophetic conception of the physical attri- 
butes of God was not without its weakness, in that it laid undue stress 
on His transcendence and power. As the present Dean of St Paul's has 
well said, ' There is not necessarily anything divine about omnipotence^' 
Even in Jeremiah's doctrine of the New Covenant God is still transcend- 

1 Contentio Veritatis, p. 100 ; the passage continues, ' It is conceivable that the 
universe might have been ruled by an omnipotent devil ; in which case men would 
have been found to defy him, and to go to his hell coerced, but unsubdued.' 



§ 5] THE TEACHING OF JEREMIAH ilvii 

ent, He is outside and above mankind, and it is the covenant which is 
to be written in their hearts, not God who is to make them His abode 
(cf. the teaching of NT.: Eph, iii. 17, &c.). The stress on the tran- 
scendence of God which was so strongly marked in Hebrew religion 
was not, however, without its good side, for it taught men to reverence 
God, and as a result 'their religion, alone among the primitive religions 
of the world, remained free from degrading myths and untainted by 
any association with sensuality\' 

(/3) The moral attributes. Any conception of God which lays too 
much stress on the physical attributes of the Deity tends either to 
over-emphasise His power and transcendence, as did the Hebrew ; 
or going to the other extreme, to bring Him down to the level of 
His worshippers, whom He then exceeds only by the greater licence 
of His passions, and the more abundant means which He possesses 
of gratifying them. Such was the conception of the Divine Nature 
held by the popular religion of the Greeks, hence its utter failure 
to secure the allegiance of the better minds amongst them and its 
eventual displacement by various systems of philosophy; systems 
which, during the period of highest development, more and more 
tended to ignore metaphysics altogether and to find all their interest 
in the sphere of ethics. Amongst the Hebrews, however, religion 
and morality were ever closely allied, and in the prophets this alliance 
becomes almost a unity, religion is morality, at any rate as regards 
the duty of man to man; 'He hath shewed thee, man, what is 
good; and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justl/, and 
to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God"?' Jehovah was 
Himself a righteous God and above all things He required in those 
who worshipped Him the same love of justice and righteous dealing 
(ix. 24). The righteousness of God was also shewn by His sternness 
towards sin and those who persisted in it, against such the Divine 
wrath went forth like the sudden blast of a trumpet (xxiii. 19 ff.), 
and even the natural world (iv. 26) and the very beasts of the field 
were shaken by it (vii. 20). There is something almost unloving 
about Jeremiah's conception of God, something which suggests only 
the twilight of revelation, and which has hardly approached the truer 
conception of God as the loving Father who sent His Son to die for 

^ Inge, op. cit. p. 66. The last part of this statement is true only of the highest 
type of Hebrew religion, the prophets were constantly denouncing the immoral 
practices associated with the popular worship (see pp. xlix f. below). 

2 Mic. vi. 8. 



xlviii INTRODUCTION [§ 5 

the world Even in his own relations with the Almighty, Jeremiah 
often seems to regard Him as a stern taskmaster (xx. 7 ff. &c.). There 
is, however, another aspect of his teaching, and he holds out to those 
who are penitent and desirous of returning from their sinful ways the 
loving-kindness and mercy of the Lord (iii. 12, ix. 24, xxxi. 20). At 
the same time one cannot help feeling that the repeated acts of apostasy 
of which many individual Hebrews were guilty at this time came not 
only from the doubt of Jehovah's power (xliv. 18; Ez. viii. 12), but also 
from unwillingness to comply with the conditions necessary for worship- 
ping Him. The teaching of the prophets made men begin to realise 
that Jehovah could only be approached by those who had 'clean hands 
and a pure heart'; but other deities, so the people thought, might 
possess equal power and be less particular as to the morals of those 
who came to them as suppliants. Such action on the part of the 
people is no condemnation of the prophetic teaching for the stress 
which it laid on morality, but morality in itself is not attractive, and 
the phrases so often on the lips of Jeremiah 'to provoke Jehovah to 
anger' (vii. 19), 'the wrath of Jehovah' (xviii. 20, &c.), may have 
made his countrymen afraid of their God. The idea of God's wrath, 
though a very necessary complement to the idea of His love, is liable 
to misinterpretation and when emphasised in the present day often 
originates in our own blinded and wrathful hearts^. The Lady Julian 
of Norwich, speaking of a vision of God which came to her, says, ' I saw 
no wrath but on man's part; and that forgiveth He in us. For wrath 
is nought else but a frowardness and contrariness to peace and love; 
and either it cometh of failing of might, or of failing of wisdom, or of 
failing of goodness, which failing is not in God but on our part^' 

(d) Summary. Such was the conception of God which formed the 
basis of Jeremiah's teaching: Jehovah was high and lifted up, the 
creator and sustainer of the universe, yet not ignoring His people, and 
above everything else He was a just and holy being demanding justice 
and holiness in those who professed to serve Him. This conception 
Jeremiah owed in its main outlines to the teaching of the older pro- 
phets. There are, however, certain points in the rest of Jeremiah's 
teaching which are in an especial manner his own, and which form his 



^ It is not intended to suggest that Jeremiah's conception of God was harsher 
than that of the other OT. prophets. 

"^ It should be remembered that to the Hebrews every disaster was directly due 
to the Divine action ; of. pp. 10 ff. 

^ Quoted by Inge, Studies in the English Mystics, p. 67. 



§ 5] THE TEACHING OF JEREMIAH xlix 

contribution to the ever-growing revelation of God. These points must 
be dealt with at much greater length. Before going ou to deal with 
them, however, and indeed as an introduction to them it will perhaps 
be not unprofitable briefly to summarise the condition of popular religion 
during the period covered by the prophet's ministry. 

ii. The religious condition. of the Nation ^ 

By the time of Jeremiah the pure worship of Jehovah, which the 
Israelites had brought from the desert (ii, 2 f. &c.), had ceased to 
exist amongst the nation at large, although it was still preserved 
amongst communities like the Rechabites^ When the primitive Israel- 
ites invaded Palestine, and began to settle down in the land, they were 
compelled to exchange the simple life of the nomad for the more com- 
plicated existence of the agriculturist, and no doubt they had to 
depend for their knowledge of the new arts upon their conquered neigh- 
bours, the Canaanites. With the arts of agriculture, and as a most 
important part of them, would go the cult of the local Baal, the patron 
from immemorial antiquity of each several tract of land. The new 
conditions of life required new habits of worship". As a result many 
degrading customs and many horrible superstitions were incorporated 
into the religion of Jehovah; for it must not be forgotten that ancient 
religions, at any rate in their popular forms, were essentially eclectic, 
and that the common people in worshipping the Baalim were conscious 
of no disloyalty to the God of Israel (ii. 23, ix. 14, xi. 13, xix. 5). 
This habit of mind is invariably the mark of periods of transition from 
one religion to another, and such periods are often indefinitely pro- 
longed. Christianity itself has borrowed largely from outside sources 
in developing its forms of worship and even its doctrinal statements. 
In this connexion the account of the Goths preserved in Gregory of Tours, 
Hist. Franc, v. 44 is not without interest: 'We do not reckon it a crime 
to worship this or that ; for we say in our common speech, it is no harm 



^ See XXXV. 1 ff. with notes. 

2 Cf. A. C. Turner in Concerning Prayer, p. 376. ' Jehovah was a great God 
of War, and had driven the gods of Canaan before him ; but, once in, it was not 
BO certain that he could ensure the kindly fruits of the earth in due season. 
Agriculture was not in his line. Would it not be as well to make doubly sure by 
setting up a high place to the local Baal who had tended the ground from all time?' 
In a similar way when the Aryan peoples invaded India they borrowed many 
superstitions and beliefs from the aborigines, and these found expression both in 
their religious life and also in their literature. See Poussin, The Way of Nirvana, 
pp. 16fl. ^ 

\ 



I INTRODUCTION [§ 5 

if a man passing between heathen altars and a church of God makes 
his reverence in both directions\' 

The worship of the Canaanite Baalim and of Jehovah under 
conceptions which were practically identical, as well as of the female 
counterparts of the Baalim, the goddesses of fecundity, was accom- 
panied by a variety of sexual crimes which the better feeling of a later 
age has striven to conceal, but which must have accounted in no small 
measure for the unswerving opposition of the prophets and of the higher 
minds of the community to the manner in which the local sanctuaries 
were conducted, and which in the end led to their suppression (see 
pp. xxi f ). Traces of these practices can be found in the statements in 
1 K. xiv. 24; 2 K/ xxiii. 7; and in the law in Dt. xxiii. 17 f^ When 
Jeremiah spoke of Judah as 'playing the harlot' and as 'committing 
adultery' his words had a literal as well as a metaphorical truth behind 
them. In addition to these abuses which were of long standing, other 
more recent superstitions had been introduced by Manasseh. These 
superstitions owed their introduction to the much closer contact between 
Judah and the great nations of the East which was then beginning. 
In addition to the condemnation of the worship of the Baalim (vii. 9, 
ix. 14, &c.; Zeph. i. 4), of stocks and stones (ii. 27, xxv. 6), and of 
other gods (i. 16, iii. 9, &c.), condemnations such as had been frequent 
in the earlier prophets, there are to be found in Jeremiah and his con- 
temporaries notices of the adoration of the heavenly bodies (v. 18, viii. 2, 
xix. 13; Zeph. i. 5), especially of the Queen of Heaven (xliv. 15 ff.), of 
devotions to Tammuz (Ez. viii. 14) and other nameless superstitions 
(Ez. viii. 10 ff.), as well as of the spread of the custom of infant sacri- 
fice (vii. 31, xix. 5) and of 'making children pass through the fire to 
Molech' (xxxii. 35; Ez. xvi. 21, xx. 26, 31; cf also Zeph. i. 5). In 
all these habits and customs of worship, habits and customs which 
made the prophet refer to his contemporaries as 'the generation of God's 
wrath' (vii. 29), the people were encouraged by the example of those 
who were their rulers in both the religious and the political sphere 
(xxiii. 2, 15 f). Under circumstances such as these the backsliding of 
the people was continuous (viii. 4), and even the striking and tragic 
fate of the Northern Kingdom had failed utterly to be a warning to them 
(iii. 6 ff.); on the contrary, so blinded were the men of Judah to their 

^ Quoted by Gore, Bampton Lectures^, p. 92. 

2 The word which is translated sodomite in EW. is literally 'sacred person,' 
that is to say one consecrated to the service of the deity; see Driver's note on 
Dt. xxiii. 17 ; Frazer, Adonis, &c. i. 17, 57 S. 



§ 5] THE TEACHING OF JEREMIAH li 

true condition, that the fact that they had escaped when Samaria was 
overthrown was to them a pledge and token of the favour with which 
Jehovah regarded them\ 



iii. The New Covenant 

Early in his ministry 'in the days of Josiah' (iii. 6), Jeremiah looked 
forward to a time when Israel would have shepherds after Jehovah's 
own heart who would give the people knowledge of their God. This 
conception of religion as communion with Him 'in knowledge of whom 
standeth our eternal life ' became deeper and ever deeper in the prophet's 
mind during the course of his life, in spite of the bitter experience in 
which every fresh insight into the state of the nation involved him. 
That religion as he understood it was ever to become the possession of 
the nation as a whole seemed to him something impossible ; those who 
were accustomed to do evil could no more do good than the Ethiopian 
could change his skin, the leopard his spots (xiii. 23). God had indeed 
revealed Himself to the fathers of the race, and at Sinai had entered 
into a covenant with them, but how were they to keep their side of the 
covenant ? How could man know and do the will of God ? The prophet 
had to go through that agony of perplexity and despair which has been 
the lot of so many and which has been described for all time by St Paul 
in Rom. vii. 15 ff. At last he saw the solution, not as the apostle saw 
it, or as we may see it with a full experience of the power of the risen 
and ascended Christ, but as something ' dimly and faintly hidden and 
afar.' Man can only keep God's law by its being written in his under- 

^ Some scholars have seen in Israel's readiness to submit to foreign influence 
both in the way of thought and of institutions a mark of the vitality of the nation 
and one of the causes of its true greatness. Professor W. E. Harper, for example, 
says ' A striking characteristic of Israel, in comparison with its sister nations, was 
a readiness to receive, from the outside, contributions in the form of new institutions 
and new thought. Much of this was bad and in time was lost ; but much of it, 
being good, was retained. The gradual accumulation and assimilation of this 
outside material, under the guidance of an all-wise Providence, ultimately lifted 
Israel to a position of influence in world-history.' Amos and Hosea (ICC), p. xxxi 
note. Whilst one rejoices to recognise with Newman that 'He who had taken the 
seed of Jacob for His elect people had not therefore cast the rest of mankind out 
of His sight ' and that 'The Greek poets and sages were in a certain sense prophets,' 
and whilst one hesitates to criticise so high an authority as Dr Harper, yet this and 
similar statements seem to the present writer to contain a two-fold exaggeration, 
in that they exaggerate on the one hand the extent of the outside influences which 
entered into the life of Israel — especially in compai'ison with other nations — and 
on the other they attribute to such influences greater benefits than were actually 
obtained from them. The influences above all others which made Israel great were 
its own native influences. 



lii INTRODUCTION [| 5 

standing and by his having such a knowledge of the Divine as will keep 
him in constant communion with his heavenly Father. 

But it was not the consideration of the nation's failure to keep the 
covenant of Sinai that alone led Jeremiah to his discovery; the circum- 
stances of his own life had already forced him to realise the necessity 
for communion between God and man. To the early Semites men were 
part of a nation and as such had a relation to the God of the tribe or 
race ; any other ground of acceptance had hardly been thought of. The 
prophets of Israel, almost from the first, realised the limitations of this 
theory of man's relation to God, but it required the lapse of many 
generations before the clear doctrine of the possibility of communion 
between each individual soul and God was plainly taught by Jeremiah 
and Ezekiel. The idea was not, however, entirely new for, as Jowett 
pointed out, in the answer to Elijah 'yet have I seven thousand who 
have not bowed the knee to Baal,' there is an indication of a 'change 
in God's mode of dealing with His people... the whole people were not 
regarded as one ; there were a few who still preserved amidst the general 
corruption, the worship of the true God\' These scattered hints and 
vague anticipations of the doctrine of God's dealings with individuals 
first found open and clear expression in the teaching of Jeremiah. The 
experiences of the prophet's life were such as to drive him back, as it 
were, on God at every point— the deep affectionateness of his nature 
which seemed for ever doomed to be thwarted in its efforts to find any 
human outlet; the isolation in which his mission involved him; the 
weakness and infirmity of his 'flesh' which needed constant renewals 
of the Divine refreshment; the harsh treatment at the hands of the 
beloved nation, the only earthly object his affections ever really found 
upon which to lavish themselves ; all these experiences tended to force 
the prophet back upon God Himself, recognised as to be known and 
loved as a person, and as the only satisfying object of the prophet's 
love. In view of his own knowledge Jeremiah was enabled to grasp the 
fact that all men needed a God and that all might know Him ; hence 
the doctrine of the New Covenant and his realisation of the true nature 
of religion, or rather of its necessary basis, the personal knowledge of 
God by the individual. The failure of Josiah's reformation shewed him 
unmistakably that something more than a mere external law was needed 
to make men obey God, and in this as in his teaching on circumcision, 
he anticipated St Paul. If Josiah's efforts with all the influences behind 

1 The Epistles of St Paul, ii. 148 f. 



§ 5] THE TEACHING OF JEREMIAH liii 

them came to nothing, was another likely to succeed where he had 
failed ? Jeremiah, then, despaired of the religion of his country as he 
found it; the Old Covenant must, he was convinced, give place to a 
New, and a different and purer conception of religion be substituted 
for the easygoing, popular worship of the temple. But though Jeremiah 
in his teaching looked forward to a time when the Old Covenant would 
have been superseded by the New (xxxi. 31 fif.), yet he did not deny 
the Divine origin of the former, and indeed he complains that men do 
not keep it (viii. 8, ix. 13, xi. 9—17). The Old Covenant had been 
made with the nation as a whole, his higher conception of religion 
demanded that the new spiritual relation between God and man should 
be inaugurated by a personal covenant ^^ 'this is the covenant that I 
will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; 
I will put my law in their inward parts, and in their heart will I write 
it; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people 1 and they 
shall teach no more every man his brother, saying. Know the Lord ; for 
they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest^' These 
few verses form the crown of Jeremiah's teaching, and indeed of the 
whole of the OT. and that not so much because of what they meant to 
those who first received them, as because they are a summing up of all 
the aspirations of the whole human race, aspirations which are in many 
cases dumb and inarticulate, for the personal knowledge of a personal 
God. The notable thing about the passage is the fact that there is in 
it, not the promise of a new law — such a promise would have been no 
novelty — but that men are to receive power to keep the provisions of |i 
the law inasmuch as it will be written in their hearts. It is the glorious 
claim of the gospel that in Jesus Christ this promise is fulfilled, 'I 
thank God through Jesus Christ... For the law of the Spirit of life in 
Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death ^.' 

The doctrine of the New Covenant as set forth by Jeremiah had but 
little influence on his successors, and post-exilic Judaism developed 
on lines which were so different as almost to be opposed to such a 
spiritual conception of religion. That this should have been so is not 
so surprising as it seems at the first glance. Jeremiah was much in 
advance of his times and the nation was not ripe for such teaching, 

^ xxxi. 33 f. In actual fact each male Israelite was brought into covenant 
relation with Jehovah in the rite of circumcision (Gen. xvii. 11), but Jeremiah's 
conception was something much more spiritual. 

^ Rom. vii. 25 a, viii. 2 : cf. Bishop Westcott on Heb. viii. 8, ' under this cove- 
nant (i.e. the New Covenant) grace not law is the foundation of fellowship. God 
comes to man as giving and not as requiring.' 



Uv INTRODUCTION [§ 5 

men preferred less exalted ideas of the meaning of religion and found 
in the due performance of the ritual and ceremonial requirements of the 
law a sufficient tax on their piety. In the present day the same difficulty 
has to be faced, there is the same task of persuading men of the 
wonderful privileges to which they have a right, and of applying to the 
individual the powers which have been so lavishly poured out upon 
the Church — the great problem is still that of awakening individual 
Christians to the realisation of their privileges as members of the body 
of Christ and living temples of the Holy Ghost. 

Jeremiah, then, looked upon the Old Covenant of legal requirements 
as ready to pass away, but, like St Paul, he would hardly have allowed 
men to be free from restrictions entirely; he who had the law written 
on his heart would obey it more readily than he who had to consult 
some external ordinance to discover what it was. Life accor(;ling to rule 
has its place under the new dispensation as well as under the old ; and 
no merely emotional religion, however highly it may exalt the feelings 
of him who experiences it, can be a complete substitute for a religion 
which lays stress on the due performance of ethical commands. It is 
indeed true that the Christian is a new creature, but discipline is 
necessary none the less, so long as undue value is not attached to the 
'rule of life' and so long as the source of strength is recognised to be 
in God (cf. Phil. ii. 12 f.). 'There is no more certain fact,' to quote 
Dean Church, 'in the range of human experience than that with strong 
and earnest religious feeling there may be a feeble and imperfect hold 
on the moral law, often a very loose sense of justice, truth and purity.... 
The kindling and absorbing earnestness which has given itself with 
ardour to some high religious object is not safe, wants its only solid and 
trustworthy foundation, unless it has full in view, unforgotten and 
deeply reverenced, the great fixed law of moral right ruling with no 
reserves over the inner and unseen life\' 

iv. The punishment of the innocent 

One provision of the law as laid down by his predecessors Jeremiah, 
in view of his new conception of the relation of God and man, felt bound 
to oppose. There existed in ancient times a widely held view that the 
sins of a parent might be punished in the persons of his descendants, 
such, for example, was the teaching of the Code of Hammurabi^, and of 

^ The Discipline of the Christian Character, p. 41. 
2 See S. A. Cook, The Laws of Moses, &c. p. 261. 



§ 5] THE TEACHING OF JEREMIAH Iv 

many passages of OT. (e.g. Ex. xx. 5; Josh. vii. 24 f.; 1 S. xxii. 16 f.; 
2 S. xxi. 1 — 9). Nor was this idea confined to the Semitic branch 
of the human family, similar pronouncements are found amongst the 
Greeks. Solon, for example, expressly declares that ' if the guilty escape, 
and the doom ordained by Heaven fall not upon themselves, it will 
surely fall hereafter ; the innocent will suffer for the guilty, their children 
perhaps or later generations \' In a somewhat higher strain, and looking 
at the matter not from the point of view of a legislator but of the inno- 
cent sufferers, Theognis prays 'when children of an unjust father follow 
after justice in thought and act. . .let them not pay for the transgressions 
of their sires ^' The belief no doubt originally arose partly because of 
the widespread idea that the real unit was not the individual but the 
tribe, and especially the family; partly as an explanation of the suffering 
of the apparently innocent (cf. Jn. ix. 1 fif.). There is a sense in 
which the old idea is valid as the study of natural science has shewn ; 
children do suffer for the sins of their parents; but the explanation is 
different. In OT. times there was no conception of the Laws of Nature 
(cf. pp. xlviii. 10 ff.), or of any intermediary forces — God Himself was 
the direct agent in every transaction. Therefore any evil came from 
Him and was regarded as the expression of His anger against the guilty 
offender. More enlightened ages have recognised a distinction between 
the consequences of sins and their punishment, and to regard the former 
as judgements introduces a limitation and depicts God as a harsh 
despot^. Jeremiah taught, as did Ezekiel after him, that men must 
suffer for their own sins and in his teaching, let it not be forgotten, 
Hebrew religion arrived at a point which was not reached by Greek 
philosophy until some two centuries later in the time of Plato*. 

V. Ths value of ritual 

Believing as Jeremiah did, that religion was a relation of a spiritual 
character between God and the individual, he found himself opposed 

1 xii. 17 ff. Cf. J. Adam, Religious Teachers of Greece, pp. 86 f., to whom I am 
indebted for this and the following quotations. 

2 737 ff. Cf. Ez. xviii. 21 f.; the similarity, however, is only verbal as the 
prophet is dealing with the case of an unrighteous man who himself turns from 
the evil of his ways. 

^ Cf. S. Schechter, Studies in Judaism, p. 265, 'There is no possibility of over- 
coming the moral objection against punishment of people for sins which they have 
not committed.' 

* xxxi. 29 f. ; Ez. xviii. ; cf . Dt. xxiv. 16 ; Wisd. iii. 16 ; and for a discussion of 
the treatment of the whole question in Apocryphal Literature see Wicks, The 
Doctrine of God in Jew. Apoc. Lit. pp. 257 ff. 



Ivi INTRODUCTION [§ 5 

to the popular ideas in another respect, namely in regard to the value 
of ritual. Jeremiah was a typical 'prophet' in his outlook, and the 
priestly and institutional elements of religion were for him of compara- 
tively little importance, — an attitude of mind which was strongly in 
contrast with that of Ezekiel (see pp. Ixxxivf.), and he even goes so far 
as to deny the divine origin of the temple sacrificial system \ The truth 
of the matter was that Jeremiah, like the English Puritans, had within 
him 'the consciousness of a spiritual life which no outward ordinances 
could adequately express^' The position of ritual in religion and the 
outward expression of the spiritual life will always remain a problem to 
worshipping man, some form of ritual expression seems necessary, as 
the banner of the Salvationist and the handshake of the Quaker plainly 
shew. Ritual becomes dangerous when its observance is made a sub- 
stitute for righteousness, or when it is used for the setting forth of 
what are looked upon as false doctrines. 

In primitive communities where religion has scarcely struggled above 
the level of magic the due and proper performance of the correct ritual 
acts is of the utmost importance, more important by far than the observ- 
ance of any merely ethical precepts ; such was the conception prevailing 
amongst the Greeks in Homeric times^ 'The Magical Fallacy is far 
older than Christianity, almost as old as the mind of man. Everywhere 
in primitive religion we come upon the belief that supernatural powers 
can be forced into the service of man by a knowledge and use of the 
right form of words, or of the right ceremonial. The god is bound to 
grant the desires of the worshipper who knows the secret. Not faith 
but exact ritual can move mountains ; 

"Carmina vel caelo possuut deducere lunam^." 

Hence followed the necessity of concealing the right method of approach- 
ing the gods, lest it should be copied and used against its proper owner 
or neutralised by still more potent charms*.' 

The estimation of the value of ritual in the worship of God held by 
Jeremiah's contemporaries was evidently very similar to that described 
above, and it seems to have been widespread amongst them, receiving 
naturally enough the ready and anxious support of the priests. Jere- 

1 See Additional Note on vii. 22 S. 

2 Of. T. H. Green, Works, in. p. 125. 

3 See Odys. xix. 365 f . ; Iliad ix. 535 ff. , 499 S. 
* Virgil, Eclogue viii. 69. 

5 J. H. F, Peile, The Reproach of the Gospel, p. 69. 



§ 5] THE TEACHING OF JEREMIAH Ivii 

miah condemned, as divi Plato in later times and beneath other skies, 
such a degraded idea of the worship demanded by Almighty God\ 

vi. The religious duties of man 

Man's religious nature has two channels through which it may seek 
an outlet, and these two channels represent or correspond to his two- 
fold relationship with the things outside himself; his relation to God 
on the one hand, and his relation to his fellow-men on the other. What 
then was Jeremiah's teaching on these two points ? 

{a) Duty towards God. Jeremiah recogoises that men are free to 
worship and obey Jehovah or they are free to ignore Him; the choice is a 
voluntary one (ii. 19); but to know God is man's greatest glory, greater 
by far than the possession of power or wealth (ix. 23 f.). The doctrine of 
the New Covenant with its high ideal came to Jeremiah's contemporaries 
as something which was quite beyond their comprehension or power to 
realise; and indeed this doctrine never really had much influence in 
Judaism before the coming of our Lord; but since His day the communion 
of the soul with its Maker has been the foundation of all religion and a 
modern writer can even go so far as to say that 'religion... assumes a 
moral relationship, the relationship of personal beings as existing between 
man and the Object of his worship-.' Further, man owes to God the 
duty of worship (ii. 5 £f.), and this worship was mainly that of the sacri- 
ficial system which Jeremiah alsewhere condemned on account of its 
being offered from hypocritical, or at best, ignorant hearts (vii. 10, 
21 ff.). When Jeremiah questioned the antiquity of the whole method 
of worshipping Jehovah he was not necessarily wishing that the system 
should be abolished, nor did he think, as has been suggested, that the 
outward ordinances were merely a concession to the weakness of the 
Jews, and instituted to prevent the introduction of unlawful images 
such as the golden calf. As Bishop Paget pointed out, the sacrifices 
of the Old Covenant were a training and preparation for the sacraments 
of the New and a recognition of the fact that the body has its part to 
play in the true worship of God*. 

Jeri miah objected to the sacrificial system because it was made a 
substitute for justice and true holiness; God demanded from man not 

1 vii. 5, see notes; and cf. iii. 16, v. 30, vii. 1 — 28; and for Plato's opinion see 
Euih. 14 E. 

"^ Aubrey Moore, T-.ux Mundi^^, p. 47. 

^ Cf. St Jerome on vii. 21. 

* Essay on ' Sacraments ' in Lux Mundi^^, pp. 302 f. 



Iviii INTRODUCTION [§ 5 

only worship, but also obedience (iii. 25, v. 19, vii. 23, xii. 4, 7, &c.), and 
if God's kindness in providing the bountiful gifts of the earth was not 
sufficient to make men obey Him appeal must be made to their sense of 
fear (v. 22 ; cf. v. 24). Though God through His own appointed mes- 
sengers might endeavour to raise man's awe by confronting him with 
the wonders of nature, yet the main function of these phenomena was 
to persuade him that God was the only sufficient object of his trust 
(xvii. 5 ff.). The prophet himself, by the purchase of the field at Ana- 
thoth (xxxii.), shewed his own perfect confidence in God's power, and 
indeed he had seen too much of man's weakness to place any confidence 
in princes. He had seen no doubt Josiah, with his magnificent army, 
marching out of Jerusalem in all the glow of trust in Jehovah of Hosts 
and in the confidence of being His chosen instrument; and then there 
had come back to the terrified city the tidings of Megiddo. He had 
seen men trembling before Jehoiakim, and then he had doubtless seen 
the corpse of the king dragged away to a disgraceful and unhallowed 
burial. The tragic death of Josiah and the dishonours done to the 
dead body of Jehoiakim had taught him the same lesson as was burnt 
in upon the mind of the Norman chronicler Orderic by the events fol- 
lowing the death of William the Conqueror. '0 magnificence of the 
world, how worthless thou art, and how vain and frail: like the rain 
bubbles of the shower, swollen one moment, burst into nothing the next. 
Here was a most mighty lord, whom more than a hundred thousand 
warriors just now eagerly served, and before whom many nations feared 
and trembled ; and now by his own servants, in a house not his own, 
he lies foully stripped, and from the first to the third hour of morning 
is left deserted on the bare floor \' 

(b) Duty to man. Jeremiah's contemporaries failed to realise, as 
their fathers had done before them, that God cared more for justice 
between a man and his fellow than He did for incense and sacrifices^; 
and as a result the social conditions of Judali had become by the time 
of the prophet distressing in the extreme. It was not that there was 
any widespread ignorance of the rights of those who were oppressed 
and defrauded, excuses on this ground could not have been upheld in 

1 Quoted by Dean Church, St Anselm, pp. 184 ff. 

2 The same statements would be true of the reUgion of the present day to a very 
large extent. By our habit of spiritualising so much of the teaching of the Old 
Testament we have been led to ignore or at any rate to obscure the main emphasis 
of the prophetic message. That emphasis is on what are called the social virtues 
and especially upon that cardinal virtue of all community life — justice between man 
and man. 



§ 5] THE TEACHING OF JEREMIAH lix 

face of the clear teaching of the prophets. It is quite true that in the 
early stages of the life of any community there are sometimes, owing 
to the fewness and elementary nature of the accepted conventions, un- 
certainties as to moral laws; but such was not the case in Judah at 
the beginning of the sixth century B.C., and herein lay the hopeless- 
ness of the situation ; the 'chaos and confusion which reigned were not 
the birth-pangs of a new order, rather were they the forerunners and 
heralds of the 'dread disorder of decay.' 

Jeremiah began his ministry about a hundred years after that of 
Isaiah and during the century which had elapsed the social condition 
of the people had not tended to improve ; the abuses which had called 
forth the vehement denunciations of Isaiah had found no remedy, on the 
contrary they had increased their hold on the community. By the time 
of Jeremiah, indeed, the small peasant farmers, the great bulwark of the 
state in peace as in war, had largely been crushed out of existence by 
the exactions and greed of the larger proprietors, and in their place 
had risen up a host of slaves and serfs who had no interest in im- 
proving the land they were compelled to cultivate or in defending a 
system which was the mainstay of their oppressors. The economical 
and political stability of the community was thus being sacrificed to 
the ambition of a few individuals. The ancient simplicity of life, which 
had always marked the .Jiidean peasantry and even the nobles, had 
almost entirely vanished before the influence of Assyrian customs; 
and society, as it became ever more complicated, became ever more 
corrupt. The breezy life of the Judean uplands had given place to the 
artificial atmosphere of an Oriental court; the eunuch had become more 
important than the shepherd; among the upper classes luxury had 
been substituted for manliness, and in the lower freedom had become 
pauperism. 

Such was the state of the people when Jeremiah began his ministry, 
and as that ministry proceeded many causes combined to undermine 
the remnants of the moral stability of the nation. Tlie death of Josiah 
apparently entirely discredited the reformation which he had inaugu- 
rated \ and everything in the political world grew more and more per- 
plexing and confused. At such a time the upholding of the moral 
laws, laws which depend for their force almost entirely upon a fixed 
public opinion, is notoriously difficult". The internal conflict in the 



The law of the single sanctuary is an exception to this statement. 
Cf. Creighton, Wolsey-, p. 4. 



Ix INTRODUCTION [§ 5 

state between the prophetic party and its opponents, as well as the 
rivalry which no doubt existed between the great landowners, must have 
had a disintegrating efifect in the moral as in the material sphere\ A 
catalogue of the sins and abuses denounced by Jeremiah would cover 
practically all the last six commandments; and such a catalogue would 
have been but a record of the outward manifestation of a state of society 
in which all mutual trust and confidence had been destroyed, where 
brother plotted against brother, and friend against friend (ix. 5 ff.). 
Violence and oppression were the lot of the poor and the hireling (vi. 6, 
xxi. 12, xxii. 13, 17) and even the right of bare justice was denied to 
those whose weakness prevented them from enforcing their lawful claims 
(v. 28, xxii. 3, xxxiv. 8 ff.). But deeds of wickedness were by no means 
confined to the wealthy or the great, rich and poor alike sinned each 
according to his opportunity, all were adulterers and fornicators (v. 7 f., 
ix. 2, xxiii. 10), covetous (vi. 13), murders were very frequent (xxii. 3, 
17), and usury so common as to supply a figure which would be known 
to all (xv. 10). With this weight of sin there went an entire failure 
to recognise its heinousness, a failure which shewed itself in a moral 
levity of outward conduct corresponding to the state of deadness of 
conscience within (xv. 17, xvi. 9). 

The poor and the oppressed evidently looked to God Himself for 
direct help, and social reform in the sense in which it is understood 
to-day was unknown, except so far as the words of the prophets touched 
the hearts of those in power. But in truth the state of affairs was 
beyond the healing ability of mortal physicians, in God was the only 
help of the poor and He would relieve them in His own way and time. 
Such an attitude of mind is far removed from modern conceptions of 
how best to deal with the problems raised by social inequalities, but it 
recognises a truth which can be neglected only to our hurt and peril. 
The student of sociology has gone to the opposite extreme and tends to 
leave God entirely out of account. The race has attained to such a 
measure of perfection by its own eff"orts that there is a strong tempta.- 
tion for it to rely on the continuance of those efforts alone for its 
ultimate salvation. This salvation, so it would seem, is to be achieved 
by means of either improved education, or by a more perfect organi- 
sation of industrial life, or by some other form of legal enactment. 
Civilised man so constantly depends upon his reasoning powers that he 
is in danger of losing his instincts, and amongst them that instinctive 

1 Of. J. R. Lowell, The English Poets, p. 34, ' A conflict of opposing ambitions 
wears out the moral no less than the material forces of a people.' 



§ 5] THE TEACHING OF JEREMIAH Ixi 

regard for the God who alone can guide him to the light and the truth. 
Jeremiah, however, had been taught by the bitterness of his own dis- 
appointments to distrust the arm of flesh and his one remedy for the 
evils of his day was repentance and a fresh turning to God. 

The most pressing problems with which the prophet was confronted 
were international, and therefore he did not spend so much of his 
energy as did Micah, for example, in denouncing social abuses. None 
the less it was no mere coincidence that led men to see in him another 
Micah (xxvi. 18), for he was possessed by the same burning indignation 
against the oppressors of the poor and needy, by the same outward 
fearlessness in denouncing wrongs of every kind, and by the same care- 
lessness as to his own fate, which had upheld the earlier prophet. In 
his teaching Jeremiah never attempted to change the economic system 
upon which the life of the nation was organised, his endeavour was to 
transform the relations of man with man, to make his people realise 
their mutual dependence and their duty one to another. When the 
prophets represented Israel under the figure of the vine, or they spoke 
of 'the virgin daughter of [my people,' they were attempting to express 
an idea which corresponded with what we should now call the 'organic 
and social life' of the nation. To them the nation was a kind of 
'gigantic personality' and the sins they were concerned especially to 
denounce were those which tended to destroy the body politic. Hence 
Jeremiah is always calling upon men to do judgement (xxi. 2, xxii. 3), 
which he even goes so far g,s to equate with that great end of man's 
life — to know God (xxii. 16). 

vii. The Future 

To the popular mind a prophet is one who foresees the future, and 
foretells things yet to be; and this conception of the prophetic office 
has been enshrined and perpetuated in everyday language by the 
meaning attached to the word itself, even when used with no religious 
connotation — a prophet is one who foretells. The Hebrew prophets, 
however, as God's representatives were not mainly concerned with the 
future (cf. pp. xvi, xxxf.); their first concern was with the things of 
the present ; and their task, to deal with the needs of the day, to find 
solutions for the difficulties and perplexities of their contemporaries. 
But such difficulties and perplexities had their beginnings in the past, 
for history does not consist of a mere vague succession of isolated events 
and disconnected incidents ; rather is it the working out of a divinely 
controlled plan in which the past and the present are linked with one 

e2 



Ixii INTRODUCTION [| 5 

another, and with the future, by the closest possible connexion of cause 
and effect. Hence the servant of the Most High, although his primary 
concern is with the happenings of the present, must inevitably look 
beyond them to the unknown years that are coming. 

The desire to penetrate into the future, and to build upon its level 
and unspoiled plains a noble edifice — an edifice often enough fashioned 
from the ruins of the past and consecrated by the pains and hopes of 
the present — is not peculiar to the canonical prophets, or even to the 
Hebrew nation. At all times and amongst every race teachers have 
arisen who have discerned, beyond the mists of the present, visions of 
a better state of things : and almost invariably the motive which has 
stimulated the imagination of the seer has been despair of society as 
he found it in his own day. Take some of the best known of such 
idealists — Plato, St Augustine, Lante, Sir Thomas More, — they, quite 
as much as the writers of the innumerable works which belong to what 
is technically known as Apocalyptic literature, wrote under the pressure 
of a strong sense of failure and from a deficiency of hope in their own 
age and environment. The Republic was contemporary with the decay 
of Greek power and Greek ideals ; the De Civitate Dei was put forth 
to describe a new and more abiding polity arising from the ruins of the 
Roman Empire; the De Monarchia was a vision of that self-same 
Empire — which Dante held, it must be remembered, to have Divine 
sanction — healing the miseries of the world around ; and doing so by 
absorbing into itself the warring fragments of divided rule; in order 
that, as he so pathetically put it, ' in the little plot of earth belonging 
to mortal man life may pass in freedom and peace'; and finally, the 
Utopia was produced by one who lived in the period of exhaustion 
which followed the Wars of the Roses and amidst the ever increasing 
corruptions of an unreformed church \ The present age no less than its 
predecessors, has also had its prophets; men who, from amidst the 
perplexities of modern social and international conditions, raised their 
eyes above, and endeavoured to describe the visions, which came to 
them in their turn, of newer and better Utopias. 

So it was with Jeremiah. His own sufferings and disappointments 

were perhaps greater than were those of any other Hebrew prophet; 

it was his appointed lot to live at a time when 

'days decrease 
And autumn grows autumn in everything.' 

1 See Jowett, Republic, iii. pp. ccxviii — xxviii for a fuller working out of these 
and other instances. 



§ 5] THE TEACHING OF JEREMIAH Ixiii 

Jeremiah did indeed live in a season of decay, and it was his lot to see 
the nation gradually slipping from one folly to another. As a result, 
pessimism in regard to the nation's immediate future took a deeper 
tone in his prophecies than in those of any other canonical writer. 
It is no paradox, however, that from this prophet of gloom and disaster 
came the brightest and most glowing pictures of the ultimate future. 

Jeremiah's vision of the future, however, was no vague and fantastic 
dream dealing with abstract and indefinite objects, and tricked out 
with all the finery of the later apocalypse ; it was a practical scheme 
intended for actual human beings living in the very land that he 
himself trod, and moreover a scheme which it would be possible to 
make a reality if once the conditions became favourable. The future 
as conceived by him concerned itself with men and the problems which 
they have to face, whether they beset them as individuals or as 
organised into communities, and the most convenient method of treat- 
ing his teaching regarding the future is to divide it up under these 
heads. But since the hope for the individual was dealt with in con- 
nexion with the doctrine of the New Covenant, the communal or national 
aspect of the question alone remains to be considered here. 

To the Israelite mankind was divided into two unequal parts ; the 
nation par excellence, the chosen people, and the rest of the world, 
those, that is to say, who were outside the covenant, and who are 
referred to as the nations, or the heathen, or the Gentiles ^ In 
Jeremiah's day no one had yet risen above this distinction, not even 
the prophet himself, though the underlying principle of the New 
Covenant, if pressed to its logical conclusion, would destroy any real 
distinction, and was indeed a forecast of that time when there should 
be neither Jew nor Gentile, bond nor free. It will therefore be convenient 
to divide the prophet's teaching concerning the future of the race into 
two parts, as it affected (a) the people of Israel; and (6) the nations. 

[a) The people of Israel. The New Covenant which was the basis 
of the future hope was to be made between Jehovah and the House of 
IsraeP (xxxi. 31 ff.); but with them as individuals, with all an in- 
dividual's privileges and responsibilities. It is to be noted that the 
phrase 'house of Israel' may include the men of the Northern Kingdom 

1 This variety of names is mainly due to the translators of EVV. One of two 
Hebrew words D''i5 and D^JSy is generally used. The latter word in the singular is 
usually reserved for Israel. 

2 ' The house of Judah ' which occurs in MT. is probably an insertion (see 
notes ad loc). 



Ixiv INTRODUCTION [§ 5 

in this context, or it may refer to Judah only, as being the sole surviving 
heir to the promise left to Jacob (see p. xvii). In the early days of his 
ministry Jeremiah had hoped for a speedy return of the scattered exiles 
of Ephraim (iii. Hi); and even in the later period, during the reign 
of Zedekiah, he foretold that 'Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall 
dwell safely S' though in this last quotation it is not certain from the 
parallelism whether the content of the two words 'Judah' and 'Israel' 
is the same or not. The prophet's hopes for the Northern Kingdom 
were fruitless, for not only did they not return at his invitation, but 
on the contrary the rest of the nation quickly sank to equahty in mis- 
fortune ; Judah followed Samaria into exile, as, in spite of the prophet's 
warnings, she had followed her into sin (iii. 6 ff.). But the exile of Judah 
had been foreseen by Jeremiah, who recognised that the deeps of 
national sin could only be cleansed by some such period of testing and 
purification. The nation as a whole would never return, so the prophet 
taught, but only a remnant selected by a process of fierce and bitter 
trial. The doctrine of the Remnant at first used as a threat of almost 
complete national destruction (cf. Is. iv. 2, x. 22), was now used as a 
message of hope and of spiritual regeneration, Jeremiah had indeed 
high and ardent hopes for the generation that would return from 
Babylon, and his own contemporaries were warned that the people 
must not be suffered to diminish in number even though they were to 
dwell in a strange land for some seventy years (xxix. 6, 10). When the 
release from captivity did eventually take place it was to be, so he 
promised, of such a nature that the redemption from Egypt and the 
wonders of the Exodus would speedily be forgotten (xxiii. 7 f.). 

In trying to understand any prophetic vision of an apocalyptic 
nature great difficulty is always experienced, and such difficulty is 
almost unavoidable, in separating the various layers, if one may use 
that term of a vision, of the future which is coming. A well-known 
illustration is the account recorded in Matt. xxiv. of our Lord's fore- 
casts of approaching destructions. As the sayings are there preserved 
it is almost impossible to say how much of them refers to the immediate 
future — the Fall of Jerusalem — and how much refers to that which is 
remote— the last judgement. So it is with Jeremiah's forecasts, some 
quite clearly refer to the time of the return at the end of the seventy 
years, while some seem to have in view a much later period. In this 
last connexion it should be pointed out that a large portion of the 

1 xxiii. 6. For the date of the passage see notes thereon. 



§ 5] THE TEACHING OF JEREMIAH Ixv 

eschatological matter included in the prophecies is almost certainly 
editorial and late. This much, at any rate, is certain, Jeremiah anti- 
cipated a speedy return to Palestine for the nation when once the power 
of Babylon was broken, and he shewed his confidence in its future by 
buying up the field of Anathoth (xxxii. 1 — 15). It thus came to pass 
that just as the field of Machpelah with its lonely grave was the pledge 
to the Israelites throughout the wanderings of the Exodus of the future 
possession of the promised land, so was the memory of this simple act 
of faith to be a sacred pledge throughout the long years of exile in 
Babylon that Judah should once more become their own. By a simple 
act of purchase, an everyday transaction, both patriarch and prophet 
sought to arouse in their countrymen a sense of national vocation and 
a trust in the Divine protection. The later Apocalyptical writers as a 
rule despaired of any regeneration of this earth, and even St John looked 
for a New Jerusalem to descend from heaven ; though at the same time 
it should be noticed that it was Jerusalem, and no strange city, which 
was thus to realise his longings, in fact one might almost read into the 
seer's mind a definite hope of a regenerate city. In writing of the future 
as he saw it, Jeremiah had no doubts as to the possibility and the hope 
of its being realised here on earth, and in the holy city itself, which was 
to be re-built together with the temple (xxx. 18). One great difference 
there was to be, however, the ark was no more to be an object of vene- 
ration\ Furthermore the new community, which was to inherit these 
good things to come, was no longer to be at the mercy of unjust and 
grasping rulers, the 'shepherds' who sought their own gain and not the 
good of the sheep; but it was to have a body of righteous judges (xxiii. 
4), culminating in a king of the house of David, a king whose very 
name would declare his character, 'The Lord our righteousness' (xxiii. 
5 ff., xxx. 9). It is quite in keeping with what we know of Jeremiah 
that his soul should soar above the evil rulers of his own day and 
should discern in the dim future the promise of the ideal king. The 
times cried out for a just ruler, and as the spokesman of the oppressed 
and despised classes, the prophet could well have anticipated Dante's 
protest : 

' A king we need whose eyes at least shall see 
That city's towers where dwells true righteousness I' 

1 ill. 16 f.; these vv. come-from the early period of the prophet's ministry, but 
there is no reason for thinking that his opinion was modified later, rather the 
contrary as the utterance has been preserved. 

a Purg. XVI. 95 f. 



Ixvi INTRODUCTION [§ 5 

It should be noticed that Jeremiah has no new type of ruler to suggest, 
but that his ideas naturally express themselves through the medium of 
that kind of government to which he has been accustomed, for the pre- 
exilic prophets instinctively pictured 'their Utopia, their ideal state as 
an ideal monarchy ; for patriarchal monarchy was the only form of state 
they knew^' In xxx. 21 it is declared that the 'ruler' is to 'approach' 
God, that is to say he is to be a priest as well as a prince; such ideas 
belong rather to the exilic school of Ezekiel and to still later times, and 
there are many reasons for regarding the passage as late (see notes ad 
loc). At the same time Jeremiah's conception of the future is distinctly 
spiritual and in strong contrast to some of the material anticipations 
of later writers, and of some even who lived in Christian times^. It is 
quite true to say that if 'Jeremiah's picture of the Messianic king and 
his kingdom is less magnificent than Isaiah's, the true glory of that 
rule comes into fuller prominence in proportion as the outward splendour 
falls away ; and we make a long step forward towards the idea of that 
spiritual kingdom which was to be the true fulfilment of the hopes of 
IsraeP.' 

(h) The Nations. Jeremiah was called to be a prophet of the nations 
(i. 5), and such an office had a two-fold scope or reference; on the one 
hand to the political, and on the other to the religious, future of those 
with whom his message was concerned. As was said above the most 
pressing problems of Jeremiah's times in the sphere of politics were 
international. Judah, deserting the policy of Isaiah and led on by the 
wild ambition of her kings, had plunged once more into the vast whirl- 
pool of contemporary politics, and her counsels were swayed by the rival 
claims of Egypt and of Babylon. Jeremiah himself was pronouncedly 
in favour of a pro-Babylonian policy, and indeed saw in the Chaldeans 
an instrument specially raised up by Jehovah for bringing vengeance 
upon the world. So convinced was the prophet of the lawful and ultimate 
triumph of Nebuchadrezzar that resistance, even on behalf of the beloved 
city itself, was useless and wrong (xxvii. 8, xxxviii. 2 i.y. Jerusalem 

1 Canon Streeter, Foundations, p. 87. 

2 The strange beliefs held bv Papias and other early Christians are well known, 
and even one who prided himself upon his discernment so much as Eusebius could 
see in the decorations put up by the Emperor Constantine a fulfilment of the 
Golden Future of the Prophets, if not the coming of the New Jerusalem itself {Vit. 
Const. II. 33). It is perhaps necessary to look upon this as one of the not uncommon 
cases of the insight of the historian being forgotten in the zeal of the panegyrist. 

3 A. F. Kirkpatrick, The Doctrine of the Prophets^, p. 323. 

* In a similar manner Luther in his earlier years regarded the Turks as an 
instrument raised up by God for the punishment of Christendom, and therefore not 



§ 5] THE TEACHING OF JEREMIAH Ixvii 

was bound to fall because of the sins of her children. This teaching 
was a strange reversal of the confident pledges of Isaiah that Zion was 
inviolable, and to the men of the siege seemed little less than blasphemy 
against God and treachery to the state (xxxviii. 4). But the forecasts 
of Jeremiah were fulfilled and the holy city burnt by the alien conquerors, 
and in the providence of God the very forecasts which had seemed to 
be blasphemy were used for the purifying and sustaining of the worship 
offered to Himself^ Punishment did indeed begin at Jerusalem, but 
God who rules all the nations of the world and not merely His own 
people did not allow it to end there (xxv. 29) ; He had a controversy 
with all the nations and Babylon was His weapon against them (xxv. 
15 ff.). Even Babylon itself was not to escape unpunished, but the 
Divine vengeance was at length to seek it out also (xxv. 12). In some 
passages of OT. itself the final doom of the nations is regarded as 
certain^, and in the later non-canonical writers still further emphasis 
is laid on their coming extermination ^ In Jeremiah the nearest approach 
to this attitude of mind is found in x. 25 where Jehovah is implored 
'to pour out His fury' upon the heathen for they have devoured Jacob. 
In the list of prophecies at the end of the book the treatment which 
is to be awarded to the various nations differs considerably, and some 
are promised a time of revived prosperity, e.g. Egyi^t (xlvi. 26), Ammon 
(xlix. 6), Elam (xlix. 29)^ In one passage at least a striking feature 
is introduced, and that is, that the survival of the nations will depend 
on their attitude towards Jehovah; 'if they will diligently learn the 
ways of my people, to swear by my name... then shall they be built up 
in the midst of my people. But if they will not hear, then will I pluck 
up that nation, plucking up and destroying it^' The double scope of 
the prophet's office towards the nations is thus coordinated, and their 
political and religious future closely connected. On the other hand the 
means by which the nations were to be attracted towards Jehovah was 
the desire to share in the blessings which would be poured upon the 
penitent nation when Judah had once more turned to Him (iv. 1 f. ; 

to be resisted. The siege of Vienna and the nearer approach of the Ottomans 
however quickly changed his attitude. 

^ Cf. pp. Ixxxiii f. 

- E.g. Is. xxiv., xxxiv.; Mic. iv. 11; Zeph. ii,, iii. 8—10; Zech. i. 19 ff., xii. 3f., 
xiv. 1—4; Hag. ii. 21 f. 

3 Cf. Eth. En. xci. 9; 4 Esdr. xiii. 37 f., 49; Ps. Sol. xvii. 25, 27; Apoc. Bar. 
xxxix. 7 — 10. 

* The promise to Moab (xlviii. 47) is of doubtful authenticity, being absent 
from Lxx. 

5 xii. 14 ff. 



Ixviii INTRODUCTION [§ 5 

cf. Driver on Gen. xii. 3)\ At the same time Jeremiah recognised that 
between the soul of every man and his Maker there is a natural affinity ; 
and the doctrine of the New Covenant, by its recognition of the principle 
that a man's relation to God is his by virtue of his humanity, and not 
by reason of his being a member of any particular race, paved the way 
for the inclusion of all nations within the Church of God. Moreover 
it should be noticed that it is because of his own personal faith in 
Jehovah that the prophet can look forward to the time when the 
Gentiles shall turn to Him in worship; '0 Lord, my strength, and my 
strong hold, and my refuge in the day of affliction, unto thee shall the 
nations come from the ends of the earth, and shall say. Our fathers 
have inherited nought but lies, even vanity and things wherein there is 
no profit I' 

viii. Jeremiah! s Debt to the Past 

Whatever view may be held of inspiration, and of the manner in 
which the revelation entrusted to each individual prophet came to him, 
it is impossible to regard these individual prophets as being each inde- 
pendent of his fellows, without ancestor or descendant in the spiritual 
world. On the contrary the religious leaders of Israel, though they may 
not refer to one another by name, undoubtedly belong to a single stream 
of revelation, 'a school of the knowledge of God for all the world' as 
St Athanasius so happily named them I And it is natural that they 
should be thus connected, for however original a teacher may seem to be 
and in whatever sphere he moves, be it religious, or social, or literary, 
unless he have his roots deep in the past he cannot be really great. 
It is not seldom indeed that the most significant contribution to the 
race made by such an one is to be found in his bringing once more to 
the light some truth or ideal which had been allowed to fade from the 
knowledge of his contemporaries. It is not in religion alone that 
revivals take place; nor is a renaissance peculiar to culture. The 
prophets have every right to be numbered amongst those who 

'share the poet's privilege, 
Bring forth new good, new beauty from the old.' 

For, as Lowell has put it, 'A great man without a past, if he be not 
an impossibility, will certainly have no future. ...The only privilege of 

1 The same idea that the salvation of the Gentiles is in some way dependent 
upon Israel runs through 2 Is. and is common in the later literature ; cf . Tob. xiv, 
6 if. ; Test. xii. Patr. Jud. xxiv. 6, Lev. ii. 11, xiv. 4; Ps. Sol. xvii. 3f. 

2 xvi. 19; cf. Is. xiv. 14 £f. ; Zech. ii. 11. 
' De Inc. XII. 5. 



§ 5] THE TEACHING OF JEREMIAH Ixix 

the original man is, that like other sovereign princes, he has the right 
to call in the current coin and re-issue it stamped with his own imaged' 

Jeremiah was no exception to this universal rule, his debt to the 
past cannot be overlooked, and though his contribution to that river 
of truth which 'receives tributaries from every side' may seem dis- 
tinctive and original, yet it would never have been made but for the 
life-giving power of that river itself, and of some even of its smallest 
and least known tributaries. The outside influences which moulded 
the youth of Jeremiah are in their entirety known only to the God who 
chose him to be His instrument : the pious home ; the godly parents ; 
the older friends who shaped the religious consciousness of the growing 
boy; all these we can never know; nor can we rule out the possible 
influence of prophetic writers of whose very existence we are ignorant. 
Jeremiah's mind had an instinctive reverence for the past, a clear and 
loving recognition of the value of tradition, of those old paths from 
which men's feet stray so readily; and if one may judge from his own 
statements, the supreme task laid upon him was to restore to Israel the 
pure religion of the wilderness period and to purge it from novel and 
alien abuses which had been allowed to enter it. 

Amongst canonical prophets he owed most to Hosea. Not only was 
he indebted to him for many of his ideas, but he has even preserved 
and re-expressed the very images in which the earlier prophet had 
clothed them. It is not merely that the circumstances of the two pro- 
phets were very similar, Hosea being the herald of the Fall of Samaria, 
as Jeremiah was of that of Judah, but the resemblance is so close 
that there must have been definite borrowing on the part of the later 
prophet". It is to Hosea that Jeremiah owes the conception of Jehovah 
as the loving husband of the nation, as well as the idea of God as 
Father; it is through his influence that the service of other gods is 
described as adultery and fornication; and doubtless it was from the 
same source that Jeremiah got his figure of the wilderness period as 
the espousal timel From the prophet Micah, in addition to the quota- 
tion of Mic. iii. 12 in xxvi. 18, Jeremiah seems to have derived some 

1 'Lectures on the English Poets, p. 270. 

^ Cf. Harper, Amos and Hosea, in ICC. p. cxli. 

^ Parallels between the two prophets have been worked out in some detail by 
various scholars, e.g. Kirkpatrick in his Doctrine of the Prophets^, p. 117. The 
following list is by no means exhaustive: Jer. ii. 2ff. and Hos. i. — iii., vi. 4, 
xiii. 5 ; ii. 8 aud iv. 4ff., v. 1, vi. 9 ; ii. 18 and vii. 11 ; ii. 31 ff. and i. 2, ii. 2 ff. ; 
iii. 22 and xiv. 1, 4 ; iv. 3 and x. 12 ; v. 30 and vi. 10 ; vii. 9 and iv. 2 ; vii. 22 f. 
and vi. 6 ; ix. 12 and xiv. 9 ; xiv. 10 and viii. 13, ix. 9 ; xviii. 13 and vi. 10; xxiii. 
14 and vi. 10 ; xxx. 9 and iii. 5 ; xxx. 22 aud ii. 23. 



Ixx INTRODUCTION [§ 5 

of his teaching, for the utterances of the two prophets have much in 
common \ It may well be, however, that this similarity, which seldom 
extends to actual wording, was due more to similarity of situation than 
to direct borrowing; as was pointed out above the fact that Jeremiah 
was recognised as a second Micah is evidence of some resemblance in 
character and teaching. The parallels between Amos and the book of 
Jeremiah are fairly numerous, though it is not certain that they 
originated with the prophet himself, being found as they are for the 
greater part in the section on the nations. Dr Harper sees distinct 
traces of Amos' influence and quotes several instances of it, the most 
striking being that in these two prophetic books only is there use made 
of the phrases 'virgin of Israel' and 'days are coming^' Jeremiah 
does not seem to have owed much to the teaching of his greatest pre- 
decessor Isaiah, at any rate as far as it is contained in OT. ; and though 
there are resemblances between his prophecies and those of his con- 
temporary Zepkaniah they would appear to arise more from the simi- 
larity of environment than from any mutual influence. With Nahum 
and Habakkuk, who were also his contemporaries in all probability, 
Jeremiah's writings shew little kinship and the difl"erence in point of 
view is so striking as to preclude the possibility of influenced 

ix. The Methods of Jeremiah's Teaching 

Those who have had a message for their fellows in every age and 
in every land have endeavoured to deliver it by means of the spoken 
word, and in cases where civilisation has advanced sufiiciently, \ijf 
means of writing also. It is not probable that by Jeremiah's time much 
use was made of writing — though we are told that he sent a letter to 
those who had been taken to Babylon after the first capture of Jeru- 
salem (xxix.), and that he had records of his prophecies written down 
(xxxvi. 2). But to us his message comes entirely through the medium 
of a book, and the consideration of this method of arousing his con- 
temporaries will be found in the section dealing with its composition 
(pp. Ixxii fif.). 

Jeremiah, like the other OT. prophets, did not limit his methods of 

1 Cf. Jer. xii. 16 and Mic. iv. If.; xvi. 19 and iv. 1 f. ; xxiii. 9ff. and ii. 11, iii. 
11 ; XXX. 9 and iv. 7, v. 2 ; xxxi. — xxxiii. and ii. 15. 

2 Amos and Hosea, p. cxxxvi. Cf. Jer. xlvii. 2, xlviii. 1, xlix. 1, 7, 28, 34 and 
Am. i. 3, 6 &e. ; xlviii. 25, 44 &c., and i. 5, 8 &c. ; xvii. 27 and ii. 5; xxi. 10 and 
ix. 4; XXV. 30 and i. 2; xlix. 13, 20i!f. and i. 12; xlviii. 7, xlix. 3 and i. 15. See 
also the list in the volume on Amos in the present series of Commentaries, p. xxiv. 

' Cf. Davidson, Nahu7n, &c. in Camb. Bible, p. 63. 



§ 5] THE TEACHING OF JEREMIAH Ixxi 

teaching merely to the spoken and the written word. He was quite 
aware that truth is most easily perceived and most firmly grasped when 
seen in action, and he endeavoured constantly so to exhibit it'. The 
prophet also made a varied but wise use of symbols, knowing that, next 
to exhibiting it in action, the most effective way of declaring and 
enforcing truth is, as it were, to embody it in a symboP. As John 
Bunyan said, when defending himself for the use of so much allegory 
in Pilgrim's Progress : 

'The prophets used much by metaphors 
To set forth truth.' 

Closely akin to these symbolical actions was the use which Jere- 
miah made of visions, and indeed it is sometimes hard to say whether 
the prophet is describing an actual event or something which was 
performed merely in a vision^. In the case of ftie two baskets of figs 
(xxiv. 1 ff.) the vision may have been purely subjective, 'an inward 
event' as Keil calls it, 'a seeing with the eyes of the spirit, not of the 
body.' There seems to be one instance at least of a symbolical act which 
was performed in vision only, the giving of the cup of the fury of the Lord 
to the various nations (xxv.), an account which it is impossible to take 
literally. But the significance and importance of the visions cannot be 
exhausted by regarding them merely as a means of teaching, they were 
undoubtedly a channel of instruction and consolation to the soul of 
the prophet himself. There have always been those who claimed that 
knowledge was vouchsafed to them by the supranormal method of the 
vision, and such experiences are really beyond and outside the scope 
of criticism, except as regards their contents, for as Miss Eveljni Under- 
bill has said, 'it is really as impossible for those who have never 
experienced a voice or a vision to discuss it with intelligence, as it is 
for stay-at-homes to discuss the passions of the battlefield on the 
materials supplied by war correspondents ^' These visions and voices 
are beyond the scope of criticism, but it is perhaps necessaiy to point 
out that they are not for this reason to be taken as infallible guides to 
truth and knowledge ; else would mankind have accepted some strange 
and contradictory teaching. It is further to be noticed that the greatest 

^ Cf. for example his purchase of the field at Anathoth (xxxii.). 

2 Instances of Jeremiah's use of symholical actions are to be found in xix. (the 
broken vessel), xxviii. 10 (the wearing of the yoke), in xliii. 8ff. (the hiding of 
stones in the brickwork of Pharaoh's palace). 

3 xliii. 8 ff . is really an instance of such a difficulty ; see notes ad loc. 
^ Mysticism, p. 334. 



Ixxii INTRODUCTION [§ 5 

mystics have always been careful not to attach too much importance to 
supposed revelations which came to them from these sources \ The 
visions which Jeremiah claimed to have seen were so natural and so 
reasonable that few would be inclined to condemn them as extrava- 
gances; they came to him so much in the course of his ordinary life 
and indeed seem to have been suggested by the common sights of such 
a life that to throw doubt upon them is hypercriticism. When the 
prophet saw the almond tree, for example, as when he saw the basket 
of figs, his mind was deeply occupied with his mission and the state 
of those to whom he was sent ; the sudden realisation of the pre- 
sence and significance of the objects before him must have come to 
him with all the force of signs from heaven, as indeed they were I 



§ 6. The Book of Jeremiah 

i. Its Composition 

In times past the various books which are attributed to the great 
prophets were looked upon as being their actual productions, written 
and composed by those whose names they bear. But this theory of the 
origin of the prophetic writings will hardly stand the test of a strict 
enquiry. The prophets, before Jeremiah at any rate, were probably not 
literary men in the sense that they left writings behind them ; their 
utterances were delivered to a definite audience, at a particular time, 
and though some of them have survived in a written form, it is almost 
certain that the prophets had no deliberate intention when they uttered 
their message that such should be the case. The pre-exilic prophets 
were preachers and speakers, not authors and writers ^ and therefore did 
not make any complete written record of their sermons. The truth of 
this theory is proved for all practical purposes by Jeremiah's omission 
to write out his prophecies until he received a Divine command to do 
so some twenty- three years after many of them had been delivered*. 

1 Underhill, op. cit. pp. 321, 325, &c. 

2 Cf. the story of Eobert Bruce and the spider. 

3 They would probably have agreed with Plato's opinion that though ' the writing 
of books may be useful as an innocent pastime, or to preserve the records of oral 
discussion against the forgetfulness of age, or by way of guidance to those who may 
afterwards pursue the same track... literature is a much less efficient means of 
education than the spoken word.' {Phaedrus, 275 d— 277a, as summarised by 
J. Adam, in I'he Religious Teachers of Greece, p. 399.) 

* The Lady Julian of Norwich, a famous English mystic, did not write down 
her visions until the end of a period of fifteen years. See Inge, English Mystics, 
pp. 38 ff. 



§ 6] THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH Ixxiii 

Collections of such discourses would naturally arise from the desire of 
the disciples of the prophets to preserve the teaching of their master, 
and the fact that much of the prophetic teaching was given in a poetic 
form would make it easier to remember. The earliest direct reference 
to this method is in Is. viii. 16 'Bind thou up the testimony, seal 
the law among my disciples,' the meaning of which is that since Israel 
will not receive the message it must be treasured up by Isaiah's dis- 
ciples until a more favourable time'. Similarly in the passage in 
Jer. xxxvi. (referred to above) the prophet is deliberately told to write 
down his prophecies in order to bring them back to the minds of the 
people. At first the various utterances of the prophets would be 
handed down and preserved by different groups or schools, with all care 
and faithfulness indeed, but not without those small alterations and 
additions which are inseparable from an oral tradition. In course of 
time efforts would be made to systematise such fragments, and to 
arrange them into something like a logical sequence ; editorial matter 
would also be provided to fill up gaps, and to give further information 
about the prophet who gave the title to each particular book. The 
result of this process is perhaps best seen in the book of Samuel. But 
it would be a mistake to limit it to the books of the four Former 
Prophets only, that is to say to Joshua, Judges, Samuel, Kings; the 
books of the Latter Prophets doubtless owe as much to the work of 
editors. A somewhat similar series of events accounts for the form of 
the first three gospels as they have come down to us, as well as for 
the collection of the Koran ^ 

The preservation of the records must, in the first place, have been 
due to those who were in some real sense the disciples of the prophet, 
or at least to those who were in sympathy with his aims. The bulk 
of the people would be not at all anxious that such records of sin, 
of folly, and of failure should be handed down to later generations; 
though a certain amount of superstition, and even of godly fear, might 
prevent their going to the lengths of Jehoiakim and his courtiers 
(xxxvi. 23 f.). Still, as Pascal has pointed out^ it is an amazing thing 

1 Cf. Ewald, Proph. i. 48. * Nothing is more instructive than what Isaiah tella 
as in his own case. When his contemporaries refused to comprehend and believe 
great truths which he had preached repeatedly, then especially the prophetic spirit 
which had led him to speak summoned him also to write, that by this means he 
might work for his own time, and lay down in an everlasting memorial for the ages 
what he felt to be as true as his own life (viii. 1, 16 ; xxx. 8).' 

^ Cf. D. B. Macdonald, Aspects of Islam, pp. 77, 82; Leblois, Le Koran et la 
Bible Heb., pp. 37 ff. 

^ Pensees, ii. vii. 2. 



Ixxiv INTRODUCTION [§ 6 

that such literature has been preserved at all, and especially by the 
descendants of the very men to condemn whom it was originally written. 
Much indeed of the prophetic preaching has undoubtedly perished; 
and that not because it was less truly inspired by God than that which 
has been preserved, but simply because it had not the same relation to 
the needs of later generations of the house of Israel ; hence it was allowed 
to fall gradually into disuse, until finally it disappeared altogether. God 
may inspire a prophet or a messenger to meet a particular emergency 
or to perform a particular task, which once completed even the record 
of it perishes. In this way, it would seem, the disappearance of much 
of the prophetic preaching may be accounted for ; it was truly inspired, 
and a message from God, but it w^as at the same time too incidental, 
too much involved in the circumstances of the age for men to treasure 
it up and for their posterity to preserve it. But with the writings of 
Jeremiah it was not so, and one cannot help thinking that as he 
dictated his roll to Baruch, the prophet, knowing that his book would 
be used by God to reprove the profanity of the king and 'the madness 
of the people,' knew also that it was 'something so written to after- 
times as they should not willingly let it die.' 

Though there can be hardly a doubt that the book of Jeremiah, as 
it has come down to us, contains much that comes straight from the- 
prophet's lips, yet as a whole it is not much more his work than the 
book of Samuel is the work of the prophet whose name it bears (cf. 
p. Ixxiii). The lack of order and arrangement shews that the book is not 
the work of one man but rather a collection ; and whilst some of the 
passages are written in the first person, many of them are in the third. 
It does not necessarily follow that all the latter passages are not the 
work of Jeremiah, yet on the other hand they make no claim on the 
face of them to come from him, and apart from later tradition would 
hardly have been held so to do. The narrative in xxxvi. tells us that 
the sermons delivered during the earlier part of his ministry were 
recorded in a roll for King Jehoiakim, and it is natural to suppose that 
the contents of this roll are included, not necessarily in their original 
order, in the canonical book. It is impossible to say whether the roll 
consisted merely of sermons and orations, and whether the framework 
as it has come down to later ages was entirely supplied by another. 
Probably it was so supplied, and the prophet's faithful scribe, Baruch 
the son of Neriah, is generally held to have been its author. At any 
rate it is the opinion of nearly all critics that the book as it stands 
owes much to the pen of Baruch. It is exceedingly likely that Baruch 



§ 6] THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH Ixxv 

carried with him into Egypt the second roll (see xxxvi. 28) or some 
similar record of his master's teaching, and added to it from time to 
time, possibly with the knowledge, and even at the instigation of the 
prophet, reminiscences of his ministr}^^ Some of the accounts of events 
in which Baruch is said to have taken part shew signs of being the 
work of one who was an actual witness of and actor in the scenes 
which he describes (cf. xxxvi. 15 'Sit down now'), Jeremiah must have 
been a fignire of great interest and some mystery to the exiles in Egypt, 
and doubtless many traditions arose around his name ; and since this 
interest would not be limited to Egypt, the same process was probably 
in operation amongst the Jews in Babylon. After the exile these various 
traditions would be collected, and to them might be added other floating 
prophecies, the process continuing for many generations until the book 
was finally declared to be canonical and no further additions to it were 
allowed to be made. Some critics have endeavoured to split up the book 
into its component parts and to indicate the authors by letters in the 
margin, but though such a proceeding is possible in dealing with the 
Pentateuch, and indeed essential to a correct understanding of the 
various strata of the Mosaic law, it is too much a matter of conjecture 
in the prophetic books to be reliable. Those who are interested in such 
analyses will find Dr Peake's two volumes in the Century Bible exceed- 
ingly well done^. 

ii. Its Contents 

The contents of the book are hard to analyse and indeed bewildering 
in their present form which seems to follow no consistent scheme of 
arrangement; and this bewilderment is increased by the absence of 
any attempt to take advantage of the chronological notes, which in the 
later chapters, at all events, are sufficiently numerous. As Canon 
Nairne has said, 'The book of Jeremiah is not easily analysed. Attempts 
have been made to classify its contents. One attempt by the Jewish 
Synagogue provides the book as we know it in our English Bible. 
Probably the most helpful way of looking at the book is to think of it 
as a collection of manuscripts, stored in some corner of a library, not 
yet fully catalogued, but providing material of different kinds for the 

^ It is perhaps not necessary to point out that Baruch was no mere letter-writer 
of the bazaar, hut a man of independent character and power, and one who was not 
altogether free from personal ambition (xlv. 5). In Jeremiah's old age he seems to 
have exercised a considerable influence over the prophet (xliii. 3; but see notes 
ad loc). 

^ For later Jewish traditions regarding the prophet see pp. Ixxxvi f. 

B. / 



Ixxvi INTRODUCTION [§ 6 

illustration of a period of history. The period includes political and 
religious events of great significance, and people and scenes pass so 
quickly before our eyes that it is only natural we should find it difficult 
to put the papers in order.' Perhaps the best attempt to re-arrange the 
contents of Jeremiah is that of Cornill in SBOT., yet even it can hardly 
be called final or really satisfactory. His arrangement is as follows : 

(a) Discourses from the first twenty-three years of the prophet's 
ministry (i.e. up to the date of the compilation of the roll, 604 B.C.), 
i. 2, 4—19, ii. 1—13, 18—37, iii. 1—5, 19—25, iv. 3—9, 11—31, 
V. 1—19, 23—31, vi. 1—30, iii. 6—16, xi., xii. 1—3, 5f., xviii., vii., 
Viii., ix. 1—21, X. 17—24, xxv. 1—3, 7, 11, 13 a, 15—29, xlvi. 1—12, 
xlvii., xlviii. 1— 21a, 25, 28, 35—44, xlix. 1—33. 

(6) Discourses from the later years of Jehoiakim, xiv., xv. 1 — 10, 
15—21, xvi. 1—13, 16 ff., 21, xvii. 1—4, 14—18, xii. 7—17, xxxv. 
1—14, 17 ff. 

(c) Discourses from the reign of Jehoiachin, xiii. 

{d) Discourses from the reign of Zedekiah, xxiv., xxix. 1, 3 — 15, 
21— 22a, 316—32, xlix. 34—39, xxii., xxiii. 1—6, 9—18, 21—40, 
xxi. 1—10, 13 f., XX. 14— 1{«, 7—12, xxxii. 1 a, 2 a, 6—15, 24—44, 
xxxiii. 1, 4 — 13, xxiii. 7 f . (=xvi. 14 f.). 

{e) Discourses from the period after the fall of Jerusalem, xxx. 
1—9, 13—21, xxxi. 1, 2—9, 15—34, 38 flf., xlvi. 13—26. 

(/) Passages for which no satisfactory context can be found, ii. 
14—17, ix. 22—25, xii. 4, xvi. 19 f., xvii. 5, 11—13. 

{g) Biographical passages composed after the death of Jeremiah, 
xix., XX. 1—6, xxvi. 1—19,24, 20—23, xxxvi., xlv., xxviii. la, xxvii. 16, 
6, 8—22, xxviii. 16—17, Ii. 59, 60a, 61, 63, 64, xxxiv. 1—7, xxxvii. 5, 
3, 6 — 10, xxxiv. 8 — 22, xxxvii. 4, 11—21, xxxviii. 1— 28 a, xxxix. 15— 
18, xxxviii. 28 6, xxxix. 3, 14, xl. 6—16, xii., xHi., xliii., xliv. 1—28. 

(A) Further biographical passages from a different author than the 
writer of those specified in {g), x. 1—4, 9, 5—8, 10, 12—16, xvii. 19— 
27, xxxix. 1, 2, 4—12, xl. 1—5, l, Ii., Iii. 

The remaining passages which it is needless to specify, consisting 
as they do in most cases of a few verses only, or even of parts of a 
verse, Cornill rejects as later glosses and interpolations. 

Taking the book as it stands in EVV. the following is perhaps the 
best manner of dividing it up. 



§ 6] THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH Ixxvii 

Part I. Prophecies mainly included in the BoU 

(a) The prophet's call, i. 

(b) The first collection of prophecies, ii. — vi. 

(c) Prophecies at the temple gate, vii. — x. 

(d) Prophecies on various occasions, xi. — xii. 

(e) Warnings and Lamentations, xiii. 
(/) Disaster and Despair, xiv. — xvii. 18. 
(g) Concerning the Sabbath, xvii. 19 — 27. 
(h) Lessons from the potter's art, xviii. — xx. 

Part IL Prophecies mainly from the siege and after 

{a) Judgements on Leaders and People, xxi. — xxiv. 

{h) The cup of God's fury, xxv. 

(c) The temple sermon and its sequel, xxvi. 

{d) The false prophets and their teaching, xxvii. — xxix. 

{e) The glories of the future, xxx. — xxxiii. 

(/) Jeremiah's life during the siege, xxxiv. — xxxix. 

{g) Jeremiah's life after the fall of Jerusalem, xl. — xlv. 

Part in. Prophecies on the Nations 

{a) Concerning the nations, xlvi. — li. 
(6) Historical appendix, lii. 

iii. Its Text 

In the book of Jeremiah, as in several of the other books of OT. ', 
there are found considerable divergences between the received Hebrew 
text and the lxx. version. In the present book these divergences are 
not merely matters of the omission of a few words here and there, or of 
errors due to mistranslation, and so forth, they even extend to the dis- 
placement of one whole section — and that an important one — of the 
book (see introduction to chh. xlvi. — li.). It has been suggested that 
the text implied by lxx. represents a later recension of the works 
of Jeremiah compiled by the prophet himself during his sojourn in 
Egypt and preserved by his fellow-exiles and their descendants'-. There 
is, however, not much likelihood of this theory proving a correct one, 

^ E.g. Proverbs, Job, Esther, Daniel, &c. 

'^ Cf. Blass's theory that the Western text of the writings of St Luke represents 
a different edition written by the evangelist himself. 

/2 



Ixxviii INTRODUCTION [§ 6 

though it contains this much of truth that it recognises that the dif- 
ferences between MT. and lxx. are so serious that they can only be 
accounted for by the supposition that the Greek translators had before 
them another text. To offer any really satisfactory explanation of the 
existence of such a double text is difficult, and in view of our ignorance 
of the history of the composition and transmission of the book as a 
whole, practically impossible'. 



§ 7. The Style of Jeremiah^ 

Though the God who inspired the prophets and teachers of old was 
one and the same, and though the revelation which came to them 
originated with that Father of Lights who is the source of every perfect 
boon, yet the style in which the message was ultimately expressed 
differed according to the differing personalities of each of the several 
messengers. It was given to these men to see visions of God and in the 
hidden recesses of the soul to hear the utterance of the Divine voice; 
but to tell out what they had seen and experienced was a hard, nay an 
impossible, task. Like St Paul they were lifted to the third heaven and 
were shewn unspeakable things, things which they might not utter, not 
because of any express prohibition laid upon them, but simply because 
they were unable to do so ; to feel and to know is one thing, it is some- 
thing diverse to find expression for that which has been felt and known. 
Language even when reinforced by passion and quickened by inspiration 
is but a poor means of conveying spiritual truths, for such truths are 
'utterly beyond the powers of human understanding and therefore 
without equivalent in human speech^.' The prophet then is always to 

1 For fuller details of this question see Dr Streane, The Double Text of Jeremiah, 
and Workman, The Text of Jeremiah — the latter with some amount of caution. 
Mr H. St John Thackeray has recently advanced the theory that lxx. of Jeremiah 
is the work of three translators, the first of whom did chh. i. — xxviii. (lxx.) and 
who shews close affinities with the translator of part of Ez. and the Minor 
Prophets; the second, who did chh. xxix. — li. (lxx.), resembles the style of the first 
part of Baruch ; the third hand is responsible for ch. lii. only. See J. Th. S. iv. 
245 ff. and Gram, of OT. in Greek, pp. 11 f. 

2 The question of the vocabulary of the prophet and his use of certain favourite 
phrases is not discussed here but the reader may be referred to the list in Driver, 
LOr.Spp. 275 ff. 

3 Evelyn Underbill, Mysticism, p. 500 : cf. also the similar testimony of John 
Buskin : ' For what revelations have been made to humanity inspired or caught 
up to heaven... have been either by unspeakable words, or else by their very nature 
incommunicable, except in types and shadows... for, of things different from the 
visible, words appropriated to the visible can convey no image.' Modern Painters, 
Bk. n. ch. XV. § 1. 



§ 7] THE STYLE OF JEREMIAH Ixxix 

be regarded as one who is trying to express, through a pathetically in- 
adequate medium, an inward and valuable experience. 

The book of Jeremiah as it is contained in the Canonical Scriptures 
comes mainly, at any rate as regards the narratives, from the pen of 
Baruch\ and in considering the style of Jeremiah it will be necessary 
to treat these sections as only of secondary value. The first mark of 
the prophet's style, and one indeed which is typical of nearly all Hebrew 
literature, is its reality. The Hebrew prophets wrote as they spoke, 
and indeed, as was said above, it is doubtful whether they had any 
conception of the value of the written word, except as a record of that 
which had already been spoken; hence the impression of sincerity and 
naturalness which their works never fail to leave behind. In the case 
of Jeremiah's prophecies, the reader cannot but feel that they are the 
utterances of one who had a message to deliver and who was more 
concerned with what he said than how he said it; the form is only 
incidental, the contents all supreme. This characteristic is seen in a 
striking way in the use which .Jeremiah made of metaphors and figures; 
he never allows himself to be turned aside by them, or to forget that 
they are but means to an end ; the human and didactic interest is pre- 
dominant, and the purely artistic always subordinate ; allegory is never 
introduced for its own sake, but only to elucidate, as far as may be, 
the thoughts of the prophet, and to impress them upon the minds of 
his hearers. 

Arising from the reality of the prophet's style is its simplicity and 
vividness. The language as a whole is terse and compact and goes 
directly to the point without pausing, with all that vigour and energy 
which we should expect to find in the writings of a man of Jeremiah's 
character. To give one example of his powers of description is sufficient, 
though many others could be found, and this passage is unequalled in 
the whole of prophetic literature for vividness of effect produced by 
quite simple methods: 

I beheld the earth, and, lo, it was waste and void; 

And the heavens, and they had no Ught. 

I beheld tlie mountains, and, lo, they trembled, 

And all the hills moved to and fro. 

I beheld, and, lo, there was no man. 

And all the birds of the heavens were fled. 

I beheld, and, lo, the fi-uitful field was a wilderness. 

And all the cities thereof were broken down 

At the presence of the Lord 

And before his fierce anger^. 

1 See pp. Ixxiv f. above. "^ iv. 23 ff. 



Ixxx INTRODUCTION [§ 7 

In this and other passages of denunciation and woe the very 
simplicity of the utterance is often more dreadful and awe-inspiring 
than would be a series of vague and tedious lamentations such as those 
of him whom Gibbon has somewhat arbitrarily called 'the British 
Jeremiah \' 

But it is not only in his language that Jeremiah exhibits the 
simplicity and directness of his style, it comes out also in his use of 
imagery and symbolical figures. As was pointed out above the prophet's 
use of allegory is generally judicious and restrained; one need only 
compare the parable of the two baskets of figs (ch. xxiv.) with, say, the 
elaborate allegory of the cave in Book vii. of The Republic to realise 
the simplicity of Jeremiah's mind. 

In some passages which are generally admitted to come from the 
prophet himself there is an appearance of discursiveness and unnecessary 
repetition, but in nearly every case this will be found to be due to later 
editors who have either joined together several similar though dis- 
connected fragments, or else have tried to drive home the moral of the 
prophet's teaching by interpolating into it their own prosaic paraphrases. 
So far the two marks of the prophet's style to which attention has 
been drawn have been those characteristics of all true Hebrew literature, 
reality and simplicity; the next feature to be considered is that of 
passion. Jeremiah's style is eminently embrued with passion and in 
some of his writings, especially those which describe his own spiritual 
experiences, his emotion raises him to a height of lyric grandeur which 
is seldom equalled even amongst the Hebrew poets themselves. His 
passion, indeed, is often so great that he comes near to breaking that 
canon which Lessing laid down for the art of sculpture — not only does 
he writhe, he almost screams. 

Cursed be the day wherein I was born : 

Let not the day wherein my mother bare me be blessed. 

Cursed be the man who brought tidings to my father, 

Saying, A man child is born unto thee ; 

Making him very glad. 

And let that man be as the cities 

Which the Lord overthrew and repented not: 

And let him hear a cry in the morning 

And shouting at noontide ; 

Because he slew me not from the womb ; 

And so my mother should have been my grave 2. 

1 Gildas. See The Decline and Fall, &c. (Methuen's Standard Library Edition), 
IV. p. 152 n. The directness of the prophet's style is also seen in his fondness for 
short, abrupt questions : e.g. ii. 14, viii. 19, xiv. 19, xviii. 14, 20, xxii. 28, xxx. 6, &c. 

2 XX. 14 ff. 



§ 7] THE STYLE OF JEREMIAH Ixxxi 

In these and other passages the emotions pent up in the prophet's 
breast were so strong that, once an outlet was found for their expression, 
they were almost certain to overflow the bounds of literary convention ; 
such a glowing stream, tested and purified in the Divine furnace, could 
not be contained in the mould of any merely human art. It is to this 
excess of passion, no doubt, that we often attribute the not infrequent 
changes of person, for example, which occur even in the same passage ; 
changes which have led prosaic critics to imagine that either an altera- 
tion of speaker has taken place, or else that they have discovered 
another instance of composite documents. But examples of such ' pas- 
sionate changes,' as Leigh Hunt once called them, are not far to seek 
even amongst our own poets, it is sufficient to quote the instance which 
called forth the above description : 

^ 'my noble lord, 

How does he find in cruel heart to hate 
Her, that hun loved, and ever most adored 
As the god of my life? Why hath he me abhorred*?' 

But however much Jeremiah may be led away by the force of his 
emotions, sometimes almost to the verge of loss of dignity, he never 
loses his impressiveness. This is so partly on account of the natural 
impressiveness of his subject matter, dealing as it does with things 
sacred, and partly because he speaks always from the depths of a 
troubled and struggling human heart. 

Another quality of Jeremiah's style which must not be overlooked 
is its picturesqueness. This quality is shewn mainly in the use of vivid 
and striking images. For his choice of imagery Jeremiah usually draws 
upon a mind which has long observed the ways of nature, and which 
is filled with beautiful and glowing pictures, each in its turn capable 
of suggesting to the prophet 'the spiritual presences of absent things.' 
Jeremiah's love of nature was something exceptional amongst the Hebrew 
prophets, and one need only compare his simple and obvious illustrations 
derived therefrom with the involved and complicated visions of Ezekiel, 
for example, to see how greatly it stimulated his descriptive powers^ 
Jeremiah's imagery, to put the matter in a word, was the result of 
observation not of imagination, and his figures were the fruit not of art 
but of nature. Hence his writings hardly ever fail to be picturesque. 

Finally the prophet's style, where it is truly his own, is poetic. By 
this is not meant that it conforms invariably to any definite rules of 

I Spenser, Faery Queen, i. iii. 7 ff. 

^ For Jeremiah's love of Nature see the Additional Note pp. 10 ff., and for his 
use of symbolism cf. pp. Ixx f. 



Ixxxii INTRODUCTION [§ 7 

metre, except in the case of those passages which are dehberately so 
written, but that even in the prose passages of Jeremiah there may 
always be detected, to use the phrase of Sir Phihp Sidney, the move- 
ment of 'poetical sinews.' In his avowedly poetic passages Jeremiah 
rises to heights of lyric power which can hardly be equalled in the 
whole range of literature, for, as Mr Watts-Dunton has said, the greatest 
lyric poetry is found amongst the Hebrews only. It is with them alone 
that the combination of 'unconscious power' with 'unconscious grace' 
is found in its highest perfection, because it is with them alone that 
there is the intense yearning 'always to look straight into the face of 
God and live^' 

A considerable part of the prophetic discourses included in the book 
of Jeremiah are written in a metrical form, and especially in that par- 
ticular measure called the Qinah : Duhm even goes so far as to question 
the genuineness of any passage which is not written in this measure, 
or does not bear marks of having been originally so written. The whole 
question of Hebrew verse is very obscure, and experts are not even 
agreed as to what constituted the unit of measurement. It may suffice 
to say that many of the proposed attempts at re-arrangement, though 
often extremely ingenious, cannot, in view of our ignorance of the rules 
governing Hebrew prosody, be looked upon as more than provisional. 
Certainly the requirements of any particular system of versification 
are not by themselves a sufficient test of the genuineness of a particular 
passage; metrical considerations, however, may often have their share 
in deciding questions of criticism. The general principle that inter- 
polations, possibly in many cases of a very early date, have been made 
into not a few passages, must be admitted; serious difficulties arise 
when attempts are made to apply it^ 

An interesting suggestion has been made as regards the peculiar 
rhythmic prose in which some of the prophetic writings appear. It is 
suggested that they owe this character to a species of self-hypnotism 

1 See article 'Poetry' in Enc. BritJ, xix. p. 257. 'The Great Lyric must be 
religions — it must, it would seem, be an outpouring of the soul, not towards man 
but towards God, like that of the God-intoxicated prophets and psalmists of 
Scripture. Even the lyric fire of Pindar owes much to the fact that he had a child- 
like belief in the myths to which so many of his contemporaries had begun to give 
a languid assent. But there is nothing in Pindar, or indeed elsewhere in Greek 
poetry, like the rapturous song, combining unconscious power with unconscious 
grace, which we have called the Great Lyric. It might perhaps be said indeed that 
the Great Lyric is purely Hebrew.' 

2 Those who are interested in the subject and desire further information should 
consult E. G. King, Early Heh. Poetry, and for a more advanced treatment G. B. 
Gray, The Forms of Heb. Poetry, and the books there referred to. 

A 



§ 8] THE INFLUENCE OF JEREMIAH Ixxxiii 

similar to that found in those who produce what is known as automatic 
writing. It is true that there are but few instances in OT. of the 
prophets speaking in trance, but there is no reason to suppose that 
the experiences of Balaam (Num. xxiv. 4) and of Elisha (2 K. iii. 15), 
which seem to require some kind of trance condition, were entirely 
without parallel. Miss Evelyn Underbill's remarks on the style of 
writing found in the works of some of the mystics are interesting in 
this connexion: 'The pecuHar rhythmic language of genuine mystic 
dialogue' she says 'is an indication of its automatic character. Expres- 
sion once it is divorced from the critical action of the surface intelligence 
always tends to assume a dithyrambic form. Measure and colour, 
exaltation of language, here take a more important place than the 
analytic intellect will generally permits' 

§ 8. The Influence of Jeremiah 

Viewed from the limited standpoint of his own day the life of 
Jeremiah, like the lives of so many of the world's greatest benefactors, 
was a failure^. But a careful examination of the history of the Jewish 
people, and indeed of the history of religion in the world at large, shews 
how the influence of the prophet did not cease with his death, but 
survived to become a factor of 'tremendous importance in deciding the 
spiritual destinies of the race. 

It would also be true to say that, even before Jeremiah's death, 
the effect of his teaching was manifestly to be seen in operation ; there 
can be but little doubt that but for the teaching of Jeremiah, the 
Fall of Jerusalem and the deportation of the men of Judah would, 
humanly speaking, have been as fatal to the survival of the religion of 
Jehovah amongst the Jews, as the Fall of Samaria had been to its 
survival amongst their kinsmen of the Northern Kingdom. When other 
Semitic nations fell their gods fell with them, and it was no idle boast 
that prompted Rabshakeh's question, ' Where are the gods of Hamath, 
and of Arpad^? ' But Judah was overcome and still Jehovah had His 
faithful worshippers. ' The preservation of pure religion after the 
downfall of the nation depended,' says Dr Skinner*, ' on the fact that 
the event had been clearly foretold. Two religions and two conceptions 
of God were then struggling for the mastery in Israel, (l) The religion 
of the prophets who set the moral holiness of Jehovah above every 

^ Mysticism, p. 333. - See above pp. xxxiii ff. 

3 2 K. xviii. 34. * Ezekiel in the Expositor's Bible, p. 51. 



Ixxxiv INTRODUCTION [§ 8 

other consideration and affirmed that His righteousness must be 
vindicated even at the cost of His people's destruction. (2) The 
popular religion which clang to the belief that Jehovah could not 
for any reason abandon His people without ceasing to be God.... The 
destruction of Jerusalem cleared the issues. It was then seen that 
the prophets afforded the only possible explanation of the course of 
events.' In this way Jeremiah's teaching had a real, if only partly 
conscious, influence on the people at large even during his lifetime. 

What was Jeremiah's influence upon his fellow-prophets ? What 
special eff"ect had he, above all, upon his younger contemporary 
Ezekiel ? It is one of the most remarkable things in OT. that with 
a single exception', no prophet is mentioned by any of his fellows, 
though the influence of the teaching of one prophet upon another can 
be clearly traced. Jeremiah and Ezekiel, whilst often referring to 
the false prophets by whom they were opposed, never mention one 
another either by way of approval or otherwise, and, indeed, one might 
almost go so far as to say, seem to have been ignorant of each other's 
existence^ In spite of Ezekiel's failure to refer to Jeremiah there is 
so much in common between the teaching of the two prophets both in 
form and substance that some dependence of the one on the other 
seems almost certain. As Ezekiel did not receive his call till the 
older prophet had been proclaiming God's message for more than 
thirty years, any debt must be on his side. There is indeed hardly 
any part of Ezekiel's writings, except of course the final section which 
deals with the restored Temple, which does not shew some evidence of 
the teaching of Jeremiah. A comparison of the following passages 
will make this clear: Jer. ii. 7, Ez. xx. 27 ff". ; iii. 11, xvi. 51; iv. 
5—9, vii. 14, 27; v. 3, iii. 9; v. 20 fif., xii. 2; vi. 14, xxxviii. 15; vi. 
17, iii. 17; vi. 22, xiii. 10; xi. 3—8, xx. ; xiv. 13 ff"., xiii. ; xv. 16, 
ii. 8— iii. 3; xvi. 3 — 9, xxiv. 16—23; xxiii. 1 — 4, xxxiv.; xxiv. 7, 
xxxvi. 26; xxx. 9, xxxvii. 24; xxxi. 27, xxxvi. 9 — 11; xxxi. 29 f., xviii. ; 
xlvi., xxix. — xxxi. 

In spite, however, of the close relation of their teaching on so 

many points, Jeremiah and Ezekiel differ considerably in their point of 

view. If one may be allowed to apply present-day party names to the 

prophets of the old dispensation, Jeremiah is a Protestant, Ezekiel 
—__—_— J, __ 

^ The exception is the mention of the prophet Micah in Jer. xxvi. 18. Even here 
the words are spoken not by Jeremiah himself but by the elders of the land. 

2 Cf. Ez. xxii. 30 which implies that there was no true prophet amongst the 
people in Palestine. 



§ 8] THE INFLUENCE OF JEREMIAH Ixxxv 

a Catholic. Jeremiah lays stress on personal religion, the intercourse 
of the soul with its Divine Lord, he seems to demand that the revela- 
tion once given should be continually repeated to him, he will receive 
nothing on authority. Ezekiel, on the other hand, accepts the Divine 
message, and at once attempts to carry it out, not in any emotional 
way, but with the strong disciplined spirit which characterised him. 
God had spoken, man knew what was right and therefore he must do 
it. Unlike his contemporary, Ezekiel did not require the stimulus of 
repeated emotional experiences. The two prophets, like the two parties 
in the Church, represent different dispositions \ The chief difference 
in actual teaching between them is in the matter of ritual. Jeremiah 
apparently condemned ritual as not being part of the original religion 
of Jehovah, and as having become, through the superstitions which had 
gathered round it, a substitute for justice and goodness^. Ezekiel, on 
the other hand, seemed to regard pure worship as being necessary to 
fellowship with God, and he looked upon the ritual as enshrining the 
truths of the religion of which it formed a part. The new spirit and 
the new covenant which is to be made with the House of Israel is to be 
preserved in the ceremonies of an institutional Church. Jeremiah was 
the first to lay stress on the personal relation of the individual with 
his God ; Ezekiel supplemented this with his conception of the Church, 
which is to take the place formerly assigned to the nation in the scheme 
of the Divine economy. 

Upon the later prophets Jeremiah does not seem to have exercised 
any great influence — though the figure of the Branch for the Messiah 
in Zech. iii. 8, vi. 12 is probably taken from the use in Jer. xxiii. 5 — 
with the notable exception of the Second Isaiah. The coining of the 
phrase Servant of the Lord may be due to Jeremiah as its first use 
seems to have been in Jer. xxx. 10, and furthermore the portrait of 
the Servant contained in the later part of Isaiah owes many of its 



1 Bishop Creighton has well summed up the difference between the two types in 
one of his early letters. ' Some persons,' he says, ' seize hold of the love of God 
and exalt this to a spasmodic passion, having impressionable natures capable of 
momentary intensity, not of the continuous strain required for a moral life : such 
natures tend to monasticism, to religiosity, to formalism, or other things according 
to their surroundings. Others taking the love of God for their standard, translate 
their main principles into a number of practical axioms, and refer their separate 
acts to these axioms as rules: their danger is to forget their main principle, or 
rather put it in the background, and so gradually tend to lower the strictness of 
the rules by submitting them too much to the considerations of expediency which 
necessarily follow upon practice.' Life and Letters, i. pp. 94 f. 

* vii. 22 f. with Additional Note. 



ixxxvi INTRODUCTION [§ 8 

traits to the character and history of Jeremiah, such at least is the 
opinion of many able critics \ 

Of the literature contained in the third division of the Hebrew 
Canon the book of Job has affinities with Jeremiah ^ and likewise the 
book of Psalms of which no less than nine have been attributed to the 
authorship of the prophet, viz.: xxii., xxxi., xxxv., xxxviii., xl., Iv., 
Ixix., Ixxi., Ixxxviii., and many others shew marked traces of the 
influence of his language and ideas ^ 

Concerning the connexion of Jeremiah with one book of OT. nothing 
has as yet been said. As is well known the majority of critics consider 
that Deuteronomy, or at any rate its main kernel, is older than Jeremiah 
— that in fact it was the book found by Hilkiah in the Temple. 
According to this view any indebtedness between the two books — and 
such indebtedness must be acknowledged to be large both in teaching 
and style — must be due to borrowing by the prophetic writer. During 
the past few years, however, the opinion has been growing that 
Deuteronomy is of later date than had been generally supposed. This 
opinion has found its clearest expression in the writings of Canon 
Kennett, who, approaching the subject from the point of view of the 
time required for the composition of the separate documents of the 
Pentateuch and for their amalgamation, would place the date of Deutero- 
nomy during the exiled The subject is full of difficulties owing to our lack 
of knowledge, and to the student of Jeremiah the theory that the law- 
book was produced under the influence of the prophet's teaching rather 
than that the book produced the prophet has singular attractions^ 
On these and other grounds, the arguments for which are too technical 
and too lengthy to be produced here, the present writer after working 
on the subject for some years feels bound to express his substantial 
agreement with the position taken up by Canon Kennett, to whose 
writings he would refer those who are interested in the suggestion. 

Interest in Jeremiah seems steadily to have increased during the 
period which elapsed between the exile and the coming of our Lord, and 

1 See Skinner in Cnmb. Bible, pp. 103, 111 ; G. A. Smith in tiie Expositor's Bible, 
pp. 275, 358 ff. Dr Mitchell sees traces of the influence of Jeremiah on the style of 
Hasgai and Zechariah; see his commentary on these hooks in ICG. p. 101. 

2 See Davidson in Gamb. Bible, pp. Ixv f. 

3 In Gamb. Bible, p. xxxvi. 

4 See his article 'The Date of Deuteronomy' in J.Th.S. vii. pp. 481 ff. and 
the article ' Israel ' in Hastings' Diet. Eel. avd Ethics. 

" Cf. Dr Peake, Jeremiah, i. p. 60, ' this is a tempting suggestion to one who 
■would gladly claim an even fuller originality for Jeremiah.' Dr Peake, however, is 
not convinced of the truth of Canon Kennett's theory. 



§ 8] THE INFLUENCE OF JEREMIAH Ixxxvii 

this interest may be seen in the large number of legends which clustered 
around his name. An examination of some of these legends, however, 
tends to shew that his reputation rested on his supposed authorship of 
the book of Lamentations rather than on his prophetic writings \ Some 
indeed of the traditions connected with his name would appear to 
have arisen in quarters where there was very little real appreciation of 
his religious teaching, if not actual ignorance : e.g. the legend that 
Jeremiah carried away the tabernacle, the ark, and the altar of incense 
from the Temple and hid them on Mount Sinai I It was Jeremiah 
rather than any other of the prophets who came to be regarded in 
much the same way as men in later ages regarded the Patron Saint of 
the nation, as in the famous vision of Judas Maccabaeus before his 
victorious encounter with Nicanor^. The same passage shews Jeremiah 
in another similar aspect as engaged in constant intercession for the 
people and the Holy City. Coming down to still later times it is 
curious to notice the great reverence with which the prophet was re- 
garded by Pliilo^ 

By the time of our Blessed Lord's earthly ministry Jeremiah had / 

seemingly been exalted to a supreme place amongst the written prophets 
(cf Matt. xvi. 14). This exaltation may have been due to the fact 
that according to certain reckonings the book of Jeremiah occurs first 
in the Canon of the prophets ^ In another passage (Matt, xxvii. 9) a 
quotation from Zech. xi. 13 is attributed to Jeremiah possibly for the 
same reason, i.e. Jeremiah's name was held to cover any extract from 
the prophets. At the same time it should be remembered that the last 
six chapters of Zech. are held by the majority of critics to have no 
connexion with the first eight, or with the prophet whose name they 
now bear. It is not without interest to recall the fact that the earliest 
recorded attempt to divide up the book was made as long ago as 1632, 
and then in order to avoid impugning the accuracy of the Gospel ascrip- 
tion of the passaged But evidence of the high regard in which Jeremiah 
was held in NT. times is not limited merely to casual references to him 

^ This statement refers mainly to the popular conception of Jeremiah as ' the 
■weeping prophet.' Cf. also the legend in the Talmud, wliich may be early, that to 
dream of Jeremiah was a sign of coming misfortune (Berakhoth 57 b). 

2 2 Mace. ii. 1 — 8 ; contrast Jer. iii. 16. 

3 2 Mace. XV. 13 ff. 
* De Cher. § 14. 

^ Cf. J. Lightfoot on Matt, xxvii. 9. 

® The attempt was made by Joseph Mede of Cambridge who tried to shew that 
the later part of Zech. was written by Jeremiah. See G. A. Smith, The Twelve 
Prophets, ii. 450. 



Ixxxviii INTRODUCTION [§ 8 

by name. His influence is to be discovered in much of our Lord's 
own teaching, and in the hour before His passion it was to Jeremiah's 
doctrine of the New Covenant that the Master went back most 
naturally as a forecast of His own sacrificial work. So too in the 
Apostolic Age, 'it is,' as Dean Stanley says, 'to Jeremiah, even more 
than to Isaiah, that the writers... look back when they wish to describe 
the Dispensation of the Spirit.' (Cf. Heb. viii. 8 fif., x. 16 f.)^ 

Perhaps, however, the influence of Jeremiah had the most important 
results for the development of religion in the eff'ect which both his life 
and his teaching had upon St Paul. This influence cannot be proved 
by any direct evidence; but to a close student of the Old Testament 
scriptures, such as Saul of Tarsus undoubtedly was, the teaching of 
Jeremiah upon the spiritual nature of religion could not have been 
passed by unnoticed. Whether St Paul was conscious of what he 
owed to Jeremiah or not the debt was none the less incurred, and one 
has only to compare passages such as Jer. iv. 4, ix. 25 f. with Gal. v., &c. 
to see the close connexion between the thoughts of the writers, a 
connexion which could hardly have been accidental. There was much 
also in the lives of the two men which was similar. Both were conscious 
that God had chosen them for His service even from their very birth 
(Jer. i. 5 ; Gal. i. 15) ; both had a mission to those who were not of their 
own race, and indeed the terms ' prophet of the nations ' and ' apostle 
of the Gentiles' are practically synonymous; both had a passionate 
love for their country (Jer. iv. 19, ix. 1; Eom. ix. — xi.); a'nd both 
suff"ered constant persecution from those whom they loved. It has been 
suggested by the present Bishop of Ely that St Paul regarded himself 
as a second Jeremiah, or at least that he recognised the likeness between 
his own experiences and those of the OT. prophet^. It would seem 
therefore that there is justification for assuming that Jeremiah was one 
of the great moulding influences upon St Paul. 

The passages in NT. which shew the influence of Jeremiah are very 
numerous; the following list is taken from the appendix to Westcott 
and Hort's Greek Testament : Matt. ii. 18, Jer. xxxi. 15; vii. 22, xxvii. 
15 and xiv. 14; xi. 29, vi. 16 (Heb.); xxi. 13, vii. 11 ; xxiii. 38, xxii. 
5 and xii. 7. Mk. viii. 18, v. 21; xi. 17, vii. 11. Lk. xiii. 35, xxii. 
5 and xii. 7; xix. 46, vii. 11. Acts vii. 42, vii. 18 (lxx.) and xix. 
13; vii. 51, ix. 26 and vi. 10; xv. 16, xii. 15; xviii. 9 f., i. 8; xxvi. 

1 Tlie Jewish Church, ii. 446. 

^ F. H. Chase, Credibility of the Acts, p. 71. I am indebted to Dr Lock for this 
reference. 



§ 8] THE INFLUENCE OF JEREMIAH Ixxxix 

17, i. 7 f. Eom. ix. 21, xviii. 6; ix. 22, 1. 7. 1 Cor. i. 31, ix. 24. 
2 Cor. vi. 17, li. 45 (Heb.); x. 17, ix. 24. 1 Thes. ii. 4, xi. 20; iv. 5, 
X. 25. 2 Thes. i. 8, x. 25. Heb. viii. 8—13, xxxi. 31—34; x. 16 f., 
xxxi. 33 f. Jas. v. 5, xii. 3; v. 7, v. 24. 1 Pet. i. 17, iii. 19. Apoc. 
ii. 23, xvii. 10; vi. 15, iv. 29; vii. 17, ii. 13 and xxxi. 16; viii. 8, li. 
25; X. 11, i. 10 and xxv. 30; xi. 5, v. 14; xiii. 10, xv. 2; xiv. 8, li. 
7 f.; XV. 3, X. 10 (Heb.); xv. 4, x. 7 (Heb.); xvi. 1, x. 25; xvi. 12, 
1. 38; xvii. 1 f., li. 13; xvii. 4, li. 7; xvii. 15, li. 13; xviii. 2, ix. 11; 
xviii. 3, li. 7 and xxv. 16 f.; xviii. 4f., li. 6, 9, 45; xviii. 6, 1. 29; xviii. 
8, 1. 34; xviii. 21, li. 63 f . ; xviii. 22 f., xxv. 10 (Heb.); xviii. 24, li. 
49; XX. 9, xi. 15 and xii. 7; xx. 12 f., xvii. 10; xxi. 4, xxxi. 16; xxii. 
12, xvii. 10. 

In the Book of Common Prayer Jeremiah is read — with certain 
omissions — as the first Lesson at Matins and Evensong fi-om August 9th 
to 26th, and the following portions from it are used as Proper Lessons : 
chh. V. at Matins and xxii. or xxxv. at Evensong on Trin. XVII. ; 
ch. xxxvi. at Matins on Trin. XVIII. ; xxxvi. 1 — 18 at Matins on 
Innocents' Day; i. 1 — 11 at Evensong on the Feast of the Conversion 
of St Paul; xxvi. 8 — 16 at Evensong on St James' Day; iii. 12 — 19 at 
Evensong on SS. Simon and Jude's Day. In addition to these passages 
read in the Lessons, xxiii. 5 ff. is the Special Portion read as the Epistle 
on Trin. XXV.; x. 24 (= Ps. vi. 1) is among the Sentences at the open- 
ing of Matins and Evensong; and xvii. 5 is the basis of one of the 
' curses ' in the Commination Service. 

Chronological Table 

The notices of time in OT. if they stood by themselves would be of 
little value owing firstly to the difficulty of relating them to outside 
events, and secondly to the fondness of the Hebrews for the use of round 
numbers and approximate calculations. Fortunately the Assyrians 
had an elaborate and most accurate system of chronology with which 
OT. history can easily be related. Like the Greeks they designated 
each year by the name of a certain officer and lists of these officers 
have survived, often in duplicate, and their substantial accuracy has 
been proved by comparing the dates which they record for certain 
eclipses and other astronomical phenomena with the dates required by 
modern astronomers. Wherever, then, Jewish and Assyrian history 
touch we have means of discovering fixed dates from which the others 
can be calculated. 



xc INTRODUCTION 

B.C. 

c. 722. The Fall of Samaria. 
c. 697. Manasseh (697—639). 

639. JosiAH (639—608). 
c. 630. Scythians begin to move. 
626. Jeremiah's call. 
621. Discovery of the Book of Law. 
609. Pharaoh Necho, king of Egypt (609—594). 
608. Battle of Megiddo and death of Josiah. 
608. Jehoahaz or Shallum reigns for three months and is then taken 

to Egypt. 
608. Jehoiakim or Eliakim (608—597). 
c. 606. Fall of Nineveh and collapse of the Assyrian Empire. 

605. Battle of Carchemish and defeat of Pharaoh Necho by the 

Babylonians. 
604. 7Ve6Mc^ac?re00ar, king of Babylon (604 — 561). 
604. The writing of the Roll. 

603. The destruction of the first Roll and the writing of the second. 
c. 598. Jehoiakim rebels. 
597. Death of Jehoiakim. 
597. Jehoiachin reigns three months and is then taken to Babylon 

on the Fall of Jerusalem. 
597. Zedekiah or Mattaniah (597—58^). 
594. Psammetichus II, king of Egypt (594 — 588). 
593. Plans for revolt against Babylon. 
588. Pharaoh Hophra, king of Egypt (588—569). 
586. Capture and destruction of Jerusalem and second deportation 

of the Jews. 
561. Evil-merodach, king of Babylon (561 — 560), Release of 

Jehoiachin. 
538. Fall of Babylon\ 

^ Some of the dates in the above list are slightly different from those usually 
given; in deciding on them I have followed the notices in Canon Johns' Ancient 
Babylonia. The reign of Pharaoh Hophra is usually extended to 564 on the 
assumption that his conqueror and successor, Amasis, allowed him to remain on 
the throne, in name at least, until that date; since the article by Piehl in Zeitschrift 
fiir Agypt. S. u. A. 1890, p. 9, this has generally been rejected and the reign of 
Amasis II dated from the victory of Momemphis. 



THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH. 

Chapter I. 
The Prophet's Call. 

This introductory ch. which really begins with v. 4 in our present an-ange- 
ment of the text {m. 1 — 3 being the title, not to the ch. but to the whole book) 
gives an account of the call of Jeremiah, or of what has been fitly named his 
' four-fold investiture' to the office of prophet. Some scholars look with suspicion 
on this account of the call of Jeremiah and are disposed to question its 
genuineness. Duhm, for example, refuses to admit that it comes from Jeremiah 
himself, or even from the recollections of those who knew him. He would 
bring the chapter down to the post-exilic period, mainly because it represents 
the prophet as being set over the nations {i: 10), which, in his opinion, would 
have been too lofty a claim for Jeremiah to have made on his own behalf; 
neither could it have been attributed to him by Baruch, for to the latter he 
was merely an Israelite prophet with a mission to his own people, but with 
little interest in the affairs of other nations. These reasons seem to be quite 
insufficient to bear the argument based upon them consisting as they do 
mainly of assumptions. Even from the point of view of critics who deny the 
objective reality of Jeremiah's call a treatment so drastic is not necessary. 
Surely it is possible to argue that when the account was written the prophet 
was looking back over the actual facts of his ministry, and in recording its 
beginning he simply states its scope as afterwards revealed to him by the 
progress of events and the gradual enlargement of the sphere of his activity. 
Tojeject this account of Jeremiah's call, because it appears to magnify his im- 
portance, shews a lack of insight into the working of the prophet's mind ; his 
whole attitude towards his vocation makes it quite clear that it was only God's 
appointment which made him undertake it and that he relied on the Divine 
strength entirely for power and ability to fulfil it. The initial plea of un- 
worthiness was, on Jeremiah's lips, no mere conventional utterance but came 
from the very depths of the prophet's heart. To snch a man to become the 
messenger of God was to accept an office whose importance did not admit of 
degi'ees of comparison ; the geographical or ethnological limits of his mission 
were mere details which could have had little consequence in his eyes. Another 
argument in favour of the traditional position is that it would have been hard, 
in view of the state of international affairs, for any prophet of Judah to avoid 
being at the same time a prophet to the nations. When such a call came to 
Jeremiah he would see in it nothing strange or unusual; Jehovah was the God 
of all the earth, and his own appointment to be His messenger to the nations 

B. 1 



2 THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH [l i 

was not without parallel in the lives of his predecessors ; his heart must have 
glowed within him as he realised that he was treading in the steps of Amos 
and Isaiah. 

In the books which bear the names of these two prophets the narrative as 
it has come down to us, for some reason or other, does not begin with an 
account of the call of the prophet. Such a record seems desirable as the 
opening of a prophetic book, for the office of a prophet like that of an apostle 
is one which no man taketh to himself but only as he is called of God : it is 
fitting therefore quite apart from chronological reasons that a work of this 
nature should begin with an account of the writer's qualifications ^ 

The ch. may be analysed as follows : 
(a) Introductory title. 1 — 3. 
(6) The prophet's call. 4—6. 

(c) Jeremiah's consecration. 7 — 10. 

(d) The sign of the almond tree. 11 — 12. 

(e) The sign of the seething caldron. 13 — 16. 

(/) Jehovah co?nmands the prophet to be strong. 17 — 19. 

I. 1 The wordsof Jeremiah the son of Hilkiah, of the priests 

I. 1 — 3. The ascription of the book to Jeremiah and the date of 
the prophet's call. The first two vv. are evidently the original super- 
scription and V. 3 was added later so as to extend the scope of the title. 
It is to be noticed that the title, even in its extended form, does not 
include Jeremiah's prophetic activity subsequent to the fall of Jeru- 
salem. 

1. words. The only other prophetic book which has this heading 
is Amos. LXX. is fuller and has the singular t6 prjiJ-a, which is much 
the more usual form. Kimchi and other Rabbinic commentators ex- 
plained the plural as representing the fact that incidentsj;S.^La^ pro- 
phecies are included in the book — but such inclusions are not peculiar 
to Jeremiah. 'iTis' possible that there is a reference to xxxvi. 2. 

Jeremiah. Various explanations have been given of the meaning of 
the prophet's name. Schmidt {Enc. Bib. 2366) suggests that it repre- 
sents -in^ no^^ ' Jehovah hurls,' Ball and Wellhausen connect it with 
the root nm 'to fourid,' and others think that it means 'Jehovah 
looseneth' (the womb). The name occurs not infrequently in OT. : 
e.g. xxxv. 3 ; 2 K. xxiii. 31, xxiv. 18 ; Neh. xii. 1, 12, &c. 

Hilkiah. Probably not the priest mentioned in 2 K. xxii. in spite of 
the opinion of St Clem. Alex, and St Jerome. There is no evidence 
that Jeremiah belonged to the Jerusalem priesthood. In the case of 
seven of the prophets (viz. Amos, Obadiah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, 
Haggai and Malachi) no table of descent is given, possibly because they 
were of humble origin. In the case of Zechariah the descent is traced 

1 Cf. Hamilton, The People of God, i. p. 160. 



I. i-s] THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH 3 

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 sou 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 month. 

4 Now the word of the Lord came unto me, saying, 5 Before 

back two stages, and in the case of Zeplianiah further still (see J. M. P. 
Smith, Zeph. &c. p. 182). 

of the priests. Heb. n*3nDn p. The wording of the phrase is 
strange, and Cornill accounts for it by supposing that Jeremiah, though 
a priest by birth, never exercised the office. A better explanation is to 
take the words as referring to Anathoth and to regard them as a post- 
exilic gloss which has been incorporated into the text. 

Anathoth. See Introd. p. xxviii. The name is possibly connected 
with the goddess 'Anath, traces of whose name occur also in Authothi- 
jah (1 Ch. viii. 24); Beth-anatli (Josh,, Jud.) and Beth-anoth (Josh. 
XV. 59). 

land of Benjamin. The fact that Jeremiah was a member of the 
border tribe of Benjamin may account for his strong sympathy with the 
Northern Kingdom. 

2. the Lord. The word Lord when printed in capitals in AV. 
and RV. represents the Divine Personal Name which in hymns and in 
popular speech is rendered Jehovah. This word is the result of a com- 
bination of the consonants mn'' (the Personal Name), with the vowels 
of Adonai (Lord) the word which the Jews generally substitute for it 
in reading the scriptures. The actual pronunciation has been lost, 
though many scholars now use the form 'Yahweh' (see further Dr 
McNeile on Ex. iii. 14). 

king of Judah. The use of this phrase is suspicious, though not 
necessarily a sign of late date. Nebuchadrezzar, in his inscription, 
describes himself as king of Babylon ; but inscriptions were written for 
strangers, the prophetic books for the Jews themselves. 

in the thirteenth year. This reference fixes the exact date of the 
call of the prophet (c. 636 e.g.), and there remained still forty years 
during which he was to exercise his ministry before the final fall of the 
kingdom. J. Lightfoot points out that as God sent Moses to teach the 
people for forty years before the entrance into Canaan, so He sent Jere- 
miah for forty years before they were banished from it. 

3. efeventh year. The Hebrew for eleventh, !T!'?'^"'?''fP, is a late 
form found only in Jer., Ez., Dt. i. 3, the Priestly code and ' passages 
undoubtedly post-exilic, so that it may very well be a loan word from 
the Babylonian' (= istin or isten), Ges.-K. p. 290, note 1. 

4 — 6. God's call and the prophet's hesitation. For a discussion 

1—2 



4 THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH [i. 5, 6 

I formed thee in the belly I knew thee, and before thou earnest 
forth out of the womb I sanctified thee ; I have appointed thee 
a prophet unto the nations. 6 Then said I, Ah, Lord God ! 

of the call of Jeremiah and a comparison with the call of other servants 
of God, see Introd. pp. xxix f , xxxviii. 

4. unto me. A sudden introduction of the 1st person. Stade 
{ZA TW. 1903, pp. 153 f.) thinks that this v. is a subsidiary heading. 

5. formed. The root meaning of the word is 'to shape' (as a 
potter) ; it is used of the making of Adam (Gen. ii. 7 — 8) ; but very 
often the origin of the word is ignored and it is applied to the creation 
of light (Is. xlvii. 7), summer and winter (Ps. Ixxiv. 17) and the spirit 
of man (Zech. xii. 1). 

knew. Of God in Am. iii. 2 ; Hos. xiii. 5 ; Nah. i. 7 ; Ps. i. 6, 
xxxi. 8, cxliv. 3. The reference is not to intellectual knowledge but 
to selection for a definite piece of service. The writer of one of the 
Psalms acknowledged that God's eye was upon him even in his mother's 
womb (cxxxix. 13 — 16), and Job pleaded with God on this very 
ground, ' thine hands have formed me and fashioned me,' &c, (x. 8 £f.). 
This mention of the Divine foreknowledge was doubtless meant to en- 
courage the youthful prophet ; He who had begun a good work in him 
would surely not desert him until it was perfected (cf Nu. vi. ; Is. 
xlix. 1, 5 ; Lk. i, 15; Gal. i. 15). It is interesting to note that Nabo- 
nidus made a similar claim; in one of his inscriptions he says that 
while he was yet ' in the bowels of his mother ' Sin and Nergal gave to 
him ' the lot of sovereignty.' (See Ball, Light from the Ancient East, 
p. 208.) 

sanctified. This word as originally used conveyed no idea of ' holi- 
ness ' in the later sense of the word, but merely that the person or 
thing was set apart or consecrated to a particular purpose. This is the 
only place in OT. where the word is' used of a prophet (cf Ecclus. xlv. 
4, xlix. 7), though other parts of the verb are used of priests (Ex. xxviii. 
3, 41, &c.) and of the setting apart of the keepers of the ark (1 S. vii. 1). 
Our Lord speaks of Himself as sanctified by the Father (Jn. x. 36). 

unto the nations. Though we may not agree with Duhm (see Introd. 
to the ch.), yet it is very strange that Jeremiah, whose message was 
mainly to the people of Judah and Israel and whose interests and 
affections were so markedly bound up in the nation, should be thus 
early designated as a prophet to the nations. Before even the bare 
mention of Judah or Jerusalem it is declared that his mission is an 
universal one. As early as the time of Calvin the peculiarity of this 
was noticed. 'It seems strange,' he says, 'that he was given a prophet 
to the nations... for he neither travelled to the Ninevites, as Jonah did 
(Jon. iii. 3), nor travelled into other countries, but spent his labours 
only among the tribe of Judah.' The Targum paraphrases the words 
so as to avoid any semblance of a promise of the nations sharing in the 
comfortable things of the prophet, ' I have appointed thee as prophet 
to make the Gentiles drink the cup of cursing.' 



1. 6-9] THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH 5 

behold, I cannot speak : for I am a child. 7 But the Lord said 
unto me, Say not, I am a child : for Ho whomsoever I shall send 
thee thou shalt go, and whatsoever I shall command thee thou 
shalt speak. 8 Be not afraid because of them : for I am with 
thee to deliver thee, saith the Lord. 9 Then the Lord put forth 

^ Or, on xohatsoever errand 

6. Ah, Lord God ! This cry of the prophet becomes very fami- 
liar as an expression of pain and nervous dread (cf. iv. 10, xiv. 13, 
xxxii. 17). 

/ cannot speak. Like Moses (Ex. iv. 10), and possibly St Paul if 
we can accept the statement of his detractors (2 Cor. x. 10; cf 1 Cor. 
ii. 1). Demosthenes, according to Plutarch, had to overcome great 
natural impediments before he became an orator. 

child (lxx. v€WT6pos, zu jung). The Heb. word ("^5) is used of a 
new-born child (1 S. iv. 21), but also of Abraham's trained servants 
(Gen. xiv. 21), of a man of marriageable age (Gen. xxxiv. 19), and of 
Absalom when grown up (2 S. xviii. 5, 12), so that it does not neces- 
sarily refer to anyone very young. Calvin, who adopts the translation 
puer, takes the word metaphorically and pours scorn on St Jerome for 
saying that the prophet was only a boy when he began his ministry. It 
is diiiicult to know why Jeremiah pleaded his youth unless it was that 
he doubted the form in which the Divine inspiration would work. His 
words seem to imply a conception of the prophetic office different from 
that which had been normal in Israel, and which regarded the seer as 
a merely passive instrument in the hands of God. 

7 — 10. ' Whom God calls He equips.' 

7. Jeremiah was not making excuses in order to avoid his commis- 
sion, and so God does not reprove him as He reproved Moses (Ex. iv. 
14). His lack of experience will not unfit him for the prophetic office, 
for God Himself will direct him both as to the object and the contents 
of his message. The case of Jeremiah illustrates one of God's constant 
principles ; never to entrust His servants with tasks which are beyond 
their powers will they but take advantage of that Divine inspiration 
which is ever at their command. 'Let him who speaks speak as the 
oracles of God' (1 Pet. iv. 11; cf. Ex. vii. 2; Dt. xviii. 18; Matt, 
xxviii. 20). 

8. Be not afraid. Cf Life of B. F. Westcott, 11. 92 f 

them has no antecedent ; the reference is to whomsoever. , 

/ am with thee. When God sends forth His servants He goes with 
them (cf Acts xiii. 4 with i>v. 9 and 52). 

saith the Lord. Lit. ^It is the whisper of Jehovah! This phrase 
almost invariably comes at the end of revelations to the prophets, though 
in two cases it appears at the beginning (viz. Is. Ivi. 8 ; Ps. ex. 1). 

9. put forth his hand. The language of this v. is not intended to 
be taken literally ; it was by anthropomorphisms such as this that the 
ancients triumphed over the difficulty of a transcendent God. ' God 



6 THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH [i. 9-1 1 

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 pluck 
up and to break down, and to destroy and to overthrow ; 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 

^ Heb. shaked. 

as God,' says Feuerbach, ' the infinite, universal, non-anthropomorphic 
being of the understanding, has no more significance in religion than a 
fundamental general principle has for a special science ; it is merely an 
ultimate point of support, as it were, the mathematical point of religion' 
(quoted by Aubrey Moore, Lux Mundi, p. 91). The same difficulty is 
met with amongst the Greeks and is solved in very much the same 
way : ' The old mythology was allied to sense, and the distinction of 
matter and mind had not as yet arisen ' (Jowett, Introd. to Theaetetus, 
IV. 156). 

touched. Lit. 'caused it to touch.' Here the object of the touch is 
to inspire, in Is. vi. 7 it is to purify. 

/ have put my tvords in thy mouth. As though they were some- 
thing material. (Cf Ez. ii. 9, iii. 3, where the prophet eats the actual 
woi'ds in the form of a book.) 

10. Cornill suggests that the best explanation of this v. is to be 
found by comparing it with v. 14, vi. 11, xxiii. 29; and Is. Iv. 10 — 11. 

set thee. ' The word used suggests the idea of set ivith authority or 
make an overseer' (Driver) (cf Gen. xxxix. 4f and .Jer. xl. 5, 7). God 
here appoints Jeremiah to be His viceroy on earth, ' der Statthalter des 
himmlischen Grosskonigs' (Duhm). 

to pluck up &c. All the words here used imply from their sound 
a certain amount of violence in the process ; they are used in several 
other passages of the book in varying combinations : viz. xviii. 7, xxiv. 
6, xxxi. 28, xlii. 10 and xlv. 4. The use in xxxi. 28 is interesting, as 
in that passage it is God Himself who is to perform the various acts 
which are elsewhere ascribed to the prophet. 

to build, and to plant. Jeremiah's work was not to be merely one of 
destruction, he was to clear the ground of ancient abuses and to sow 
the seed of a brighter future. 

11 f This section and that which follows contain narratives of 
two visions or symbols from which the prophet learned the imminence 
of the Divine judgement. (For a discussion of the nature of these 
and similar visions and the place which they occupied in Jeremiah's 
ministry, see Introd. pp. Ixxif.) 

11. what seest thou 1 A similar formula is used in Am. vii. 8, viii. 
2 ; Zech. iv. 2, &c. Jeremiah, like the writer of the Song of Solomon 
(see especially ii. 11 — 13), evidently had great sympathy with nature in 



I. 11-13] THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH 7 

tree. 12 Then said the Lord unto me, Thou hast well seen : 
for I ^ watch over my word to perform it. 13 And the word of 
the Lord came unto me the second time, saying, What seest thou? 

1 Heb. shoked. 

its various moods and welcomed the first sign of the coming spring'. 
But under the Divine tuition it bore for him a message not of hope, 
but of warning, such as was entirely foreign to the light-hearted and 
innocent singer of Canticles. In the natural world the sprouting of 
the almond may mean that 

'Winter's rains and ruins are over 
And all the season of snows and sins' 

but in the moral world towardswhich the prophet's eyes were con- 
stantly turned it suggested only a note oT doom. ' As to Amos the 
fruits of autumn suggested the approach of wintry desolation, so to 
Jeremiah the almond first of all trees to flower suggested the advent 
of another season.' Edghill on Am. viii. 2. 

rod. The word is used elsewhere of an actual rod (Gen. xxx. 37 ; 
Hos. iv. 12; Zech. xi. 7, &c.), and Kimchi and some of the older 
interpreters therefore looked upon it here as a 'symbol of correction.' 

almond tree. In Palestine the almond tree was, and is, the 'har- 
binger of spring ' amongst the flowers (cf Pliny, Hist. Nat. xvi. 25 ; 
Tristram, Nat. Hist, of the Bible, p. 332)-. Its Hebrew name means 
'that which is ajwakening,' and comes from the same root as the verb 
used in the next v. 7". 

12. / ivatch i^PP), shoked. The Hebrew contains a play upon the 
word for almond tree 0W\ shuked. Similar instances are not un- 
common in the prophets (e.g. Am. viii. 2)1 The word occurs again in 
xxxi. 28, xliv, 27 of God's activity, and in v. 6 of the sinister watch- 
fulness of a wolf on the look-out for its prey. 

13 — 16. The vision of the boiling caldron. 

13, the second time. Evidently the two visions are to be closely con- 

1 For a note on ' Jeremiah and Nature,' see pp. 10 ff. Browning has used the 
almond blossom and the coming of spring somewhat in a similar way, possibly 
borrowing from this passage. As Palma in Sordello longs for the appearing of the 
unknown lover who is to share with her the task of uniting Italy she seems to see 
a prophecy of his coming in the approaching spring : 

' Waits he not the waking year ? 
His almond blossoms must be honey-ripe 
By this ; to welcome him, fresh runnels stripe 
The thawed ravines; because of him, the wind 
Walks like a herald.' 

2 ' In the Phrygian cosmogony an almond figured as the father of all things, 
perhaps because its delicate lilac blossom is one of the first heralds of the spring,' 
Frazer, Adonis, i. pp. 263 f.: cf. Pausan. vii. xvii. 11; Hippol. Refutatio, v. 9; 
Arnob. Adv. Nationes, v. 6. 

3 Bishop Lightfoot has collected a number of examples of somewhat similar 
word-plays in his commentary on Phil. iii. 2: e.g. 'the saying of Diogenes that 
the school of Euclides was not axo^V but x°^V ^^^ ^^^ discourse of Plato not 
diaTpi^T) but KOiJaTpi^-f) (Diog. Laert. vi. 24).' 



8 THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH [i. 13, h 

And I said, I see a seething caldron ; and the face thereof is 
from the north. 14 Then the Lord said unto me, Out of the 
north evil ^ shall break forth upon all the inhabitants of the land. 

* Heb. shall be opened. 

nected ; it is quite possible that they formed a second call to Jeremiah 
and so he included them in this account of his earliest experiences 
with which their connexion may have been spiritual rather than chrono- 
logical. A recent writer says that ' It is more probable that the two 
visions of the ahiiond-rod and the pot occurred much later than the 
prophet's call. They may have been God's message to him when the 
forecast of the Scythian invasion had been proved mistaken, and when 
the true enemy from the North was just appearing on the scene.' 
(Holscher, Die Fro/eten, pp. 283 ff.) 

a seething caldron. The word is used of a larg^e cooking-pot 
sufficient to contain a meal for several "people (2 K. iv. 38lf ), also 
of a wash-pot (Ps. Ix. 10, cviii. 10), and it is evidently nut re- 
stricted to earthen vessels (Ex. xxxviii. 3 ; Ez. xxiv. 6). Seething is 
lit. 'blown-upon' : the fire under the pot is blown upon and therefore 
it boils. 

the face thereof is from the north. The exact explanation of the 
symbol is difficult though the meaning, as stated in the next v., is 
quite plain. Two lines of explanation, have been_suggesfed by different 
scholars, (a) The contents of the caldron represent the invading 
force, "^ the ominous North was once more boiling Hke a caldron' 
(G. A. Smith, Jerusalem, 11. 228) — so Keil and many other critics. 
{b) Duhm, however, takes a different line; he suggests that the 
caldron was laid on a rougli_oyen made of stones, one side, that 
towards the North>__being open and the fuel placed there. The idea is 
then the same as that found in Ez. xxiv. 3—14; the caldron is Judah 
and the fire beneath is blown upon from the North ; the contents of 
the caldron Vhich are made to boil will then be represented by the 
inhabitants who are about to go into exile. The latter suggestion, 
which requires a slight change in the Hebrew, has been adopted by 
I several modern scholars, and it must be admitted that it avoids the 
'difficulty of deciding what is meant hjjheface of a caldron. 

14. the north. In Jeremiah the north^ is almosf a synonym for the 
coming invader, and so too in JoeFiT. 20 '"the northern army of locusts' 
must be a metaphorical expression for an invading army, since locusts 
come from S. and SE. (cf. Is. xiv. 31 'a smoke out of the north'). 
An army invading Palestine from Asia would do so by way of n. Syria, 
and so the frequent experience of the Israelites had led them to look 
upon the North as the quarter from which troubles usually arose. 
There was always something mysterious and even supernatural about 
this quarter to the Jews, and it may be that this feeling was derived 
from their Semitic ancestors, for the gods of Assyria were said to dwell 
in the /ar Nm-th. (Cf Is. xiv. 13 with Wade's note; and Ps. xlviii. 2 



I. 15-17] THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH 9 

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 judgements against 
them touching all their wickedness ; in that they have forsaken 
me, and have burned incense unto other gods, and worshipped 
the works of their own hands. 17 Thou therefore gird up thy 

^ Or, speak with them of my judgements 

with Kirkpatrick's note. See also Enoch Ixxvii. 3 where the North 
contains ' the garden of righteousness,' i.e. Paradise \) 

15 f. 'Viewed in one light war is the boiling caldron of human 
passion, upset by hazard, and bringing only ruin in its course; in the 
other it is God sitting in judgement, with the kings of the earth as 
His assessors, solemnly pronouncing sentence upon the guilty.' Payne 
Smith. 

15. families. In the earlier writers this word was restricted in 
its use to tlie divisions of the people of Israel. It corresponds to a 
'clan' or tribe-division rather than to what is generally understood as 
a 'family?" (Cf.W. 'Robertson Smith, Rel. SemJ p. 258 &c.) 

kingdoms. This passage would suit an invasion by the Baby- 
lonians much better than a Scythian incursion. The Great King would 
assemble his subject kings and all would march onward as a single 
army : cf Is. xvii. 12 — 14. 

set.. -his throne. As a sign of conquest and of judgement. Duhm 
sees in this v. the influence of the ' later dogmatic eschatology ' which 
foretold the gathering of all nations to Jerusalem. Cf Sibyll. Orac. 
III. 67 f : 

'In a ring round the city the accursed kings shall place 
Each one his throne with his infidel people by him.' 

16. God is to be known in the coming of vengeance, a thought 
often found in Ezekiel. 

burned incense. Lit. to cause smoke or odour to go up. The 
Hebrew word ("iDp : cf. Assyr. kutru - smoke) has no necessary con- 
nexion with the burning of incense which is generally considered to 
have been a comparatively late introduction into Hebrew ritual. See 
on vi. 20. 

17 — 19. Jeremiah is encouraged to be strong and zealous in spite 
of the certain and constant opposition with which he will meet. God 
is calling him to a life-long warfare. 

gird up thy loins. Girding, when used metaphorically, combines 

^ 'The North psy is divided into three parts: one for men, one for waters 
(nSV an overflowing), and clouds and darkness (jSV to conceal), while one contains 
Paradise (|DV to reserve).' Charles. 



10 THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH [i. 17-19 

loins, and arise, and speak unto them all that I command thee : 
be not dismayed at them, lest I dismay 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. 

the ideas of strength and preparedness : loosening of the loins, on the 
other hand, means weakness and surrender (cf. Is. xlv. 1). The loins 
were looked upon as the seat of strength (Dt. xxxiii. 11; 1 K. xii. 
10, &c.) ; and of keenest pain (Nah. ii. 11; Is xxi. 3). 

be not dismayed &c., 'quail not, lest I let thee quail,' Streane. 
Lit. means ^be shattered,' and is so used of broken bows (li. 56). The 
word is a favourite one with Jeremiah who almost invariably uses it, 
as here, in a metaphorical sense. 

18. iron pillar. Cornill omits this phrase (with LXX.) as being 
inconsistent with a siege. 

iron... brasen. A very frequent combination to represent firmness 
and enduraneg: Dt. xxviii. 48: Mic. iv. 13; and cf Dan. ivri2. 

kings... princes &c. Jeremiah's messages were for every class and 
for all the people. In the warfare which he had to carry on he would 
need the strength of a fortified city, and at the same time he would 
have to experience the isolation involved in a siege. 

19. Confidence in another is the most certain refuge from fear. 

Additional Note on i. 11. 
Jeremiah and Nature. 

When we speak of Nature we use the word with different connotations. 
We may mean by Nature the world of Natural Laws, or the world of Natural 
Beauty ; that is to say Nature may be regarded from a scientific or from an 
aesthetic point of view. Further still. Nature may be looked upon from a 
merely utilitarian standpoint, as the power which provides man with food and 
raiment ; though this latter division might perhaps be included in the 'scientific ' 
aspect of Nature. 

Ancient \vriters, whether they emphasised the scientific or the aesthetic 
side of Nature, were in the habit of personifying it, of giving to Nature a 
separate existence over against God on the one side and man on the other. 
In the prophets the Natural creation is often spoken of as though it were 
possessed of conscious life, and even St Paul uses the same kind of language 
(cf Rom. viii. 19 ff.). The Natural creation, for example, can be appealed to as 
the judge between God and Israel (Is. i. 2 flF.) ; or as a witness for the prosecution 
when the nation appears before the tribunal of the Most High (Mic. vi. 1 ff). 



THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH 11 

Yet at the same time there is no small amount of sympathy between Nature 
and man ; and man's feelings are often represented (by what Ruskin called 
'the pathetic fallacy') as being produced into it (see note on p. 45). 

In the strict sense of the word, Jeremiah, like the other prophets, had no 
scientific conception of the Natural world, nor indeed did he in any way approach 
such a .conception. The prophets looked upon the ordinances of Nature as 
being due to the direct action of God Himself, and as their tendency was to 
emphasise the grandeur and impressiveness of Nature rather than its beauty, 
they saw the potcer, rather than the loce of God, shining through the veil of 
His creation ; at the same time they fully recognised the bounteous goodness 
of Him who gave the rain and fruitful harvests. The prophets were men of 
action rather than men of speculation ; they were faced yviih problems which 
were intensely real and calling for solution, and these problems were not 
problems in the world of thought and imagination only, but in the world 
around them. The result was that they tended to exercise the moral powers 
rather than the intellectual or aesthetic, to realise the presence of God's activity 
in Nature, rather than to seek to know how it was exercised therein, much less 
to lay bare their souls to the waves of beauty and loveliness which were ever 
floAving through and from it. 

The failure of the prophets to differentiate between God and the laws by 
which He acts led in some cases to a belief in doctrines which to the mind of a 
later and more enlightened age seem to be distinctly dangerous, as for example, 
the doctrine that the sins of parents might be visited on their children by a 
deliberate interference of God to that end (see pp. liv f. and cf. Adam, Religious 
Teachers of Greece, pp. 22 ff.). Another inadequate view of Nature which 
arose from the prophetic ignorance of scientific laws, — a view, however, which 
was not in itself dangerous, — was their conception that the earth was the 
centre of the universe, fixed and immovable, whilst the heavens were constantly 
changing. This conception, of course, lasted till the Middle Ages, it was shared 
in by our Lord Himself in His life here on earth, and is still reflected in phrases 
like ' sunrise ' and ' sunset.' This same distinction between ' the heavens ' and 
' the earth ' which regarded the latter as fixed and the former as in motion was 
a tenet of the Aristotelian philosophy. One of the gi'eat changes wrought 
by the acceptance of the Copeniicau theory was that it made it possible 
to do away mth this distinction, and to look upon the earth as being of one 
piece with the heavens and no less divine than they (cf. C. C. J. Webb, 
History of Philosophy, p. 142). 

Jeremiah himself, when compared \vith the other prophets, must be ad- 
mitted to have had a much greater appreciation of the more tender aspects of 
Nature, especially of animate Nature, and he constantly draws illustrations fi'om 
it^. He was evidently a close observer of bird life and several times refers to 

^ Cf. T. R. Glover, The Jems of History, p. 31 : — ' Jeremiah is obviously 
country-bred. He might have beeu surprised, if he had been told how often he 
illustrates his thought from bird and beast and country life — and always with a 
certain life-like precision and a perfectly clear sympathy.' 



12 THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH 

the flight of birds across the heavens, he admired their wonderful instinct 
(viii. 7), he had watched their habits closely (xii. 9), and his interest followed 
them even into their captivity (v. 27) ; at the same time he seems to have had 
no ear for the music of their songs (cf. Cant. ii. 12). Nor did the wider aspects 
of Nature leave Jeremiah untouched, and he was ever alive to the changing 
march of the seasons. Yet with all this appreciation of the softer and gentler 
moods of Nature there went something that was grim and harsh, and the pre- 
dominant impression left on our minds by the imagery of the book is one of 
tumult and horror. Descriptions of the sea dashing and raging against its 
bounds, of the mountains and hills rocking in the throes of a mighty earthquake, 
of the whole land desolate, seem more akin to the mind of Jeremiah than the 
soothing picture of the budding almond tree and the silent approach of spring. 



CHAPTERS n.— VI. 
First Collection of Jeremiah's Prophecies. 

The prophecies contained in these chh. refer most probably to the period 
between the prophet's call (c. 626 B.C.) and a date shortly after Josiah's reforma- 
tion (f. 620 B.C.). They appear to form a single collection, though by no means 
confined to a single discoui'se, and, in spite of the fact that matter is contained 
in them which must come from a somewhat later time, they may be taken as 
typical of Jeremiah's earliest preaching. According to the account contained 
in ch. xxxvi. none of Jeremiah's prophecies had been collected in writing before 
604 B.C. and so it need not be supposed that chh. ii. — vi. represent the exact 
words of the discourses as originally delivered ; doubtless the prophet's re- 
collections were influenced, more or less unconsciously, by the subsequent issue 
of events. At the same time it seems cei'tain that some amount of editorial 
matter has been added, either by Baruch or by some other scribe. 

The contents of the chh. may be conveniently divided into the following 
sections : 

An appeal to the nation's past. ii. — iii. 5. 

An invitation to the exiled Northern tribes to return, iii. 6 — 18. ♦ 

A vision of penitence and restoration, iii. 19 — iv. 4. 

A description of the coming doom. iv. 5 — 31. 

The utter moral depravity of Jerusalem, v. 

The invader and his invincible might, vi. 



THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH 13 



Chapters H. 1 — HI. 5. 
An Appeal to the Nation's Past. 

This passage contains a short summary of the history of Israel written from 
the prophetic point of view, and in it is emphasised the striking contrast between 
the patience and faithfulness of God on the one hand, and the continued sin 
and unfaithfulness of Israel on the other. Jeremiah begins his appeal by 
turning to the earliest days of the nation's history, the time of its ransom from 
Egypt, and it is to be noticed that in the prophet's eyes the period of the 
exodus and wandering in the wilderness was one of true and loving intercourse 
between Jehovah and His people ; he seems to have no knowledge or no re- 
collection of the stories of constant strife and backsliding on the part of the 
nation such as are portrayed in the Pentateuch (see below for a further discussion 
of this point). From this stage of 'faithfulness' the fathers soon fell away and 
forgetting the goodness of God plunged into all kinds of superstitions and de- 
based forms of worship ; they who had knowledge of the true God forsook Him, 
whereas the very heathen were faithful to their gods which were mere vanity 
and nothingness. It is not necessary to suppose, however, that Jeremiah is 
condemning actual apostasy, the entire desei'tion of Jehovah in favour of 
strange gods ; it is more probable that he had in view a \videspi-ead adoption 
of customs of worship and ideas in regard to Jehovah which were equivalent 
to a virtual apostasy. The allegiance of Israel was merely nominal, the people 
still addressed their God as Jehovah, but in their hearts they thought of Him 
as having the attributes of one of the local Baalim. Another point in this 
psissage which deserves attention is the attitude of the prophet towards the 
exiled members of the Northern Kingdom. Jeremiah has a deep love for all 
Israel, he does not limit God's favour to Jerusalem and Judah only, and the 
coming restoration is to include every true worshipper of Jehovah. (For the 
same doctrine in other prophets cf. Is. xi. 12 ff.; Ez. xxxvii. 16flF. ; &c.) In 
the last sub-section of which this division consists (iii. 1 — 5) Jeremiah likens 
the sinfulness of Israel to that of an erring wife. Israel is Jehovah's wife boimd 
to Him by the covenant at Sinai, Israel has been false to her Husband and 
yet He longs for her return. 

One question of considerable importance which is raised by this section 
I'emains to be discussed. Jeremiah, following Amos (ii. 10, v. 25) and Hosea 
(ii. 16 f), regards the wilderness period as a time in which the closest union 
existed between Jehovah and Israel— a golden age at the beginning of the 
history of the nation such as the Greeks imagined for their own history. Such 
a conception is hard to reconcile, however, with the accounts of the wanderings 
contained in the Pentateuch, and also in the later prophets. Ezekiel, for 
example, looks upon the people as rebellious from the very first (ii. 3, xx. 13 fi".). 
Some passages in Hosea seem also to look upon the exodus in a less favourable 
light (ix. 10, xi. 1 — 3). Various attempts to explain and reconcile these ap- 



14 THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH [ii. i, 2 

parently inconsistent statements have been made by different scholars. Graf, 
for example, thinks that the wilderness period was looked upon as a time of 
brightness only by contrast to the utter gloom of the last years of the monarchy ; 
whilst Keil would limit the prophet's reference to the time which elapsed 
between the departure from Egypt and the covenant at Sinai, he would also 
draw a somewhat artificial and unnatural distinction between murmurings 
against Moses and apostasy from Jehovah. 
The section may be divided as follows : 

(a) The appeal to the exodus, ii. 1 — 3. 

(6) The ingratitude and folly of Judah. 4 — 13. 

(c) The penalty of forsaking God and trusting in man. 14—19. 

(f/) Israels incurable sin. 20 — 25. 

(e) The folly of idolatry. 26—28. 

(/) The reasons for IsraeVs misfortunes. 29 — 37. 

(g) The question of the divorced wife. iii. 1 — 5, 

II. 1 And 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 4br thee the kindness of thy youth, the love of thine 
espousals ; how thou wentest after me in the wilderness, in a 

^ Or, concerning 

II. 1 — 3. An appeal to the nation to return to its former love to 
Jehovah as shewn at the time of the exodus. 

2. Jerusalem. As the religious as well as the political capital 
Jerusalem was the natural place for a prophet to make an appeal to 
the whole nation. It ^vas recommended by tradition and situation 
alike. (Cf Amos at Bethel.) 

kindness. The Hebrew word ipi^ chesed is generally used either 
of the feelings (a) of a man towards his fellow ; (b) of God to man in 
condescending to His creatures and their needs. The use as here to 
describe the attitude of Israel towards Jehovah is very rare, though 
there is possibly another example in Hos. vi. 4 'your piety is like 
a morning cloud.' Some commentators find themselves unable to take 
the expression in this way, and in spite of the context, make it refer 
to God's attitude towards Israel. 

youth. Of iii. 4. 

espousals. The conception of Israel as the bride of Jehovah is 
adopted from Hos. ii. 2 — 20. The Semites were in the habit of looking 
upon the god of the nation as wedded to the land, and upon tlie members 
of the nation as the fruit of their union. Cf Is. liv. 5 and see W. 
Robertson Smith, Prophets", pp. ITOff. The same metaphor purified 
of all heathen associations is found in NT. where St Paul speaks of the 
Church as the bride of Christ (Eph. v. 25). 

wilderness... not sown. Oriental writers are fond of laying stress on 



II. ,-4] THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH 15 

land that was not sown. 3 Israel was holiness unto the Lord, 
the firstfruits of his increase : all that devour him shall be held 
guilty ; evil shall come upon them, saith the Lord. 

4 Hear ye the word of the Lord, house of Jacob, and all 

the distinction between the wilderness and the cultivated land : cf. 
Omar Khayyam, Rubaiyat, x. : 

' some strip of herbage strown 
That just divides the desert from the sown.' 

The wilderness it should be remembered was something more than 
mere ' desert sand and empty air ' ; it was the usual place for pasturing 
the flocks (cf xxiii. 10 ; Joel ii. 22). The vegetation of the desert 
was such as grew of itself, hence the distinction from ' the sown ' or 
cultivated land. 

3. holiness. The word has no necessary moral content and its 
use in the present context merely lays stress on the fact that Israel 
was God's consecrated property and therefore entitled to His protection 
and separated to His service. 

the firstfruits of his increase. In what sense can this term be applied 
to Israel ? Philo often speaks of Israel as the first-fruits of humanity. 
Driver explains it as meaning that the nation was Jehovah's 'first- 
fruits from the field of the world, sacred to Him (Ex. xxiii. 19) and 
consequently not to be touched with impunity.' But Avhilst not wishing 
to deny that Jeremiah cherished the hope that the other nations were 
destined to become the worshippers of the God of Israel, yet at the 
same time this interpretation seems to me to read too much into the 
text. The prophets in their choice of figures were, as a rule, influenced 
by one main idea and ignored all side issues \ In this case the only 
idea in the writer's mind is that Israel is God's possession (see above) 
in just the same sense as are the first-fruits ; there is no reason for 
attributing to him the secondary idea that Israel is therefore an earnest 
of the gathering in of the rest of the nations. According to the law 
the first-fruits had to be offered to God before the harvest could be 
used for the ordinary purposes of life (Lev. xxiii. 10 — 14). The same 
expression is used of the Christian Church by St James (i. 18). 

guilty. The Hebrew word is used with three distinct though 
related meanings. It is used (a) of one who has committed an offence ; 
(6) of one who has been found gui lty of committing an offence, even 
though there has been a miscarriage of justice ; (c) of one who bears 
the punishment of an offence and is therefore presumed to have com- 
mitted it. The last sense is the one required here as the stress is on 
the punishment (cf Lev. xxii. 10, 16). 

4 — 13. In the previous section Jeremiah seems to linger over the 
picture of Israel's youth with a tender and pathetic longing : that the 

1 Cf. Jiilicher, Bie Gleichnissreden Jesu, i. p. 317; and J. W. Hunkin, The 
Synoptic Parables in J.Th.S. xvi. pp. 372 ff. 



16 THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH [ii. 4-6 

the families of the house of Israel : 5 thus saith the Lord, What 
unrighteousness 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 

glories of those days should ever be restored is a wish almost beyond 
hope of fulfilment — and yet the nation is still the same, it is still 
God's chosen people. From these bright visions the prophet now turns 
to the ingratitude and sin which soon blotted them out, and in the 
light of the great ideal of the past the actual state of the nation seems 
the more lamentable. Jehovah's appeal to the nation in v. 5 is very 
like Mic. vi. 3 ' my people, wliafc have I done unto thee? and wherein 
have I wearied thee? testify against me.' In each case the challenge 
was unanswerable because God was the offended party. 

4. house of Jacob. This expression is much less common than 
the parallel form the 'house of Israel.' It occurs only 17 times, apart 
from Gen. xlvi. 27 where it is used in the literal sense of the immediate 
descendants of the patriarch, and of these 7 are found in the book of 
Isaiah. The appeal here, as so often in this prophet (cf Jas. i. 1), is 
all Israel, not merely the Southern Kingdom : one wonders if Jeremiah 
wished his message to be carried to the northern part of the laud to 
the province of Samaria which at this time possibly included some 
who were worshippers of Jehovah. Cf xli. 5 with notes. 

5. unrighteousness. Cf Dt. xxxii. 4. 

vanity. Lit. vapour, breath. The root idea is vapour driven by the 
wind ; cf Prov. xxi. 6. The word is often applied to idols and their 
worship and is very common in Jeremiah. 

become vain. A verb from the same root. Another part of the 
verb is used in xxiii. 16 of the results of the labours of the 'false' 
prophets. Cf Ps. Ixii. 11 and Job xxvii. 12. Men may make gods in 
their own image, but their characters tend tt) become similar to those 
of the beings whom they worship. 

6. ' The very name of Jehovah became known as a name of power 
only through Moses and the great deliverance' (W. R. Smith, Prophets^, 
p. 33) and by reminding them of the deeds of mercy and wisdom in 
the past Jeremiah shews up their ingratitude in even darker colours. 
For a description of the wilderness of the exodus see E. H. Palmer, 
The Desert of the Exodus, especially pp. 284 ff. and cf Dt. i. 19, ix. 15, 
xxxii. 10 ; i\.m. ii. 10 ; Mic. vi. 3 ff. The account is written from the 
point of view of one unused to the nomadic life and not unnaturally 
exaggerates the terrors of what was unknown to the writer. Asshur- 
banipal bears testimony to the difficulties of crossing the Syro-Arabian 
desert which he describes as ' a land of thirst and faintuess where no 
beast of the field is and no bird builds its nest.' 



II. 6-8] THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH 17 

and of Hhe shadow of death, through a land that none passed 
through, and where no man dwelt? 7 And I brought you into a 
plentiful land, 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 "^rulers also trans- 

1 Or, deep darkness 2 Heb. shepherds. 

the shadow of death. Mg. deep darkness is to be preferred. To the 
inexperienced traveller the desert with its absence of roads is as hard 
to traverse as a land of darkness : cf. Ps. xxiii. 4 ; Is. xxi. 1, xxx, 6 ; 
Job vi. 18. Lxx. renders ' barrenness.' 

7. In strong contrast to the hardships and dangers of the wilder- 
ness through which God led His ransomed people was the land of 
promise into which they entered. Cf. Am. ii. lOf. 

plentiful land. Heb. land of Carmel. The word means garden-land, 
plantation, and though it is used specifically of Mt Carmel, it may also 
be applied to any very fertile spot. 

defiled. The word used of ceremonial uncleanness. Hosea had 
already made a very similar usage of the w^ord to describe the effect of 
heathen cults (v. 3, vi. 10). 

my land. Cf. xvi 18 ; Hos. ix. 3. 

mine heritage. From the parallelism it is evident that the land is 
meant, a very rare use — Ps. Ixxix. 1 furnishes another example. As a 
rule the term is applied to the people itself (e.g. 1 S. x. 1 ; 1 K. viii. 
53 ; Ps. xxxiii. 12). 

abomination. Generally used in a religious sense though occasionally 
with a wider meaning. 

8. The priests. Jeremiah constantly attributes the failure of the 
people to their natural leaders in both Church and State : cf xxiii. 1 If. 

handle the law. The same phrase is used in Ecclus. xv. 1 with an 
evident reference to the work of the scribes. In the present passage 
the expression is a little awkward for the Heb. word t^'Sn tdphas = to 
handle is almost always used of a literal seizing especially with the idea 
of wielding ; in one or two late passages it has acquired a metaphorical 
sense, e.g. Prov. xxx. 9 'seize the name of my God,' Nu. xxxi. 27 (P) 
' those skilled in war (lit. handlers of war).' The word translated law 
is in the original iT^il^ tordh and its literal meaning is ' direction ' ; cf 
Ex. iv. 12, 15, where the verb is translated teach. The root underlying 
tordh is used of casting or shooting and the word evidently goes back 
to the time when ' direction^ waYgTveh l)y means of arrows &c. (cf 
Ez. xxi. 21 f) or the casting oT'a sacred lot. The discovery that the 
early Israelites agreed with Their neighbours in retaining much of the 
outward ritual and religious mechanism of the primitive Semitic race 
ought not to alarm us, for as Robertson Smith has wisely said ' the vast 
difference between the revelation of Jehovah and the oracles of the 



18 THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH [ii. s-io 

gressed 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 to the isles of Kittim, and see ; 
and send unto Kedar, and consider diligently ; and see if there 

nations lies in what Jehovah had to say rather than in the actual 
manner of saying it.' Prophets^, p. 57. 

knew me not. Cf. Hos. iv. 6 (of the priests). 

rulers (Heb. shepherds). Cf. iii. 15, xxiii. 1, 2, 4. The representation 
of the leaders of the nation under the figure of shepherds would be 
one which would readily suggest itself to a pastoral people (already in 
Hos. iv. 4 — 10, &c.), though strangely enough it is most commonly used 
by the later writers (Ez. xxxiv. ; Zech. ix. — xi.). 

transgressed. Sin is here regarded from the point of view, not of 
the breaking of a law, but of rebellion against a person. 

prophets. Jeremiah was forced to condemn the members of his own 
order ; cf. Amos' indignant repudiation of the idea that he was a prophet 
(vii. 14). 

Baal. Singular for plural. Hosea similarly uses the word as a collective 
noun (ii. 10, xiii. 1 ; cf. ii. 15, 19, xi. 2 ; and Zeph. i. 4). 

do not profit. Jeremiah had a strong sense of the worthlessness of 
the strange gods, cf v. 11 : it is therefore mere foolishness to worship 
them. 'Every religion is utilitarian in the best and noblest sense of 
the word : what must I do to be saved ? ' ' wie kriege ich einen gnadigen 
Gott? sind ihre eigentlichen Lebensfragen.' Cornill. 

9. plead. The word is nearly always used with Jehovah as the 
subject. It should be remembered that the Heb. original contains no 
idea of entreaty and the word would be much less liable to misunder- 
standing if it had been consistently translated ' contend ' as in Is. xlix. 
25, 1. 8 (AV., RV.). It is here used with a forensic force as in Is. iii. 13. 

10. isles. The word really means coastlands and was a vague 
designation of the countries 'that gird the Northern and Western 
Mediterranean... derived, no doubt, from the Phoenician mariners who 
skirted their shores without penetrating into the interior.' It is often 
used as a synon) m for ' the West ' as a whole ; cf. Is. xlii. 10 f 

Kittim. The word is usually derived from Kition the modern 
Larnaka in Cyprus, though it is used with a much wider meaning and 
here represents a people, evidently those who appear in Gen. x. 4 as 
the descendants of Javan. W. Max Mliller would connect the word 
with the Hittites {Asien u. Eur. p. 345). In 1 Mace. i. 1, viii. 5 the 
Kittim are the Macedonians. See further J. G. Frazer, Adonis, &c. i. 
pp. 31 i. 

and see. Cf Am. ii. 10. 

Kedar is here used to represent ' the East ' in contradistinction 
to the isles of Kittim representing ' the West ' : see fuller note on 
xlix. 28. 



II. 10-I2] THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH 19 

hath been such a thing. 11 Hath a nation changed their gods, 
which yet are no gods ? but my people have changed their glory 
for that which doth not profit. 12 Be astonished, ye heavens, 
at this, and be horribly afraid, be ye very desolate, saith the 

11. nation. The gods of the heathen wer§. really in each several 
case the personification of the nation by whom they were worshipped 
and therefore a symbol of their ' political identity,' and religion had 
' no higlier moral standard and no higher aims than those of the wor- 
shippers themselves,' and so there was no reason from a 'religious' point 
of view why any people should give up their gods. At the same time 
there was a strong 'political' reason why they should not do so for 
' that which gave the individuals-X)f a nation unity and made them a 
people was the unity of its god.' ^A. B. Davidson, Expos. 2nd Series, 
p. 257.) But in the case of Israel the God of the nation, in the minds 
of the prophets at any rate, was ' something more than a personification 
of their standards and aims,' and His worship involved moral restric- 
tions which the body of the nation found too hard to bear. Cf Ez. 
iii. 6, and see further W. Robertson Smith, Prophets^, pp. 66 f. 

To many of the nations surrounding Israel at this time there would 
be little need to cluinge gods ; because the existence and power of 
other gods being recognised, and their own gods not being, in actual 
experience, 'jealous gods,' all that would be necessary would be to add 
to the number of gods worshipped. Such a proceeding would be 
especially common in the case of an alliance between two nations when 
the gods themselves were also considered to enter into an alliance. 
This belief probably accounts for Solomon's action in building temples 
for the deities of his various waives, for there can be little doubt that 
his numerous marriages were intended to cement political alliances. 
In later times Ahab's attempt to carry out this custom met with 
strenuous opposition from Elijah. It is however possible that Jezebel 
wished to supplant Jehovah altogether by the Syrian Baal, or she may 
have attacked the prophets in revenge for their opposition; it would 
be a hard task to discover which party was really the aggressor. This 
action on the part of Elijah marks an advance in the conception of 
Jehovah as a 'jealous god,' and is a step towards monotheism. In 
commenting on this text Calvin mentions with approval Xenopbon's 
commendation of the oracle of Apollo that those gods were rightly to 
be worshipped who have been received by tradition from ancestors. 

which yet are no gods. The same phrase is used by Hosea of the 
calf-worship in Northern Israel (viii. 6). 

12. heavens. The prophets constantly appeal to the heavens as a 
witness against Israel's rebellion and sin. ' When the Lord arraigns 
His people, the whole of nature is the appropriate audience.' (Wade 
on Is. i. 2.) In vi. 19 a similar appeal is made to the earth. 

he horribly afraid .. .desolate. Horribly afraid is better translated 
shvdder. The MT. of he ye desolate U"in was read by lxx. as nmn ex- 

2—2 



20 THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH [ii. .2-1+ 

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 1 why is he become a prey? 

ceedingly, so that the whole phrase should probably best be translated 
simply as shudder exceedingly. 

13. An admirable description of the double folly of Judah for ' he 
hath twofold guilt who, knowing good rather chooseth evil.' The two 
sins, strictly speaking, are really different parts of one and the same 
act, for when men give up God and religion they invariably seek for 
some substitute, and so it comes about that an age of unbelief is 
always an age of superstition. (Cf for example the state of the 
early Roman Empire as described by Tacitus and other writers.) 'The 
soul... dies by departing from the fountain of life, and thereupon is 
taken up by this transitory world, and is conformed into it.' St Aug. 
Con^. XIII. xxi. * 

living waters. This is possibly the earliest use of this phrase in 
connexion with the power of Jehovah. Apart from the context living 
when applied to water merely means running or springing, and no idea 
of life-giving is then to be attached to it. (Cf xvii. 13; Is. xii. 30; 
Jn. iv. 14, and vii. 37 fif.) The people in their foolishness deserted 
I Jehovah who is ' the fountain of life ' (Euoch xcvi. 6) to serve other 
gods who were mere 'dead stone and lifeless wood^' 

broken cisterns. ' The dead gods have no life and dispense no life, 
just as wells with rents or fissures hold no water.' The remains of 
these cisterns are still to be found in large numbers in Palestine. In 
addition to their liability to crack and so to allow the store of water to 
run off, these cisterns lose maich water by evaporation and the residue 
is unpleasant to the eye and disagreeable to the taste. (Cf Thomson, 
The Land and the Book, p. 287.) 

14 — 19. The penalties of forsaking God, and trusting in man. 

14 — 17. This small section has apparently got out of place and 
interrupts the natural sequence from v. 13 to v. 18. It would seem 
from 1?. 16 that Jeremiah uttered these vv. after the defeat and death 
of Josiah at Megiddo and the consequent oppression by Egypt. 

14. This V. exhibits a strong contrast with the state of affairs in 
V. 3. Israel is no longer defended by Jehovah nor looked upon as His 
possession. 

servant .. .homehwn slave. Slaves were of two kinds — those acquired 
by purchase, and those born in the house of the master and therefore 
his permanent possession according to Ex. xxi. 1 — 3. The form of 
the question requires an answer in the negative as in ■y. 31. (Cf viii. 
4 f , 22, xiv. 19, &c.) 

prey. Used in Nu. xiv. 3 and Dt. i. 39 of the little ones in the 

^ In the Targum upon Cant. iv. 14 the words of the law are likened to a well of 
living waters. 



II. I5-I8] THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH 21 

15 The young lions have roared upon him, and ^yelled : and they 
have made his land waste ; his cities are burned up, without 
inhabitant. 16 The children also of Noph and Tahpanhes have 
^broken the crown of thy head. 17 Hast thou not procured this 
unto thyself, in that thou hast forsaken the Lord thy God, when 
he led thee by the way ? 18 And now what hast thou to do in 

1 Heb. given out their voice. ^ Or, fed on 

wilderness : contrast xxx. 16 'all they that prey upon thee will I give 
for a prey.' 

15. 1/oung lions. The same figure is used in Is. v. 29 and is 
frequent in Pss. Heb. has many words for lioti; the one used here 
represents a lion able to hunt his prey and therefore older than a 
whelp. The lion is used of Assyria in Nab. ii. 12 f 

waste. A favourite word of Jeremiah who uses it more than twenty 
times. Cf Is. i. 5 — 9. 

without inhabitant. Driver thinks that the reference is to the 
Northern Kingdom. 

16. Noph. Memphis (Egn. Mennufer\ the ancient capital of Lower 
Egypt, situated not far from the modern Cairo. At one time a city of 
great importance (cf Diod. Sic. i. 51), it gradually decayed after the 
foundation of Alexandria. 

Tahpanhes. The Daphnae Pelusii of the Greeks (Aa<^i'at Herod. 
II. 30, Ta<^vat LXX.), modern Tell De/enneh. Both places later contained 
settlements of Jewish exiles (cf xHv. 1, xlvi. 14), Tahpanhes being the 
place of the prophet's own residence (xliii. 7 f ). 

broken. Mg. fed on. Driver suggests a slight alteration in the 
Heb. so as to read lay bare (cf Is. vii. 20). Whichever reading is 
adopted the meaning of the phrase is quite clear and refers to some 
humiliation at the hands of Eg}^t, possibly in connexion with the 
siege of Ashdod (Herod, ii. 157) or more probably after the defeat at 
Megiddo. 

17. Cf iv. 18. 

18 f These vv. refer apparently to some attempt to strengthen 
the position of the nation by political alliances either with Egypt, 
which from the middle of the seventh century B.C. began to recover 
something of its former power, or with iVssyria. The exact occasion 
on which overtures were made is not known ; the use of Assyria suggests 
that it was in the days of Josiah, unless indeed Assyria is used, as so 
often in later writings (e.g. Zech. x. 10 f ), to represent any other 
predominant Eastern power. Isaiah likewise found reasons during his 
ministry to issue a similar condemnation of the pro-Egyptian party 
(xxx. 1 — 3). Judah was constantly turning from one power to the other, 
fluttering backwards and forwards like 'a silly dove' (Hos. vii. 11). 
The small Syrian States resembled in many ways the Balkan States 
of our own times, both in the uncertainty of their position and in 
the policy which they habitually pursued to improve or maintain it. 



22 THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH [ii. 18-20 

the way to Egypt, to drink the waters of ^Shihor ? or what hast 
thou to do in the way to 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 a bitter, that thou hast forsaken the Lord 
thy God, and that my fear is not in thee, saith the Lord, the 
Lord of hosts. 20 For of old time ^I have broken thy yoke, and 
burst thy bands ; and thou saidst, I will not ^ serve ; for upon 
every high hill and under every green tree thou didst bow thy- 

1 That is, the Nile. ^ That is, the Euphrates. 

3 Or, thou hast * Another reading is, transgress. 

18. Skik&i', 'the muddy river' (St Jerome, Ep. cviii. 14), ivS usually 
taken to refer to the Nile (so iu Is. xxiii. 3) though sometimes it refers 
merely to its Eastern arm, as in Josh. xiii. 3 (cf. 1 Ch. xiii. 5). LXX. 
Trjwv is the name of the second river mentioned in Gen. ii. 13 as flowing 
out of the Garden of Eden ; some would identify this river with the 
Nile (e.g. Ecclus. xxiv. 27; Jub. viii. 15; Jos. Ant. i. i. 3). As it was 
upon the Nile that Egypt depended for its fertility, and so for its very 
life, the phrase to drink the ivaters of Shikar means to rely on the 
resources of Egypt. 

the River, par excellence, is the Euphrates. Just as the Nile 
represents Egypt, so the River stands for the Eastern powers, Assyria, 
Babylon and their successors. 

19. Thine own wickedness. It was mainly owing to the unreliability 
of Judah's promises and the constant plotting of her leaders that so 
many misfortunes befell the nation. The voices of the prophets who 
proclaimed with one mind that in ' quietness and confidence ' lay her 
hope of survival were ignored in favour of the advice of political 
opportunists. 

exit thing. Cf. Am. viii. 10; Zeph. i. 14. 

20 — 25. God had done everything for the future of the nation, and 
yet it has turned out badly and has deserted Him. In a large variety 
of figures borrowed from pastoral, agricultural, and home life the 
prophet shews the depth of Judah's depravity. 

20. I have broken. Better as marg., LXX. and Vg. thou hast broken. 
The Massoretes evidently mistook the archaic form of the 2nd fem. 
sing, for the 1st person. It is Israel that has become rebellious and 
broken the commands of Jehovah, not, as in xxx. 8; Hos. xi. 4; 
Jehovah who breaks the bonds of Israel and the yoke of her oppressors. 

high hill. The Northern Semitic races seem to have had a pre- 
ference for mountain tops as a place for offering sacrifices (cf Gen. 
xxii. 2; Is. xv. 2). In like manner the dwelling place of the Deity 
was thought to be on a high mountain: Dt. xxxiii. 2; Ps. Ixviii. 17 
represent Jehovah as coming from Sinai His dwelling place. See 



II. 20-32] THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH 23 

self, playing the harlot. 21 Yet I had planted thee a noble vine, 
wholly a right seed: how then art thou turned into the de- 
generate plant of a strange vine unto me? 22 For though thou 
wash thee with lye, and take thee much soap, yet thine iniquity 

further W. Robertson Smith, Rel. Sem? pp. 489 f. ; H. P. Smith, Bel. 
of Isr. p. 20 ; J. G. Frazer, Folk-Lore in 0. T. pp. 62 ff. 

green tree. The trees under which special worship was paid were 
probably held to be sacred. The veneration of sacred trees was very 
widespread amongst the ancient Semites: cf. W. Robertson Smith, 
op. cit. pp. 185 ff. ; H. P. Smith, ojx cit. pp. 17 f ; and see also for the 
whole subject of tree-worship J. G. Frazer, The Magic Art, ii. pp. 6 ff., 
349 ff., Folk-Lore in O.T. pp. 40 ff. 

didst how thyself. The people are condemned for worshipping strange 
gods at these sanctuaries just as in Hos. viii. 13; Am. v. 21. The 
earlier Hebrew religion saw nothing wrong in an indefinite number of 
local sanctuaries, many of which would be taken over from the original 
inhabitants (Ex. xx. 4; Hos. viii. 11; Am. iv. 4). In later times, how- 
ever, it was seen that it was impossible to free such sanctuaries from 
their previous traditions and that the only way of purifying the worship 
was to destroy them (Ez. xx. 28 ; Dt. xii. 12 f). See Introd. pp. xxif. 

playing the harlot. A reference to the sin of the nation in worship- 
ping other gods than Jehovah who was her true husband (cf iii. 1—5, 
iv. 13 f ). The term would receive greater force from the immoral 
practices which were carried on in connexion with such worship. In 
Is. i. 21 ff. the reference seems to be to sinning against Jehovah gene- 
rally without any specific reference to idolatry. 

21. planted. There are constant references throughout OT. to 
Israel as the vine which Jehovah has planted and which has become 
degenerate (Hos. x. 1 ; Ps. Ixxx. 9, &c.). In Is. v. 1 ff. the nation is 
figured as the vineyard itself It is possible that when our Lord spoke 
of Himself as the true vine He was not unmindful of its use as a symbol 
for the nation (Jn. xv. 1 ff.) 

noble. Heb. Sorek, a word which is used also in Is. v. 2 of the chosen 
people. 

right seed. An unique expression, though moral qualities are else- 
where attributed to seeds. (Cf Ez. ix. 2; Mai. ii. 15; Matt. xiii. 44 
KoXov airepfxa.) The genuineness and rehability of the original seed are 
emphasised in contrast to the plant which has sprung from it (Gen. 
xlix. 22; Dt. xxxiii. 32; Ez. xv. 1 if., xvii. 5, xix. 10). 

22. The agricultural figure of the vine is suddenly dropped for one 
derived from the common household task of washing clothes. 

wash. The word (d2d) is used generally of washing clothes ; its 
hteral meaning is to tread. The same expression is used in iv. 14. 
lye, washing-soda : a mineral alkali. Here and xiii. 23 ; Ps. Ii. 7, 
soap, a vegetable alkali, made from the ashes of certain plants. Here 
and Mai. iii, 2. 



24 THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH [ii. c!a-i4 

is marked before me, saith the Lord God. 23 How canst thou 
say, I am not defiled, I have not gone after the Baalim ? see thy 
way in the valley, know what thou hast done : thou art a swift 
^ dromedary traversing her ways ; 24 a Avild ass used to the wilder- 
ness, that snuffeth up the wind in her desire; in her occasion 

^ Or, young camel 

marked. Cf. Macbeth, Act ii. Sc. 2 : 

' Will all great Neptune's ocean wash this blood 
Clean from my hand ? ' 

23. The nation denies that it has followed after other gods, and 
probably from its own point of view with justice, for doubtless the cor- 
rupt worship would generally be offered up in the name of Jehovah. 
Judah's sin was not the attempt to substitute any other god for .Jehovah, 
but the failure to reach any worthy conception of His character ; and 
so the prophet could accuse them of multiplying the number of their 
gods because he refused to recognise the validity of the worship which 
they offered. Cf the excuse of Adam (Gen. iii. 11 — 13) and of Saul 
(1 S. XV. 13—15). 

Baalim. Heb. plural. They were worshipped in different localities 
mainly in connexion with agricultural pursuits. 

the valley must refer to some well-known place. There can be no 
doubt that the valley of the son of Hinnom is meant. See on vii. 31. 

dromedary. 'The dromedary of Egypt and Syria is not the two- 
humped animal described by that name in books of natural history, but 
is in fact of the same family as the camel, standing towards his more 
clumsy fellow-slave in about the same relation as a racer to a cart-horse.' 
(Kinglake, Eothen, p. 183.) 

traversing. Lit. twisting, a figure for aimless wandering : ' coursing 
hither and thither ' (Driver). Israel was as changeable and uncertain 
in her religious as in her political life. 

24. wild ass. The same Heb. consonants can be read heifer, and 
Duhm prefers this reading as a wild ass would not be yoked {v. 20). 
He thinks the figure in the prophet's mind is that of a heifer which has 
broken loose and taken to the desert in her passion. But there is no 
need to connect the statements in v. 20 with this v. in view of all that 
lies between them, and the animal is one which is used to the wilder- 
ness. The blind eagerness of the Israelites in the pursuit of other gods 
is only paralleled by the unrestrained speed of the ivild ass in search of 
her lovers. The wild ass is used in Job xxiv. 5, xxxix. 5 — 8, as here, 
as a type of licence, and in Gen. xvi. 12 of love of freedom (of Ishmael). 
The figure may have been suggested by Hos, viii. 9^ 

* ' It is a characteristic of the wild ass to seek the highest summits of the 

mountains, and there to stand cutting the bhie sky with its head and ears erect 

They are swifter of foot and wilder than any beast that ranges the uplands.' 
James Morier, quoted by Stanley, The Jeicish Church, ii. p. 443. 



11. ^A-2^] THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH 25 

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, There 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 which say 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 

J Or, begotten me ^ Another reading is, us. 

25. The metaphor is changed slightly; the idea of the pursuit of 
strange gods is still retained, but it is a human being, one who wears 
sandals, who is bidden not to continue in her course. Driver para- 
phrases : 'Do not run thy feet bare and thy throat dry.' There is 
probably no reference to the bare feet of those who are at the sanctuary 
(cf. Moses, Ex. iii. 5), or to the dry throat of an unanswered but per- 
sistent worshipper. 

There is no hope. The Heb. '^'^13 expresses the hopelessness of one 
who has lost even the desire for amendment although recognising her 
own misery and wretchedness. It is the utterance of absolute despair. 
Cf. Is. Ivii. 10 ; Jn. viii. 34. 

strangers. Foreign gods. Cf. iii. 13; Is. xliii. 12. 

after them will I go. Cf. Is. xxx. 15 'this is your rest, but ye 
would not.' 

26 — 28. The folly of idolatry. Israel's continuance in idolatry will 
bring nothing but disappointment and disgrace. 

26. As the thief is ashamed. For another passage in which a thief is 
regarded as an object of derision see xlviii. 27. The idea underlying 
the comparison is the confusion and disgrace in store for Israel. This 
disgrace will be realised not by a sudden awaking of the finer feelings 
of the people, but simply through their discovery of the powerlessness 
of the false gods and the consequent folly of their own conduct in wor- 
shipping them: cf. Hos. iv. 19; Is. i. 29 ff. 

27. ' The dead stock and the lifeless stone ' were fit symbols of the 
gods whom they were supposed to represent: cf. Jub. xxii. 18. J. G. 
Fra^er, however, thinks that Jeremiah ' was not using vague rhetorical 
language, but denouncing real beliefs among his contemporaries'; see 
his interesting suggestions in Adonis, i. pp. 107 ff. 

father. Duhm does not think that there is any reference here to 
ancestor-worship, which was not found among the Hebrews. The meaning 
probably is that the people pay to idols the honour which is due to 
Jehovah alone as the true Father of the nation. Cf. Dt. xxxii. 18; 
Job xxxviii. '29; 1 Cor. iv. 15; Gal. iv. 19. 

back. Cf. Ez. viii. 17 for a literal turning of the back upon .Jehovah. 
Cf. Jud. x. 9 f. ; Ps. Ixxviii. 24; Is. xxiv. 16. 



26 THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH [ii. ,7-3, 

their face : but in the time of their trouble they will say, Arise, 
and save us. 28 But where are thy gods that thou hast made 
thee? let them arise, if they can save thee in the time of thy 
trouble : for according to the number of thy cities are thy gods, 
Judah. 

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. 310 generation, 

1 Or, instruction 

Arise, and save us. Ezekiel, writing of a somewhat later time, repre- 
sents the people as adopting strange superstitions because they imagined 
that God had deserted them (viii. 12; and of. Jeremiah's own experience 
in Egypt, xHv. 17 f.). 

28. This V. hardl)' agrees with the denials of v. 23; of. xi. 13, 19. 
For the tone of irony wliich runs through it cf. Elijah and the prophets 
of Baal on Mount Carmel (1 K. xviii. 27). 

according to the number of thy cities. The reference here is evidently 
to the worship of the Baalim at the various local sanctuaries. When 
such sanctuaries were taken over from the Canaanites the traditional 
/deity would in time be transformed into a representation of Jehovah 
j Himself : there is a trace of oue of these local representations retaining 
a sort of individuality in Absalom's oath by the Jehovah of Hebron 
(2 S. XV. 7). From the Middle Ages onwards a similar practice has 
arisen in Christian countries, and one may speak of our Lady of Wal- 
singham, and so forth. (See note in J. M. P. Smith's Zeph. &c. 
p. 190.) 

29 — 37. The reason for Israel's misfortunes. The prophet, speaking 
in the name of Jehovah, dismisses the real or pretended complaints of 
the people because trouble has come upon them. The evil has been 
brought about by their own persistent sinning and continued hardness 
of heart, and, if they would but recognise it, is intended to lead them 
to repentance. Cf. Frov. i. 24 — 31. 

29. plead. See on v. 9. 

30. your children. The children of the nations, i.e. the individuals 
of which they were composed, probably with no idea of the age of the 
victims ; some commentators, however, take the expression literally. 

correction. Lit. instruction. A common word in this book and also 
in Deuteronomy and Proverbs. The root means to ' chasten, discipline 
or admonish.' 

your own sword, lxx., Vg., Syr. ' the sword,' probably more cor- 
rectly. 

your prophets. From the parallelism these must have been trusted 
leaders of the people, those prophets who are usually described as false 
prophets and who are so frequently condemned by Jeremiah (see Note, 



II. 31-34] THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH 27 



see ye the word of the Lord. Have I been a wilderness unto 
Israel ? or a land of Hhick darkness ? wherefore say my people, 
We are broken loose ; 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 How trimmest thou 
thy way to seek love! therefore even the wicked women hast 
thou taught thy ways. 34 Also in thy skirts is found the blood 
of the souls of the innocent poor: ^I have not found it at ^the 

^ Or, darkness from Jah ^ Or, thou didst not find them ^ See Ex. xxii. 2. 

pp. 182 ff.). Their death was evidently calculated to have been a 
striking and impressive sign to the people. It is God who has cut them 
off, just as it is He who cut off their children, otherwise we should have 
had ' my prophets.' 

31. Has God failed to carry out His promises, He who is the Hving 
water? and become to His people as a parched and dreary land, without 
support or moisture? Cf. vv. 4 f. 

wilderness. As a rule the wilderness means the uncultivated land 
which was used as a browsing place for flocks and herds (see on v. 2), 
but here apparently it refers to the wilderness in the modern sense of 
the word : cf ix. 1 ; Dt. xxxii. 10. 

thick darkness. Just as the wilderness represents lack of support, 
so thick darkness represents lack of guidance and protection. RVm. 
gives the literal rendering of Heb. darkwss of Jah, that is darkness 
from Jehovah, and therefore very terrible (cf ' flame of Jah ' in Cant, 
viii. 6). 

broken loose. The root means to wander about without restraint. 
Elsewhere only in Gen. xxvii. 40; Ps. Iv. 3; and Hos. xii. 1. 

32. maid... bride. A pathetic appeal once more to the covenant 
days when Israel, like a pure virgin, was betrothed to Jeliovah (v. 2): 
now Israel, like an adulterous wife (iii. 1 ff.), has not only been faith- 
less to Jehovah but has even forgotten Him : cf Is. i. 3, xlix. 18. 

ornaments. The women of the East are still fond of wearing many 
and varied ornaments ; the number of different Heb. words used to re- 
present them shews their commonness in OT. See further on iv. 30. 

33. The very harlots have been excelled in wickedness by Israel. 
Some commentators see here a reference to the immoral practices in 
connexion with religion: lxx. thou hast done wickedly in coi'rupting 
thy ivays. 

34. This V. is given up by most commentators as 'incurably 
corrupt.' 

innocent poor. 'The allusion may be either to deaths due to mis- 
carriage of justice or the result of exaction (vii. 6, xxii. 3, 17 ; cf Mic. 
iii._ 10; Ps. xciv. 21), or to the sacrifice of children (see xix. 4; cf Ps. 
cvi. 38), or possibly to the martyrdoms under Manasseh (2 K. xxi. 16, 
xxiv. 4).' Driver. 



28 THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH [ii. 34-in. 1 

place of breaking in, but upon ^all these. 35 Yet thou saidst, 
I am innocent ; surely his anger is turned away from me. Behold, 
I will enter into judgement with thee, because thou say est, I have 
not sinned. 36 Why gaddest thou about so much to change thy 
way? thou shalt be ashamed of Egypt also, as thou wast ashamed 
of Assyria. 37 From him also shalt thou go forth, with thine 
hands upon thine head: for the Lord hath rejected thy con- 
fidences, and thou shalt not prosper in them. 

III. 1 ^They say, ^If a man put away his wife, and she go 

1 Some ancient authorities have, every oak. 
2 Heb. Saying. ^ See Deut. xxiv. 1 — 4. 

breaking in. Duhm thinks that a distinction is made between the 
innocent poor and the robber who could be slain without bloodguiltiness 
(Ex. xxii. 2)^ 

35. Israel relies on her restored prosperity which to her represents 
the turning away of God's anger and therefore the proof of her innocence. 
This hypocritical protestation is the deepest of all her crimes. The 
whole V. bears a marked resemblance to Is. i. 28 which should in all 
probability be translated 'come and let us implead one another' saith 
Jehovah ' if your sins be as scarlet are they to be reckoned as white as 
wool V , , 

36. to change thy way. vtl^ = I^TXri from a root ^TN a word 
common in Aramaic with the meaning 'to go.' Duhm derives from the 
root b'pT giving to it the meaning ' to act lightly ' (cf lxx. KaTce^po'vT/o-as), 
but it is doubtful whether the root can be so interpreted. 

ashamed, i.e. disappointed at the failure of the looked for help. Cf. 
Is. XX. 5 f , XXX. 3 — 5. The occasion which is alluded to is not specified 
and is unknown. 

Egypt. Cf xxxvii. 5. 

Assyria. Cf 2 Ch. xxviii. 21. 

37. thine hands upon thine head. Cf 2 S. xiii. 19. 

III. 1—5. This small section has apparently got out of its context 
as the Hebrew requires some introduction (see on v. 1). According to 
the law of Dt. xxiv. 1 — 4, if a man divorced his wife and she married 
another he was uuable to take her back again. This law evidently did 
not apply to the case of a man whose wife had been forcibly taken from 
him (cf. 2 S. iii. 14 flf. David and Michal). Similar prohibitions are found 
in other Semitic nations ; e.g. the Babylonian Code of Hammurabi forbids 
a husband to have intercourse with his divorced wife (see S. A. Cook, 
The Laivs of Moses, &c. p. 124). By a strange coincidence the Koran 

^ By § 21 of the Code of Hammurabi anyone making a breach in a house could 
be killed out of hand (see S. A. Cook, The Laws of Moses, &c. pp. 212 f.). Mr Cook 
refers to similar enactments in the legislation of Solon, Plato, and the Twelve 
Tables. Modern Arab custom requires an indemnity for anyone so killed (Jaussen, 
Rev. Bib. 1901, p. 600). 



III. 1-5] THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH 29 

from him, and become another mans, shall he return unto her 
again ? shall not that land be greatly polluted ? But thou hast 
played the harlot with many lovers; ^yet return again to me, 
saith the Lord. 2 Lift up thine eyes unto the bare heights, and 
see ; where hast thou not been lien with ? By the ways hast thou 
sat for them, as an 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; yet 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 ? 5 Will 

1 Or, and thinkest thou to return etc.? - Or, companion 

only allows re-marriage in cases where the woman had in the meantime 
been the wife of another. The obvious intention of all such laws was to 
discourage the husband from an arbitrary exercise of his undoubted 
right of divorcing his wife at will. 

1. They say. Heb. saying, lxx. and Syr. omit, Vg. vulgo dicitur. 
It is possible that all that has fallen out is the usual prophetic formula 
' The word of the Lord came unto me.' 

land. LXX. woman, which agrees better with Dt. xxiv. 4 a. 
played the harlot. Israel has not been divorced at all. She has 
committed shameless and constant adultery. 
return. Mg. thinkest thou to return ? is better. 

2. Arabian, i.e. a nomad. The use of the word for the members 
of a particular race is probably later than OT. The wandering tribes of 
the desert have at all times been a danger to travellers ; as early as the 
fourteenth century B.C. Hattusil, king of the Hittites, wrote to the king 
of Babylon that communications had been interrupted by raids of the 
Bedouin : cf. Diod. Sic. 11. 48 ; Pliny, Hist. Nat. vi. 28. 

3. Cf xiv. 22 ; Hag. i. 10 f. ; and the passage in Enoch Ixxx. 2 f. 
on the perversion of nature owing to the sin of man. 

latter rain. The showers of Mar. -Apr. which refresh the ripening 
crops. In the plains the wheat harvest begins in early May, on the 
higher land in early June, and the barley is a little earlier. The latter 
rain is often used metaphorically, Prov. xvi. 15 (of king's favour); Job 
xxix. 23 (of his importance); Hos. vi. 3 (of God's grace) (see further 
on V. 24). 

4. This V. may contain a reference to the nation's turning to 
Jehovah in the reign of Josiah, a repentance which was soon forgotten 
in continued sins; or it may be another example of that moral levity 
which allowed the people to call upon Jehovah by name and at the same 
time to persist in crime and idolatry. 

My father. The metaphor of the erring wife was no doubt borrowed 
by Jeremiah from Hosea. The earlier prophet by his bitter experience 



30 THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH [iii. 5 

he retain his anger for ever ? will he keep it to the end ? Behold, 
thou %ast spoken and hast done evil things, and hast *had thy 
way. 

1 Or, hast spoken thus, hut hast done d:c. - Heb. been able. 

had learned that the relationship subsisting between husband and wife 
was a symbol of an even greater mystery: cf. Eph. v. 22 — 32. But 
something further is required to represent the relations of God and 
Israel and so the metaphor of father and child is also employed (cf. 
Forbes Robinson, The Self- Limitation of the Word of God, pp. 125, 
156 f. ; and for the conception of Jehovah as the father of Israel see 
Smend, Lehrbuch der A. T. Religionsgeschichte'^, 96 — 101)\ 

my youth. Notice the continued favourable allusions to the earlier 
history of the nation and the closeness of its walk with God. For the 
phrase companion of my youth, cf. Prov. ii. 17. 

Chapter III. 6—18. 
An Invitation to the exiled Northern Tribes to return. 

These vv. internipt the sequence of thought, as ?5. 19 is apparently a direct 
continuation of v. 5; the text also is in some confusion, and if the section 
comes from Jeremiah himself it has evidently got out of its context. The 
point upon which the passage lays stress is that Judah in spite of the warning 
which it ought to have received from the fate of Samaria, has fallen into sins 
worse even than those which disgraced the Northeru Kingdom. The prophet 
is bidden in God's name to address a message of comfort and hope to the exiled 
nation, calling upon it to confess its sins and so to be in a position to receive 
God's pardon. In the glorious future which will then be ushered in Judah and 
Israel will once more be united, and Jerusalem, the capital of the newly restored 
nation, will be called 'the throne of Jehovah.' 

The fact that Jeremiah was a member of the tribe of Benjamin would give 
him sympathy with the Northern Kingdom. It is rather strange that in this 
passage Israel should be used for the ten tribes, in ii. 1 — iii. 5 it is used of all 
the families of Jacob. In xxiii. 13 and xxxi. 5 the Northern Kingdom is referred 
to as Samaria though this is unusual. 

Keil sums up the contents of the discourse in two thoughts, (1) Israel is not 
to remain always rejected, as self-satisfied Judah imagined ; (2) Judah is not to 
be always spared. 

In the actual course of events the warning came too late ; Judah was too 

1 It should be noted, however, that the corresponding Babylonian word for 
' father ' aha is also used of a ' husband ' (see Barton, Semitic Origins, p. 68, n. 5) ; 
and that Eobertson Smitli has pointed out that in both North and South Semitic 
dialects the husband can be called the 'father' of his wife {Kinship and Marriage, 
pp. 117 f.). 



III. 6-10] THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH 31 

far advanced on its path of sin to be checked by any reminder of the fate which 
befell Samaria. But in the working out of God's plan for the world it was that 
portion of the original Israel which had sinned more deeply — because it had 
had a clearer view of the punishment before it — that was to be restored and to 
enter into the position of being His people. 

6 Moreover the Lord said unto me in the days of Josiah the 
king, Hast thou seen that which backsliding Israel hath done ? 
she is gone up upon every high mountain and under every green 
tree, and there hath played the harlot. 7 ^ And I said after she 
had done all these things, ^She will return unto me; but she 
returned not : and her treacherous sister Judah saw it. 8 And 
^I saw, when, for this very cause that backsliding Israel had 
committed adultery, I had put her away and given her a bill of 
divorcement, yet treacherous Judah her sister feared not; but 
she also went and played the harlot. 9 And it came to pass 
through the lightness of her whoredom, that the land was 
polluted, and she committed adultery with stones and with stocks. 
10 And yet for all this her treacherous sister Judah hath not 

^ Or, And I said, After she hath done all these things, she d'c. 
2 Or, Let iter return unto me 
•* Some ancient authorities have, she saw that, for (&e. 

6. in the days of Josiah. Josiah came to the throne in 639. 
Jeremiah was called in 626 and the iSorthern Kingdom ceased to exist 
in 722, therefore some hundred years or more liad probably elapsed 
since Israel had gone into exile. 

Hast thou seen. Dulim somewhat unnecessarily objects to the form 
of this question. It is not intended to be taken literally and, if the 
passage is an insertion later than Jeremiah, the prophet was too well 
known a figure for anyone to have imagined that he was alive at the 
time of the fall of Samaria. 

backsliding. In the Hebrew there is a play upon the word for 
' turning back ' which in ttie EVV. is lost through its being translated 
by different words, backsliding here and return in u 7. 

7. She will return. Jehovah's desire for Israel's return was some- 
thing more than a mere wish, He sent His messengers to bring her back, 
though from the words / said (to myself), i.e. I thouglit, Eashi points 
out that no stress is intended to be laid on them. 

8. Ezekiel makes a similar accusation against Judah in the allegory 
of Oholah and Ohohbah (xxiii.). 

bill of divorcement. Israel as a nation had been cast off by Jehovah 
and given a bill of divorcement; Judah on the other hand is said to 
have divorced herself (Is. 1. 1). 

10. The reform under Josiah did not go deep enough and, as at all 



32 THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH [iii. 10-.5 

returned unto me with her whole heart, but feignedly, saith the 
Lord. 1 1 And the, Lord said unto me, Backsliding Israel hath 
shewn herself more righteous than treacherous Judah. 12 Go, 
and proclaim these words toward the north, and sa}^ Return, 
thou backsliding Israel, saith the Lord ; I will not ^ look in anger 
upon you: for I am merciful, saith the Lord, I will not keep 
anger for ever. 13 Only ^acknowledge thine iniquity, that thou 
hast transgressed against the Lord thy God, and hast scattered 
thy ways to the strangers under every green tree, and ye have 
not obeyed my voice, saith the Lord. 14 Return, backsliding 
children, saith the Lord ; for I am a husband unto you : and I 
will take you one of a city, and two of a family, and I will bring 
you to Zion : 15 and I will give you shepherds according to mine 

^ Heb. cause my countenance to fall upon you. "^ Or, know 

times when reformers are in power, many would outwardly conform to 
principles which they felt to be burdensome, and would therefore be 
only too glad of any opportunity for throwing them off. 

11. Cf Ez. xvi. 51 ; Lk. xviii. 14. 

• 12. The exiles of Israel are still looked upon as preserving a separate 
existence and are not yet absorbed into the surrounding nations. 

look in anger. Lit. cause my countenance to fall: the same Hebrew 
expression appears in Gen. iv. 5 (of Cain); and in Job xxix. 24. 

/ will not keep anger for ever. This statement seems intended to 
be a reply to v. 5. 

13. Only acknowledge thine iniquity. God ' will exclude from salva- 
tion no one who is willing to return ' (Keil). The first stage of repentance 
is recognition of sin, just as the last stage is amendment of life. 

strangers, i.e. foreign gods. In later Judaism 'strange worship' 
was a euphemism for idolatry, hence the title of the tractate of the 
Mishnah called Aboda Zara. 

14. children... husband. 'The confusion is only verbal, and the 
twofold relationship gives a double certainty of acceptance. As children 
they were sure of a father's love, as a wife they might hope for a revival 
of past affection from the husband of their youth ' (Payne Smith). 

family. A division of a clan ; evidently a large body is meant from 
the parallelism with city. 

Zion. Those who return will be few in number, and are all to dwell 
in Jerusalem. Some critics point out that this statement is inconsistent 
with xxxi. 8 where 'a great company' is to return. It is possible to 
reconcile the two statements by supposing that here the prophet has in 
view the large number of exiles who would not return, which made those 
who returned seem but few in proportion. In either prophecy there is 
an anticipation of a large population of the Holy Land (cf v. 16). 



III. 15-17] THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH 33 

heart, which shall feed you with knowledge and understanding. 
16 And it shall come to pass, when ye be multiplied and increased 
in the land, in those days, saith the Lord, they shall say no more, 
The ark of the covenant of the Lord; neither shall it come to 
mind : neither shall they remember it ; neither shall they ^ visit 
it ; neither ^ shall that be done any more. 17 At that time 
they shall call Jerusalem the throne of the Lord ; and all the 
nations shall be gathered unto it, to the name of the Lord, to 
Jerusalem : neither shall they walk any more after the stubborn- 

^ Or, miss ^ Or, shall it be made any more 

15. shepherds. A Messianic forecast: cf. xxiii. 4; Is. ix., xi. ; 
Ez. xxxiv. 23. 

mine heart. The greatest sign of the Divine favour towards the 
restored community is to be the gift of ' pastors ' chosen by God Himself 

16. The ark of the covenant of the Lord. This is a late expression ; 
in the earlier days it was simply called the ark of the covenant, or the 
ark of God. See Additional Note, pp. 34 f In the days to come no 
visible symbol of Jehovah's presence would be required. 

come to mind (aS hv r\h^). A frequent expression in Jeremiah 
(xliv. 21, li. 50) which is found also in NT. (e.g. Acts vii. 23; 1 Cor. 
ii. 9). 

17. Jerusalem the throne of the Lord. Cf Is. xviii. 7 where 'the 
place of Jehovah's name ' is used as a synonym for the temple. This 
exalted regard for Jerusalem is common in the visions of the prophets 
and psalmists (e.g. Is. ii. 2 — 4, Ivi. 7 ; Ps. xlviii. 1 — 2). Jeremiah is 
looking forward to a time when Jerusalem will have been purified and 
when the worship ofiered at the temple will be such as Jehovah could 
accept (cf vii. 21). Some critics think that if this passage is from 
Jeremiah's own lips it belongs to the time after the destruction of 
Jerusalem and that the prophet looks forward to its glorious restoration. 
Against this view it is perhaps sufficient to say that Jeremiah seems to 
have been convinced from a time quite early in his ministry that the 
fate of Jerusalem could not be avoided and that therefore, believing as 
he did in its final restoration, he did not need to wait for its actual 
destruction in order to paint its future excellence. Our Lord further 
extended Jeremiah's teaching by telling the woman of Samaria that 
the day was coming when the temple itself would be unnecessary: 
Jn. iv. 21. 

gathered. Cf Zech. ii. 15. The revelation of God's glory would 
draw forth the homage of the heathen : cf Josh. ix. 9 ff. 

stubbornness. Heb. -ni*' lit, means firmness. The word, which is 
characteristic of Jeremiah (8 times, elsewhere only Dt. xxix. 18; and 
Ps. Ixxxi. 13), is always used of firmness in a bad sense, obstinacy, and 
is always connected with heart. The prophet from his own experience 

B. 3 



34 THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH [iii. 17, 18 

ness of their evil heart. 18 In those days the house of Judah 
shall walk ^ with the house of Israel, and they shall come together 
out of tlie land of the north to the land that I gave for an in- 
heritance unto your fathers. 

^ Or, to 

felt that the heart of man was so fitted for communion with God that 
it could be by deliberate obstinacy only that he would refuse to obey 
Him. 

18. The division of the Jewish people into two parts was felt very 
deeply by the later prophets and so they anticipate that in order to 
make perfect the age which is coming both parts will be restored (Ez. 
iv. 6; Is. xliii. 6f). That a people worshipping one God should be 
thus separated into two nations was to them an anomaly, especially in 
view of the widespread use of the metaphor of God as the husband of 
the people (cf Hos. i. 11, viii. 3f. ; Is. xi. 13 ; Ez. xxxiv. 23 f, xxxvii. 
22). At the same time there is at least a possibility that two other 
nations of the Semitic stock also had their deity in common — Moab 
and Ammon. As a rule Chemosh is regarded as the god of Moab and 
Milcom as that of Ammon but on the Moabite-stone the combination 
Chemosh-Melech is found, and in Jud. xi. 24 the god of the Ammonites 
is said to be Chemosh : cf also Dr Barnes' note on 1 K. xi. 7 in the 
Cambridge Bible. 



Additional Note on iii< 16. 

The Ark of the Covenant. 

The natural inference to be drawn from Jeremiah's attitude as described in 
this V. is that the people of his day attached too much importance to the ark 
as the visible symbol of Jehovah's presence (cf. 1 S. iv. 3 flf.). Jeremiah 
evidently found the ark hateful to him as being a part of the crude materialistic 
religion, so popular with the j^eople, against which his whole ministry was a 
constant protest. It should be remembered too, that though the ark might be 
the sign of Jehovah's presence, it was at the same time likely to encourage men 
in the belief that His presence was limited thereto; such a conception seems 
to underlie the action of the Israelites at Ebenezer referred to above, and when 
David danced before the ark he could be described as dancing 'before the 
Lord' (2 S. vi. 14). Conceptions such as these must have been felt by the 
prophet to be unworthy of the spiritual worship of Jehovah which he wished 
to inculcate. 

The history of the ark is very obscure and it is not mentioned after the 
erection of Solomon's temple until the present passage, a gap of nearly four 
hundred years. There is one possible exception to the above statement, as 
according to 2 Ch. xxxv. 3 it was restored to the temple by Josiah; since, 



III. 19] THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH 35 

however, there is no mention of such a restoration in 2 K. xxiii. critics are 
not disposed to acknowledge the genuineness of this tradition. The exact date 
of the disappearance of the ark is not known ; it is not mentioned in connexion 
with the Fall of Jerusalem — except in the obviously legendary account in 
2 Mace. ii. 4 ff. — nor did it find a place in the temple of the restoration (see 
Joseph. Bell. Jud. v. v. 5 ; Tacitus, Hist. v. 9). 

Vaz-ious suggestions have been put forward to account for the disappearance 
of the ark. It may have perished in some invasion. Perhaps it was taken from 
Jerusalem by Joash, King of Israel, in 785 b.c. when he earned off the temple 
treasures (2 K. xiv. 14). He may have felt, as Cheyne suggests {Enc. Bib. 
306), that he was reclaiming 'the long-lost treasure of the Bphraimitish sanc- 
tuary at Shiloh.' If this suggestion is a sound one, and on the face of it there 
is nothing against it beyond the failure of the Biblical writers actually to mention 
it, it may be that the ark finally disappeared with the destruction of Shiloh re- 
ferred to in vii. 12. The possession of the ark by the Southern Kingdom may 
have been a sore point vdth the men of Israel, and Calvin sees in Jeremiah's 
forecast a desire to remove a cause of offence which might prevent or endanger 
the reconciliation of the two parts of the nation. Another interesting suggestion, 
made by Canon Kennett, is that the ark was used as a receptacle for the brazen 
serpent and that it may have shared the fete of that object of worship (2 K. 
xviii, 4). 

For fuller details of the history of the ark and for suggestions as to its fate 
see Dr McNeile's note in his commentary on E.vodus, pp. 161 ff.; and Eiic. Bib. 
300 ff. 



Chapters HI. 19— IV. 4. 
A Vision of Israel's Penitence and Restoration. 

This prophecy is probably a continuation of iii. 5 ; as was pointed out in the 
introduction to iii. 6 — 18 that section is apparently an interpolation. 

{a) Israelis ingratitude and Jehovah! s forbearance, iii. 19 f. 
(6) Israel returns in penitence and shame. 21 — 25. 
(c) Jehovah demands works worthy of repentance, iv. 1 f. 
{d) A warning to the men ofjudah. 3f 

19 But I said, How ^ shall I put thee among the children, 
and give thee a pleasant land, ^a goodly heritage of the hosts 
of the nations? and I said, ^ Ye shall call me My father; and 

1 Or, would .. .nations ! ^ Or, the goodliest heritage of the nations 
* Another reading is, Thou shalt...and shalt not etc. 

19 f. Jehovah desired to shew mercy and forbearance to the 
House of Israel ; but the fulfilment of His desire was prevented by 
her ingratitude. 

3—2 



36 THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH [iii. 19-^3 

shall not turn away from following me. 20 Surely as a wife 
treacherously departeth from her husband, so have ye dealt 
treacherously with me, house of Israel, saith the Lord. 21 A 
voice is heard upon the bare heights, the weeping and the 
supplications of the children of Israel; for that they have 
perverted their way, they have forgotten the Lord their God. 
22 Return, ye backsliding children, I will heal your back- 
slidings. Behold, we are come unto thee ; for thou art the Lord 
our God. 23 Truly in vain is the help that is looked for from 

19. How sJudl I. Cf. Hos. xi. 8 where the same form of question 
is used, but with reference not to privilege but to punishm.ent. 

children. Better sons. Israel though a woman — lands and cities 
are feminine in Heb. as in many other languages — was to have her 
share like a son. According to the most ancient Hebrew law daughters 
had no share in their father's property, as the case of the daughters of 
Zelophehad (Nu. xxvii. Iff.) evidently set a precedent; it should be 
mentioned that this incident is considered by many critics to be late, 
and probably shews the influence of Babylonian customs by which the 
daughter was treated more kindly (see S. A. Cook, Laws of Moses, &c. 
pp. 145 f.). The case of Job's daughters who held 'an inheritance in 
the midst of their brethren' (xlii. 15) is an obvious instance of an 
exception which proves a general rule. 

pleasant land. Cf Zech. vii. 14 ; Ps. cvi. 24. 

20. treacherously. Cf v. 11 ; Hos. v. 7, vi. 7 ; Mai. ii. 11. 
Israel includes and in fact really means Judah ; for the promises 

to the race, if the expression is read in the light of later history, 
were narrowed down after the fall of Samaria to the elect Southern 
Kingdom. 

21 — 25. The children of Israel are pictured as returning to Jehovah 
with weeping and with inarticulate supplications. Jehovah speaks 
encouragingly to them and they take up the chorus of repentance, 
confessing their sin and folly in trusting in vain gods : cf Hos. v. 14 — 
vi. 4. The prophet's hopeful anticipations were however doomed to 
wait long years for their fulfilment. 

21. A voice is heard. The same phrase introduces the lament of 
Rachel in xxxi. 15. 

bare heights. A common place for mourning (cf vii. 29). It is 
also to be noted that it was on the bare heights that Israel had sinned 
against Jehovah (cf v. 2); ' the scene of her idolatry is the scene also of 
her penitence.' (Peake.) 

22. Beturn-.-backslidings. There is here a play on the same 
Hebrew word as was noticed in v. 6. Jehovah is willing to accept 
even the slightest desire for repentance and to increase it (cf xxx. 
17, xxxiii. 6); He will 'heal' the backslidings of His children (Hos. 
xiv. 4). 



in. 23-25] THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH 37 

the hills, the Humult on the mountains: truly in the Lord our 
God is the salvation of Israel. 24 But the ^ shameful thing hath 
devoured the labour of our fathers from our youth ; their flocks 
and their herds, their sons and their daughters. 25 Let us lie 
down in our shame, and let our confusion cover us : for we have 
sinned against the Lord our God, we and our fathers, from our 
youth even unto this day : and we have not obeyed the voice of 
the Lord our God. 

1 Or, noisy throng ^ Heb. shame. See ch. xi. 13. 

23. hills... mountains. Cf. v. 2L Ezekiel was commanded to 
prophesy against the mountains owing to the unlawful worship which 
had taken place upon them (vi. 2 ff.)- The nation in its moments of 
loyalty to Jehovah looked upon the hills as the place from whence His 
power would come (Ps. cxxi. 1 £). 

24. the shameful thing, i.e. Baal. The writers of OT. not infre- 
quently use the Hebrew word meaning shame (Bosheth) for Baal (cf. 
xi. 13 ; Hos. ix. 10). In some proper names ending in Baal the second 
half has been changed into Bosheth : e.g. Ishbaal the sou of Saul 
(1 Ch. viii. 33) is called Ishbosheth in 2 S. ii. 8 (see Driver's note ad 
loc). When the name had originally been given Baal was no doubt 
intended as a title of Jehovah (cf. Hos. ii. 16). 

their sons and their daughters. The references to human sacrifice 
in OT., as it stands at present, are not very numerous and many critics 
think that the humanitarian instincts of a later age caused their 
omission, or even erased them from existing accounts. The writer of 
2 K. iii. 27 evidently recognised the efficacy of such sacrifices even 
when offered to a foreign deity\ It is sometimes stated that the 
deaths of the two sons of Hiel the Bethelite during his rebuilding 
of Jericho (1 K. xvi. 34 ; cf. Josh. vi. 26) were what are known as 
'foundation sacrifices.' These sacrifices were intended to bring good 
fortune to the owners of the house and the custom of offering them is 
a very widespread one (see Tylor, Primitive Culture, i. pp. 94 — 7 ; 
Curtiss, Primitive Semitic Religion To-day, p. 184, and P^re Vincent, 
Canaan (1907), pp. 188, 195). The loss of Hiel's sons however was 
looked upon as something unusual and even if he offered them as 
saciifices the custom was sufficiently rare in Israel to excite general 
notice. 

from our youth. Cf ii. 2. 

25. lie down. Cf 2 S. xii. 16 (David on the death of the child 
of Bathsheba), xiii. 31, &c. 

we and our fathers. 'In Semitic antiquity the whole ritual con- 
ception of the purging away of sin is bound up with the notion of the 
solidarity of the body of worshippers — the same notion which makes 

^ For another explanation of this passage in Kings, see Pusey on Am. ii. 1. 



38 THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH [iv. 1-3 

IV. 1 If thou wilt return, Israel, saith the Lord, unto me 
shalt thou return : and Hf thou wilt put away thine abominations 
out of my sight, then shalt thou not be removed ; 2 and thou 
shalt swear. As the Lord liveth, in truth, in judgement, and in 
righteousness; and the nations shall bless themselves in him, 
and in him shall they glory. 

3 For thus saith the Lord to the men of Judah and to 
Jerusalem, Break up your fallow ground, and sow not among 

1 Or, if thou wilt put .. .and wilt not wander, and wilt swear. ..then shall the nations dtc. 
or, then shalt thou swear... and the nations d:e. 

the pious Hebrews confess and lament not only their .own sins, but the 
sins of their fathers.' W. Robertson Smith, Rel. Sem.^ p. 429. 

IV. 1 f Jehovah's answer. Israel's penitence must exhibit itself 
in deeds — by a return to the worship of Himself, and by the putting 
away of false gods. This conduct will glorify Jehovah in the sight of 
the heathen. 

1. abominations. The word which is used in Dan. xi. 31 of 'the 
abomination of desolation.' It represents the Divine attitude towards 
that which was a ' shameful thing ' even in the eyes of human beings 
(iii. 24). The word is first found in Hos. ix. 10 and is common in 
Jer. and Ez. of the false gods and all the paraphernalia of their worship. 
LXX. followed by Ewald, Hitzig, Cheyne &c. reads and if thou puttest 
away thy detestable things out of thy mouth (cf Zech. ix. 7) and dost 
not wander from before me. 

2. The people are evidently in the habit of treating repentance as 
an easy thing. 

swear. Cf. xii. 16 ; Is. Ixv. 16 ; Ps. Ixiii. 10. To swear by Jehovah 
means to be His worshipper. 

in truth. Not the mere taking of God's name in vain by the light 
use of a formula, ii. 35, v. 2 ; cf Dt. vi. 13, x. 20. 

'Judgment is wanting in an uncautious oath ; truth in a lying oath ; 
righteousness in an iniquitous or unlawful oath.' St Thos. Aquinas, 
Sum. Theol. 11. ii. 89. 

3 f A warning to the men of Judah couched in severer tones : 
cf Ez. xviii. 30. Cornill quotes Mk, vii. 21 to illustrate these vv. 
Just as the thorns must be rooted right out of the ground before 
sowing, so must the evils of the heart be overcome ; no mere cere- 
monial purification is of any avail but only that 'spiritual circumcision' 
which Calvin defined as ' the denial of self 

3. Judah... Jerusalem. Also named separately in Is. i. 1 ; Joel 
iii. 20, &c. 

Break up your fallow ground. The phrase is evidently quoted 
from Hos. x. 12. The people are called upon to make fresh ventures 
in their religious life and at the same time to cast out the sins which 



IV. 3, 4] THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH 39 

thorns. 4 Circumcise yourselves to the Lord, and take away 
the foreskins of your heart, ye men of Judah and inhabitants of 
Jerusalem : lest my fury go forth like fire, and burn that none 
can quench it, because of the evil of your doings. 

had rendered the past iinprofitable by the use of the plough of penitence 
and discipline. The new seed must have every chance given it of 
bringing forth fruit (iii. 23 6, cf Matt. xiii. 7). No man can afford to 
leave part of his nature undeveloped and neglected : if he does it will 
produce on its own account and the crop will be one of unsightly weeds 
and thorns. The Vulgate rendering Novate Novale is well known from 
its use as the title of a Society of Mission Priests founded by Arch- 
bishop Benson when Chancellor of Lincoln. 

4. ^ Circumcise yourselves. Circumcision was the work of the Old 
Covenant, the New Covenant demanded something deeper ; not the 
outward circumcision of the flesh but the inward circumcision of the 
heart. In this passage Jeremiah seems to anticipate the teaching of 
St Paul (Rom. ii. 28 f. &c.) that circumcision is not merely a bodily 
rite but also a change of heart. It must be ' an outward and visible 
sign of an inward and spiritual grace.' This thought is still further 
illustrated by ix. 25. 

foreskins of your heart. Cf the similar command in Dt. x. 16 and 
also the promise that Jehovah Himself would circumcise the hearts of 
the Israelites that they might love Him (Dt. xxx. 6). See further on 
vi. 10. 

fire. To destroy the thorns : cf vii. 20 ; Am. v. 6 ; Ps. Ixxxix. 47. 



Chapter IV. 5—31. 

A Description of the Comirig Doom. 

All the efforts of the prophet have been in vain, the people persist in 
following after the desires of their own hearts and in despising the warnings 
of the messenger of Jehovah. But now a real and threatening danger is at 
hand, evil is about to break upon them from the North and once again the voice 
of Jeremiah, like a trumpet, repeats its warning message. Most critics are 
agreed that the prophecies in this and the following chh. were originally 
written in reference to the Scythian invasion of c. 625 B.C. (see Introd. 
pp. xix, xxx) and that they were afterwards re-written to make them refer to 
the approach of the Babylonian army in 604 B.C. The chh. as they now stand 
(with the exception of certain passages) might be applied to either adversary 
though it must be confessed that as a whole they suit better the Baby- 
lonians and their monarch than a horde of unknown barbarians (cf. iv, 7, 
V. 15, 19). 



40 THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH [iv. 5-8 

The section may be divided up as follows : 

(a) The sounding of the alarm. 5 — 8. 

(&) The helplessness of the leaders. 9f. 

(c) The swift coming of the invader. 11 — 18. 

(c/) The prophet s agony. 19 — 22. 

(e) Jeremiads vision of desolation. 23 — 26. 

(/) Judah is deserted by her lovers. 27 — 31. 

5 Declare ye in Judah, and publish in Jerusalem ; and say, 
Blow ye the trumpet in the land : cry aloud and say, Assemble 
yourselves, and let us go into the fenced cities. 6 Set up a 
standard toward Zion : flee for safety, stay not : for I will bring 
evil from the north, and a great destruction. 7 A lion is gone up 
from his thicket, and a destroyer of nations ; he is on his way, he 
is gone forth from his place ; to make thy land desolate, that thy 
cities be laid waste, without inhabitant. 8 For this gird you with 

5 — 8. Judah is bidden to make what preparations she can for the 
approach of an overwhelming foe : cf. Hos. v. 15 ff. 

5. m Jerusalem. Omitted by Giesebrecht as unnecessary and 
moreover as being hard to reconcile with Zion in v. 6. The v. is evi- 
dently in some confusion and ' it is awkward ' as Peake says ' that one 
group of people should be told to bid a second group say to a third 
group Assemble yourselves, <&c.' 

trumpet (Heb. "i?i^'). The alarm signal usually sounded as a call 
to battle, here to flight ; and to be carefully distinguished from the 
trumpet sounded in the temple services, though in later writers the 
distinction is lost. The word literally means ^orw and may be con- 
nected with the Assyrian sappar(u) 'wild goat': cf. Driver on Am. ii. 2. 

Assemble yourselves. The same advice is given to the Philistines in 
Zeph. ii. 1 ; cf. Joel i. 4, ii. 15, iii. 11. 

the fenced cities. The foe was evidently too strong to be met in 
the open field : cf viii. 14. For the phrase (lit. cities of fortification) 
cf Nu. xiii. 19, xxxii. 17, 36; and see Nowack, Arch. i. 368. 

6. standard. Cf. Is. xxxiii. 23 ; Ez. xxvii. 7. Driver explains it 
as a way-mark to guide the fugitives (cf. Ps. Ix. 6) : but the reading of 
LXX. (^euyere is probably to be preferred to the MT. ; l^^ will then 
refer to the snatching up of their property by the fugitives : cf. Is. x. 31. 

flee. See on vi. 1. 

destruction. Lit. breaking ; cf Zeph. i. 10. 

7. A lion refers better to an individual like Nebuchadrezzar than 
to the Scythians. The same expression is used in xlix. 19 for the enemy 
who is to overthrow Edom. 

he is on Ms way. The Heb. (VD^) means literally to pull up and so 
from the pulling up of tent pegs to start out. 



IV. 8-n] THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH 41 

sackcloth, lament and howl : for the fierce anger of the Lord is 
not turned back from us. 9 And it shall come to pass at that day, 
saith the Lord, that the heart of the king shall perish, and the 
heart of the princes ; and the priests shall be astonished, and the 
prophets shall wonder. 10 Then said I, Ah, Lord God! surely 
thou hast greatly deceived this people and Jerusalem, saying. 
Ye shall have peace ; whereas the sword reacheth unto the soul. 
1 1 At that time shall it be said to this people and to Jerusalem, 
A hot wind from the bare heights in the wilderness toward the 

8, sackcloth. S. A. Cook suggests from the usage of the word 
that sackcloth was ' nothing more than a loin-cloth, similar, no doubt, 
to the ihrdm of Moslem pilgrims at Mecca,' and having a religious 
significance: Enc. Bib. 4182 f. 

lament. There is now no trace of any hope such as was to be found 
in ii. — iv. 4 : God's wrath cannot be turned away : cf Joel i. 13 ; Mic. 
i. 8 ; Jas. iv. 9. 

9 f The astonishment and helplessness of Jerusalem and its natu- 
ral leaders. All those upon whom the people had leaned and by whom 
they had bolstered up their confidence prove wanting. 

heart. Usually with the meaning of intelligence, but this context 
demands the meaning of courage: cf. Am. ii. 16. All the leaders of 
society are to be driven fnto a state of impotence by the news of the 
coming of the invader : cf Is. vii. 2. 

10. Then said I. The text as it stands is difficult to interpret. 
Jeremiah had never prophesied 'Peace' to the city, but always the 
contrary (cf Mic. ii. 11). The best solution of the difficulty is to 
adopt the reading found in lxx. a and to read And they shall say ; the 
words will then come from the prophets of v. 9 who still think that 
their 'comfortable' message had been inspired by the Lord : cf vi. 14, 
xiv. 13, xxiii. 17 ; 1 K. xxii. 22 ; Ez. xiv. 9. It would be rather hard 
to imagine that Jeremiah had himself been deceived by them as the 
reading of MT. almost certainly requires. 

11 — 18. In this section the invader is described under various 
figures ; first as a sirocco from the desert, and then as the clouds 
brought up by the wind. The prophet's words, few though they be, 
are full of suggestions of horror and swiftly approaching calamity. He 
points to the distant and terrible North where the unknown menace is 
already gathering force to burst upon the people like the sudden blast 
of a desert wind. 

11. hot ivind. lxx. -n-vtvixa TrXav7]a€(x)<;. The exact meaning of the 
word translated hot is not known ; in Is. xviii. 4 it is rendered clear 
(of heat), and in Cant. v. 10 white (of complexion). It seems a strange 
word to apply to a wind and perhaps the best translation is gloiving or 
dazzling ; the rendering of lxx. in this and other places suggests that 
they too were at a loss for the meaning of the word. 



42 THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH [iv. 11-15 

daughter of my people, not to fan, nor to cleauge ; 12 ^a full wind 
from these shall come for me : now will I also ^utter judgements 
against them. 13 Behold, he shall come up as clouds, and his 
chariots shall he as the whirlwind : his horses are swifter than 
eagles. Woe unto us ! for we are spoiled. 14 Jerusalem, 
wash thine heart from wickedness, that thou mayest be saved. 
How long shall thine evil thoughts lodge within thee? 15 For 

> Or, a wind too strong for this ' See ch. i. 16. 

not to fan, nor to cleanse. The wind which was made use of to 
remove the chaff will blow away the grain as well (li. 1 f.). The 
approaching storm is not a mere warning intended to arouse repentance, 
but is to be for the overwhelming of the nation. ' It is not a chastise- 
ment to purify the people, but a judgement which sweeps away the whole 
nation — both wheat and chaff' (Keil). Wind as a destroying agent is 
used in various ways : cf. Ez. xvii. 10 ' a blighting east wind.' 

13. Descriptive passages such as this are common in the prophetic 
writings (e.g. vi. 22 — 6 ; Is. v. 26 — 30). The Hebrews were essentially 
a warlike race and the prophets loved to dwell on the equipment and 
fierceness of even an invading army. They are evidently influenced by 
something more than the mere desire to draw a picture of what the 
people may expect as a penalty for their sins. 

clouds. A very forcible figure for the swift and irresistible approach of 
the enemy. Just as the clouds gradually overspread the sky beginning 
'like a man's hand' and then in a short time darkening the whole heaven 
(1 K. xviii. 44 f ), so will the alien armies overrun the guilty land. 
Ezekiel has a similar description of the armies of Gog (xxxviii, 1 6). 

whirlwind. Cf Is. v. 28 ' their wheels as a whirlwind,' and Ixvi. 15. 

eagles. Eagles are not common in Palestine (see Nowack, Arch. i. 
p. 84) and the Hebrew word is better translated vultures {gyps fulvus), 
the nasru of the inscriptions, which are still found. Their piercing 
vision enables them to sight their prey at a distance, and their long 
swoop upon it provided the prophets and other writers of OT. with a 
simile of an invading army, the force of which would be recognised by 
all their hearers. See Dt. xxviii. 49 ; Job ix. 26 ; Hab. i. 8, &c. 

14. Jerusalem. The prophet still seems to think that Jerusalem 
has time to repent ; or does this v. represent merely his heart-broken 
cry over the impenitent city? Cf xiii. 27 and our Blessed Lord's 
lament in Lk. xiii. 34. 

How long &c. Hosea makes a similar appeal to Samaria and its 
inhabitants : 'How long will it be ere they attain to innocencyl' (viii. 5). 

evil thoughts &c. Cf. Prov. xxiii. 7; Matt. xii. 35 ; Jas. i. 15; and the 
passage in the collect at the beginning of the Communion Office : 'Cleanse 
the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of thy Holy Spirit.' 

15. For introduces the event which shews the necessity of peni- 
tence and at the same time declares its impossibility. 



IV. 15-19] THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH 43 

^a voice declareth from Dan, and publisheth evil from the hills of 
Ephraim: 16 make ye mention to the nations; behold, publish 
against Jerusalem, that watchers come from a far country, and 
give out their voice against the cities of Judah. 17 As keepers 
of a field are they against her round about ; because she hath 
been rebellious against me, saith the Lord. 18 Thy way and 
thy doings have procured these things unto thee; this is thy 
wickedness ; ^for it is bitter, ''for it reacheth unto thine heart. 
19 My bowels, my bowels! ^I am pained at *my very heart; 

1 Or, there is a voice of one that declareth dte. ^ Or, surely 

' Another reading is, I will wait patiently . * Heb. the walls of my heart. 

a voice &c. It is better to translate as Buttenwieser does : 

Hark! a messen g er from Dan, 

A hearer of evil neves from Mt Ephraim. 

The mention of these two places, Dan on the northern border of the 
whole country and Mt Ephraim on the northern border of Judah, is 
a dramatic way of describing the rapid approach of the invaders : cf 
Is. XV. ; and in modern literature Macaulay, Horatius, xvii. — xx. 

16. 'Watchers. Duhm suggests the reading leopards; this involves 
only a slight change in the Heb. and suits the immediate context much 
better. Cf v. 6 ; Hab. i. 8. 

give out their voice. As the lion in v. 7. 

cities of Judah. This phrase is not intended to lay stress on 
the individual cities, it is equivalent to the whole land itself Cf 
Jud. xii. 7 (Heb.). 

17. keepers of a field. This phrase fits in better with the original 
reading watchers in the previous v. ; it suggests that just as those who 
have to guard cattle in the field put up booths round about it, so the 
besiegers will do round about Jerusalem and keep it in on every side. 

18. wickedness. The Hebrews did not distinguish between sin and 
its consequences, or even what appeared to be the consequences of sin. 
(Cf Kennett, Early Ideas of Righteousness, pp. 6 if.) 

19 — 22. A vivid description of the agony of the inhabitants of the 
land as represented by the prophet himself This section is of great 
interest as being the first of several similar revelations of Jeremiah's 
own feelings. The prophet from his youth up had been aware 'of the 
great stream of human tears falling always through the shadows of the 
world' and his tender soul is now torn by realising the fate which is 
coming upon his native land: cf the similar feelings of St Paul as 
described in Rom. ix. — xi. 

19. My bowels. The seat of the deepest emotions. Cf xxxi. 20; 
Is. xvi. 11, &c. There can be little doubt that the speaker is the pro- 
phet as the Targum states in so many words. 

my very heart. Heb. the walls of my heart. 



44 THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH [iv. 19-.3 

ray heart is disquieted in me ; I cannot hold my peace ; because 
Hhou hast heard, my soul, the sound of the trumpet, the alarm 
of war. 20 Destruction upon destruction is cried ; for the whole 
land is spoiled : suddenly are my tents spoiled, a7id my curtains 
in a moment. 21 How long shall I see the standard, and hear 
the sound of the trumpet? 22 For my people is foolish, they 
know me not; they are sottish children, and they have none 
understanding: they are wise to do evil, but to do good they 
have no knowledge. 

23 I beheld the earth, and, lo, it was ^waste and void ; and 

1 Or, as otherwise read, my soul heareth 2 gee Gen. i. 2. 

is disquieted. In 'The Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs ' Zebulon 
describes how he wept with Joseph and his 'heart sounded' (Test. 
Zeb. ii. 5). 

20 f. It has been suggested that these vv. would apply well to the 
Scythian invasion from the sudden approach of the enemy and the 
stress laid on plunder : but speed and spoil were not marks peculiar to 
any one invader: cf Maher-shalal-hash-baz (Is. viii. 1). 

tents, i.e. 'home.' The word was used long after the Hebrews had 
abandoned the nomadic Hfe. The practice of the modern Arabs may 
be contrasted who refer to their tents as 'houses of hair.' The same 
description is used metaphorically in x. 20, and repeatedly in OT. In 
xlix. 29 there is a reference to the actual spoiling of tents. Calvin 
looked upon tents as being a derisive description of the fortified cities 
which collapsed before the invading army. 

curtains, i.e. tent-hangings; cf. x. 20, xlix. 29; Hab. iii. 7. 

21. Cf vv. 5—6. 

22. Cornill rejects this v. as agreeing with its context in neither 
sense nor metre. It is possible to explain its position quite naturally 
however, the prophet turns from the calamities which are falling upon 
the people to the folly and ignorance which have been their cause. 

thei/ know me not. 'They display the same temper which the people 
had always shewn ; they have a faith in Jehovah but no knowledge of 
what Jehovah is.' Davidson on Ez. xxxiii. 24. 

evil... good. 'It is part of the miserable blindness of sin, that while 
the soul acquires a quick insight into evil, it becomes at last, not para- 
lysed only to do good, but unable to perceive it.' Pusey on Am. iii. 10. 

23 — 26. Jeremiah describes a vision of the destruction of Judah 
under the form of an upheaval of nature. The description is amazingly 
vivid and its force is not exceeded by anything similar in the whole 
prophetic literature. In it 'inanimate nature is pictured,' as Pusey 
says of another passage (Nah. i. 5), 'as endowed with the terror which 
guilt feels at the presence of God.' 

At first the prophet can distinguish nothing but confusion, then 



IV, 23, n] THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH 45 

the heavens, and they had no light. 24 I beheld the moun- 
tains, and, lo, they trembled, and all the hills ^ moved to and fro. 

^ Or, moved lightly 

gradually he is able to pick out the details of the vision, he sees the 
mountains but they tremble, and when he looks for any sign of life he 
can find none : the very birds have fled away from the darkened sky : 
cf ix. 9. 

Many critics regard this passage as later than the time of Jeremiah 
(Duhm, Giesebrecht, also Clieyne, and Schmidt in Enc. Bib. 958 and 
2390), on account of its lack of connexion with the previous section 
and also because they see in its language an apocalyptic tone. There is 
no real reason however for rejecting it, the description is obviously 
figurative and the gloom overlying the whole picture is projected from 
the prophet's own mind and has nothing eschatological about it (so 
Buttenwieser, The Prophets of Israel, p. 201). 

23. The primitive chaos has returned upon the universe which has 
fallen back into the state in which it was before 'the spirit of God 
moved on the face of the waters' (Gen. i. 2). 'The order which had 
been so beautifully arranged, had now disappeared through God's wrath' 
(Calvni): cf Ps. xciii. 1. Cornill thinks, however, that there is no 
reference to 'primitive chaos' but that the prophet sees the earth merely 
as a horrible waste {and void is omitted by LXX.) without any living 
thing upon it: cf Is. xlv. 18. 

24. The effect of earthquakes seems to have made a deep impression 
on the mind of orientals in all ages, and naturally so. The trembling of 
the mountains represents to them the overturning of all that is stable 
and trustworthy. Our Lord adopts this kind of language in speaking of 
the 'last things' (Mk. xiii. 8, 24fir.) and Muhammed habitually speaks 
of the judgement as the day when the mountains will be set in motion 
(Koran, Ixix. 14, Ixxviii. 20, xcix. &c.)\ 



1 Ruskin has a fine passage in which he makes reference to this verse. Speaking 
of the mountains, he says : — 'We yield ourselves to the impression of their eternal, 
unconquerable stubbornness of strength ; their mass seems the least yielding, least 
to be softened, or in anywise dealt with by external force, of all earthly substance. 
And, behold, as we look farther into it, it is all touched and troubled, like waves 
by a summer breeze ; rippled far more delicately than seas or lakes are rippled ; 
tliey only undulate along their surfaces — this rock trembles through its every fibre, 
like the cords of an Eolian harp — like the stillest air of spring with the echoes of 
a child's voice. Into the heart of all those great mountains, through every tossing 
of their boundless crests, and deep beneath all their unfathomable defiles, flows 
that strange quivering of their substance.... They, which at first seemed strength- 
ened beyond the dread of any violence or change, are yet also ordained to bear 
upon thebi the symbol of perpetual Fear: the tremor which fades from the soft 
lake and gliding river is sealed to all eternity, upon the rock; and while things 
that pass ^isibly from birth to death may sometimes forget their feebleness, the 
mountains are made to possess a perpetual memorial of their infancy.' Modern 
Painters, v. ix. 6. 



46 THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH [iv. 25-30 

25 I beheld, and, lo, there was no man, and all the birds of the 
heavens were fled. 26 I beheld, and, lo, Hhe fruitful field was 
a wilderness, and all the cities thereof were broken down at the 
presence of the Lord, and before his fierce anger. 27 For thus 
saith the Lord, The whole land shall be a desolation ; yet will I 
not make a full end. 28 For this shall the earth mourn, and 
the heavens above be black : because I have spoken it, I have 
purposed it, and I have not repented, neither will I turn back 
from it. 29 The whole city fleeth for the noise of the horsemen 
and bowmen ; they go into the thickets, and climb up upon the 
rocks: every city is forsaken, and not a man dwelleth therein. 
30 And thou, when thou art spoiled, what wilt thou do ? Though 
thou clothest thyself with scarlet, though thou deckest thee with 
ornaments of gold, though thou ^enlargest thine eyes with paint, 

1 Or, Carmel - Heb. rendest. 

25. no man. The prophet suddenly realises his loneliness amidst 
the scene of desolation, all created things had been destroyed or had 
fled: cf Is. ii. 19, 21. 

birds. Cf. Hos. iv. 3; Zeph. i. 3. 

26. fruitful field. Heb. Carmel, lit. garden-land, a symbol of all 
that was fruitful or cultivated. There is probably no reference here to 
Mt Carmel: cf. Is. xxix. 17, xxxii. 15. 

27 — 31. Judah in her hour of need finds herself despised by her 
lovers in spite of all her arts to win them back. 

27. full end. The same expression occurs in v. 10, 18 and many 
critics think it is an insertion 'from a later hand to make the warning 
less terrible' (Smend, Cornill, &c.). In any case it is a remarkable 
thing that whilst all the empires of antiquity, and even Samaria, have 
disappeared, yet the Jewish people still exists and that in spite of the 
loss of country and dominion. To the non-religious man this must ever 
be an astounding phenomenon which can hardly be explained along the 
lines of ordinary historical investigation. 

28. the earth mourn. The devastation of the earth makes her pro- 
ductive powers of no avail. 

I have not repented. Cf. Zech. viii. 14. 

29. The whole city. Read with lxx. the whole land. 

horsemen. The Assyrians were noted for their cavalry and these 

would be taken over by the victorious Babylonians, one reason for whose 

speedy success was that they inherited the Assyrian military traditions. 

bowmen. Cf Jud. v. 11 'far from the noise of archers.' 

thickets &c. The natural refuge of the people from the face of their 

enemies: cf Jud. vi. 2; 1 S. xiii. 6; and see note on xl. 7. 

30. o^-naments of gold, to attract her lovers. There may be a refer- 



IV. 30, 3i] THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH 47 

in vain dost thou make thyself fair ; thy lovers despise thee, they 
seek thy life. 31 For I have heard a voice as of a woman in 
travail, the anguish as of her that bringeth forth her first child, 
the voice of the daughter of Zion, that gaspeth for breath, that 
spreadeth her hands, saying, Woe is me now ! for my soul fainteth 
before the murderers. 

ence to actual efforts by the nation and its rulers to make its alliance 
important in the eyes of other nations: cf. Hezekiah and Merodach- 
Baladan, Is. xxxix. 

paint. Antimony or eye paint. This was 'applied to the eyelids 
either dry or reduced to a paste by means of oils, with a blunt-pointed 
style or e3^e-pencil... which is drawn horizontally through between the 
closed eyelids. ...This proceeding Jeremiah sarcastically terms rending 
open the eyes ' (Keil). The practice is as common amongst the women 
of the East at the present day as it was in the days of Jezebel (2 K, ix. 
30 ; cf. Prov. vi. 25 ; Ecclus. xxvi. 9). iVccording to Enoch viii. 1 it 
was the evil angel Azazel who taught men the use of 'metals and the 
art of working them, and bracelets, and ornaments, and the use of 
antimony and the beautifying of the eyelids ' : cf Tertullian's use of the 
passage in De Cultu Fern. i. 2, ii. 10; and Testament of Reuben v., 
where the daughters of men are said to have seduced the giants by 
their ornaments. 

hmers. Cf. Ez. xxiii. 5, &c. The reference here must be to allied 
nations and not to 'strange gods' as in Hos. ii. 15. If this is part of 
the original prophecy it excludes any reference to the Scythians, who 
are hardly likely to have been allies of the Hebrews, or even to have 
been heard of by them before their incursion into Palestine. 

31. anguish (Heb. mv) cannot mean a cry of agony, but the pain 
which produces the cry. Giesebrecht, following lxx., accordingly emends 
to nni^. 

murderers. The metaphor of the woman in travail is suddenly 
dropped. 



Chapter V. 
The Utter Moral Depravity of Jerusalem. 

The corruption of the nation is so complete that nothing can now turn back 
the instruments of the Lord's vengeance. This ch. brings to a cHmas the 
prophetic denunciations which go before it. Jeremiah seeks in vain to find a 
single lover of truth or doer of justice in the whole of Jerusalem. Followers of 
Jehovah may indeed abound, but he feels that the God whom they serve is not 
the God he knows although both are addressed by the same name. It is not 
the poor and ignorant alone who have forsaken God but the great men and the 



48 THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH [v. i 

nobles in like manner; therefore the prophet despairs of his countrymen and 
proclaims the condemnation of the city. The wickedness and blindness of the 
people are all the more amazing as they had already received manjv warnings 
(cf. V. 3, possibly a reference to the defeat at Megiddo), but they would not 
hearken to them {e. 12) and the message of the prophets they looked upon as 
mere wind and vanity {o. 14). 

Duhm has a rather novel idea that this ch. describes the prophet's sentiments 
> after his first visit to Jerusalem, and that the previous chli. come from the time 
when he was living in Anathoth. This would account in his eyes for the greater 
severity of the succeeding chh. when Jeremiah has realised that the Holy City 
itself is in such a state that judgement is inevitable. He draws a parallel be- 
tween this supposed first visit and Luther's first visit to Rome. The whole 
theory is condemned by Giesebrecht as ' fanciful ' and when it is remembered 
that Anathoth was practically a suburb of Jerusalem being less than three miles 
from it, it seems impossible to imagine that anyone with interests such as 
Jeremiah had could have been ignorant of all that was passing there even in 
the extremely unlikely event of his never having actually visited it. 

The ch. ends with a further description of the nation which threatened 
Jerusalem ; among its terrifying attributes was that of speaking in a strange 
tongue. It is somewhat surprising to notice the exaggerated dread and aversion 
shewn towards those who spoke a foreign language, the phenomenon is con- 
stantly referred to throughout the Bible, from the early attempt to account for 
it in Gen. xi. 1 — 9 to the miracle by which it was overcome in Acts ii. 5 — 11. 
See further on v. 15. 

{a) Rich and poor are alike unrighteous. 1 — 9. 

(6) The call to the destroyers. 10 — 19. 

(c) The rebelliousness of the people. 20 — 29. 

{d) The sin of the prophets. 30 f. 

V. 1 Run ye to and fro through the streets of Jerusalem, 
and see now, and know, and seek in the broad places thereof, if 
ye can find a man, if there be any that doeth justly, that seeketh 

V. 1 — 9. The connexion with iv. 31 seems rather sHght; in that 
passage the prophet has described Jerusalem in her death agony, here 
he returns to those sins which will cause punishment to fall upon her. 

1. The search recommended in this v. brings to mind the story of 
Diogenes lighting a lamp in the day-time and saying, ' I am trying to 
find a man' (Diog. Laert. vi. ii. 41). 

Run ye to and fro. lxx. TrepLSpafjieTe, Vg. circuite. The wording 
indicates the thoroughness of the search: cf. Zeph. i. 12; Ps. cxxxix. 
7 — 12. The command is a general one and is not addressed to any 
particular person. 

streets. Duhm pictures Jeremiah, a stranger from the country, as 
being shocked by the levity and heedlessness of the townspeople. 

a man, Cf. Abraham's appeal for Sodom (Gen. xviii. 23 — 32) ; and 



V. 1-6] THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH 49 

Hruth; and I will pardon her. 2 And though they say, As the 
Lord liveth ; surely they swear falsely. 3 Lord, ^do not thine 
eyes look upon Hruth ? thou hast stricken them, but they were 
not grieved; thou hast consumed them, but they have refused 
to receive ^correction : they have made their faces harder than 
a rock ; they have refused to return. 4 Then I said, Surely these 
are poor: they are foolish; for they know not the way of the 
Lord, nor the judgement of their God: 5 I will get me unto the 
great men, and will speak unto them ; for they know the way of 
the Lord, and the judgement of their God. But these with one 
accord have broken the yoke, and burst the bands. 6 Wherefore 
a lion out of the forest shall slay them, a wolf of the * evenings 

^ Or, faithfulness '■' Heb. are not thine eyes upon. 

2 Or, instruction * Or, deserts 

other similar complaints (Ez. xxii. 30 ; Mic. vii. 2). The prophets not 
seldom looked upon the darker side of things, and there must have 
been in .Jerusalem many who were loyal worshippers of Jehovah : cf. Elijah 
at Mount Horeb (1 K. xix. 18). 

truth includes faithfulness towards God and justice towards men : 
cf. Hos, iv. 1. 

2. In spite of the most solemn oaths the men of Judah were willing 
to perjure themselves. It is interesting to remember in this connexion 
that in the earliest Greek conception of a future world the only people 
who were punished and tortured were those who had forsworn them- 
selves cf Iliad, ni. 278 ff., xix. 259 ff. 

3. rock is used in OT. as a symbol of firmness, often in an evil 
sense as here, but also in a good sense : Is, 1. 7; Ez. iii. 7 — 9; cf. Lk. 
ix. 51. 

4. they know not. Cf. viii. 7 ; Hos. iv. 6. 

5. The prophet's search amongst the various classes of the com- 
munity finds a parallel in the life of Socrates, who describes himself as 
going from politician to poet, and from poet to artisan, in search of one 
who was truly wise {Apol. Socr. 21 B — 22 e). 

6. lion... wolf... leopard. These animals are all mentioned in Hos. 
xiii. 7, and the wo//" and the leopard are used of the Chaldeans in Hab. 
i. 8. There can be little doubt that it was from this v. that Dante 
borrowed the three beasts which appear in Canto i of the Inferno : the 
^ leopard... whose skin full many a dusky spot did stain,' the lion, and 
the ' 9he-wolf, with all ill greed defiled.' 

wolf. The animal referred to was probably smaller than the modern 
species, as Herodotus tells us that the Egyptian wolf was 'scarcely 
larger than a fox.' It may be noticed that here as elsewhere in OT. 
(with the exception of Gen. xlix. 27) the wolf is referred to as an ignoble 
animal ; this is in strong contrast with the usage of non-Semitic peoples. 



50 THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH [v. 6-i. 

shall spoil them, a leopard shall watch over their cities, every 
one that goeth out thence shall be torn in pieces : because their 
transgressions are many, and their backslidings are increased. 
7 How can I pardon thee ? thy children have forsaken me, and 
sworn by them that are no gods: when I had ^fed them to the 
full, they committed adultery, and assembled themselves in troops 
at the harlots' houses. 8 They were as fed horses ^iu the morning: 
every one neighed after his neighbour's wife. 9 Shall I not visit 
for these things ? saith the Lord : and shall not my soul be 
avenged on such a nation as this? 

10 Go ye up upon her walls, and destroy; but make not a 
full end: take away her branches: for they are not the Lord's. 
11 For the house of Israel and the house of Judah have dealt 
very treacherously against me, saith the Lord. 12 They have 

^ Or, according to auother reading, made them swear 
^ Or, roaming at large 

A similar difference of opinion prevailed in regard to the ass, which was 
highly esteemed by the Arabs for its courage, and indeed gave a title 
to one of the bravest of the Caliphs, Marwan II, who was called Al 
Hamar (i.e. the ass). Gibbon {Decline and Fall, &c. vi. p. 20, 'Standard 
Library' Edition) remarks that this surname ' may justify the compari- 
son of Homer {Iliad, v. 557, &c.), and both will silence the moderns 
who consider the ass as a stupid and ignoble emblem.' 

evenings. Cf Caedmon's description of the beasts of prey around 
the camp of Penda, including 'the wolves' who ' sing their horrid even- 
song.' The best reading, however, is probably that of marg. steppes or 
deserts: cf Hab. i. 8; Zeph. iii. 3\ 

7. Cf V. 28; Dt. xxxii. 15. 'There is here what rhetoricians call 
a conference : for God seems here to seek the judgement of the adverse 
party, with whom he contends, on the cause between them ' (Calvin). 

8, The Heb. of this v. seems to be corrupt. 

fed horses. A similar expression is used in xlvi. 21, where the 
Egyptians' mercenaries are called 'calves of the stall' 

10 — 19. The Divine instruments are called upon to carry out the 
Lord's sentence. 

10. For the figure of Judah as a vineyard see on xii. 10. 

Go ye up. A summons either to supernatural beings as in Ez. ix. 1 f , 
or to the enemies of Israel as in Is. v. 26, vii. 18. 

her walls. The meaning of Heb. is a little doubtful. Driver sug- 
gests a slight change which would give the reading vine-rows. 

12 f An entirely different conception of Jehovah from that of the 

^ Lix. rendering ?ws rwv otKuv represents D^RS iy, an evident misreading of 

MT. nimi?. 



V. i.-rs] THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH 51 

denied the Lord, and said, It is not he ; neither shall evil come 
upon us; neither shall we see sword nor famine: 13 and the 
prophets shall become wind, and the word is not in them : thus 
shall it be done unto them. 14 Wherefore thus saith the Lord, 
the God of hosts, Because ye speak this word, behold, I will make 
my words in thy mouth fire, and this people wood, and it shall 
devour them, 15 Lo, I will bring a nation upon you from far, 

prophets underlies these vv. In the eyes of the people He was their 
covenant God and so was pledged to support them, and at the same 
time He was not nearly so exacting as the prophets painted Him. In 
a somewhat similar manner at the present time the ' man in the street ' 
in so far as he recognises God at all looks upon Him as an easy-going 
Providence; those who declare His message of denunciation and con- 
demnation are merely derided by him as ' gloomy ' pessimists. 

12. It is not he. Duhm suggests that this is a 'popular saying' 
(yolksthumliche Aposiopese) : cf Zeph. i. 12; Job viii. 18. The atheism 
of the Hebrews, as of their descendants in the Middle Ages, was practical 
rather than theoretical: cf Ps. xiv. 1, and see Introd. p. xliv. They 
did not deny the existence of God in so many words, but by their 
action they shewed that it was quite safe to ignore Him. 

13. Jeremiah constantly lays stress on the unbelieving attitude 
of the people towards those sent to warn them : cf Ez. xii. 22 f , 
xvii. 15. 

the prophets. Not the 'false prophets' who foretold good things, 
but those who, like Jeremiah himself, foretold only disaster : cf 
XX viii. 8. 

14. The prophets are to be vindicated even if the fulfilment of 
their message involves the destruction of the people. Though the un- 
godly are like ' brass and iron ' (vi. 28) in their opposition to God, yet 
they will be burned up like wood; the word of the prophets which they 
had scoffed at and called ivind was to prove a devouring ^re : cf xxiii. 
29; Is. i. 31, ix. 7, Iv. 10 f; Ps. cxlvii. 15. 

God of hosts. This phrase is used frequently of God by several of 
the prophets (Amos, Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi) and especially by 
Isaiah. It represents the irresistible might of Him who is the leader 
not only of the armies of Israel (Ex. vii. 4, xii. 41), but also of the 
hosts of heaven (Ps. ciii. 21) and the stars (Is. xl. 26). See Dr Wade's 
note in his commentary on Isaiah, p. 12. 

15. Three points are to be noted about the invader : («) he comes 
from a distance; {h) he is of ancient race; (c) his language is unknown 
to the Hebrews. The two first points suit the Babylonians, and the 
Assyrian language, in spite of its belonging to the same family as that 
of the Hebrews, would hardly be understood by the common people : 
cf 2 K. xviii. 26. The second point seems definitely to exclude the 
Scythians, who were, according to Herodotus (iv. 5), 'the most recent 

4—2 



52 THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH [v. 15-19 

O house of Israel, saith the Lord: it is ^a mighty nation, it is 
an ancient nation, a nation whose language thou knowest not, 
neither understandest what they say. 16 Their quiver is an open 
sepulchre, they are all mighty men. 17 And they shall eat up 
thine harvest, and thy bread, which thy sons and thy daughters 
should eat : they shall eat up thy flocks and thine herds : they 
shall eat up thy vines and thy fig trees : they shall ^beat down 
thy fenced cities, wherein thou trustest, with the sword. 18 But 
even in those days, saith the Lord, I will not make a full end 
with you. 19 And it shall come to pass, when ye shall say, 
Wlierefore hath the Lord our God done all these things unto us? 
then shalt thou say unto them. Like as ye have forsaken me, and 

1 Or, an enduring nation ^ Or, impoverish 

of all nations.' Dr Peake's argument that Jeremiah 'may well have 
thought of the Scythians as a primaeval people like the Nephilim ' is 
simply pure conjecture. 

mighty (Heb. 1^^^). Lit. enduring. The meaning of this word was 
lost by the Jews; and those responsible for the various translations of 
OT. (lxx. &c.) seem to depend upon the context for their rendering. 
The comparative study of the Semitic languages, however, has brought 
to light a cognate root in Arabic, watana = 'to be constant, unfailing.' 
The word is very often used of a wady which is perennial or ever 
flowing. 

whose language thou knowest not. Difference of speech was ever a 
cause of dread and uneasiness in the ancient world (cf. Is. xxviii. 11, 
xxxiii. 19; Dt. xxviii. 49), and a phenomenon which could only be 
accounted for by the direct interference of the Deity Himself (Gen. xi. 
1 — 9). On the other hand, a 'pure language' which the nations could 
use ' with one consent ' was to be one of the blessings of the coming 
age (Zeph. iii. 9). 

16. Their quiver &c. This comparison of human weapons — taking 
quiver as representing its contents — to an open grave ever ready to 
swallow up fresh victims is a very striking one, which nothing but 
familiarity robs of its force. 

17. In Dt. xxviii. 53 — 57 the Israelites ate their own sons and 
daughters, and it is possible to translate the Heb. with this meaning : 
they shall eat thy sons and thy daughters (cf. iii. 24, x. 25, they devour 
Jacob). 

Jig trees would be something of a novelty to the Babylonians, for 
Herodotus tells us that they were not found in Babylon (i. 193). 

18. See on iv. 27. 

19. Such as was the crime, so shall be the punishment ; cf Wisd. 
ii. 16. 



V. 19-24] THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH 53 

served strange gods in your land, so shall ye serve strangers in 
a land that is not yours. 

. 20 Declare ye this in the house of Jacob, and publish it in 
Judah, saying, 21 Hear now this, foolish people, and without 
^understanding; which have eyes, and see not; which have ears, 
and hear not : 22 Fear ye not me ? saith the Lord : will ye not 
tremble at my presence, which have placed the sand for the bound 
of the sea, ^by a perpetual decree, that it cannot pass it ? and 
though the waves thereof toss themselves, yet can they not 
prevail ; though they roar, yet can they not pass over it. 23 But 
this people hath a revolting and a rebellious heart; they are 
revolted and gone. 24 Neither say they in their heart. Let us 
now fear the Lord our God, that giveth rain, both the former 

^ Heb. heart. " Or, an everlasting ordinance, which it cannot pass 

land... not yours. This, again, cannot refer to the Scythians, who 
were wandering tribes in search of plunder and not possessed of terri- 
tories to which they could transplant whole nations. 

20 — 29. The moral blindness of the people which prevents their 
realising the power of Jehovah is alone responsible for the fate which 
is about to befall them. 

20. Jacob. ..Judah. A double address to both Israel and Judah. 

21. without understanding. Lit. heartless. 

eyes... ears. Cf Mk. viii. 18 and also the saying of Heraclitus : 'Eyes 
and ears are bad witnesses to those who have barbarian souls.' 

22. Jeremiah is very fond of appealing to the stability of nature as 
a witness to the steadfastness of God's promises (xxxii. 20 — 22). He 
who has power to keep in check the waves of the sea is well able to 
protect His people from the attacks of the Babylonians or from any 
other invader. Here, however, he uses the appeal rather to remind the 
nation of the majesty of Him against whom they have sinned. This 
line of argument would seem to have been calculated to create a deep 
impression on the prophet's contemporaries, believing as they did that the 
sea was only kept within its bounds by the express command of God 
(cf Job vii. 12 'Am I a sea... that thou settest a watch over me?' and 
Gen. i. 9 with Driver's note). Even in later times the constant marvel 
of the tides has aroused man's admiration. ' How comes it,' says Calvin, 
' that the sea does not overflow the whole earth ? for it is a liquid and 
cannot stand in one place except retained by some secret power of God. ' 
Cf Enoch Ixix. 18 ; 2 Esdr. iv. 18. 

23. revolting and... rebellious. The same phrase is used in Dt. xxi. 
18, 20, and Ps. Ixxviii. 8; cf also Rom. x. 21. 

heart. The heart of the people raged against the bounds which God 
had set for them in just the same way as the sea. 

24. that giveth rain. To ancient peoples the rain was a perpetual 



54 THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH [v. .4-28 

and the latter, in its season ; that reserveth unto us the appointed 
weeks of the harvest. 25 Your iniquities have turned away these 
things, and your sins have withholden good from you. 20 For 
among my people are found wicked men : they watch, as fowlers 
lie in wait; they set a trap, they catch men. 27 As a cage is 
full of birds, so are their houses full of deceit : therefore they are 
become great, and waxen rich. 28 They are waxen fat, they 
shine : yea, they overpass in deeds of wickedness : they plead not 

mystery and was looked upon as the direct gift of God Himself (Acts 
xiv. 17), and in its plentifjiness it was a type of His all-including mercy 
(Matt. v. 45). None knew whence it came nor why it fell upon the 
desolate places of the wilderness 'where there is no man' (Job xxxviii. 
25 ff.). The life of every agricultural community, such as -Judah was, 
depends very largely on a due supply of rain ; but this was especially 
so in the west of Palestine, where the only river, the Kishon, was in 
summer nothing but a small brook. 'The fertility of Palestine is 
dependent exclusively on the rain which falls in winter and on the dew 
of the summer, wherefore it is more clearly and more perceptibly than 
in other lands a blessing from above.' Cornill, Hist, of People of Is. p. 1 1. 
Cf. iii. 3; Joel ii. 23. In Zech. xiv. 17 rain is withheld because the 
feasts have not been duly observed: cf. Iliad, ix. 533 ff. 

26. they catch men. Cf. Ez. xxii. 25 'they have devoured souls.' 

27. Note the sudden change of figure, the metaphor of the previous 
V. introducing a further comparison. Hitzig suggests that the cage was 
really another form of trap, woven of willows, into which the birds 
were decoyed (cf Ecclus. xi. 30) and the lid shut down upon them. 
However the translation cage suits the context better, as it requires a 
word describing not the means of stealing but a receptacle for the things 
stolen. The Heb. word occurs elsewhere in Am. viii. 1 where it is 
translated basket. 

deceit, i.e. the gains of deceit. 

28. waxen fat. The Hebrews judged ill of fatness deeming it a mark 
of self-indulgence (Dt. xxxii. 15, of Israel as a nation; Is. vi. 10), if not 
of actual impiety (Job xv. 27 ; Ps. Ixxiii. 7). Julius Caesar, if Shake- 
speare is to be trusted, held a very different opinion : 

'Let me have men about me that are fat; 
Sleek-headed men, and such as sleep 0' nights.' 

shine. Cf F. D. Maurice's condemnation of the upper classes in 
England in 1842 as being 'sleekly devout, for the sake of good order, 
avowedly believing that one must make the best of the world without 
God.' 

they plead not the cause. Judgement is to come upon men for their 
neglect of doing what is right, as well as for doing wrong : cf the 
General Confession in the Prayer Book. 



V. 28-3i] THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH 55 

the cause, the cause of the fatherless, that they should prosper ; 
and the right of the needy do they not judge. 29 Shall I not 
visit for these things? saith the Lord: shall not my soul be 
avenged on such a nation as this ? 

30 ^A wonderful and horrible thing is come to pass in the 
land; 31 the prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests bear rule 
2 by their means; and my people love to have it so: and what 
will ye do in the end thereof ? 

1 Or, Astonishment and horror " Or, at their hands 

30 f The corruption of the nation is due to the religious leaders 
and those who support them. Jeremiah is constantly making similar 
complaints; vi. 13, xiv. 18, xxiii. 11. 

31. prophets... priests. As a general rule the prophetic class and 
the priestly in any religion are at variance; in Israel at this time the 
regular orders of prophets were evidently under the direction of the 
priests and both were united in defending the accepted customs of the 
day, the vested interests of their class. Doubtless this instance amongst 
others was in the mind of St Jerome when he wrote that ' on searching 
diligently ancient histories I could not find that any divided the church, 
or seduced people from the house of the Lord, except those who have 
been sent by God as priests and prophets.' 

my people love to have it so. Populus vult decipi, decipiatur. 'Evil 
acquires a sort of authority by time. The popular error of one genera- 
tion becomes the axiom of the next' (Pusey). No doubt the people 
acquiesced in the teaching of the false prophets because they foretold 
pleasant things: cf Mic. ii. 11; Rom, i. 24 — 32. 



Chapter VI. 
The Invader and his Invincible Might. 

This eh. simply continues the prophet's warnings as narrated in the previous 
chh. but with a note of greater urgency. In iv. 5 flF., for example, the people 
were advised to betake themselves to the various walled cities for safety from 
the foe ; in this passage, on the contrary, even Jerusalem itself will not provide 
any certainty of adequate protection, and Jeremiah warns his fellow tribesmen 
to flee fi-om the city whilst there is still an opportunity for so doing (vi. 1 fF.). 
The difference in tone between these passages must be due to the progress of 
events and may be explained in one of two ways ; either by taking both passages 
to refer to the same invasion, in which case some little time must be allowed to 
have elapsed during which the enemy have gi-adually overrun the outlying 
parts of the country ; or else to take the warning in iv. 5 ff. as being called 
forth by the approach of the Scythians against whose fierce but transitory attacks 



56 THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH [vi. i 

the smaller strongholds might aflFord sufficient power of resistance (cf. the ' peels ' 
erected in the N. of England as places of refuge from the Scottish raiders), and 
that in vi. 1 fF. the reference is to the later and more serious Babylonian invasion. 
The following are convenient divisions of the ch.: 

(a) The call to escape. 1 — 8, 

(&) The ruin which is surely coming. 9 — 15. 

(c) Judah has not been ignorant of tfie penalty for her sins. 16 — 21. 

(d) A further description of the invader. 22—26. 

(e) The rejection of the people. 27 — 30. 

VI. 1 Flee for safety, ye children of Benjamin, out of the 
midst of Jerusalem, and blow the trumpet in Tekoa, and raise up 
a signal on Beth-haccherem: for evil looketh forth from the north, 

VI. 1 — 8. A call to the children of Benjamin to leave the doomed 
city, the threatened evil is about to break forth from the North. Vigour 
and reality are lent to the warning by a description of the conversation 
of the besiegers and the methods which they will adopt against Jerusalem, 
and at the same time stress is laid on the intense wickedness which is 
bringing all this to come to pass. 

1. Flee: iwn Hiph. of W- The idea underlying the Heb. is that 
of gathering up one's possessions for flight: so in iv. 6; Ex. ix. 19, &c. 

children of Benjamin. This may be an address to those members 
of the tribe, possibly friends and relatives of the prophet, who were 
dwelling in the midst of the guilty city; or it may be merely another 
way of describing the whole population of Jerusalem as being situated 
mainly in Berijamite territory: cf. Josh. xv. 8, xviii. 16 f ; Ez. xvi. 3. 
Duhm accounts for the prophet's despair over the safety of Jerusalem 
as being due to his suddenly becoming acquainted with the awful depths 
of sin to which it had sunk : see Introd. to ch. v. 

Tekoa. This village was famous as the home of the prophet Amos; 
it was situated on the top of a hill of considerable area some 12 miles 
S. of Jerusalem and overlooking the Dead Sea ; the site is covered with 
ruins to an extent of nearly 5 acres, though these probably come from 
a later time. In 1 Ch. ii. 24 Tekoa is the name of an individual. In the 
Heb. of this v. there is a play on the word blow (lit. strike^ which has 
the same root letters as Tekoa. The prophets often enforced their 
messages by the use of such devices. The most noteworthy instance of 
this is to be found in the long list of villages in Mic. i. each one of which 
furnishes the prophet with ' a symbol of the curse that is coming upon 
his country, and of the sins that have earned the curse.' G. A. Smith, 
ad he. Cf also i. 1 1 f ; Am. iii. 6, &c. 

signal. This probably took the form of a beacon : cf Jud. xx. 38, 
40; Is. XXX. 27. 

Beth-haccherem. Here and Neh. iii. 14. It is usually identified with 
a hill called the Frank Mountain — from its connexion with the Crusaders 
— which stands between Bethlehem and Tekoa and forms a conspicuous 



VI. 1-6] THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH 57 

and a great destruction. 2 The comely and delicate one, the 
daughter of Zion, will I cut off. 3 Shepherds with their flocks 
shall come unto her; they shall pitch their tents against her 
round about ; they shall feed every one in his place. 4 ^Prepare 
ye war against her ; arise, and let us go up at noon. Woe unto 
us! for the day declineth, for the shadows of the evening are 
stretched out. 5 Arise, and let us go up by night, and let us 
destroy her palaces. 6 For thus hath the Lord of hosts said. Hew 
ye down ^ trees, and cast up a mount against Jerusalem : this is 

1 Heb. Sanctify. ^ Or, as otherwise read, her trees 

emineuce such as would be a suitable position for a beacon : see Buhl, 
Pal. pp. 157 f In the time of St Jerome it was known as Bethacharma. 
evil looketh forth. The prophet seems to feel the sinister eyes of 
Destruction looking down on its prey. 

2. comely and delicate one. The phrase is here applied to the 
community personified, similar phrases are elsewhere used of the in- 
dividuals composing it : Am. vi. 1 ; Is. xxxii. 9 ff. &c. As it stands 
however the text is suspicious. 

3. Just as flocks eat up the grass so shall Judah and Jerusalem be 
devoured by the invader from the North: cf Mic. v. 6 (RVm.). 

4. The prophet suddenly drops the pastoral metaphor in favour of 
an imaginary description of a conversation between the besiegers. 

Prepare. Lit sanctify. Cf the Homeric phrase tepo9 o-Tparo? and see 
W. Robertson Smith, Ret. Sem.^ pp. 402, 455 ; Frazer, Taboo, pp. 157 ff. 
The expression is not an uncommon one in OT. : cf xxii. 7, li. 27 f; 
Mic. iii. 5; Zeph. i. 7; Is. xiii. 3; Dt. xx. 3; Jud. iv. 9. 

noon was the time of the siesta (cf xv. 8, xx. 16; Zeph. ii. 4), and 
therefore a fit opportunity for a surprise attack. 

shadows of the evening. This may be a lament of the inhabitants of 
the city inserted between the shouts of the invaders ; or it may be made 
by the attacking forces who think that their opportunity has gone (so 
Driver). 

stretched out. Cf Nu. xxiv. 6 (Heb.). 

5. night. The prophet mentions various times during the day to 
remind the people that they will have no peace nor security when once 
the city is invested. 

palaces. The large and stately buildings in which the people took 
such pride would be the first resort of the plunderers. It is possible 
that Jeremiah looked with disfavour on the luxury of which they were 
both the scene and the representatives. 

6. A vivid description of the various processes of the siege 
preliminary to the final assault. 

trees were cut down in ancient warfare for the construction of 
siege- works: cf Dt. xx. 19 f where an exception is made in the case 



58 THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH [vi. 6-9 

the city to be visited ; she is wholly oppression in the midst of 
her. 7 As a well ^casteth forth her waters, so she ^casteth forth 
her wickedness : violence and spoil is heard in her ; before me 
continually is sickness and wounds. 8 Be thou instructed, 
Jerusalem, lest my soul be alienated from thee ; lest I make thee 
a desolation, a land not inhabited. 

9 Thus saith the Lord of hosts. They shall throughly glean 

^ Or, keepeth fresh 

of fruit-trees. This v., which is rejected by Cornill on metrical grounds, 
can hardly apply to the Scythians who would not be willing to spend 
time over the siege of fortified towns. 

this is the city to be visited. The MT. is suspicious and lxx. Ah ! 
false city is to be preferred, unless indeed the whole phrase be rejected 
as a marginal gloss. 

7. well, v.l. cistern. The difference between a well and a cistern is 
that the one is self-originating and self-fed, whilst the other requires 
filling and the water in it is an alien element introduced from without. 
Cornill prefers the reading cistern as he does not think that Jeremiah 
looked upon sin as ' original ' : cf xiii. 23. 

casteth forth. Mg. keepeth fresh. 

Adopting the readings cistern and keepeth fresh the meaning of the 
V. will be that just as a cistern keeps cool its waters and so prevents any 
reduction in their quantity by evaporation, so Jerusalem keeps un- 
diminished the sum of her wickednesses : see on ii. 13; and for the use 
of similar figures cf Is. Ivii. 20; Jas. iii. 11. 

violence and spoil (Heb. ""^'I ^^^C) This phrase which has a sinister 
and threatening sound in the original is used twice by Jeremiah (here 
and XX. 8): it was probably borrowed from Am. iii. 10. 

8. At the end of his dramatic sketch of the horrors which are to 
come upon the beloved city, the prophet turns to it in anxiety and 
tenderness and makes yet another appeal for repentance and amend- 
ment. 

9 — 15. The ruin which is coming upon the city is only exceeded 
by the corruption and impenitence of its inhabitants. ' Keine Hoffnung, 
keine Aussicht: alles verloren, alles umsonst' (Cornill). 

9. Driver translates Turn back thine hand as a grape-gatherer upon 
the tendrils and supposes the words to be ' dramatically addressed by 
Jahweli to the chief of the grape- gatherers (i.e. the leader of the foe) ': 
cf xlix. 9 i. ; Dt. xxiv. 21 ; Is. xlvi. 3. The reference is a little un- 
certain, it may be that Samaria represents the main part of the vine 
and Judah the remnant which Jehovah wishes to preserve : but more 
probably it is a picture of the small number of Judah itself who will 
escape the overflowing invasion. 

Duhm and Cornill omit several words of the original, and look upon 
the V. as a command to Jeremiah to search for any who are faithful 



VI. 9-12] THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH 59 

the remnant of Israel as a vine: turn again thine hand as a 
grapegatherer Mnto the baskets. 10 To whom shall I speak and 
testify, that they may hear ? behold, their ear is uncircumcised, 
and they cannot hearken : behold, the word of the Lord is become 
unto them a reproach ; they have no delight in it. 1 1 Therefore 
I am full of the fury of the Lord ; I am weary with holding in : 
pour it out upon the children in the street, and upon the assembly 
of young men together : for even the husband with the wife shall 
be taken, the aged with him that is full of days. 12 And their 
houses shall be turned unto others, their fields and their wives 

1 Or, upon the shoots 

and true of heart in the city : cf. v. 1 ff. This omission which they 
hase upon metrical grounds certainly helps to bring w. 9 and 10 into 
closer connexion with one another. 
remnant. See on xi. 23. 

10. uncircumcised. The idea underlying the metaphor is a certain 
dulness and unfitness for the highest employments: cf. iv. 4, xx. 8; 
Ex. vi. 12 (of the lips); Acts vii. 51. 

they cannot hearken. Those who resist God's will become in time 
incapable of obeying or even of comprehending it. 

no delight in it. There are times even in the lives of the greatest 
saints when the service of God seems to lose all delight and the soul 
seems to be left in loneliness and darkness; often enough the cause 
is sin, as here, but this is by no means always the case. The lite- 
rature of mysticism furnishes countless examples of this feeling which 
in the lives of humbler Christians must be looked upon as a caU 
to walk by faith and not by sight and to render to God that adoration 
and worship which is His due quite apart from the feelings of the 
worshipper. 

11. The contrast between the prophet and the people is complete ; 
they have despised the word of God and have lost all joy in it and 
therefore it no longer exerts any influence over their lives : he, on the 
other hand, is full of the Divine indignation which breaks forth in 
scathing denunciation of those who have provoked God's anger and 
upon whom its consequences must inevitably descend: cf Ez. iii. 14. 

pour it out. A slight alteration in the Heb. gives the much better 
reading / will pour it out, Lxx. (Kxeoi, and so AV. As the text stands 
the imperative is a command from Jehovah to the prophet. 

children &c. War is no respecter of persons and neither age nor 
sex will be spared in the coming destruction, even the little innocent 
children playing in the streets will not escape : cf ix. 20. 

12 — 15. These vv. are very similar to viii. 10 — 12 into which ch. 
they have probably been inserted. 

12. houses... fields ■■■wives. The evils which are to come upon the 



60 THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH [vi. 12-15 

together: for I will stretch out my hand upon the inhabitants 
of the land, saith the Lord. 13 For from the least of them even 
unto the greatest of them every one is given to covetousness ; 
and from the prophet even unto the priest every one dealeth 
falsely, 14 They have healed also the %urt of ^my people lightly, 
saying, Peace, peace; when there is no peace. 15 ^Were they 
ashamed when they had committed abomination ? nay, they were 
not at all ashamed, neither could they blush : therefore they shall 
fall among tliem that fall : at the time that I visit them they shall 
*be cast down, saith the Lord. 

^ Or, breach 

2 Another reading ip, the daughter of my people, as in ch. viii. 11, 21. 
^ Or, They shall be put to shame because they have committed abomination : yea, 
they are not cbc. * Or, stumble 

people are very similar to those threatened in Deuteronomy, see especially 
Dt. xxviii. 30 'wife... house... vineyard' to be given to another; also 
Am. Y. lib 'vineyard'; Zeph. i. 13 'houses... vineyards'; in Is. Ixv. 
21 f. the people are promised immunity from such evils, 'they shall not 
build and another inhabit; they shall not plant and another eat.' It is 
interesting to notice the order in which a man's possessions are arranged 
in these and other passages of OT. : e.g. the tenth commandment in its 
different versions, Ex. xx. 17 'house... wife' and Dt. v. 21 'wife... house 
...field.' Commenting on the former passage Dr McNeile says that 'it 
is not improbable that this command originally ended at " house," all 
the remainder being an enlargement detailing the contents of the house. 
Dt., in a more humane spirit, places the wiie first... and governed by a 
difi'erent verb.' 

3 3. Cf. Is. Ivi. 10 ff. where the rulers are compared to blind 
watchmen, grsedy dogs, and shepherds without understanding, whose 
one idea is gain and pleasure. See on v. 30 f 

14. lightly. Lxx. k^ovdtvovvT€<;. Like faithless physicians they 
dismissed their patient without going to the trouble of examining him 
properly ; soothing him with the medicine of pleasant-sounding phrases 
when what was wanted was the deep-cutting knife of a thorough-going 
repentance. 

Peace, peace. To the comfortable words of the false prophets 
Jeremiah replied with the ominous message ' violence and spoil, violence 
and spoil ' : see on v. 7. 

15. they were not at all ashamed. The nation had 'a whore's 
forehead ' (iii. 3) and so remorse was impossible ; cf Zeph. iii. 5. Such 
a people as this made even shame itself avoid them. There is some- 
thing Homeric in this condemnation of those who are impervious to the 
promptings of aiSw?. 

that I visit them. lxx. reads at the time of visitation (ev /catpw 
iTTiaKOTrrjs): cf Lk. xix. 44. 



VI. i6-i8] THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH 61 

16 Thus saith the Lord, Stand ye in the ways and see, and 
ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, 
and ye shall find rest for your souls : but they said, We will not 
walk therein. 17 And I set watchmen over you, saying, Hearken 
to the sound of the trumpet ; but they said, We will not hearken. 
18 Therefore hear, ye nations, and know, O congregation, what 

16 — 21. The fate of Judah will not come upon it unannounced, 
nor is the Lord about to puni.sh a people which is iguorant of the 
consequences of its misdeeds. The nation, in spite of the continuous 
and repeated warnings of God's watchmen, the prophets, has always 
been bent on leaving the old paths and following a new made way of 
its own. 

16. saitk. Better said. 

in the ways. At the cross-roads, the point at which a deliberate 
choice has to be made. 

the old paths. Jeremiah based all his appeals on the experience of 
the past, and in doing so he was setting an example for prophets and 
teachers in all ages, for ' true reformers do not claim to be heard on 
the ground of the new things they proclaim, but rather because they 
alone give due weight to old truths which the mass of their contem- 
poraries cannot formally deny, but practically ignore ' (W. Robertson 
Smith, Prophets", p. 83). Even the old jmths are not without their 
dangers and men may be made to stumble therein (xviii. 15). 

rest for your souls. There can be little doubt that our Blessed 
Lord had this v. in mind when He made the promise of Matt. xi. 29. 
In fulfilling the longings of OT. our Lord very often gave to them 
a more spiritual meaning than they had had for the original hearers ; 
and in referring to this v. He is thinking of something higher than 
mere material safety. The pragmatic character of Israelite religion was 
first pointed out by Hosea (ix. 10, x. 9, xi. 1 ff., xii., xiii. 1, 6). 

This V. forms the text for the sermon in The Canterbury Tales. 
The sermon has been well described as ' unmercifully long.' 

17. / set. Better to translate with Driver / ever raised up. 
watchmen. ' A title of the prophets as espying, by God's enabhng, 

things beyond human ken ' (Pusey). By a common and easily under- 
stood figure, it describes the prophetic office as one of warning : cf 
Is. xxi. 6, hi. 8 ; Hab. ii. 1 ; and Ez. iii. 17. 

18 f God justifies His treatment of the nation in the eyes of the 
earth and its inhabitants : cf Is. iii. 10. 

18. The latter part of this v. seems to be corrupt, as congregation 
cannot be apphed to heathen 7iations and even if it could the meaning 
would still be obscure. Several critics have adopted Ewald's suggestions 
and translate take good knowledge of that which is coming. Peake 
prefers Bothstein's proposed emendation wherefore hear ye heavens and 
hear witness against tliem. 



62 THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH [vi. 18-21 

is among them. 19 Hear, earth : behold, I will bring evil upon 
this people, even the fruit of their thoughts, because they have 
not hearkened unto my words; and as for my law, they have 
rejected it. 20 To what purpose cometh there to me frankincense 
from Sheba, and the sweet ^cane from a far country ? your burnt 
offerings are not acceptable, nor your sacrifices pleasing unto me. 
21 Therefore thus saith the Lord, Behold, I will lay stumbling- 
blocks before this people : and the fathers and the sons together 
shall stumble against them ; the neighbour and his friend shall 
perish. 

^ Or, calamus 

19. law. The context here seems to require something more 
definite than ' direction ' and almost points to the existence of an 
accepted code : cf. Is. v. 24, xxx. 9 ; and see on ii. 8. 

20. frankincense. In the opinion of many scholars this is the first 
mention of incense in OT. ; the parts of the Pentateuch in which it 
occurs are by them considered late. Wellhausen, for example, con- 
siders that it was 'an innovation from a more luxuriously-developed 
foreign cultus' (Hist. Israel, pp. 64 f., 74 n.). It is not mentioned by 
the earlier prophets in their condemnations of innovations and here it 
is referred to as something strange and new. 

Sheba. In SW. Arabia, a country noted for the export of incense ; 
cf. Is. Lx. 6, &c. and Virgil's tus Sabaeum, Aen. 1. 416 f. : Milton also 
speaks of ' Sabaean odours from the spicy shore of Araby the blest,' 
Far. Lost, iv. 162 f 

cane. Mg. calamus. It formed one of the ingredients of the 
* holy anointing oil ' (Ex. xxx. 23 — 25). 

far country. Pliny says that calamus came fi'om Arabia, India and 
Syria {Hist. Nat. xii. 48). It is no longer obtained from Arabia Felix, 
but is brought to Mecca by pilgrims from the Malay islands (Doughty, 
Arab. Deserta, i. 97). Probably India is here meant. 

burnt offerings are not acceptable. See note on vii. 21 f 

Jeremy Taylor sums up the teaching of this v. in a single sentence. 
' It is but a poor return ' he says ' which men make to God, who gives 
them all things, when they oft'er Him " a piece of gum or the fat of 
a cheap lamb " ' (Dedication to Holy Living). 

21. / will lay stumblingblocks. It is God Himself who will make 
the people to stumble : cf our Lord's use of Is. vi. 9 f On the thought 
of (jod as the cause of the offences which bring punishment upon the 
people see 2 S. xxiv. 1 (cf 1 Ch. i. 21); Ez. iii. 20. It was the opinion 
of some of the later Kabbis that God had created in man an 'evil 
tendency ' and so was Himself the cause of sin : cf Tal. Bab. Qiddushin 
306, and Bereshith Rabba on Gen. vi. 6. This opinion was never accepted 
universally and Ben Sira protests strongly against those who say 'From 



VI. «-37] THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH 63 

22 Thus saith the Lord, Behold, a people coraeth from the 
north country ; and a great nation shall be stirred up from the 
uttermost parts of the earth. 23 They lay hold on bow and 
spear ; they are cruel, and have no mercy ; their voice roareth 
like the sea, and they ride upon horses ; every one set in array, 
as a man to the battle, against thee, daughter of Zion. 24 We 
have heard the fame thereof; our hands wax feeble: anguish 
hath taken hold of us, a7id pangs as of a woman in travail. 25 Go 
not forth into the field, nor walk by the way ; for there is the 
sword of the enemy, and terror on every side. 26 daughter 
of my people, gird thee with sackcloth, and wallow thyself in 
ashes : make thee mourning, as for an only son, most bitter lamen- 
tation ; for the spoiler shall suddenly come upon us. 27 I have 

God is my transgression' (Ecclus. xv. 11 ; cf. Wisd. i. 12 — 16 ; Philo, 
De Mut. 4, and De Conf. Ling. 35 f. ; Jas. i. 13). In this passage 
stumbling refers probably to misfortunes in the material rather than in 
the moral sphere. 

22 — 26. The invader is once more described in all the glory and 
terror of his advance. 

22. Ezekiel foretells the coming of Gomer and the house of 
Togarmah 'from the uttermost parts of the North' (xxxviii. 6, 15 ; 
also Gog, xxxix. 2). 

23. Every feature of the hostile army which could serve to alarm 
the men of Judah is emphasised by Jeremiah in order to restore them 
to their allegiance to Jehovah ; cf Is. xvii. 12. In times of peril 
nothing is gained by half-measures and by concealing the seriousness 
of the situation. The account was probably at first intended to apply 
to the Scythians but it would equally well serve to describe the 
Babylonian cavalry. 

cruel, 'frightful' History gives innumerable instances of this 
characteristic of the Assyrians and Babylonians : cf for example 
Sennacherib's attempt to ' obliterate ' Babylon in 689 B.C. ' The whole 
city was sacked, fortifications and walls, temples and palaces, as well 
as private houses, were levelled with the ground, the people massacred 
or deported, and the waters of the Arakhtu canal turned over the site.' 
C. 'W . H. Johns, Ancient Bab. p. 122. 

25. terror on exery side. Cf xx. 3. 

26. The death of an only son meant the extinction of the family, 
a terrible misfortune in the eyes of a people like the Hebrews who had but 
a vague and uncertain hold upon the doctrine of a future life ; cf Gen. 
xxii. 2, 12, 16 ; Am. viii. 10 ; Zech. xii. 10. In all three places Lxx. 
renders a beloved son and many commentators think that they read 
T'T for "fn;:. This explanation is as old as St Jerome, but it should be 
remembered that the usage of o ayaTr^jros for an oiily son is an idiom 



64 THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH [vi. 27-30 

made thee a Hower and a fortress among my people ; that thou 
mayest know and try their way. 28 They are all grievous re- 
volters, going about with slanders ; they are brass and iron : they 
all of them deal corruptly. 29 The bellows ^blow fiercely; the 
lead is consumed of the fire : in vain do they go on refining ; for 
the wicked are not plucked away. 30 Refuse silver shall men 
call them, because the Lord hath rejected them. 

1 Or, trier ^ Or, are burned 

found in classical Greek from the time of Homer (e.g. Od. 11. 365, iv. 
727, 817, &c.), and by the time of Aristotle it had become so common 
that he was able to extend the usage and employ it in speaking of 
depriving a one-eyed man of ' his only organ of vision ' ; dyairrjTov yap 
d(}>ypr]Tat. In Jud. xi. 34 Lxx. (i.e. Lxx. a) reads both fiovoyevrjs and 

ayaTrrjTT). 

27 — 30. The people are likened to metal which the refiner casts 
away as being useless for his purpose. 

28. brass and iron. i.e. containing no precious metal, ' Their im- 
pudence resembles brass, and their obstinacy may be compared to iron.' 
Lowth. 

29. lead. ' In refining the alloy containing the gold or silver is 
mixed with lead and fused in a furnace... a current of air is turned upon 
the molten mass. . .the lead oxidizes and carries away the alloy (J. Napier, 
The Ancient Workers in Metal, pp. 20, 23). In the case here imagined, 
so inextricably is the alloy mixed with the silver, that, though the 
bellows blow, and the lead is oxidized in the heat, no purification is 
eff"ected: only impure silver remains.' (Driver.) 

The process of purging dross from gold or other precious metal is 
almost invariably used of a successful effort in which the impurities are 
purged from out the nation ; here the whole nation is dross. In just 
the same way St Peter talks of a faith purified by fire, but he is silent 
as to the man whose faith is unable to stand the test. Many notions 
as to the purifying effects of suffering and pain, whether in this present 
life or in a future state, are based on a misleading use of this metaphor. 
In any case gold is passive and has to endure the test : man, within 
certain limits, has liberty and may refuse to meet it. 

30. Be/use silver. Gf. Ez. xxii. 18 'the dross of silver.' 



CHAPTERS VIL— X. 
A Group of Prophecies delivered at the Temple Gate. 

Scholars are not agreed as to the date to which these chh. belong, two 
periods seeming to have good claims upon them ; the reign of Josiah and that 
of Jehoiakim. If the discourse in vii. 1—28 could be proved beyond all doubt 



THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH 65 

to refer to the same incident as ch. xxvi. the question of date would be settled, 
as the latter ch. is definitely headed ' In the beginning of the reign of Jehoiakim ' 
(see below for a discussion of this reference). Dean Stanley, who regarded 
chh. vii. — ix. as a single discourse, has pointed out the wide scope and repre- 
sentative character of this section containing as it does 'almost every element' 
of Jeremiah's constant teaching. ' It struck the successive chords of invective, 
irony, bitter grief, and passionate lamentation. It touched on all the topics on 
which his countrymen would be most sensitive — not only the idolatrous charms 
by which they hoped to win the favour of the Phoenician deities,... but on the 
uselessness and impending fall of the ancient institutions, which seemed to con- 
tain a promise of eternal duration — the Temple of Solomon, the Mosaic ritual, 
the Holy Sepulchres, the Holy City, the Chosen People, the sacred rite of 
Circumcision' {The Jewish Churchy ir. 449). 

The chh. fall naturally into five main divisions which can themselves be 
broken up into smaller sections : 

A denunciation of excessive regard for the temple, vii. 1 — viii. 3. 

The penalty of national sin is national ruin. viii. 4 — ix. 1. 

The treachery of the people is the forerunner of destruction, ix. 2 — 26. 

The vanity of idols, x. 1 — 16. 

The nearness of the exile, x. 17 — 25. 

Chapters VH. 1— VHL 3. 
A Denunciation of Excessive Regard for the Temple. 

There seems to be a great probability that this section gives a fuller report 
of Jeremiah's warning to the people as narrated in xxvi. 1 — 9 ; the message and 
the place of its delivery are the same; and the date prefixed to the latter 
narrative suits the present context most excellently. In the one case the stress 
is laid on the sermon itself ; and in the other on the effect which it had upon 
those who heard it. In view of the state of the text of Jeremiah and the 
absence of anything like chronological order in the book no surprise need be 
occasioned by the wide separation of these two complementary accounts of the 
same incident. The importance of the message — and of the results which 
followed its delivery — is sufficient justification for its two-fold record, for as 
Buttenwieser ti-uly says 'The Temple-sermon... formed the decisive event in the 
prophet's career. It marked the parting of the ways. In it Jeremiah mercilessly 
attacked what the people felt to be their holiest beliefs and institutions, and 
mocked at the hollowness of their worship ' ( The Prophets of Israel^ p. 44). 
The section may be sub-divided as follows : 

(a) The temple is no guarantee of national salvation, hut will itself 
share the fate of Shiloh. 1 — 15. 

(6) The prophet is no longer to intercede for the people. 16 — 20. 

(c) Obedience is better than sacrifice. 21 — 28. 

{d) The rejection ofJudah. 29 — 34. 

{e) The desecration of the graves of the kings and people, viii. 1 — 3. 

B. 5 



66 THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH [vii. 1-4 

VII. 1 The word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord, 
saying, 2 Stand in the gate of the Lord's house, and proclaim there 
this word, and say, Hear the word of the Lord, all ye of Judah, 
that enter in at these gates to worship the Lord. 3 Thus saith 
the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, Amend your ways and your 
doings, and I will cause you to dwell in this place. 4 Trust ye 
not in lying words, saying. The temple of the Lord, the temple 

VII. 1 — 15. This sub-section consists of an attack on those who 
held the temple to be the guarantee of the safety of the nation and 
made worship a substitute for holiness of life ; and this in spite of the 
warning contained in the fate of Sliiloh and the Northern Kingdom. 

1 — 2. These vv. form the heading of the section and it is probable, 
as Cornill suggests, that they represent an attempt to fix the circum- 
stances of the sermon for the benefit of a later age (cf xxvi. 1 f ). 
LXX. has ' Hear the words of Jehovah, all Judah.' 

2. gate (xxvi. 2 court). Probably the prophet stood at the gate 
between the outer and the inner court. 

3 — 7. The sermon is undoubtedly compressed even in the larger 
form contained in this ch., hence, in part, the appearance of tautology 
and repetition. The words which would remain most firmly fixed in 
the mind of the people would be those which carried the burden of the 
message. Jeremiah's utterance has an especial interest because of the 
connexion between it and our Lord's action in cleansing the temple 
(cf Mk. xi. 15—18). 

3. your ways and your doings. A favourite expression with 
Jeremiah : cf Zech. i. 6. The word for doings has usually a bad sense 
though in Ps. Ixxvii. 12 and Ixxviii. 7 it is used of the works of 
God. 

,.. 4. Jeremiah's condemnation of the message of those who were the 
accepted teachers of the day was nothing less than a declaration of war. 
The feeling of trust which the nation had in the inviolate city had 
stood the test of history and in addition had the sanction of prophetic 
utterances. Moreover since the centralisation of the cultus in the 
days of Josiah it was the only remaining sanctuary of Jehovah, and so 
|. He was, as it were, bound to defend the city which was identified with 
\ His worship. Another less worthy motive which would arouse the fury 
of the priests and prophets would be the danger threatening ' vested 
interests ' if teaching such as that of Jeremiah became at all popular. 
See Introd. p. xxxi. 

lying words. Heb. words of deception, disappointment. The word 
is often used by Jeremiah to describe the vanity and falsehood of hopes 
founded on the message of the teachers who opposed him. 

The temple of the Lord. For other examples of this three-fold 
repetitit)n cf xxii. 29 ; Is. vi. 3. Dante probably had this passage in 
mind when he made St Peter say : 



VII. 4-9] THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH 67 

of the Lord, the temple of the Lord, are these. 5 For if ye 
throughly amend your ways and your doings ; if ye throughly 
execute judgement between a man and his neighbour ; 6 if ye 
oppress not the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow, and shed 
not innocent blood in this place, neither walk after other gods 
to your own hurt : 7 then will I cause you to dwell in this place, 
in the land that I gave to your fathers, from of old even for ever- 
more. 8 Behold, ye trust in lying words, that cannot profit. 
9 Will ye steal, murder, and commit adultery, and swear falsely, 

'my seat, 
My seat, my seat, I say, which to the eye 
Of God's dear Sou is vacant at His feet.' 

Parad. xxvii. 22—24. 

The Targum suggests that the repetition is on account of the three 
great acts of worship, viz. service, sacrifice, and prayer, which were 
offered in the temple. (For a coITectron"of similar explanations, see 
Payne Smith, ad loc.) Probably the phrase was constantly on the 
lips of the people and the prophet was trying to reproduce the effect 
of its constant recital; cf Is. xxviii. 10 'line upon line.' Wade in 
commenting on Is. vi. 3 compares rpto-jLteyto-Tos, TptA.AtcrTos, and ter felix 
(Ovid, Metamorph. vin. 51). 

temple. The Heb. word (>T^) is probably derived from the Accadiau 
e-gal, i.e. great house. 

U,ese. The templeand the buildings which surrounded it : cf Mk. 
xiii. 1. 

5 — 7. These vv. are Deuteronomic in spirit and in language. The 
continued security of the people is dependent on the practice of social 
virtues and on the service of Jehovah to the exclusion of every other 
object of worship. The prohibition in u 6 of walking ' after other 
gods ' seems hardly to fit the context and it is best to omit it The 
whole object of .Jeremiah's sermon is to condemn an excessive and 
superstitious zeal for the service of Jehovah, and this being so it would 
hardly seem necessary for him to go out of his way to declare to the 
people the reward which would follow their avoidance of false gods; cf 
V. 9 also. 

6. the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow. These various 
classes were without power in the administration of affairs and there- 
fore specially liable to be oppressed. The stranger was the alien, 
resident for the time being in Judah. 

7. todv)ell...in the land. This promise would best refer toa time 
when there was actual danger of the people being taken into exile. 

8. that cannot profit. Better in order not to profit — the effect of 
the action of the people is stated as though it were the motive. 

9. steal, murder, and commit adultery. The prophet is probably 
referring to the prohibitions of the Decalogue which the people were in 

5—2 



68 THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH [vii. 9-1. 

and burn incense unto Baal, and walk after other gods whom ye 
have not known, 10 and come and stand before me in this house, 
^which is called by my name, and say, We are delivered; that ye 
may do all these abominations? 11 Is this house, which is called 
by my name, become a den of robbers in your eyes ? Behold, I, 
even I, have seen it, saith the Lord, 12 But go ye now unto my 
place which was in Shiloh, where I caused my name to dwell at the 

1 Heb. whereupon my name is called. 

the habit of breaking. The order differs slightly from that in MT. of 
Ex. XX. and Dt. v. and also from that in Eom. xiii. 9; Jas. ii. 11 and 
Lk. xviii. 20. (See list of variations in McNeile, Exodus, p. 119.) 
burn incense unto Baal. See on ii. 8 and vi. 20. 

10. stand before. To worship and to serve. 

which is called by my name. ' The calling of a name upon an object 
(or person) designates it as the property of the bearer of the name.' 
Cornill. 

We are delivered &c. Driver continues in order (forsooth) to do 
all these abominations, a possible translation of the Heb. If all these 
words are spoken by the people the meaning must be that God has 
set the stamp of His approval upon their way of life by the deliverance 
which they are celebrating. It is perhaps better to follow RV. and 
to restrict the people's speech to We are delivered, i.e. we are in a 
state of safety because of the merit of our religious observances (cf. 
Gen. xxxvii. 22). 

11. den of robbers. The limestone caves of Palestine were much 
used as a refuge for brigands between the carrying out of their various 
deeds of violence. This v. is quoted by our Blessed Lord in Mk. xi. 
1 7 ; and is borrowed by Dante : 

'The walls which once were as an Abbey's shrine 
Are made as dens of robbers.' 

Parad. xxii. 76 — 77. 

Behold, J, even I, have seen it. The meaning of the RV. is rather 
vague and Buttenwieser's suggested translation is an improvement, 
Verily I do look upon it as such {The Prophets oj Israel, p. 12). 

12 — 15. The appeal to history. The sanctity of Shiloh did not 
protect it in time past, and so in the present Jerusalem will not be 
spared if the people do not repent. 

12. my place. Heb. Qip?. The related Arabic word makdm is 
used in a similar way of a sacred place (cf ZATW. 1914, p. 73, and a 
note by Dr Cowley in /. Th. S. 1916, pp. 174 ff.). In the Mishnah and 
other later literature the word was used as a substitute for the name 
of God Himself. 

Shiloh. The modern SeiJuji^on the road from Bethel to Shechem 
is generally accepted as the site of Shiloh. It was the place where the 



vii. 12-15] THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH 69 

first, and see what I did to it for the wickedness of my people 
Israel. 13 And now, because ye have done all these works, saith 
the Lord, and I spake unto you, rising up early and speaking, 
but ye heard not; and I called you, but ye answered not: 14 there- 
fore will I do unto the house, which is called by my name, wherein 
ye trust, and unto the place which I gave to you and to your 
fathers, as I have done to Shiloh. 15 And I will cast you out of 
my sight, as I have cast out all your brethren, even the whole 
seed of Ephraim. 

sanctuary containing the ark was situated (1 S. iii. 3, 15), and accord- 
ing to the priestly writer owed its importance to the action of Joshua 
himself (Josh, xviii. 1). This sanctuary was very probably destroyed 
when the ark was carried off after the Battle of Ebenezer (1 S. iv. 11); 
though there is some uncertainty as to whether Jeremiah is referring 
to this destruction, or to some more recent catastrophe (see Additional 
Note below). 

at the first. Better perhaps ^rwer/y : cf G. B. Gray on Nu. x. 12 
{LC.C). 

13. rising up early and speaking. The phrase occurs only in 
Jeremiah with the exception of 2 Ch. xxxvi. 15. Its meaning is that 
God imparts His revelation 'insistently and continuously' (cf Wade 
on Is. 1. 4) ; a similar tradition exists among the followers of Muham- 
med. (See D. B. Macdonald, Aspects of Islam, p. 218.) 

14. wherein ye trust. The people trusted in a formula about God 
or His temple and had lost faith in the livfng God Himself : cf Am. 
iii. 14, v. 4 f The greatesF obstacle in the way of the progress of the 
Kingdom of Heaven is the large mass of ' conventional ' religion which 
takes God's name upon its lips and yet avoids any attempt to carry 
out His commands. This state of affairs is always partly due to the 
professed teachers of the people, whether it be in the time of Jeremiah 
or in our own. Cf the striking warning of F. D. Maurice, 'we have been 
dosing our people with religion, when what they want is not this but 
the living God ; and we are threatened now, not with the loss of 
religious feeling, so-called, or of religious notions or of religious ob- 
servances, but with atheism.' 

15. all your brethren. Omit all with lxx. 
Ephraim. i.e. the whole of the Northern tribes. 

Additional Note on vii. 12. 

The Destruction of Shiloh. 

The destruction of Jehovah's place at Shiloh which was used by Jeremiah as 
a warning of the coming fate of Jerusalem is nowhere described in OT. as we 
have it at present, though Wellhausen has suggested that such a description 



70 THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH 

originally stood in the place of 1 S. vii. From the absence of any mention of 
Shiloh as a sanctuary after the time of the Judges and from the subsequent 
establishment of the priests of the house of Eli at Nob it is generally held that 
Shiloh was destroyed at the time of the capture of the ark by the Philistines at 
the Battle of Ebeuezer (1 S. iv. 11); so for example Wellhausen says, 'The old 
sanctuary at Shiloh was destroyed by them (the Philistines); its temple of 
Jehovah thenceforward lay in ruins ^' According to Jud. xviii. 30 f Jonathan 
and his sons 'were priests to the tribe of the Danites until the day of the 
captivity of the land,' and Micah's image remained at the sanctuary 'all the 
time that the house of God was in Shiloh.' These statements suggest that the 
priesthood of Jonathan's sons and the existence of the shrine at Shiloh were 
both continued until the 'captivity of the land,' and accordingly older writers 
referred the words to the Philistine war (see references in Moore, Judges, 
p. 400 note) ; recent critics, however, attribute the two statements to different 
versions of the story of Micah's image ^. The reference of 'the captivity of the 
land' to the Philistine aggression is obviously strained, and a much more natural 
explanation is to refer it to the deportation of 734 or 722 b.c. A destruction 
of Shiloh at such a date would fit in well with Jeremiah's reference, as apparently 
the ruins were still visible, and the event itself was connected in some way with 
the fall of Bphraim (see vii. 15). At the same time if Shiloh was destroyed by 
the Assyrians it is strange that there is no mention of the fact in 2 K. It is 
true that the Northern sanctuaries were regarded as schismatic by the later 
writers, but that would not prevent their including an account of the destruction 
of one of them, especially if accompanied with circumstances of peculiar horror. 

At first sight it seems strange that Shiloh should be thought worthy of 
comparison with Jerusalem, but the parallel is a fairly close one, as in the early 
days of the nation Shiloh was the central sanctuary. Dr Kennett thinks that 
Shiloh, in strong contradistinction to most of the other sacred sites of the 
Hebrews which were almost certainly taken over from the Canaanites, was a 
genuinely Israelitish sanctuary. 'It is noteworthy that no theophany is related 
in connexion with it; no patriarch is buried there; its foundation is associated 
jwith no great name ; while on the other hand, a tradition which, though perhaps 
jconsiderably modified, cannot be very late ascribes to it the possession of the 
•ark^.' 

It seems probable that Shiloh whether destroyed by the Philistines or not, 
lost its importance with the loss of the ark. The town was in existence in the 
time of Jeroboam I (1 K. xiv. 2), but he evidently attached no special value to 
it as the site for a new national sanctuary, though his neglect of it might be on 
account of its somewhat retired situation. It is not at all unlikely that the town 
was still in existence in the time of Jeremiah (xli. 5; but see note ad loc), but 
the rebuilding of the town after its destruction would not necessarily interfere 

1 Hist. Israel, p. 448; see also Wade, O.T. Hist. p. 211. 

2 E.g. Moore, op. cit. p. 399. 

^ HDRE. vn. p. 441. Dr Kennett suggests that Shiloh was originally the 
sanctuary of Levi when that tribe held territory of its own (op. cit. p. 440). 



VII. 1 6] THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH 71 

with the riiins of the sanctuary. When Jud. xxi. 12, 19 was written the site 
was evidently little known, hence the minute and detailed description contained 
in the text ; it may however be as Moore suggests ' merely the archaeological 
style of a late author, or an indication that he wi'ote for readers in foreign lands, 
perhaps himself lived in exile' {op. cit. pp. 447 f). 

Objection has been taken to the fact that since the sanctuary at Shiloh was 
only a tent or tabernacle no ruins would survive its destruction. The account 
in 1 S. i. — iv. seems however to suggest some more permanent structure, and 
according to a Rabbinic tradition the temple at Shiloh had stone walls with a 
tent stretched over the top. Traces of a suitable site have been described by 
Sir Charles Wilson as situated at Seilun^. The identification of Shiloh with 
Seilun was well known to the Moslem geographers^, but was only rediscovered 
in modern times by Robinson in 1838. According to Colonel Conder there is no 
site in the country fixed with greater certainty than that of Shiloh^. 

16 Therefore pray not thou for this people, neither lift up 

16 — 20. The continued idolatry of the people makes it impossible 
for God to receive intercessions on their behalf. Several critics are 
disposed to look upon this section as being out of its context, owing to 
a supposed difference in situation from what has gone before. Dulim, 
for example, points out that Jeremiah is no longer in^the temple before 
'all Judah' but alone with Jehovah. But even if such a supposition 
be correct and it be admitted that the prophet is alone with his God, 
it by no means follows that he has left the temple; the withdrawal 
may well have been spiritual and mental rather than physical. Many 
parallels to this can be found in the life of our Lord, when turning 
aside from those who opposed Him, He addressed His Father and 
received from Him a definite reply according to His needs (e.g. Jn. xii. 
27 ff.). A further objection is urged that idolatrous worship of the 
kind here described did^iiot take place in the temple during the reign 
of Jehoiakim, and that the section is therefore but 'an embellished 
account' (Ausschmiickung) of xliv. 17 — 19. In reply to this it is 
enough to say that the cult of the queen of heaven was, according 
to most critics, introduced in the reign of Manasseh, it was prevalent 
in the exilic jperiod (as xliv. 17 — 19 itself shews), and that in the 
meantime many other superstitious practices were in vogue (Ez. viii.). 
It is, of course, possible that the effects of Josiah's reformation had 
not at this time yet worn off, but the onus of proof would seem to lie 

^ ' The ruins of Seilun (Shiloh) cover the surface of a " tell," or mound, on a 
spur which lies between two valleys, that unite about a quarter of a mile above 
Khan Lubban, and theuce run to the sea.... North wards, the tell slopes down to a 
broad shoulder across which a sort of level court, 77 feet wide and 412 feet long, 
has been cut out. The rock is in places scarped to a height of five feet.... It is not 
improbable that the place was thus prepared to receive the Tabernacle.' PEFQS. 
1873, pp. 37 f . 

2 Le Strange, Palestine under the Moslems, pp. 477, 527; referred to by Moore. 

^ Tent Life in Palestine, i. pp. 81 f. 



n THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH [vii. 16-18 

cry nor prayer for them, neither make intercession to me : for I 
will not hear thee. 1 7 Seest thou not what they do in the cities 
of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem ? 18 The children 
gather wood, and the fathers kindle the fire, and the women 
knead the dough, to make cakes to the queen of heaven, and to 

on those who deny the existence of such worship, rather than on those 
who affirm it. 

16 . pray not. The state of the people was worse than at the time 
of the exodus when according to Ex. xxxii. 10 — 14 Moses persisted 
in his intercessions until ' the Lord repented of the evil which he said 
he would do.' Even such powerful intercessors as Moses and Samuel 
would avail nothing at the present crisis (xv. 1), and the repeated 
attempts of Jeremiah are equally in vain (cf xi. 14, xiv. 11). It would 
seem that it is possible for a nation or individual to fall so deeply into 
sin as to be beyond the help of the prayers of others (cf 1 Ju. v. 16; 
\ Test. XII. Patr. Issach. vii. 1), but it is not for man to decide when such 
\ a state has been reached, nor is the sinner necessarily beyond God's 
mercy. In spite of this v. Jewish tradition persisted in regarding 
Jeremiah as the intercessor par excellence of the nation; cf 2 Mace. 
XV. 14; 4 Bar. ii. 3; 2 Bar. ii. 2. 

18. children... fathers... women. The worship of the queen of 
heaven drew in all the members of the family. It is hardly necessary 
to suppose that the prophet is laying stress on the poverty of those 
who engaged in this cult ; he wishes to point out that all ages and both 
sexes were alike infected by it. 

cakes. Probably in the shape of the moon — like the a-eXrjvai of the 
Athenians — or in that of a star ; or it may be that they were intended 
to be substitutes for animals and so were made in their shape. Similar 
cakes were offered to Artemis in the Movvvxta. (For fuller details 
see Preller, Griechische Mythologie^, i. 236; Zimmem, KAT.^ 11. 
440 ff.) 

queen of heaven (lxx. rfj o-TpaTta tot) ovpavov). Called Ishtar by 

the Babylonians and 'Ashtoroth of the glorious heavens' in Zidonian 

jinscriptions^ The worship of this deity — the national god of Syria 

(according to Tertullian, Apol. xxiv. — was especially cultivated by 

women. Cf Milton, Parad. Lost, 1. 438 — 441 : 

'Ashtoreth whom the Phoenicians called 
Astarte, queen of heaven, with crescent Horns; 
To whose bright Image nightly by the Moon 
Sidonian virgins paid their Vows and Songs.' 

Ishtar was the planet Venus, and not the moon (see Cornill, ad he), 
and the worship here described was probably paid to that planet. Euse- 

1 She was called the Heavenly Goddess or the Heavenly Aphrodite by the 
Greeks (Herod, i. 105, iii. 8; Pausan. i. xiv. 7). Tertullian (Apol. xxiii.) and 
St Augustine {De Civ. Dei, ir. 4) refer to her as the Heavenly Virgin. 



VII. i8-2i] THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH 73 

pour out drink offerings unto other gods, that they may provoke 
me to anger. 19 Do they provoke me to anger? saith the Lord; 
do they not provoke themselves, to the confusion of their own 
faces? 20 Therefore thus saith the Lord God: Behold, mine 
anger and my fury shall be poured out upon this place, upon 
man, and upon beast, and upon the trees of the field, and upon 
the fruit of the ground ; and it shall burn, and shall not be 
quenched. 

21 Thus saith the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel : Add your 

bius identifies Astarte with Venus (Pragjo. ^a;?^^. i. 10); cf. also Suidas' 

statement Ao-Taprr; r\ Trap' 'EAXi/o-iv 'Ae^poStrr; AcyoyU-eVr/, B(.o<i StStovtW; 

and Cicero, De natura deorum, ni. xxiii. 59. 

"pour out drink offerings. The libation was a common form of off'ering 
and there are traces of its having formed part of the worship of Jehovah 
(Gen. XXXV. 14; Nu. xv. 5; 1 S. i. 24, x. 3; Hos. ix. 4; cf also 1 S. 
vii. 6; 2 S. xxiii. 16). 

anger. Better chagrin, a word which occurs very firequently in 
Jeremiah. 

20. The eff"ects of man's sin are seen even in the world of natural 
things, 'the whole creation groaneth and travaileth together.' Further 
illustrations of this can be found in the traditions concerning the Fall 
and the Flood where the curse which came upon man came also upon 
man's humbler companions. At the same time in some mysterious way 
the eff"ect of Christ's atoning arid reconciling work is not limited merely 
to the human part of creation : Eph. i. 10; Col. i. 20. It can hardly 
be, however, that the beasts are punished for their own sins, as is 
the case in the quatrain of Archilochus, '0 father Zeus, thine is the 
dominion of heaven : thou seest men's deeds of wickedness and right : 
thou regardest the insolence and justice of beasts ^' 

21 — 28. 'Obedience is better, than sacrifice.' In this section Jere- 
miah is once more back amongst the people in the temple area and his 
utterance in the name of God would fall on their startled ears with all 
the shock of blasphemy and impiety. The whole system of the popular 
religion was founded on the due performance of the established ritual, 
and to neglect or to despise it, was, in their eyes, a much more serious 
off'ence against God than failure to fulfil the requirements of the moral 
law. To speak of their burnt-offerings and sacrifices as mere flesh — 'so 
much butcher's meat' as we might say — which had no sanctity and 
could therefore be eaten by anybody, was a crime and an outrage of the 
utmost gravity. But when the prophet went on to deny not only the 
utility of their customs in the present, but also the sanction which 
they had received from the past, the fury of his hearers was increased 
to the utmost. Jeremiah had thus committed the double offence which 

^ Quoted by J. Adam, Religious Teachers of Greece, p. 86. 



74 THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH [vii. 21-28 

burnt oiFerings unto your sacrifices, and eat ye flesh. 22 For I 
spake not unto your fathers, nor commanded them in the day 
that I brought them out of the land of Egypt, concerning burnt 
offerings or sacrifices: 23 but this thing I commanded them, 
saying. Hearken unto my voice, and I will be your God, and ye 
shall be my people : and walk ye in all the way that I command 
you, that it may be well with you. 24 But they hearkened not, 
nor inclined their ear, but walked in their own counsels and in 
the stubbornness of their evil heart, and went backward and not 
forward. 25 Since the day that j^our fathers came forth out of 
the land of Egypt unto this day, I have sent unto you all my 
servants the prophets, daily rising up early and sending them : 
26 yet they hearkened not unto me, nor inclined their ear, but 
made their neck stiff : they did worse than their fathers. 

27 And thou shalt speak all these words unto them ; but they 
will not hearken to thee : thou shalt also call unto them ; but 
they will not answer thee. 28 And thou shalt say unto them. 
This is the nation that hath not hearkened to the voice of the 

in later times cost St Stephen his life, he spoke both against the holy 
j place and against the /««<; (Acts vi. 13). 

21. burnt offeriiigs... sacrifices. The very sacrifices specified in Dt. 
xii. 6; the former were burned entire; of the latter the kidney fat was 
burned, the priests had tlieir portion, and the rest was cooked and eaten 
in the sanctuary. (For further details see McNeile, ii'a^orfMS, p. 124.) In 
God's sight there was no distinction between sacrifices and mere flesh 
when off'ered by unworthy worshippers. 

22. / S2yake not. 'Cf. similar statements in vi. 20, xi. 15, xiv. 12; 
Am. V. 21—24; Hos. vi. 6, viii. 13 ; Is. i. 10—12, and Mic. vi. 6—8, and 
see Additional Note below. 

the day. The reference cannot be limited to the period actually 
following the exodus from Egypt, but includes the wandering in the 
4 wilderness. 

23. The relation between Israel and Jehovah was one of mutual 
benefit, the Divine aid and guidance was conditional, and depended on 

(the obedience of the people. In a similar way the Cliristian at his 
baptism receives certain privileges from God and in return certain vows 
are made on his behalf 

24. they hearkened not. Cornill points out that this v. is hard to 
reconcile with the statement in ii. 2; cf also xxii. 21. 

stubbornness. See on iii. 17. 

25 f Very similar to xi. 7 f and cf Am. ii. 10, iii. 7 f ; Hos. xii. 13. 

26. worse than their fathers. Cf Hor. Odes, ill. 6. 



VII. ^s] THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH 75 

Lord their God, nor received instruction: ^truth is perished, 
and is cut off from their mouth. 

^ Or, correction ^ Or, faithfulness 

28. This is the nation. The history of Israel has been one continuous 
record of stubbornness and rebellion, and in his innermost heart the | 
prophet knows that the future holds no prospect of improvement: c£ 
Ps. xii. 4, and Zeph. iii. 2 which is almost identical. 



Additional Note on vii. 22. 
, Sacrijice in the Wilderness. 

At first sight Jeremiah's statement, as we have it in E W., that God gave 
no commands as to sacrifices and bm-nt offerings during the wilderness period 
is exceedingly startling and unexpected. Even tAie most drastic critic con- 
siders that some, at any rate, of the sacrifices went back to the exodus. What 
is the explanation? Before going on to consider the various answers to the 
enquiry, a somewhat similar statement in Am. v. 25 should be noticed. Amos, 
speaking in God's name, challenged the men of Israel 'Did ye bring unto 
me sacrifices and ofi"erings in the wilderness ? ' obviously expecting an answer in 
the negative. 'Amos means that during the whole of the wilderness wanderings 
the Israelites did not bring Jahveh sacrifice or offering ; from which it follows 
that sacrificial worship cannot be the indispensable condition of maintaining 
Jahveh's gracious relation toward Israeli' This passage therefore supports 
Jeremiah's contention. It should, however, be pointed out that the suggestion 
has been made that the passage is merely a statement that it was not sacrifices 
only that were offered, but also 'true worship of the heart and righteousness, 
public and private-'; and this explanation has been accepted by no less a 
critic than W. R. Harper, who says 'This rendering places the emphasis in its 
proper place and does not compel Amos to say that there were no sacrifices 
or offerings in the wilderness^.' 

The explanation of the meaning of Jeremiah's words which is current in the 
predominant school of criticism may be given in the words of Driver. 'When 
Jeremiah wTote, the priestly parts of the Pentateuch had in all probability not 
yeC been combined with the rest of the Pentateuch, and the reference here is 
to the latter. Sacrifices are indeed enjoined in JE (Ex. xxiii. 14 — 19), and 
Deuteronomy, but little stress is laid upon them ; and the pt'omises (as here 
" in order that it may be well with you ") are annexed more generally to loyalty 

1 E. A. Edghill, Westminster Commentary ad loc. 

2 Macdonald, JBL. xviii. pp. 214 f. 

' Amos and Hosea (ICC), p. 136. Dr Harper here goes against the great 
majority of critics, amongst others Ewald, Wellhausen, G. A. Smith, Driver, 
Marti. 



76 THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH 

to Yahweh and the refusal to follow after other gods.' Against this explanation 
it may be urged that, in spite of Driver's distinction, Deuteronomy would be 
equally excluded by Jeremiah's statement, for it contains even in its oldest 
parts recognitions of the origin of sacrifice in the wilderness period (e.g. xii. 5 ff., 
13, XV. 19 ff., xvi. 2, 5ff., xvii. 1, &c.). For those who agree with Dr Kennett 
in placing the composition of Deuteronomy in the exilic period this argument 
of course raises no difficulty, but to the follower of the Wellhausen school it is 
distinctly inconvenient. Further, the very sacrifices mentioned by Jeremiah, 
'burnt ofl"erings or peace ofi'erings' are named in the Book of the Covenant 
(Ex. xxiii. 14 ff.) as essential to the ritual of worship even in the earliest times. 
The present writer finds himself unable to agree with Driver that the less 
frequent commands in regard to sacrifice contained in Dt. and JE exclude 
them from the scope of Jeremiah's statement. The command to sacrifice is 
admittedly contained in them ; and therefore it follows that either the books 
were unknown to the prophet ; or else that he did not recognise their authority. 
It is quite possible to argue that Jeremiah, carried away by his hatred of the 
sacrificial system as he found it in his own day, refused to believe that it 
could have had a Divine origin ; his accusations of forgery against the scribes 
(viii. 8) may have been called forth by their producing commands in the Book 
of the Covenant, for example, upholding the official cultus. Some such ex- 
iplanation as this seems necessary to the present writer if the vc. are to be 
translated as in EVV. 

The question, however, of the meaning of the passage is by no means clear, 
and an alternative translation is grammatically possible; furthermore this 
translation avoids the difficulties involved in any explanation which may be 
suggested on behalf of the more usual rendering. The variation turns on the 
use of the Hebrew expression im"'?!? which EVV., following lxx., translate 
concerning. Another meaning of the phrase is because of ^ for the sake of 
which is the rendering in Gen. xii. 17 'the Lord plagued Vh'AY&o\\... because of 
("laT"?!?) Sarai Abram's wife' ; and in Dt. iv. 21 'the Lord was angry with me 
fcyr your sakes' (DDnn-'?r). In 2 S. xviii. 5 EVV. translate 'the king gave... 
charge concerning Absalom' CiaT*?!;), but the context supports the rendering 
'/yr the sake of Absalom' equally well, and is indeed the translation adopted 
by Kautzsch. In Jer. xiv. 1 the same phrase is used and translated ^concerning 
the drought' (nnV^n ■'"iIt'pi?), but it would be quite in keeping with the context 
to render it 'on account of the drought.' If this meaning is attached to the 
phrase in the present passage, Jeremiah's statement would then be rendered 
'I spake not unto your fathers. . .for the sake of or on account of burnt offerings.' 
In other words the prophet is emphasising the fact that God did not reveal 
\Himself to the people in order to obtain their sacrifices, a rendering which 
lobtains support from v. 21 ; the two vo. might be paraphrased 'eat your own 
meat yourselves, God doesn't want it' The same lesson exactly is taught in 
Ps. 1. 12 f ' If I were hungry, I would not tell thee : for the world is mine and 
all the fulness thereof.' God wanted the hearts of His people not their ofi'erings. 
This is the reality vmderlying all sacrifice, and where the thing symbolised is 



VII. 29-3i] THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH 11 

lacking, the symbol is but a mockei-j' and intrinsically valueless. That it seems 
to me was Jeremiah's meaning in this passage ; he was not denying the cherished 
belief of the people that the sacrificial system was of Divine origin, but he was 
trying to restore to them a worthy notion of the meaning of that system. ' In 
the writings of Jeremiah, on the eve of the long exile, when the sacrificial ritual 
became impossible, it was natural in the order of divine Providence that the 
realities symbolised by sacrifices should be brought into prominence^.' 

29 Cut oiF Hhine hair, O Jerusalem, and cast it away, and 
take up a lamentation on the bare heights ; for the Lord hath 
rejected and forsaken the generation of his wrath. 30 For the 
children of Judah have done that which is evil in my sight, saith 
the Lord : they have set their abominations in the house which 
is called by my name, to defile it. 31 And they have built the 

^ Heb. thy crown. 

29 — 31. Jerusalem is called upon to lament because God has for- 
saken her. 

29. No person is named in the text but the verbs are fern. sing, in 
the Hebrew and there can be little doubt that the section is an appeal 
directed to Jerusalem (as EVV. take it) or to some personification of 
the nation. 

hair. Heb. crmvn. Cf Job i. 20; Mic. i. 16. Keil sees in this 
command a reference to the Nazirite's vow (Nu. vi. 7). Jerusalem U 
has broken her vows and so, like a faithless Nazirite, she may also cut 
off the hair which was their symbol. 

take up. Cf Nu. xxiii. 7, &c., and the word NJ:'0=burden used of 
a discourse (xxiii. 33 ff.). 

lamentation. Heb. Qinak : the special form of verse used in Hebrew 
elegies (see E. G. Kmg, Early Religious Poett-y of the Hebrews, pp. 39 ff.). 
Jeremiah often adopts it as a medium for his prophecies but it hardly 
seems necessary, with Duhm, to reject those prophecies which are not 
written in this metre. 

bare heights. See on iii. 31. 

generation of his wrath. The generation upon whom the accumu- 
lated anger of God is about to fall — a strange phrased 

30. abominations. See on iv. 1. Giesebrecht thinks that there is 
here a reference to the doings of Manasseh (2 K. xxi. 5, 7). This may 
well be so, but it would be easier to imagine that Jeremiah had in mind 
the evils of his own day. In the time between the two captures of 
Jerusalem evils were practised which seem exactly to fit the terms of / 
this condemnation; cf. Ez. viii. and for similar language v. 11, vii. 20. 

1 Westcott on Hebrews viii. 12. 

^ Lxx. Ty]v iroiovaav ravra evidently read riNT Ht^y, 



78 THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH [vii. 3., 32 

high places of Topheth, which is in the valley of the son of Hin- 
nom, to burn their sons and their daughters in the fire ; which 
I commanded not, neither came it into my ^mind. 32 Therefore, 
behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that it shall no more be 
called Topheth, nor The valley of the son of Hinnom, but The 
valley of Slaughter: for they shall bury in Topheth, ^till there 

1 Heb. heart. ^ Or, because there shall he no place else 

31. Topheth. Lxx. TacfteO seems to point to a different vocalisation 
and it is very probable that the word was read as Bosheth and that the 
Massoretes retained the consonants of the original word but pointed 
them with the vowels of ^^^'3. It is to be noticed that in xxxii. 35 
Baal is read in a similar phrase instead of Topheth, and Bosheth is often 
used as being equivalent to Baal (see on iii. 24). Many scholars con- 
nect the word with an Aramaic root meanin'g 'fire-place'; cf Is. xxx. 
33 and Wade's note. 

valley of the son of Hinnom. The meaning and origin of the name 
are lost though various attempts have been made to recover them ; 
cf. Rashi, 'the son of sobbing.' Graf also would derive it from the 
Arabic hanna 'to whimper.' A similar disagreement exists as to the 
site of the valley ; some experts identify it with the Tyropoeon, the 
central of the three valleys which meet at the pool of Siloam (so 
Robertson Smith, Enc.Brit.'' and Sayce, PEFQS. 1883, p. 213) ; others 
prefer the Kidron which runs parallel to it to the East (so Warren, 
HDB. II. 287); the greater number of modern scholars however are 
in favour of its identification with the Wddy er-Rabdbl which runs 
below the SW. corner of Jerusalem (Wilson, Smith's DB.^; Buhl, Pal. 
132). For the arguments in support of the various views see HDB. 
and Enc. Bib. ('Hinnom 'and 'Jerusalem'). Many legends have clustered 
round this valley, amongst them being that of a subterranean fire which 
lay below Gehenna and which was to be the scene of the punishment 
of apostate Jews: cf Enoch xlvii. 6, xlviii. 9; Matt. v. 29 f, and see 
Weber, JUd. Theol. pp. 341 ff. 

burn their sons and their daughters. See on iii. 24 ; Wade's note on 
Is. Ivii. 5 ; and W. R. Smith, Eel. Sem.' p. 464. 

32 — 34. The recital of the sins of Israel is an introduction to the 
statement of the terrible punishment which is about to overtake them. 
The scene of the slaughter of their innocent children is to be the scene 
of their own slaughter. This is an instance of 'the principle of com- 
pensation' in punishment which the writer of Wisdom is so fond of 
declaring: 'by what things a man sinneth by these he is punished' 
(xi. 16; cf xii. 23, xvi. 1; also Philo, Vit. Mos. i. 17). 

32. bwy in Topheth. Driver explains that 'the land will be so 
full of corpses that they will have to be buried even in the unclean 
place of Topheth.' (Following the reading of mg. which represents the 
original better than does the text.) Against this it may be argued that 



VII. 33-viii. 2] THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH 79 

be no place to hury. 33 And the carcases of this people shall 
be meat for the fowls of the heaven, and for the beasts of the 
earth ; and none shall fray them away. 34 Then will I cause to 
cease from the cities of Judah, and from the streets of Jerusalem, 
the voice of mirth and the voice of gladness, the voice of the 
bridegroom and the voice of the bride : for the land shall become 
a waste. 

VIII. 1 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: 2 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, 

those who had offered sacrifice there would hardly look upon the place 
as unclean. The real meaning of the v. is obscure and the text possibly 
corrupt. Duhm rejects the v. as an ex 2^ost facto explanation of the 
custom of burying in Topheth. 

33. fray. Old English = frighten away : cf the action of Rizpah 
(2 S. xxi. 10). The word occurs also in Dt. xxviii. 26; Zech. i. 21; 
1 Mace. xiv. 12, &c. 

34. Jeremiah had a deep appreciation of the joys which life affords; 
he was no mere pessimist and harbinger of woe whose only desire was 
to make others as miserable as himself 

VIII. 1 — 3. The graves of the princes and of the people are to be 
desecrated and their corpses spread out before the heavenly bodies whom 
they had vainly worshipped. 

1. All classes of the population had sinned and therefore punish- 
ment would fall upon all, even the dead were not exempt. The exposing 
of a dead body was considered to entail dreadful consequences on the 
spirit to whom it belonged. The desecration here spoken of may have 
been deliberate and intended as a further insult to the defeated who 
were thus shewn to be incapable of defending either 'the ashes of 
their fathers ' or ' the temple of their God ' ; or it may have occurred in 
the search for buried treasure. Asshurbanipal warned his enemies that 
his enmity would follow them even into the grave ; KB. 11. 193. 

2. spread. Cf Aeschylus, Clioephorae, 980 ff. where Orestes lays 
the instruments of guilt beside the dead bodies of his father's murderers 
in the sight of ' the all-seeing-sun.' 

before the sun. Cf. Nu. xxv. 4; 2 S. xii. 12. 

sun. Sun worship according to H. P. Smith, Religion of Israel, 
p. 68, is not a Syrian custom though traces of it are found in place 
names (e.g. Beth-shemesh), because the sun is hostile to the crops rather 
than favourable. 

Jiost of heaven. Cf. xix. 13. This worship is usually held to be a 



80 THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH [viii. ., 3 

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. 
3 And death shall be chosen rather than life by all the residue 
that remain of this evil family, which remain in all the places 
whither I have driven them, saith the Lord of hosts. 

late innovation though it soon became popular and appears to have 
been much in favour with the later kings of Judah: cf Zeph. i. 5; 
Ez. viii. 16. The very means by which men were intended to be led 
to worship the Creator became a snare to drag them down into idolatry : 

cf St Athanasius, de Inc. XII. 3 'Efov ovv rjv dvafS\€\f/avTa<; avTOV? ets TO 
/teyc^os Tuv ovpavov...yvu)vai tov TavTrf<; -qytjxova. The worship of the host 

of heaven was not altogether an unprofitable piece of superstition; 
through their worship men began to take an intense interest in the 
movements of the divine beings by whom they imagined their lives 
were influenced, and so arose the first attempts at a scientific study of 
the stars. The superstitions of the astrologer laid the foundation for 
the discoveries of the astronomer, and at the same time provided him 
with material — in the shape of early observations — by which his calcu- 
lations could be tested and verified. 

v)hom they have loved &c. The prophet in bitter irony enumerates 
these witnesses of the future dishonour of the nation — the very powers 
upon whose aid the people were relying for their safety. The heaping 
up of verbs describing the foolishness of the people adds to the^rony. 

dung. Always used of unburied corpses ; cf ix. 2, xvi. 4, &c. 

3. This V. presents a picture of the absolute and utter despair into 
which the nation will fall. They will long for death as for 'hid treasures ' 
(Job iii. 21; cf vii. 15), and death itself 'will flee from them' (Rev. 
ix. 6). 



Chapters VIH. 4— IX. 1. 

The Penalty of National Sin is National Ruin. 

This section relates apparently to the same situation as the former one; 
Cornill, indeed, thinks that it must be looked upon as a variant account of the 
preceding temple-sermon, though he does not deny that it comes from Jeremiah 
himself. In the last few vv. of the previous section (vii. 29— viii. 3) the prophet 
had given a description of the doom which will come upon the nation ; in the 
opening vv. of this section he describes once again the sins of the people which 
are bringing it about. In doing so he lays stress in the manner of Isaiah (cf. 
Is. i. 3), on the faithfulness of the members of the animal creation to the in- 
stincts which govern them ; in contrast to this the faithlessness of Judah becomes 
all the more unnatural. The section ends with a picture of hopeless ruin and 



VIII. 4-7] THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH 81 

incurable sin such as to call forth the tears of the speaker himself as he con- 
demns it. 

{a) The contrast between man and the fowls of the air. 4 — 9. 

(6) The benumbing terror of the invasion. 10 — 17. 

(c) The prophet's distress. 18— ix. 1. 

4 Moreover thou shalt say unto them, Thus saith the Lord : 
Shall men fall, and not rise up again ? shall one turn away, and 
not return ? 5 Why then is this people of Jerusalem slidden back 
by a perpetual backsliding? they hold fast deceit, they refuse to 
return. 6 I hearkened and heard, but they spake not aright: 
no man repenteth him of his wickedness, saying. What have I 
done? every one Hurneth to his course, as a horse that rusheth 
headlong in the battle. 7 Yea, the stork in the heaven knoweth 

^ Or, turneth away in hin course 

4 — 9. Jehovah complains of the heedlessness of the men of Judah 
who rely on their privileges and refuse to repent and to seek after Him ; 
the bitter contrast with the birds of the heaven. 

4. Shall men fall &c. In the ordinary affairs of life if a man makes 
a mistake or follows a course of conduct which turns out to be un- 
profitable he retraces his steps as best he can ; so it was to have been 
expected that Judah would have already given heed to the warnings 
which had come to her. The comparison is between the conduct of an 
individual in his practical life and of a nation in its religious life. 
St Chrysostom argued from this v. that no sinner need ever despair of 
repentance. 

5. of Jerusalem, lxx. omits. 

deceit. Israel not only refuses to rise up again ; she will not even 
admit the possibility of a fall. It was this self-deceit which made 
repentance impossible: cf. v. 3, vii. 28, ix. 6. 

6. / hearkened and heard. God Himself is waiting to hear the first 
cry of penitence— and He waits in vain. The men of Judah counted 
His 'lohgsuffering' as mere 'slackness' and refused to return; c£ 
2 Pet. iii. 9. 

as a horse. A very forcible picture of men continuing in sin: cf 
ii. 23 f for the use of a somewhat similar figure ; and for a description 
of the glory of the war-horse see Job xxxix. 21 — 25. 

7. The failure of Judah to return to God reminds Jeremiah by 
contrast of the sudden, yet regular, return of the various migratory 
birds in response to the voice of instinct within them ; ' they remain 
faithful to their land, Israel... returns not to Jehovah' (Duhm). This 
obedience on the part of the animal creation further suggests to him 
that Judahj with all the privilege, not of an implanted instinct, but of 
an open ordinance, fails to practise a like obedience to God. The prophet 



82 THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH [viii. 7, 8 

her appointed times; and the turtle and the swallow and the 
crane observe the time of their coming; but my people know 
not the ^ordinance of the Lord. 8 How do ye say, We are wise, 

1 Or, judgement 

does not, however, intend to teach that sinning and repentance are both 
part of the natural relation between man and God, and therefore to be 
accepted as inevitable, like the flight and return of the birds. Dante, 
too, has noticed the obedience of birds to their instincts : 

'doves, when love its call has given, 
With open steady wings to their sweet nest 
Fly.' Inf. Y. 82 S. 

stork. Two species of stork are found in Palestine, the White which 
is a passing visitor ' usually met with during the month of April,' and 
the Black which though a native is little known from its habit of living 
in the desert away from human habitations. 

turtle. Seven species of dove are found in Palestine. Dr Shipley 
thinks that the reference here is to the Turtur communis or auritus, 
the most common dove in Palestine to which it begins to return in April 
(Enc. Bib. 1130). Its coming marks the approach of spring (Cant. ii. 12). 

swallow. This bird returns to Palestine about the same time as the 
stork and the turtle. 

crane. Noted for the ' loud and trumpet-like sounds ' to which it 
gives utterance. 

8. This V. is a difficult one to explain ; there is no doubt however, 
if the true meaning of the original text is still preserved, that in it 
Jeremiah repudiates the authority of the law of the Lord which was 
recognised by the leaders of the people, and even accuses the scribes of 
deliberate forgery. The word for law as explained above (see on ii. 8) 
means ' direction ' and the reference here must be to some written body 
of such traditional ' direction.' It is possible that the prophet had in 
mind ' the book of direction ' found in the temple by Hilkiah (2 K. 
xxii. 8) ; this is the opinion of Marti, Wellhausen, Duhm, Cornill and 
other critics who identify the book, at any rate in part, with Deutero- 
nomy. If their theories are correct the traditions thus condemned now 
form part of our Canonical Scriptures. On the other hand the reference 
may be to a deliberate attempt on the part of opposing prophets to 
falsify the law (so Klamroth, Die judischen Exulanten in Bahylonien). 
Driver suggests that the scribes brought this accusation upon themselves 
'by claiming to have Yahweh's sanction for practices or ceremonial 
usages, of which in reality He did not approve' (cf vii. 22). In a 
somewhat similar way the early Christians accused each other of alter- 
ing the words of Scripture and even of inventing new gospels, though 
the extent to which these accusations were made has probably been 
exaggerated (cf Origen, c. Cels. 11. 27). 

We are wise. Cf Is. v. 21; Prov. iii. 7 'Be not wise in thine own 
eyes.' 



VIII. 8-14] THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH 83 

and the law of the Lord is with us? But, behold, the false pen 
of the scribes hath brought falsely. 9 The wise men are 
ashamed, they are dismayed and taken : lo, they have rejected 
the word of the Lord; and what manner of wisdom is in them? 
10 Therefore will I give their wives unto others, and their fields 
to them that shall possess 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. 11 ^And they 
have healed the hurt of the daughter of my people lightly, saying, 
Peace, peace; when there is no peace. 12 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. 13 I will utterly 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. 14 Why do we sit 

^ Or, made of it falsehood - See ch. vi. 14, 15. 

3 Or, I have appointed them those that shall pass over them 

scribes. This is the first occasion on which the scribes are referred 
to as a professional class in OT. For further particulars as to their 
functions and the part which they played in the development of Hebrew 
religion see Lightley, Les Scribes ; Schiirer, The Jeivisk People &c. (ET.), 
n. i. 306 — 379; Oesterley, The Books of the Apocrypha, pp. 113 ff. 

9. The best commentary on this v. is Prov. i. 7 ' The fear of the 
Lord is the beginning of wisdom '; but to despise or reject His counsel 
soon leads to misfortune. 

10 — 17. This section gives a picture of the utter despair into which 
the people have fallen ; they are resigned to their fate and are simply 
waiting for the invader to come upon them without any hope of being 
able to resist him. 

10 — 12. These vv. are not found in lxx. and are closely parallel to 
vi. 12—15. 

13. no grapes. The vine and fig-tree are here, as in Joel i. 7 
(cf. Matt. xxi. 19), emblems of that prosperity and ease to which they 
contributed. There does not seem to be in this v., as in some passages 
(e.g. Is. V. 7; Mic. vii. 1), any reference to the religious state of the 
nation. 

/ hane given. Taking RV. as it stands the sense of the v. is that 
of Hos. ii. 12 'I will lay waste her vines and her fig-trees, whereof she 
hath said, These are my hire that my lovers have given me.' The 
source of God's gifts will be recognised only by their withdrawal. The 

6—2 



84 THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH [viii. 14-17 

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. 15 We looked for peace, but 
no good came ; and for a time of healing, and behold dismay ! 
16 The snorting of his horses is heard from Dan : at the sound 
of the neighing of his strong ones the whole land trembleth ; 
for they are come, and have devoured the land and all that is in 
it; the city and those that dwell therein. 17 For, behold, I will 
send serpents, * basilisks, among you, which will not be charmed ; 
and they shall bite you, saith the Lord. 

^ Or, perish ^ Or, caused us to perish 

'■^ See Deut. xxix. 18. * Or, adders 

MT. is however very obscure and Dr Streane thinks that ' it is perhaps 
the corruption of an interpolation.' 

14 f. The doomed people are suddenly introduced, and the prophet 
represents them as addressing one another in terms which shew that 
they are prepared to meet the punishment which they now recognise 
as being brought upon them by their own sins. The expectation of 
peace which had been fostered amongst them by the false prophets is 
seen to be vain, no peace was possible to a guilty people. 

14. assemble yourselves &c. Cf. iv, 5. 

silent .. .silence. The mg. perish... caused us to perish is to be pre- 
ferred. The horrors and sufferings of a besieged city would be a subject 
of common knowledge. 

gall. The same threat is used in ix, 15, where see note, and in 
xxiii. 15; the latter passage represents gall as the portion of the 
prophets themselves. 

15. =xiv. 19 6. 

16. Dan. Dan in the far North has already been reached by the 
foe and so certain is their approach that the land is already as good as 
destroyed: cf. iv. 15. Irenaeus, v. xxx. 2 takes this v. to mean that 
Dan is Anti-Christ, an old idea — founded possibly on the evil reputation 
of the tribe — which finds expression in Rev. vii. 5 — 8 where Dan is 
missing from the tribes in heaven. The connexion is first declared in 
Test. Dan. v. 6 (where see Charles' note). 

strong ones. i.e. war-horses as the parallelism shews; cf Job xxxix. 
19, &c. 

17. basilisks, lxx. renders ^avarowTas and connects with the 
previous word, i.e. deadly serpents. 

be charmed. Cf Ps. Iviii. 5 which represents the same idea though 
the Hebrew word for ' charm ' is different. 

The connexion between v. 16 and v. \1 seems to be rather slight, 
and the whole section is a strange mixture of actual and figurative 



VIII. i8-3o] THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH 85 

18 Oh that I could comfort myself against sorrow! my heart 
is faint within me. 19 Behold, the voice of the cry of the daughter 
of my people ^from a land that is very far off: 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? 
20 The harvest is past, the ^summer is ended, and we are not 

^ Or, because of ^ Or, ingathering of summer fruits 

description. But such a confusion is not sufficient to impugn the 
integrity of the passage ; in the mind of the prophet images and figures 
followed each other in so rapid a succession that he had no time to 
question their literary suitability or even their connexion one with 
another. 

la— IX. 1 (= 18—23 Heb.). As in iv. 19 the description of the 
coming invader is followed by a revelation of the prophet's own feelings. 
He bewails the future disaster which he is unable to prevent, and his 
agitation is shewn in the repeated questions which he piles one upon 
another without waiting for an answer; cf. vv. 19 b, 22. 

18. Oh... comfort myself. \At. Alas! my brightness. The meaning of 
the word had been lost by the Jews and has been restored from a cognate 
root in Arabic; see further Driver's note on Amos v. 9. 

sorrow. Cornill points out that Jeremiah does not say my sorrow ; 
it is not a personal, but a national, grief which is vexing the soul of the 
prophet. 

faint. The word occurs here and Is. i. 5 ; and Lam. i. 22. 

19. In V. 14 Jeremiah introduced the lament of the people when 
they discovered the invincible approach of the invader ; now he carries 
his dramatic depiction of the future a stage further, and in imagination 
he hears the desolate cry of the exiles proclaiming that Jehovah has 
forsaken Zion and that the Divine sovereign no longer defends Jerusalem. 
It may well be however that the cries are uttered by the prophet himself 

land that is very far off. The Hebrew is better translated from a 
wide spreading land; i.e. from the length and breadth of the land'. 

King. The reference is doubtless to Jehovah and not to a human 
king. Jeremiah was much more of a religionist than a royalist. Cf 
Mic. iv. 9 : ' Is there no king in thee ? ' 

20. The prophet is here, it may be, quoting a popular proverb the 
meaning of which is easy to understand. When the harvest, which 
extended from April to .June, was a failure there still remained hopes 
from the ingathering of summer fruits which came later; but once this 
was past there was no further possibility of recovery. Duhm thinks that 
the reference is historical rather than proverbial, and that the Scythians 

^ The phrase (D''pn"UD }'"IN) is the same as that used in Is. xxxiii. 17 and 
contains no necesBary idea of exile. The RV. represents pniO f^lX (so read by lxx.) 
which is the reading in iv. 16, vi. 20. 



86 THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH [viii. 20-ix. i 

saved. 21 For the hurt of the daughter of my people am I hurt : 
I am ^ black; astonishment hath taken hold on me. 22 Is there 
no balm in Gilead? is there no physician there? why then is not 
the 2 health of the daughter of my people ^recovered? 

IX. 1 Oh that my head were waters, and mine eyes a fountain 

^ Or, mourning 2 Or, healing 3 Or, perfected Heb. gone up. 

invaded the land in the spring and remained in possession of it until 
after the ingathering. 

saved. No ethical content can be given to the word in this context ; 
the reference is to material welfare. 

21. The prophet, by reason of the sin of his people, feels compelled 
to pass his days in one long mourning; cf. xv. 17. 

_ black. The word is often used of the sky or the heavenly bodies 
being darkened (as in iv. 28); here the reference is to the sad and 
gloomy appearance of those in sorrow, hence mg. mourning. 

22. balm. This rendering of the Hebrew word ''"!)? is found in 
Coverdale's Bible. Cf Shakespeare's use in Richard II, Act iii. Sc. 2, 

'Not all the water in the rough, rude sea 
Can wash the balm from an anointed king.' 

The actual product referred to by the original is not known with 
any certainty. Mr McLean following the Arabic usage suggests mastic, 
the resin from the tree Pistacia Lentiscus {Enc. Bib. 465) ; the more 
usual suggestion is that ''1^ is balsam, but this product was apparently 
not found in Gilead. The connexion of balm with healing occurs here, 
in V. 8 and in xlvi. 11. It was evidently very highly valued, being 
amongst the presents sent by Jacob to Joseph (Gen. xliii. 11). For 
other references and comments see Nowack, Arch. i. xiv. 2; Conder, 
Hethand Moab, p. 88; also Pliny, Hist. Nat. xii. 25, xxiv. 22: and for 
the connexion between anointing and healing Dr Knowling's note on 
Jas.^ V. 14. 

Gilead. The mountainous district beyond Jordan, and amongst the 
first of the Israelite territories to fall to the Assyrians (2 K. xv. 29). 
See note on xxii. 6. 

physician. The high opinion of ^jhysicians expressed in Ecclus. 
xxxyiii. 1 fif. was not accepted by all the later Jews; cf 2 Chr. xvi. 12; 
Tobit ii. 10 (B and ^^), and the Rabbinic opinion that the best of them 
was worthy of Gehenna, Kidushim, iv. 14. 

health. The Hebrew word suggests the fresh flesh gradually length- 
ening (i.e. forming) over a wound. 

Gilead the home of skilled physicians and healing medicines is not 
able to provide for the hurt of her own children. 

_ IX. 1. (Heb. viii. 23.) This v. is the culmination of the prophet's 
grief and should certainly be attached as in the Hebrew to what 
goes before. Jeremiah's sorrow over Israel reads like an anticipation of 
Rom. ix. 2, X. 1. This v. was a favourite one with the Apocalyptic 



TX. 1, 2] THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH 87 

of tears, that I might weep day and night for the slain of the 
daughter of my people ! 

writers and it is even put into the mouth of Baruch (2 Bar. xxxv, 2) 
and of Enoch (En. xcv. 1). 

fountain of tears. Cf. the representations on Egyptian monuments 
of women weeping with long lines drawn from their eyes to suggest the 
tears bursting forth from them. 

weep day and night. Cf. xl. 6; Is. xxii. 4; Mic. i. 8 f 



Chapter IX. 2—26. 

The Treachery of the People and its Sequel 

This section apparently continues the previous one, and, like it, comes from 
a period when the prophet was undergoing or had undergone much opposition" 
and persecution. The closing vv. of the section have evidently become detached 
from their context and consist of two unconnected fragments, vv. 23 f. and 25 f. 
The continuation of i\ 22 is to be found in x. 17 as the section x. 1 — 16 is of 
late date (see Introd. to that section). 

{a) The projyhet lo7igs to escape to a place of quiet. 2 — 9. ^ 

(b) A lamentation over the destruction of Judah. 10 — 16. ' 

(c) A call for the professional mourners. 17 — 22. 
{d) The vanity of wisdom and privilege. 23 — 26. 

2 ^Oh that 1 had in the wilderness a lodging place of way- 

^ Or, Oh that I were in the luilderness, in etc. 

2 — 9. The treachery and deceit of the men of Judah cause the 
prophet to give up all hope of the return of the people to God. 

There is perhaps nothing so heart-breaking as the despair of 
a sincerely religious man ; the despair of one who feels that in spite 
of all the resources of nature and of grace nothing further can be done 
for those amongst whom he dwells, and that like Lot he himself must 
flee from out of the midst of the doomed city. History furnishes 
numerous examples of those who followed such a course of action and 
amongst them it will perhaps be sufficient to mention the countless 
numbers who found in the retirement of the convent a refuge from the 
corruption of Roman society; and nearer our own time, those who 
braved the dangers of the wintry sea and the unknown terrors of 
a strange continent, in order that they might be alone and enjo}^ peace 
and freedom of conscience. The motive which made Jeremiah long 
for a lodge in the wilderness was the same as that which animated the 
minds both of the founders of Western monasticism and of the Pilgrim 
Fathers. 



88 THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH [ix. 2 

faring men ; that I might leave my people, and go from them ! 
for they be all adulterers, an assembly of treacherous men. 

The attractions of solitude have been well expressed by Hogg in 
his poem On the Skylark: 

'Bird of the wilderness 

BIythesorae and cumberless 
Sweet be thy matins o'er moorland and lea ! 

Emblem of happiness, 

Blest is thy dwelling-place, 
O to abide in the desert with thee.' 

The treachery from which the prophet wished to flee was partly the 
product partly the cause of the devious course which the leaders of the 
.people were following. It is quite true to say that the foreign politics 
iof a nation are influenced by the national character, but these in their 
turn react upon it. The rulers had lost their faith in God as the 
guardian and director of the State and had come to rely on their own 
plots and political stratagems for national salvation. The necessities 
of the situation made it impossible to conduct such a policy without 
the employment of methods of treachery and deceit, and these methods 
and ideals descended to the common people and found expression in 
their dealings one with another. International politics must have 
been followed with close attention by all classes of the community and 
indeed the relations of Judah with Egypt on the one hand and Babylon 
on the other doubtless formed the staple of conversation with every 
travelling merchant in the bazaar. 

2. in the wilderness. Cf Job xxxviii. 26 'the wilderness where 
there is no man'; Ps. Iv. 6f, where the metaphor of the dove is 
abandoned for that of the traveller, probably, as Dr Briggs thinks, under 
the influence of the present passage. 

lodging place. A place of temporary shelter where travellers would 
pass a night or so before going on their way, a khan or caravanserais 
The prophet's words however suggest that he wished to leave his 
people and not to return to them : but one must not press the logic of 
words which come from lips of suff"ering. 

that I might leave &c. Jeremiah knew well the feeling which was 
expressed by the Dominican monk Eckhardt when he said that 'a crowd 
is often more lonely than a wilderness.' 

assembly. The Hebrew word is one which is used of religious 
assemblies, and its use in this context is an instance of the prophet's 
irony, an irony which comes from the bitter experience of his own 
heart. The later Jews used the word as a term for the Feast of 
Weeks; cf Joseph. A7it. iii. x. 6, &c. and see the note in Driver's 
Deut. p. 195. 

treacherous men. Cf Mic. vii. 2 and see above. 



* Cf. Spenser, The Faery Queen, Bk ii. xii. 32 : 

♦ This is the port of rest from troublous toil, 
The world's sweet inn from pain and wearisome turmoil.' 



IX. 3-6] THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH 89 

3 And they bend their tongue as it were their bow for false- 
hood ; and they are grown strong in the land, but not for 
Hruth : for they proceed from evil to evil, and they know not 
me, saith the Lord. 4 Take ye heed every one of his neigh- 
bour, and trust ye not in any brother: for every brother will 
utterly supplant, and every neighbour will go about with slanders. 
5 And they will ^ deceive every one his neighbour, and will not 
speak the truth: they have taught their tongue to speak lies; 
they weary themselves to commit iniquity. 6 Thine habitation 
is in the midst of deceit ; through deceit they refuse to know 
me, saith the Lord. 

1 Or, faithfulness ^ Or, inock 

3. In this V. falsehood, whether in word or conduct, is denounced 
because of the practical evil in which it results (cf. Mic. vi. 12; Ps. 
hi. 4), not on any ground of the value of truth as such. According to 
Dr Briggs it was not until Persian influence began to be felt that the 
Jews regarded lying as being ethically wrong; see his note on Ps. lii. 4 
in ICC. 

bend. Tread with the foot: cf Ps. Ixiv. 3. 

truth. Better faithfulness SiS in m&Tgin. See note on v. L 

4. supplant. The Hebrew suggests a reference to Gen. xxvii. 36 ; 
Every brother will prove a very Jacob. It was perhaps to counteract 
the impression produced by this aspect of the patriarch's character that 
he is later referred to as Jeshurun, i.e. the upright one (Dt. xxxiii. 4 f , 
cf Hos. xii. 4). 

The prophet's own experience was to teach him the full meaning 
of the treachery of friends and even kinsfolk (xi. 18 flf. : cf Mic. vii. 5f ). 
Peake suggests that this whole section (ix. 2 — 22) does not belong to 
the earliest time of Jeremiah's ministry as it seems to pre-suppose 
'a great deal of unhappy experienced' 

5. deceive. Better as mg. mock; so Gen. xxxi. 7. 

taught their tongue. God has given to each of us our various 
members to be used in His service (cf Eph. iv. 25), any other use of 
them is misuse. 

6. Thine habitation, lxx. by dividing up the letters of the 
Hebrew into different words includes part of this word in v. 5 and 
accordingly gives a different translation of the vv. viz. they committed 
iniquity and ceased not to turn aside, {v. 6) Oppression cm, oppression 
and deceit on deceit &c. 

they refuse to know me. God is the God of Truth and can only be 
known and comprehended by those who are truth loving and truth 

^ ^?n^ is the Qal impft. fuller form for the more usual "^7^ as so often in 
Job (xiv.'20, &c.). 



90 THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH [ix. 7-10 

7 Therefore thus saith the Lord of hosts, Behold, I will melt 
them, and try them; for how else should I do, because of the 
daughter of my people? 8 Their tongue is a deadly arrow; it 
speaketh deceit : one speaketh peaceably to his neighbour with 
his mouth, but in his heart he layeth wait for him. 9 Shall I not 
visit them for these things? saith the Lord: shall not my soul 
be avenged on such a nation as this? 

10 For the mountains will I take up a weeping and wailing, 
and for the pastures of the wilderness a lamentation, because 
they are burned up, so that none passeth through ; neither can 

seeking. They who love deceit and darkness by their very preference 
thrust the knowledge of God away from them. 

7. melt (Driver, smelt). Assaying includes besides the idea of 
purifying, that of fusing the scattered metal contained in the ore, and 
the rejection of the useless fragments. What was useful was purified 
and amalgamated, what was useless was thrown away (cf Is. i. 25). 
Jeremiah, like Michaelangelo in his poems, is very fond of this 
metaphor of the refining fire of the goldsmith : see further on vi. 29. 

8. arrow. Cf v. 4 where tlie tongue is compared to a bent bow 
which shoots out the arrow of falsehood, here the tongue itself is the 
arrow as being the source of the mischief which is done. The metaphor 
is very common in Pss. (xii. 2, xxviii. 3, Iv. 21, &c.). 

peaceably (Heb. Qi^^'). Dr Briggs in a note on Ps. xxviii. 3 points 
out that this word is used in several different ways each of which 
requires a different translation in English: (1) soundness, health; 

2^ welfare, prosperity; (3) quiet, peacefulness, tranquillity, security; 

4) peace, alliance, friendship between man and man ; (5) peace with 

od; (6) peace from war. 

9. The refrain is repeated from v. 9, 29 ; cf Is. i. 24. 

10 — 16. This section has striking similarities to iv. 23 — 26 both 
in matter and diction : in the present passage Judah and Jerusalem 
are definitely named, and the reason is given for the utter ruin which 
is to overtake them. 

10. mountains. Jeremiah mourns for the mountains because of 
their destruction; Ezekiel denounces them because of the profane rites 
of which they were the scene (vi. 2 f ). 

lamejitation. See note on vii. 29. 

burned up. Not necessarily to be taken literally, means to be 
desolate, laid waste; cf ii. 15, where it is used of the cities'orisrael 
and V. 12 where the land is said to be 'burned up like a wilderness.' 
However it is to be remembered that the dry grass which clothed the 
pastures of the wilderness was very inflammable and that a fire once 
started would often cover whole tracts of country. The Arabs are said 
to put to death even the innocent originator of such a fire (cf Burck- 
hardt, Travels in Syria, pp. 331 f.). 



IX. IO-I5] THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH 91 

men hear the voice of the cattle ; both the fowl of the heavens 
and the beast are fled, they are gone. 11 And I will make 
Jerusalem heaps, a dwelling place of jackals ; and I will make 
the cities of Judah a desolation, without inhabitant. 12 Who is 
the wise man, that may understand this? and who is he to whom 
the mouth of the Lord hath spoken, that he may declare it? 
wherefore is the land perished and burned up like a wilderness, 
so that none passeth through? 

13 And the Lord saith. Because they have forsaken my law 
which I set before them, and have not obeyed my voice, neither 
walked therein ; 14 but have walked after the stubbornness of 
their own heart, and after the Baalim, which their fathers taught 
them: 15 therefore thus saith the Lord of hosts, the God of 



11. jackals. There are constant references to jackals in OT. 
especially in connexion with deserted sites; e.g. Is. xiii. 22, xxv. 2, 
xxxiv. 13, &c. Kinglake makes some interesting observations on their 
habits : ' These brutes,' he says, ' swarm in every part of Syria ; and 
there were many of them even in the midst of those void sands which 
would seem to give such poor promise of food. I can hardly tell what 
prey they could be hoping for, unless it were that they might find now 
and then the carcass of some camel that had died on the journey. 
They do not marshal themselves into great packs like the wild dogs of 
Eastern cities, but follow their prey in families like the place-hunters 
of Europe.' Eothen, p. 150. See also the articles in Enc. Bib. and 
HDB. 

12 — 16. This passage is rejected as a whole by Puhm and Giese- 
brecht and as to parts by Cornill and Kothstein ; it is a prose section 
embedded in a piece of verse. It may be that the passage is a gloss 
intended to point the moral, or it may be that it is here introduced 
into a wrong context on account of the similarity of wording between 
V. 12 and v. 10. vv. 13 — 16 especially are objected to as an editorial 
addition giving a conventional answer to the question oi v. 12 and 
consisting of a string of quotations in the style and manner of Deutero- 
nomy. 

12. Who is the wise man. Is this a challenge to those who boasted 
that their ' hps still possessed knowledge ' ? The land was evidently 
suffering from drought and the recognised teachers were unable, or 
unwilling, to give any satisfactory reason for it. It is a call to con- 
sider the works of the Lord in which alone is wusdom to be found; 
Ps. cvii. 43 ; Hos. xiv. 9. 

14. their fathers. Cornill points out that by this phrase Jeremiah 
usually means the generation of the exile, here the reference must be 
to those who settled in the Promised Land. 



92 THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH [ix. 15-^0 

Israel, Behold, I will feed them, even this people, with wormwood, 
and give them water of ^gall to drink. 16 I will scatter them 
also among the nations, whom neither they nor their fathers 
have known : and I will send the sword after them, till I have 
consumed them. 

17 Thus saith the Lord of hosts, Consider ye, and call for 
the mourning women, that they may come; and send for the 
cunning women, that they may come: 18 and let them make 
haste, and take up a wailing for us, that our eyes may run down 
with tears, and our eyelids gush out with waters. 19 For a voice 
of wailing is heard out of Zion, How are we spoiled! we are 
greatly confounded, because v/e have forsaken the land, because 
^they have cast down our dwellings. 20 Yet hear the word of 

^ See ch. viii. 14. ^ Qj.^ ^^j. dwellings have cast us out 

15. feed... to drink. Cf. Ps. Ixxx. 5 'Thou hast fed them with the 
bread of tears, And given them tears to drink.' The same punishment 
is promised to the false prophets (xxiii. 15). 

wormwood... xvater of gall. These two words appear constantly 
together as a metaphor for some disagreeable experience ; indeed what 
is said of wwmwood is true of both. ' The references to it in OT. are so 
purely symbolical, that we learn nothing but that it was an edible 
substance of extreme bitterness.' Enc. Bib. 5355. 

17 — 22. The call for the mourning women, and the contents of 
the dirges which they are bidden to chant. 

17. the mourning women. Professional mourners are one of the 
most ancient institutions in the East and survive to the present day. 
They consisted generally speaking of women, though men also took 
part in these lamentations (2 Ch. xxxv. 25 ; Eccles. xii. 5 ; cf. Am. v. 
16), and their object was to arouse the relatives of the deceased and 
those who attended the funeral to an outward manifestation of their 
sorrow. Their methods consisted of singing songs which dealt with 
the virtues of the dead person and playing upon flutes or pipes. (Cf. 
Lane, Modern Egyptians, ii. p. 252 ; Thomson, The Land and the Book, 
p. 287.) 

18. This -y. exposes the artificial character of the grief which 
needed all the efforts of cunning women to arouse it (cf Ecclus. xxxviii. 
16 ft'.); possibly the prophet wished to suggest that the penitence of 
the rneu of Judah was of a like nature, in so far as it could only 
be aroused by a narration of the horrors which were coming upon 
them. 

20. The Lord Himself will teach the women the subject matter 
for their songs of lamentation, and the desolation which they are to 
foretell will be so great that it will require the services of them all to 



IX. 30-^3] THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH 93 

the Lord, ye women, and let your ear receive the word of 
his mouth, and teach your daughters wailing, and every one 
her neighbour lamentation. 21 For death is come up into our 
windows, it is entered into our palaces ; to cut off the children 
from without, and the young men from the streets. 22 Speak, 
Thus saith the Lord, The carcases of men shall fall as dung upon 
the open field, and as the handful after the harvestman, and 
none shall gather them. 

23 Thus saith the Lord, Let not the wise man glory in his 
wisdom, neither let the mighty man glory in his might, let not 

describe it. In 2 S. i. 18 there is another example of the teaching of 
a song of mourning, in this case by an earthly monarch. 

21. ivindows. A mark of the suddenness with which death will 
approach, like a thief, or like locusts which ' climb up into the houses 
and enter in at the windows ' (Joel ii. 9). 

palaces. The rich suffer as well as the poor ; cf. Ex. xi. 5, xii. 29. 

children... young men. The fate of the innocent child at play in 
the streets (cf. Zech. viii. 5), and that of the young man who fought 
to defend his country will be one and the same ; both will be cut off. 

streets. Better open spaces, squares. 

22. Speak... Lord. To be omitted with Lxx. as they interrupt the 
sequence. 

dung. See on viii. 2. 

handful. Better swathe, row of fallen grain ; elsewhere Am. ii. 13 
(on a cart); Mic. iv. 12; Zech. xii. 6. The point of the comparison is 
not that the carcases of men shall be few, which handful would imply, 
but rather the contrary ; the dead will lie on the open field like rows 
of fallen grain but with no hope of being gathered up and garnered. 

23 f. A short utterance inserted here possibly because of some 
verbal connexion with v. 12 (wise man). The object of the passage is 
to exalt moral over intellectual or martial qualities. The knowledge 
of God and actions suitable to one who has this great privilege are the 
true basis of glorying. Both iw. are quoted in Clem, ad Cor. xii. 7, 
and V. 24 is referred to in Rom. ii. 17; 1 Cor. i. 31; 2 Cor. x. 17; and 
possibly in Phil. iii. 3. 

23. wisdom... might... riches. The three great sources of worldly 
pride and satisfaction then as now. The scholar, the athlete and the 
man of wealth each tends to find a substitute for God in his particular 
pursuit. No doubt the prophets had to put up with much opposition 
from these various classes on account of their fearless condemnation of 
existing abuses and ' vested interests.' It is interesting to compare 
this exposure of the folly of those who trust in mere material things 
with that in Eccles. ix . 1 1 where the condemnation is based on grounds 
which are purely utilitarian, the happenings of ' time and chance.' 



94 THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH [ix. 23-26 

the rich man glory in his riches : 24 but let him that glorieth 
glory in this, that he understandeth, and knoweth me, that I am 
the Lord which exercise lovingkin^ness, judgement, and right- 
eousness, in the earth: for in these things I delight, saith the 
Lord. 25 Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will 
punish all them which are circumcised in thei7- uncircumcision ; 
26 Egypt, and Judah, and Edom, and the children of Ammon, 
and Moab, and all that have the corners of their hair polled, 
that dwell in the wilderness : for all the nations are uncircum- 
cised, and all the house of Israel are uncircumcised in heart. 

24. To know God is the truest happiness on earth and is indeed 
the beginning in time of that Life whose quality is Eternal (Jn. xvii. 4). 
This stress on the value of knowing God is reminiscent of Hosea 
(e.g. V, 4, vi. 4, viii. 2); just as the insistence on the importance of 
doing the things in which God delights is characteristic of Micah 
(e.g. vi. 8, vii. 18). 

25 f These vv. are regarded by almost all critics as a detached 
fragment, but it is possible to trace out a connexion with the previous 
fragment; there Jeremiah condemned those who trusted in human 
attainments, here he condemns those who trust in religious privileges. 
The passage is interesting as an anticipation of the teaching of St Paul 
and of the distinction which he made between the circumcision which 
is merely that of the flesh and the deeper circumcision of the heart 
(see also on iv. 4)\ 

26. Judah comes in a strange position between Egypt and Edom, 
and its presence is hard to explain. 

all ■■ .uncircumcised. The exact force of this statement is not quite 
clear, does it mean that the rite was not practised by these nations? 
if so it conflicts with v. 25; or does it mean that their circumcision 
was merely an outward symbol with no deeper meaning? in which case 
it would not differ from that of Israel. Keil doubts whether circum- 
cision was customary amongst the other nations, but there is a large 
amount of evidence for it (see Driver's note on Gen. xvii. 23 ff".); the 
fact that the Philistines are so constantly referred to as 'the uncir- 
cumcised ' seems alone sufficient to prove it. On the contrary it might 
be inferred from the story in Gen. xxxiv that the Canaanites did not 
observe the rite. Circumcision was certainly known amongst the 
Egyptians (cf Josh. v. 9), and indeed Herodotus claims that they, 
with the Colchians and Ethiopians, were the originators of it ; and that 
from them it spread into Phoenicia (11. 36, 37, 104). In later times 



1 Philo in his treatise de Circum. ii. p. 211 m discusses the moral significance 
of the rite. 



IX. 26] THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH 95 

the Edomites were not in the habit of circumcising (Joseph. Ant. xii. 
ix. 1, XV. vii. 9), but this may well have been through their be- 
coming ashamed of the rite owing to the spread of Greek influence 
amongst them (cf. 1 Mace. i. 15; Herod, ii. 104), or through fear of 
persecution (cf. Assumpt. Moses viii. 1: 'the king... shall crucify those 
who confess to their circumcision '). St Jerome avoids the difficulty 
mentioned above by taking the phrase to refer to nations not previously 
enumerated. 

corners. ..polled. See also xxv. 23, xlix. 32. The reference is to 
the custom of certain Arab tribes who cut their hair in ' a circular 
form ' in honour of ' Bacchus ' (Herod, iii. 8). The habit is forbidden 
in Lev. xix. 27, evidently on the ground of its religious significance; 
the priests were even forbidden to shave off" the corners of their beards 
(Lev. xxi. 5). 



Chapter X. 1 — 16. 
The Vanity of Idols. 

This passage is evidently inserted out of its proper context, and indeed 
it shews signs of belonging to a period later than that of Jeremiah. In the 
first place the people here addressed are sincere followers of Jehovah who 
are apparently in danger of being led away by heathen forms of worship, 
especially idolatry; in Jeremiah's time such habits of worship were already only 
too common and indeed the prophet's condemnation had gone forth (cf. vii. I7ff, 
30 ff., &c.). 'Jeremiah's contemporaries looked for help from mireal gods, and 
are told by the prophet that they cannot save them (ii. 28, xi. 12) ; the Israelites 
here addressed are in a dififerent situation altogether and are told not to dread 
unreal gods for they cannot harm them.' Driver, LOT.^^. 254. Further this 
passage ridicules the idols and casts scorn on those who worship them, whereas 
Jeremiah did not make use of ridicule, but only of fiery indignation. Secondly 
the people referred to in this ch. appear to be living in closetouch with heathen 
nations and even to be under their power. If by nations the Chaldean invaders 
are to be understood the attitude taken up towards them is hardly consistent 
with that usually adopted by Jeremiah (see especially vv. 8 and 10). In any 
case this section (as was pointed out above) interrupts the sequence of thought 
between ix. 22 and x. 17, and if Lxx. is a trustworthy authority the text itself 
is in some confusion, for that version omits vc. 6—8 and 10, and places v. 9 in 
the middle of v. 5. 

The impression given by the passage as a whole is that it fits jn much better 
with ^he situation of the Hebrews when in exile in Babylon. During that period 
many of them must have been strongly attracted to the worship of idols by the 
elaborate ritual which was there practised, as well as by the fact that the gods 
of Babylon were the gods of their conquerors. The line of attack pursued by 
the writer is to all intents and purposes identical with that of 2 Isaiah, and 



96 THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH [x. 1-4 

Movers goes so far as to attribute the m. to his authorship (of. Is. xl. 19—22, 
xli. 7, 29, xliv. 9 — 20, Ixiv. 5 — 7). The section may be conveniently divided up 
into two portions : 

(a) A warning against putting trust in the works oj mer^s hands. 1 — 5. 
(6) A declaration of God^t omnipotence and omniscience. 6 — 16. 

X. 1 Hear ye the word which the Lord speaketh unto you, 
house of Israel : 2 thus saith the Lord, Learn not the way of 
the nations, and be not dismayed at the signs of heaven ; for the 
nations are dismayed at them. 3 For the ^ customs of the peoples 
are vanity : for ^one cutteth a tree out of the forest, the work of 
the hands of the workman with the axe. 4 They deck it with silver 
and with gold ; they fasten it with nails and with hammers, that 

^ Heb. statutes. ^ Or, it is but a tree which one cutteth 

X. 1 — 5. A warning against the foolishness of behaving like the 
heathen, and putting trust in mere senseless idols which have them- 
selves to be moved from place to place. 

2. Learn not the loay. The Heb. of this phrase is very awkward 
and a slight change in the pointing gives the translation Be not im- 
pelled (into the way of the heathen) \ 

signs of heaven. The religion of the people amongst whom the 
Israelites were dwelling evidently laid great stress on the movements 
of the heavenly bodies ; this was a characteristic of the Babylonian 
religion especially in its later developments (cf. L. W. King, Baby- 
lonian Religion., pp. 25 f.). Even in Christian countries comets and 
similar phenomena have been looked upon as portents ; and so it is not 
hard to imagine what effect they must have had upon a population of 
which the vulgar, at any rate, identified the heavenly bodies with the 
gods whom they worshipped (see on viii. 2). According to the Book 
of Jubilees (xii. 16 f.) it is foolish even to gaze at the stars because 
they are 'all in the hands of the Lord'; at the same time there is 
another aspect of the matter, and Joel tells us that ' wonders in the 
heavens ' are amongst the signs which are to accompany the approach 
of ' the great and terrible day of the Lord ' (ii. 30 f. ; cf. Am. viii. 9 ; 
Lk. xxi. 25). 

3. Idols were probably first set apart to be the dwelling of the 
deity; then they were carved to be a rough representation of him; 
and so in course of time they acquired an intrinsic sanctity of their 
own: cf. W. Robertson Smith, Rel. Sem.- pp. 211 f. 

tree. Cf. Wisd. xiii. 11; and Hor. Sat. i. viii. 1, 

4. The wooden idol is decorated in various ways and is then 

1 MT. reading is •11D7n"/X...'^^''I"?i<. Perles suggests pointing -nSpri and 
compares HoVd = ox-goad and the Heb. of xxxi. 18 (see JQR. N.S. ii. p. 104). 



X. 4-9] THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH 97 

it move not. 5 They are like a ^palm tree, of turned work, and 
speak not : they must needs be borne, because they cannot go. 
Be not afraid of them ; for they cannot do evil, neither is it in 
them to do good. 6 There is none like unto thee, O Lord ; thou 
art great, and thy name is great in might. 7 Who would not 
fear thee, King of the nations? for ^to thee doth it appertain : 
forasmuch as among all the wise men of the nations, and in all 
their royal estate, there is none like unto thee. 8 But they are 
^together brutish and foolish : Hhe instruction of idols, it is but 
a stock. 9 There is silver beaten into plates which is brought 
from Tarshish, and gold from ^Uphaz, the work of the artificer 

1 Or, pillar in a garden of cucumbers See Baruch vi. 70. 

^ Or, it beseemeth thee ^ Or, through one thing 

* Or, it is a doctrine of vanities 

5 According to some ancient versions, Ophir. 

secured to the place prepared for it, in order, either that it shall not 
fall down, which would be an ominous event (cf. 1 S. v. 3), or that it 
may not be stolen (cf. Bar. vi. 18). 

move. Lit. totter. Cf. Wisd. xiii. 16 'he taketh thought for it 
that it may not fall down, knowing that it is unable to help itself.' 

5. palm tree, of turned work. The rendering of RVm. is to be 
preferred — pillar in a garden of cucumbers, in other words a scarecrow 
(Bar. vi. 70). 

evil... good. That is they can do nothing at all. Cf. Gen. ii. 17. 
' The knowledge of good and evil ' means not a supreme judgement in 
ethical matters, but omniscience ; because everything comes within the 
two categories of good and evil. The same jeer is made against 
Jehovah by the dwellers of Jerusalem who are 'settled on their lees' 
(Zeph. i. 12). 

6 — 16. The great might and wisdom of God, especially as manifested 
in creation, places Him far above the idols of the heathen. 

6 — 8 are omitted by lxx., and the omission is supported by Streane 
(see The Double Text &c. p. 123). 

7. King of the nations. The idea that Jehovah is King of the 
nations is usually regarded as late (cf Ps. xliii., xlvi., xlviii. &c.). 

8. Ex nihilo nihil fit ; a stream cannot flow above its source, and 
from a material idol no moral or spiritual counsel is to be expected. 

9. Tarshish was the extreme western limit of the ancient world. 
It is probably to be identified with the Phoenician colony Tartessus on 
the Guadalquivir (i.e. Wady-el-Kebir, the great river). Tarshish gave 
its name to a special type of ocean-going vessel (1 K. xxii. 48, &c.) just 
as according to the Egyptian monuments ships engaged in traffic with 
Keftiu (Crete) were called ' Keftiu ' ships. Ezekiel tells us that it was 
noted for its silver (xxvii. 12, so also Diod. Sic. v. xxxv. 1). 

Uphaz. Here and Dan. x. 5. It is better to read Ophir, which was 



98 THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH [x. 9-" 

and of the hands of the goldsmith ; bhie and purple for their 
clothing; they are all the work of cunning men. 10 But the 
Lord is Hhe true God; he is the living God, and an everlasting 
king : at his wrath the earth trembleth, and the nations are not 
able to abide his indignation. 

11 ^Thus shall ye say unto them, The gods that have not 
made the heavens and the earth, ^ these shall perish from the 
earth, and from under the heavens. 

1 Or, God in truth 2 This verse is in Aramaic. 

* Or, they shall... under these heavens 

proverbial for its gold (cf. Ps. xlv. 10, &c.). On Ophir and the various 
suggestions which have beeu made as to its situation see Driver on 
Gen. X. 29 (with the important matter in the Addenda); it was 
probably in Arabia and perhaps the port from which the gold was 
embarked rather than the region which produced it. 

blue and purple. These two Avords often occur in conjunction. 
The former was the colour of the covering for the temple vessels (Nu. iv. 
6, &c.), also of the hangings of the palace at Shushan (Est. i. 6). Both 
words are applied to the hangings of the tabernacle (Ex. xxv. 4, &c.); 
in one passage the latter word is used of a woman's hair (Cant. vii. 
5), a very vivid touch which is in keeping with the other striking 
similes of the writer. The dye was obtained from a certain sea-shell 
{murex trunculus), hence the name applied to it in 1 Mace. iv. 23 (5<V) 

7rop(f>vpav OaXacratav. 

cunning men. The manufacture of idols was a ' skilled trade.' 
The idol consisted of a core of wood or some inferior metal which was 
plated over with gold or silver: cf Is. xl. 19 and see G. A. Cooke, 
North Sem. Inscript. p. 75. 

10. Cf. 1 Thes. i. 9 'Turned from idols to serve the living and 
true God ' ; Jn. v. 26. 

God is contrasted with the idols in three respects. They are false, 
He is true or as the margin says God in truth^\ they are inanimate, 
He is living; they are liable to destruction and the decay of all 
material things. He is eternal. 

Lxx. omits the v. 

11. _ This V. is in Aramaic and interrupts the sequence of vo. 10 and 
12. Driver thinks that it was probably originally a marginal note sug- 
gested by the argument of the text, and intended as a reply which might 
be used by Jews living in heathen countries, when invited to take part 
in idol-worship. Giesebrecht says the Aramaic is of the Western dialect 
not of the Eastern which was spoken in Babylon ; it is to be noticed that 
two distinct words are used for earth in the v. and that both have been 

1 Cf . the Jewish Prayer for the New Year : ' Purify our hearts to serve thee 
in truth. Thou, God, art Truth, and thy word is Truth and standeth for ever.' 



X. I2-.6] THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH 99 

12 He hath made the earth by his power, he hath established 
the world by his wisdom, and by his understanding hath he 
stretched out the heavens : 13 ^ when he uttereth his voice, there 
is a tumult of waters in the heavens, and he causeth the vapours 
to ascend from the ends of the earth; he maketh lightnings 
for the rain, and bringeth forth the wind out of his treasuries. 
14 Every man ^is become brutish and zs without knowledge; every 
goldsmith is put to shame by his graven image : for his molten 
image is falsehood, and there is no breath in them. 15 They 
are vanity, a work of ^delusion: in the time of their visitation 
they shall perish. 16 The portion of Jacob is not like these; 

' Or, at the sound of his giving an abundance of waters... when he causeth &c. 
or, he causeth <( c. 

2 Or, is too brutish to know ^ Or, mockery 

found in the Assuan papyri. (For further information as to the Aramaic 
dialects see E. Kautzscli, Gram, des Biblisch-Aram. §§ 6 f , Enc. Bib. 
280 ff., and on this passage in particular Driver, LOT? p. 255.) 

12 — 16 (=li. 15 — 19). The power of God is revealed in the wonders 
of the natural world. The thought contained in these vv. is one which 
occurs frequently in OT. and Driver has collected together a number of 
passages of Scripture ' containing thoughts or lessons suggested by the 
religious contemplation of nature ' ; see his note on Gen. ii 1 — 4 a. 

13. uttereth his voice. Thunder is a favourite accompaniment of 
a theophany, often ending in lightning and rain. 'The Lord also 
thundered in the heavens, and the Most High uttered his voice ; hail- 
stones and coals of fire'; Ps. xviii. 13; Ecclus. xliii. 14. 

the vapours to ascend. There is here no reference to the doctrine of 
evaporation ; it is the actual, visible motions of the clouds moving up 
from the distant horizon which the prophet has in mind ; cf 1 K. xviii. 
44; Ps. cxxxv. 7; and see W. Robertson Smith, Rel. Sem.- p. 106. 

lightnings for the rain. Pusey suggests into rain, the lightning dis- 
appearing in the rain which follows it. 

treasuries. Cf Dt. xxviii. 12 (of the rain); Job xxviii. 22 (of the 
snow and hail); and also the parallel in the well known passage in 
Virgil, Aen. i. 52 — 63 

' Hie vasto rex Jilolus antro 
Luctantes ventos tempestatesque sonoras 
Impei-io pi'emit, ac viuclis et carcere fi'enat,' &c. 

14. A description of the powerlessness of the idols and the despair 
of their makers in the presence of the powers of nature. 

graven image. Lit. carved : the generic name for an idol without 
reference to the substance or process of manufacture, 

16. portion of Jacob. Here only and in the parallel passage li. 19; 
cf. Ps. xvi. 5, Ixxiii. 26; and in a more material sense Nu. xviii. 20. 

7—2 



100 THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH [x. 16-19 

for he is the former of all things ; and Israel is the tribe of his 
inheritance : the Lord of hosts is his name. 

the tribe of his inheritance. Of. li. 19; Ps. Ixxiv. 2 where Dr Briggs 
thinks it is inserted from the present passage. 



Chapter X. 17—25. 

The Nearness of the Exile. 

This section resumes the discourse which was inteiTupted after ix. 22. Its 
genuineness has been questioned by many critics ; the text as it stands is cer- 
tainly corrupt in places (cf. lxx.), and there is great probability that more than 
one marginal gloss has found its way into the body of the passage. 

{a) The prophefs msion of Jerusalem hesieged. 17 — 22. 
(ft) An appeal to God for mercy. 23—25. 

17 Gather up ^thy wares out of the land, ^0 thou that abidest 
in the siege. 18 For thus saith the Lord, Behold, I will sling 
out the inhabitants of the land at this time, and will distress them, 
that they may ^feel it. 19 Woe is me for my hurt ! my wound is 

^ Or, thy bundle frovi the ground 
- Or, O inhabitant (Heb. inhabitress) of the fortress ^ Heb.^nd. 

17 — 22. The prophet tells of the vision which he has seen of Jeru- 
salem besieged and of the consternation which the event itself will 
occasion. 

17. Gather up thy wares: i.e. prepare for flight; cf. mg. Gather 
up thy bundle from the ground. The meaning of the word translated 
wares is somewhat doubtful, but it appears to be connected with the 
root underlying ' Canaanite.' This latter word is often used as a synonym 
for trader (cf. Prov. xxxi. 24; Job xli. 5). The mg. bundle derives 
the word from a root similar to one found in Arabic meaning ' to bind 
up,' 'contract.' It is to be noted that at a later time the exiles in 
Babylon were warned of the second fall of Jerusalem by Ezekiel gather- 
ing together his possessions as if to fly from a besieged city (Ez. xii. 

thou. Fem. in Heb. and therefore to be applied to the community. 

18. sling out. This is the only place where the expression means 
to drive a people into exile, though Abigail uses the metaphor in a some- 
what similar sense when she speaks of Jehovah slinging out the souls 
of David's enemies (1 S. xxv. 29; and cf. Is. xxii. 18 of the punishment 
of Shebna). 

19 f. These vv. bear a strong resemblance to iv. 19 — 21, and in 
them, as in the earlier passage, the prophet is speaking in the name of 
the community whose griefs he shares. 



X. .9-33] THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH 101 

grievous : but I said, Truly this is my ^grief, and I must bear it. 
20 My tent is spoiled, and all my cords are broken : my children 
are gone forth of me, and they are not: there is none to stretch 
forth my tent any more, and to set up my curtains. 21 For the 
shepherds are become brutish, and have not inquired of the 
Lord: therefore they have not ^prospered, and all their flocks 
are scattered. 22 The voice of a rumour, behold it cometh, and 
a great commotion out of the north country, to make the cities 
of Judah a desolation, a dwelling place of jackals. 23 Lord, 
I knovr that the way of man is not in himself : it is not in man 

1 Or, sickness 2 Qr, dealt loisely 

20. tent. The use of the figure of the tent to describe the whole 
nation is frequent, especially in the later writers. In Is. liv. 2 the en- 
larging of the tent and the lengthening of the cords is a sign of the 
increased prosperity and populousness of the land; and the Divine 
promise that Zion shall be ' a quiet habitation ' is couched in terms of 
the same figure, she is to be 'a tent which shall not be removed' 
(Is. xxxiii. 20). 

21. In this V. the image used to portray the desolation of the city 
is changed from that of an Arab whose tent has been broken down and 
his children destroyed, to that of a flock which has been scattered through 
the foolishness of its shepherds. This last figure seems to contain a 
reference to the folly of the rulers of Judah; cf. ii. 8, iii. 15, xxiii. 1, 
&c. 

22. jackals. See on ix. H. 

23 — 25. Jeremiah pleads the ignorance and feebleness of his 
countrymen as an excuse for their sin, and prays that Jehovah will 
have mercy upon His worshippers and avenge them upon their heathen 
oppressors. These vv. are rejected by Duhm and Erbt, as well as by 
Giesebrecht. There does not, however, seem to be any insuperable 
difficulty in regarding vv. 23 — 24 as genuine; and there is much to 
recommend Cornill's suggestion that Jeremiah is here making ' one 
last appeal to the unfathomable mercy of Jehovah ' not for a reversal 
of the judgement, for that is forbidden him (vii. 16, xi. 14, xiv. 11), 
but for clemency in carrying it out. v. 25 is almost identical with 
Ps. Ixxix. 6 f. and comes unnaturally from the lips of one who habitually 
regarded the nations as God's own appointed instruments for the very 
purpose of punishing Jacob ; in any case it reflects the time after the 
second fall of Jerusalem and therefore is out of place here. Possibly 
Jeremiah looking back on the fallen city felt that the nations had 
exceeded their commission and that they had rendered to Jerusalem 
'double' for her sins. 

23. An acknowledgement of man's dependence on the Divine will 
which taken alone would amount to fatalism ; cf Rom. ix. 18. A similar 



102 THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH [x. 23-XL i 

that walketh to direct his steps. 24 Lord, correct me, but 
with judgement; not in thine anger, lest thou ^bring me to no- 
thing. 25 -Pour out thy fury upon the heathen that know thee 
not, and upon the families that call not on thy name : for they 
have devoured Jacob, yea, they have devoured him and consumed 
him, and have laid waste his ^habitation. 

1 Heb. diminish me. ^ See Ps. Ixxix. 6, 7. '■^ Or, pasture 

sentiment is expressed in Ps. xxxvii. 23 ; Prov. xvi. 9 ; but with the 
idea of a man's choice being overruled by God. 

24. An admission of sin and an appeal for mercy. In the office for 
Morning and Evening Prayer this v. is used, as here, for the confession 
of common sin. 

25. Tlie genuineness of this v. is very doubtful (though see Introd, 
to the section); it suggests that a godly nation had been overcome and 
desolated by the ungodly, not that the wickedness of Judah was being 
punished. 

Chapters XI. 1 — XII. 6. 

Jeremiah's Proclamation of the Covenant and its Results. 

Jeremiah shews his sympathy \vith the legal side of religion by proclaiming 
the 'words of the covenant'; by which is meant some sort of code of Divine re- 
quirements. It is difficult however to know what exactly the phrase implies, 
the usual interpretation is that it represents the contents of the 'book of the 
law' found in the temple in Jhe days of Josiah (2 K. xxii. 8); which 'book' 
according to most critics formed the nucleus of Dt. In the account of Josiah's 
reformation in 2 K. xxii. — xxiii. no mention is made of Jeremiah, and the 
prophet seems to have had little sympathy mth the king's methods and actions 
(see Introd. pp. xxii f ). The covenant into which Josiah entered was accepted 
by 'all the people' (2 K. xxiii. 2) and at first sight there would seem to have 
been no need for its subsequent 'proclamation'; the words however can hardly 
be taken literally, and in any case even when the covenant had been accepted 
the need for explanation and comment would still be present. 

(a) The conditions of the covenant. 1 — 8. 

(6) The failure of the prophets warnings. 9 — 14. 

(c) The prayer of hypocrites will he in vain. 15 — 17. 

{d) The plots of the men of Anathoth. 18 — 23. 

{e) Why do the icicked prosper? xii. 1 — 6. 

XI. 1 The word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord, saying, 

XI. 1 — 8. Jeremiah is commanded to bring back to the minds of 
the men of Judah the conditions upon which they hold their land, viz. : 
that they keep the covenant which God made with their fathers at the 



XL .-5] THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH 103 

2 Hear ye the words of this covenant, and speak unto the men 
of Judah, and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem ; 3 and say thou 
unto them, Thus saith the Lord, the God of Israel : Cursed be 
the man that heareth not the words of this covenant, 4 which 
I commanded your fathers in the day that I brought them forth 
out of the land of Egypt, out of the iron furnace, saying, Obey 
my voice, and do them, according to all which I command you : 
so shall ye be my people, and I will be your God : 5 that I may 
establish the oath which I sware unto your fathers, to give them 
a land flowing with milk and honey, as at this day. Then an- 
swered I, and said. Amen, Lord. 

time of the exodus. It is rather a remarkable fact that the earlier 
prophets do not seem to look back to the legislation at Sinai as the 
beginning of the covenant relation between Israel and Jehovah, but to 
the deliverance from Egypt (cf Am. ii. 10; Hos. ii. 15, xi. 1, xii. 9, 13). 
The passage contains a double command, couched in very similar Ian- ' 
guage, to proclaim the covenant. Cheyne rejects the whole section as 
' poor in diction and in metre and quite out of harmony with what Jere- 
miah says elsewhere' {Decline and Fall of Kingdom of Judah, p. 32). 

2. Hear ye ...speak. The plural is awkward as there is no clue 
to the persons addressed; read the singular with lxx. 

this covenant. The phrase has no antecedent. The reference may 
be to the covenant made by Josiah ,and the people which was to them 
but a renewal of the ancient covenant made during the exodus ; or it 
may be a direct reference to the Deuteronomic covenant. The two 
references are not necessarily exclusive, in fact most critics consider 
that it was the Deuteronomic covenant which Josiah renewed, though 
there is a difficulty in referring to it as made when God brought the 
people out of Egypt, for such a reference suggests that Dt. was the 
content of the revelation at Sinai ^ 

4. Taking the Pentateuch as we now have it this v. would better 
refer to the covenant at Sinai than to the later one in Moab (see previous 
note). The whole of vv. 3 — 5 is, however, full of Dt. phrases and in 
fact forms a summary of the Dt, teaching. Tt .seems more than doubtful 
whether this passage is not the addition of a Dt. scribe, though such a 
theory has its difficulties in view of the apparent confusion of the legis- 
lation of Sinai with that of Moab. 

iron furnace. Cf Dt. iv. 20; Ez. xxii. 18 ff. 

5. milk and honey. A common phrase in J and D, once in H 

1 This difficulty is pointed out by Chapman, Int. to the Pent. p. 129, ' the 
reference,' he says, 'seems to be to the beginning rather than to the end of the 
journeyings. If the prophet knew the law as a part of the complete Book of 
Deut., would it not have been represented as proclaimed in the land of Moab 
(Deut. xxix. 1).' 



104 THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH [xi. 6-10 

6 And the Lord said unto me, Proclaim all these words in 
the cities of Judah, and in the streets of Jerusalem, saying, Hear 
ye the words of this covenant, and do them. 7 For I earnestly 
protested unto your fathers in the day that I brought them up 
out of the land of Egypt, even unto this day, rising early and 
protesting, saying, Obey my voice. 8 Yet they obeyed not, nor 
inclined their ear, but walked every one in the stubbornness of 
their evil heart: therefore I brought upon them all the words 
of this covenant, which I commanded them to do, but they did 
them not. 

9 And the Lord said unto me, A conspiracy is found among 
the men of Judah, and among the inhabitants of Jerusalem. 
10 They are turned back to the iniquities of their forefathers, 

(Lev. XX. 24), outside the Pentateuch it occurs here, xxxii. 22, and 
Ez. XX. 6, 15 only. 

Amen. For the different uses of Amen in the Bible see an article 
in JQR. Oct. 1896. 

6. Cf. Rom. ii. 13. 

7 f. These vv. are omitted by Lxx. ; they are closely parallel to vii. 
23 f. and also to w. 4 f. of this same chapter. 

pi'otested. God's protest is a solemn declaration of His requirernents 
in spite of man's disobedience and neglect; cf. the note in Driver's 
Deut. pp. 80f. 

8. ths words of this covenant, i.e. the punishments threatened for 
refusal to obey the law. 

9 — 14. In the previous section Jeremiah is represented as pro- 
claiming the covenant and warning the people of the consequences 
of refusal to fulfil its requirements ; in this section the warnings have 
proved vain and the people have already fallen away from their obedi- 
ence. The reformation has been a failure and the state of Judah is as 
bad as ever. This ' word from the Lord ' probably came to the prophet 
in the early days of Jehoiakim's reign when the pathetic death of Josiah 
had crushed out any sparks of a true and living faith in Jehovah which 
the king had succeeded in kindling by his example. In the presence of 
all the iniquities and idolatries of the nation the prophet's denunciation 
once more rings out. 

9. conspiracy. It is not necessary to find in this word any organised 
intrigue (such as a plot by the pro-Egyptian party), but merely a vivid 
description of the effect of the conduct of the men of Judah ; by follow- 
ing false gods they had shewn themselves to be bound together in an 
agreement, although it was an implied and not a deliberate one. The 
same expression is used by Ezekiel of the prophets (xxii. 25 ; cf Hos. 
vi. 9). 

10. forefathers. Is this a reference to their immediate ancestors 



XI. ic^-is] THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH 105 

which refused to hear my words ; and they are gone after other 
gods to serve them : the house of Israel and the house of Judah 
have broken my covenant which I made with their fathers. 
11 Therefore thus saith the Lord, Behold, I will bring evil upon 
them, which they shall not be able to escape ; and they shall cry 
unto me, but I will not hearken unto them. 12 Then shall the 
cities of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem go and cry unto 
the gods unto whom they offer incense : but they shall not save 
them at all in the time of their Hrouble. 13 For according to 
the number of thy cities are thy gods, Judah ; and according 
to the number of the streets of Jerusalem have ye set up altars 
to the ^shameful thing, even altars to burn incense unto Baal. 
14 Therefore pray not thou for this people, neither lift up cry 
nor prayer for them : for I will not hear them in the time that 
they cry unto me ^for their Hrouble. 

15 ^What hath my beloved to do in mine house, seeing she 

^ Heb. evil. 2 jjg^^ shame. See ch. iii. 24. 

^ Many ancient authorities have, in the time of. 

* The text is obscure. The Sept. renders thus: Why hath the beloved wrought 
abomination in my house ? Shall vows and holy flesh take away from thee thy 
wickednesses, or shall thou escape by these ? 

of the pre-reformation period or to the generation of the exodus 1 Cf. 
ii. 2 f 

12. To the men of Judah the test of _the power of a god was a 
practical one, his ability to help his worshippers. Josiah had received 
no help from Jehovah against Egypt, but, so the prophet warns them, 
neither will they receive any help from their newly adopted objects of 
worship; cf. ii. 28, which is evidently in the writer's mind though he 
drops the irony of the former passage and speaks in all earnest- 
ness. 

13. The decay of the national religion is followed by the springing 
up of a huge crop of superstitions. Faith in the established worship 
having been shaken men feel left to their own devices and each city and 
every street makes its own choice of the deity under whose protection 
it will place itself ' The soul that is not unified and harmonised by the 
fear of the one God, is torn and distracted by a thousand contending 
passions, and vainly seeks peace and deliverance by worshipping at a 
thousand unholy shrines.' (Ball, ad loc.) 

14. The first half of the v. should probably be omitted, having been 
introduced from vii. 16 j the whole section then refers to the vain 
attempts of the people to obtain the help of God whilst not running 
the risk of giving up any of their superstitious practices. 

15 — 17. The prayer of hypocrites will be in vain; and the fair 



106 THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH [xi. 15-18 

hath wrought lewdness ivith many, and the holy flesh is passed 
from thee? ^when thou doest evil, then thou rejoicest. 16 The 
Lord called thy name, A green olive tree, fair with goodly fruit: 
with the noise of a great tumult he hath kindled fire upon it, 
and the branches of it are broken. 17 For the Lord of hosts, 
that planted thee, hath pronounced evil against thee, because of 
the evil of the house of Israel and of the house of Judah, which 
they have wrought for themselves in provoking me to anger by 
offering incense unto Baal. 

18 And the Lord gave me knowledge of it, and I knew it: 

^ Or, when thine evil cometh 

olive tree which gave a deceitful promise of goodly fruit will be blasted 
(cf. Matt. xxi. 19). 

15. It is impossible to get any meaning out of MT. as it stands 
and most critics follow the lxx. which is represented in the margin. 

my beloved. Here applied to the whole nation as in Ps. Ix. 5 
(=cviii. 6); in Dt. xxxiii: 12 it is used of the tribe of Benjamin only; 
and in 2 S, xii. 24 f. of an individual, Solomon or Jedidiah (cf. also 
Ps. cxxvii. 2 'so he giveth his beloved sleep'). 

holy flesh. Cf Hag. ii. 12. 

16. olive tree. This tree was a fit symbol for prosperity on account 
of its great beauty and value (cf. Hos. xiv. 6 ; Ps. lii. 8, cxxviii. 3). 
Israel is more frequently depicted as a vine though in the famous alle- 
gory in Rom. xi. the olive is selected by St Paul. 

tumult. The same Heb. word as that used for the noise of the 
wings of the living creatures in Ez. i. 24. Perhaps the writer wished 
to make use of the picture of a smouldering fire being fanned into flame 
by a stormy wind. 

17. Judah is to suffer for the sins of the house of Israel as well as 
for its own: a thought which is found in Dan. ix. 7 and Ass. Moses 
iii. 5. 

18 — 23. The Lord reveals to Jeremiah a plot which has been formed 
against him by his fellow-townsmen. The prophet's judgement upon 
them. 

This section has no obvious connexion with the two that go before 
and they may have been grouped together because in v. 9 there is 
mention of a conspiracy and here an account is given of an actual plot, 
not, it is true against Jehovah, but against His prophet and spokesman. 
At the same time it is evident that some introductory matter has been 
omitted at the beginning of the section, as the names of the offenders 
are only given at the end and then almost by chance. It has been sug- 
gested that the reason for the deadly hatred exhibited by the men of 
Anathoth against Jeremiah was the part which he took in carrying out 
the reforms of Josiah including the centralisation of all worship at 



XL 18-20] THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH 107 

then thou shewedst rae their doings. 19 But I was like a gentle 
lamb that is led to the slaughter ; and I knew not that they had 
devised devices against me, saying, Let us destroy the tree with 
the ^ fruit thereof, and let us cut him otf from the land of the 
living, that his name may be no more remembered. 20 But, 

' Heb. bread. 

Jerusalem. This reform would have the effect of ' disestablishing ' the 
local sanctuaries, including that at Anathoth, and in the latter case the 
bitterness would be the greater as the priests there were descendants 
of Abiathar, who was displaced in Solomon's reign by Zadok (1 K. ii. 27) 
from whom the Jerusalem priests claimed their succession. The sons 
of Abiathar felt that the priesthood at the temple was theirs by right 
and now they were to be deprived of even their own sanctuary and only 
to be allowed to minister at all by becoming subordinates to their hated 
and triumphant rivals, That a member of their own family and possibly 
of the priestly guild itself should support such a movement must have 
seemed to them an intolerable wrong. In any case the secrecy with 
which the plots were made would only be necessary in the reign of 
Josiah. 

18. This V. seems to take for granted that the reader is in full 
possession of the facts of the attempt upon Jeremiah's life. Cornill 
suggests that this section should be transposed so as to follow xii. 6. 

19. gentle. AV. an ox is a possible translation of MT. (cf Hesiod, 
Op. 403), but RV. gives a better meaning to the comparison. The idea 
is that of a lamb which has been brought up ' as one of the family ' 
(cf 2 S. xii. 3) without suspicion of the fate in store for it. The word 
used here for lamb is almost always applied to lambs for sacrifices^; cf 
Is. liii. 7 which is possibly founded on this passage. 

the tree with the fruit. Heb. bread which is an unusual phrase 
though it is defended by Keil on the grounds of there being a similar 
Arabic usage. It seems better however to adopt the slight emendation 
suggested by Hitzig and to read sap. The figure then represents a 
strong young tree in the fulness of life, and the reference is to the 
youth and vigour of the prophet. The v. is quoted by Tertullian, adv. 
Marc. iii. 19 and also by St Athanasius in such a manner as to make it 

a forecast of the crucifixion, SeSre koI c/x/SaAw/iev ^vXov cis tov aprov avTOV 

(De Inc. XXXV. 3). In Ecclus. vi. 3 f a dried-up tree (i.e. a tree without 
fruit) is an expression for a childless man : but it is practically certain 
that Jeremiah was unmarried (xvi. 2). 

land of the living. A phrase Cjommon in Ezekiel (xxvi. 20, &c.) 
and in the Psalms (xxvii. 13, &c.). 

1 In many systems of worship the victim is supposed to oifer itself spontaneously 
(cf. Gen. xxii. 13), and if it struggles on the way to the altar it is considered 
to be a bad omen (see Livy, xxi. 63, and cf. Robertson Smith's note in Rel. Sem.'^ 
p. 309). 



108 THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH [xi. .o-xii. . 

Lord of hosts, that judgest righteously, that triest the reins and 
the heart, let me see thy vengeance on them : for unto thee have 
I revealed my cause. 21 Therefore thus saith the Lord concern- 
ing the men of Anathoth, that seek thy life, saying, Thou shalt 
not prophesy in the name of the Lord, that thou die not by our 
hand : 22 therefore thus saith the Lord of hosts, Behold, I will 
^punish them : the young men shall die by the sword ; their sons 
and their daughters shall die by famine ; 23 and there shall be 
no remnant unto them: for I will bring evil upon the men of 
Anathoth, ^even the year of their visitation. 

XII. 1 Righteous art thou, Lord, when I plead with thee: 

1 Heb. visit upon. 2 Qr, in the year 

20. the reins and the heart. The reins (or kidneys) to the Hebrews 
were the seat of the emotions and the heart the seat of the reasoning 
faculty. God sees both, for to Him 'all hearts are open and all desires 
known' and therefore He has all the material at His disposal for forming 
a perfectly just judgement. 

unto thee have I revealed. This statement seems out of place in view 
of God's admitted omniscience and some critics by deriving the Hebrew 
word from another root translate upon thee have I rolled my cause. 

21. Thou shalt not prophesy. Of. the similar command in Am. ii. 12, 
V. 10; Micah was also bidden to keep silence (ii. 6), as was Isaiah 
(xxviii. 9 f.). 

in the name of the Lord. Cf. note on xxvi. 16. 

die not by our hand. The men of Anathoth evidently intended to 
take the law into their own hands. 

22 f In these vv. Jeremiah declares that the sin of the men of 
A.nathoth cannot fail to bring its due punishment : there is nothing 
vindictive in the prophet's utterance. (Cf. xiv. 15, xHv. 12.) No doubt 
Anathoth from its close proximity to Jerusalem would suffer severely 
during the siege. 

23. no remnant. This expression is not to be taken literally, as 
according to Ezra ii. 23 ; Neh. vii. 27 the number of the men of Anathoth 
who returned from exile was 128. The Heb. word for remnant in this 
V. (n'^yXi^) is used with a variety of meanings, as Dr Briggs has pointed 
out, all of which can be illustrated from the book of Jeremiah : (a) pos- 
terity as here and in 2 S. xiv. 7 ; (b) remainder of a thing, vi. 9, xxxix. 3 ; 
Ps. Ixxvi. 10; (c) remnant of a people, xxxi. 7; Ez. ix. 8, &c. 

XII. 1—6. This section contains one of the earliest extant pas- 
sages in Hebrew literature, if not the earliest, in which there is a 
discussion of the eternal problem "of the prosperity of the wicked'. 

^ Cf. H. W. Robinson, ' the problem of individual suffering finds expression first 
of all in the prophet who is most individual in his thought and experience,' Reliq. 
Ideas of OT. p. 171. 



XII. i] THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH 109 

Jeremiah is God's servant and yet he is in a perilous state, his life is 
constantly threatened and made a misery to him ; his eiiemies on the 
other hand are godless anST evil and yet they prosper and live in security 
and_ease. It is to be noted that the prophet in spite of the urgency of 
the problem and its intimate relation to his own sufferings does not for 
a moment lose his confidence i^ God's justice. He 'sets down,' as Pusey 
said of Habakkuk, 'at the very beginning his entire trust in God... 
teaching us that the only safe way of inquiry into God's ways is by * 
setting out with a living conviction that they are mercy and truth.' 

The passage, in whole or in part, is accepted as genuine by nearly 
all critics (Duhm would reject it as post-exilic, but the reasons which 
he gives seem insufficient). Cornill looks upon vv. 1 — 2 at any rate as 
being genuine beyond all dispute; he would place the passage before 
xi. 18 — 23 and thinks that the utterance comes from a time imme- 
diately after the tragedy of Megiddo when the fate of Josiah had 
attracted universal attention to the problem. 

To a cursory reading the passage seems to oflfer no solution of the 
difficulty but on going deeper there are to be found what seem to be 
clear traces of Jeremiah's having reached the only true and worthy 
answer to the question. The two contrasted statements in vv. 2 b, Sa 
thou art near in tJieir mouthy and far from their reins and But thou, 
Lord, knoivest me; thou seest me, and triest mine heart toward thee, 
are generally interpreted as being evidence of the hypocrisy and sin 
of his enemies when compared with the innocence and sincerity of the 
prophet himself; but may they not be read as a statement of the great 
fact which consoles the suffering man of God in his affliction— that 
though his enemies live and are mighty yet he has in his constant access 
to God a 'prosperity' which as far as real happiness is concerned goes 
infinitely beyond any which they can possibly enjoy? 'He says, in effect, 
that in spite of the material prosperity of the wicked, he knows that no . 
relation exists between them and God, whereas he feels that he has ' 
entered with God into such an intimate relation that nothing further 
can be desired ; in this at-oneness with God he possesses the supreme 
good. In other words, he recognises^that not material prosperity con- 
stitutes man's happiness, but that peace and strength of soul which is 
enjoyed only by him who lives a life of righteousness and feels himself 
at one~with God.' Buttenwieser, op. cit. p. 1<S. If this interpretation 
be adopted it seems almost necessary to reject v. 3 h which has already 
been done upon other grounds by Duhm and even by Cornill. The 
section ends with a rebuke to the prophet for his impatience; if he 
complains at the beginning of his trials how will he be able to endure 
those greater hardships which are yet to come upon him ? The problem 
of the prosperity of the wicked is often referred to in OT., notably in 
Ps. xxxvii., xlix., Ixxiii., and in the book of Job where the question is 
approached from the side of the suffering of the righteous. 

1. when I plead. Plead has a forensic application; the prophet is 
willing to allow that if he were to bring an action against God, God 
would gain the verdict. Cf. Theognis, 373 ff. 'Dear Zeus, I wonder at 



4/" 



110 THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH [xii. 1-5 

yet would I ^reason the cause with thee: wherefore doth the 
way of the wicked prosper? wherefore are all they at ease that 
deal very treacherously ? 2 Thou hast planted them, yea, they 
have taken root; they gi'ow, yea, they bring forth fruit: thou 
art near in their mouth, and far from their reins. 3 But thou, 
O Lord, knowest me ; thou seest me, and triest mine heart to- 
ward thee: pull them out like sheep for the slaughter, and 
2 prepare them for the day of slaughter. 4 How long shall the 
land mourn, and the herbs of the whole country wither? for the 
wickedness of them that dwell therein, the beasts are consumed, 
and the birds ; because they said, He shall not see our latter end. 
5 If thou hast run with the footmen, and they have wearied thee, 

1 Heb. speak judgements. ^ Heb. sanctify. 

thee : thou art the lord of all; thou hast great power and honour and 
knowest well the thoughts of each man's heart. How then, son of 
Cronus, dost thou think lit to deal the same measure to sinful and just, 
careless whether their hearts are turned to moderation or to insolence?' 
Quoted hy .James Adam, Relig. Teachers of Greece, p. 87. 

2. in. their mouth. The wicked have God's name on their lips but 
their deeds are not in agreement with their words. 

3. triest mine heart. The prophet's heart was tried by the bitter 
test of suffering. 

sheep. Cf. xi. 19, a somewhat vindictive reversal of the metaphor. 
Cheyne says of this passage, 'There is the dross of human frailty in 
this... to be excused, not to be justified. And whenever we read such 
words even in the Scripture... let us mentally correct them in accord- 
ance with the words, "Father, forgive them; for they know not what 
they do.'" {Life and Times of Jer. t^. III.) 

day of slaughter. Cf. xxv. 34; Jas. v. 5; and in extra-canonical 
literature, Ps. Sol. viii. 1 ; En. xciv. 9. 

4. In the eyes of the prophets the dumb creation and even the land 
itself are involved in the sufferings of the human race (cf Ps. cvii. 34), 
but they also share in its rejoicings (Is. xliii. 20, &c.). 

mourn. Cf Am. i. 2; Hos. iv. 3; Joel i. 10, &c. 

ou/r latter end. The meaning is that even if the prophet's predic- 
tions are fulfilled he will not have the satisfaction of knowing this for 
means will have been found to bring his life to a sudden close in the 
mean time. Probably, however, the reading of lxx. is to be preferred, 
He (i.e. God) seeth not our ivays. 

5 f These vv. seem a little out of place though it is hardly neces- 
sary to suppose that anything has fallen out after v. 4. God makes His 
reply to Jeremiah, and, as it were, forecloses the discussion by rebuking 
the prophet's impatience, just as in the drama of Job He overwhelms 



XII. 5, 6] THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH 1 1 1 

then how canst thou contend with horses? and though in a land 
of peace thou art secure, yet how wilt thou do in the ^ pride of 
Jordan? 6 For even thy brethren, and the house of thy father, 
even they have dealt treacherously with thee; even they have 
cried aloud after thee : believe them not, though they speak 
^fair words unto thee. 

1 Or, swelling 2 Heb. good things. 

the patriarch from the midst of the whirhvind (xxxviii. 1 ff.). Two 
striking figures are used to warn Jeremiah of the hardships which lie 
before him ; his past endurance_has been only that of one who runs 
against men, he will yet have to run against horsesfaiid^ven the dangers 
througTrwlifch he has come have been those of a civilised land, those 
of the future wiir be like the perils of the jungle. 

5. contend. The Hebrew word gives the idea of hotly striving to 
excel and is used again in xxii. 15 of Jehoiakim's building operations. 

pride of Jordan. Lit. sivelling, the 'ld.p8r]v 8pv/xos of Josephus (Bell. 
Jud. vii. vi. 5), the luxuriant undergrowth of the Jordan valley which 
formed the home of wild beasts (cf xlix. 19 = 1. 44; Zech. xi. 3). The 
great heat caused the trees and shrubs to grow to an immense height. 
Travellers of the present day record temperatures of 109° F. in the 
shade during the month of May and 95° F. even after sunset. The valley 
is still the haunt of wild animals. 



Chapter XH. 7—17. 
God's Lament over the Desolation of His Heritage. 

This prophecy is usually held to refer to the invasion q£ . Ju^iah by the 
neighbouring peoples after the revolt of Jehoiakim against Nebuchadrezzar 
(see 2 K. xxiv. 1, 2). The opening v. however suggests a calamity of even greater 
magnitude ; the forsaking by Jehovah of His house can hardly refer to anything 
less than the fall of Jerusalem itself. If the whole passage is a unity it seems, 
most likely that it comes from the time immediately after the first capture o^ 
Jerusalem in 597 B.C. when indignation was still felt against the surrounding 
nations for their share in the desolation of the land. There is a good deal how- 
ever to be said for Duhm's distinction between vv. 7 — 13 and vv. 14 — 17. In 
the earlier section there is no clear reference to attacks from Judah's neighbours, 
V. 9 is merely a description of the besiegers, and in the same way the many 
shepherds of v. 10 are the various leaders of the Babylonian army as in vi. 3. 
Duhm's further suggestion that vv. 14 — 17 come from the time of John Hyrcanus 
has little to recommend it and is open to serious objections (cf. Cornill, 
ad loc). 



112 THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH [xii. 7-12 

7 I have forsaken mine house, I have cast oiF mine heritage ; 
I have given the dearly beloved of my soul into the hand of her 
enemies. 8 Mine heritage is become unto me as a lion in the 
forest : she hath uttered her voice against me ; therefore I have 
hated her. 9 Ts mine heritage unto me as a speckled bird of prey? 
are the birds of prey against her round about? go ye, assemble 
all the beasts of the field, bring them to devour. 10 Many 
shepherds have destroyed my vineyard, they have trodden my 
portion under foot, they have made my pleasant portion a 
desolate wilderness. 11 They have made it a desolation; it 
mourneth unto me, being desolate; the whole land is made 
desolate, because no man layeth it to heart. 12 Spoilers are 
come upon all the bare heights in the wilderness : for the sword 

7 — 13. This section is generally accepted as being the work of 

Jeremiah ; the main point upon which critics are at variance in regard 

to it is as to whether it is a forecast of events about to come to pass, 

1 or whether it looks back on a devastation already accomplished, the 

latter view being that supported by Graf and Hitzig. 

7. Tliis 'V. seems connected with xi. 15 and is the sequel to it; 
because the beloved of Jehovah has polluted His house, therefore He has 
forsaken it and she herself has been given over to her enemies. 

mine house. Probably here used in the wider sense of land (as in 
Hos. viii. 1, ix. 15) rather than temple. 

8. as a lion. Judah has roared against the Lord like a lion and 
has taken up a position of hostihty to Him. This simile is a good 
example of Hebrew usage which lays stress on one point only of the 
comparison and ignores the rest; here, for example, there is no question 
of the action of Judah inspiring fear in the Lord, such as the roar of 
the lion brings to the wayfarer. For a similar reason, Duhm's sugges- 
tion, that the use of a lion as a symbol of the nation implies that it was 
still powerful, may be put on one side. 

9. unto me., .bird of prey &c. Graf suggests that ■•?, thtt, should be 
read for v, unto me; the two questions then become one and may be 
translated Is mine heritage as a speckled bird of prey, that the birds 
of prey &c. The figure is based on the habit of birds attacking any 
other bird of unfamiliar plumage; this habit was noted and commented 
on by classical writers (cf. PHny, Hist. Nat. x. 19 ; Tacitus, Ann. vi. 28 ; 
Suetonius, Caes. 81). 

all the beasts. Cf. Ls. Ivi. 9. 

11. unto me. Cf. Gen. xxxiii. 13 and xlviii. 7 (RVm.). 

no man layeth it to heart, i.e. no one has considered what will be 
the result of Judah's policy; cf v. 13; Is. Ivii. 1. 

12. bare heights. A favourite word in Jeremiah where six out of 
the ten instances of its use occur. 



XII. I.-I7] THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH 113 

of the Lord devoureth from the one end of the land even to the 
other end of the land: no flesh hath peace. 13 They have sown 
wheat, and have reaped thorns; they have put themselves to 
pain, and profit nothing : and ^ye shall be ashamed of your fruits, 
because of the fierce anger of the Lord. 

14 Thus saith the Lord against all mine evil neighbours, that 
touch the inheritance which I have caused my people Israel to 
inherit : Behold, I will pluck them up from ofl" their land, and 
will pluck up the house of Judah from among them. 15 And it 
shall come to pass, after that I have plucked them up, I will 
return and have compassion on them; and I will bring them 
again, every man to his heritage, and every man to his land. 
16 And it shall come to pass, if they will diligently learn the 
ways of my people, to swear by my name. As the Lord liveth ; 
even as they taught my people to swear by Baal ; then shall they 
be built up in the midst of my people. 17 But if they will not 

^ Or, he ye ashamed Or, they shall be ashamed 

flesh. This expression is used to represent humanity in its weak- 
ness and transitoriness (cf. Is. xl. 5 f. &c.). In xxxii. 27 the stress is 
on the close connexion between the natural man and the lower world. 

13. The crop is not merely to be a failure (as in Hag. i. 6), or to 
become the property of foemen (as in Mic. vi. 15), but it will produce 
deadly evil (cf. Is. lix. 5). The exact reference is obscure, the subject 
of the sentence, whether it be taken to be the sjwileis of v. 1 2 or the 
people of Judah, is equally difficult in the present context of the verse. 

14 — 17. Judah is after all the Lord's inheritance, although He 
appears to have forsaken it, and those who ravage it will themselves 
be turned away into perpetual exile unless indeed they adopt the 
worship of Jehovah. The attitude of this prophecy is not that which 
is usually found in Jeremiah: here it is the nations who have caused | 
Judah to sin {v. 16), she herself is hardly responsible and in due time* 
Jehovah will restore her. There is no condemnation of the sin which 
brought upon Judah her punishment and it is Jehovah who will turn 
to Judah, not Jud_ah who will turn to Him. Such an attitude of mind 
is, however, quite possible in Jeremiah, especially after the destruction 
of the kingdom, and the expectation of the exile of the other nations 
is clearly stated in ch. xxv. 

14. evil neighbours. The destruction is not to be due to Babylon 
alone : cf Ez. xxv. 3, 8, xxviii. 24, &c. ; Zech. ii. 8. 

""15. Cf Am. ix. 14; Ez. xxviii. 25. 
16. For a similar anticipation of the nations turning to worship 
Jehovah see xvi. 19 f 

he built up. Cf. Job xxii. 23 * If thou return unto the Almighty 

B. 8 



114 THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH [xii. 17-xiii. 1 

hear, then will I pluck up that nation, plucking up and destroying 
it, saith the Lord. 

thou shalt be built up.' The Idea of the spiritual society as a building 
is further developed in many well-known passages in NT. (e.g. Eph. ii. 
20 f.; 1 Pet. ii. 5, &c.). ' "" 

17. The opportunity of hearing the word of the Lord is also an 
opportunity of refusing to accept it, and so of reaping the consequences : 
of. Is, Ix. 12; Zech. xiv. 17. ' — 

Chapter XIII. 
Warnings and Lamentation. 

This ch. consists of a series of warnings, some in the form of acted parables, 
ending with a lamentation over the fate of Jerusalem. There is no apparent 
connexion between the various sections except a similarity in subject matter, 
which is doubtless the reason for their being grouped together. The following 
are the natural divisions of the ch. ; {a) and (6) are written in the elevated prose 
style so often adopted by the prophets, the rest in the Qinah measure. 

(a) The parable of the buried waist-cloth. 1 — 11. 

(6) The parable of the wine-bottles. 12 — 14. 

(c) A warning to the pride ofJudah. 15 — 17. 

{d) A warning to the pride of the ruHng house. 18 f. 

(e) A lamentation over ^the beautiful flock.' 20 — 27. 

XIII. 1 Thus said the Lord unto me, Go, and buy thee a 

XIII. 1 — 11. The prophet in accordance with God's instructions 
buys a linen waist-cloth, and after wearing it for a short time receives 
a second command to hide it in a hole in the rock on the Euphrates. 
After some time a third message from God orders him to recover it, 
and on so doing he finds that the waist-cloth has become marred and 
useless. The section closes with an explanation of the parable. 

Several questions are raised by this parable, (i) Is it intended to 
be taken as literal fact, and if so what does the prophet mean by 
Euphrates ? (ii) What is the teaching intended to be conveyed ? 
(iii) From what period of the prophet's activity does the parable come? 
(i) Parables such as this invariably cause disagreement amongst critics 
as to whether the prophet is recording events which actually took place 
ior whether he merely employs a vivid form of narrative. In the case 
of many of Ezekiel's parables it is almost certain that some of the actions 
were performed by the prophet in imagination only, and the same pro- 
bably applies to Jeremiah &,lso. In the present instance the mention of 
a specific place as the scene of the action does not by any means pre- 
clude discussion as to the reality of what took place — the imagination of 



XIII. r-4] THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH 115 

linen girdle, and put it upon thy loins, and put it not in water. 
2 So I bought a girdle according to the word of the Lord, and 
put it upon my loins. 3 And the word of the Lord came unto 
me the second time, saying, 4 Take the girdle that thou hast 
bought, which is upon thy loins, and arise, go to Euphrates, and 

the prophets was exceedingly vivid, and Jeremiah would quite naturally 
fix upon some place as being suitable in his own mind for hiding the 
girdle. If the Heb. word ^'}r' ( PVa ^A)_rendered Euphrates be taken to 
refer to the town of Parah, not many miles from the prophet's home at i 
Anathoth, there is a sufficient reason for his choice (see further on v. 4). 
The question, however, is not one of great importance ; the teaching for 
which the incident forms the vehicle is quite independent of any ques- 
tion of whether it actually happened or not. (if) Critics agree that the 
waist-cloth represents Judah, which has been brought near to God, but 
they disagree_as^ tothe interpretation of the details. Graf, followed by 
Cornill, looks upon the spoiling of the girdle as jrepresenting the moral 
corruption of the people through Babylonian influences (cf ii. 18"), 
which was the cause of the exile ; Keil and the older critics say that it 
' signifies not the moral but the physical decay of the covenant people,' ' 
which was to take place after God had thrown them ofi" from Him- 
self The second line of explanation seems to fit the time sequence of 
the parable better than J;he former, (iii) Cornill, who sees in the cor- 
ruption of the girdle the influence of Babylon, places the incident early 
in the ministry of Jeremiah. There is, however, very little clue to the 
period from which it comes. 

1. linen was the material for priestly wear (Lev. vi. 10, &c.). 

girdle. The garment here meant is not a girdle but rather a waist- 
cloth. See W. Robertson Smith in JQR. 1892, pp. 289 flf. 

put it not in water. The girdle was to be kept from the water which 
was afterwards to ca use its decay : commentators see inlliis a_reference 
to the early purity of Isxagl and Judah. 

4. Euphrates. "The English name for this river is derived, through 
the Greek, from the Old Persian Ufrdtu ; whilst the Heb. Jji? (P'rdth) 
represents the Assyrian Purdtu. In this passage there is some dispute 
regarding the correctness of translation of the Heb., because in other 
places when it represents the Euphrates it usually has the word for 
'river' written befor.e-it; but as examples occur without any such addi- 
tion (e.g. li. 63; Gen. ii. 4) this objection is not insuperable. As the 
future scene of the exile of Judah, the Euphrates would be a suitable | 
place for burying the waist-cloth ; but against it there are two further 
objections. The first is geographical; the river in_ the neighbourhood 
of Babylon is not rocky, though above Carchemish steep banks are 
to be found which would suit the requirements of the v. The other 
objection is more serious; it has been pointed out that the decay of the 
waist-cloth takes place after the burying in the rock, and therefore that . 
Jeremiah intended to imply by the parable that the captivity would ' 

8—2 



116 THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH [xiii. 4-10 

hide it there in a hole of the rock. 5 So T went, and hid it by 
Euphrates, as the Lord commanded me. 6 And it came to pass 
after many days, that the Lord said unto me, Arise, go to 
Euphrates, and take the girdle from thence, which I commanded 
thee to hide there. 7 Then I went to Euphrates, and digged, 
and took the girdle from the place where I had hid it: and, 
behold, the girdle was marred, it was profitable for nothing. 
8 Then the word of the Lord came unto me, saying, 9 Thus 
saith the Lord, After this manner will I mar the pride of Judah, 
and the great pride of Jerusalem. 10 This evil people, which 
refuse to hear my words, which walk in the stubbornness of their 
heart, and are gone after other gods to serve them, and to worship 
them, shall even be as this girdle, which is profitable for nothing. 

end in the ruin of the nation, a view which is quite opposed to his 
teaching elsewhere. As long ago as 1880 Birch, in PEFQS. pp. 236 ff., 
suggested that the Heb. should be read as nns (Parah), and that the 
reference is to the small town mentioned in Josh, xviii. 23. This place 
lis only a few miles from Anathoth and would therefore be very familiar 
to the prophet, and its insignificance might easily cause a post-exilic 
scribe to ' correct ' it into the present reading which in his eyes would 
then contain a forecast of the captivity. 

6. after many days. According to Keil's interpretation of the 
parable these represent the seventy years of the exile. If the double 
journey to the River Euphrates Is taKen literally much time must have 
been spent on it, and there is no trace of Jeremiah's having been to 
Babylon or its neighbourhood. , 

7. marred. The waist-cloth had been spoiled by water penetrating 
to it. If the suggestion in the note on v. 4 be accepted the damage would 
most likely have been caused by the waters of the Wady Fcira. 

8 — 11. The explanation of the symbolical act. Just as the waist- 
cloth has been spoiled by the water, so will the pride of Judah and 
Jerusalem be broken down by the disasters which will come upon them. 
The passage as it stands seems to contain statements which are not, 
strictly speaking, consistent the'^one with the other. In v. 9, for 
example, the marring has yet to tale place, presumably during the 
exile when the nation's pride will be reduced to helpless shame; but in 
-v. 11 there is the statement that it is on account of the marred con- 
Idition of the waist-cloth that God is going to cast it away from Him; 
that is, presumably, the nation is to be sent into exile. Cornill would 
restore consistency by making large omissions ; but such drastic treat- 
ment seems really unnecessary. We must not expect to find logical and 
balanced utterances coming from the lips of a prophet like Jeremiah, 
of one who was struggling to express by every means that he knew the 
dangerous state into which the nation had fallen and the near approach 



XIII. ii-h] the book of JEREMIAH 117 

1 1 For as the girdle cleaveth to the loins of a man, so have I 
caused to cleave unto me the whole house of Israel and the whole 
house of Judah, saith the Lord ; that they might be unto me for 
a people, and for a name, and for a praise, and for a glorj^ : but 
they would not hear. 12 Therefore thou shalt speak unto them 
this word: Thus saith the Lord, the God of Israel, Every ^bottle 
shall be filled with wine : and they shall say unto thee, Do we 
not know that every ^bottle shall be filled with wine? 13 Then 
shalt thou say unto them, Thus saith the Lord, Behold, I will fill 
kail the inhabitants of this land, even the kings that sit ^upon 
David's throne, and the priests, and the prophets, and all the 
inhabitants of Jerusalem, with drunkenness. 14 And I will dash 
them one against another, even the fathers and the sons together, 

^ Or, jar ^ Heb. for David upon his throne. 

of punishment. The inconsistency, which is really only verbal, is pro-,^ 
bably original. 

11. Cf. Dt. xxvi. 19; Is. Ixiii. 12 if. 

praise... glory. Cf Eph. i. 14 'to the praise of bis glory.' 
12 — 14. The parable of the wine-bottles. In this passage the pro- 
phet is evidently combating the influence of some popular proverb or 
saying which tended to lull the people into a false sense of security. 
In his usual vigorous and almost ruthless manner Jeremiah shews that 
this saying, like so many otliers, is capable of bearing several interpre- 
tations. On the lips of the people no doubt it meant that just as bottles 
are made to be filled with wine and in due course the wine is poured 
into them, so the men of Judah will receive the reward of being God's 
chosen people: Jeremiah, on the other hand, shews that the proverb, 
far from representing the certainty of Judah's triumph, is a guarantee 
of its punishment. 

12. bottle. The Heb. word is used for a vessel for wine in 1 S. i. 24, 
X. 3; 2 S. xvi. 1, and may quite easily be used of a wine-skin (the root 
meaning of the word is unknown); in this passage, however, Jar seems 
to be required (cf v. 14), and this use can be established from xlviii. 12; 
Is. xxii. 24, XXX. 14, &c. 

13. Having got the people to acknowledge the truth of the maxim, 
the prophet, speaking in God's name, turns it against them. Just as a 
jar is filled with wine so will the men of Judah be filled with the wine 
of God's wrath and made ' drunken.' 

drunhenness is also used to express the results of God's wrath in 
XXV. 15 f; Is. \\. 17, 21, &c. 

14. dash them. The people in their drunken fury will destroy one 
another. 

the fathers and ths sons. Cf. ix. 21 'young man and child.' 



118 THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH [xiii. 14-18 

saith the Lord : I will not pity, nor spare, nor have compassion, 
that 1 should not destroy them. 

15 Hear ye, and give ear; be not proud: for the Lord hath 
spoken. 16 Give glory to the Lord your God, before ^he cause 
darkness, and before your feet stumble upon the ^dark mountains; 
and, while ye look for light, he turn it into ^the shadow of death, 
and make it gross darkness. 17 But if ye will not hear it, my 
soul shall weep in secret for your pride ; and mine eye shall weep 
sore, and run down with tears, because the Lord's flock is taken 
captive. 18 Say thou unto the king and to the queen-mother, 

^ Or, it grow dark ^ Heb. mountains of twilight. 

3 Or, deep darkness 

15 — 17. To the wicked who continue in sin light becomes darkness 
because they are blinded by their overweening pride. 

15. proud. The unbending pride of the men of Judah made it 
impossible for them to realise their own shortcomings or to accept the 
prophet's warnings: cf. Jn. ix. 39 — 41, xiii. 35. 

16. In tills V. Jeremiah compares the situation of the nation to 
that of men overtaken by sudden darkness and seeking vainly for their 
lost way. 

light... darkness. Cf. Jn. xii. 35. For the contrast between light 
and darkness used symbolically see Westcott's note on 1 Jn. i. 5. Light 
here means salvation and deliverance, as in Is. lix. 9 ^ 

17. The fate of the people made constant drafts on the sympathy 
of Jeremiah. A rather curious Jewish tradition quoted by Edersheim 
(Life and Times &c. 11. 16) applies the v. to God Himself, who after the 
fall of Jerusalem 'no longer laughs, but weeps... in a secret place of His 
own': cf Chagigah, 56. 

weep in secret. Duhm sees in this a reference to the time when 
Jeremiah was in hiding during the reign of Jehoiakim. But surely the 
usual habit of the sorrowful is to choose out a place of retirement away 
from the ordinary flow of life ; and in Jeremiah's case the need for soli- 
tude would be infinitely greater because of the lack of sympathy of the 
men of Judah. He himself has told us that on account of the burden 
which was upon him he ' sat alone ' and ' did not join the assembly of 
them that were merry' (xv. 17; cf xx. 8, &c.). 

the Lords Jlock. Israel is represented under the figure of a flock in 
V. 20, xxiii. 2; Is. xl. 11 ; and frequently in Psalms. 

18 f Having warned the people of Judah on account of their pride, 
Jeremiah goes on to attack the royal house on the same grounds. The 
address is evidently delivered against Jehoiachin and the queen-mother 
Nehushta: cf xxii. 26 and 2 K. xxiv. 8, &c. 

^ Cf. Pindar, fr. 142, 'It is in the power of God. ..to shroud the day's pure 
gleam in cloudy darkness.' 



XIII. i8-2i] THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH 119 

^Humble yourselves, sit down : for your headtires are come down, 
even ^the crown of your glory. 19 The cities of the South are 
shut up, and there is none to open them : Judah is carried away 
captive all of it ; it is wholly carried away captive. 

20 Lift up your eyes, and behold them that come from the 
north : where is the flock that was given thee, thy beautiful flock? 
21 ^What wilt thou say, when he shall set thy friends over thee 
as head, seeing thou thyself hast instructed them against thee ? 

^ Or, Sit ye down low " Or, your beautiful crown 

^ Or, What wilt thou say, when he shall visit thee, seeing thou thyself hast in- 
structed them against thee, even thy friends to be head over thee? 

18. the queen-mother. The office of queen-mother was one of great 
importance in an oriental court (cf. 1 K. ii. 19)^; she was one, and the 
wives of the king were many, and moreover the harem was under her 
rule. It is true that the king had thepov?er toremove his mother from 
her official position (cf. 1 K. xv. 13), but this power does not seem often 
to have been exercised. From the comparatively frequent mention of 
Nehushta it would seem that she was looked upon as exercising a pre- 
dominant influence over her son during his short reign. 

headtires. This v. is better rendered by the lxx. (slightly changing 
the Heb., which is somewhat obscure), come down from your head is the 
croum qf your glm'y. 

19. The cities of the South. Heb. Negeh ; a district in the S. of 
Judah, which evidently bore this name from very early times as the 
oldest Egyptian name for it, pa-naghu, clearly shews. Negeh originally 
meant dry, parched, and the meaning South is only a secondary one: 
see Gray on Nu. xiii. 1 7. It seems strange that the cities of the South 
should be picked out for special mention; the choice is evidently in- . 
tended to shew that the invaders from the N. will penetrate throughout ' 
the whole country. 

20 — 27. A repeated lamentation over ' the beautiful flock.' From 
the certainty of captivity in the distant future the prophet comes back 
to the imminence of the actual invasion which is to lead up to it 
{v. 20) ; he describes the horrors which will accompany the change of 
rule, and goes on to drive home the lesson that they are all due to the 
ingrained sin of the nation {vv. 21—23) ; therefore a long period of 
exile will be necessary, and only after much suff"ering will Jerusalem be 
cleansed (vv. 24 — 27). 

20. thy beautiful flock. The lamentation is addressed to Jerusalem 
(cf LXX.), the fold of the flock and the home of its shepherds (cf iii. 15, 
vi. 3, &c.). The term used points back to v. 17. 

21. The Hebrew text of this v. is difficult and its meaning is ex- 



1 Naqia the mother of Esar-haddon, king of Assyria 680—688 b.c, acted as 
regent during her son's frequent absences on campaigns; see Johns, And. Bab. 
p. 123. 



120 THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH [xiii. 21-27 

shall not sorrows take hold of thee, as of a woman in travail ? 
22 And if thou say in thine heart, Wherefore are these things 
come upon me ? for the ^greatness of thine iniquity are thy skirts 
discovered, and thy heels suffer violence. 23 Can the Ethiopian 
change his skin, or the leopard his spots ? then may ye also do 
good, that are ^accustomed to do evil. 24 Therefore will I scatter 
them, as the stubble that passeth away, ^by the wind of the 
wilderness. 25 This is thy lot, the portion measured unto thee 
from me, saith the Lord ; because thou hast forgotten me, and 
trusted in falsehood. 26 Therefore will I also discover thy skirts 
*upon thy face, and thy shame shall appear. 27 I have seen 
thine abominations, even thine adulteries, and thy neighings, the 
lewdness of thy whoredom, on the hills in the field. Woe unto 

^ Or, multitude ^ Heb. taught. 

3 Or, unto * Or, before 

ceedingly obscure. There is probably a reference to Hezekiah's friend- 
ship with Merodach-baladau (Is. xxxix.) and to the days of the 
Assyrian supremacy when Judah and Babylon were natural allies. 
Driver's rendering brings out the force of the v. ' what wilt thou say, 
when he shall set over thee as head those whom thou hast thyself 
taught to be friends unto thee?' of. Ez. xxiii. 22 ff. 

22. The metaphors used to describe the fate of Jerusalem are 
themselves employed in Is. xlvii. 2 f in reference to Babylon. 

23. In considering this and similar vv. it is to be remembered 
that the scope of the reference is not to be limited to individuals, or 
even to be applied primarily to them. W. Robertson Smith remarks 
in connexion with this subject that ' the prophets were not primarily 
concerned with the amendment of individual sinners; it was the 
nation that they desired to see following righteousness and the know- 
ledge of Jehovah, and they were too practical not to know that the 
path of national amendment is to get rid of evil-doers and put better 
men in their place.' The Prophets &c.^ p. 107. 

the Ethiopian, i.e. Cush, the only non-white or non-Caucasian race 
mentioned in Gen. x. The Cushites inhabited what is now called the 
Sudan (from Arabic asivdd = h\a,<ik). At one time they were despised 
by the Hebrews (cf. Am. ix. 7), but later became very powerful : cf Is. 
xviii. ; and Herodotus, iii. 20. Ebed-melech was a member of this 
race (xxxviii. 7, &c.). 

leopard. See on iv. 11. 

24. the tvind of the imldernes». Cf Is. xxi. 1 'whirlwinds... from 
the desert, from a terrible land.' 

25. the portion... from me. So in Job xx. 29; Ps. xi. 6. 
27. neighings. Cf v. 8. 



XIII. 27-xiv. i] THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH 121 

thee, Jerusalem ! thou wilt not be made clean ; how long shall 
it yet be ? 

thou ivilt not &c. The text is better taken as a question, How 
long will it he ere thou he made clean ? Cf. the similar question of 
Hosea, ' How long ere they attain to innocency ?' (viii. 5). 

Chapters XIV.— XV 
The Drought and what came of it. 

These chh. are in the form of a dialogue between the prophet and his God 
in regard to a severe drought which had distressed both man and beast. 
Jeremiah recognises in it a sign that Jehovah is displeased ^vith Judah and 
implores Him to have mercy. God rejects his petition, and he again renews it 
pleading that the nation has been led astray by those whom they had every 
reason for trusting as God's messengers. God replies that the prophets who 
misled the people spoke lies in His Name and that they shall accordingly be 
punished, but the doom of the nation cannot be averted. Jeremiah again replies 
and reminds God of His covenant with Israel. The prophet's supplication is 
once more rejected, nothing can save the people. Jeremiah thereupon breaks 
into a lament regretting the day of his birth. God comforts him and at the 
same time reproves him for his want of faith. 

Critics are much at variance on the question of the contents of these chh. 
and of the integrity of the section as a whole ; most of them separate xv. 10 — 21 
from the earlier part of the ch. and doubt whether it has any connexion with it 
apart from chance arrangement. It would, however, seem quite natural for the 
prophet to burst out into a wild outcry against his bitter lot, when he realised 
that God would not have mercy upon the people, and that his own message 
must still be one of denunciation with all the hatred and opposition which such 
a message would continue to arouse. 

(a) A description of sufferings during a drought. I — 6. 

(b) The people's prayer and God's reply. 7 — 10. 

(c) Deceivers and deceived will alike be punished. 11 — 18. 

(d) A further plea from the people. 19 — 22. 

{e) God rejects their plea and proclaims their punishment, xv. 1 — 9. 
(/) The despair of the prophet and God's promise of strength. 10 — 18. 
(g) Further complaints are cut short and endurance is commanded. 
19—21. 

XIV. 1 The word of the Lord that came to Jeremiah con- 
cerning the drought, 

XIV. 1 — 6. A vivid picture of the seventy and extent of the 
drought. Such_a visitation was an event of great moment to an Eastern 



122 THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH [xiv. 3-6 

2 Judah mourneth, and the gates thereof languish, they sit 
in black upon the ground ; and the cry of Jerusalem is gone up. 

3 And their nobles send their ^little ones ^to the waters: they 
come to the pits, and find no water ; they return with their vessels 
empty: they are ashamed and confounded, and cover their heads. 

4 Because of the ground which is ^chapt, for that no rain hath 
been in the land, the plowmen are ashamed, they cover their 
heads. 5 Yea, the hind also in the field calveth, and forsaketh 
her young, because there is no grass. 6 And the wild asses 
stand on the bare heights, they pant for air like 'jackals; their 
eyes fail, because there is no herbage. 

1 Or, inferiors 2 Qr, for water 

3 Or, dismayed * Or, the crocodile 

people, threatening as it did the means of their very existence, and no 
true prophet of God could have been expected to keep silence at such 
a crisis (cf. Dean Stanley on Elijah in The Jewish Church, 11. 249). 

1. This V. is evidently editorial and lays more stress on the actual 
drought than is perhaps justified by the text. Hitzig, followed by Cornill 
and_ others, sees in the passage, xiv. 2— xv. 9, a combination of two 
distinct accounts, one describing a, drought (xiv. 2—10, xiv. 19 — xv. 1), 
and the other threatening sword, famine and pestilence {x\\. 12 — 18, 
XV. 2 — 9). There seems no decisive argument in favour of this analysis, 
the section is concerned with the various ways in which God has 
punished or will punish His rebellious people, and drought and famine 
are intimately connected ^ 

2. gates, i.e. cities, the part representing the whole, an expres- 
sion very common in Deuteronomy. The representation is carried a 
stage further and the gates are personified and appear as sitting upon 
the ground in the garb of mourners ; cf Job ii. 13 ; Lam. ii. 10; Is. iii. 26. 

3. little ones. Better as mg. inferiors or servants. 

cover their heads. The confusion and grief of the servants are 
emphasised; cf 2 S. xv. 30, xix. 5. 

4. Those engaged in agriculture share the dismay of the towns- 
people. 

5f Two companion pictures are drawn of the situations of the 
tame and the wild animals respectively; cf Job xxxix. 1 — 8. 

5. hind. The hind is noted for its care of its young ; see Pro v. v. 19. 

6. pant. Cf ii. 24, iv. 31. 

jackals. The reading of mg. crocodile involves a slight change in 
Heb. ; the thought suggested is the panting of the crocodiles when they 
come out of the water to get air. 



1 Cf. Flinders Petrie, Egypt and Israel, p. 26, 'The recent studies in Central 
Asia have led to the view that there are recurring periods of dryness, which... cause 
frequent famines (Huntingdon, Roy. Geog. Soc, 1910).' 



XIV. 7-ri] THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH 123 

7 Though our iniquities testify against us, work thou for thy 
name's sake, Lord : for our backslidings are many ; we have 
sinned against thee. 8 thou hope of Israel, the saviour thereof 
in the time of trouble, why shouldest thou be as a sojourner in the 
land, and as a wayfaring man that Hurneth aside to tarry for a 
night ? 9 Why shouldest thou be as a man astonied, as a mighty 
man that cannot save ? yet thou, Lord, art in the midst of us, 
and we are called by thy name ; leave us not. 

10 Thus saith the Lord unto this people, Even so have they 
loved to wander ; they have not refrained their feet : therefore 
the Lord doth not accept them ; now will he remember their 
iniquity, and visit their sins. 11 And the Lord said unto me, 

1 Or, spreadeth his tent 

7 — 10. The people confess their repeated fallings away from Jehovah 
and yet they call upon Him not to forsake them. Jehovah replies that 
His forsaking them and His refusal to abide with them are on account of 
their own similar behaviour towards Himself. The intercession is evi- 
dently spoken by the people or put into their mouth by Jeremiah 
(cf. V. 10, unto this people), the drought has apparently made more 
impression on them than the prophetic warnings. Duhm thinks 
that the prophet is speaking ironically in view of the popular con- 
ception of God as a 'good-natured' Deity; cf. Hos. v. 14 — vi. 4; Mic. 
iii. 9—11. 

7. for thy name's sake. This phrase has usually the idea of pre- 
serving God's honour in the sight of the nations, but here the reference 
is perhaps to His covenant promises ; cf vv. 8 f. 

our backslidings are many. God alone can restore His people; 
behind the confession of this v. one seems to discern the sad story of 
many vain attempts at amendment of life. 

8. hope of Israel. Cf xvii. 13. 

sojourner &c. i.e. one who has no permanent interest in the nation. 

to tarry for a night. Cf Hos. vi. 1 f ; Lk. xxiv. 29 ; and the phrase 
in Wisd. v. 14 'the remembrance of a guest that tarrieth but a day,' 
where the stress is on the speed with which the wayfarer is himself 
forgotten. 

9. astonied. Read with lxx. asleep which requires only very slight 
changes in two Hebrew letters : cf Ps. xliv. 23 f ; Mk. iv. 38, &c. 

in th£, midst of us. The same phrase is used by the unrighteous 
and blood-stained rulers of Israel in Mic. iii. 11. 

10. Even so. God does but follow the example of His people, and 
make the estrangement mutual. 

therefore... sins. Quoted from Hos. viii. 13 h. 

11 — 18. The prophet is bidden to cease from prayer on behalf of 
the people and he pleads that they are deceived by their spiritual 



124 THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH [xiv. 11-16 

Pray not for this people for their good. 12 When they, fast, I 
will not hear their cry ; and when they offer burnt offering and 
^oblation, I will not accept them: but I will consume them by 
the sword, and by the famine, and by the pestilence. |3 Then 
said I, Ah, Lord God ! behold, the prophets say unto tRem, Ye 
shall not see the sword, neither shall ye have famine ; but I will 
give you ^assured peace in this place. 14 Then the ^iORD said 
unto me. The prophets prophesy lies in my name : I ^nt them 
not, neither have I commanded them, neither spake I i|&to them: 
they prophesy unto you a lying vision, and divination, and a 
thing of nought, and the deceit of their own heart. 15 Therefore 
thus saith the Lord concerning the prophets that prophesy 
in my name, and I sent them not, yet they say, Sword and 
famine shall not be in this land : By sword and famin^shall 
those prophets be consumed. 16 And the people to whom 
they prophesy shall be cast out in the streets of Jerusalem 
because of the famine and the sword ; and they, shall Imve 

1 Or, vieal offering - Heh. peace of truth. ',/ 

guides (cf. ii. 6 j ; but Jehovah though punishing the prophets will not 
spare those who allow themselves to be deceived. 

11. Pra^ not for this people. See on vii. 16. It is difficult to 
imagine that Jeremiah took God's command literally and refrained from 
interceding for his nation, for 'never to a people came there a true 
prophet who had not first prayed for them ' ; though doubtless the form 
of his intercession was altered by the constant deepening of their sin. 
Hitzig and other critics consider that this and the following v. (as far as 
accept them) are an insertion to link up v. 10 and vv. 12i ft'. 

12. sivord... famine... pestilence. The combination appears seven 
times elsewhere in Jeremiah. It is interesting to notice that the Jews 
still pray during the ten days of Penitence to be rid 'of pestilence, and 
the sword, of famine, captivity and destruction,' All three forms of 
suffering are the natural accompaniments of war like King Sweyn 
Forkbeard's 'three wonted comrades, fire, pillage and slaughter' (Henry 
of Huntingdon). 

13 f For the relation of the false and the true prophets see Addi- 
tional Note, pp. 182 ff. 

in this place, i.e. they will not go into exile. 

14. The false prophets derived their message from three sources : 
vision which was legitimate ; divination which was forbidden at any rate 
by Dt. xviii. 10; 2 K. xvii. 17; and their own Jiearts, a self-constituted 
and therefore deceitful means of seeking inspiration. Cf Note, 'pp. 
and note on xxiii. 16. 

15. Cf. xliv. 12. 



XIV. t6-2i] the book of JEREMIAH 125 

none to bury them, them, their wives, nor their sons, nor their 
daughters: for I will pour their wickedness upon them. 17 And 
thou shalt say this word unto them. Let mine eyes run down >vith 
tears night and day, and let them not cease; for the virgin 
daughter of my people is broken with a great breach, with a very 
grievous wound. 18 If I go forth into the field, then behold the 
slain with the sword ! and if I enter into the city, then behold 
^them that are sick with famine ! for both the prophet and the 
priest '^go about ^in the land and have no knowledge. 

19 Hast thou utterly rejected Judah? hath thy soul loathed 
Ziou? why hast thou smitten us, and there is no healing for us? 
We looked for peace, but no good came; and for a time of 
healing, and behold dismay ! 20 We * acknowledge, Lord, our 
wickedness, and the iniquity of our fathers : for we have sinned 
against thee. 21 Do not ^abhor us, for thy name's sake ; do not 
disgrace the throne of thy glory: remember, break not thy 

1 Heb. the sicknesses of famine. " Or, traffich 

' Or, into a land that they know not * Or, kyiow ° Or, contemn 

16. none to bury them. The same phrase is used in Ps. Ixxix. 3 of 
the fate of persecuted saints. 
pour. Cf. Hos. V. 10. 

18. The prophet speaks of the future as already realised when the 
army of Judah will have been driven into the city, leaving many fallen 
in the open field, there to be at the mercy of famine^ 

go about, i.e. 'as merchantmen' (so mg. traffic), or if a meaning 
occasionally found in Syriac may be adopted 'as beggars.' Giesebrecht 
proposes to substitute \y for D and reads are bowed in mourning to the 
earth. 

19 — 22. The people renew their prayer 'acknowledging their 
wretchedness' and their despair of any succour apart from the God 
whose covenant they have broken. Duhm, followed by Cornill, rejects 
this passage together with xv. 1 — 4. 

19. The only w^ay of accounting for the distress of Zion is by con- 
cluding that it has been forsaken by God, its natural protector. 

no healing for us. Cf. Nah. iii. 19; Wisd. ii. 1. 

20. acknowledge. Heb. knoiv as in Ps. li. 3. 

21. the throne of thy glory. . Cf. 1 S. ii. 8; Ecclus. xlvii. 11. The 
reference is to Jerusalem and especially to the temple. If the temple 
fell into the hands of the invaders God's honour would be disgraced. 

^ The word in the original for them that are sick 'NI^Hri is an Aramaism for 
VH, it also occurs in xvi. 4; Dt. xxix. 21; Ps. ciii. 3; 2 Ch. xxi. 19. 



126 THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH [xiv. 2r-xv. ^ 

covenant with us. 22 Are there any among the vanities of the 
heathen that can cause rain? or can the heavens give showers? 
art not thou he, Lord our God? therefore we will wait upon 
thee; for thou hast ^made all these things. 

XV. 1 Then said the Lord unto me, Though Moses and 
Samuel stood before me, yet my mind could not be toward this 
people: cast them out of my sight, and let them go forth. 2 And 
it shall come to pass, when they say unto thee. Whither shall we 

^ Or, done 

Similar phrases are found in NT. (e.g. Matt. xix. 28 'the throne of his 
glory'; Heb. iv. 16 'the throne of grace'). 

22. This V. seems to refer back to the drought described in vv. 
2—5. 

cause rain. Cf v. 24 and see note there. Ability to produce rain 
is here made a test of Divine power as it was by Elijah (1 K. xvii. 1). 
The Rabbis said that there were four keys which God never trusted 
I to the angels, and the chief of these is that of rain. Agricultural 
peoples always have a strong sense of God as one who provides for 
their crops : _ so warlike people tend to think of God as a warrior. 
God is infinite, and to each nation or individual it is given to catch 
. but a part of His character; and it will only be when every nation 
has been won to Him and has made the contribution of its own vision 
that anything like fulness of knowledge will be possible. 

_ made all these things. This v. was perhaps in the mind of the 
writer of Jubilees xii. 4 ' worship the God of heaven, who causes the 
rain... and has created everything.' 

XV. 1 — 9. God again refuses to listen to the pleadings of the 
nation. The destiny of the men of Judah is fixed and no intercessions 
will make God change His attitude towards them ; henceforth 'Famine 
waits and War with greedy eyes.' 

1. Moses and Samuel. Cf Ps. xcix. 6 'Moses and Aaron and 
Samuel'; and Ez. xiv. 14 'Noah, Daniel and Job.' The present passage 
seems to refer to the value which the intercessions of these men would 
have had, had they been alive, but in later Judaism the doctrine of the 
'Intercession of Saints' was fully developed. (See Note, pp. 129 £) 

Moses constantly interceded for Israel in his lifetime (Ex. xvii. 1 1 , 
xxxii. llf; Nu. xiv. 13 ff.), and later writers attributed the success 
f of the nation to his prayers (cf Ass. Moses xi. 14). Samuel also was 
noted in the same way (1 S. vii. 9f &c.) and his last thought at the 
end of his active leadership of the people was that he still might inter- 
cede for them (1_S. xii. 17, 23). It is rather strange that neither in 
this passage nor in the similar one in Ezekiel is there any mention of 
Abraham or the patriarchs. Moses is referred to elsewhere in the 
prophets in Is. Ixiii. 12 and Mai. iv. 4, Samuel not at all. 

'Moses and Samuel and the blest St John' are taken by Dante as 



XV. .-4] THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH 127 

go forth? then thou shalt tell them, Thus saith the Lord: Such as 
are for death, to death ; and such as are for the sword, to the sword; 
and such as are for the famine, to the famine ; and such as are for 
captivity, to captivity. 3 And I will appoint over them four ^ kinds, 
saith the Lord: the sword to slay, and the dogs to ^tear, and 
the fowls of the heaven, and the beasts of the earth, to devour and 
to destroy. 4 And I will cause them to be tossed to and fro 
among all the kingdoms of the earth, because of Manasseh the 
son of Hezekiah king of Judah, for that which he did in Jerusalem. 

1 Eieh. families. " Heb. drag. 

types of souls in the highest state of bliss {Farad, iv. 29) probably 
owing to the influence of this passage, otherwise Moses and Elias would 
have seemed a more natural choice. 

2. death. Pestilence is more usual in these combinations (e.g. 
xviii. 21 and Ez. v. 12, &c.) and very probably such is here the meaning 
of death, cf. 'the Black Death.' A natural death rather than one by 
violence or misadventure is meant; cf. 6a.vaTo<i in Rev. vi. 8, xviii. 8; 
and in 2 S. xxiv. 15 (lxx.). 

3. four kinds, i.e. of destruction. Cf. the Babylonian idea of the 
four great plagues, Delitzsch, Parad. p. 146. 

dogs. Orientals regard dogs as ignoble creatures, being acquainted 
with them only as the 'tierce prowlers of the night and scavengers of 
the street.' The references in OT. are constantly unfavourable and 
often in connexion with devouring corpses, e.g. 1 K. xiv. 11, xvi. 4; 
Ps. Ixviii. 34; Ex. xxii. 30, &c., and cf. Homer, Iliad, i. 4 f. 

'Whose limbs unburied on the naked shore. 
Devouring dogs and hungry vultures tore.' 

to tear. Lit. to drag (as mg.). The word is used here and in 
xxii. 19 of corpses being dragged along the ground, and in xlix. 20 and 
1. 45 of captives being dragged away like sheep. It is found elsewhere 
only in 2 S. xvii. 13. 

4. to be tossed. The root of the Heb. word means to shalce and 
so either to cause fear or to tremble. Driver suggests the translation 
/ will make them a consternation which includes both meanings. 

Manasseh the son of Hezekiah. Later writers looked upon Manasseh^ 
almost as a counterpart of Jeroboam, the son of Nebat, who made' 
Israel to sin. It is rather difficult to imagine that the second half of 
this V. comes from Jeremiah who looks upon the coming judgement as 
being a punishment for the sins of the whole nation and of the con- 
temporary generation especially; also it teaches that the sins of the 
fathers were being avenged on the children, a doctrine with which 
Jeremiah did not agree (cf. xxxi. 30 and see Charles, Eschatology^, p. 59). 
As Cornill says,_'if he really believed that the sins of Manasseh were 
unpardonable his whole prophetic activity would have been meaning- 



128 THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH [xv. 5-8 

5 For who shall have pity upon thee, Jerusalem ? or who shall 
bemoan thee? or who shall turn aside to ask of thy welfare? 

6 Thou hast rejected me, saith the Lord, thou art gone back- 
ward : therefore have I stretched out my hand against thee, and 
destroyed thee; I am weary with repenting. 7 And I have 
fanned them with a fan in the gates of the land ; I have bereaved 
them of children, I have destroyed my people; they have not 
returned from their ways. 8 Their widows are increased to me 
above the sand of the seas: I have brought upon them ^against 
the mother of the young men a spoiler at noonday: I have caused 

^ Or, against the mother and the young men 

less.' The Hebrew form of Hezekiah used is that which is common in 
Chronicles and this supports the suggestion that v. 4 6 is a gloss, though 
on the other hand it can hardly be a very late one as 2 Ch. xxxiii. 1 1 ff. 
takes it for granted that Manasseh's sins were forgiven him. Cf. Well- 
hausen, Hist. Israel, p. 207. 

5 f. The desolation of Jerusalem has come upon her of her own 
free will; she has deserted God and therefore her own friends and 
lovers have deserted her. The vv. might be paraphrased in the words 
of a modern poet 'all things betray thee, who betrayest Me.' 

5. Cf Is. li. 19; Nah. iii. 7 (of Nineveh). _ 

6. Cf. Hos. xiii. 14 'repentance shall be hid from mine eyes.' 

7. fan. i.e. a winnowing-fcyrk, such as is intended in Matt. iii. 12 
'whose fan is in his hand.' For fuller particulars see Enc. Bib. 84; 
Driver, Jeremiah, p. 360; and for the process cf. note on iv. 11. 

the gates of the land. i.e. the entrances, hardly the cities which is 
the meaning of gates in some passages. There is possibly a reference 
to the disaster at Megiddo. 

they have not returned. The men of Judah continue to carry out 
their own plans in spite of the disasters which fall upon them. The 
losses inflicted by the plundering bands before Jerusalem itself was 
finally invested were examples of God's warnings. 

8. motlier of the young men. This phrase has caused much trouble 
to most critics mainly because they have insisted on taking D^. as a 
construct before "'•1'^? (except Duhm who emends the text), lxx. as 
Buttenwieser points out {op. cit. p. 192), in reading ixrjrepa veavto-Kovs 
took the words as being co-ordinate. OX probably refers to Jerusalem, 
the mother-city (cf 2 S. xx. 19 'a city and a mother in Israel'), as 
Rashi already saw, and ""-ina to the picked or chosen warriors (cf 2 S. 
vi. l,&c.). The phrase can then be paraphrased I have brought [upon 
them] against the metropolis yea against the picked troops which garrison 
it one who will destroy them. 

noonday. Noonday is the time of rest (see on vi. 4). The attack is 
therefore to come suddenly. The expression may almost be taken as 



XV. 8, 9] THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH 129 

anguish and terrors to fall upon her suddenly, 9 She that hath 
borne seven languisheth ; she hath given up the ghost ; her 
sun is gone down while it was yet day ; she hath been ashamed 
and confounded : and the residue of them will I deliver to the 
sword before their enemies, saith the Lord. 

referring not to the exact time when the city was to fall, but to the 
brief period of its resistance^ 

anguish. Heb. "'"'^ the usual meaning of which is 'city'; Driver 
{op. cit. pp. 360 f) suggests a derivation from "i-iy ' to be stirred up.' It 
is possible that the word is an Aramaism (cf "i^ = adversary Dan. iv. 16 ; 
and see Driver's note on 1 S. xxviii. 16). 

9. The magnitude of the coming slaughter can be conceived from 
the fact that even the mother of seven has lost all her children and the 
hope of her household is extinguished. 

She that hath home seven. A figure for perfect happiness in a woman : 
cf. 1 S. ii. 5 'the barren hath borne seven'; and Job i. 2, xlii. 13; 
Ruth iv. 15. 

given up the. ghost. Heb. breathed out her soul; cf Job xxxi. 39. 

sun... day. The figure of the sun going down while it was yet day 
suggests that the loss was unnecessary as well as unexpected. There 
may be a reference to the eclipse of Sept. 30, 610 B.C. (cf Payne Smith, 
ad loc). 

Additional Note on xv. 1. 

The ^Intercession of Saints' in Jeivish Literature. 

In the comment on the v. it was said that the reference was probably to the 
value which the intercessions of Mosesgand Samuel would have had in case they \^ 
had been alive at the time and had interceded for the men of Judah. Later 
Jewish thought would have found no difficulty in extending the eflFective opera- 
tion of their jjrayers beyond the time when they ceased to live on the earth. 
Even in OT. itself there are a number of passages which recognise the value 
and the possibility of intercession by beings in another sphere. 

Job V. 1 : Call now ; is there any that will answer thee ? 

And to which of the holy ones wilt thou turn ? 

Job xxxiii. 24 : Then he (an angel) is gracious mi to him and saith, 
Deliver him from going down to the pit. 

Zech. i. 12: Then the angel... said, Lord of hosts, how long wilt thou not 
have mercy on Jerusalem ? 

2 Mace. XV. 14 : This., .is the lover of the brethren who prayeth fervently for 
the people and the holy city, Jeremiah the prophet of God. 

Tob. xii. 12: I (Raphael) did bring the memorial of your prayer before the 
glory of the Lord. (Cf. Rev. viii. 3 f.) 

1 Cf. G. A. Smith, Twelve Prophets, ii. 62, 
B. 9 



130 THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH [xv. lo, n 

The Jewish Pseudepigraphal works contain many references to this doctrine, 
especially the book of Enoch, two of which are as follows : 

ix. 3 : To you the holy ones of heaven the souls of men make their suit. 

XV. 2: Say to the watchers of heaven... you should intercede for men and 
not men for you. 

(For a fuller investigation into the subject see Charles' Note on Test. Levi 
iii. 5 in his commentary on The Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs ; Weber, 
Altsyn. Theol. pp. 287 ff.^) 

10 Woe is me, my mother, that thou hast borne me a man of 
strife and a man of contention to the whole earth ! I have not 
lent on usury, neither have men lent to me on usury ; yet every 
one of them doth curse me. 11 The Lord said. Verily ^I will 

1 The Vulgate has, thy remnant shall be for good. 

10 — 18. Jeremiah is prepared to sink under the weight of op- 
pression and persecution which has come upon him owing to the ill-will 
of his enemies ; his life is too hard to be borne and as in xx. 14 he 
curses the day of his birth. In his despair he likens his isolation to 
that of a money-lender whom his debtors avoid, or to a debtor who will 
not pay his debts. The word of the Lord burning in his bones forbade 
him to mingle with the company of those who were making merry, and 
in his deep loneliness the prophet even despairs of God Himself 
Longing and aching to draw his countrymen from their ruinous courses 
Jeremiah is, by the very efforts that he makes for them, cut off and 
set apart to be a mark for derision and an object of rejection. 

It is interesting to notice that the message which the prophet had 
to deliver was so often one which made him shrink back from his task. 
He was impelled by no mere flood of emotion, but by the clear and 
calm realisation of the will of God, and of his own duty in connexion 
with the declaration of it. 

10. strife. Here used of one attacked, ' an object of contention ' 
as in Ps. Ixxx. 6, usually of the aggressors : cf Is. xli. 11 ; Job xxxi. 35. 

whole earth. An exaggeration if taken literally, but at the same 
time an evidence of Jeremiah's realisation of the universal scope of 
his mission. 

lent. The statements in the second half of the v. give a glimpse 
into the state of the nation, usury is evidently very common and the 
money-lenders rapacious. To lend, or to borrow, has the same effect 
apparently of arousing the mutual ill-will of those concerned in the 
transaction. ' The effect of money relations upon friendship seems to 
be part of the worldly wisdom of all ages.' 

curse. The belief in the efficacy of a curse in ancient times made 
it something to be dreaded: cf Nu. xxii. 6; 2 S. iii. 35. 

11. A V. of great difficulty which is rejected by many critics and 

1 Cf. also Philo, de Excer. ix.; Ass. Moses xi. 11, 17, xli. 6; Apoc. Bar. ii. 2. 



XV. II-I6] THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH 131 

^strengthen thee for good ; verily "I will cause the enemy to make 
supplication unto thee in the time of evil and in the time of 
affliction. 

12 ^Can one break iron, even iron from the north, and brass? 
13 Thy substance and thy treasures will I give for a spoil without 
price, and that for all thy sins, even in all thy borders. 14 And 
*I will make them to pass with thine enemies into a land which 
thou knowest not: for a fire is kindled in mine anger, which shall 
burn upon you. 

15 Lord, thou knowest : remember me, and visit me, and 
avenge me of my persecutors; take me not away in thy long- 
suffering: know that for thy sake I have suffered reproach. 
16 Thy words were found, and I did eat them; and thy words 
were unto me a joy and the rejoicing of mine heart : for I am 

1 Another reading is, release. * Or, I will intercede for thee with the enemy 

* Or, Can iron break iron from <&c. 

* Or, I will make thine enemies to pass into (&c. According to some ancient 
authorities, I will make thee to serve thine enemies in a land (&c. See oh. xvii. 4. 

largely emended by others, lxx. differs considerably from MT. which 
contains a word that is probably Aramaic. Buttenwieser {op. cit. p. 95) 
rejects v>v. 11 — 14, and thinks that v. 15 is the natural continuation of 
V. 10. It certainly seems likely that lyv. 13 f., at any rate, have been 
inserted here from their proper context after xvii. 2 (where they re- 
appear), v-v. 11 f seem to contain a reminiscence of the Divine promise 
in i. 18 which the prophet is endeavouring to recall. 

12. This V. also has caused great perplexity amongst commentators ; 
perhaps the best way of taking it is to follow the margin Can iron break 
iron from the North, and to read it as a complaint of Jeremiah that 
though God has made him iron, his enemies are iron of even harder 
substance. The alternative is to put the words into the mouth of God 
and to apply iron to the Babylonians, as Ewald does, ' Can anything 
avail to resist the power of the Chaldeans, the Northern Colossus ? ' 

13 f == xvii. 3 i. These m\ interrupt the dialogue between God and 
the prophet and are rejected by nearly all critics. 

15. Jeremiah's appeal for vengeance on his enemies is based on 
the fact that it was for God's sake that the prophet suffered; the sin 
against the servant demands the intervention of the Master; cf Ps. 
viii. 5, Ixix. 7. 

16. / did eat them. This phrase probably suggested Ez. ii. 8 — 
iii. 3. The later writer, however, has worked out the thought in a way 
which is slightly too materialistic and literal. 

rejoicing. The prophet at the outset of his ministry rejoiced to be 
God's servant ; in the first flush of enthusiasm when his earlier shrinking 
had been overcome he was conscious only of the strength of Him who 

9—2 



132 THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH [xv. 16-19 

called by thy name, O Lord God of hosts. 17 I sat not in the 
assembly of them that make merry, nor rejoiced : I sat alone 
because of thy hand ; for thou hast filled me with indignation. 
18 Why is my pain perpetual, and my wound incurable, which 
refuseth to be healed? wilt thou indeed be unto me as a deceitful 
hrooh, as waters that ^fail? 

19 Therefore thus saith the Lord, If thou return, then will I 
bring thee again, that thou may est stand before me ; and if thou 
take forth the precious from the vile, thou shalt be as my mouth: 
they shall return unto thee, but thou shalt not return unto them. 

^ Heb. are not sure. 

had called him. He had first learned that strength in the 'eagle 
flight ' of a Divine revelation, he had yet to learn its sustaining power 
in the ' walk ' of common life ; cf. Is. xl. 31. 

17. The prophet could take no joy in the ordinary pleasures of life 
because all the while he was filled with a divine indignation (the word 
is always used of God except here and in Hos. vii. 16), and could see 
beneath the outward rejoicing the inward corruption and rottenness 
which were eating away the life of the nation ; cf xvi. 5 — 9. 

thy hand. Cf 2 K. iii. 15 (of Ehsha); Is. viii. 11; Ez. i. 3, &c. 

18. Jeremiah's task was one which could never be finished — the 
people would persist in their sinful ways and their sins would call 
forth his continual rebuke. 

incurable. Like the hurt of the people (x. 19, xxx. 12). 

deceitful. Job makes use of the same metaphor in his complaint 
about the treatment of his brethren (vi. 15). For a use of the metaphor 
in an opposite sense see xxxi. 12; Is. Iviii. 11. The prophet was going 
through sufferings which foreshadowed in some slight degree that ex- 
perience of our Blessed Lord which called forth the great cry of 
dereliction (Mk. xv. 34). 

19 — 21. God's answer to the prophet's complaint. He reassures 
and strengthens him, and yet at the same time points out that his 
distrust and lack of courage unfit him for the life-work which he has 
undertaken. If he is to continue to be God's prophet Jeremiah must 
put away his uncertainty and despair (cf i. 17). 

19. If thou return. Jeremiah had fallen away from God by his 
despair and needed to repent on his own behalf; cf. Zech. iii. 7. 

stand before me. i.e. be my servant. (See on xxxv. 19.) 

the precious from the vile. Driver paraphrases 'if thou separatest, 
like a refiner, what is pure and divine in thee from the slag of earthly 
passion and weakness with which it is mixed.' 

mouth. Cf Ex. iv. 16, vii. 1. 

they shall return... them. Jeremiah had evidently fallen into the 



XV. .0-xvi. .] THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH 133 

20 And I will make thee unto this people a fenced brasen wall ; 
and they shall fight against thee, but they shall not prevail against 
thee : for I am with thee to save thee and to deliver thee, saith 
the Lord, 21 And I will deliver thee out of the hand of the 
wicked, and I will redeem thee out of the hand of the terrible. 

error which threatens God's servants in every age of attempting to 
conform too much to the wishes of his contemporaries'. 

20. The renewal of the call is accompanied by a renewal of the 
promises. 

Chapters XVI.-XVH. 18. 

Messages of Ruin and Comfort both to Individuals 
and to the State. 

These chh. are usually grouped together as a single narrative but the various 
elements composing them have probably been collected and arranged by one 
or more editors. In spite of Duhni's remark that though this passage is 'very 
interesting' it is not genuine, there does not seem to be any real reason for 
attributing it to any other than the prophet ; at the same time it is impossible 
to assign it to any particular date with any certainty. The following principal 
divisions may be adopted for purposes of analysis {vv. xvi. 14 f. recur in xxiii. 7 f. 
and ai'e not included). 

{a) The fate of those who marry and of their offsprmg. 1 — 13. 

(6) The sin ofJudah will he punished hy exile. 16 — xvii. 4. 

(c) The contrast between those who trust in man and those ^cho put 
their trust in the Lord. 5 — 13. 

(rf) The prophet's appeal. 14 — 18. 

XVI. 1 The word of the Lord came also unto me, saying, 

XVI. 1 — 13. The prophet is forbidden to take a wife, for the 
times are evil, and the offspring of those who marry will not survive, 
parents and children will alike perish {vv. 1 — 4) ; moreover the prophet 
muct not take part in feasts of joy or of mourning for in the wave of 
universal calamity which is coming all such feasts, with those who 
partake of them, will be submerged {vv. 5 — 9); all these evils are the 
result of the idolatry of the people and the prophet is commanded to 
announce their true nature {vv. 10 — 13). 

^ The phrase is so taken by St Thomas Aquinas who says that ' we love sinners 
in charity, not that we should wish what they wish, or rejoice at what they rejoice 
in, but to make them wish what we wish and rejoice in wliat is matter of joy to 
us.' Summa II. ii. xxv, 6*. 



134 THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH [xvi. 2-6 

2 Thou shalt not take thee a wife, neither shalt thou have sons 
or daughters in this place. 3 For thus saith the Lord concerning 
the sons and concerning the daughters that are born in this place, 
and concerning their mothers that bare them, and concerning 
their fathers that begat them in this land: 4 They shall die ^of 
grievous deaths ; they shall not be lamented, neither shall they 
be buried ; they shall be as dung upon the face of the ground : 
and they shall be consumed by the sword, and by famine ; and 
their carcases shall be meat for the fowls of heaven, and for the 
beasts of the earth. 5 For thus saith the Lord, Enter not into 
the house of mourning, neither go to lament, neither bemoan 
them : for I have taken away my peace from this people, saith the 
Lord, even lovingkindness and tender mercies. 6 Both great and 

^ Heb. deaths of sicknesses. 

2. Thou shalt not take thee a wife. Jeremiah's conduct would 
mark him out as a standing witness to the Jews (see Introd. p. xlii), 
though for one who was, as Cornill says, ' the friend of the children 
and who saw in the voice of the bridegroom and the voice of the bride the 
type of the purest and deepest joy,' it would be none the less difficult 
to abstain from marriage. Cf. the advice of St Paul in 1 Cor. vii. 25 ff.; 
notice especially v. 29 ' the time is short ' ; the prophet had in view 
temporary distress, the apostle the end of all things. 

in this place. Cf. vii. 3. 

4. grievous deaths. Heb. deaths of sicknesses. For a state of 
affairs similar to that described here, cf. vii. 33, xxii. 18 f.; Ps. Ixxix. 
2, &c. ^ and for the use of the Aramaic word see footnote to xiv. 18. 

5 — 9. The prophet is forbidden to shew his sympathy with either 
mourning or rejoicing : both alike will soon be forgotten in the troubles 
which are coming upon the nation. 

5. mourning. Lit. shrill crying: cf Am. vi. 7. Driver quotes 

Mk. V. 38 a.Xa\dt,oi'Tas TroWd. 

peace. Contrast Ps. Ixxxv. 8 ' he will speak peace unto his people.' 
lovingkindness &c. The Lord has withdrawn the marks of His 

interest in His people, and so Jeremiah as the Divine representative 

must not shew himself at such ceremonies. 

6. Death is to come upon them at a time of such disturbance that 
the rites owing to the dead by the living will be neglected. The various 
signs of mourning here mentioned are forbidden by Dt. xiv. 1 and 

1 Cf . the description of the effects of the plague at Athens in the second year 
of the Peloponnesian War : ' The bodies of dying men lay one upon another, and 
half-dead creatures reeled about the streets :... men ...became utterly careless of 
everything whether sacred or profane. All the burial rites before in use were 
entirely upset, and they buried the bodies as beat they could.' Thucydides, Bk. ii. 
ch. vii. 



XVI. 6-io] THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH 135 

small shall die in this land : they shall not be buried, neither shall 
men lament for them, nor cut themselves, nor make themselves 
bald for them: 7 neither shall men ^ break bread for them in 
mourning, to comfort them for the dead ; neither shall men give 
them the cup of consolation to drink for their father or for their 
mother. 8 And thou shalt not go into the house of feasting to sit 
with them, to eat and to drink. 9 For thus saith the Lord of 
hosts, the God of Israel : Behold, I will cause to cease out of this 
place, before your eyes and in your days, the voice of mirth and 
the voice of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom and the voice 
of the bride. 10 And it shall come to pass, when thou shalt 
shew this people all these words, and they shall say unto thee, 

1 See Is. Iviii. 7. 

Lev. xix. 28, xxi. 5 ; similar practices were forbidden by Muhammed, 
but in neither case do the prohibitions seem to have been observed. 

cut themselves. Probably as a mark of ' enduring affection ' as 
among the Australian bushmen of the present day. The custom was 
found among the Greeks and other ancient peoples : cf. W. Robertson 
Smith, Rel. Sem.^ pp. 322 f.; Frazer, The Dying God, pp. 92 f., Folk- 
Zw-em O.r. pp. 273ff. 

make themselves bald. This also was an ancient custom found 
amongst the Greeks (cf. Aesch. Choephorae, 167 f; Eurip. Alcestis, 
429, &c.) and other nations (cf. Herod, ii. 36 and ix. 24, of the Persians; 
and IV. 71, of the Scythians). The Hebrews shaved the front of the 
head only (see W. Robertson Smith, op. cit. p. 324) and it is not stated 
that the hair was laid on the tomb as was the case with the Arabs 
(see H. P. Smith, Itel. oflsr. p. 27 ; Goldziher, Muhammedan. Studien, 
I. p. 248; and Jaussen, Coutumes des Arabes, p. 94). 

7. break bread for them. Probably at a funeral feast which was 
originally perhaps a communion with the dead (see W. Robertson Smith, 
op. cit. p. 322, Note 3, and Tylor, Primitive Culture, ii. pp. 26 ff.) : cf. 
' Hos. ix. 4; Is. viii. 19 ; Ecclus. vii. 23 and Tob. iv. 17, 

cup of consolation. Cf. Prov. xxxi. 6 f A somewhat similar custom 
still exists amongst the Arabs who slaughter ' a sheep at the death of 
a member of the tribe, and another seven days later. This latter is 
called the sacrifice of consolation.' (H. P. Smith, op. cit. p. 27.) 

8 f. These vv. are an elaboration of xv. 15 — 18. 

9. All the common festivals and simple ceremonies of everyday 
life are to be brought to an end as in Hos. ii. 11, 

10 — 13. The people will profess surprise at the hard message of 
the prophet : the answer which he is bidden to give them. The whole 
section is Deuteronomic in style and teaching, and so is the method of 
providing a ready answer for a possible enquiry. 



136 THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH [xvi. lo-t 

Wherefore hath the Lord pronounced all this great evil against 
us? or what is our iniquity? or Avhat is our sin that we have 
committed against the Lord our God ? 11 then shalt thou say 
unto them, Because your fathers have forsaken me, saith the 
Lord, and have walked after other gods, and hav© served them, 
and have worshipped them, and have forsaken me, and have not 
kept my law; 12 and ye have done evil more than your fathers; 
for, behold, ye walk every one after the stubbornness of his evil 
heart, so that ye hearken not unto me : 13 therefore will I cast 
you forth out of this land into the land that ye have not known, 
neither ye nor your fathers ; and there shall ye serve other gods 
day and night; ^for I will shew you no favour. 

14 Therefore, behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that it 
shall no more be said. As the Lord liveth, that brought up the 
children of Israel out of the land of Egypt; 15 but. As the Lord 
liveth, that brought up the children of Israel from the land of 
the north, and from all the countries whither he had driven them: 
and I will bring them again into their land that I gave unto their 
fathers. 16 Behold, I will send for many fishers, saith the Lord, 

^ Or, ichere 

10. Wherefore. The people apparently claim to have had no 
previous warnings and are full of virtuous indignation at the sudden 
onslaught upon their habits of worship. 

13. cast you forth. Cf. Zech. vii. 14 'by a whirlwind.' 

other gods. The change of country would be followed by a change 
of the objects of worship. 

dai/ and night. The reverse order night and day is often used as 
the Jews began their reckoning from sunset, so also did the Athenians 
(PHny, Hist. Nat. ii. 79). In NT. St John always adopts the order day 
and night, whilst St Paul invariably speaks of tiight and day. 

rw favour. Favour in Heb. is chaninah, which suggested one of 
the names of the later Jews for the Messiah; 'The Gracious One' as 
we might say. (Cf Edersheim, Life and Times &c. i. 155 n.) 

14 f. These vv. recur in xxiii. 7 f, where they appear to be original. 

16 — 18. The great sin of Judah will bring upon it a complete and 
terrible punishment. 

16. Neither the depths of the sea nor the heights of the mountains 
will serve as a refuge from the fury of the Lord. The fishers will 
' net ' the inhabitants, while the hunters track down the few who have 
escaped from the cities. 

fishers. Cf. a similar use of the metaphor in Am. iv. 2 ; Hab. i. 15 ; 
Ea. xii. 13, xxix. 4, 8 and also in Herod, iii. 149, iv. 9, vi. 31 {aay-qv^vtiv). 



XVI. i6-2i] THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH 137 

and they shall fish them; and afterward I will send for many 
hunters, and they vshall hunt them fi-om every mountain, and from 
every hill, and out of the holes of the rocks. 17 For mine eyes 
are upon all their ways : they are not hid from my face, neither 
is their iniquity concealed fi'om mine eyes. 18 And first I will 
recompense their iniquity and their sin double; ^because they 
have polluted my land with the carcases of their detestable 
things, and have filled mine inheritance with their abominations. 

19 Lord, my strength, and my strong hold, and my refuge in 
the day of affliction, unto thee shall the nations come from the 
ends of the earth, and shall say, Our fathers have inherited nought 
but lies, even vanity and things wherein there is no profit. 

20 Shall a man make unto himself gods, which yet are no gods? 

21 Therefore, behold, I will cause them to know, this once will 
I cause them to know mine hand and my might ; and they shall 
know that my name is Jehovah. 

1 Or, because they have polluted my land: they have filled mine inheritance with 
the carcases of their detestable things and their abominations 

The metaphor is used by our Blessed Lord with a gracious reversal of 
application (cf. Mk. i. 17, &c.)\ 

17. Cf. Am. ix. 8; Job xxxiv. 21; Prov. v. 21, xv. 3. 

18. double. Cf. Is. xl. 2 for the fulfilment of the threat. Double 
means ample, the idea that God's punishment has been too great 
cannot as Skinner says 'be pressed theologically.' 

carcases of their detestable things. The idols whom the people 
worshipped are merely so much carrion. 

19 — 21. The heathen will one day recognise the folly of their 
fathers and turn to the service of Jehovah, a thought which is common 
in the later half of Isaiah. 

19. vanity, 'denotes figuratively what is evanescent, unsubstantial, 
worthless.' Driver. 

20. The god which a man makes for himself has no more power 
than its maker. 

21. A single exhibition of Jehovah's great power will convince the 
nations of His unique position amongst the gods. The connexion with 
the previous vv, is awkward owing to the sudden introduction of God as 
the speaker. The v. is in the manner of the second Is. and reads like 
an exilic promise of restoration. 



1 Cf. Clem. Alex. hymn, in Chr. where our Lord Himself is the fisher (quoted 
in Dr Swete's commentary on St Mark). 



138 THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH [xvii. i, . 

XVII. 1 The sin of Judah is written with a pen of iron, 
and with the point of a diamond : it is graven upon the table of 
their heart, and upon the horns of ^your altars; 2 whilst their 
children remember their altars and their ^Asherim by the green 

^ Another reading is, their. ^ See Ex. xxxiv. 13. 

XVII. 1 — 4. Judah's sin is so deeply engraven that it is im- 
possible to pass it over. 

These m. are omitted from lxx. perhaps, as Cornill thinks, be- 
cause the translator's eye wandered from nin^ in xvi. 21 to niH"' in 
xvii. 5. _ St Jerome suggests that the Greek translators omitted the 
passage in order not to hand down to posterity words of such strong 
condemnation \ It is possible that this suggestion gives the correct 
reason for the omission, though strictly speaking it applies to w. 1 f 
only. 

l._ pen of iron. Cf. Job xix. 24 (of graving in the hard rock). 

diamond. The diamond was probably unknown to the ancient 
Hebrews (cf Enc. Bib. 63 and 1097) as it was to the Greeks before 
the time of Alexander; probably the hard mineral corundum is meant, 
it is still used for polishing steel and cutting gems. The same Heb. 
word is used in Ez. iii. 9 for the firmness of the prophet and in Zech. vii. 
12 as a figure for a hard heart. 

table of their heart. The phrase recurs in Prov. iii. 3, vii. 3, the 
word for table is that used of the tablet on which the Decalogue was 
written. 

2 f The text is almost certainly corrupt as it stands or at any rate 
it has been glossed. Duhm and Cornill following the Syriac version 
omit whilst their... Asherim. Driver renders m. 1 — 3a as follows: 

' The sin of Judah is written with a pen of iron, 
With the point of a diamond is it graven 

Upon the table of their heart, 
Upon the horns of their altars, upon every spreading tree. 
Upon the high hills, the mountains in the field.' 

Keil, following the Rabbinic commentators, takes children as the object 
and translates D when by as : as {they) think of their children, (so they 
think of) their altars. 

Asherim. These were wooden posts in all probability worshipped 
as representing sacred trees I Such posts would form part of the fur- 
niture of the Canaanite shrines which were taken over by the Israelites. 

^ ' Ne scilicet aeterna in eos sententia permaneret ' (quoted by Dr Streane, 
The Double Text &c. p. 150). 

^ The Mishuah strangely enough looks upon Asheras as actual trees: cf. Aboda 
Zara, in. 7 f. and the notes in the edition by W. A. L. Elmslie in Texts and 
Studies. Q. P. Moore doubts the connexion of the Ashera with a living tree : 
Enc. Bib. 331. 



XVII. .-5] THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH 139 

trees upon the high hills. 3 O ray mountain in the field, I will 
give thy substance and all thy treasures for a spoil, and thy high 
places, because of sin, throughout all thy borders. 4 And thou, 
even of thyself, shalt discontinue from thine heritage that I gave 
thee ; and I will cause thee to serve thine enemies in the land 
which thou knowest not : for ye have kindled a fire in mine anger 
which shall burn for ever. 

5 Thus saith the Lord : Cursed is the man that trusteth 
in man, and maketh flesh his arm, and whose heart departeth 

The reformation under Josiah had abolished the high places, and yet 
so strong was the attraction of the sacred spots that the hearts of the 
men of Judah still yearned towards them. In the same way some of 
the earliest followers of Muhammed asked the prophet to appoint them 
certain sacred trees (quoted by Cheyne, Life and Times &c. p. 103), 
and even Christianity itself was unable to eradicate the tendency to 
tree-worship of some of the Syrians (see W. Robertson Smith, Bel. 

3. mountain in the field. Cf. xiii. 27 'hills in the field,' and 
xxi. 13 'rock of the plain'; also Is. ii. 3 'mountain of the Lord.' 
Evidently Jerusalem is meant, though the figure is an awkward one 
(see further on xxi. 13), and perhaps the words are best attached to 
the previous v. as Driver suggests (see above). 

4. of thyself . Heb. "|3"i should probably be read "JT" as suggested 
by J. D. Michaelis : the v. will then run and thou shalt withdraw thine 
hand from thine heritage &c. (cf. Dt. xv. 3). 

5 f. In this section Jeremiah goes to the very root of Judah's 
failure and shews the cause of her continual sin. Though the worship 
of God was still carried on and His name was constantly on the lips of 
the people yet any real trust or belief in Him had long departed from 
among them. The men of Jerusalem were so convinced of their own 
skill and cleverness that they ignored the need of Divine aid, and like 
' the drunkards of Ephraim ' they might have said ' we have made a 
covenant with death and with hell are we at agreement ' (Is. xxviii. 1, 

5. This V. is used in the Commination Service. 

ttie man. Cornill sees in the passage a reference to Zedekiah in 
person. 

flesh his arm. 'Judah sought man's help, not only apart from 
God, but against God. God was bringing them down, and they, by 
man's aid, would lift themselves up.' Pusey on Hos. v. 13. 



^ Cf. the letter of Gregory the Great to the Bishop of Terracina ordering him 
to puuish certain tree-worshippers (Greg. Reg. Ep. viii. 19 ; quoted by Ed. Spearing 
in The Patrimony of the Roman Church, p. 12). 



140 THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH [xvk 5-9 

from the Lord, 6 For he shall be like Hhe heath in the desert, 
and shall not see when good cometh ; but shall inhabit the parched 
places in the wilderness, a salt land and not inhabited. 7 Blessed 
is the man that trusteth in the Lord, and whose ^hope the Lord 
is. 8 For he shall be as a tree planted by the waters, and that 
spreadeth out his roots by the river, and shall not ^fear when 
heat cometh, but his leaf shall be green ; and shall not be careful 
in the year of drought, neither shall cease from yielding fruit. 
9 The heart is deceitful above all things, and it is desperately 

^ Or, a tamarisk ^ Heb. trust. ^ According to another reading, see. 

from the Lord. Whatever a man trusts in becomes his god, whether 
it be the net of the poor fisherman described in Habakkuk (i. 1 6), or 
the armies of great powers like Egypt (as here) or Assyria (Is. x. 

6, the heath. The reference is to the juniper tree (of Tristram, 
Nat. Hist, of Bible, p. 358) which is a symbol of desolation owing 
to its being cropped by the wild goats. 

a salt land and not inhabited. Cf. Dt. xxix. 23 ; Ps. cvii. 34. 
The imagery is suggested by the land round the Dead Sea (cf. Zeph. 
ii. 9), which has been well described by a recent traveller as follows : 
' Before us lay a sheet of hard mud on which no green thing grows. 
It is of a yellow colour, blotched with a venomous grey-white salt : 
almost unconsciously the eye appreciates its enmity to life ' (G. Low- 
thian Bell, The Desert and the Sown, p. 12). 

7 f . In strong contrast with the man who relies on mere human 
aid is the true worshipper of God. The prophet describes him in 
language very like that of Ps. i. 3 f ^ as having a constant supply 
of nourishment and refreshment even in the time of heat and drought. 

8. planted. Better perhaps transplanted, the word is always used 
with some reference to the choice of situation. 

in the year of drought. The righteous man abides in God and can 
safely endure the misfortunes of life ; the evil man, on the contrary, is 
in distress even in the time of plenty and is liable to sudden destruction 
(cf. Prov. xi. 28 ; Ez. xvii. 5—10). 

yielding fruit. Like 'the tree of life' in Rev. xxii. 2. . , 

9 — 11. The heart of man is no sure ground of confidence, nor 
will anyone but a fool place reliance on riches acquired by unlawful 
means. . 

9. No man ever knows fully his neighbour's thoughts and i»otives, 
nor whether he will remain faithful to his engagements. _• 

1 That there is a close connexion between the two passages is genatally ad- 
mitted, but commentators are not agreed as to which is the original. Kirkpatrick 
in Camh. Bib. says that Jeremiah paraphrases and expands the passage from 
the Ps. ; on the other hand Briggs in Int. Grit. Covim. says that the v. is based 
on Jer. xvii. 5 — 8 and Ez. xlvii. 12. 



XVII. 9-13] THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH 141 

sick: who can know it? 10 I the Lord search the heart, I try 
the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, according 
to the fruit of his doings. 11 As the partridge Hhat gathereth 
young which she hath not brought forth, so is he that getteth 
riches, and not by right; in the midst of his days ^they shall 
leave him, and at his end he shall be a fool. 

12 A glorious throne, set on high from the beginning, is the 
place of our sanctuary. 13 Lord, the hope of Israel, all that 
forsake thee shall be ashamed ; they that depart from me shall 
be written in the earth, because they have forsaken the Lord, 

1 Or, sitteth on eggs which she hath not laid - Or, he shall leave them 

deceitful. Buttenwieser (Prophets, p. 106) suggests the translation 
intricate and compares Is. xl. 4 ; and Ecchis. xx. 6. 

10. God alone can search the hearts of men and reward them accord- 
ing to their merits. If this v. is in its proper context the meaning must 
be that God who is ' greater than our hearts ' and who alone can know 
them is a safer ground of confidence than they are. 

/ the Lord search. The attributes of God here set out are applied 
to our Blessed Lord in the letter to the church of Thyatira (Rev. ii. 23 ; 
cf. also Jn. ii. 25; Acts i. 24, xv. 8; Rom. viii. 27; Ps. vii. 10). 

11. This V. reads like an extract from the book of Proverbs and 
seems hardly in a suitable context here. 

partridge. The partridge is the most common game-bird in 
Palestine, though it is only referred to three times in OT. (here ; 
1 S. xxvi. 20 ; and Ecclus. xi. 30). The partridge lays so many eggs 
that she was popularly thought to steal eggs from other birds. The 
meaning of the figure is plain, though the application of it is difficult: 
wealth is compared to the young birds who soon desert their foster- 
mother (following mg.) ; or as Driver, who proposes the rendering 
that heapeth together eggs, hut doth not bring forth young, suggests 
'with allusion to the large number of eggs laid... which are eagerly 
sought for by the Arabs as food, so that the bird often hatches no 
young.' ... * . 

12 f A description, in the manner of the Psalms, of the enduring 
might of God. 

12. on high. Cf Is. vi. 1. 

13. written in the earth. Cf the expression 'written on the sand,' 
a figure for that which is unenduring, and also the epitaph on Keats' 
tomb, chosen by the poet himself to represent the shortness of his life, 
'Here lies one whose name was writ in water.' The opposite of this 
phrase is used in Lk. x. 20 'your names are written in heaven.' The 
Heb. word for earth hardly means 'ground ' or 'soil ' and so the phrase 
is difficult; perhaps Giesebrecht's emendation ims* they shall be cut off 
for nriD'' they shall be written gives the best solution of the difficulty. 



142 THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH [xvii. 13-18 

the fountain of living waters. 14 Heal me, Lord, and I shall 
be .healed ; save me, and I shall be saved : for thou art my praise. 
15 Behold, they say unto me, Wh^re is the word of the Lord? 
let it come now, 16 As for me, I have not hastened from being 
a shepherd after thee; neither have I desired Hhe woeful day; 
thou knowest : that which came out of my lips was before thy 
face. 17 Be not a terror unto me: thou art my refuge in the 
day of evil. 18 Let them be ashamed that persecute me, but 
let not me be ashamed ; let them be dismayed, but let not me be 

^ Some ancient versions read, the judgement day of man. 



14 — 18. The prophet is in deep distress because of the reproaches 
of his countrymen, evidently they accuse him of delighting in con- 
demnations and forecasts of woe. In the anguish of his soul he turns 
to his only source of comfort, and cries out to God for strength and 
courage. With pathetic entreaty he prays God to be not a terror to 
him, such as were his familiar friends (xx. 10) ; nor to send him forth 
once more with a message of reproof; but to be a refuge and a shelter 
to hide in. 

15. These words must have been written before the approach of the 
Babylonian armies, and certainly before the first fall of Jerusalem. If 
the earlier chh. of Jeremiah refer to the Scythian invasion, whose 
terrors passed harmlessly by the men of Jerusalem, this v. may be a 
taunt over their non-fulfilment. Such mistakes in detail do not 
discredit the prophets, who, after all, are dealing with great principles 
which are bound to fulfil themselves sooner or later, though the time 
may be more distant than the prophet himself imagines (c£ W. 
Robertson Smith, Prophets^ pp. 268 f ; Buttenwieser, op. cit. p. 153). 

Where, This is a not unusual way of beginning a taunt in both 
OT. and NT., e.g. Ps. xlii. 3 'where is now thy God?' 2 Pet. iii. 4 
' where is the promise of his coming V 

16. from being a shepherd. These words are represented by one 
word only in the Heb., and this word can be read, without any change 
in the consonantal text, because of the evil, the translation adopted by 
Aq. and Symm. The meaning would then be in the words of Dr Streane, 
who approves of the alteration, 'I have not pursued thee with persistent 
supplication to bring calamity upon my foes.' The meaning of the 
V. as it stands in RV., however, is quite consistent and hardly needs 
' much improvement to the parallelism ' ; Jeremiah did not refuse to 
bear God's message and to act as a prophet, but on the other hand, he 
certainly did not desire the woeful day. The title shepherd is nowhere 
else applied to a prophet, though it is used of one entrusted with the 
care of a nation. 



XVII. i8] THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH 143 

dismayed: bring upon them the day of evil, and Mestroy them 
with double destruction. 

1 Heb. break them with a double breach. 

18. double destruction. Rothstein in order to make this reading 
possible emends the Heb. and reads the construct stated Is it not 
possible to take i^.?^P as an accusative of time and to translate destrcy 
them ivith a second destruction ? According to Buttenwieser who puts 
forward the above suggestion {op. cit. 110 f.), the first destruction which 
the prophet has in mind is the fall of Samaria. If double is retained 
it may mean complete (cf xvi. 18 and note there) ; it can hardly refer, 
as some commentators used to think, to a punishment which will be 
effective in this life and also in that which is to come. 



Chapter XVII. 19—27. 
The Sabbath is to be hallowed by the Cessation of all Labour. 

The genuineness of this section has been denied by the majority of critics 
mainly on two grounds, \iz. : that (1) it bears signs of belonging to a later date; 
and (2) the attitude towards ceremonies is inconsistent with Jeremiah's usual 
teaching. 

(1) Jeremiah does not elsewhere refer to the Sabbath, and indeed the pre- 
exilic prophets had apparently little interest in it except as a day of rest for 
the common people (cf. Am. viii. 5). It was during the exile that the importance 
of the Sabbath as a mark of the religion of Jehovah first came to be realised ; 
when the Jews, cut off as they were from the temple, had a hard struggle to 
preserve their national and religious life in the midst of heathen institutions 
(Ez. XX. 12). As Peake remarks 'the detachment of the Jews from sacred places 
by the exile gave a wholly new value to sacred times.' In this passage such 
stress is laid on the keeping of the Sabbath that the very existence of the State 
is made to depend upon it. Such an attitude seems to be post-exilic and to 
reflect the situation of Haggai and Zechariah, especially as v. 25 seems to imply 
that at the time when it was written no king sat on the throne of David, and 
V. 26 tacitly excludes Samaria from those offering worship at Jerusalem. Most 
critics, for these reasons, connect the section mth such a passage as Neh. 
xiii. 15—22 (so Kuenen, Einleitung, ii. 167 ff.; Duhm ; Cornill &c.), and indeed 
some find traces in it of actual dependence on that passage (Siegfried, Ezra, 
Neh. u. Esth. on Neh. xiii. 15; and Buttenwieser, op. cit. 49 ff.). 

(2) In this section not only is stress laid on the importance of keeping the 
Sabbath holy, but in v. 26 there is also a high regard expressed for incense and 
sacrifices. This seems at first sight quite inconsistent with Jeremiah's usual 

i njK^D for njw'o. 



144 THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH [xvii. 



19—21 



teaching. It should, however, be remembered that the Sabbath was an ancient 
custom and that it had not only a ritual but also a humanitarian significance ; 
and also it is quite possible that in the prophet's mind the ideal future would 
be a time when worthy sacrifices might be off"ered out of pure and sincere 
hearts (cf. Driver, LOT? p. 258). A similar sentiment seems to have moved 
some later writer to add vi\ 18f. to Ps. li. (cf. vo. 16 f.). 

In conclusion it must be admitted that the passage bears resemblances, 
possibly due to imitation, to the style of Jeremiah, and that it may belong, as 
Orelli thinks, to the early years of his ministry (it is certainly out of its context 
here) ; but on the whole the point of view displayed in it is post-exilic and 
closely akin to that of Nehemiah. 

In considering the question of Sabbath observance, especially in the present 
day, the two aspects of the institution should both be borne in mind. The 
Sabbath has a religious and a social aspect ; in other words, it is to be regarded 
as the day upon which special worship is offered to Almighty God, and as the 
day on which men deny themselves in order that their neighbours may also 
have an opportunity for rest and worship, ' The enemies of the sabbath are the 
enemies of the poor.' The late Edward Kingj Bishop of Lincoln, in one of 
his pastoral letters recommended three names to be used for Sunday. (1) The 
Lordls Day. 'The day for special worship in every best way we can ; the day 
for the special Christian service, the Eucharist.' (2) The Day of Rest. 'We 
should rest from our bodily labours that our minds and hearts may have leisure 
to learn more of God.' (3) The Home Day. ' All the members of the family 
are at home on Sunday ; it is a day for cultivating Brotherly Love ; a day for 
rekindling the love in our own households.' 

19 Thus said the Lord unto me: Go, and stand in the gate 
of Hhe children of the people, whereby the kings of Judah come 
in, and by the which they go out, and in all the gates of Jerusalem; 
20 and say unto them, Hear ye the word of the Lord, ye kings 
of Judah, and all Judah, and all the inhabitants of Jerusalem, 
that enter in by these gates ; 21 thus saith the Lord: Take heed 
^to yourselves, and bear no burden on the sabbath day, nor bring 

1 Or, the common people See eh. xxvi. 23. ^ Or, for your life's sake 

19. gate of the children of the people. As the gate is also used by 
the kings in some peculiar way the expression is difficult, and no satis- 
factory suggestion lias been made as to its locality or special use. 

20. kings. Again no satisfactory explanation has been offered for 
the plural, though it is possible that it is a scribal error perhaps due to 
the influence of v. 25 (cf. xxii. 2). 

21. burden. In the passage Neh. xiii. 15 — 21 the word burden 
seems to refer to merchandise and possibly the same reference is 
to be supposed here, in which case Sunday trading is especially con- 
demned. 



xvii. 21-27] THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH 145 

it in by the gates of Jerusalem ; 22 neither carry forth a burden 
out of your houses on the sabbath day, neither do ye any work: 
but hallow ye the sabbath day, as I commanded your fathers ; 
23 but they hearkened not, neither inclined their ear, but made 
their neck stiff, that they might not hear, and might not receive 
instruction. 24 And it shall come to pass, if ye diligently hearken 
unto me, saith the Lord, to bring in no burden through the gates 
of this city on the sabbath day, but to hallow the sabbath day, 
to do no work therein ; 25 then shall there enter in by the gates 
of this city kings and princes sitting upon the throne of David, 
riding in chariots and on horses, they, and their princes, the men 
of Judah, and the inhabitants of Jerusalem : and this city shall 
h'emain for ever. 26 And they shall come from the cities of 
Judah, and from the places round about Jerusalem, and from 
the land of Benjamin, and from the lowland, and from the moun- 
tains, and from the South, bringing burnt offerings, and sacrifices, 
and ^oblations, and frankincense, and bringing scicrijices of 
thanksgiving, unto the house of the Lord. 27 But if ye will not 
hearken unto me to hallow the sabbath day, and not to bear a 
burden and enter in at the gates of Jerusalem on the sabbath 
day ; then will I kindle a fire in the gates thereof, and it shall 
devour the palaces of Jerusalem, and it shall not be quenched. 

1 Or, be inhabited - Or, meal offerings 

22. out of your houses. This law was avoided by the later Jews by 
merging ' several private precincts into one ' by which means food or 
vessels would not be moved out of the houses, and so could be carried 
to any distance (see Herford's note in Oxford Apoc. 11. p. 827). 

25. and princes. Evidently an insertion (cf. their j^rinces) and so to 
be omitted. 

26. The restored kingdom is evidently to be limited to the tribes 
of Judah and Benjamin, i.e. Samaria is not included in it. This seems 
to reflect a post-exilic standpoint and is as much opposed to the 
usual teaching of Jeremiah (cf. iii. 11 ff., xxiii. 6, &c.) as is the value 
attached to incense. 

lowland... mountains... the South. Every part of Judah is to be 
represented, the Shephelah (including the foothills on the Philistine 
border), the hill country round Jerusalem, and the Negeb or land to 
the South (cf. Josh. xv. 21 — 60 where the same districts are referred to 
but in different order). 

27. will I kindle... palaces. This expression is borrowed from Am. 
i. 4, &c. (where see E. A. Edghill's note) and is used frequently by 

B- 10 



146 THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH [xviii. i, 2 

Jeremiah (cf. xxi. 14, xlix. 27, 1. 32, also xliii. 12) and by other 
prophets (Hos. viii. 14; Ez. xx. 47). 



Chapter XVHL 
The Visit to the Potters House and what came of it. 

Chh. xviii. — xx. all deal with subjects connected with the potter's art, hence 
probably their being placed together in the collection of Jeremiah's prophecies. 
The earlier vv. of ch. xviii. have met with much criticism — Duhm rejects every- 
thing up to V. 12 as too trivial, and Cornill rejects w. 5 — 12 as an insertion 
which misses the point of the story. It is quite true that the teaching of 
vv. 7 — 12 is not in agreement with that of ». 4 ; the former »». imply that God 
will reject His agents entirely if they fail, whereas the meaning of the original 
figure is that God's plans cannot be baffled by the failure of His agents, they 
can be remoulded and, as it were, given a fresh start. 

(a) Jeremiah is commanded to go down to the potter's house. 1 — 4. 

(6) God^s dealings with the nations. 5 — 12. 

(c) JudaK's horrible crime shall receive a punishment of horror. 

13—17. 
{d) The people^ s plot and the prophet's prayer. 18 — 23. 

XVIII. 1 The word which came to Jeremiah from the Lord, 
saying, 2 Arise, and go down to the potter's house, and there I 

XVIII. 1 — 4. God commands the prophet to go down to the house 
of the potter. This section is interesting as furnishing what is perhaps 
the first recorded instance of the use of a symbol found in many lan- 
guages and literatures \ For other instances of its use in biblical and 
cognate literature in addition to those referred to below, see Is. xlv. 9, 
Ixiv. 8; Wisd. xv. 7; Ecclus. xxxiii. 13; also Test. xii. Patriarchs, 
Napht. ii. 2 — 4. For non-biblical uses cf the saying of Heraclitus ' the 
clay out of which things are made is for ever being moulded into new 
forms' (TiO^QY, Pre-Soc. Phil.ii.^. 17); Omar Khayyam, ^Mia23/a^xxxvi., 
Liii., Lix. ff. ; and in our own day Browning's Rabhi Ben Ezra, xxv. — 

XXXII. 

2. the potter s house. Probably some well known place where Jeremiah 
had often watched the potter at work (though Hebrew idiom does not 
demand this). The potters of Judah formed a guild (1 Ch. iv. 23) and 
probably occupied a quarter of their own, perhaps on the lower slopes 
of Hinnom (cf. go down). 



1 Is. xxix. 16 is possibly earlier but its genuineness is questionable. The 
Egyptians also believed that the god Khnoumou moulded gods and men on a 
potter's wheel: cf. J. G. Frazer, Magic Art, n. p. 132. 



xviii. 2-8] THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH 147 

will cause thee to hear my words. 3 Then I went down to the 
potter's house, and, behold, he wrought his work on the wheels. 
4 And when the vessel that he made of the clay was marred in 
the hand of the potter, he made it again another vessel, as seemed 
good to the potter to make it. 

5 Then the word of the Lord came to me, saying, 6 house 
of Israel, cannot I do with you as this potter? saith the Lord. 
Behold, as the clay in the potter's hand, so are ye in mine hand, 
house of Israel. 7 At what instant I shall speak concerning 
a nation, and concerning a kingdom, to pluck up and to break 
down and to destroy it ; 8 if that nation, concerning which I 

3. ths wheels. The potter made use of two wheels, the smaller resting 
on the larger, which was driven by the feet of the potter (Ecclus. xxxviii. 
29 f ). For a full description see Em. Bib. 3820 and Thomson, The 
Land and the Book, pp. 520 f. 

4. the clay was marred &c. The potter is not dependent on his 
material but can mould it according to his own ideas, and he is free to 
change his plans for any particular portion of it during the process of 
manufacture. Jeremiah's use of the symbol of the potter's clay is quite 
different from that of St Paul in Rom. ix. — xi., where the Apostle uses 
it to shew man's powerlessness in God's hands and the Creator's absolute 
right over His creatures. This interpretation of the figure, which may 
be called the pessimistic interpretation, has made the deeper impression 
on men's minds, but it is not the one which is uppermost in the mind 
of Jeremiah : his interpretation of the symbol is on the contrary opti- 
mistic, God can remould His creatures if they fail and does not need 
to cast them utterly away. 

5 — 12. Just as the potter re-moulds his material when it proves 
unsuitable for a particular vessel, so God deals with the nations. In w. 
11 f the general principle is applied to the specific case of Judah (cf 
Am. ii. 6 ff.). 

7 if. God's threats, like His promises, are conditional. If the nation 
continues in its sin then will the efi'ects of His anger fall upon it; if 
however it accepts His warning then it will be spared. God's unlimited 
power, as Keil says, ' is exercised according to man's conduct, not ac- 
cording to a decretum absolutum or unchangeable determination.' This 
passage contains no application to individuals (contrast Ez. xviii. 21 ff., 
xxxiii. 12 fi.) and no thought of predestination in the popular sense, for 
vv. 8 f shew that Jeremiah is not thinking of men's hearts but of their 
external circumstances. 

7. a nation. The statement of the principles which regulate God's 
dealings with nations is quite general and 'perhaps implies that the 
prophet hoped his teaching might bear fruit beyond the border of Israel 
proper.' Kennett, Servt. of the Lord, p. 24. 

10—2 



148 THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH [xviii. 8-14 

have spoken, turn from their evil, I will repent of the evil that 
I thought to do unto them. 9 And at what instant I shall speak 
concerning a nation, and concerning a kingdom, to build and to 
plant it; 10 if it do evil in my sight, that it obey not my voice, 
then I will repent of the good, wherewith I said I would benefit 
them. 11 Now therefore go to, speak to the men of Judah, and 
to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, saying. Thus saith the Lord: 
Behold, I frame evil against you, and devise a device against 
you: return ye now every one from his evil way, and amend 
your ways and your doings. 12 But they say, There is no hope : 
for we will walk after our own devices, and we will do every 
one after the stubbornness of his evil heart. 

13 Therefore thus saith the Lord: Ask ye now among the 
nations, who hath heard such things ; the virgin of Israel hath 
done a very horrible thing. 14 Shall the snow of Lebanon fail 
from the rock of the field ? or shall the cold waters ^ that flow 

^ Or, of strange lands that flow doivn he d'c. 

8. / will repent. ' The necessities of human thought require that 
sometimes, through man's failure or cliange, God, who is unchangeable, 
should be said to repent. The temporary interruption of the accomplish- 
ment of His counsel of love must appear in this light under the con- 
ditions of time to tliose "who see but part.'" Westcott on Heb. vii. 21. 
Cheyne rejects vv. 5 — 10 on the ground that Jeremiah was quite certain 
of the destruction of Jerusalem, Enc. Bib. 3878. 

11. frame. The Heb. word ior jMtter is derived from this verb. 

12. The people are self-condemned; cf. Is. xxviii. 15, xxx. 10 f. 
13 — 17. Judah's horrible crime will soon be followed by a punish- 
ment of equal horror. 

13. Ask ye... among the tmt'ions. Cf. ii. 10 f., v. 30; and 1 Cor. 
v. 1. 

virgin. The use of this term in its present context adds to the 
horror of the description. 

14. rock of the field. The meaning of this phrase is obscure; in 
xvii. 3 Jerusalem is apparently called ' my mountain in the field ' (cf. 
xxi. 13), but such an interpretation would throw no light on the present 
context. Various attempts have accordingly been made to find an ex- 
planation by means of emendations. (1) Giesebrecht suggests that scideh 
(field) should be pointed Shaddai (Almighty); (2) Duhm would emend 
so as to read Sirion (the Phoenician name for Mt Hermon, cf. Dt. iii. 9; 
Ps. xxix. 6)^ and he translates 'Does the hoar frost leave Sirion, the 

1 It is interesting in view of Duhm's suggestion to notice that the Arabs call 
Hermon Towil eth-Thalj ' the height of snow.' 



xviiL 14-18] THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH 149 

down from afar be Mried up? 15 For my people hath forgotten 
me, they have burned incense to vanity ; and they have caused 
them to stumble in their ways, in the ancient paths, to walk in 
bypaths, in a way not cast up; 16 to make their land an as- 
tonishment, and a perpetual hissing; every one that passeth 
thereby shall be astonished, and shake his head. 17 1 will scatter 
them as with an east wind before the enemy; I will ^look upon 
their back, and not their face, in the day of their calamity. 

18 Then said they. Come, and let us devise devices against 

' Or, plucked tip 2 Qr, shew them the back, and not the face 

snow Lebanon V ; (3) Cornill's suggestion is very similar to the last, he 
would read (substituting white for Lebanon, the root meaning of which 
is white) 'Does the white snow melt away from the rock of Sirion?' In 
support of this suggestion it has been pointed out that Lebanon, unlike 
Hermon, does not retain its snow throughout the summer. 

cold waters .. .dried up. The second half of the v. is equally obscure 
and certainly requires some emendation even if it be only the slight 
one adopted by RV., i.e. the transposition of one letter in order to read 
dried up for plucked up (mg.) which term can hardly be applied to waters. 
The Heb. translated literally then reads shall the strange, cold, Jlowing 
waters be dried' up. Strange should probably be omitted as an accidental 
repetition of cold (the words are very similar in the original) though 
Duhm by a rather elaborate and ingenious emendation retains it. He, 
however, divides up the Heb. consonants differently and reads waters 
of the scatterers instead of strange waters. By a reference to an obscure 
passage in Job xxxvii. 9 he explains the scatterers as the rainbringing 
Northern stars. This explanation seems much too involved and it is 
perhaps best to adopt Rothstein's suggestion and read are the cold flowing 
waters of the hills dried up? The meaning is quite clear in spite of the 
apparent corruption of the text : the waters of Lebanon are constant 
(cf. Cant. iv. 15) but the conduct of Judah is fickle and unnatural; cf 
viii. 7 where the birds who obey their instincts are contrasted with the 
disobedience of Judah. 

15. For. This may continue v. 13 or on the other hand it may 
draw out a different thought from v. 14 : Judah's faithlessness is the 
cause of her coming punishment, she has given up God and so will become 
like a stream separated from its source (cf ii. 13). 

ancient paths. Cf. vi. 16. The difficulties of travel in ancient times 
are well illustrated by passages such as these. 

16. hissing. A sound expressing not contempt but surprise; cf 
Jud. V. 16. 

17. east wind. For a description of this wind see Enc. Bib. 5304 f 
and Driver on Am. iv. 9. 

18—23. The people form a plot against Jeremiah, who gives himself 



150 THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH [xviii. 18-23 

Jeremiah ; for the law shall not perish from the priest, nor counsel 
from the wise, nor the word from the prophet. Come, and let 
us smite him with the tongue, and let us not give heed to any 
of his words. 

19 Give heed to me, Lord, and hearken to the voice of 
them that contend with me. 20 Shall evil be recompensed for 
good ? for they have digged a pit for my soul. Remember how 
I stood before thee to speak good for them, to turn away thy 
fury from them. 21 Therefore deliver up their children to the 
famine, and give them over to the power of the sword ; and let 
their wives become childless, and widows ; and let their men be 
slain of death, and their young men smitten of the sword in 
battle. 22 Let a cry be heard from their houses, when thou shalt 
bring a troop suddenly upon them : for they have digged a pit 
to take me, and hid snares for my feet. 23 Yet, Lord, thou 
knowest all their counsel against me to slay me; forgive not 
their iniquity, neither blot out their sin from thy sight : but let 

up to prayer (cf. xi. 18 — 23, xii. 1 — 6, xv. 10 f., 15 — 21). There is no 
clue to the date of this passage which appears here as a fragment; it 
probably comes from a time after .Jeremiah's attack on the temple. 

18. Note the three classes of recognised teachers, the priest who 
gave answers to enquirers by means of the sacred lot, or by the traditions 
of his sanctuary ; the wise man who gave advice to tliose who consulted 
him; the prophet to whom the message of the Lord came in order that 
he might deliver it to the people : cf. viii. 8 ; Ez. vii. 26. If God really 
turned His back on the nation, as Jeremiah foretold, these three sources 
of counsel would be dried up. 

19. Jeremiah brings himself and his adversaries before God's tri- 
bunal. 

20. Jeremiah brings to God's recollection his own prayers on the 
nation's behalf and in the bitterness of his soul repents that they were 
ever made. 

stood. The usual attitude for prayer, cf xv. 1 ; Neh. ix. 4, &c., 
though at times of special urgency kneeling was resorted to (1 K. viii. 
54; Ezra ix. 5; Dan. vi. 10, &c.). 

21 — 23. These vv. are in such strong contrast to Jeremiah's habitual 
attitude towards the people of Judah that many critics look upon them 
as a later addition. 

21. The expression of the desire for vengeance upon the wife and 
family of the offender is very similar to Ps. cix. 9 ff. 

22. a troop suddenly. The punishment is evidently to be caused 
by raiders rather than by a regular invasion. 

digged a pit &c. As in Ps. Ivii. 6. 



XVIII. 23-xix. 3] THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH 151 

them be ^overthrown before thee; deal thou with them in the 
time of thine anger. 

1 Heb. made to stumble. 

Chapters XIX.— XX. 6. 
The Symbol of the Brohen Vessel. 

The connexion between this section and ch. xviii. is probably literary rather 
than chronological. The account evidently refers to a time when Babylon had 
become prominent (xx. 4), and should therefore be dated sometime after the 
Battle of Carchemish which took place in the third year of the reign of 
Jehoiakim, 605 B.C. Duhm considers the whole passage to be late, but there are 
no reasonable grounds for such a sweeping treatment though there can be little 
doubt that later insertions have been included, e.g. xix. 3 — 9. 

{a) The prophet's instructions. 1 f. 

(6) T?ie prophets message. 3 — 9. 

(c) The symbolical action. 10—13. 

{d) The vengeance of the authorities. 14 — xx. 6. 

XIX. 1 Thus said the Lord, Go, and buy a potter's earthen 
bottle, and take of the elders of the people, and of the elders of 
the priests ; 2 and go forth unto the valley of the son of Hinnom, 
which is by the entry of Hhe gate Harsith, and proclaim there 
the words that I shall tell thee : 3 and say, Hear ye the word of 

1 Or, the gate of potsherds 

XIX. 1 f. .Jeremiah is bidden to go to the valley of Hinnom 
carrying with him an earthen vessel and accompanied by some of the 
elders : he will there receive God's message. 

1. elders of the priests. Cf. 2 K. xix. 2. The command does not 
aDow of any hesitation or refusal on the part of the elders, Jeremiah 
evidently still had great influence and was recognised as God's spokes- 
man. 

2. valley... of Hinnom. See on vii. 31. 

the gate Harsith. Better with mg. the gate of potsherds, perhaps 
from the broken vessels lying near it or because potsherds were there 
ground down in order to make cement (PEFQS. 1904, p. 136). AV. 
renders the east gate, deriving Harsith from heres ' sun.' The reference 
is probably to the gate called the Dung-gate in Neh. ii. 13, &c. which 
led into the valley of Hinnom. 

3 — 9. These vv. are generally rejected as an editorial insertion by 
most critics since Giesebrecht, the contents of the section being very 
similar to other parts of the book; and also because it seems strange 



152 THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH [xix. 3-7 

the Lord, kings of Jiidah, and inhabitants of Jerusalem ; thus 
saith the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, Behold, I will bring 
evil upon this place, the which whosoever heareth, his ears shall 
tingle. 4 Because they have forsaken me, and have estranged 
this place, and have burned incense in it unto other gods, whom 
they knew not, they and their fathers and the kings of Judah ; 
and have filled this place with the blood of innocents ; 5 and 
have built the high places of Baal, to burn their sons in the fire 
for burnt offerings unto Baal ; which I commanded not, nor spake 
it, neither came it into my ^mind: 6 therefore, behold, the days 
come, saith the Lord, that this place shall no more be called 
Topheth, nor The valley of the son of Hinnom, but The valley of 
Slaughter. 7 And I will ^make void the counsel of Judah and 
Jerusalem in this place; and I will cause them to fall by the 
sword before their enemies, and by the hand of them that seek 
their life : and their carcases will I give to be meat for the fowls 

^ Heb. heart. ^ Heb. empty out. 

that when Jeremiah has been told to go to the valley of Hinnom to 
hear God's message he should be represented as receiving it immediately. 
A farther argument advanced by Giesebrecht is that the Greek of this 
passage is different in style from the rest of the book, which suggests 
that the original translators did not find these vv. in their Heb. text 
and so it was added later. There is nothing remarkable in the subject 
matter of the section which, as was pointed out above, is apparently 
derived from other passages: terrible punishments are to come upon 
Jerusalem on account of the evil rites practised by her, and so straitened 
will the city become that the inhabitants will be reduced to cannibalism. 

3. kings. The use of the plural seems to point to a time when 
the monarchy was only a memory (cf. xvii. 20), though it may be merely 
a scribal mistake due to dittography. At the same time the prophet 
may be addressing the shade of the monarchs whose wickednesses had 
some share in causing the coming distress (cf v. 4 lxx.). 

ears shall tingle. Cf. 1 S. iii. 11; 2 K. xxi. 12. 

4. estranged. By worshipping foreign gods in it. 

their fathers and the kings of Judah; and have filled, lxx. places the 
division dX fathers and continues and the kings of Judah have filled &c. 

blood of innocents. Cf ii. 34; 2 K. xxi. 16, xxiv. 4; the reference 
however should not be confined to child-sacrifice. 

5 f Almost identical with vii. 31 f 

7. make void. Heb. empty out with a play on the word for earthen 
bottle; used in Is. xix. 3 of 'courage.' The latter part of v. is similar 
to vii. 33. 



XIX. 7-^3] THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH 153 

of the heaven, and for the beasts of the earth. 8 And I will 
make this city an astonishment, and an hissing ; every one that 
passeth thereby shall be astonished and hiss because of all the 
plagues thereof. 9 And I will cause them to eat the flesh of 
their sons and the flesh of their daughters, and they shall eat 
every one the flesh of his friend, in the siege and in the strait- 
ness, wherewith their enemies, and they that seek their life, shall 
straiten them. 10 Then shalt thou break the bottle in the sight 
of the men that go with thee, 11 and shalt say unto them, 
Thus saith the Lord of hosts : Even so will I break this people 
and this city, as one breaketh a potter's vessel, that cannot be 
made whole again: and they shall bury in Topheth, Hill there 
be no place to bury. 12 Thus will I do unto this place, saith 
the Lord, and to the inhabitants thereof, even making this city 
as Topheth : 13 and the houses of Jerusalem, and the houses 
of the kings of Judah, which are defiled, shall be as the place of 
Topheth, even all the houses upon whose roofs they have burned 
incense unto all the host of heaven, and have poured out drink 
ofl*erings unto other gods. 

^ Or, because there shall be no place else 



8. This V. is very similar to xviii. 16. 

9. eat the flesh. A worse fate than for the body to be left unburied 
(cf. Lev. xxvi. 29; Ez. v. 10 j and Lam. iv. 10); the v. is derived from 
Dt. xxviii. 53, commenting on which Driver says, 'The thought. . .is dwelt 
upon for the purpose of illustrating, in two vivid pictures, the ghastly 
reversal of natural aflfection to which the severity of the siege will give 
rise.' 

10 — 13. In ch. xviii. Jeremiah taught that God could remould the 
potter's clay and that a nation if only it would repent might he spared ; 
the potter's art is here used to shew the fate of the nation which refuses 
to hear God's warnings. The prophet, if vv. 3 — 9 are genuine, first gave 
the teaching and then enforced it by his dramatic action; if however 
the viK be omitted Jeremiah first performed the action and then inter- 
preted it to the elders. 

11. and they... bury. Omitted by LXX. and almost certainly an 
insertion from vii. 32. 

13. See on viii. 2 and cf. xxxii. 29, xxxiii. 4 ; 2 K. xxiii. 1 1 f ; 
Zeph. i. 5; and Ez. xxiii. 7. 

roofs. The flat roofs of oriental houses were and are used for a 
variety of purposes (see Dr Swete on Mk. xiii. 15 f). 



154 THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH [xix. 14-xx. 3 

14 Then came Jeremiah from Topheth, whither the Lord had 
sent him to prophesy ; and he stood in the court of the Lord's 
house, and said to all the people: 15 Thus saith the Lord of 
hosts, the God of Israel, Behold, I will bring upon this city and 
upon all her towns all the evil that I have pronounced against 
it ; because they have made their neck stiff, that they might not 
hear my words. 

XX. 1 Now Pashhur the son of Immer the priest, who was 
chief officer in the house of the Lord, heard Jeremiah prophesy- 
ing these things. 2 Then Pashhur smote Jeremiah the prophet, 
and put him in the stocks that were in the upper gate of Benja- 
min, which was in the house of the Lord. 3 And it came to pass 

14 — XX. 6, The prophet returns to Jerusalem and repeats the 
substance of his message in the temple court to the people there assem- 
bled. He is arrested by Pashhur and imprisoned in the stocks. Jeremiah 
denounces Pashhur and foretells his fate. 

14. Doubtless the news of Jeremiah's action had preceded his return 
and the people would wait with much curiosity for his message : the 
temple crowds would differ but little from those of our Lord's day when 
His deeds and sayings were eagerly discussed amongst them. 

XX. 1. Pashhur the son of Immer. Both PasMwr and /w^wer appear 
in post-exilic times as names of priestly families (see Ezra ii. 37f , x. 20; 
Neh. vii. 40, &c.) and this fact has caused some doubt to be thrown on 
the genuineness of their reference here to persons. Pashhur however is 
common in this book, appearing in xxi. 1 and xxxviii. 1 (of two differ- 
ent persons). According to v. 6 Jeremiah's opponent was himself a 
prophet, this fact need not cause surprise as the majority of the prophets 
were apparently firm allies of the priests and it was only when individual 
prophets rose above the spiritual level of their order that conflicts ensued. 

chief officer, lit. ruler, overseer. The office seems to have carried 
with it functions similar to those exercised by Zephaniah ' the second 
priest ' (xxix. 26, cf Hi. 24), though there is nothing to shew that the 
two offices were identical (cf Erbt, Jeremia, pp. 15 — 17). 

2 f The Bible records three other instances of similar treatment ; 
Micaiah (1 K. xxii. 24 f ), St Paul (Acts xxiii. 2 f ) and our Blessed 
Lord Himself (Matt. xxvi. 67 f ). In every instance except the last the 
undeserved insult brought forth a fierce reply from the victim. 

2. the stocks, SiCcoiAmg to Ecclus. xxxiii. 26, were much used to 
punish unfaithful servants. 

gate of Benjamin. The northern gate of the temple (cf 2 K. xv. 35) ; 
one of the city gates bore the same name and is referred to in xxxvii. 13 
and xxxviii. 7. 

3. The Hebrew prophets whilst they denounced the sins of the 
nation at large were also concerned with the offences of individuals. Cf. 



XX. 3-6] THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH 155 

on the morrow, that Pashhur brought forth Jeremiah out of the 
stocks. Then said Jeremiah unto him, The Lord hath not called 
thy name Pashhur, but ^Magor-missabib. 4 For thus saith the 
Lord, Behold, I will make thee a terror to thyself, and to all thy 
friends : and they shall fall by the sword of their enemies, and 
thine eyes shall behold it: and I will give all Judah into the 
hand of the king of Babylon, and he shall carry them captive to 
Babylon, and shall slay them with the sword. 5 Moreover I will 
give all the riches of this city, and all the gains thereof, and all 
the precious things thereof, yea, all the treasures of the kings of 
Judah will I give into the hand of their enemies, which shall 
spoil them, and take them, and carry them to Babylon. 6 And 
thou, Pashhur, and all that dwell in thine house shall go into 
captivity : and thou shalt come to Babylon, and there thou shalt 
die, and there shalt thou be buried, thou, and all thy friends, to 
whom thou hast prophesied falsely. 

1 That is, Terror on every side. 

Amos' denunciation of Amaziah, the priest of Bethel (Am. vii. 10—17); 
and Isaiah's condemnation of Shebna (Is. xxii. 15 flf.). 

Magor-missabib meaning as the mg. says terror on every side. 
The expression is also used in v. 10, vi. 25, xlvi. 5, xhx. 29 ; Lam. ii. 22. 

4. In this case the fate of the survivor is worse than that of the 
slain (cf. xxii. 10); the death of Pashhur's friends seems to be connected 
with him in some way ; possibly he was a traitor, or more probably he 
represented a policy which resulted in the overthrow of Jerusalem and 
his friends with it. 

6. all thy friends. In v. 4 \}aid friends were to be slain. 



Chapter XX. 7—18. 
The. Prophet's Complcbints. 

This section quite evidently contains two distinct complaints by the prophet, 
and the connexion between them, in spite of the opinion of Rothstein, can 
hardly be more than external and accidental. The tremendous importance of 
VT>. 7 — 10 as a revelation of the working of the prophetic mind has already been 
commented upon in the Introduction (pp. xiii, xv) and the burst of praise which 
follows it {w. 11 — 13) comes quite naturally upon the lips of one who has sur- 
rendered himself to God's inspiration. The difficulty arises when the attempt 
is made to read vv. 14 — 18 as an immediate sequel, for as Buttenwieser says, 
'It would be psychologically impossible... for such faith, such surrender, such 



156 THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH [xx. 7, 8 

spiritual exultation... to be followed immediately by such utter dejection and 
bitterness of spirit.' Ewald tried to avoid this difficulty by transposing the two 
sections and it is possible that such a change represents the true order, it is 
best however to treat the two passages as quite independent expressions of the 
prophet's agony. 

Most critics look upon ve. 7 — 13 as coming from a time in Jeremiah's ministry 
when his words were merely received with derision {v. 7 h) because the danger 
which he foretold was still very remote and indeed not yet apparent. The rest 
of the passage, however, seems to shew that the prophet has suffered violence 
and that he has had many internal struggles to overcome; v. 10 also suggests 
the later part of his ministry Avhen he suffered much from those who spied 
upon him. The burst of praise {vv. 11—13) may have been the natural result 
of Jeremiah's trust in God, but if any external event called it forth none would • 
seem more suitable than the prophet's rescue from the dungeon (xxxviii. 10 — 13). 

{a) JeremiaKs complaint. 7 — 10. 

(&) The outburst of praise. 11 — 13. 

(c) Jeremiah curses the day of his birth. 14 — 18. 

7 Lord, thou hast Meceived me, and I was deceived: thou 
art stronger than I, and hast prevailed : I am become a laughing- 
stock all the day, every one mocketh me. 8 For as often as I 
speak, I cry out ; I cry, Violence and spoil : because the word of 

1 Or, enticed 

7 — 10. Jeremiah complains that God has seized upon him and 
forced him, against his own will, to become the vehicle of the Divine 
utterance regarding Judah and Jerusalem. The circumstances of the 
prophet's life are too strong for him and he lives in an atmosphere of 
perpetual danger and suspicion. There is a rather interesting parallel 
to this protest of Jeremiah in the Sibylline Oracles, ill. 1 ff. ' thou who 
thunderest from on high... I pray thee give me a short respite from mine 
unerring oracle, for my soul within me is weary. Nay why did my 
heart again flutter, and why is my soul lashed with a spur from within, 
compelled to announce my message ? ' 

7, deceived : mg. enticed. The underlying idea is that the prophet has 
been drawn into an undertaking which was dangerous beyond anything 
which he had anticipated. Savonarola had exactly the same feeling, as he 
told the people of Florence in Advent 1494 : 'I was in a safe haven, the 
life of a friar ; I looked at the waves of the world and saw therein much 
fish ; with my hook I caught some, that is by my preaching I led a few 
into the way of salvation. As I took pleasure therein the Lord drave 
my bark into the open sea. Before me on the vast ocean I see terrible 
tempests brewing. Behind I have lost sight of my haven : the wind 
drives me forward, and the Lord forbids my return.' Quoted by 
Creighton, Hist, of the Papacy, iv. 252 f. 

8. Violence and spoil. The monotony of Jeremiah's message was 



XX. 8-1.] THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH 157 

the Lord is made a reproach unto me, and a derision, all the day. 
9 And if I say, I w\\\ not make mention of him, nor speak any 
more in his name, then there is in mine heart as it were a burn- 
ing fire shut up in my bones, and I am weary with forbearing, 
and I cannot contain. 10 For I have heard the defaming of 
many, terror on every side. Denounce, and we will denounce 
him, say all my familiar friends, they that watch for my halting ; 
peradventure he will be enticed, and we shall prevail against 
him, and we shall take our revenge on him. 11 But the Lord 
is with me as a mighty one and a terrible : therefore my perse- 
cutors shall stumble, and they shall not prevail : they shall be 
greatly ashamed, because they have not ^ dealt wisely, even with 
an everlasting dishonour which shall never be forgotten. 12 But, 

^ Or, prospered 

apparent even to himself, and yet it was the only one possible in view 
of the state of the nation (c£ xxiii. 33 ff. and the similar experience of 
Isaiah, xxviii. 9 ff.)- Some critics, however, take the reference to be to 
the prophet's own experience whenever he speaks in God's name, 
Buttenwieser, for example, translates As often as I speak I have to cry 
out, have to complain of violence and abuse. 

unto me. Not a reproach and derision to Jeremiah himself, but 
the cause of his being a reproach and derision (cf xv. 15). 

9. burning fire. If the messengers of the old dispensation, which 
was one of condemnation, thus burned to deliver their message how 
much more should the preacher of the glad tidings of salvation long 
'to burn out for God.' Qui non ardet non incendit. The metaphor of 

fire is often used for the effect of the prophet's message; see Ecclus. 
xlviii. 1 where it is said of Elijah that he 'arose a prophet like fire 
whose word was like a burning furnace.' Cf Mai. iv. 1, 5. 

10. familiar friends. Cf. xxxviii. 22 ; Ps. xli. 9. 

enticed. The plan of these false friends was probably similar to 
that of the Pharisees who endeavoured to entrap our Lord into making 
incriminating statements by means of which they could denounce Him 
to the authorities. The experiences of the servants are gathered up in 
the experiences of the Master. 

11 — 13. The prophet's confidence is fixed on the infinite might 
and knowledge of God and therefore he can be certain of ultimate 
triumph. 

11. as a mighty one &c. Kimchi suggested the possibility of 
applying these words to Jeremiah himself which improves the sense of 
the V. Since the Lord is ivith me I am as a mighty one... therefore my 
persecutors shall stumble. 

12. This V. is probably a gloss here from xi. 20. 



158 THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH [xx. i^-i8 

Lord of hosts, that triest the righteous, that seest the reins 
and the heart, let me see thy vengeance on them ; for unto thee 
have I revealed my cause. 13 Sing unto the Lord, praise ye the 
Lord : for he hath delivered the soul of the needy from the hand 
of evil-doers. 

14 Cursed be the day wherein I was born : let not the day 
wherein my mother bare me be blessed. 15 Cursed be the man 
who brought tidings to my father, saying, A man child is born 
unto thee; making him very glad. 16 And let that man be as 
the cities which the Lord overthrew, and repented not: and 
let him hear a cry in the morning, and ^shouting at noontide; 

17 because he slew me not from the womb ; and so my mother 
should have been my grave, and her womb always great. 

18 Wherefore came I forth out of the womb to see labour and 
sorrow, that my days should be consumed with shame? 

^ Or, an alarm 

13. When the prophet's heart is strengthened he feels that the 
victory is won, for his worst enemy is his own weakness of spirit. 

14 — 18. Jeremiah bewails the hour in which he was born, the 
beginning of a life of pain and sorrow. A similar passage is to be 
found in Job iii. 3 — 12 and in the opinion of most critics it is based on 
the present one. Peake, for example, says, 'Jeremiah's is a natural 
outburst, springing from a soul stirred to its depths; Job's curse is 
much more artificial and literary' (see however Bishop Gibson, Job, 
p. xx). 

14. the day. An anniversary of woe not of joy and therefore to 
be cursed and not to be blessed. Cf. Euripides, Cresph. fr. 452 (quoted 
by Westcott, Belig. Thought in the West, p. 123). 

' 'Twere well that men in solemn conclave met, 
Should mourn each birth as prelude of great woes.' 

15. Jeremiah recollects all the circumstances which aroused joy 
and turns them into occasions of misery. He goes further than Job 
who merely curses the day itself — he does not however curse those 
directly responsible for his coming into the world. 

man child. The birth of a daughter was not considered to be 
a matter for rejoicing (cf Menachoth, 436). Ecclus. xxii. 3 states that 
a daughter is born to the loss of her father. 

16. the cities. Gen. xix. 25; cf Is. xiii. 19. 

17. from. Lxx., Syr. in as required by the context. 



XXI. i] THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH 159 

CHAPTERS XXL— XXIV. 

These chapters deal with a series of messages delivered in response to an 
enquiry by Zedekiah as to the issue of Nebuchadrezzar's warlike approach, for 
this reason Ewald gave them the name of 'The Roll of Zedekiah.' In his reply 
Jeremiah depicts, in the darkest colours, the ultimate fate of Jerusalem ; and 
at the same time he proceeds to shew upon whose shoulders the blame for it 
must lie. The state of desperate peril to which the nation has been brought is 
due primarily to the failure of the natural leaders of the people both in Church 
and State. 

The prophet's warning, xxi. 

Denunciations of the royal house, xxii. 

The ideal king, xxiii. 1 —8. 

Denunciations of the false prophets, xxiii. 9 — 40. 

The symbol of the basket of figs. xxiv. 

Chapter XXI. 
Jerusalem will fall before the Babylonians. 

The beginning of this ch. is placed in the reign of Zedekiah and in the midst 
of the siege ; a truly extraordinary chang# of date and situation from the last 
one. No really satisfactory explanation can be given for the sudden transition 
and for the juxtaposition of the two chh. — possibly the occuiTcnce of the name 
Pashhur in each section, though the reference is to different persons, may 
account for it. There are close similarities between the present narrative and 
that recorded in xxxvii. 3 — 10, and some critics would accordingly refer the two 
passages to the same incident. It is quite likely, however, that Zedekiah sent 
to Jeremiah for advice on more than one occasion and there are differences in 
the situations pre-supposed by the two narratives which suggest that they be- 
long to different stages of the siege. The ch. may be analysed as follows: 

(a) ZedehiaKs enquiry and JeremiaKs answer. 1 — 7. 

{b) In submission alone lies tlie way of escape. 8 — 10. 

(c) A warning to the house of David. 11 f. 

{d) A fragment of condemnation. 13 f. 

XXI. 1 The word which came unto Jeremiah from the Lord, 

XXI. 1 — 7. Jeremiah's reply to the deputation which Zedekiah 
sent to enquire as to the result of the siege: — God will fight for the 
enemies of Jerusalem until the city falls into their hands. The depu- 
tation which consisted of men of high rank (cf. Balak's embassy to 
Balaam ; Nu. xxii. 15) was sent in all probability shortly after the 
beginning of the siege (cf. v. 4). 

1. The word .. .Lord. Th^ same introduction occurs in vii. 1, xi. 
1, &c. 



160 THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH [xxi. 1-5 

when king Zedekiah sent unto him Pashhur the son of Malchijah, 
and Zephaniah the son of Maaseiah the priest, saying, 2 Inquire, 
I pray thee, of the Lord for us; for Nebuchadrezzar king of 
Babylon maketh war against us : peradventure the Lord will deal 
with us according to all his wondrous works, that he may go up 
from us. 

3 Then said Jeremiah unto them, Thus shall ye say to Zede- 
kiah : 4 Thus saith the Lord, the God of Israel, Behold, I will 
turn back the weapons of war that are in your hands, wherewith 
ye fight against the king of Babylon, and against the Chaldeans 
which besiege you, without the walls, and I will gather them 
into the midst of this city. 5 And I myself will fight against 



Pashhur. In xx. 1 the name also occurs of another Pashhur, the 
son of Immer tlie priest. Pashhur the son of Malchijah, who is men- 
tioned here and xxxviii. 1, was probably not a priest as the title does 
not appear after his name (contrast Zephaniah). 

Zephaniah. It has been suggested that Zephaniah was the father 
of Josiah (see Zech. vi. 10, cf. 14). He is mentioned also in xxix. 25 
and xxxvii. 3. In the latter passage he appears as being sent to 
Jeremiah on a similar errand; some critics therefore think that the 
recurrence of the name makes it probable that two different accounts 
have been preserved of the same interview. 

2. Nebuchadrezzar. The original of the name is Nabu kuduruzur, 
i.e. Nebo protect the crown; the form here used is therefore the correct 
one (see Schrader, KAT.^ pp. 361 ff.). 

wondrous works. Zedekiah evidently expected a miraculous inter- 
vention of the Divine Power similar to that which had occurred in the 
time of Hezekiah (Is. xxxvii. 6). The king and his advisers failed 
entirely to realise that the possibility of Jehovah's intervention de- 
pended on the moral condition of those who besought it. This state 
of affairs must have made the position of Jeremiah exceedingly difficult. 
Why did he not come forward like a second Isaiah and save the nation 
and the holy city? At the very least he ought to strengthen the 
defenders by encouraging words. 

4, From the evidence of this v. the siege was only in its early 
stages as fighting was still taking place outside the walls (cf Is. xxviii. 
6). Jeremiah, however, foretells that the defenders will be driven in, 
and the city closely invested; contrast the very different answer of 
Isaiah under similar circumstances (xxxvii. 29). 

5. The language of this v. is similar to that of Dt. xxix. 28. Duhm 
points out that the strong phrases elsewhere used of Jehovah fighting 
against the enemies of Israel, are here used of His fighting against 
Israel itself. 



XXI. 5-8] THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH 161 

you with an outstretched hand and with a strong arm, even in 
anger, and in fury, and in great wrath, 6 And I will smite the 
inhabitants of this city, both man and beast: they shall die of a 
great pestilence. 7 And afterward, saith the Lord, I will deliver 
Zedekiah king of Judah, and his servants, and the people, even 
such as are left in this city from the pestilence, from the sword, 
and from the famine, into the hand of Nebuchadrezzar king of 
Babylon, and into the hand of their enemies, and into the hand 
of those that seek their life : and he shall smite them with the 
edge of the sword ; he shall not spare them, neither have pity, 
nor have mercy, 8 And unto this people thou shalt say, Thus 



outstretched hand. The figure is here used of punishment, and not, 
as is more common, of salvation (cf Dt. iv. 34, v. 15, xxvi. 8 and see 
on V. 5). 

anger .. Jury .. great wrath. Notice the threefold repetition of 
synonyms in this and the following v. Anger (?1N), lit. nostril, repre- 
sents the heavy breathing caused by strong emotion, the word is 
generally used, by an anthropomorphism, of the Divine anger ; fury 
(DH') comes from a root meaning to be hot, and therefore means burning 
anger, rage; great wrath (fj^'p) is always used of God except in late 
passages. 

6. man and beast. The city would be crowded with refugees who 
had fled from the surrounding country driving their cattle before them. 

pestilence. The outbreak of epidemics was an especial danger during 
a siege, and sometimes played a decisive part in ancient warfare. See 
further on xvi. 4. 

7. edge of the sword. Lit. according to the mouth of the sivord i.e. 
as the sword devours, ruthlessly, without mercy or quarter. 

spare... pity... have mercy. These three words represent the contem- 
plative, the negative, and the active sides of benevolence respectively. 
The last word is generally used of God's loving-kindness. 

8 — 10. Submission alone can bring escape from death: the people 
are bidden to make their choice. The message to the king is followed 
by a message to the people; but though these two passages are placed 
togCijher, it is by no means necessary to suppose that they were spoken 
on the same occasion. The prophet puts to his hearers the same pitiable 
alternative as in the answer to the king — life, on the one hand, by 
desertion to the enemy ; on the other, death, by remaining in the city. 

8. The figure of the Two Ways is, according to Cornill, of Jere- 
miah's coinage. It also occurs in Dt. xxx. 15, and became very popular 
with later writers of an allegorical turn of mind (e.g. Ecclus. xv. 17; 
Mt. vii. 13 £; 2 Pet. ii. 2; The Didache i. 1; Ep. Barn. 17; Clem. 
Alex. Strom, v. 5). 

B. 11 



162 THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH [xxi. 8-i. 

saith the Lord : Behold, I set before you the way of life and the 
way of death. 9 He that abideth in this city shall die by the 
sword, and by the famine, and by the pestilence: but he that 
goeth out, and falleth away to the Chaldeans that besiege you, 
he shall live, and his life shall be unto him for a prey. 10 For 

1 have set my face upon this city for evil, and not for good, saith 
the Lord : it shall be given into the hand of the king of Babylon, 
and he shall burn it with j&re. 

11 And touching the house of the king of Judah, hear ye the 
word of the Lord: 12 O house of David, thus saith the Lord, 
Execute judgement in the morning, and deliver the spoiled out 

the way of life. The way, that is, which leads to life ; that policy 
which will ultimately result in the salvation of the State, or in the 
personal safety of the individual, as the case may be. 

9. for a frey. i.e. escape with his bare life. The figure is of one 
who goes out in search of spoil, and in the end is glad to return without 
the loss of his life. Jeremiah is the only writer who makes use of the 
metaphor (xxxviii. 2, xxxix. 18, xlv. 5), and this is the first occasion 
of his so doing. It is possible that our Lord's picture of the man who 
gained the whole world and yet lost his own life {^vyf])., was suggested 
by this usage of Jeremiah (Mk. viii. 36). Cf Ea's Avarning to Utna- 
pishtim in the Babylonian flood story: — 

'Forsake thy possessions, seek to save life 
Abandon thy goods and cause thy soul to live.' 

10. set my face. The same expression is found in Arabic- and 
cf Lk. ix, 51. 

11 f These vo. have no apparent connexion either with what 
precedes or with what follows. They evidently come from an earlier 
period when national repentance was still possible. No really satis- 
factory reason can be suggested for their presence here unless the 
reference to fire in vm. 10 and 14 seemed to provide a context iox fire 
in V. 12. 

12. house of David. The mention of David was doubtless 
intended as a reminder to the king of his noble ancestry, and all that 
it involved of service to God and uprightness towards man. 

judgement. To administer justice was the primary duty of the 
oriental ruler, and was recognised as such by the popular conscience ; 
hence the success of Absalom's specious arguments against his father 
(2 S. XV. 4). 

morning. The early morning was the usual time for the administra- 
tion of justice, so as to avoid the heat of the later part of the day (cf. 

2 S. iv. 5). The reference, however, need not be taken literally; the 
prophet's demand is that the king should make justice his first concern 



XXI. 12-14] THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH 163 

of the hand of the oppressor, lest my fury go forth like fire, and 
burn that none can quench it, because of the evil of ^your doings. 

13 Behold, I am against thee, O ^inhabitant of the valley, ^and 
of the rock of the plain, saith the Lord ; ye which say. Who shall 
come down against us? or who shall enter into our habitations? 

14 and I will punish you according to the fi-uit of your doings, 
saith the Lord : and I will kindle a fire in her forest, and it shall 
devour all that is round about her. 

1 Another reading is, their. - Heb. inhabitress. ^ Or, and rock 

(cf Zeph. iii. 5, and the constantly recurring phrase ' rising up early 
and sending '). 

spoiled... oppressor. These words are often found in the same 
context. The Heb. word for spoiled is used in Job xxiv. 9 of a child 
snatched from its mother's breast. Oppressor may be used of tyranny 
over a nation or an individual (cf vii. 6, xxii. 3). 

13 £ These vv. have been described as ' very obscure and difficult,' 
and it is indeed hard to explain them in their j^resent context with any 
satisfaction. Inhabitant (v. 13) is feminine and would naturally be 
applied to Jerusalem; but the holy city was situated neither in a 
valley, nor yet upon a 7-ock rising from a plain (cf Ps. cxxv. 2). 
Possibly the passage as originally composed referred to some other 
nation or city (cf xlviii. 8, 45 on Moab) and having been detached 
from its context was inserted here by a compiler ; so Driver. 

13. I am against thee. Cf Ez. xiii. 8. 

plain. The Heb. word used here (liv^^P) is generally applied to the 
elevated table-land east of the Jordan (cf xvii. 3). 

come doivn. This phrase is never used of approaching Jerusalem. 

habitations. Driver suggests the translation lairs, and adds the 
following note : ' In which we are secure, like lions in their forest homes. 
The word, as Ps. civ. 22; Nah. ii. 12 ("dens").' 

14. forest. Cf xlvi. 23. Jerusalem is compared to ^forest by 
Ezekiel (xxi. 1 — 4), and Israel by Isaiah (ix. 18, x. 18). Keil suggests 
that the figure was chosen because a city was a fm-est of houses (cf 
XX. 6). 



Chapter XXII. 
A Series of Denunciations of the Kings of the Period. 

This ch. contains a number of oracles on the kings of Judah who succeeded 
Josiah ; it is not probable that they were all uttered on the same occasion, and 
therefore it is necessary to suppose that they have been brought together by 

11—2 



164 THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH [xxii. 1-3 

Jeremiah himself, or by Baruch, or some other editor. Many critics think that 
the original oracles have received later additions. 

(a) JeremiaKs mission of warning. 1—5. 

(ft) Forecast of the omrthrow of the house of David. 6 — 9. 

(c) The oro.cle on Jehoahaz. 10 — 12. 

{(T) The contrast bettceen Josiah and Jehoiakiin. 13 — 19. 

{e) The fate of Coniah. 20—30. 

XXII. 1 Thus said the Lord : Go down to the house of the 
king of Judah, and speak there this word, 2 and say, Hear the 
word of the Lord, king of Judah, that sittest upon the throne 
of David, thou, and thy servants, and thy people that enter in 
by these gates. 3 Thus saith the Lord: Execute ye judgement 
and righteousness, and deliver the spoiled out of the hand of the 
oppressor : and do no wrong, do no violence, to the stranger, the 
fatherless, nor the widow, neither shed innocent blood in this 

XXII. 1 — 5. This section, with that which follows, forms an 
introduction or setting to the oracles as a whole and is to a large extent 
the work of an editor. In vv. \—b the rulers are exhorted to do justice 
in the land if they desire God's favour (cf the similar stress on justice 
in xxi. 11 f ). 

1. For the opening formula Thus said the Lord followed by a 
command, cf. xiii. 1, xxvi. 2, xxvii. 2. 

Go down. The temple, where Jeremiah evidently received God's 
commands, was higher than the palace; cf. xxvi. 10, xxxvi. 12; 2 Ch. 
xxiii. 20. 

2. The phraseology of this v. is rather unusual, but has some 
similarity to vii. 2, xvii. 20. 

thro)ie of David. The men of Judah were undoubtedly proud that 
their reigning family could claim direct descent from David, especially 
in contrast with the short lived dynasties of the ill-fated Northern 
Kingdom. The unbroken succession had also its significance as a 
mark of God's favour. 

that enter in hy these gates. Cf the use of the same phrase in 
Gen. xxiii. 10, 18, xxxiv. 24, for the citizens of a town. 

3. This V. from its tone might be an utterance by Micah, or 
Isaiah, or one of the earlier prophets: cf xxi. 12, xxiii. 5, and Introd. 
p. Ixi. 

do no violence. The Heb. word is always used of internal oppression 
(except in Is. xlix. 26), and especially of tyranny over the stranger 
(Ex. xxii. 20; Ley. xix. 33, xxv. 14, &c.). 

stranger. ' The foreigner temporarily resident in Israel who had no 
legal stixtus of his own and who is repeatedly commended to the regard 
of Israel in Deuteronomy.' Cf vii. 6. 



XXII. 3-7] THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH 165 

place. 4 For if ye do this thing indeed, then shall there enter 
in by the gates of this house kings sitting Hipon the throne of 
David, riding in chariots and on horses, he, and his servants, and 
his people. 5 But if ye will not hear these words, I swear by 
myself, saith the Lord, that this house shall become a desolation. 
6 For thus saith the Lord -concerning the house of the king of 
Judah: Thou art Gilead unto me, and the head of Lebanon: 
yet surely I will make thee a wilderness, and cities which are 
not inhabited. 7 And I will ^prepare destroyers against thee, 
every one with his weapons : and they shall cut down thy choice 

1 Heb. for David upon his throne. "^ Or, unto ^ Heb. sanctify. 

4. Cf. xvii. 25. ' 
this house. The palace not the temple. 

upon the tJirone of David. The mg. gives the literal translation 
for David upon his throne. 

5. I swear by myself Cf. xlix. 13, h. 14; Gen. xxii. 16; Dt. xxxii. 
40—42; Am. vi. 8; Is. xlv. 23. 

6 — 9. A lament over the king's house under the figure of the 
destruction of the forests of Gilead and Lebanon. In strong contrast 
to the previous section the doom of the nation is here held to be 
inevitable. The change of outlook would in itself be sufficient to make 
it probable that this section has no vital connexion with its predecessor, 
and the probability is made almost certain by the change of metre, 
vv. 6f being in the Qinah measure (cf. Budde, ZATW. ii. 29, in. 
303). As Giesebrecht says, the previous section was a sermon, this 
one is an elegy. 

6. house of the king of Judah. This is rather a strange phrase, 
and may refer either to the House of David, or to the actual palace 
taken as a symbol of the nation and its government. 

Gilead. ..Lebanon. Doughty was especially struck by Gilead : 'How 
fresh,' he says, ' to the sight and sweet to every sense are those wood- 
land limestone hills, full of the balm-smelHng pines... in all paths are 
blissful fountains ; the valley heads flow down healing to the eyes with 
veins of purest water.' Arabia Deserta, i. 17. (Cf. Is. ii. 13, xxxiii. 
9 ; Nah. i. 4 ; Zech. xi. 2.) Lebanon is similarly used in Is. xxxvii. 24 ; 
Ps. Ixxii. 16; and Cant. iv. 15. It is interesting to notice that in the 
Talmudic Tractate Yoma 39 6 Lebanon is used as a synonym for 
Jerusalem. 

cities. . .not inhabited. The metaphor is suddenly abandoned, and the 
climax of the warning is reached by the swift introduction of the literal 
fact. 

7. prepare, mg. sanctify : see on vi. 4. 

thy choice cedars. The prophet again returns to his metaphor. 
Lebanon was noted from the earliest times for its wonderful cedars. 



166 THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH [xxii. 7-" 

cedars, and cast them into the fire. 8 And many nations shall 
pass by this city, and they shall say every man to his neighbour, 
Wherefore hath the Lord done thus unto this great city? 9 Then 
they shall answer, Because they forsook the covenant of the Lord 
their God, and worshipped other gods, and served them. 

10 Weep ye not for the dead, neither bemoan him : but weep 
sore for him that goeth away ; for he shall return no more, nor 
see his native country. 11 For thus saith the Lord touching 
^Shallum the son of Josiah, king of Judah, which reigned instead 

1 In 2 Kings xxiii. 30, Jehoahaz. Compare 1 Cbr. iii. 15. 

which are mentioned in the inscriptions of Gudea of Sirgurla(c. 2800 B.C.), 
and even in the present are held in reverenced In this passage the 
cedars represent the leaders of the nation. 

8—9. These vv. are an addition in Deuteronomic style made by 
a prosaic scribe who wished to point the moral, vv. 6—7 in the 
Hebrew are in a poetic form and the sudden descent into prose though 
not uncommon is suspicious; cf. v. 19; Dt. xxix. 24 f ; 1 K. ix. 8f. ; 
Mai. i. 4. ^ , 

10—12. A lament over Shallum. Cf. Ez. xix. 2 ff. and see Introd. 

p. xxiii. 

10. This V. is in metrical form and serves, as it were, for the text 
of what follows. 

the dead. i.e. Josiah, who fell in the battle of Megiddo. Captivity 
in Egypt is looked upon as a worse fate than death in battle. According 
to 2 Ch. XXXV. 25 there were annual lamentations for Josiah. 

he shall return no more. Jehoahaz was the first ruler of the Southern 
Kingdom to die in exile. 

11. Shallum. i.e. Jehoahaz: so called in 1 Ch. iii. 15, according 
to which passage he was the youngest son of Josiah. Jehoahaz was 
evidently chosen by the people to succeed his father on account of the 
similarity of their policy ; at any rate he was unacceptable to Pharaoh 
Necho who deposed him after a reign of only three months. Why 
Jehoahaz was called Shallum is not certain; it was apparently no un- 
usual thing for kings of Judah to change their names on coming to the 
throne, and such a change may have taken place in his case. Another 
explanation is that the name was given to him by the prophet, or the 
people, because the shortness of his reign was a punishment for his mis- 
deeds (Shallum in Hebrew means requited). Graf suggests that just as 
Jezebel called Jehu a Zimri on account of the similarity of their conduct 
(2 K. xi. 31), so the shortness of his reign may have suggested a com- 



1 Kinglake, writing early in the last century, says, ' The group of cedars re- 
maining on this part of the Lebanon is held sacred by the Greek Church, on 
account of the prevailing notion that the trees were standing at the time when the 
Temple of Jerusalem was built.' Eothen, p. 229. 



xxii. 11-15] THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH 167 

of Josiah his father, which went forth out of this place : He shall 
not return thither any more; 12 but in the place whither they 
have led him captive, there shall he die, and he shall see this land 
no more. 

1 3 Woe unto him that buildeth his house by unrighteousness, 
and his chambers by injustice ; that useth his neighbour's service 
without wages, and giveth him not his hire; 14 that saith, I will 
build me a wide house and spacious chambers, and cutteth him 
out windows ; and it is cieled with cedar, and painted with ver- 
milion. 15 Shalt thou reign, because thou ^strivest to excel in 

1 Or, viest with the cedar 

parison with Shallum of Israel (2 K. xv. 13). In any case Shallum was 
a common enough name, and was borne by fourteen difi'erent people in 
OT. incbiding the uncle of .Jeremiah himself (xxxii. 7) ; tbe husband of 
the prophetess Huldah (2 K. xxii. 14); as well as by the father of Jere- 
miah's contemporary Alaaseiah (xxxv. 4)^ 

13 — 19. A condemnation of Jehoiakim on account of his extravagant 
and oppressive building operations. No doubt Josiah's long and peaceful 
reign had enabled the people to amass a certain amount of wealth and 
the tribute to Egypt was not an excessively heavy one (2 K. xxiii. 33), 
so possibly the prophet's judgement is a little harsh in this instance. 
At the same time Jehoiakim's desire for luxurious buildings, which were 
of no use for purposes of defence, must have aroused much opposition 
and murmuring amongst the people (see Introd. pp. xxiii f.). 

13. The prophets as a whole seem to have been opposed to anything 
which savoured of luxury, probably because it was alien to the earlier 
spirit of the nation (cf Am. i. 4 with Edghill's note). 

chambers. Better roof-chambers, so Driver. Cf 1 K. xvii. 19; 2 K. 
i. 2, &c. and see Thomson, The Land and the Book, 11. p. 634. 

without wages. An Eastern monarch thought little of exacting forced 
labour from his subjects, though the excessive indulgence of the supposed 
right was often the cause of rebellion and trouble (cf 2 Ch. ii. 17 f ). 
The parallelism suggests that in this case the wages were withheld by 
injustice (cf Job vii. 2 ; Ecclus. xxxiv. 22 ; Jas. v. 4). The right to the 
due payment of his wages was the only one which the hireling had by 
law (Dt. xxiv. 14 flf. ; Lev. xix. 13) and unlike the slave he had no one 
to protect his interests. In the so-called ' Sumerian farming-laws ' pro- 
vision is made for the prompt payment of the hired labourer; see 
S. A. Cook, Laws of Moses &c. pp. 171, 189 f 

14. vermilion. A favourite colour with the ancients, which can still 

1 It is perhaps not out of place to compare the Japanese custom of referring to 
a dead emperor by a name different from that which he bore during his lifetime, 
e.g. the late Emperor Mutsu Hito (Gentle Piety) who died on June 30th, 1912, is 
now known as Meiji (Enlightened Government). 



168 THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH [xxii. .5-18 

cedar? did not thy father eat and drink, and do judgement and 
justice? then it was well with him. 16 He judged the cause of 
the poor and needy; then it was well. Was not this to know 
me? saith the Lord. 17 But thine eyes and thine heart are not 
but for thy ^covetousness, and for to shed innocent blood, and for 
oppression, and for violence, to do it. 18 Therefore thus saith 
the Lord concerning Jehoiakim the son of Josiah, king of Judah : 
They shall not lament for him, saying, Ah my brother ! or. Ah 
sister ! they shall not lament for him, saying, Ah lord ! or, Ah 

^ Or, dislionest gain 

be found on excavated buildings. According to Pliny, Hist. Nat. xxxv. 
13, the dye came from Sinope. 

15. in cedar, lxx. (and Arabic) reads with Ahaz; lxx. a reads 
Ahah (cf. 1 K. xxii. 39). Cornill thinks that a personal name is wanted 
here and accepts the lxx. reading as the original {HBOT. p. 62); but 
it is hard to see why Ahaz or Ahab should have been chosen rather 
than Solomon. 

thy father. The last section contained a comparison between Josiah 
and one of his sons as to his fate ; this section contains a comparison 
between Josiah and another son as to his rule and character. That 
Jeremiah should feel himself able to hold up Josiah as an example, after 
his tragic fate, is a wonderful testimony to the strength of his convictions, 
and reveals his ability to go against popular standards of judgement. 

18 f There is some doubt as to the fate of Jehoiakim's body; a 
similar prophecy in xxxvi. 30 says that 'his dead body shall be cast out 
in the day to the heat and in the night to the frost.' But accc^rding to 
the account in 2 K. xxiv. 6 Jehoiakim 'slept with his fathers,' which 
would presumably mean that he was buried with the kings of Judah. 
It is hardly likely that these utterances would both have been preserved 
if later generations knew them to be inconsistent with the facts; possibly 
Jehoiakim received a hurried and unceremonious burial during the first 
siege (but cf note on v. 19), and when the Chaldeans entered Jerusalem 
his body was exhumed and then ' cast out ' ; cf Cambyses' treatment 
of the body of Amasis (Herod, in. 16)\ and the fate of the bodies of 
Cromwell and the other regicides at the Restoration; and see also 
Joseph. Antiq. xvi. vii. 1 ff. for the horrors involved in desecrating a 
tomb. 

18. Jehoiakim. Jeremiah does not shrink from denouncing the 
king by name. 

not lament for him. See Gen. xxiii. 2 (with Driver's note); Am. 



^ For other examples of the mutilation of dead bodies in ancient times see 
Frazer, Adonis &c. ii. pp. 103 f. 



xxii. 18-.1] THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH 169 

his glory! 19 He shall be buried with the burial of an ass, 
drawn and cast forth beyond the gates of Jerusalem. 

20 Go up to Lebanon, and cry ; and lift up thy voice in Bashan : 
and cry from Abarim ; for all thy lovers are destroyed. 211 spake 
unto thee in thy prosperity; but thou saidst, I will not hear. 
This hath been thy manner from thy youth, that thou obeyedst 

V. 16; and cf. Spenser's lines on the death of the Earl of Leicester in 
The Ruins of Time : 

'I saw him die, I saw him die, as one 
Of the meane people, and brought forth on beare ; 
I saw him die and no man left to mone 
His doleful fate.' 

1 9. burial of an ass. This probably means that his body was simply 
dragged aside and left for the dogs or vultures to devour, like that of 
Jezebel (cf. Jud. xv. 15 where the jaw-bone of an ass is found lying 
about). To the ancients the fate which befell the body had an important 
influence on the future life and the position which would be given to 
the deceased in the nether world. (According to Bel and the Dragon 
32 one of the great horrors of the fate provided for Daniel was that his 
body would be unburied and cf Ez. xxxii. 23 ; Is. xiv. 15 ; Enoch xcviii. 
13 f ; for the same belief amongst the ancient Egyptians see Ebers, 
Aegypten, p. 324 ; and for the Babylonians, Jastrow, Relig. Belief in Bah. 
and Ass. p. 359). It was therefore an act of great piety and merit to 
bury the dead (Tob. i. 18, ii. 8) and, especially amongst the Greeks, one 
which was to be performed at all costs (cf i\\e Antigone of Sophocles; 
Xenophon, Anah. iv. i. 19, and the punishment inflicted on the 
Athenian admirals after the battle of Arginusae). 

20 — 30. This section consists of three distinct passages ; vv. 20 — 23 
addressed to the people calling upon them to lament; vv. 24 — 27 
threatening Jehoiachin with captivity; and vv. 28 — 30 adding the 
further punishment of childlessness. 

20 — 23. These ve. are apparently a fragment inserted here be- 
cause of the reference in v. 22 to the rulers under the figure of 
shephei'ds. 

20. Lebanon... Bashan... Abarim. These mountains overlooked 
Israel and Judah beginning from the North and working down the 
Eastern boundary. The people are bidden to assemble on the outposts 
of the land and to lift up their voices (cf iii. 21; Is. xv. 2). The 
mountains of Abarim lie to SE. of Judah across the Dead Sea and it 
was from Nebo, the summit of this range, that Moses looked upon the 
promised land (Nu. xxvii. 12; Dt. xxxii. 49). 

lovers. The term here probably refers to allied nations, as in liv. 30. 

21. This V. describes Judah's ' forgetfulness ' of God ' in the time 
of her wealth.' 



170 THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH [xxii. .i-^s 

not my voice. 22 The wind shall ^feed all thy shepherds, and 
thy lovers shall go into captivity: surely then shalt thou be 
ashamed and confounded for all thy wickedness. 23 ^ inhabi- 
tant of Lebanon, that makest thy nest in the cedars, ^how greatly 
to be pitied shalt thou be when pangs come upon thee, the pain 
as of a woman in travail ! 24 As I live, saith the Lord, though 
*Coniah the son of Jehoiakim king of Judah were the signet 
upon my right hand, yet would I pluck thee thence ; 25 and I 
will give thee into the hand of them that seek thy life, and into 
the hand of them of whom thou art afraid, even into the hand 
of Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon, and into the hand of the 
Chaldeans. 26 And I will cast thee out, and thy mother that 
bare thee, into another country, where ye were not born ; and 
there shall ye die. 27 But to the land whereunto Hheir soul 
longeth to return, thither shall they not return. 28 Is this man 
Coniah a despised broken ^vessel? is he a vessel wherein is no 

1 Or, feed upon '^ Heb. inhahitress. 

•* Some ancient versions have, }iow wilt thou groan. 

* In ch. xxiv. 1, and 1 Chr. iii. 16, Jeconiah. In 2 Kings xxiv. 6, 8, Jehoiachin. 

^ Heb. they lift up their soul. ® Or, pot 

22. feed. The mg. feed upon is better; it contains a play on the 
word shepherds, ' depasture thy pastors.' 

23. Cf. Is. xxxvii. 24 ; Hab. ii. 9. 

24 — 27. These vv. refer to the fate which is to befall Jehoiachin in 
the future. 

24. Co7iiah. Also called Jehoiachin, Hi. 31; 2 K. xxiv. 6, &c. and 
Jeconiah, xxiv. 1, &c. His brief reign of only three months was long 
enough to give cause, for the prophet's indignation. 

signet. Perhaps the badge of royal power; cf. Gen. xh. 42; Est. 
iii. 10; Tob. i. 22; 1 Mace. vi. 15. The same metaphor is used for 
the restoration of Judah in Hag. ii. 23 evidently with this passage in 
mind. Cf. the value of a signet-ring or seal in Gen. xxxviii. 18; and 
Cant. viii. 6. For a description see Benzinger, Archdol. 106 ; Enc. Bib. 
4113. 

26. thy mother. See on xiii. 18. 

28 — 30. The fate which threatened Coniah and the nation has now 
been accomplished and the vessel which no longer served God's purpose 
has been shattered and thrown away (cf. xix. 11). 

28. vessel. This word is different from that similarly translated 
in the next clause; it occurs here only but the root meaning is to 
mould or fashion, hence it could be used of a pot (as mg.) or of a carved 
image (cf. Enc. Bib. 3818). 

vessel wherein is no pleasure. Cf xlviii. 38 ; Hos. viii. 8 where the 



XXII. 28-xxiiL i] THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH 171 

pleasure? wherefore are they cast out, he and his seed, and are 
cast into the land which they know not? 29 ^ earth, earth, 
earth, hear the word of the Lord. 30 Thus saith the Lord, Write 
ye this man childless, a man that shall not prosper in his days : 
for no man of his seed shall prosper, sitting upon the throne of 
DaA'id, and ruling any more in Judah, 

XXIII. 1 Woe unto the shepherds that destroy and scatter 

1 Or, land 

same phrase is used. lxx. translates wherein is no use (xpf'a), contrast 
2 Tim. ii. 21. 

29. earth, earth, earth. The translation of mg. kind is perhaps 
more suitable. See note on vii. 4 for the three-fold repetition ; and of 
' Oh ! earth, earth, earth, thou yet shalt bow ' in Christina Rossetti's 
poem To what Purpose is this Waste. 

30. Write ye. Cf Ps. Ixix. 28, Ixxxvii. 6 ; Ez. xiii. 9. Driver para- 
phrases ' Register him so in the roll of citizens.' 

childless. Cf v. 28 'and his seed.' Jehoiachin was childless in 
the sense that no son of his sat upon the throne of Judah. According 
to 1 Ch. iii. 17 f lie had children and his name is included in the 
genealogical list in Matt. i. 1 1 f The lxx. rendering iKKrjpvKTov banished 
is purely arbitrary and in the endeavour to avoid any appearance of 
disagreement with other passages of Scripture it sacrifices accuracy of 
translation. 

XXIII. 1 — 8. A denunciation of the evil shepherds who have 
scattered the flock, and a promise of a righteous ruler (cf Ps. Ixxii.). 
This passage, after condemning those who have led the nation astray, 
takes for granted the accomplishment of God's purpose of judgement 
and looks forward to a time when the nation will be restored. The 
shepherds are to be punished, but the remnant of the flock will be 
gathered and led back totireTold ; the Lord will also appoint over them 
true shepherds (cf Ez. xxxiv. where David himself is to be the shepherd 
of the peoj^e). Many critics look upon this section as a continuation 
of the previous judgements on the successors of .Josiah, and though 
Zedekiah is not named there is much to be said for this view. The name 
of the ideal king Jehovah is our righteousness may well be taken as a 
play on Zedekiah (Jah is righteous), and as a, sign that the name which 
was given by a heathen sovereign to the last legitimate king of Judah 
(2 K. xxiv. 17) would be fulfilled in all its_meauing by the Messianic 
ruler. Tlie fact that Zedekiah is not actually condemned of even named 
may be due to his having been merely a tool in the hands of the un- 
worthy princes (the shepherds of -y. 1). Cornill points out that Jeremiah, 
unlike Ezekiel, nowhere makes a direct personal attack on Zedekiah. 
The whole passage is rejected as late by Duhm and Erbt ; other scholars, 
however, are content to reject parts of it only (see on vv. 5 f and 7 f ), 

1. the shepherds, i.e. the rulers as in ii. 8 and so often in Jer. 



172 THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH [xxiii. c-5 

the sheep of my pasture ! saith the Lord. 2 Therefore thus saith 
the Lord, the God of Israel, against the shepherds that feed my 
people : Ye have scattered my flock, and driven them away, and 
have not visited them ; behold, I will visit upon you the evil of 
your doings, saith the Lord. 3 And I will gather the remnant 
of my flock out of all the countries whither I have driven them, 
and will bring them again to their folds ; and they shall be fruit- 
ful and multiply. 4 And I will set up shepherds over them which 
shall feed them : and they shall fear no more, nor be dismayed, 
neither shall any be lacking, saith the Lord. 

5 Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will raise 

and Ezek. These were the upstart nobles who took the places of those 
removed in the deportation of 597~(crnCxxiv: 14 'he carried away 
...all the princes'). The use of the figure of the i^hepherd as a descrip- 
,tion of a ruler has ever been a favourite one with poets, and very often, 
I it may be noticed, as a figure of condemnation. Cf. Dante's denunciation 
of corrupt Popes — 'Fierce wolves in shepherd's garb with greedy eyes' 
{Parad. xxvii. 55); and also Milton, Lycidas, 114 ff. 

my pasture. God is the chief shepherd ; earthly rulers are only 
deputies and must ever remember ' that strict and solemn account which 
they must one day give before the judgement-seat of Christ ' ; cf 1 Pet. 
V. 4; and our Lord's claim in Jn. xxi. 15; and for the phrase itself 
Ez. xxxiv. 31 ; Ps. Ixxiv. 1, Ixxix. 13, c. 3. 

2. This V. was probably in our Lord's mind before the feeding of 
the five thousand (Matt. ix. 16). 

scattered. The rulers are held responsible for the exile. 
visited... visit. The play on words here made is reproduced from 
the original. 

3. my flock. This description seems to identify the true flock with 
the exiles. For .Jeremiah's anticipations as to the fate of the Lm-d's flock 
see xiii, 17; and for his judgement on the comparative merits of the 
exiles and those left in the land see the allegory in xxiv. 1 ff. 

/ have driven them. Cf v. 2. 

folds. The Heb. word ^)}, is used in a variety of ways, both of the 
abode of the shepherd himself and of his sheep (usually in a figurative 
sense); in poetry it has the wider sense of ' habitation.' 

4. set up. Evidently the rulers are not to be hereditary princes. 

5 f These w. are rejected by Duhm, Marti and other critics^ but 
their objections are over-ruled by Cornill after a very full discussion. 
The way in which Zechariah makes use of the Branch as a Messianic 
title (Zech. iii. 8, vi. 12) shews that by his day it had become a technical 
term and this requires that some interval of time should have elapsed. 

1 E.g. by Stade, Geschichte des Volkes Itr. ri. 125. 



XXIII. 5-7] THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH 173 

unto David a righteous ^Branch, and he shall reign as king and 
Meal wisely, and shall execute judgement and justice in the land. 
6 In his days Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely : 
and this is his name whereby he shall be called, ^The Lord is 
our righteousness. 7 ^Therefore, behold, the days come, saith 
the Lord, that they shall no more say, As the Lord liveth, which 

1 Or, Shoot Or, Bud ^ Or, prosper ^ Or, the Lord our righteousness 
* See ch. xvi. 14, 15. 

Kennett thinks that this utterance and the similar one in xxxiii. 14 ff. 
are variant forms of a prophecy composed, by _. Jeremiah or one of his 
disciples during the governorship of Gedaliah (Sckweick Lectures, 
p. 26 n.). 

5. the days come. This phrase occurs sixteen times in Jeremiah, 
and but five times elsewhere; viz. Am. iv. 2, viii. 11, ix. 13; 1 S. ii. 31; 
and 2 K. xx. 17 (=Is. xxxix. 6). It almost invariably occurs before an 
announcement, usually in a short and striking form, of special import- 
ance (cf. V. 7). 

Branch. The mg. Shoot more nearly represents the meaning of the 
Heb., which refers to that which sprouts from the roots, and not from 
the trunk. The figure suggested is that of the stump of a tree, which 
has been felled, suddenly shewing fresh life, and it is therefore w^ell suited 
for the description of the ruler of a restored community. 

ki7ig. Cf Is. xxxii. 1; Zech. ix. 9. 

deal ivisely. Or prosper. A mark of the Servant of th e Lord in 
Is. lii. 13. - ~ ™ _ 

'K^'^udah... Israel The righteous ^mwcA is to have a mission to 
both parts of the Hebrew nationj^vizT*^ air'tKe''descendants of the 
original kingdom over which David ruled. 

dwell safely. Cf Lev. xxvi. 5; Dt. xxxiii. 12; Hos. ii. 18. 

The Lord is our righteousness. The kind's name is idealj and re- 
presents the longings of the prophet and his friends (see Introd. pp. 
Ixv f ). It is interesting to compare the phrase in Enoch xlvi. 3 'the Son 
of man who hath righteousness' (cf Pss. Sol, xvii. 23 fif.). Driver points 
out that 'in xxxiii. 16 exactly the same name is given to the ideal 
Jerusalem of the future.' 

7 f These vv. are very similar to xvi. 14 f and lxx. omits them 
here, inserting them quite inappropriately after v. 40. There is no 
real reason for their rejection as they fit quite well into their present 
context, though, if the vv. are in their oi'iginal place, the displacement 
in the LXX. is hard to explain. 

7. they shall no more say. In times past the exodus had been the 
outstanding marvel in the nation's history, and the event above all 
others in which God's power and favour had been shewn to His chosen 
people (cf Mic. vii. 15); but so great will be His dealings in restoring 
the exiles to Zion that even the wonders of the exodus will sink into 



174 THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH [xxiii. 7-9 

brought up the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt; 
8 but, As the Lord liveth, which brought uj) and which led the 
seed of the house of Israel out of the north country, and from 
all the countries whither I had driven them; and they shall 
dwell in their own land. 

the background. The exodus loomed large in the minds of the prophets 
as being the beginning of the nation, but the restoration from captivity 
was to be a still more glorious re-birth. 

Chapter XXIII. 9—40. 

The Denunciation of the Prophets. 

Having denounced those who had led the people astray in the political 
sphere, Jeremiah now deals with the faithless shepherds whose messages had 
dikewise led them astray in the sphere of religion (for a discussion of the position 
bf the 'false' prophets see Additional Note, pp. 182 ff.). The passage has re- 
ceived drastic treatment at the hands of critics, much of which is probably 
altogether too severe, for whilst there can be little doubt of the presence of 
editorial or other additions, yet the greater part of the passage reads like the 
genuine utterance of the prophet himself Duhm is here, as elsewhere, the most 
extreme critic and rejects vv. 16 — 40; Cornill rejects vv. 24 — 40. Giesebrecht 
vv. 30 — 40. It may be worthy of mention that Duhm places the date of the 
composition of vv. 16 — 40 as late as the second century b.c., looking upon it as a 
protest against the 'enthusiasm' of the apocalyptists. 

(a) The effect of the profanity of the prophets upon Jeremiah: the 
prophets of Jerusalem are worse than those of Samaria. 9 — 15. 

(6) The ignorance and presumption of the prophets call forth God's 
wrath. 16—20. 

(c) The self-commissioned prophets do not escape God's notice. 21 — 32. 

(d) What is the burden of the Lord? 33—40. 

9 Concerning the prophets. Mine heart within me is broken, 
all my bones shake ; I am like a drunken man, and like a man 

9 — 15. Jeremiah's distress because of the falsehood and adultery 
of the prophets of Jerusalem who are worse than those who caused 
Samaria to err. 

9. Concerning th^ prophets. For the heading cf. xlvi. 2, xlviii. 1, &c. 
Mine heart ■ -hrohen. Cf. Ps. Ixix. 20 'reproachhath broken my heart.' 
shake. Cf Ps. xxii. 14 'all my bones are out of joint.' 
drunken man. Jeremiah applies to himself the metaphor used of 
the nations in xxv. 15. The text suggests that the prophet suffers 
thus on account of the message which he has to deliver. 



XXIII. 9-13] THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH 175 

whom wine hath overcome; because of the Lord, and because 
of his holy words. 10 For the land is full of adulterers; for 
because of ^swearing the land mourneth; the pastures of the 
wilderness are dried up ; and their course is evil, and their force 
is not right. 1 1 For both prophet and priest are profane ; yea, 
in my house have I found their wickedness, saith the Lord. 
12 Wherefore their way shall be unto them as slippery places 
in the darkness : they shall be driven on, and fall therein : for I 
will bring evil upon them, ^even the year of their visitation, saith 
the Lord. 13 And I have seen folly in the prophets of Samaria ; 
they prophesied by Baal, and caused my people Israel to err. 

^ Or, the curse ^ Or, in the year 

holy ivords. The stress on holy contains an implied reproof of the 
unholy prophets. 

10. adulterers. The word may be taken in its literal sense, or it 
may be a reference to those who worship false gods: this latter use 
is generally if not invariably confined to the nation, and the former 
meaning is probably the correct one here (of. xxix. 23). 

swearing. Better as mg. the curse; cf Dt. xxviii. 15, xxix. 27. 

tJie pastures of the wilderness. As was pointed out above (see on 
ii. 2) the wilderness or desert was not an utter waste. It has been well 
described by Kinglake in Eothen, p. 94. 'From those grey hills right 
away to the gates of Bagdad stretched forth the mysterious "desert" 
— not a pale, void, sandy track, but a land abounding in rich pastures — 
a land without cities or towns, without any "respectable" people or any 
"respectable" things, yet yielding its eighty thousand cavalry to the 
beck of a few old men.' 

11. in my house. God's bouse,. aa. well. as His name, has been dese- 
crated. The abominations in the house of God are described in Ez. viii.; 
they consisted amongst other things of an image of Asherah (v. 6), 
totemistic animals (v. 10), weeping for Tammuz {v. 14) and sun worship 
{v. 16). 

12. slippery places... darkness. The combination of slipperiness and 
darkness (i.e. the failure of the sight as an effective instrument of vision) 
sums up the horrors and anxieties of the situation of men who, having 
chosen their own way, are now being forced along it by circumstances, 
to certain calamity. The punishment is long drawn out and constant 
stumbles precede the final plunge to destruction. For the metaphor 
cf. xiii. 16; Mic. iii. 6; Is. viii. 22; Ps. xxxv. 6, Ixxiii. 18. In Nah, i. 8 
darkness itself pursues the enemies of God. 

13. folly. The meaning of the Heb. word is that which is unsavoury; 
cf. Job vi. 6. Is this implied in the context Tiere? 

by Baal. The error which the prophets of Israel promulgated was 



176 THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH [xxiii. 14-17 

14 In the prophets of Jerusalem also I have seen an horrible 
thing ; they commit adultery, and walk in lies, and they strengthen 
the hands of evil-doers, that none doth return from his wicked- 
ness : they are all of them become unto me as Sodom, and the 
inhabitants thereof as Gomorrah. 

15 Therefore thus saith the Lord of hosts concerning the 
prophets: Behold, I will feed them with wormwood, and make 
them drink the water of ^gall : for from the prophets of Jerusalem 
is profaneness gone forth into all the land. 16 Thus saith the 
Lord of hosts, Hearken not unto the words of the prophets that 
prophesy unto you ; they teach you vanity : they speak a vision 
of their own heart, and not out of the mouth of the Lord. 
17 They say continually unto them "that despise me. The Lord 
hath said. Ye shall have peace ; and unto every one that walketh 

^ See ch. viii. 14. 

^ According to the Sept,, that despise the word of the Lord, Ye (&c. 

doctrinal; that of the. jtroBhets of Judab, as v. 14 ghe^.,,was also 
ethical and moral. 

14. The prophets led the people astray; in_ the matter of worship, 
and added immorality to their false teaching; so that their sin was as 
bad as that of the cities of the plain. Tauler condemned the false 
mystics of his day by the selfsame test: 'No one can be free from the 
observance of the law of God and the practice of virtue.' 

strengthen. . evil-doers. Negatively by their neglect, and positively 
!by_their example; cf Ez. xiii. 22; Rom. i. 32. 

15. Seenotes on ix. 14. 

16 — 20. The people are warned not to give any heed to the utter- 
ances of the prophets who foretell pleasant things : their message comes 
from their own hearts, and God's wrath is about to break forth upon them. 

16. The immoral lives of the false prophets should have been enough 
to shew the nation that they were no messengers of a righteous and 
holy God. History, however, shews that people are always anxious to 
recognise those who condone their sins, and who, at the same time, 
bring fair promises. 

teach... vanity, Heb. make yon vain, i.e. support you by false hopes. 

of their own heart. Moses protested that his works had not been 
doneof his 'ownmind'(Nu.xvi. 28); and Balaam was unable 'to do either 
good or bad' of his 'own mind' (Nu. xxiv. 13). It is not necessary to 
look upon the prophets denounced by Jeremiah as conscious deceivers, 
they probably imagined that they were inspired by God, and that they 
stood for the traditional teaching of the older prophets which, according 
to their view of things, Jeremiah was contradicting. 

17. Cf. vi. 14; andMic. iii. 11. 



xxiii. 17-23] THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH 177 

in the stubbornness of his own heart they say, No evil shall 
come upon you. 18 For who hath stood in the council of the 
Lord, that he should perceive and hear his word? who hath 
marked ^my word, and heard it? 19 Behold, the tempest of the 
Lord, even Ms fury, is gone forth, yea, a whirling tempest : it 
shall burst upon the head of the wicked. 20 The anger of the 
Lord shall not return, until he have ^executed, and till he have 
performed the intents of his heart : in the latter days ye shall 
^understand it perfectly. 211 sent not these prophets, yet they 
ran : I spake not unto them, yet they prophesied. 22 But if they 
had stood in my council, then had they caused my people to hear 
my words, and had turned them from their evil way, and from 
the evil of their doings. 23 Am I a God at hand, saith the Lord, 

1 Another reading is, his. - Or, done it * Or, consider 

18. who hath stood &c. Eliphaz asked Job the same question, 
obviously expecting an answer in the negative (Job xv. 8). Jeremiah 
can hardly here intend to deny that he himself had stood in God's 
council (cf. Am. iii. 7), the fulfilment of his warnings would in due 
season shew that he had done so ; if the other prophets had known the 
mind of the Lord they too would have warned Jerusalem against the 
disasters which were coming upon her (cf. v. 22). 

19 f. These vv. recur in xxx. 23 f. where they are probably original. 

21 — 32. The prophets have no commission from God, and are 
ignorant of His purposes; the lying dreams which they proclaim to the 
people are not worthy to be placed beside the true message of God. 

21. they ran. Cf. 2 S. xviii. 22. 

22. my council. See on v. 18 and cf 2 Tim. iii. 16 f. for a similar 
practical test of the true message of God. 

23 f Various attempts have been made to interpret these vv. and 
with results which differ widely from each other. (1) Taking the text 
as it stands Jeremiah's question emphasises the fact that God hfar off 
and not at hand; in other words it lays stress on the transcendence of 
God. This doctrine was much in favour with later Judaism, and often 
finds expression in OT. itself (cf 1 K. viii. 27); Is. xlv. 15 seems at 
first sight also to support it and to be an utterance similar to these vv. ; 
but the words 'thou art a God that hidest thyself 'were almost certainly 
spoken by the heathen nations who 'had never suspected that the God 
of an insignificant people like Israel was an incomparable Deliverer' 
(Wade). It is however hard to see on the surface why .Jeremiah should 
nave made use of this doctrine in his controversy with false prophets, 
and why therefore the vv. stand in their present context. Cornill sug- 
gests that Jeremiah is insisting upon God's dignity, and declaring that 
He is a Being Who chooses His servants with care, and until anyone is 

B. 12 



178 ^ THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH [xxiii. 23, 24 

and not a God afar off? 24 Can any hide himself in secret places 
that I shall not see him? saith the Lord. Do not I fill heaven 

called to tlie office of a prophet he cannot presume to enter into God's 
presence as he might enter into his neighbour's house. The weakness 
of this explanation is that, if it be accepted, v. 24 must mean that the 
prophet when called cannot refuse the office or hide himself from God's 
sight (cf Jon. i. 3 £f.), a warning which Jeremiah himself might once 
have needed, but which would sound strange to the self-confident 
prophets who were only too willing to undertake the office. (2) Keil 
also follows MT. as it stands, but he manages to read into it more than 
can perhaps be justified: 'A God near at hand is one whose domain 
and whose knowledge do not extend far; a God afar off is one who sees 
and works into the far distance.' This explanation is only valid if 
a God at hand means a purely localised God Who has no knowledge of 
what is happening except in His own immediate neighbourhood, a con- 
ception which would hardly be entertained even by the false prophets. 
(3) The only really satisfactory way of arriving at Jeremiah's meaning 
is to follow Giesebrecht, and to regard lxx. as having preserved the 
original text; this involves reading v. 23 not as a question but as an 
affirmation: I a7n a present God and not a far-off God: Can any hide 
himself from me? Cf Bt. iv. 7\ The vv. when read thus connect 
quite smoothly with what goes before, the evil deeds of the prophets are 
known to God and they cannot be hidden. The true prophet 'knew that 
God was present in man... and it is out of the fulness of this experience 
that Jeremiah declares that God is not a far-off God, but a near God 
filling heaven and earth".' (Buttenwieser, op. cit. p. 147.) This view 
seems to be in direct opposition to the later orthodox opinion (see 
above); and there can be little doubt that, as Giesebrecht suggests, it 
was for this reason that v. 23 was turned into a question, and its 
teaching thus made to agree with the current Jewish conceptions. 

24. The express declaration of the immanence of God is rare in OT. 
(instances of it are to be found in 1 K. viii. 27; Is. Ixvi. 1; Ps. cxxxix. 
7 ff.), and God is sometimes looked upon as so far separated from the 
world that He has 'to come down' from hea\en to see what is hap- 
pening (cf Gen. xi. 1 ff., xviii. 20 f.). Jeremiah himself had outgrown 
the conception ot a God dwelling far away in the height of heaven, and 
had come to look upon Him as an omnipresent spiritual Being (cf 
Giesebrecht). It is, however, very doubtful whether more than a few 
of the prophet's contemporaries had even risen to the idea of Jehovah 
as the God of the whole universe. 

Do not I fill &c. Cf Eph. iv. 10 'that he might fill all things'; 
Acts xvii. 24. 

1 Dr Lock suggests that the questiou may be an indignant way of stating the 
fact; cf. the question in xxii. 28. 

2 Cf. St Cyprian, On the Lord's Prayer, iv. ' God is everywhere present, hearing 
and seeing everyone, and, in the plenitude of His Majesty, penetrating even into 
secluded and hidden places,' 



XXIII. 24-28] THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH • 179 

and earth? saith the Lord. 25 I have heard what the prophets 
have said, that prophesy lies in my name, saying, I have dreamed, 
I have dreamed. 26 How long shall this be in the heart of the 
prophets that prophesy lies ; even the prophets of the deceit of 
their own heart? 27 which think to cause my people to forget 
my name by their dreams which they tell every man to his neigh- 
bour, as their fathers forgat my name for Baal. 28 The prophet 
that hath a dream, let him tell a dream ; and he that hath my 

25. / have dreamed, I have dreamed. That the Deity communi- 
cated His wishes and plans by means of dreams was a widespread belief 
amongst all ancient peoples. Homer looked upon 'mystic dreams from 
Zeus' as a channel of prophetic inspiration {Iliad, i. 63), and Aeschylus 
puts dreams first amongst such channels : 

'I taught the various modes of prophecy, 
What truth the dream portends,' 

Prom. Vinct. 48-5 f. 

whilst the confidence which even Socrates placed in their guidance is 
well known (cf Apol. 33 c; Grito, 44 A; Phaedo, 60 e, &c.). Accord- 
ing to the various writers of OT. dreams were frequently sent from God 
both for guidance and for warning (such accounts are especially com- 
mon in the document E of the Pent. ; see also Joel ii. 28 ; Job xxxiii. 
14 ft", and the book of Daniel). In the later literature, in spite of the 
warning of Ecclus. xxxiv. 1 — 8 that they were 'vanity,' dreams and 
visions form a not uncommon vehicle for revelation (cf Enoch Ixxxiii. — 
xc. ; 4 Ezra x. 59). In NT. they are also found, and are especially used 
by the writer of the Infancy narratives in the first gospel (see Matt. 
i. 20, ii. 12, 13 and 19: andcf Lk. i. 11, 26 if.). For a fuller discussion 
of the whole question of the Jewish belief in dreams see Jew. Enc. 
IV. 837. It is interesting to notice that amongst Moslems dreams are 
recognised as being channels of revelation though other channels may 
be more important; cf the traditional utterance of Muhammed himself 
that 'dreaming is one six-aud-fortieth part of prophecy.' (See D. B. 
Macdonald, Aspects of Islam, p. 188.) 

26. Two emendations have been suggested in this v., the opening 
of which in the Heb. is evidently corrupt. By the first Duhm would 
read a third / have dreamed (cf vii. 4, xxii. 29) for Hoiv long; and 
secondly Giesebrecht by dividing up the Heb. consonants differently 
reads Will tlie heart of the jjrophets turn? 

27. fathers. Not Samaria as in v. 13, but the people of the exodus 
(cf ii. 5). 

Baal. Cf note on ii. 23. 

28. he that hath... faithfully. Declaring 'the whole counsel of 
God,' Acts XX. 27. 

12—2 



180 THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH [xxiii. 28-33 

word, let him speak my word faithfully. What is the straw to 
the wheat? saith the Lord. 29 Is not my word like as fire? 
saith the Lord ; and like a hammer that breaketh the rock in 
pieces ? 

30 Therefore, behold, I am against the prophets, saith the 
Lord, that steal my words every one from his neighbour. 31 Be- 
hold, I am against the prophets, saith the Lord, that ^use their 
tongues, and say, He saith. 32 Behold, I am against them that 
prophesy lying dreams, saith the Lord, and do tell them, and 
cause my people to err by their lies, and by their vain boasting : 
yet I sent them not, nor commanded them ; neither shall they 
profit this people at all, saith the Lord. 33 And when this 

1 Heb. take. 

straw... to wheat. God's word is food for those who will take it; 
the word of the false prophets only chaff fit for burning. 

29. fire... hammer. Cf v. 14. God's word will burn up and destroy 
all opposing messages. The comparison of the tongue, and that which 
is spoken by it, to fire is common in Jewish literature, usually with the 
idea of the harm which it may do: Ps. cxx. 4; Prov. xvi. 27; Ecclus. 
xxviii, 10 ff. ; Ps. Sol. xii. 2 ff. ; and Jas. iii. 6. 

30 ff. A condemnation of merely conventional utterances and 
phrases, and of those who utter them. Such exponents of religion 
merely weaken their own cause, and by accustoming their hearers to 
the contents of the message tend to harden them against those who 
preach it in all sincerity. 

30. from Ms neighbour. Repeating the maxims or oracles put 
forth by one another (cf. the prophets in 1 K. xxii. 6 ff.); or, possibly, 
stealing the message of the true prophets and turning it in such a way 
as to express peaceable tidings (cf. Hananiah, xxviii. 10). 

31. tongues. The message of the false prophets was like 'a tale of 
little meaning though the words were strong.' Buttenwieser makes the 
interesting suggestion that there is here an early reference to the phe- 
nomenon of 'speaking with tongues' which caused trouble at Corinth 
(1 Cor. xiv.). Lxx. gives some amount of support to this theory, espe- 
cially the reading of A, yAwo-o-iy iK^dWetv being the equivalent of ykwa-arj 

XaXelv. 

He saith. Evidently a prophetic formula placing the responsibility 
for the utterances on God Himself 

33 — 40. The burden of the Lord is the nation itself and it will be 
thrown off; the very word burden is no longer to be used in Judah 
since the people have profaned it by their mockery. This passage 
teaches the lesson of reverence, and the sin of taking the Lord's name 
or any word of sacred meaning in a vain and light sense. 



XXIII. 33-38] THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH 181 

people, or the prophet, or a priest, shall ask thee, saying, What 
is the burden of the Lord? then shalt thou ^say unto them, 
2 What burden ! I will cast you off, saith the Lord. 34 And as 
for the prophet, and the priest, and the people, that shall say, 
The burden of the Lord, I will even punish that man and his 
house. 35 Thus shall ye say every one to his neighbour, and 
every one to his brother. What hath the Lord answered? and. 
What hath the Lord spoken? 36 And the burden of the Lord 
shall ye mention no more : for every man's own word ^ shall be 
his burden ; for ye have perverted the words of the living God, 
of the Lord of hosts our God. 37 Thus shalt thou say to the 
prophet, What hath the Lord answered thee? and. What hath 
the Lord spoken? 38 But if ye say. The burden of the Lord; 
therefore thus saith the Lord: Because ye say this word. The 

^ Or, tell them tvhat the hurden is 

2 The Sept. aud Vulgate have, Ye are the burden. 

^ Or, is his burden, and ye pervert <&c. 

33. burden. The Heb. word ^^^, massa, may mean either a burden 
or an oracle (as in Nah. i. 1 'the burden of Nineveh'; Hab. i. 1, &c.). 
The latter meaning probably arose by derivation from the former, and 
represents something 'taken up' by the prophet (see on vii. 19; and 
RVm. of 2 K. ix. 26 where 'uttered' is literally 'took up'). Cf. the expla- 
nation offered by St .Jerome in his comment on Mai. i. 1 'The word of 
the Lord is heavy, therefore it is a burden.' 

What burden? Read with LXX. and Vg. Ye are the burden.. The 
message of the pre-exilic prophets was constantly one of woe and con- 
demnation (cf xxviii. 8f.), and that of Jeremiah was no exception. 
The people tired out by his repeated prophecies of disaster, and in their 
blindness refusing to believe him, looked upon his denunciations as a 
fit subject for a play upon words. Hence God's indignation and the 
turning of the pun against those who had made it. 

34. 'The rigorous prohibition of the word "burden" is not quite 
easy to understand, but apparently tlie people had by a trivial witticism, 
imported into the derived sense of the word something of its primary 
meaning : one may call the prophetic utterance a "burden" for it is both 
heavy and wearisome. Hence the use of the word is forbidden, that such 
profane misuse may be rendered impossible.' Peake. 

35. answered... spoken. This v. includes requests for answers to 
enquiries made by the priests, and for voluntary utterances such as 
came to the prophets. 

36. living God. Cf x. 10. 

37. Omitted by lxx. The v. is the same as v. 35 with the excep- 
tion of the substitution oi prophet for neighbour. 



182 THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH [xxiii. 38-40 

burden of the Lord, and I have sent unto you, saying. Ye shall not 
say. The burden of the Lord ; 39 therefore, behold, I will ^utterly 
forget you, and I will cast you off, and the city that I gave unto 
you and to your fathers, away from my presence : 40 and I will 
bring an everlasting reproach upon you, and a perpetual shame, 
which shall not be forgotten. 

^ Or, according to some ancient authorities, lift you up 

39. forget. The mg. lift you up is a better rendering as it preserves 
the pun; the Heb. for the y&ch^ forget and lift up is practically identical 
in an unpointed text. 

Additional Note on xxiii. 9. , 

The False Prophets. 

In considering the question of the ''false prophets' it is necessary first to 
remember that in OT. the epithet is unknown, the true and the false are alike 
designated by the same title of prophet. This refusal to distinguish between 
the two classes almost certainly represents the views of those who were the 
contemporaries of each canonical prophest, and the men of Jeremiah's day looked 
upon that prophet and those who opposed him as equally accredited as the 
messengers of Jehovah ; similarly the Athenians regarded Socrates as a ' sophist' 
just as much as the false claimants to knowledge whom he denounced. It must 
indeed have been a hard task to discriminate between the true and false spokes- 
, men of the God of Israel ; all alike spoke in the name of Jehovah and used the 
same formulas (cf. xxiii. 31, xxviii. 2ff. ; 1 K. xxii. 11); all alike bore the name 
of prophet — though Amos disclaimed the name for himself (Am. vii. 14; but cf. 
V. 15 and iii. 7); they made use of very similar methods, though the false pro- 
phets, both those who prophesied in Judah (xxiii. 27 f.) and those in Babylon 
(xxix. 8), seem to have placed too high a reliance on dreams and visions. How 
then were men to know the true messengers from the false ? The task was not 
easy and even the elect must often have been deceived (cf. Matt xxiv. 25), at 
any rate for a time. The tests which Jeremiah himself proposed appear to a 
modern mind to be inadequate, {a) The first mark of the genuine word of the 
Lord was that it was like 'fire' or 'a hammer that breaketh the rock in pieces' 
(xxiii. 29), that is the true prophet will be one who is full of a divine energy. 
But the energy exhibited by men like Zedekiah the son of Chenaanah (1 K. 
xxii. 24), and Hananiah the son of Azzur must have seemed to the simple-minded 
nothing less than inspired, and even Jeremiah was on one occasion apparently 
silenced by his opponent (xxix. 11). (6) The second test was that of fulfilment 
'when the word of the prophet shall come to pass, then shall the prophet be 
known, that the Lord hath truly sent him' (xxviii. 9; cf. Dt. xviii. 21 f.). 
This test however required the lapse of time and was an appeal to posterity 



THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH 183 

rather than to the living generation, (c) Jeremiah's third test was really an 
argument in a circle and begged the whole question ; if these prophets had 
really stood in God's council they would have turned the people from their evil 
doings, i.e. their teaching would have agreed Avith that of Jeremiah, the very 
question which was in dispute. It is rather interesting to notice that neither 
side makes any appeal to the working of signs and wonders (contrast Matt. 
xxiv. 25), and that records of the performances of miracles are almost com- 
pletely absent from the pages of the wi-itten prophets ; this is a point which 
has not received nearly as much attention as it deserves, and anticipates our 
Lord's teaching that the working of miracles is no test of truth. 

Later ages always tend to pass a harsh judgement upon the sincerity of the 
defeated party in any religious dispute and by branding them as heretics and 
false teachers to suggest that they were inspired by selfish and perverse motives. 
There have been, of course, many persons who have made claims to divine in- 
spiration as a means of obtaining power or notoriety, and sometimes such men 
are detected and receive a worthy punishment^; there are also those who 
begin their careers with a genuine belief that they are being used as God's 
messengers but who afterwards use their influence for their own private ends — 
the prophet Muhammed is a striking instance of one who thus degenerated ; 
but it seems probable that the majority of these so-called false prophets really 
believed in the words they uttered and in the Divine authority which they 
claimed for them. It is true that Jeremiah condemned their message as lies 
and vain boasting (xxiii. 32), and declared that they had no commission from 
Jehovah (xxiii. 21), but on the other hand they were equally ready to return 
the accusation. Nor does it follow that Jeremiah was denouncing their sincerity, 
rather he looked upon them as self-deceived (xxiii. 26). In another passage 
where it is said that Jehovah had sent a lying vision into the hearts of the 
prophets (1 K. xxii. 2-2)'', as Christians we can hardly take the phrase hterally, 
the writer in accordance Tidth the Hebrew habit of thought is describing the 
cause in terms of the effect ; it is the self-deception of the prophets which has 
laid them open to such visions. And here we have I think the clue to the 
understanding of these men ; they had a strong belief in their message : they 
really held themselves to be divinely inspired and yet they were self-deceived. 

Jeremiah differed from the prophets of his day mainly on three grounds, 

1 There is a story told by Lord Macaulay ' about one of the French prophets 
of the 17th century, who came into the Court of King's Bench, and announced 
that the Holy Ghost had sent him to command Lord Holt to enter a nolle pro- 
sequi. " If," said Lord Holt, "the Holy Ghost had wanted a nolle prosequi he 
would have bade you apply to the Attorney-General. The Holy Ghost knows 
that I cannot enter a nolle prosequi. But there is one thing which I can do, I can 
lay a lying knave by the heels"; and thereupon he committed him to prison.' 
Life and Letters, ii. p. 178. 

2 Cf. Jas. i. 13; Plato, Eep. ii. 380 d— 383 c. The belief of earlier ages of 
course regarded such visious as deliberately and directly sent from the Deity : cf. 
Homer, Iliad, xxii. 296 ff. and see Adam, Rel. Teachers of Greece, p. 40. The 
gradual spread of a purer idea of God's action in this regard can be seen by 
comparing 2 S. xxiv. 1 and 1 Ch. xxi. 1. 



184 THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH 

those of political policy, moral teaching, and personal experience i, and it was be- 
cause the 'false' prophets held preconceived ideas on these subjects and refused 
to suri'ender them that they allowed themselves to be deceived. It must be 
remembered that the effect of religious feeling is always to deepen and strengthen 
the belief in any cause or idea to which it lends its support, and history shews 
quite plainly that the causes and ideas which have been taken up by religion in 
the past have not always been such as have contributed to national or social 
well-being, or even to the advancement of justice and righteousness 2. In the 
political sphere the false prophets were closely attached to the ruling house and 
desired only to prophesy smooth things (cf. 1 K. xxii. 6ff.); they were a pro- 
fessional ministry and like the poets whom Plato condemned were of the number 
of those who are 'the friends of the tyrant and bask in the sunshine of his 
patronage.' In the sphere of morals the false prophets, if Jeremiah is to be 
believed, were distinctly culpable and indeed the leaders in sin and wickedness 
(xxiii. 11 ff., xxix. 23); by their deeds they 'had closed their minds against the 
deepening of the idea of God to an unconditionally ethical conception, and were 
thus no longer able to penetrate into the depths of his counseP.' In the sphere 
of psychological experience it would be interesting to know how the two classes 
of prophets differed, but such knowledge is beyond our reach ; there is no reason 
for doubting that the false prophets had religious experiences of a very deep 
and compelling character and Jeremiah would not have denied the fact, but at 
the same time he would have insisted that they were not inspired by Jehovah^. 
When a prophet or a teacher feels that his message comes to him from some 
external, supra-normal source he becomes intolerant of any opposition and even 
of any rivalry, and it may be supposed with good reason that even amongst 
those prophets who were banded together against Jeremiah's teaching there 
would be a large measure of disagreement. One who believes himself to be the 
accredited messenger of God — and especially if he is self-deceived^ooks with 
little sympathy on those making similar claims even when such claimants 
support him and agree with his teaching. Sir Auckland Colvin in his book 
The Making of Modern Egypt relates an incident which well illustrates this 
attitude of mind. Soon after the death of the Mahdi there arose one who 
claimed to be the Prophet Jesus and in view of the Muhammedan belief that 
Jesus is to re-appear after the coming of the Mahdi his arrival was a testimony 
to the claims of the Mahdi's successor, the Khalifa. But Abdullah judged 
otherwise, he declared the claimant to be a false prophet and quickly disposed 
of him. Even then the Khalifa was not satisfied and he announced that in a 
vision he had seen the pretender and his followers at 'an unseen depth of Hell'; 
'all were under the charge of black persons who tortured them in various 
degrees.... They are still falling down into the depths of Hell, nor have they yet 
reached the bottom.' 

1 Cf. Davidson in Camb. Bible on Ezekiel, pp. 85 f. 

' The same thing is true of the petitionary side of prayer in the life of the 
individual, prayer may in this way do much harm to the characters of those who 
use it unwisely. 

» Budde, Bel. of Is. p. 131. * Cf. Hamilton, The People of God, i. p. 141, 



IV. r-3] THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH ~ 185 

Chapter XXIV. 
The Tivo Baskets of Figs. 

In 597 Nebuchadrezzar carried Jehoiachin and the best of the nation into 
captivity in Babylon. Those who remained behind attributed their escape to 
their superior virtue and merit. In this ch. Jeremiah gives a very diflferent 
estimate of the two communities in the sight of God, and in this judgement he 
is supported by Ezekiel (cf. xii., xx. 37 ff. &c.). There is an ancient Jewish 
tradition, that at the time of the return from exile the best of the people stayed 
behind in Babylon. 'The flour remained at Babylon, the chaff came to Palestine.' 
The choice of the figure was probably suggested by Jeremiah's usage. For 
further details of the relations between the exiles and those who remained 
behind see Additional Note, pp. 222 f. 

(a) The prophet describes his vision. 1 — 3, 
(6) The meaning of the vision. 4 — 10. 

XXIV. 1 The Lord shewed me, and, behold, two baskets of 
figs set before the temple of the Lord ; after that Nebuchadrezzar 
king of Babylon had carried away captive Jeconiah the son of 
Jehoiakim, king of Jiidah, and the princes of Judah, with the 
craftsmen and smiths, from Jerusalem, and had brought them to 
Babylon. 2 One basket had very good figs, like the figs that 
are first ripe: and the other basket had very bad figs, which 
could not be eaten, they were so bad. 3 Then said the Lord 
unto me, What seest thou, Jeremiah ? And I said, Figs ; the good 
figs, very good; and the bad, very bad, that cannot be eaten, 

XXIV. 1—3. The vision of the figs. 

1. before the temple. The mention of the exact spot suggests that 
Jeremiah actually saw the baskets, though Cornill rejects the clause on 
the ground that Jeremiah does not elsewhere use ^^''H for temple, and 
if the figs were intended as an offering, none but those fruits which 
were first-ripe were in accordance with the law (Dt. xxvi. 2). The 
somewhat similar vision of 'the summer-fruit' in Am. viii. 1 may have 
influenced the choice of the symbol (see further, Introd. pp. Ixx f). 

smiths. The exact meaning of the Heb. is not known. 

2. figs that are first ripe. The first ripe figs can be gathered in 
June, and they are valued not only on account of their early appearing 
(the normal time for gathering figs being August), but for their superior 
flavour. The Heb. word htid^ occurs elsewhere only in Hos. ix. 10; 
Mic. vii. 4 ; Is. xxviii. 4 ; the same root is found in the Spanish alba- 
cora which is evidently borrowed from the Moors. 

3. What seest thou^ Cf note on i. 11. 



186 THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH [xxiv. 3-10 

they are so bad. 4 And the word of the Lord came unto me, 
saying, 5 Thus saith the Lord, the God of Israel; Like these 
good figs, so will I regard the captives of Judah, whom I have 
sent out of this place into the land of the Chaldeans, for good. 
6 For I will set mine eyes upon them for good, and I will bring 
them again to this land : and I will build them, and not pull them 
down ; and I will plant them, and not pluck them up. 7 And I 
will give them an heart to know me, that I am the Lord : and 
they shall be my people, and I will be their God : for they shall 
return unto me with their whole heart. 8 And as the bad figs, 
which cannot be eaten, they are so bad; surely thus saith the 
Lord, So will I give up Zedekiah the king of Judah, and his 
princes, and the residue of Jerusalem, that remain in this land, 
and them that dwell in the land of Egypt : 9 I will even give 
them up to be ^tossed to and fro among all the kingdoms of the 
earth for evil ; to be a reproach and a proverb, a taunt and a 
curse, in all places whither I shall drive them. 10 And I will 
send the sword, the famine, and the pestilence, among them, till 
they be consumed from off" the land that I gave unto them and 
to their fathers. 

^ Or, a terror unto 

4 — 10. The interpretation of the vision. 

5. for good. Cf. xiv. 11. The state of those who had been carried 
away during the first deportation would be enviable when contrasted 
with all the horrors which the remnant would have to endure. 

7. heart to know me. Cf. xxxi. 33, xxxii. 39 f ; Ez. ii. 19. 

8. Egypt. The mention of Egypt is rather strange because no 
Jewish colony is known to have settled there until a much later date\ 
At the same time Egypt was always a convenient place of refuge for 
any who wished to esca])e from the Babylonian rule, and very probably 
other Jews were taken into exile along with Jehoahaz (2 K. xxiii. 34). 
Hosea had already threatened those who went down to Egypt that it 
would be their grave (ix. 9). 

9. to be...a pronerh. A common phrase in OT. (Dt. xxviii. 37; 
Job xvii. 6, &c.); cf Wisd. v. 3 and see on xxvi. 6. 

1 See Additional Note, pp. 315 f. 



THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH 



187 



Chapter XXV. 
The Punishment of the Nations. 

At first sight this ch. as it is contained in EVV. looks straightforward 
enough ; the section called by Ewald the Roll of Zedekiah ended Avith xxiv., 
and a new section is opened which returns once more to the reign of Jehoiakim. 
Jeremiah recapitulates his prophecies against the people, and to add vividness 
to his warnings he is permitted to state the actual length of the captivity and 
of the supremacy of Babylon. He then goes on, by the use of the figure of the 
cup of God's fury, to amplify the warning to the nations round about Judah, 
returning at the close of the ch. to his own people and the fate which will befall 
them together with all flesh. On turning to lxx. however the ch. is seen to be 
full of difiicult problems, and its unity and simplicity are destroyed. The 
most striking change which the lxx. has made is the insertion, immediately 
after v. 13, of the chh. numbered xlvi. — li. in the Heb. and EVV. That a 
close connexion exists between xxv. and xlvi. — li. is obvious to even a casual 
reader ; both deal with the same peoples though in a somewhat difl"erent order \ 
in xlvi. — li. the Heb. is nearer than the lxx. to the summary in xxv. 19 fi". 
Again vv. 1 — 13 form a suitable introduction to a series of oracles on foreign 
nations, and v. 13 actually mentions a book of words pronounced against 
Babylon which seems to be a reference to 1. — li. Duhm considers that the hook 
to which these cv. (so far as they are genuine) were attached was the original 
form of the roll dictated to Baruch (xxxvi.). Comill finds traces of a revision 
which these vv. have undergone in order to make them suitable for an intro- 
duction (following Schwally, ZATW. 1888, pp. 177 ft'.); and he further points 
out, with much insight, that the only appropriate place for the insertion of 
xlvi. — li. is after the figm-e of the cup and not before it. In his opinion this 
was the original position of the chh., and he thinks that when Jeremiah's 
prophecy of the wi-ath of God was not fulfilled by events, the oracles were 
banished to the end of the collection, and their cioide historical forecasts were 
given a vaguer and more apocalyptic tinge. It seems almost certain therefore 
that the arrangement of lxx. is not the original one, as in addition to the 
argimients mentioned above, the efi'ect of it is to divide up xxv. (which has 
every appearance of being a unity) into two distinct sections. 



1 The following is the order of the nations in the different lists : 


xxv. 




xlvi. — 11. Heb. 


xlvi. — li. LXX. 


1. Egypt 




Egypt 


Elam 


2. (Uz) 




Philistines 


Egypt 


3. Philistines 




Tyre and Sidon 


Babylon 


4. Edom 




Moab 


Philistines 


5. Moab 




Ammon 


Edom 


6. Ammon 




Edom 


Ammon 


7. Tyre, &c. 




Damascus 


Kedar and Hazor 


8. Dedan, Tema, 


&c. 


Kedar and Hazor 


Damascus 


9. Elam and the Medes 


Elam 


Moab 


10, Babylon 




Babylon 





188 THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH [xxv. 1-4 

The question then remains— Is xxv. the genuine work of Jeremiah at all ? 
and naturally enough it has received a variety of answers. Schwally rejects 
m. 1—13 as being too general and abstract in tone; and also because there is 
no mention in them of Jeremiah's constant teaching of the possibijlity of re- 
pentance. In reply to this Cornill points out that in this passage the prophet 
is dealing, not with Judah alone, but with the surrounding nations also, and 
that therefore the preaching of penitence is not so appropriate ; Jeremiah 
evidently shared in what must have been the common opinion that Nebuchad- 
rezzar would make full use of his victory to the subjugation of the whole of 
Syria. Schwally also rejects vv. 15—31 on the somewhat arbitrary ground that 
Jeremiah was not a prophet to the nations (cf pp. 1 f ). Most other critics 
are not so sweeping in the application of their methods, and it is best to con- 
clude with Giesebrecht and Cornill that the ch. as a whole is the genuine work 
of Jeremiah although it has received various later additions. 

(a) JudaNs obstinacy is about to he punished. 1 — 7. 
(6) The coining triumph and overthrow of Babylon. 8—14. 
(c) The nations shall be made to drink of the wine of God's fury. 1 5 — 29. 
{d) God toill come like a lion against Judah and all the peoples of the 
earth. 30—38. 

XXV. 1 The word that came to Jeremiah concerning all the 
people of Judah in the fourth year of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah, 
king of Judah ; the same was the first year of Nebuchadrezzar 
king of Babylon ; 2 the which Jeremiah the prophet spake unto 
all the people of Judah, and to all the inhabitants of Jerusalem, 
saying : 3 From the thirteenth year of Josiah the son of Amon, 
king of Judah, even unto this day, these three and twenty years, 
the word of the Lord hath come unto me, and I have spoken 
unto you, rising up early and speaking; but ye have not hearkened. 
4 And the Lord hath sent unto you all his servants the prophets, 

XXV. 1—14. After the battle of Carchemish in 605 the 
Chaldeans became supreme in Western Asia, and Jeremiah accordingly 
advises Judah and the surrounding nations that they too will have to 
submit to the same power. At the end of seventy years Babylon her- 
self shall be made desolate. 

1. fourth year &c. The somewhat elaborate synchronism in the 
second half of the v. is not found in lxx. and is therefore open to 
suspicion; moreover it apparently conflicts with the statement in 
xlvi. 2 that Carchemish was fought in this very year, and therefore 
before Nebuchadrezzar had actually succeeded to the throne of Babylon. 

3. the thh'teentk year of Josiah. The year of Jeremiah's call. 

4. This V. should almost certainly be rejected on account of the 
sudden change of speaker, together with the unsuitability of the sub- 



XXV. 4-io] THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH 189 

rising up .early and sending them ; but ye have not hearkened, 
nor inclined your ear to hear ; 5 saying, Return ye now every 
one from his evil way, and from the evil of your doings, and 
dwell in the land that the Lord hath given unto you and to your 
fathers, from of old and even for evermore : 6 and go not after 
other gods to serve them, and to worship them, and provoke me 
not to anger with the work of your hands ; and I will do you no 
hurt. 7 Yet ye have not hearkened unto me, saith the Lord; 
that ye might provoke me to anger with the work of your hands 
to your own hurt. 8 Therefore thus saith the Lord of hosts: 
Because ye have not heard my words, 9 behold, I will send and 
take all the families of the north, saith the Lord, and / will send 
unto Nebuchadrezzar the king of Babylon, my servant, and will 
bring them against this land, and against the inhabitants there- 
of, and against all these nations round about; and I will Utterly 
destroy them, and make them an astonishment, and an hissing, 
and perpetual desolations. 10 Moreover I will ^take from them 
the voice of mirth and the voice of gladness, the voice of the 

^ Heb. devote. ^ Heb. cause to perish from them. 

ject matter— as Cornill says, the real offence was not ignoring the 
warnings of the earlier prophets but of Jeremiah himself — and the 
awkwardness of the grammar. 

rising up early. He who ' neither slumbers nor sleeps ' can hardly 
be said to rise early ; the expression means as in Ps. Ixiii. 1 to make 
the action in question the chief object of His attention. 

7. to your own hurt. God plans good things for His children, 
evil comes upon them as a consequence of their own folly (cf vii. 6, 
xxiv. 6). 

8 — 14. The triumph and destruction of Babylon. 

9. my servant. The conception of a heathen monarch as the 
servant of Jehovah, and that in order to destroy His own people, 
presented a hard problem to the pious Jew (cf. Hab. i. 6 ff. ; Am. vi. 
14). Lxx. omits the title here and elsewhere, doubtless because it was 
felt that it could not rightly be applied to an idolater. The same 
designation was also applied to Cyrus (Is. xliv. 28, xlviii. 14, &c.) who 
not only was not a worshipper of Jehovah, but one who attributed his 
victories, possibly for reasons of policy, to Bel and to Marduk 'his 
friend and companion ' (see Sayce, Higher Criticism &c. p. 505). 

10. The first part of this v. is similar to vii. 34; the later half 
makes a sinister addition, ' not merely every sound of joyfulness, but 
even every sign of life ' is to be cut off. 



190 THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH [xxv. lo-i, 

bridegroom and the voice of the bride, the sound of the millstones, 
and the light of the caudle. 1 1 And this whole land shall be a 
desolation, and an astonishment; and these nations shall serve 
the king of Babylon seventy years. 12 And it shall come to pass, 

millstones. The sound of the mill is 'heard daily in an eastern 
village, and is a sign of the presence of life in it (cf Rev. xviii. 22). 
The iiand-mill... consists of two circular stones, eighteen inches or two 
feet in diameter, the lower one being fixed to the ground, while the 
upper one is turned round by a woman... kneeling or sitting beside it.' 
DriverX 

11. these nations... Babylon. LXX. omits these and the king of 
Babylon and inserts among before nations: thus reading they shall 
serve among the nations. This reading probably represents the original 
Heb. text, though serve when it is used with a preposition usually 
means make to serve, i.e. enslave. 

seventy years. This number need not be taken as an exact estimate 
of the length of the captivity as the same period is used in a prophecy 
from the reign of Zedekiah (xxix. 10), nor would it agree exactly with 
the actual history. Jeremiah's desire was to impress upon the people 
that no immediate return was to be looked for and so he makes use of 
an approximate figure which had a symbolical significance ; Keil points 
out that 7 according to the Jews represents the perfection of God's 
work and 10 the perfection of human work. The writer of Chronicles 
regarded the seventy years as a punishment for the neglect of the 
sabbatic years (2 Ch. xxxvi. 21). Many critics reject the Jeremianic 
authorship of the prediction, Duhm, for example, considering that it 
was based on Zech. i. 12 'how long wilt thou not have mercy on 
Jerusalem and the cities of Judah, against whom thou hast had 
indignation these threescore and ten years?' 

12 — 14. These vv. seem out of place in their present context as 
there is no point in making a warning to Babylon part of the prophecy 
on the surrounding nations; the oracle in 1. — li. 58 is almost certainly 
not from Jeremiah and it seems to be pre-supposed by the writer of 
these vv. The sudden change into the third person in the middle of 
an utterance is very suspicious {v. 13 which Jeremiah hath prophesied). 
Most scholars have rejected the passage in whole or in part as a later 
insertion. It must be confessed that vv. 15fi". follow quite smoothly 
on V. 11 though possibly v. 13a is genuine and ought to be included. 
In LXX. the oracles on the nations come immediately after v. 13. 



1 The reading of lxx. hcixy\v /jLvpov the smell of ointment for DTI") ?)\) the sound 
(lit. voice) of the millstones is interesting. The usual explanation is that a double 
corruption has taken place, fj.^'Kov has Joecome fivpov and DTI"! has been divided up 
into nn, which is elsewhere translated by d(Xfj.ri when it bears this meaning, and 
lb (see Cornill however on this suggestion). At the same time it is possible that 
da-fj.-Tji' is a corruption of q.a-/ji.a. 



XXV. 12-15] THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH 191 

when seventy years are accomplished, that I will punish the king 
of Babylon, and that nation, saith the Lord, for their iniquity, 
and the land of the Chaldeans; and I will make it ^desolate for 
ever. 13 And I will bring upon that land all my words which 
I have pronounced against it, even all that is written in this 
book, which Jeremiah hath prophesied against all the nations. 
14 For many nations and great kings -shall serve themselves of 
them, even of them : and I will recompense them according to 
their deeds, and according to the work of their hands. 

15 For thus saith the Lord, the God of Israel, unto me : Take 
the cup of the wine of this fury at my hand, and cause all the 

^ Heb. everlasting desolations. - Or, have served themselves or, made bondmen 

12. / will punish. . .Babylon. The lesson of these vv., whoever 
may have written them, is that no amount of service in the past can 
save a nation or an individual from the consequences of sin in the 
present. Even those who can claim to have cast out devils in our 
Lord's name may find themselves outside His kingdom (cf. Matt. vii. 
22 f.). 

14. This V. is absent from lxx. ; it seems to be derived from 
xxvii. 7, and 1. 29, H. 24. 

15 — 29. The nations are to drink of the wine-cup of the fury of 
the Lord. The passage has been rejected by some schnlars (see Introd. 
to the section), but there can be but little doubt that, though it may 
contain later additions, as a whole it comes from the prophet himself. 
LXX. gives the clue to some of these later insertions (see on v. 18). 

15. cup. The use of the symbol of the cup to represent a bitter 
and trying experience is common in OT. (cf Ps. xi. G, Ixxv. 8; Is. li. 
17 ; Ez. xxiii. 31 f &c.), though in some passages the cup is not actually 
mentioned (Job xxi. 20; Ps. Ix. 3; Obad. 16). In NT. the use is 
sanctified by our blessed Lord Himself in the agony in the garden 
(Mk. xiv. 36); and it also appears in Rev. xiv. 8, xvii. 2, 4, xviii. 3. 
Dr Wade in commenting on Is. li. 17 suggests a comparison to Homer, 
Iliad, XXIV. 527 8oloI yap re ttlOol Kara/cetarat iv Atos ovSei Suipwv ola 
Si8wcrt KaK(Zv, 'inpo^ 6e kamv^. 

this fury. The ivine is the wrath of God which is poured out upon 
the nations. Intoxication is a very apt ' figure for the bewilderment 
and helplessness produced... by an overwhelming calamity.' 

^ An interesting use of the same figure is to be found in the vision of Friar 
James of La Massa {The Little Flowers of St Francis, ch. xLviir.), though it is there 
used as a symbol, not of the fury of the Lord, but of His grace. 'And thereafter 
he beheld Christ seated on a pure white throne exceeding great, whereunto Christ 
called St Francis and gave him a cup, full of the spirit of life, and sent him forth, 
saying, " Go and visit thy friars and give them to drink of this cup of the spirit of 
life." ' 



192 THE BOOKiOF JEREMIAH [xxv. 15-10 

nations, to whom I send thee, to drink it. 16 And they shall 
drink, and reel to and fro, and be mad, because of the sword that 
I will send among them. 17 Then took I the cup at the Lord's 
hand, and made all the nations to drink, unto whom the Lord 
had sent me : 18 to ivit, Jerusalem, and the cities of Judah, and 
the kings thereof, and the princes thereof, to make them a deso- 
lation, an astonishment, an hissing, and a curse ; as it is this day ; 
19 Pliaraoh king of Egypt, and his servants, and his princes, and 
all his people ; 20 and all the mingled people, and all the kings 
of the land of Uz, and all the kings of the land of the Philistines, 

16. the sword &c. Duhin would omit these words as a piece of 
literalism. 

17. Then took I the cup. It has been suggested by commentators 
who strive to preserve the literal meaning of the prophetic writings at 
any cost, that Jeremiah actually handed the cup to representatives of 
the various nations enumerated in the passage; such a conception is 
quite unnecessary and indeed entirely unworthy. Cf. Keil 'as the 
wrath of God is no essence which may be drunk by the bodily act, so 
manifestly the cup is no material one.' 

18 — 26. If the text of lxx. can here be relied on, additions were 
evidently made to the list of nations at a comparatively late date, and 
indeed there must have been a great temptation to a scribe to add 
a present enemy to an ancient list of nations who were to be punished. 
LXX. omits all the kings of the land of Uz (v. 20), either all the kings 
of Arabia or all the kings of the mingled people {v. 24), and all the 
kings of Zimri {v. 25). It is noticeable that all these omissions by lxx. 
contain the phrase ' all the kings of and Giesebrecht followed by Cornill 
would exclude the other nations so introduced. 

18. as it is this day. Omitted by lxx., and evidently an exilic 
gloss. Cornill thinks that Pharaoh originally headed the list as being 
the first to suffer from the might of Babylon. 

20. mingled people. Foreigners resident in Egypt for purposes of 
trade &c. In later times the word became a synonym for the Gentiles — 
cf Ps. Sol. xvii. 17 'the child of the covenant in the midst of the 
mingled peoples.' 

land of Uz. Cf Gen. x. 23, xxii. 21, ^c. In Lam. iv. 21 there is 
a possible reference to this v. The exact content of the phrase is some- 
what doubtful, cf W. Robertson Smith's note in Kinship &c. p. 260 f, 
and Bishop Gibson's note on Job i. 1. 

kings of ..the Philistines. The use is strange because the Philisti7ies 
were ruled by ' lords ' — cf however 1 S. xxi. 10 ' Achish, king of 
Gath,' and parallel expressions in the Assyrian inscriptions. It is 
probable that the whole phrase ought to be omitted with Giesebrecht 
(see above), as the cities themselves are mentioned in detail, with the 



XXV. 20-26] THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH 193 

and Ashkelon, and Gaza, and Ekron, and the remnant of Ashdod ; 
21 Edom, and Moab, and the children of Ammon ; 22 and all 
the kings of Tyre, and all the kings of Zidon, and the kings of 
the Msle which is beyond the sea; 23 Dedan, and Tema, and 
Buz, and all that have the corners of their hair polled; 24 and 
all the kings of Arabia, and all the kings of the mingled people 
that dwell in the wilderness ; 25 and all the kings of Zimri, and 
all the kings of Elam, and all the kings of the Medes ; 26 and 
all the kings of the north, far and near, one with another ; and 
all the kingdoms of the world, which are upon the face of the 

1 Or, coastland 

exception of Gath (cf. Am. i. 6 — 8 ; Zeph. ii. 4 ; Zech. ix. 5 f. ; and see 
Bliss and Macalister, Excavations in Palestine, pp. 63 — 65). Ekron 
(modern 'Akir) was, until the recent war, the site of a flourishing 
Jewish colony ; no trace of the old town now exists. 

the remnant of Ashdod. Ashdod is probably spoken of as a remnant 
because of its sufferings during the long siege by Psammetichus I 
(reigned 666 — 610 B.C.) which lasted for twenty-nine years (Herodotus 
n. 157, cf. however Zeph. ii. 4). 

22. the isle which is beyond the sea. Better (cf mg.) coastlajid, with 
a possible reference to the Phoenician colonies. In some of the in- 
scriptions on the older Egyptian tombs there are references to certain 
Mediterranean rulers who are styled ' princes of the Isles in the midst 
of the Great Green Sea.' 

23. Dedan. A north Arabian tribe descended from Abraham. 
See Driver's note on Gen. x. 7. 

Tema. Mentioned with Dedan in Is. xxi. 13 f 
Buz. See Gen. xxii. 21 (with Driver's note); Job xxxii. 2; and cf. 
Delitzsch, Parad. p. 307. 

corners... polled. See on ix. 26. 

24. In the unpointed Heb. text Arabia and mingled people are 
the same, and probably one of them should be omitted (so Lxx.). It 
must be remembered that in OT. the term Arabia represents a much 
more restricted area than in later usage : cf. Enc. Bib. 272. 

25. Zimri. This name is not found elsewhere as the name of a 
people and lxx. omits. It has sometimes been identified with Zimran 
in Gen. xxv. 2, which Driver thinks may be Za/Spa/x, ' the capital of an 
Arabian tribe, W. of Mecca ' ; or again it may be Se/A^ptrat in Ethiopia 
mentioned by Strabo xvii. i. 786. Duhm thinks that the word 
conceals a reference to the Romans and that it is therefore a very late 
insertion. See also ZATW. 1914, p. 64. 

Elam. See on xlix. 34. Elam lay to the E. of Babylon and NE. 
of the Persian Gulf. 

the Medes. See on Ii. 11. Media lay to the N. of Elam. 
B. 13 



194 THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH [xxv. 26-30 

earth : and the king of ^ Sheshach shall drink after them. 27 And 
thou shalt say unto them, Thus saith the I>ord of hosts, the God 
of Israel : Drink ye, and be drunken, and spue, and fall, and rise 
no more, because of the sword which I will send among you. 
28 And it shall be, if they refuse to take the cup at thine hand 
to drink, then shalt thou say unto them, Thus saith the Lord of 
hosts : Ye shall surely drink. 29 For, lo, I begin to work evil 
at the city which is called by my name, and should ye be utterly 
unpunished? Ye shall not be unpunished: for I will call for a 
sword upon all the inhabitants of the earth, saith the Lord of 
hosts. 30 Therefore prophesy thou against them all these words, 
and say unto them. The Lord shall roar from on high, and utter 
his voice fi'om his holy habitation ; he shall mightily roar against 
his ^fold; he shall give a shout, as they that tread the grarpes, 

1 According to ancient tradition, a cypher for Babel. See oh. li. 41. 
^ Or, pasture 

26. Sheshach. The consonants of this word in Heb. are S S K and 
by the system of cypher- writing known as Atbash^ — in which the last 
letter of the alphabet is substituted for the first, the next to the last 
for the second, and so on — they correspond to the letters B B L ; i.e. 
Babel (see however an article in ZATW. 1914, p. 64). The use of 
this method of writing is probably late (other instances of it occur in 
li. 1, 41) and the clause is absent from lxx. 

27 — 29. These vv. are evidently out of their context as the Lord 
is suddenly introduced as the speaker without any warning and the 
' drinking ' by the nations has apparently not yet taken place. 

29. Judgement must begin at the house of God (cf. Ez. ix. 6); 
but this is a pledge that others will not escape. 

called hy my name. See on vii. 10; and cf. 1 Pet. iv. 17. 

30 — 38. God will come like a lion against all the peoples of the 
earth. This passage resumes a more poetic style but at the same time 
its genuineness is more than doubtful owing to its eschatological outlook 
and lack of originality. 

30. The Lord shall roar. Cf. Am. i. 2; Joel iii. 16. He will come 
as a lion against His own people (cf Hos. v. 14) as well as against the 
rest of the world. 

on high. From heaven, not, as in the passages quoted above, from 
Jerusalem. Cf. Dante, Par ad. xxvii. 143 ' these heavenly spheres shall 
roar so loud.' 

holy habitation. Cf. Dt. xxvi. 15; Ps. Ixviii. 5. 

fold. The same Heb. word is translated ' habitation ' in x. 25. In 
this context it represents the place or pasture (cf. mg.) where the Lord's 
own flock is feeding (cf. xxiii. 3). 

shout. The word may be used of the ' battle-cry ' as well as of the 



XXV. 30-37] THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH 195 

against all the inhabitants of the earth. 31 A noise shall come 
even to the end of the earth ; for the Lord hath a controversy 
with the nations, he will plead with all flesh ; as for the wicked, 
he will give them to the sword, saith the Lord. 

32 Thus saith the Lord of hosts, Behold, evil shall go forth 
from nation to nation, and a great tempest shall be raised up 
from the uttermost parts of the earth. 33 And the slain of the 
Lord shall be at that day from one end of the earth even unto 
the other end of the earth : they shall not be lamented, neither 
gathered, nor buried ; they shall be dung upon the face of the 
ground. 34 Howl, ye shepherds, and cry ; and wallow yourselves i 
in ashes, ye principal of the flock : for the days of your slaughter 
are fully come, ^and I will break you in pieces, and ye shall fall 
like a pleasant vessel. 35 And ^the shepherds shall have no 
way to flee, nor the principal of the flock to escape. 36 A voice 
of the cry of the shepherds, and the howling of the principal of 
the flock ! for the Lord layeth waste their pasture. 37 And the 

^ Or, and I icill disperse you Many ancient versions read, and your dispersions. 
2 Heh. Jlight sltall perish from the shepherds, and escape from dtc. 

shout of those who gather the grapes, hence the play on the word in 
xlviii. 33. The same metaphor of the vintage to represent the slaughter 
of God's enemies is used in Is. Ixiii. 1 — 6. 

31. Cf. Is. iii. 13 f., Ixvi. 6. 
plead, i.e. contend; cf. Joel iii. 2. 

all flesh. This term is generally used with the idea of laying stress 
on the frailty of mankind in comparison with God (cf. xvii. 5). 

32. Judgement shall come suddenly, like a storm rising from the 
sea (cf. 1 K. xviii. 44 f), which gradually sweeps over all nations. 

33. the slain of the Lord. The same phrase is used in Is. Ixvi. 16. 

34. The first half of the v. preserves the figure of the flock suggested 
hy V. 30 ; in the second half the simile of the broken vessel — of which 
Jeremiah was very fond — is suddenly introduced, only to be dropped in 
the following v. lxx. by a slightly different reading of the Heb. sub- 
stitutes rams for vessel, and Duhm adopts the rendering, and by another 
slight change reads of slaughter for pleasant (cf . Zech. xi. 4). 

wallow. Better sprinkle as in vi. 26. 

principal. Yieh. majestic ones: the chief citizens. 

fall. Cf li. 7 f ' ./ 

35. Cf Am. ii. 14. 

36 fF. Cf. Zech. xi. 3 'A voice of the howling of the shepherds ! for 
their glory is spoiled : a voice of the roaring of young lions ! for the 
pride of Jordan is spoiled.' 

13—2 



196 THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH [xxv. 37-xxvi. i 

peaceable folds are brought to silence because of the fierce anger 
of the Lord. 38 He hath forsaken his covert, as the lion : for 
their land is become an astonishment because of Hhe fierceness 
of the oppressing sword, and because of his fierce anger. 

1 Or, according to some ancient authorities, the oppressing sword See eh. xlvi. 16. 

38. This V. returns to the figure with which the passage began — 
the Lord will come up like a lion disturbed from its lair. 

the ^fierceness of the oppressi7ig sword. There is probably no need to 
supply sward in the text as by a small emendation the Heb. for fierceness 
{nn may be read as nin sivord (so mg. following lxx.; cf xlvi. 16). 



Chapter XXVL 

Jeremiah's Warning and its Consequences. 

Ill this ch. the prophet warns the people, with solemn force, that unless they 
amend their ways and their doings the fate which befell Shiloh will come upon 
Jerusalem. The occasion of the sermon is i)robably the same as that of vii. 
(see Introd. to that ch.) ; there the contents of the sermon are preserved, here 
the results which followed upon the prophet's boldness. The earlier record 
may be part of the roll read to Jehoiakini, and for this reason it contained 
only the main facts. The present ch. is written more from Jeremiah's own point 
of view and therefore goes into greater detail ; its great value lies in its being 
an instance of that opposition against which the projihet was ever contending, 
and which weighed upon his sensitive soul until his life became a burden to 
him. The record probably comes from Baruch and its genuineness can hardly 
be questioned. 

{a) The teaming. 1 — 6. 

(6) The indignation of priests and prophets. 7 — 9. 

(c) The intervention of the princes and the people. 10—16. 

{d) The appeal to history. 17 — 19. 

{e) The fate of Uriah. 20—24. 

XXVI . 1 In the beginning of the reign of Jehoiakim the son 
of Josiah, king of Judah, came this vrord from the Lord, saying, 

XXVI. 1 — 6. Jeremiah's public warning from the temple court. 

1. beginning. The dating of events is characteristic of those parts 
of the book which are generally attributed to Baruch. Duhm thinks 
that the warning may have been given at Jehoiakim's coronation, but 
such an occasion would surely have received special mention, and 
Jeremiah would hardly have declared his message in terms so uncom- 
promising before events had had time to develop. 



XXVI. 2-7] THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH 197 

2 Thus saith the Lord : Stand in the court of the Lord's house, 
and speak unto all the cities of Judah, which come to worship 
in the Lord's house, all the words that I command thee to speak 
unto them; keep not back a word. 3 It may be they will hearken, 
and turn every man from his evil way ; that I may repent me of 
the evil, which I purpose to do unto them because of the evil of 
their doings. 4 And thou shalt say unto them, Thus saith the 
Lord : If ye will not hearken to me, to walk in my law, which I 
have set before you, 5 to hearken to the words of my servants 
the prophets, whom I send unto you, even rising up early and 
sending them, but ye have not hearkened ; 6 then will I make 
this house like Shiloh, and will make this city a curse to all the 
nations of the earth. 7 And the priests and the prophets and 



2. the court &c. The outer court where the people would be 
gathered together, so in xix. 14. 

keep not back a word. Heb. diminish, the word used in Ex. v. 8, 19 
of the tale of bricks. .Jeremiah, in view of the danger of his task, needed 
the renewal of the warning which had accompanied his call ' speak to 
them all that I shall command you' (i. 17). The idea is the same as 
that which underlies Rev. xxii. 19, where a curse is pronounced against 
anyone who 'shall take away from the words of the book of this 
prophecy.' 

3. every man. The stress on the individual is characteristic of 
Jeremiah. 

repent. God's condemnations are always conditional, if the guilty 
repent God will forbear. See on xviii. 8 (cf v. 13); Ez. xviii. 21fif. ; 
'and its most beautiful expression in the Book of Jonah' (Peake). 

purpose. The failure to repent will be followed by a speedy judge- 
ment; cf Rev. ii. 5. 

4 — 6. These m\ are rejected by Duhm as being too 'legal'; cf 
ix. 12 f. Peake, however, defends their genuineness on the ground that 
Jeremiah would distinguish between the ceremonial and the moral re- 
quirements of the law. 

6. Shiloh. See note on vii. 12. 

a curse. The city will become a by- word for ill-fortune, just as 
Abraham was a by-word for good (Gen. xii. 3). Judah is not to remain 
a curse for ever : ' It shall come to pass that as ye were a curse among 
the nations, house of Judah and house of Israel, so will I save you 
and ye shall be a blessing' (Zech. viii. 13). 

7 — 9. The indignation of priests and prophets. 

7. the prophets. That is those prophets who discredited all fore- 
casts of coming evil; lxx. makes a clear distinction between them and 
Jeremiah by inserting 'false' here and in w. 8, 11, and 16. 



198 THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH [xxvi. 7-1^- 

all the people heard Jeremiah speaking these words in the house 
of the Lord. 8 And it came to pass, when Jeremiah had made 
an end of speaking all that the Lord had commanded him to 
speak unto all the people, that the priests and the prophets and 
all the people laid hold on him, saying, Thou shalt surely die. 
9 Why hast thou prophesied in the name of the Lord, saying. 
This house shall be Hke Shiloh, and this city shall be desolate, 
without inhabitant? And all the people were gathered unto 
Jeremiah in the house of the Lord. 

10 And when the princes of Judah heard these things, they 
came up from the king's house unto the house of the Lord ; and 
they sat in the entry of the new gate of the Lord's house. 1 1 Then 
spake the priests and the prophets unto the princes and to all the 
people, saying, This man is worthy of death; for he hath pro- 
phesied against this city, as ye have heard with your ears. 12 Then 

8. made an end. Jeremiah was allowed to finish his discourse, not 
because men were cut to the heart by his words, but simply because, 
until the end, he was following the conventional lines of denunciation 
laid down by his predecessors ; when however he began to attack the 
temple worship, as he did at the close of his sermon, the indignation of 
the priests and their allies broke forth (cf Introd. pp. xxxif). 

all the people. These words should probably be omitted as a mis- 
taken repetition from the previous v., in vv. 11 ff. the people are looked 
upon as being in some sense judges between the prophet and his accusers. 
At the same time the ease with which a crowd will change sides must 
not be forgotten, the people may have been carried away, by what they 
thought to be blasphemy, to make an onslaught on Jeremiah, in much 
the same way as their descendants attacked St Stephen (Acts vii. 54 ff.); 
later on, finding that the princes were disposed to look upon the case 
as by no means so obvious and clear an offence as did the priests, their 
sympathies may have veered round in the prophet's favour. 

9. in tlie name of the Lord. The prophet's utterances were a direct 
contradiction of the popular conception of Jehovah in whose name he 
claimed to speak, hence the gravity of his offence (see on v. 16). 

10 — 16. The intervention of the princes and the people. 

10. the princes of Judah. The intervention of the princes probably 
saved Jeremiah's life and rescued him from a situation in which there 
was every prospect of his anticipating the fate of St Stephen. 

the new gate. So called in xxxvi. 10; it may be that this gate was 
the one made by Jotham some hundred years before (2 K. xv. 35) ; it 
is generally identified with ' the upper gate ' mentioned in xx. 2. 

12 — 15. The simplicity and noble courage which Jeremiah shewed 
when brought face to face with his accusers are strikingly similar to the 



XXVI. i2-,6] THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH 199 

spake Jeremiah unto all the princes and to all the people, saying, 
The Lord sent me to prophesy against this house and against 
this city all the words that ye have heard. 13 Therefore now 
amend your ways and your doings, and obey the voice of the 
Lord your God ; and the Lord will repent him of the evil that 
he hath pronounced against you. 14 But as for me, behold, I 
am in your hand : do with me as is good and right in your eyes. 
15 Only know ye for certain that, if ye put me to death, ye shall 
bring innocent blood upon yourselves, and upon this city, and 
upon the inhabitants thereof : for of a truth the Lord hath sent 
me unto you to speak all these words in your ears. 16 Then 
said the princes and all the people unto the priests and to the 
prophets : This man is not worthy of death ; for he hath spoken 

conduct of Socrates on a like occasion. Cf especially his fear that the 
consequences of the crime which they are committing unwittingly may 
fall upon them, with a like anxiety on the part of Socrates {Apol. Socr. 
30 D ff.). Jeremiah's apologia is a straightforward reply to the charge 
made against him ; he does not shirk the consequences of his own acts, 
nor wish to tone down the denunciations which he had levelled at the 
heads of the people. ' In a sentence he reaffirms his claim to have been 
charged by God with the message he has just delivered. He renews his 
exhortation to amendment, and promises that judgement will then be 
averted. Of his own case he speaks neither with heroics nor unmanly 
entreaty. He recognises the legal right of the tribunal to execute him, 
and confronts the prospect without theatrical defiance on the one hand 
or abject cowardice on the other, but with a serene expression of willing- 
ness to accept the verdict his judges pronounce. Only he would be doing 
less than his duty were he so proudly to refuse all comment on his own 
case, that he failed to point out what a crime they would commit in 
slaying one, whose only fault had been his faithfulness in executing the 
commission his God and theirs had given him. It is a great scene which 
here passes before us, in which the prophet's bearing is wholly worthy 
of himself, and in which we do well to observe his unshaken conviction 
that his message had been entrusted to him by God Himself Peake. 

13. amend your ways. The accused, as Giesebrecht points out, 
here becomes the accuser. 

14. as for me. Jeremiah derives courage from the greatness of his 
cause ; his is only a single life ; the contest is not really between himself 
and his accusers, but between good and evil, right and wrong, God and 
the powers of darkness. He forgets himself in realising God. 

15. innocent blood. Cf Matt, xxvii. 24 f 

16. This man is not worthy of death. According to RV. the princes 
and the people recognise the justice of Jeremiah's plea, and the authority 
of his message. Dr Buttenwieser, however, thinks that the result of the 



200 THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH [xxvi. 16-18 

to us in the name of the Lord oui- God. 17 Then rose up certain 
of the eklers of the land, and spake to all the assembly of the 
people, saying, 18 ^Micaiah the Morashtite prophesied in the 

1 Another reading is, Micah. See Micah i. 1. 

trial was not the acquittal, but the condemnation of the prophet; hence 
the attempt of the elders (otherwise quite unnecessary) to secure his 
escape ; and also the statement that but for the protection of Ahikam 
Jeremiah would have met the fate of Uriah (v. 24). He thinks that 
Jeremiah was condemned because he had broken the law of Dt. xviii. 
15 — 22 by delivering what was obviously a false message in the name 
of the Lord; he would therefore translate this v. 'Verily this man 
deserves the death-penalty because he hath spoken unto us in the name 
of YHWH our God.' He justifies his translation by claiming that it 
requires no change in the consonantal text^ The suggestion is an in- 
teresting one and helps to explain some of the difficulties of the passage, 
but it must be remembered that some scholars are of the opinion that 
this law is of a later date than Jeremiah (see Introd. p. Ixxxvi ; and 
of Marti on Dt. xviii. 15 — 22, and A. F. Puukko, Das Deuteronomium 
(1910), pp. 254 flf.), and it seems somewhat strange that the prophet 
should have put forth as his defence what he must have known to be 
the very grounds upon which he was accused. I have further criticised 
this theory elsewhere^. 

17 — 19. The appeal to history. The comparison of Jerusalem to 
Shiloh made by Jeremiah is now imitated by the elders in comparing 
the prophet himself to Micah. 

17. elders of the land. The elders were an important body in ancient 
Israel (see Enc. Bib. 1906 ff., 2717 £ ; Benzinger, Arch. §§ 41 ff. ; Nowack, 
Arch. I. pp. 300 ff.) though it is not possible to distinguish between the 
various classes of elders or even to know whether titles such as that 
used here represent any distinction (cf xix. 1, &c.). Dr Peake suggests 
that the phrase merely refers to the age of the speakers, that they were 
aged country folk who ' related the story of Micah's drastic prediction 
as it had come down to them in their traditions.' 

18. Micaiah. Mg. Micah the spelling of the canonical book. The 
shorter form is probably a contraction of the longer which means ' Who 
is hke Yahweh ? ' (cf Michael), though Dr G. B. Gray thinks that it may 
mean simply 'Who is like (this child)?' and is complete in itself; see 
Hebr. Proper Names, p. 157. 

1 ' The only change required in verse 10 to restore what according to this con- 
clusion must have been the original text is to change the vocalisatiou of ^en (pS) 
to Hn (pN). We should then have here another example of the particle, 'in, which 
occurs in 1 Sam. xxi. 9, and which has bafBed ancient and modern exegetes alike, 
but which on closer examination proves to be a by-form of the emphatic particle, 
hen, hinne.' The Prophets of Israel, p. 36; see also pp. 24 — 37 and Supplementary 
Note, pp. 327 ff. 

2 See J. Th. S. xvi. p. 134. 



XXVI. 18, 19] THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH 201 

days of Hezekiah king of Judah ; and he spake to all the people 
of Judah, saying, Thus saith the Lord of hosts: ^Zion shall be 
plowed as a field, and Jerusalem shall become heaps, and the 
mountain of the house as the high places of a forest. 19 Did 
Hezekiah king of Judah and all Judah put him at all to death ? 
did he not fear the Lord, and intreat the favour of the Lord, 
and the Lord repented him of the evil which he had pronounced 
against them? Thus should we commit great evil against our 

1 See Micab iii. 12. 

Morashtite. The same title is prefixed to the Book, in order to dis- 
tinguish the prophet from the many others who bore the same name; 
it is derived from the village of Moresheth (of. Mic. i. 14) which was 
probably Micah's birth-place. 

Zion shall he plowed &c. Quoted from Mic. iii. 12, and of unique 
interest as the only direct quotation in one prophet of another in OT. 
It should be remembered that Micah's denunciation, though it reads as 
severely as that of Jeremiah, was uttered before the doctrine of the in- 
violability of Jerusalem had been vindicated by the destruction of 
Sennacherib's army ; and that the temple was now the only place where 
Jehovah could be worshipped, and therefore a shrine which He was 
bound to defend at all costs. 

mountain, of the Jiouse. The hill on which the temple is built will 
become like a wooded height (lxx. both here and in Mic. iii. 12 reads 
the singular). The phrase is preserved in 1 Mace. iv. 46 where Judas 
takes down the defiled altar and hides the stones in the mountain of the 
house until a prophet should arise to give instruction concerning them. 

19. Did Hezekiah &c. This passage suggests that the influence 
of Micah's preaching was much greater than is usually imagined, and 
that he should be placed alongside Isaiah as inaugurating the reforms 
of Hezekiah. Possibly the elders were exaggerating the influence of a 
countryman like themselves, and in any case as J. M. P. Smith has 
pointed out {Micah in ICC. p. 26) the prophet's teaching, as far as it 
has been preserved, is much more concerned with social wrongs, especially 
the wrongs of the poor, than with idolatry and the cultus. 

intreat the favour. Lit. make sweet the face. Many critics look upon 
this as an anthropomorphic expression and give as its literal meaning 
smooth the face or even stroke the face (e.g. of an idol); without denying 
the possibility of this derivation there is nothing in the Heb. itself to 
suggest it \ The expression may be used of one man's act towards another 
(Ps. xlv. 12; Prov. xix. 6; Job xi. 19 only); as well as of man's act 
towards God. 

Thus should we commit great evil. Heb. But ive are committing, an 

^ For an examination into the meaning of the root Plpn in Heb. and cognate 
languages see Dr Pusey's note on Zech. vii. 2 and cf. BDB. p. 318. 



202 THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH [xxvi. 19-23 

own souls. 20 And there was also a man that prophesied in the 
name of the Lord, Uriah the son of Shemaiah of Kiriath-jearim ; 
and he prophesied against this city and against this land accord- 
ing to all the words of Jeremiah : 21 and when Jehoiakim the 
king, with all his mighty men, and all the princes, heard his words, 
the king sought to put him to death ; but when Uriah heard it, 
he was afraid, and fled, and went into Egypt : 22 and Jehoiakim 
the king sent men into Egypt, namely, Elnathan the son of 
Achbor, and certain men with him, into Egypt: 23 and they 
fetched forth Uriah out of Egypt, and brought him unto Jehoiakim 

instance of what Dr Butteuwieser has named the ' potential participle,' 
i.e. its use to express 'the disposition or tendency, or predetermination 
of the subject to, or its qualification for the action.' Dr Buttenwieser 
sees in this statement by the elders further proof that Jeremiah had 
been condemned {op. cit. p. 26). 

20 — 24. The fate of Uriah. Jeremiah owed his life to the protection 
of powerful friends, other prophets were not so fortunate. These vv. are 
almost certainly not part of the speech of the elders; and the incident 
must have taken place after the escape of Jeremiah, as the temple sermon 
was at the beginning of the reign of Jehoiakim (xxvi. 1), and time would 
be needed for the flight of Uriah to Egypt, and for his apprehension, 
which would probably be no very speedy process. 

20. Uriah the soti of Shemaiah. Nothing further is known of this 
prophet though the suggestion has been made that he was the unknown 
author of Zech. xii. — xiv. (see Stanley, The Jeivish Church, 11. 449). 

Kiriath-jearim. Usually identified with Kirjat el-inab which lies 
some seven miles WNW. of Jerusalem on the road to Jaffa. 

21. Egypt. Uriah thus followed the example of Jeroboam the son 
of Nebat (1 K. xi.), but with less success. 

22. Elnathan... Egypt. These words are wanting in lxx. From 
the account of him in xxxvi. 12, 25 it is unlikely that Elnathan would 
be employed on such an errand and lxx. is probably right in its omission. 
It may be that Jehoiakim's agent was his father-in-law Elnathan of 
Jerusalem (2 K. xxiv. 8), who was perhaps a different person from the 
son of Achbor; if the latter words got into the text by mistake, some 
scribe may have omitted the whole phrase as inconsistent with xxxvi. 
12, 25 ; it seems to me to be easier to account for the omission than for 
the subsequent insertion of the words. 

23. In the first years of his reign Jehoiakim was under the over- 
lordship of Pharaoh, and so it would be easy for him to get the extra- 
dition of a fugitive from Egypt, especially of one who was guilty of 
attacks on his rule. At the same time extradition treaties are no new 
thing, Ramses II, for example, in the fourteenth century B.C. had one 
with a Syrian king named Chetta. 



xxvi. 23, 24] THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH 203 

the king ; who slew him with the sword, and cast his dead body 
into the graves of the ^common people. 24 But the hand of 
Ahikam the son of Shaphan was with Jeremiah, that they should 
not give him into the hand of the people to put him to death. 

1 Heb. sons of the people. 

slew Mm. Mr E,. B. Rackham in his Commentary on Acts, p. 101, 
has poiuted out that though there ' were many traditions as to the fates 
of the prophets ; and the persecuting and slaying of the righteous was 
recognized as a feature of the history of Israel ' yet in OT. itself ' we 
read of but few martyrdoms of the prophets.' See 1 K. xviii. 13; and 
2 Ch. xxiv. 20—22. 

24. Ahikam the son 0/ iShapkan. The brother of Gemariah (xxxvi. 
12), and the father of Gedaliah (xxxix. 14, xl. 5). He, like Achbor 
(v. 22), had been one of the deputation which Josiah sent to the 
prophetess Huldah (2 K. xxii. 12). 



CHAPTERS XXVH.— XXIX. 

These three chh. are closely connected both in their contents and in the 
circumstances which they pre-suppose. They come fi'om an early period in the 
reign of Zedekiah ; they contain the messages which Jeremiah delivered against 
the prophets who opposed him ; constant exhortations to accept the rule of the 
Babylonian conquerors are found in them. In addition to these similarities of 
subject matter the chh. are distinguished from the rest of the book by certain 
literary characteristics. («) Those proper names which end in -iah (in the 
English versions) are usually spelt in Heb. -"in^ (-iahu), but in these chh. the 
predominant form is H* (-iah); for example the name Jeremiah is not found 
with the shorter spelling in the rest of the book though it appears several 
times in this form in xxvii. — xxix. (b) The name Nebuchadrezzar is always 
(and correctly) so spelt in the rest of the book (leaving out xxxiv. 1 and xxxix. 5 
which come from 2 K.) ; in this section it occurs once only (in xxix. 21), while 
the less accurate form Nebuchadnezzar is found eight times, (c) The title of 
'the prophet' is added to Jeremiah's name much more frequently than elsewhere. 
{d) The difference of text between MT. and lxx. is much greater than usual, 
the latter being the shorter text. 

These phenomena all point towards the probability of this section's having 
had a separate existence before being incorporated in the larger collection. 
Giesebrecht tries to account for the differences by supposing that copies of 
these chh. were sent to Babylon for the benefit of the exiles (an event which is 
very probable, and in view of xxix. 1 almost certain), and that additions were 
there made to them as well as changes in spelling, &c. This theory seems to 
involve the disappearance of the originals which presumably did not come under 



204 THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH [xxvii. /, 2 

the same influences. Cornill and Duhm see traces of later writers in these chh. 
though they allow that parts of them are due to Baruch. Graf has tried to 
explain away the peculiarities but not with complete success. 

Warnings against opposition to Babylon, xxvii. 
The case of Hananiah. xxviii. 
Jeremiah's letter to the exiles, xxix. 



Chapter XXVH. 
Warnings against Opposition to Babyloti. 

The fourth year of the reign of Zedekiah (594 — 593 B.C.) was evidently one 
of much unsettlement in Palestine ; the rule of Babylon, in spite of Nebuchad- 
rezzar's successes, had not yet come to be recognised as a fact which had to be 
submitted to ; and the small states were plotting amongst themselves for the 
recovery of their independence (see Introd. p. xxvi). In Judah, and in the other 
states also (cf. v. 9), these national aspirations received the active support of 
those who were the recognised leaders of religion. In this ch. Jeremiah utters 
a solemn warning to all who have been in any way influenced by the forecasts 
of these 'false' prophets ; the Babylonian supremacy has still many years to run, 
and meanwhile the only wise and right policy is to submit to it ; at the same 
time he does his best to prevent the carrying out of what C. J. Ball has aptly 
termed 'the suicidal policy of combination with heathenish and treacherous 
allies, most of whom were the heirs of innumerable feuds with Judah.' 

(a) Warning to the ambassadors. 1 — 11. 

(&) Warning to the king. 12 — 15. 

(c) Warning to the priests and people. 16 — 22. 

XXVII. 1 In the beginning of the reign of ^ Jehoiakim the 
son of Josiah, king of Judah, came this word unto Jeremiah from 
the Lord, saying, 2 Thus saith the Lord to me: Make thee 

1 Properly, Zedekiah, as in some ancient authorities. See vv. 3, 12, 20, ch. 
xxviii. 1. 

XXVII. 1 — 11. God, to whom the earth belongs, has given it into 
the hands of the Babylonians for a certain season, any nation therefore 
which rebels against them will be punished by Him. 

1. reigti of Jehoiakim. By a scribal error Jekoiakim has been 
written for Zedekiah (so mg. and c£ vv. 3, 12 and 20). The v. is 
omitted by LXX. and probably the heading of xxviii. 1 should be 
transferred to this place (see note ad loc). 

2, to me. LXX. rightly omits. 



xxviT. .-6] THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH 205 

bands and ^bars, and put them upon thy neck ; 3 and send them 
to the king of Edom, and to the king of Moab, and to the king 
of the chihlren of Amnion, and to the king of Tyre, and to the 
king of Zidon, by the hand of the messengers which come to 
Jerusalem unto Zedekiah king of Judah ; 4 and give them a 
charge unto their masters, saying, Thus saith the Lord of hosts, 
the God of Israel: Thus shall ye say unto your masters; 5 I 
have made the earth, the man and the beast that are upon the 
face of the earth, by my great power and by my outstretched 
arm ; and I give it unto whom it seemeth right unto me. 6 And 
now have I given all these lands into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar 

1 See Lev. xxvi. 13. 

bands and bars. These together formed a yoke, the wooden bars 
being fastened together by thongs (see Enc. Bib. 78). The yoke was 
an easily understood symbol for submission, either to an earthly or to 
a heavenly sovereign ; the metaphor is often used by Jeremiah in one 
or other of these senses, cf. ii. 20, v. 5, xxx. 8. For the employment 
of similar means of warning cf Is. xx. (the prophet goes ' naked and 
barefoot'); in 1 K. xxii. 11 'horns of iron' are used by the 'false' 
prophet Zedekiah. 

3. them. In the previous v. there is no mention of any yoke 
beyond the one which the prophet himself was to wear, it seems best 
therefore to omit them (so Lucian). 

the messengei'S. Isaiah made a similar use of the presence of 
ambassadors from Ethiopia (Is. xviii. 1 ff.). Duhm has collected other 
instances of foreign nations giving heed to the prophets of Jehovah 
(e.g. Jud. iii. 20; 1 K. xix. 15 ff. &c.). 

5f The God of Israel is proclaimed as the God of the whole 
earth, a declaration which must have required tremendous faith in the 
prophet in view of the political insigniticance of Judah. It would be 
interesting to know if the representatives of the other national gods 
accepted Jeremiah's statement without protest, involving as it did the 
subordination of their own deities. The action of the prophet was in 
itself sufficient to render impossible any alliance between Judah and 
these nations, because alliances carried with them the mutual recogni- 
tion of the gods of the contracting parties. 

5. The wording of this v. probably suggested that of Dan. ii. 37 f 
my outstretched arm,. This expression is more often used of acts 

of deliverance (Ps. cxxxvi. 12 and frequently in Dt.), or of punishment 
(cf xxi. 5). In the later chh. of Is. the ' arm of the Lord ' is a con- 
stant metaphor for God's operations in history (cf Is. Ii. 9, Iii. 10, 
liii. 1, &c.); the use of the term, as here, in connexion with creation is 
rare, though it also occurs in xxxii. 17. 

6. have I given. Cf Is. xlv. 3; Jud. xi. 24, &c. and the various 
similar expressions on the Moabite stone. 



206 THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH [xxvii. 6-11 

the king of Babylon, my servant ; and the beasts of the field also 
have I given him to serve him. 7 And all the nations shall serve 
him, and his son, and his son's son, until the time of his own land 
come : and then many nations and great kings shall serve them- 
selves of him. 8 And it shall come to pass, that the nation and 
the kingdom which will not serve the same Nebuchadnezzar king 
of Babylon, and that will not put their neck under the yoke of 
the king of Babylon, that nation will I punish, saith the Lord, 
with the sword, and with the famine, and with the pestilence, 
until I have consumed them by his hand. 9 But as for you, 
hearken ye not to your prophets, nor to your diviners, nor to 
your dreams, nor to your soothsayers, nor to your sorcerers, which 
speak unto you, saying. Ye shall not serve the king of Babylon : 

10 for they prophesy a lie unto you, to remove you far from your 
land; and that I should drive you out and ye should perish. 

1 1 But the nation that shall bring their neck under the yoke of 
the king of Babylon, and serve him, that nation will I let remain 
in their own land, saith the Lord; and they shall till it, and 
dwell therein. 

my servant. See on xxv. 9. 

the beasts of the field. Man's dominion includes the beasts of the 
field, see Gen. i. 26 with Driver's note; Judith xi. 7. 

7. This V. is not found in lxx. probably because it is a late 
addition and somewhat unsuited to its context. At the same time it 
is quite possible that the forecast of the overthrow of Babylon might 
be included in a warning not to resist her rule, if, as here, a clear 
statement was made that such an overthrow would not happen for two 
generations. 

son, and his sons son. This prophecy will not bear a literal inter- 
pretation as more than two rulers occupied the throne of Babylon 
after Nebuchadrezzar ; possibly this failure to correspond with actual 
facts caused the omission of the latter part of the v. by lxx. If the 
words are from Jeremiah it is not necessary to read into them anything 
more than a statement that the Babylonian supremacy had still a long 
period during which to flourish (cf. the more detailed forecast of 
'seventy years' in xxv. 11 and Ep. Jer. 3 'seven generations'). 

9. The attitude of the party who wished to rebel against Babylon 
in each of the nations was supported, as in Judah, by the hopeful 
forecasts of the official teachers of religion. For the meaning of the 
different terms used here see Driver on Dt. xviii. 10. 

10. to remove you. The consequences of following the advice of 
the 'false' prophets are given as though they were the deliberate 
purpose which inspired them. 



XXVII. I2-I6] THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH 207 

12 And I spake to Zedekiah king of Judah according to all 
these words, saying, Bring your necks under the yoke of the king 
of Babylon, and serve him and his people, and live. 13 Why 
will ye die, thou and thy people, by the sword, by the famine, 
and by the pestilence, as the Lord hath spoken concerning the 
nation that will not serve the king of Babylon ? 14 And hearken 
not unto the words of the prophets that speak unto you, saying, 
Ye shall not serve the king of Babylon : for they prophesy a lie 
unto you. 15 For I have not sent them, saith the Lord, but 
they prophesy falsely in my name ; that I might drive you out, 
and that ye might perish, ye, and the prophets that prophesy 
unto you. 16 Also I spake to the priests and to all this people, 

12 — 15. The warning to Zedekiah. 

12. / spake. Evidently this section was dictated by Jeremiah 
himself. 

Bring your necks under the yoke. The policy which Jeremiah 
recommends is well described in Matthew Arnold's lines : 

' The East bow'd low before the blast, 
In patient, deep disdain. 
She let the legions thunder past. 
And plunged in thought again^' 

13 — 15. These vv. are very similar to vv. 8 ff. 

13. Why will ye die? So Ez. xviii. 31. 

16 — 22. The warning is repeated for the benefit of the priests and 
the residue of the people. It should be noticed that lxx. and MT. 
differ very considerably in this section, vv. 17 and 18 6 being omitted 
by the former, and vv. 19 — 22 appearing in a much shorter form. 
LXX. is probably right in leaving out v. \1 which seems to be an 
insertion based on other similar statements "^ 

16. The prophets of ' Peace ' evidently chose something concrete 
as the basis of their forecasts ; a definite prophecy, such as this of the 
restoration of the temple vessels, must have been much more impressive 
than merely general promises of good things to come. 

the priests. Jeremiah met with constant opposition from the priests 
and in the actual question in dispute their prejudices as the official 
guardians of the temple and its contents would naturally be with those 
who promised~a speedy return of the stolen vessels. 

1 Ohermann once viore, 109 ff. 

2 In V. 18 K3 •lyilp'' is rendered dwavrrjcrdTioffdp fioi. (evidently reading ^3 for 
N3 unless indeed it represents a contracted form of ITliT'Q), and Cornill thinks that 
the eye of the translator then wandered on from ''2 to ''2 at the beginning of v. 19 
and that v. 18 b is therefore part of the original text, which has been mistakenly 
omitted. 



208 THF BOOK OF JEREMIAH [xxvii. 16-19 

saying, Thus saith the Lord : Hearken not to the words of your 
prophets that prophesy unto you, saying, Behold, the vessels of 
the Lord's house shall now shortly be brought again from Baby- 
lon: for they prophesy a lie unto you. 17 Hearken not unto 
them; serve the king of Babylon, and live: wherefore should 
this city become a desolation? 18 But if they be prophets, and 
if the word of the Lord be with them, let them now make inter- 
cession to the Lord of hosts, that the vessels which are left in 
the house of the Lord, and in the house of the king of Judah, 
and at Jerusalem, go not to Babylon. 19 For thus saith the 
Lord of hosts concerning the pillars, and concerning the sea, and 

18. Jeremiah is just as willing to be definite as his rivals. For 
the sarcasm which underlies his answer cf. Elijah and the prophets of 
Baal (1 K. xviii. 27)\ 

19 — 22. In Lxx. these vv. appear as follows (the spaces represent 
words found in MT.) : ' i^w thus saith the Lord .. .concerning the residue 
of the vessels. . .which. . .the king of Babylon took not., when he carried 
away captive Jeconiah...from Jerusalem.... They shall be carried to 
Babylon... saith tJie Lord J The two texts agree in foretelling the 
removal of the vessels to Babylon, the MT. alone speaks of their 
return. It is possible that the Heb. represents the original and that 
LXX. omitted part of it on account of the statement in Hi. 17 (=2 K. 
XXV. 13) that certain of the vessels were broken up by the conquerors 
of Jerusalem and taken away as scrap metal. 

19. the pillars. The manufacture of these pillars is described in 
1 K. vii. 15 — 22 (2 Chr. iii. 15—17) where see Dr Barnes' notes. 
They were two in number and probably stood at a little distance from 
the front of the temple. It is generally thought that these pillars are 
representations of the sacred trees so typical of Semitic altars ^ 

the sea. Cf. 1 K. vii. 23 — 26. The molten sea was a large basin 
supported, until the time of Ahaz (see 2 K. xvi. 17), upon the backs of 
twelve oxen. The meaning of it has been lost, Josephus, for example, 
could only account for its name 'because of its great size' {Antiq. 

1 The form -lisln really stands for -INIl 3 m.p. Qal; cf. -IIT in Ps. Iviii. 4. 

2 Robertson Smith points out that 'the details of the capitals... are those of 
huge candles or cressets. They had bowls (1 Kgs. vii. 41) like those of the golden 
candlestick (Zech. iv. 3), and gratings like those of an altar hearth. They seem 
therefore to have been built on the model of those altar candlesticks which we find 
represented on Phoenician monuments; see CIS. Pt. i. pi. 29, and Perrot and 
Chipiez, Hist, de VArt, vol. in. figs. 81 sqq. The similarity to a candlestick, 
which strikes us in the description of the Hebrew pillars, is also notable in the twin 
detached pillars which are represented on coins as standing before the temple at 
Paphos.' Rel. Sem." p. 488. This suggestion is interesting in view of Grotius' 
idea that the Heb. word D''3?3n ('glowing ones') translated ' sun images' in Is. 
xvii. 10, xxvii. 9, &c. actually represents irvpela. 



XXVII. 19-22] THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH 209 

concerning the bases, and concerning the residue of the vessels 
that are left in this city, 20 which Nebuchadnezzar king of Baby- 
lon took not, when he carried away captive Jeconiah the son 
of Jehoiakim, king of Judah, from Jerusalem to Babylon, and 
all the nobles of Judah and Jerusalem; 21 yea, thus saith the 
Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, concerning the vessels that are 
left in the house of the Lord, and in the house of the king of 
Judah, and at Jerusalem : 22 They shall be carried to Babylon, 
and there shall they be, until the day that I visit them, saith the 
Lord; then will I bring them up, and restore them to this 
place. 

yiii. iii. 5) ; it is possible that it corresponded to the sacred lake found 
in front of some Egyptian temples. 

the bases. The ten carriages for holding the la vers are called bases. 
For a description of them see 1 K. vii. 27 — 37, with Dr Barnes' notes, 
and also Stade, ZATW. 1901, pp. 145—190. 

20. nobles. The word here used in MT. O'ln is late and of Aramaic 
origin. It occurs in 1 K. xxi. 8, 11, but its presence there is due, 
according to Cornill, to the North Israelite origin of the narrative. 

22. Jewish speculation was never tired of inventing legends con- 
nected with the fate of the temple vessels. According to 2 K. xxiv. 13 
all the golden vessels made by Solomon were cut up when Jerusalem 
was taken during the reign of Jehoiachin. These were replaced by 
silver ones, according to Baruch i. 8 f , and these latter vessels, which 
Nebuchadrezzar had captured in 587, were restored to Jerusalem whilst 
Jehoiachin was still alive (cf. v. 3). This tradition seems to contradict 
Jeremiah's forecast, and to be in conflict with Ezra i. 7 — 11 which 
states that Cyrus restored to the returning exiles the vessels of the 
house of the Lord which Nebuchadrezzar had taken away ; however 
as Jehoiachin was born in 615 it is possible that he was still alive in 
536. In the inventory of vv. 9 — 11 the presence of so many articles of 
gold is hard to reconcile with 2 K. xxiv. 13 (quoted above) and with 
Hag. ii. 6 — 8 from which ' it is a fair inference that in the second year 
of Darius there was little or no gold or silver in the Temple at Jeru- 
salem.' Kennett, Schweich Lectures, p. 33. According to 2 Mace. ii. 
4 — 8 Jeremiah himself hid the tabernacle, the ark and the altar of 
incense in a cavern ; whilst another tradition says that angels descended 
and rescued all the vessels from the temple and at their command the 
earth opened her mouth and received them (2 Baruch vi. 7 ff.). 



14 



210 THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH [xxviii. 1-3 

Chapter XXVHL 
The case of Hananiah. 

In the previous ch. Jeremiah warned various classes of people both Jew 
and Gentile against trusting in the promises of the prophets who foretold a 
speedy delivery from the yoke of Babylon ; this ch. exhibits the prophet himself 
in active contest with one of these 'false' prophets. The two chh. have other 
connexions besides that of subject matter, and probably in their original form 
composed a single account. As xxvii. now stands it is wTltten mainly in a 
somewhat diffuse style, it seems best, however, following the guide of lxx. to 
cut out certain parts of the ch. and to transpose the heading of xxviii. 1 to 
xxvii. 1. The events recorded in the complete narrative may quite well have 
occurred on the same day. 

{a) Hananiah contradicts Jeremiah and breaks the yoke from off his 
neck. 1 — 11. 

(&) The yoke of wood is to he replaced by one of iron. 12 — 17. 

XXVIII. 1 And it came to pass the same year, in the begin- 
ning of the reign of Zedekiah king of Judah, in the fourth year, 
in the fifth month, that Hananiah the son of Azzur the prophet, 
which was of Gibeon, spake unto me in the house of the Lord, 
in the presence of the priests and of all the people, saying, 
2 Thus speaketh the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, saying, I 
have broken the yoke of the king of Babylon. 3 Within two 

XXVIII. 1 — 11. Hananiah publicly announces that the yoke of 
Babylon has already been broken and that the vessels will be returned 
in two years. 

1. in the beginning .. .fifth month. In lxx. this statement of time 
appears at the head of ch. xxvii. which seems to be its obvious place. 

Hananiah was ' one of the religious fanatics of the national party ' 
as Cornill describes him, and apart from his bold and determined 
acceptance of the challenge which Jeremiah had flun^ down, nothing 
is known of him. In spite of the life-like skill with which he is here 
portrayed, he is really nothing but a specimen of the prophets who 
opposed Jeremiah (see Additional Note, pp. 182 fi'., for a discussion of the 
relation of the various claimants to divine inspiration) ; he is not so 
much a ' false ' prophet as a ' fallen ' prophet ; one who in Cheyne's 
words 'with a light heart made promises in Jehovah's name incon- 
sistent with the moral condition of the people, and therefore not to be 
realised.' 

Gibeon. Probably el-Jib some five miles NW. of Jerusalem, in the 
territory of Benjamin; and the scene of Solomon's dream. 

3. two full years. The exact statement of time added force to 
the prophecy. 



xxviii. 3-9] THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH 211 

full years ^vill I bring again into this place all the vessels of the 
Lord's house, that Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon took away 
from this place, and carried them to Babylon : 4 and I will bring 
again to this place Jeconiah the son of Jehoiakim, king of Judah, 
with all the captives of Judah, that went to Babylon, saith the 
Lord : for I will break the yoke of the king of Babylon. 5 Then 
the prophet Jeremiah said unto the prophet Hananiah in the 
presence of the priests, and in the presence of all the people 
that stood in the house of the Lord, 6 even the prophet Jere- 
miah said, Amen : the Lord do so : the Lord perform thy words 
which thou hast prophesied, to bring again the vessels of the 
Lord's house, and all them of the captivity, from Babylon unto 
this place. 7 Nevertheless hear thou now this word that I speak 
in thine ears, and in the ears of all the people : 8 The prophets 
that have been before me and before thee of old prophesied 
against many countries, and against great kingdoms, of war, and 
of evil, and of pestilence. 9 The prophet which prophesieth of 
peace, when the word of the prophet shall come to pass, then 
shall the prophet be known, Hhat the Lord hath truly sent him. 

1 Or, ichom the Lord hath truly sent 

4. Jeconiah. The restoration of Jeconiah would of course have 
involved the deposition of Zedekiah : it seems strange that any prophet 
should have thus dared to flout Zedekiah in his own capital city; the 
king was, however, no Jehoiakim, and Hananiah ran no danger of 
sharing the fate of Uriah (xxvi. 20 ff.). In v. 6 when Jeremiah takes 
up the words of Hananiah he makes no mention of Jeconiah. 

6. Amen: the Lord do so. Probably Jeremiah uttered these words 
with regret; not with the sarcasm or mockery which Micaiah shewed 
on a similar occasion (1 K. xxii. 15). Hananiah's forecast differed 
from his own mainly in its omission of the need for repentance before 
it could be fulfilled. 

7 — 9. The great importance of these vv. for the light which they 
throw on the nature of OT. prophecy has been recognised on all sides ; 
two great principles are set forth in them : — (a) that the true prophet 
was not one who spoke smooth things, such messages might be delivered 
by an3-one, but he was one who felt compelled to condemn tlie nation's sin, 
even at the risk of his own life ; (b) the prophet of peace can only be 
accepted as genuine when his forecast is confirmed by the event itself; 
it is to be noted that the same test is given in Dt. xviii. 20 ff. (See 
further, Additional Note, pp. 182 ff.) 

9. 0/ peace. In Micah's time the prophets of peace were subsidised 
(iii. 5). 

14—2 



212 THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH [xxviii. lo-i. 

10 Then Hananiah the prophet took the bar from off the prophet 
Jeremiah's neck, and brake it. 11 And Hananiah spake in the 
presence of all the people, saying. Thus saith the Lord : Even so 
will I break the yoke of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon within 
two full years from off the neck of all the nations. And the 
prophet Jeremiah went his way. 12 Then the word of the Lord 

11. Jeremiah went his way. The fact that as far as can be gathered 
from the account Jeremiah made no reply to Hananiah has troubled 
many critics; Cornill and others would reject the above clause as a 
gloss suggested by the command in v. 13 'go and tell.' It must be 
acknowledged that the account as it stands is full of difficulty, and 
that it is hard to account for the action of Jeremiah. To the onlooker 
his silence could have but one meaning — that he was unable to defend 
himself, and if he did this voluntarily it would mean, as Cornill says, 
that ' he had denied his God and given up his people to a lie.' Various 
reasons have been put forward to account for the prophet's conduct; 
it has been suggested that he lost his confidence in the reality of his 
own message in face of the certainty and confidence of Hananiah ; but 
such an idea can hardly be considered in a man of Jeremiah's ex- 
perience ; that he had to wait for a direct message from God in reply 
to Hananiah, and this explanation seems to fit in with v. 12 in which 
the contest is renewed at the command of God ; but surely Jeremiah 
would not need any 'special' revelation before he opposed teaching 
which was in such violent contradiction to his own, and which he had 
already, as it were, condemned by anticipation. In the opinion of the 
present writer the last fact supplies a clue to the right solution. It is 
a sufficient answer to Cornill's arguments to point out that Jeremiah 
had so often and so strongly expressed his opinion on the teaching of 
the prophets of peace, that no one would for a moment imagine that 
he had been at last convinced by them ; probably in sheer weariness, 
and hopeless of making any impression on minds so utterly perverted, 
he turned away in sorrow and disgust (cf similar actions by our 
Blessed Lord, Jn. viii. 25); and one may be sure that his attitude 
towards the matter in dispute would not have been misunderstood by 
any of those present, for doubtless he expressed his own feelings in his 
face, if not by an outward gesture ; his attitude it seems to me is that 
of Hos. iv. 17 'Ephraim is joined to idols; let him alone.' There is 
another possible explanation which, though it is not immediately 
suggested by the text, is in agreement with the sequence of events 
there related, and that is, that the emotional act of Hananiah inspired 
the crowd to such an extent, and they were evidently sympathetic, 
that the life of Jeremiah was in danger, or at any rate they were in 
such a mood that any further protest on the prophet's part could have 
done no possible good. It is only necessary to think of the conduct of 
an English crowd towards an unpopular speaker to reahse the likelihood 



xxviii. 12-17] THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH 213 

came unto Jeremiah, after that Hananiah the prophet had broken 
the bar from off the neck of the prophet Jeremiah, saying, 
13 Go, and tell Hananiah, saying. Thus saith the Lord: Thou 
hast broken the bars of wood ; but thou shalt make in their stead 
bars of iron. 14 For thus saith the Lord of hosts, the God of 
Israel: I have put a yoke of iron upon the neck of all these 
nations, that they may serve Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon ; 
and they shall serve him : and I have given him the beasts of 
the field also. 1 5 Then said the prophet Jeremiah unto Hananiah 
the prophet. Hear now, Hananiah ; the Lord hath not sent thee ; 
but thou makest this people to trust in a lie. 16 Therefore thus 
saith the Lord, Behold, I will send thee away from off the face 
of the earth : this year thou shalt die, because thou hast spoken 
rebellion against the Lord. 17 So Hananiah the prophet died 
the same year in the seventh month. 

of this explanation, and the fact tliat the men of Judah were much less 
highly civilised adds probability to it (cf. Mk. xv. 5 ; Lk. iv. 30). 
12 — 17. The yoke of wood is replaced by one of iron. 

13. tell Hananiah. Cf. the reply of Rehoboam ' My father chas- 
tised you with whips, but I will chastise you with scorpions.' (1 K. 
xii. 14; cf. Am. v. 19). 

thou shalt make. Read with lxx. I will make (cf. v. 14). 

14. The last part of this v. from and they shall serve is not found 
in LXX. 

16. I will send thee away. The Lord had not sent him {v. 15) but 
He will send him away. Hitzig. 

because... the Lord. lxx. omits. The phrase has possibly been 
interpolated from Dt. xiii. 5, where, however, it refers to the crime of 
idolatry. Zedekiah would be guilty of rebellion if he followed Hananiah's 
guidance on two grounds : (a) Nebuchadrezzar was God's servant (xxvii. 
6); (6) Zedekiah had sworn a solemn oath to obey him (Ez. xvii. 13 f.). 

17. the seventh month. Jeremiah's forecast was uttered not earlier 
than the fifth month {v. 1), the fulfilment of it was therefore very 
speedy. The fact of Hananiah's death is accepted by Giesebrecht, 
Dulim and Cornill; Cheyne doubted the truth of the narrative in The 
Decline and Fall of the Kingdom of Judah, p. 77, but in The Two 
Religions of Israel, p. 58, he treats it as a possible case of second sight 
and compares a somewhat similar incident in Adamnan's Life of St 
Columba (quoted by Peake). In many cases where the Divine judgement 
is declared against some notable offender there is no record, as there 
is here, of its having been carried out; this is not a sign that God's 
word was not fulfilled, rather the contrary, for as Pusey says (Joel and 
Amos, p. 39), 'At times, as in the case of Hananiah, Scripture records 



214 THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH [xxix. i 

the individual fulfilment of God's judgments. Mostly, it passes by- 
unnoticed the execution of God's sentence. The sentence of the 
criminal, unless reprieved, in itself implies the execution. The fact 
impressed those who witnessed it; the record of the judgment suffices 
for us.' 

Chapter XXIX. 

The Letter to the Exiles. 

The contest with Hananiah and his brethren in Judah did not exhaust 
Jeremiah's efforts against those whom he considered to be unworthy repre- 
sentatives of Jehovah. The vain hopes which were fostered amongst the people 
in Palestine by the 'false prophets' were also to be found amongst that part of 
the nation which had gone into captivity after the first fall of Jerusalem. 
Accordingly, Jeremiah took advantage of an embassy from the king to Nebu- 
chadrezzar to send a letter on his own account to the exiles in Babylon, warning 
them against the teaching of those who foretold a speedy return to their own 
land. The date of this letter (the genuineness of which, apart from some later 
additions, is admitted by most critics) is probably to be sought in the early part 
of the reign of Zedekiah before his visit to Babylon (li. 59), and soon after the 
arrival of the exiles in their new country. This ch. must therefore be considered 
to be earlier than the two which go before it, and with which it has close 
similarities (see Introd. to the three chh.). The ch. is interesting, in view of the 
great use made of epistles in NT. times, as containing the first recorded example 
of an epistle in the Bible. For other instances in OT. see 2 Ch. xxi. 12, xxx. 1, 
xxxii. 17. 

{a) Introduction. 1 — 3. 

(6) The exiles are told to settle down and not to he deceived hy the 

prophets of lies. 4 — 9. 
{c) Babylon will he supreme for seventy years. 10 — 14. 
{d) The punishment of those left behind in Jerusalem. 15 — 19. 
{e) Condemnation of Ahah and Zedekiah the false prophets. 20—23. 
(/) Condemnation of Shemaiah. 24 — 32. 

XXIX. 1 Nowthese are thewordsofthe letter that Jeremiah 
the prophet sent from Jerusalem unto the residue of the elders 

XXIX. 1. the residue of the elders. The meaning of this phrase 
is obscure, and several critics would follow the reading of Lxx. which 
has the elders only. The objection to this course is that it is easier to 
explain the omission of the residue, granting that it formed part of the 
original text, than it would be to explain its insertion. It is possible 
that some of the elders had been removed from their posts and even 
put to death by the Babylonians, and that Jeremiah's letter is a warning 
to the remainder. For the condition of the exiles see note, pp. 222 f. 



XXIX. 1-6] THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH 215 

of the captivity, and to the priests, and to the prophets, and 
to all the people, whom Nebuchadnezzar had carried away 
captive from Jerusalem to Babylon : 2 (after that Jeconiah 
the king, and the queen-mother, and the eunuchs, and the 
princes of Judah and Jerusalem, and the craftsmen, and the 
smiths, were departed from Jerusalem ;) 3 by the hand of Elasah 
the son of Shaphan, and Gemariah the son of Hilkiah, (whom 
Zedekiah king of Judah sent unto Babylon to Nebuchadnezzar 
king of Babylon,) saying, 4 Thus saith the Lord of hosts, the 
God of Israel, unto all the captivity, whom I have caused to be 
carried away captive from Jerusalem unto Babylon : 5 Build ye 
houses, and dwell in them ; and plant gardens, and eat the fruit 
of them ; 6 take ye wives, and beget sons and daughters ; and 

2. This V. which is evidently dependent on xxiv. 1, and 2 K. xxiv. 
12 fF. reads like an interpolation. 

queen-mother. See on xiii. 18f. 
smiths. See on xxiv. 1. 

3. Elasah. Probably the brother of Ahikam the son of Shaphan 
who befriended Jeremiah (xxvi. 24); the ambassadors must have been 
well disposed to the prophet to be entrusted with his message. 

Gemariah. Possibly the son of that Hilkiah who discovered the 
roll in the temple (2 K. xxii. 8). 

sent unto Babylon. Perhaps bearing the annual tribute. 

4 — 9. The exiles are advised to make Babylon their home and to 
identify themselves with its fortunes. Some of the people and their 
descendants took the prophet's advice so much to heart that they 
refused to return even at the end of the exile; and it was probably to 
influence such that the apocryphal Epistle of Jeremiah was written 
(see Oxford Apocr. i. pp. 596 ff.). 

5. gardens. When Alexander the Great occupied Babylon, he and 
his servants ' were drawn to experiment in the acclimatizing of the 
plants of their native land. In this they had been anticipated to some 
extent by the old Eastern kings, who were zealous to collect fauna and 
flora of remote countries in their gardens.' Edwyn Bevan, The House 
of Seleucus, i. p. 246; cf. Tiele, Babyl.-assyr. Gesch. p. 603. According 
to Strabo xv. 731 the vine was one of the trees so experimented with; 
possibly its cultivation had already been tried by some of the Jewish 
exiles. 

6. Not only were the exiles to build and to plant but they were 
also to marry and 'to settle down.' Cornill has suggested that this 
was a command to take wives of the Babylonian women, but the double 
form of the phrase take wives for your sons, and give your daughters to 
husbands seems to contradict his supposition that there would not be 
enough Jewish wives for all the exiles (cf. Dt. vii. 3). 



216 THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH [xxix. 6-.0 

take wives for your sons, and give your daughters to husbands, 
that they may bear sons and daughters ; and multiply ye there, 
and be not diminished. 7 And seek the peace of the city whither 
I have caused you to be carried away captive, and pray unto the 
Lord for it: for in the peace thereof shall ye have peace. 8 For 
thus saith the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel : Let not your 
prophets that be in the midst of you, and your diviners, deceive 
you, neither hearken ye to your dreams which ye ^ cause to be 
dreamed. 9 For they prophesy falsely unto you in my name: 
I have not sent them, saith the Lord. 10 For thus saith the 

1 Or, dream 

multiply. God's promise to Abraham was also a command. 

7. seek the peace of the city. Both the Old and the New Testament 
recognise the duty of loyalty to the existing form of political govern- 
ment, provided it really carries out its responsibilities (Matt. xxii. 31 ; 
1 Tim. ii. 2; 1 Pet. ii. 13—17)'. The city need not be limited to 
Babylon, the exiles were probably divided up into a number of bodies 
to prevent treachery, and scattered in different places, lxx. reading 
land has much to recommend it. 

/ have caused. Notice the stress here and in v. 4 which the prophet 
lays upon the ultimate cause of the captivity being Jehovah Himself; 
this teaching is the real basis of his advice to dwell in Babylon as being 
the place in which God has put them. 

8. dreams. See on xxiii. 25. 

ye cause to he dreamed. The MT. as it stands is not good Hebrew 
and possibly owes its form to dittography; by striking out the initial 
letter of the verb, ye dream is read (so lxx., Syr. and Vg.). The 
original text suggests that the people asked the prophets to make them 
the subjects of their dreams so as to be able to give them the advice 
they needed. Cornill would read they dream, making the dream refer 
to the false prophets as in xxiii. 25 ff., cf also Dt. xiii. 2 if. 

10 — 14. The seventy years of the Babylonian supremacy must be 
fulfilled. Jeremiah's message to the captives must have been very 
disappointing to many of them, who were doubtless living in almost 
daily expectation of some event which would bring their captivity to 
an end, and vindicate Jehovah's power by the annihilation of His 
enemies. 

^ Many instances could be cited to shew the way in which the later Jews fulfilled 
the spirit of Jeremiah's command. In Ezra vi. 10 Cyrus is represented as asking 
for the prayers of the people, and according to 1 Mace. vii. 33 offerings were made 
for the Syrian monarchs (so in Eip. Ari&t. 45). The writer of Bar. ii. 21 ff. was 
probably thinking of the above command when he denounced rebellion against the 
heathen king as rebellion against God (cf. also i. 10 ff.). Later instances of the 
same attitude can be found in Joseph, de Bell. Jud. ii. xvii. 2, and Contra Ap. ii. 6 ; 
and in tlie Mishnah : ' Pray for the welfare of the government, since but for the 
fear thereof men would swallow each other alive,' Ahoth, iii. 2. 



XXIX. io-n] THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH 217 

Lord, After seventy years be accomplished for Babylon, I will 
visit you, and perform my good word toward you, in causing you 
to return to this place. 1 1 For I know the thoughts that I think 
toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, 
to give you ^hope in your latter end. 12 And ye shall call upon 
me, and ye shall go and pray unto me, and I will hearken unto 
you. 13 And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search 
for me with all your heart. 14 And I will be found of you, saith 
the Lord, and I will ^turn again your captivity, and I will gather 
you from all the nations, and from all the places whither I have 

^ Heb. a latter end and hope. ^ Or, return to 

10. seventy years. In xxv. 11 the same period is mentioned as 
the length of time to be fulfilled before the Babylonian dominion would 
come to an end. The prophet is therefore using round numbers. In 
point of fact the Babylonian supremacy lasted roughly from 607, the 
date of the Fall of Nineveh (or from the battle of Carchemish in 605) 
till 538. The captivity lasted either sixty-one years, that is from the 
first capture of Jerusalem in 597 to the approximate date of the first 
return in 536; or if the date of the second capture be taken as the 
starting point, fifty years only. 

11. God's purposes for Israel are for their well being, and at the 
latter end the misfortunes of the nation will be seen to have been part 
of its necessary training. Cf Dt. viii. 16. 

hope... end. Dr Streane compares mg. a latter end and hope ^\\h. 
Prov. xxiii. 18, xxiv. 14, 20. 

12 — 14. Lxx. text for these vv. is much shorter, omitting v. 12 up 
to go and the whole of v. 14 after / vyiU he found of you. 

13. There is much pathos in this v. when one thinks of the 
prophet's condemnation of the Israelite worship, and their half-hearted- 
ness, or as St .lames would call it ' double-mindedness ' (cf i. 5 — 8), 
in seeking God. Cf Hos. v. 15 'in their affliction they will seek me 
earnestly' and contrast Is. Ixvi. 1. 

14. turn... captivity. The Heb. of this expression was generally 
understood in this sense by the older writers ; Ewald, however, ques- 
tioned it, and suggested that the literal meaning was turn a turn, that 
is to say restore the fortune. Since his time most critics have accepted 
the rendering he proposed, Driver, for example, in commenting on 
Dt. XXX. 3 says, ' Whether n-n^' be derived from n2L*' or ^-It^ the 'ex- 
pression does not mean * bring hack thy captives ' : it is used commonly 
with reference to a decisive turn, or change, in a people's fortune. 
Here, as also Jer. xxix. 14, xxx. 3; Ez. xxix. 14, the return from 
captivity is mentioned separately afterwards.' In some passages the 
old rendering is only possible when taken in a metaphorical sense (as 
Ez. xvi. 53 ; Job xhi. 10). 



218 THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH [xxix. 14-20 

driven you, saith the Lord ; and I will bring you again unto the 
place whence I caused you to be carried away captive. 15 For 
ye have said, Tlie Lord hath raised us up prophets in Babylon. 
16 For thus saith the Lord concerning the king that sitteth upon 
the throne of David, and concerning all the people that dwell in 
this city, your brethren that are not gone forth with you into 
captivity ; 17 thus saith the Lord of hosts: Behold, I will send 
upon them the sword, the famine, and the pestilence, and will 
make them like vile figs, that cannot be eaten, they are so bad. 
18 And I will pursue after them with the sword, with the famine, 
and with the pestilence, and will deliver them to be Hossed to 
and fro among all the kingdoms of the earth, to be an execration, 
and an astonishment, and an hissing, and a reproach, among all 
the nations whither I have driven them: 19 because they have 
not hearkened to my words, saith the Lord, wherewith I sent 
unto them my servants the prophets, rising up early and sending 
them; but ye would not hear, saith the Lord. 20 Hearyethere- 

1 Or, a terror unto 

_ 15—19. The punishment of those left behind in Jerusalem. Cf. 
xxiv. 8 — 10. These vv. seem to have got out of their context and can 
hardly be retained as part of the genuine text. lxx. omits vv. 16 — 19 
and also v. 20, v. 15 then connects quite smoothly with vv. 21 ff.'; in 
Lucian's recension vv. 16 — 20 are found before v. 15. Driver looks 
upon the vv. as of Babylonian origin, and thinks that they were in- 
corporated into the book from an exilic version of the letter. 

16. the king: i.e. Zedekiah. 

17. vile figs. The way in which this figure is referred to seems to 
presuppose a knowledge of xxiv. 2—8; there is however no insuperable 
difficulty in the way of admitting such knowledge on the part of the 
exiles. 

_ 18. / have driven them. The writer seems to see things from the 
point of view of one who could look back on the second deportation. 

19. ye ivoxdd not hear. The words must be addressed to those 
who remained behind and are therefore unsuitable in a letter sent to 
Babylon. In this and the previous v. the interpolator, as Cornill says, 
has forgotten his assumed situation. 

20 — 23. The condemnation of Ahab and Zedekiah. These vv. are 
probably a response to the boast on the part of the exiles that the Lord 
had raised up prophets amongst them (see Introd. to vv. 15—19). 



^ It should not be overlooked, however, that lxx. omission can be accounted for 
by the scribe's eye having wandered from Babylon in v. 15 to Babylon in v. 20. 



XXIX. 2o-i|. THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH 219 

fore the wj^d of the Lord, all ye of the captivity, whom I have 
sent away from Jerusalem to Babylon. 

21 Thiis saith the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, concerning 
Ahab the' son of Kolaiah, and concerning Zedekiah the son of 
Maaseiah, which prophesy a lie unto you in my name : Behold, 
I will deliver them into the hand of Nebuchadrezzar king of 
Babylon ; and he shall slay them before your eyes ; 22 and of 
them shall be taken up a curse by all the captives of Judah which 
are in Babylon, saying. The Lord make thee like Zedekiah and 
like Ahab, whom the king of Babylon roasted in the fire: 
23 because they have wrought folly in Israel, and have committed 
adultery with their neighbours' wives, and have spoken words in 
my name falsely, which I commanded them not ; and I am he 
that knoweth, and am vritness, saith the Lord. 

\ . . . 

20. This V. is best eiSlained as being a link to connect the inter- 
polation with what follows-ait is missing from lxx. 

21. Ahab. .. Zedekiah. ^These two prophets are but names and 
symbols of punishment; ifehing is known about them and in LXX. 
even the names of their fa%ers are omitted. The punishment which 
they underwent was not, apMrently, a Jewish one, as the appropriate 
punishment under the law, except in certain unusual cases (cf Lev. xx. 
14, xxi. 9) was stoning (Ez. xvi. 38, &c.)^ In any case Nebuchadrezzar 
would hardly be likely to put these men to death for such an offence ; 
they must have incurred his wrath for some political crime such as 
stirring up the people against the Babylonian rule. The event seems 
to have made a great impression on the mind of the Jews and later 
tradition gave the names of Ahab and Zedekiah to the two elders in 
Susanna, probably on account of the similarity of their fate. 

22. a curse. As the Heb. for curse is kglalah a play on Kolaiah 
is perhaps intended, and also on kalah = roasted. 

roasted. Cf the fate of the seven brethren (2 Mace. vii. 3 ff.). 

23. The combination of immorality with a presumptuous claim to 
speak in the name of God was also a mark of the prophets condemned 
by Jeremiah in xxiii. 14. 

folli/, in Heb. has not quite the same meaning as in English; the 
fool is not merely one who lacks wisdom, but also one whose moral 
faculties are blunted (cf Ps. xiv. 1). 

he that knoweth. This phrase is absent from lxx. and may be an 
interpolation ; the idea underlying it is not uncommon (cf Ex. ii. 25 ; 
Hos. V. 3 ; Nah. i. 7). 

^ Burning was also an exceptional punishment under the Code of Hammurabi 
(see § 157). In Jubilees xx. 4 burning is stated to be the normal punishment for 
fornication. 



220 THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH [xxix. .4-26 

24 And ^concerning Shemaiah the Nehelamite thou shalt 
speak, saying, 25 Thus speaketh the Lord of hosts, the God of 
Israel, saying, Because thou hast sent letters in thine own name 
unto all the people that are at Jerusalem, and to Zephaniah the 
son of Maaseiah the priest, and to all the priests, saying, 26 The 
Lord hath made thee priest in the stead of Jehoiada the priest, 
that ye should be officers in the house of the Lord, for every man 

1 Or, unto 

24 — 32. The condemnation of Shemaiah. The letter which Jere- 
miah sent to the exiles naturally caused much consternation amongst 
the prophets who were condemned by it, and one of them, Shemaiah 
the Nehelamite, attempted to have Jeremiah arrested and punished. 

The section as it stands is in a state of great confusion and can 
hardly be original. Four strata, as it were, of speech are represented ; 
(a) the Lord speaks, (b) Jeremiah is to hand on what He says, (c) this 
includes what Shemaiah wrote, (d) which repeats Jeremiah's words. 
The first part of v. 25, which is addressed to Shemaiah, is not con- 
sistent with V. 29, in which the letter from him is read to Jeremiah, 
apparently for the first time. The best solution of the difficulty is 
perhaps to strike out v. 25 a and to turn the rest of the v. into the 
third person, retaining the words concerning Shemaiah the Nehelamite 
iv. 24) as a heading to the section, lxx. has the matter of this passage 
arranged in a different order from MT., but it gives no help towards 
making the confusion any less. 

24. Shemaiah the Nehelamite. Nothing is known of this man, and 
it is uncertain whether his designation is a family or a geographical one. 

25. in thine own name. Not in the name of God; perhaps this 
statement is not intended to be taken literally, Shemaiah would doubt- 
less have claimed that he was acting quite as much as was Jeremiah 
under the guidance of God. 

unto all... Jerusalem. This phrase together with and to all the 
priests is omitted by lxx., and rightly so as the actual contents of the 
letter shew. 

Zephaniah. Also mentioned in xxi. 1 (where see note) and xxxvii. 3 
as being sent to ask for an oracle from Jeremiah; and in lii. 24 ff. 
(= 2 K. xxv. 18 ff.) as being put to death by Nebuchadrezzar. In this 
latter passage he is called ' the second priest.' 

Maaseiah. Also the name of the father of Zedekiah the prophet 
{v. 21), though in that context he is not called the priest. 

26. Jehoiada. the priest. Probably the high priest of the reign of 
Joash is meant (cf 2 K. xi. 18). 

officers. There is little doubt that the singular should here be read 
with LXX., Targ., Syr., &c. The Heb. word used, D^pa, is the same as that 
applied to Pashhur in xx. 1 , though in his case the word n^jj (translated 
'chief in RV.) is added; probably the offices were the same, in view 



XXIX. 26-3i] THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH 221 

that is mad, and maketh himself a prophet, that thou shouldest 
put him in the stocks and in ^shackles. 27 Now therefore, why 
hast thou not rebuked Jeremiah of Anathoth, which maketh 
himself a prophet to you, 28 forasmuch as he hath sent unto us 
in Babylon, saying, The ccqMvity is long : build ye houses, and 
dwell in them ; and plant gardens, and eat the fruit of them ? 
29 And Zephaniah the priest read this letter in the ears of 
Jeremiah the prophet. 30 Then came the word of the Lord unto 
Jeremiah, saying, 31 Send to all them of the captivity, saying. 
Thus saith the Lord concerning Shemaiah the Nehelamite: 

^ Or, the collar 

of the similarity of their functions, but the matter is by no means 
certain. 

mad. Cf the question in 2 K. ix. 1 1 ' wherefore came this mad 
fellow to thee ? ' Eastern peoples, even to the present day, look upon 
madmen as in some sense inspired, and the same thought evidently 
underlies the use of fxdvri<; (from fxatvo/xai. to rage furiously , he mad) for 
a soothsayer or prophet amongst the Greeks. 

stocks. See note on xx. 2. 

shackles. The exact meaning of the Heb. is not certain and the 
word is not found elsewhere ; mg. collar is from a cognate Arabic word 
and probably better represents the original. 

27. maketh himself a prophet. Better behaves like a prophet. The 
temple authorities quite evidently had no sympathy with the ' dervish- 
like' excesses of the prophets (cf 1 S. x. 10, 12 f, xvii. 10, xix. 20 ff.). 
The priests as a body despised the prophets — that is those of them who 
were not subservient to themselves — and looked upon them as mad 
enthusiasts. In just the same way the philosophers and poets of 
ancient Greece were in constant antagonism (cf. Plato, Reimh. x. 607 b)^. 
The poets, for their part, mostly attacked the ' sophistical ' upholders 
of systems and in doing so exhibited remarkable affinities to the 
prophets of Israel. The guardians of the established order, and es- 
pecially of religious order, are at all times suspicious of the unusual; 
or as a modern writer has well said ' are so [much] afraid of religious 
vagu,ries and so little afraid of religious stagnation^.' At the same 
time there is another side of the case, and so fervent an evangelist as 
St Paul had to warn his converts that ' the spirits of the prophets are 
subject to the prophets ' (1 Cor. xiv. 32). 



^ See the first of Mr James Adam's Gifford Lectures on The Religious Teachers 
of Greece entitled ' The place of Poetry and Philosophy in the Development of 
Greek Religious Thought.' 

" Walter Rauschenbusch, Christianity and the Social Crisis, p. 339. 



222 THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH [xxix. 31, 32 

Because that Shemaiah hath prophesied unto you, and I sent him 
not, and he hath caused you to trust in a lie ; 32 therefore thus 
saith the Lord, Behold, I will punish Shemaiah the Nehelamite, 
and his seed ; he shall not have a man to dwell among this people, 
neither shall he behold the good that I will do unto my people, 
saith the Lord: because he hath spoken rebellion against the 
Lord. 

32. he shall not. ..the good. It is hard to understand this statement 
as it stands. What is meant by the good which God will do to His 
people? It can hardly refer to the restoration, which was according 
to Jeremiah's own teaching to be delayed for seventy years, for 
Shemaiah would have no reasonable expectation of living to see that 
event. The punishment should therefore be applied to the seed as is 
done by lxx. which reads there shall not be a man of them in the midst 
of you to see the good. 



Additional Note on xxix. L 

The Condition of the Exiles. 

The Babylonians in their foreign policy were not so rigorous or so crufel as 
the Assyrians, they did not sweep away entire populations and substitute 
strangers for them. Their object after the fall of Jerusalem was to render 
Judah powerless by the removal of the nation's leaders and its warriors. The 
number of captives was therefore comparatively small, according to 2 K. xxiv. 16 
eight thousand men (v. 14 gives the number as teu thousand), and according 
to Jer. lii. 28 three thousand and twenty-three Jews only. In some cases the 
captives were allowed to take their families ttith them (which probably accounts 
for the difference in the above figures), but this was not so in every instance 
(cf. Ez. xxiv. 21). It should be noticed in passing that the policy of Babylon 
was not successful ; the remnant prospered in an amapng way and the nation 
soon recovered its strength. When the yoke of Babylon was eventually thrown 
off in 588 Jerusalem oftered a more determined resistance, though defended 
by a remnant only, than it had done during the first siege. 

The land to which the Hebrews were taken was noted for its fertility and 
wealth. 'It was... to the very centre of the world — the most populous and busy 
part of His earth — to which God sent His people for their exile.' If the treat- 
ment of Jehoiachin is any guide it is probable that the exiles of the first 
deportation were well treated. They were not looked upon as slaves and 
distributed amongst a number of private masters, but were allowed to retain 
some form of self-government, living probably in fairly large communities under 
the rule of elders (xxix. 1 ; Ez. iii. 15, viii. 1, xiv. 1) as in the early days of the 



THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH 223 

nation before the establishment of the monarchy. Their life would be very 
little diflFerent from that of the ordinary villager though probably somewhat 
strange to the aristocratic Jews who formed the bulk of the exiles. Many of 
them were doubtless employed on the large building and irrigating schemes 
which were then being carried on in Babylon ; many of them seem to have 
taken to trade on their own account ; and some of them, perhaps in rather later 
times, had sufBcient leisure to lay the foundation of the literary activity which 
made the exile period of so much value in the religious development of the 
nation. 

The religious life of the exiles was rendered diflBcult by reason of their 
separation from Jerusalem and their dwelling in 'an unclean land.' The faith 
of many of them must have been severely tried by the fall of Jerusalem, and by 
what seemed to them the evident inability of Jehovah to protect His worshippers 
when confronted by the servants of Bel and Marduk ; the elaborate and stately 
ritual must have tempted many into disloyalty ; and the whole system of de- 
portation, whether deliberately planned or not, must have tended to make the 
old worship impossible, and so to undermine the very existence of the nation. 
Many nations did, indeed, entirely disappear when subjected to this fate. 

One effect of the first deportation was to divide the nation into two halves 
between whom there was apparently much ill-feeling. That the relations of the 
exiles and the remnant should be unfriendly is not really surprising. On the 
one side those who had been carried away were the pick of the nation, the 
nobles, the craftsmen and the priests, and they would naturally look down on 
their low-born and inexperienced successors. This feeling of antagonism would 
be reinforced by the events preceding the deportation when the exiles were 
forced to get rid of their property, almost certainly at very low prices. The 
remnant, on their side, looked upon their survival in the land as due to their 
greater holiness and despised the exiles accordingly (cf. xxiv. and the prophet's 
own opinion). In spite of these differences there was much that was similar in 
the two communities; they both hoped for speedy deliverance; the temple at 
Jerusalem in spite of its having been looted was still held to be the guarantee . 
of God's protection and of national restoration (cf xxvii. 16). Hopes such as 
these were fostered and perhaps originated, in both Babylon and Palestine, by 
the false prophets ; and in each case these prophets were opposed by a single 
true prophet, by Ezekiel in Babylon and by Jeremiah in Jerusalem. 



CHAPTERS XXX.— XXXHL 

Critics of an older generation considered that these four chh. formed a 
united whole, and at first sight there is much to be said for this view. The 
prevailing gloom, which overspreads the authentic prophecies of Jeremiah in 
the previous portion of the book, seems here to lift for a while, and these 
utterances are marked by a spirit of hope and expectancy, and by the promise 



224 THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH 

of coming good. A closer examination of the passages, however, soon reveals 
the fact that much of the matter contained in them cannot readily be attributed 
to Jeremiah, nor to anyone living in his day, and that vi^hatever unity they 
possess is editorial rather than original. It is, however, convenient to group 
the chh. together for the purpose of analysis. Payne Smith divides them up as 
follows : 

' A triumphal hymn of Israel's salvation.' xxx., xxxi. 
The purchase of the field at Anathoth. xxxii. 

A direct promise of the return of the nation and of the restoration of the 
Davidic throne, xxxiii. 



Chapters XXX., XXXI. 

The Glories of the Future. 

These two chh. form a literary unity and are so treated by all critics ; they 
shew one side of the picture of which xlvi. — li. gives the other, here blessings 
are promised to the oppressed people, there punishment is to fall on the sur- 
rounding nations. Their position immediately after xxix. 32 is almost certainly 
due, as Cornill says, to the fact that they describe 'the good' which Shemaiah, 
or more probably his descendants, was to forfeit (see above). As they break the 
continuous series of narratives which stretch from xxiv. to xliv. and themselves 
consist entirely of prophecies or spoken words some such explanation of their 
position is necessary. 

The hopeful tone of these chh., the evident fact that they come from a time 
when Jerusalem had fallen (xxx. 18, xxxi. 40), and that if they are a unity they 
presuppose a Palestinian origin (xxxi. 8, 21), has led many critics to reject 
them in toto. Stade, and Smend, and more recently, H. P. Smith are amongst 
this class; the latter says 'in the book of Jeremiah, we have the complete 
Messianic programme set forth in language that we cannot possibly suppose to 
have been used by that preacher (Jer. 30 and 31),' The Religion of Israel, 
pp. 245 f This manner of dealing with the passage has seemed to many critics 
too sweeping, and they would retain part at any rate of the chh., especially the 
poetic portions, as coming from the prophet. Movers noticing the similarity of 
some of the utterances to the later chh. of Isaiah, separated them and attributed 
them to the writer of those chh. ; Graf however thought that the indebtedness 
was the other way, and that the passages in Jeremiah are the original and were 
copied by later writers. It must be confessed that a great deal of uncertainty 
exists as to the authenticity of much of the section ; there is little doubt that it 
contains later additions, but it is also probable that much which has been 
rejected by some critics is genuine; the fact, for example, that the chh. come 
from some writer living in Palestine subsequent to the fall of Jerusalem does 
not absolutely preclude Jeremianic authorship, as the prophet did not go down 
to Egypt at once. The only conclusion that can be safely put forward is that 



XXX. 1-5] THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH 225 

each part of the section must be examined on its own merits ; in other words 
that the chh. are a literary unity and not a single utterance. 

(a) The heading of the prophecies, xxx. 1 — 4. 

(&) Troubles are to come upon all peoples. 5 — 11. 

(c) The restoration of Zion. 12 — 22. 

{d) The storm of God's anger. 23 f. 

(e) The restoration of Ephraim. xxxi. 1 — 9. 

{f) The Lord's purpose is proclaimed to the nations. 10 — 14. 

{g) The sorrou-s of Rachel. 15 — 22. 

iji) The coming blessings on both Israel and Judah. 23 — 30. 

(^) The New Cuvenant with the house of Israel. 31 — 34. 

(J) The stability of Israel. 35—40. 

XXX. 1 The word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord, 
saying, 2 Thus speaketh the Lord, the God of Israel, saying, 
Write thee all the words that I have spoken unto thee in a book. 
3 For, lo, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will Hurn again 
the captivity of my people Israel and Judah, saith the Lord : and 
I will cause them to return to the land that I gave to their fathers, 
and they shall possess it. 

4 And these are the words that the Lord spake concerning 
Israel and concerning Judah. 5 For thus saith the Lord: We 
have heard a voice of trembling, ^of fear, and not of peace. 

^ Or, return to ^ Or, there is fear, and no peace 

XXX. 1 — 4. The heading of the prophecies. This heading is 
probably late and intended to be an introduction to the two chh. 
Graf thought that the glorious picture of Israel's future contained in 
these chh. was intended to form the ending of Jeremiah's roll as issued 
for the second time (xxxvi. 32); it seems as if this introduction was 
written for an utterance put forth after the fall of Jerusalem and in 
view of the return. 

4. these are the words. The vv. following seem to be the contents 
of the book referred to in v. 2. 

5- — 11. This section deals with the judgements coming upon all 
peoples; upon Jacob in order that he may be delivered; upon the 
nations that their yoke may be burst from off his neck. For this 
double function of the judgement Driver compares Is. xiii. 6 — 15 (the 
fall of Babylon), and Is. xiv. 1 f (the salvation of Israel). 

5. thus saith the Lord. As the statement which follows is in the 
1st person plural and obviously unfitted to be a divine utterance, 
the words should be deleted as the addition of a careless scribe, unless 
indeed * Ye say' should be inserted after them. 

E. 15 



'226 THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH [xxx. 6-9 

6 Ask ye now, and see whether a man doth travail with child : 
wherefore do I see every man with his hands on his loins, as a 
woman in travail, and all faces are turned into paleness? 7 Alas ! 
for that day is great, so that none is like it : it is even the time 
of Jacob's trouble ; but he shall be saved out of it. 8 And it 
shall come to pass in that day, saith the Lord of hosts, that I will 
break his yoke from off thy neck, and will burst thy bands ; and 
strangers shall no more serve themselves of him : 9 but they 
shall serve the Lord their God, and David their king, whom I will 

6. ' Men do not suffer the pains of child-bearing ; what, then, is 
the cause of the terror and agony which they are all displaying?' 
Driver. For child-bearing as a type of great pain and terror cf Is. 
xiii. 8, where it is said that 'their faces shall be faces of flame' ; xxi. 3 ; 
and frequently in Ps. and elsewhere ^ 

paleness. The word here used is usually applied to mildew; cf 
Joel ii. 6; Nah. ii. 10. 

7. that day. The day of the Lord; i.e. the time when, in the 
popular imagination, the foes of Israel were to be crushed by the sudden 
intervention of Jehovah Himself See Edghill's note on Am. v. 18 
(where the phrase is first used); and cf Mk. xiii. 7 f , 17 — 20, 24. 

Jacob. A favourite term for Israel in the later chh. of Is. and 
other writings which are usually considered to be of a late date. In 
Is. ii. 5, viii. 17, x. 20 the name is used for Judah onlj^; in Is. ix. 8 
for Ephraim only; the usage in this ch. is a little uncertain, probably 
it includes both branches of the nation (cf v. 4). 

8. The early part of the v. is strongfy reminiscent of Is. x. 27; 
cf also Nah. i. 13. Driver thinks that the sudden and awkward change 
from the 3rd to the 2nd person is due to the influence of the former 
passage, lxx. reads the 3rd person which looks like a correction. 

hands. See on xxvii. 2. 

9. the Lord their God, and David their king. This phrase is also 
found in Hos. iii. 5; Cheyne considers that in each case it is an in- 
sertion (Introd. to Robertson Smith's Prophets', p. xviii.). David 
their king refers to an ideal king of the house of David and not to 
David risen from the dead; the Targum paraphrases 'Messiah the son 
of David, their king.' At the same time, in view of similar legends, 
it is probable that many of the common people liked to think that 
David himself was to return, just as Orthodox Jews, even to the present 
day, look for a literal return of Elijah. It is a remarkable, though 

1 Herodotus records that the Scythians were punished by having birth-pangs 
inflicted upon them for their crime in plundering the temple of Venus at Ascalon 
(i. 105). Prof. R. A. S. Macalister compares the Irish legend of the Tain Bo Cuailuge 
in which the same punishment is brought on the men of Ulster by the curse of 
Macha. Schweich Lectures, p. 94 u. 



XXX. 9-13] THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH 227 

raise up unto them. 10 Therefore fear thou not, O Jacob my 
servant, saith the Lord ; neither be dismayed, Israel : for, lo, 
I will save thee from afar, and thy seed from the land of their 
captivity ; and Jacob shall return, and shall be quiet and at ease, 
and none shall make him afraid. 11 For I am with thee, saith 
the Lord, to save thee : for I will make a full end of all the nations 
whither I have scattered thee, but I will not make a full end of 
thee; but I will correct thee with judgement, and wiU in no wise 
^ leave thee unpunished. 

12 For thus saith the Lord, Thy hurt is incurable, and thy 
wound grievous. 13 There is none to plead ^thy cause, ^that 

^ Or, hold thee guiltless 

2 Or, thy cause : for thy ivound thou hast no medicines nor plaister 

^ Heb. for closing up, or, pressing. 

perhaps not an unnatural, fact that constant and widespread traditions 
exist that certain great rulers and kings are to come back to l^e the 
saviours of their people, as, for example, our own king Arthur, Frederick 
Barbarossa, and also the Moslem belief that the Mahdi will return \ 

10 f These vv. are missing from lxx. though they are found in 
xlvi. 27 f where they recur in the Heb. Driver thinks that they are 
a detached fragment added in both places by the compiler; other critics 
disagree as to which of the places of occurrence is the original, but 
agree in rejecting the Jeremianic authorship. 

Jacob my servant. The phrase is very common in Deutero Isaiah, 
though as Canon Kennett warns us ' we must be on our guard against 
the too common assumption that phrases in the Bible have always 
exactly the same nuance.' The Servant of the L<yrd, p. 8. 

afraid. C£ Is. xvii. 2. 

11. with judgement. Cf. x. 24. 
unpunished. Literally as mg. hold thee guiltless. 

12 — 22. The restoration of Zion. Judah cannot heal her own 
wounds and as all capacity for repentance seems gone there is no hope 
that she will appeal to the only wise physician ; God Himself will 
however interfere on her behalf because of the taunts of the enemy. 

12. Cf. XV. 18 where the prophet uses the same language to de- 
scribe his own sufferings. 

13. to plead thy cause. A forensic metaphor which seems a little 

1 Cf. Miss Gertrude Lowthian Bell's description of the Mosque at Samarra (on 
the Tigris to the north of Baghdad). 'Inside under tiie dome of priceless tiles are 
the tombs of the tenth and eleventh Shi'ah Imams, while the smaller dome of gold 
covers the cleft into which vanished the Mahdi, who will appear again when 
the time is ripe. Therefore when you see black ensigns, black ensigns coming out 
of the East, then go forth and join them ; for the Imam of God will be with those 
standards, and he will fill the world with equity and justice.' Amurath to Amurath, 
p. 212. 

15—2 



228 THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH [xxx. 13-18 

thou mayest be bound up: thou hast no healing medicines. 
14 All thy lovers have forgotten thee; they seek thee not: for 
T have wounded thee with the wound of an enemy, with the 
chastisement of a cruel one ; for the ^greatness of thine iniquity, 
because thy sins were increased. 15 Why criest thou ^for thy 
hurt? thy pain is incurable: for the ^greatness of thine iniquity, 
because thy sins were increased, I have done these things unto 
thee. 16 Therefore all they that devour thee shall be devoured; 
and all thine adversaries, every one of them, shall go into cap- 
tivity ; and they that spoil thee shall be a spoil, and all that prey 
upon thee will I give for a prey. 17 For I will restore ^health 
unto thee, and I will heal thee of thy wounds, saith the Lord ; 
because they have called thee an outcast, saying, It is Zion, 
whom no man ^seeketh after. 18 Thus saith the Lord : Behold, 
I will ^turn again the captivity of Jacob's tents, and have com- 
passion on his dwelling places; and the city shall be builded 
upon her own ^heap, and the palace shall '^ remain after the 

' Or, multitude ^ Or, for thy hurt, because thy pain is incurable ? 

3 See ch. viii. 22. * Or, careth for ^ Or, return to 

® Or, mound Heb. tel. '^ Or, be inhabited 

out of place as the rest of the v. continues the medical language of 
V. 12. Duhm omits, probably correctly. 

The exact meaning of the latter part of the v. is a little uncertain, 
and the mg. seems to give the best translation : for thy wound thou hast 
no medicines nor pkiister. 

14. thy lovers. This may mean either the Baalim or Judah's 
allies, probably the latter. 

16. Therefore. The connexion is ratlier difficult because the sins 
of Zion are apparently made the reason for her restoration. It may be, 
however, that the meaning intended is ' Because of thy great need' &c. 

shall go into captivity, lxx. shall eat their own flesh; this rendering 
which involves only a slight change in Heb. is accepted by Cornill who 
compares Is. xlix. 26 ; cf. also Is. ix. 20 ; Hag. ii. 22. 

17. restore health. See on viii. 22. 

18. tents. The corresponding Arabic word is used of households. 
heap. Heb. tel. The city was to be rebuilt on its old site. ' A " tell " 

is in appearance an ordinary hill; but it is in reality, at least in its 
upper part, a mass of ruins. In the East, from the earliest times, 
buildings have been constructed of sun-dried bricks, blocks of mud 
held together by chopped straw. A city was built of houses made in 
this way ; and after a while, either from war or from decay, the mud 
houaes fell to pieces ; streets and rooms were filled with the remains of 



XXX. 18-24] THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH 229 

manner thereof. 19 And out of them shall proceed thanksgiving 
and the voice of them that make merry: and I will multiply them, 
and they shall not be few; I will also glorify them, and they 
shall not be small. 20 Their children also shall be as aforetime, 
and their congregation shall be established before me, and I will 
punish all that oppress them. 21 And their prince shall be of 
themselves, and their ruler shall proceed from the midst of them; 
and I will cause him to draw near, and he shall approach unto 
me : for who is he that ^hath had boldness to approach unto me? 
saith the Lord. 22 And ye shall be my people, and I will be your 
God. 

23 2 Behold, the tempest of the Lord, even his fury, is gone 
forth, a ^sweeping tempest: it shall burst upon the head of the 
wicked. 24 The fierce anger of the Lord shall not return, until 

1 Heb. hath been surety for his heart. ^ See ch. xxiii. 19, 20. 
^ Or, gathering 

the fallen walls; the level of the streets also was often raised in- 
dependently by the accumulation of refuse in them ; and when, as 
often happened, the city was rebuilt on its former site, it naturally 
stood some feet above the original city. This process might naturally 
be repeated; and the excavation of Tell el-Hesy showed that it had 
actually been repeated there ten times.' Driver, Sckwelch Lectures, 
p. 41. The city, however, was sometimes rebuilt in the neighbourhood 
in order to avoid the labour of preparing the old site; see Bliss and 
Macalister, Excavations in Palestine, 1898 — 1900, pp. 67 f 
palace. See note on vi. 5, and cf. Pro v. xviii. 19 'citadel' 

19. not he few. Cf xxix. 6- 

20. congregation. The use of this word suggests a post-exilic 
origin for the passage, it is common in the Priestly document of the 
Pentateuch and gives the idea of the people as a church rather than 
a nation. 

21. their prince. The term king seems definitely to be avoided 
(contrast v. 9), which is also a sign of late date. The priestly functions 
which he is to assume are also significant (cf. Nu. xvi. 5 ; Lev. xxi. 21, 
23; Ez. xliv. 13), and though it seems hardly necessary to go down as 
late as the time of Jason, Meuelaus, and Alcimus, to find a suitable 
date for the passage (as Duhm does), yet it bears clear marks of the 
conditions and ideals of the later Judaism. 

hath had boldness to approach. The reading of mg. is more literal 
and preserves a striking metaphor : hath been surety for kis heart to 
approach. 

23 f These vv. contain a description of the storm of God's anger 
which is almost identical with xxiii. 19 f. where see notes. 



230 THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH [xxx. 14-xxxi. 4 

he have executed, and till he have performed the intents of his 
heart : in the latter days ye shall understand it. 

XXXI. 1 At that time, saith the Lord, will I be the God 
of all the families of Israel, and they shall be my people. 2 Thus 
saith the Lord, The people which were left of the sword ^ found 
grace in the wilderness; even Israel, ^when I went to cause him 
to rest. 3 The Lord appeared ^of old unto me, saying, Yea, I 
have loved thee with an everlasting love : therefore * with loving- 
kindness have I drawn thee. 4 Again will I build thee, and thou 
shalt be built, virgin of Israel : again shalt thou be adorned 
with thy tabrets, and shalt go forth in the dances of them that 

^ Or, have foxmd. . .lohen I go ^ Or, lohen he went to find him rest 
^ Or, from afar * Or, have I continued lovingkindness unto thee 

XXXI. 1 — 9. The restoration of Ephraim: In iii. 12, spoken 
in the early part of his ministry, Jeremiah shewed his concern for the 
lost Northern tribes, here again his old interest is to the fore. 

1. all the families of Israel. Here and ii. 4, &c. 

2. The exact meaning of this v. is somewhat hard to discover. It 
is perhaps best to interpret the past tenses as 'prophetic' (i.e. they 
look upon that which is Jeliovali's will as if it had already been carried 
out), as is done in mg., have found .. .when I go. The wilderness then 
means not the historic exodus but the symbolic wilderness of exile 
(cf. Hos. ii. 14), and those left of the swords are not the fugitives from 
Egypt, but those who escaped with their lives when Samaria fell, or 
rather their descendants. 

when I went &c. Driver's emendation (which involvest he omission 
of a letter in the Heb.) gives the best reading / will go that I may 
cause Israel to rest. 

3. of old. Better as rag. from afar (cf xxx. 10). The prophet is 
represented as speaking amongst the exiles and Jehovah appears from 
Mount Zion. 

with lovingkindness. The text have I drawn thee is based on 
Hos. xi. 4, 'I drew them with cords of a man, with bands of love'; 
cf Jn. vi. 44: i\\& mg. have I continued .. .unto thee ioWov}^ t\xQ XQndi&cmg 
of Ps. xxxvi. 11. The former is to be preferred. 

4. Jeremiah contemplates with sympathy the manifestations of 
joy exhibited by the restored exiles. This v. gives the other side of 
the picture presented in Ps. cxxxvii. ' By the rivers of Babylon.' 

tabrets. The nation is personified as one of its own daughters 
going forth with ' timbrels and dances ' : cf Ex. xv. 20 f (Miriam) ; 
Jud. xi. 34 (Jephthah's daughter). The tabret, or timbrel, was very 
much like the present day tambourine, and its use was not confined to 
women (see 1 S. x. 5; 2 S. vi. 5; 1 Ch. xiii. 8). 

dances. Dancing in ancient times was often a religious exercise; 



XXXI. 4-8] THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH 231 

make merry. 5 Again shalt thou plant vineyards upon the 
mountains of Samaria: tlie planters shall plant, and shall ^ enjoy 
the fruit thereof. 6 For there shall be a day, that the watchmen 
upon the hills of Ephraim shall cry, Arise ye, and let us go up to 
Zion unto the Lord our God. 7 For thus saith the Lord, Sing 
with gladness for Jacob, and shout ^for the chief of the nations : 
publish ye, praise ye, and say, O Lord, save thy people, the 
remnant of Israel. 8 Behold, I will bring them from the north 
country, and gather them from the uttermost parts of the earth, 

1 Heb. profane, or, make common. See Lev. xix. 23 — 25; Deut. xx. 6, xsviii. 30. 

^ Or, at the head 

such was David's dancing before the ark (2 S. vi. 14); and the dances 
at the vintage and other agricultural festivals no doubt had a religious 
significance (see J. C. Murray- Aynsley in Folklore Jou7'7ial,Y .^^. 253 ff.). 
For the art as an expression of religious emotions in later times see 
Franz Delitzsch, Iris, pp. 189 — 204 (referred to by Peake); and an 
article in The Interpreter, i. 505 ff. ' Church-dancing in many lands.' 

5. The picture here given is one of settled peace and security; 
for since the vine does not yield fruit for several years after it has been 
planted, those who own vineyards depend on a secure holding of their 
property in order that they may enjoy its increase. Later writers were 
much more definite in their promises (cf Enoch x. 18 f ). 

enjoy. Lit. as mg. profane, make common. Cf. Lev. xix. 23 ff. The 
owner did not enjoy the fruits until the fifth year, the fourth being 
sacred to .Jehovah and the first three remaining ungathered. 

6. watchmen. The same word is used in Job xxvii. 18; Is. xxvii. 3 
of the keepers of the vineyard. 

let us go up to Zion. The long quarrel between Israel and Judah 
is now over, and the Northern Kingdom is represented as returning to 
worship at the ecclesiastical capital of the religion of Jehovah (cf xli. 
4ff.). Cornill denies the genuineness of this v. as, in his opinion, it 
could not have been spoken by one who had a conception of religion 
so spiritual as was Jeremiah's; he points out the diti'erent attitude 
towards Jerusalem adopted in vii. 1 — 15. This view seems to over- 
emphasise Jeremiah's opposition to the temple and Jerusalem. 

7. Sing. The word is used of any shrill cry, whether of joy, as 
here and generally, or of sorrow, as in Is. x. 30. 

the chief of the nations. Duhm's suggested emendation on the tops 
of the mountains has much to recommend it; cf Is. xlii. 11. 

Lord, save thy people. The reading of LXX. and Targ. The Lord 
hath saved His people is to be preferred. 

8. the uttermost parts o/ the earth. This phrase is in the manner 
of 2 Is. (e.g. xliii. 6), whose influence is to be seen in vv. 7 — 14. It is 
just possible that Jeremiah might have written the words (cf vi. 22), 
but not at all likely. 



232 THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH [xxxi. 8-10 

and with them the blind and the lame, the woman with child and 
her that travaileth with child together : a great company shall 
they return hither. 9 They shall come with weeping, and with 
supplications will I lead them: I will ^cause them to walk by 
rivers of waters, in a straight way wherein they shall not stumble: 
for I am a father to Israel, and Ephraim is my firstborn. 

10 Hear the word of the Lord, ye nations, and declare it 

1 Or, bring them unto 

the blind and the lame. These two classes of afflicted people are 
often grouped together (Ex. iv. 11; Lev. xxi. 18; Dt. xv. 21; Mai. i. 
8; Job xxix. 15, &c.); probably because both are unable to travel; 
cf. the words which Socrates puts into the mouths of his critics, ' You 
have been less out of Athens than the blind and the lame.' Crito 53 A. 

hither. That is to Palestine, the writer's real or assumed location. 

9. with weeping. The text is rather hard to understand. Why 
should the people come with weeping? It may be that their tears 
were tears of penitence for the past\ or possibly tears of joy. Lxx. 
gives here, I think, the better text They went forth with weeping but 
with consolation will I bring them back. Peake, who looks upon this 
reading as likely to be correct, points out its similarity in tone to 
various passages in 2 Is. (xl. 1 f , xhii. 1 fif., xliv. 21 ff., &c.). 

rivers of water .. .straight way. Both these means by which the 
return of the exiles was to be facilitated are common in 2 Is. Straight 
is better rendered level as it refers to the quality of the surface of the 
road, rather than to its directness. The phrase straight way occurs in 
Ps. cvii. 7. 

father to Israel. OT. never seems to get beyond the idea of God 
as the father of the nation (cf Dt. xxxii. 6; Is. Ixiii. 16; also Jub. i. 
24), or of some particular class within it : see Sanday and Headlam on 
Romans i. 7. 

firstborn. That Ephraim should be exalted over Judah is very 
strange, and the later the passage is brought down the stranger it 
becomes. There are other slight traces that Ephraim (i.e. the ten 
tribes) claimed to be older than Judah (cf 2 S. xix. 43, lxx.); and in 
1 Ch. V. 1 — 3 the birthright of Keuben falls to the sons of Joseph. 
According to Ex. iv. 22 Israel is God's firstborn (see Dr McNeile's note) 
and so Jub. ii. 20. Dr Peake would transfer this clause to the end of 
V. 20 in view of the difficulty of taking it as post-exilic on the one 
hand, and of attributing it to Jeremiah in its present context on the 
other. Cornill looks upon it as a connecting link between v. 5 and w. 
15 ff. 



^ So Tanchuma on Gen. xlv. 2 which puts forward the •beautiful thought, that, 
when God redeems Israel, it will be amidst their weeping.' See Edersheim, Life 
and Times, &c. i. p. 169. 



XXXI. IO-I3] THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH 233 

in the isles afar oflf ; and say, He that scattered Israel will gather 
him, and keep him, as a shepherd doth his flock. 11 For the 
Lord hath ransomed Jacob, and redeemed him from the hand of 
him that was stronger than he. 12 And they shall come and 
sing in the height of Zion, and shall flow together unto the good- 
ness of the Lord, to the corn, and to the wine, and to the oil, and 
to the young of the flock and of the herd : and their soul shall 
be as a watered garden ; and they shall not sorrow any more at 
all. 13 Then shall the virgin rejoice in the dance, and the young 
men and the old together : for I will turn their mourning into 

10 — 14. Jehovah proclaims His purposes to the nations. The 
whole passage is written in the manner of 2 Is., notice the mention of 
the isles, redeemed, &c. 

10. isles. See on xxv. 22. 

He that scattered. God was the author of their exile, and He will 
be their restorer. The honour of Jehovah demanded that the heathen 
should become aware that it was through no weakness or want of power 
on His part that the people had been overcome by their enemies (cf. 
Is. lii. 5f). 

scattered. Cf. Jn. vii. 35; Jas. i. 1 ; 1 Pet. i. 1. 

shepherd. The image of the shepherd was particularly dear at the 
time of the exile (cf Ez. xxxiv., xxxvii.; Is. xl. 11, &c.). 

12. The catalogue of ' goodness ' shews the great importance of 
the agricultural and pastoral life of the community; goodness being 
of course not spiritual, but material blessings, though the latter were 
a sign of spiritual well-being. 

in the height of Zion. So Is. h. 11. For the phrase cf Ez. xvii. 23 
(height of Israel), xx. 40. 

flow together. The meaning of the Heb. is not quite clear. If the 
translation of RV. be retained, the returning tribes are likened to an 
overflowing river which streams from .lerusalem, after the thanksgiving, 
to cover the whole land (i.e. as the people go to their separate holdings 
to enjoy there the bounty of the Lord). The word rendered flov) is 
elsewhere translated be lightened (Ps. xxxiv. 5 ; Is. Ix. 5), and Cornill 
would take it with some such meaning in this passage, 'be radiant over.' 

corn... wine... oil. Better corn, must and fresh oil; it is the raw 
materials that are meant. The same combination occurs in Hos. ii. 8, 
22, &c., and represents the three principal products of the country. 

a watered garden. The same figure is used in Is. Iviii. 11. The 
meaning is that every wish or desire will be abundantly fulfilled — the 
word is a strong one and saturated or soaked would better represent 
the original. The metaphor would have much force in the minds of 
dwellers in a thirsty land. The same figure is used in Ecclus. xxiv. 31 
of a man taught by wisdom. 



234 THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH [xxxi. 13-15 

joy, and will comfort them, and make them rejoice from their 
sorrow. 14 And I will satiate the soul of the priests with fatness, 
and my people shall be satisfied with my goodness, saith the 
Lord. 

15 Thus saith the Lord : A voice is heard in Ramah, lamenta- 

14. satiate... the priests. The verb comes from the same root as 
watered in the note above. The people are to be so prosperous that 
the claims of religion and the dues of the priests will receive full 
attention. 

15 — 22. Rachel the ancestress of the tribes of Joseph and Benjamin 
weeps over the fate of her children. This poem is certainly a genuine 
and typical production of Jeremiah, and one which exhibits his deep 
sensitiveness and tender sympathies. Delitzscli connects this passage 
with xl. 1 seeing in it that ' word which came to Jeremiah from the 
Lord after that Nebuzaradan the captain of the guard had let him go 
from Ramah,' a word which the compiler for some reason unknown has 
omitted to record in its proper context. This suggestion has met with 
favourable notice from several critics (e.g. Hitzig and Orelli), but the 
connexion between the two passages is at the best precarious, and it is 
difficult to suppose that Jeremiah in the hour of his nation's downfall 
would be greatly concerned over the return of the ten tribes. 

15. Ramah. Ramah is situated five miles to the north of Jeru- 
salem and was the scene of the collecting of the Jewish prisoners for 
deportation to Babylon (xl. 1). The grave of Rachel was somewhere 
in the near neighbourhood for according to 1 S. x. 2 f she Avas buried 
on the northern border of Benjamin (i.e. between the two tribes who 
claimed her as their common mother) and not far from Bethel which is 
ten miles north of Jerusalem. The traditional site of Rachel's tomb, 
however, is south of Jerusalem and not far from Bethlehem. This 
tradition is doubtless influenced by the quotation of this passage of 
Jeremiah in connexion with the murder of the Innocents in Matt. ii. 
17 £ The writer of the first gospel takes the weeping of Rachel as 
a type of the weeping of the mothers of the massacred children. In 
Gen. XXXV. 19 Rachel is said to have been buried 'in the way to 
Ephrath ' and the statement is added, ' the same is Bethlehem ' ; this 
statement is almost certainly, as Driver says, ' an incorrect gloss ' and 
the Ephrath referred to must be somewhere to the north in order to 
agree with the requirements of 1 S. x. 2 and the present passage. See 
further Driver's note on Gen. xxxv. 19, and the thorough discussion in 
PEFQS. 1912, pp. 74fi".i 

1 The modern site of Rachel's tomb is marked by a shrine Kubbet Rdhel, just as 
in earlier days it was marked by a sacred stone or pillar (Gen. xxxv. 19). In this 
passage there is no actual mention of the tomb and it may be that Rachel is pictured 
as standing on the heights of Ramah and looking down on the captives. More 
probably the reference is to the widespread idea of spirits mourning round their 
tombs. 



xxxi. .5-19] THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH 235 

tion, and bitter weeping, Rachel weeping for her children ; she 
refuseth to be comforted for her children, because they are not. 

16 Thus saith the Lord: Refrain thy voice from weeping, and 
thine eyes from tears : for thy work shall be rewarded, saith the 
Lord ; and they shall come again fi'om the land of the enemy. 

17 And there is hope for thy latter end, saith the Lord ; and thy 
children shall come again to their own border. 18 1 have surely 
heard Ephraim bemoaning himself thus, Thou hast chastised me, 
and I was chastised, as a calf unaccustomed to the yoke : turn 
thou me, and I shall be turned ; for thou art the Lord my God. 
19 Surely after that I was turned, I repented ; and after that I 



fo)- her cMld/i-en. Cf. Mic. i. 16; Is. xlix. 21 (Jerusalem bereaved 
of her children), Ixiii. 16 (the expected interest of the ancestor in his 
descendants). 

refuseth to be coinfm-ted. So Jacob when told of the supposed death 
of Joseph (Gen. xxxvii. 35). 

16. Refrain. ' Rachel's hundred years of weeping are almost at 
an end' (Duhm) so the prophet dares to think; but his tender message 
sent to the mother in the hopeless abandon of her grief was not 
destined to be fulfilled. 

th^/ work. Rachel like any other mother had laboured for her 
children and all her care and watchfulness seemed lost, she had laboured 
in vain and 'brought forth for calamity' (Is. Ixv. 23) ; but now they are 
to return and her work will be rewarded (cf. 2 Ch. xv. 7). 

18. I have... heard. Cf. iii. 21. The words are spoken by Jehovah, 
but the V. represents another hopeful anticipation, by the prophet, of 
Ephraim's repentance. Jeremiah, in his earlier days, lived in the con- 
stant expectation of seeing his dreams fulfilled and both parts of the 
nation aroused to a sense of their sin. 

calf. The metaphor is derived from agriculture; if the calf submits 
the yoke is easy, if it resist-s the yoke is hard, but must still be borne, 
cf. Hos. iv. 16. Calf is better translated young bullock (see Dr McNeile's 
note on Ex. xxxii. 4). According to Duhm, Jeremiah looked upon the 
Northern Kingdom as having perished in its youth before it had yet 
had time to learn. 

turn tlwu me. Ephraim recognises the purpose of the chastisement 
and prays to be delivered. 

19. Surely... repented. According to this translation Ephraim's 
repentance was the result, and not the cause, of his return. This 
process is a reversal of what is usual 'Pain first, and then the joy of 
health restored'; and some scholars take turned here as referring to 
turning away from God ; others get rid of the diiSculty by omitting 
the words, Duhm renders Surely I repented after I was chastised, I 



236 THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH [xxxi. 19-22 

was instructed, I smote upon my thigh : I was ashamed, yea, even 
confounded, because I did bear the reproach of my youth. 20 Is 
Ephraim my dear son? is he a pleasant child? for as often as I 
speak against him, I do earnestly remember him still : therefore 
my bowels '^are troubled for him ; I will surely have mercy upon 
him, saith the Lord. 21 Set thee up waymarks, make thee guide- 
posts: set thine heart toward the high way, even the way by which 
thou wentest : turn again, virgin of Israel, turn again to these 
thy cities. 22 How long wilt thou go hither and thither, thou 
backsliding daughter? for the Lord hath created a new thing in 
the earth, A woman shall encompass a man. 

^ Heb. sound. 

smote upon my thigh. This reading gives a good sense but it does not 
account for the Heb. 

smote upon my thigh. So Ez. xxi. 12. 

20. This V. is one of the Lessons for the New Year service of the 
Jewish synagogue (see/. Th. S. 1915, p. 182). In it the prophet represents 
Jehovah as a human father thinking with tenderness of the son whom 
he has had to punish, and now that the punishment is over he longs 
for the son's return. David's longing for the return of Absalom from 
his banishment gives a good instance of the feelings which are here 
attributed to God (2 S. xiii. 37—39). 

21. waymarks... guide-posts. The Israelites are immediately to 
begin to prepare for the return by sending out pioneers to mark out 
the way back to Palestine. The word for guide-posts occurs here only 
and the translation depends on the parallelism. 

22. The Israelites are called upon to make up their minds, and to 
abandon their want of faith; in order to encourage them a sign is 
promised. Cf Jud. vi. 36 ff. (Gideon); Is. vii. 11 if . (Ahaz). 

go hither and thither. Here and Cant. v. 6. 

created. 'The root signifies to cut... so probably the proper meaning 
is to fashion by cutting, to shape. In the simple conjugation, however, 
it IS used exclusively of God, to denote viz. the production of some- 
thing fundamentally new, by the exercise of a sovereign power ori- 
ginative, altogether transcending that possessed by man.' Driver on 
Gen. i. 1. The word is used in a figurative sense in Is. xliii. 1,15, 
xlv. 8, Ixv. 17, &c. ; cf. also Nu. xvi. 30 'if the Lord creates a creation' 
(so Heb.). 

A woman, &c. No satisfactory explanation of this 'created sign' 
has ever been discovered by critics; something quite outside the 
natural order of human experience is obviously foretold, but whether it 
has any direct connexion with the actual event of the return or not, 
is impossible to say (cf the sign in Is. vii. 14 'a virgin shall conceive'). 



xxxL 23-26] THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH 237 

23 Thus saith the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel : Yet again 
shall they use this speech in the land of Judah and in the cities 
thereof, when I shall ^ bring again their captivity: The Lord bless 
thee, habitation of justice, O mountain of holiness. 24 And 
Judah and all the cities thereof shall dwell therein together ; the 
husbandmen, and they that go about with flocks. 25 For I have 
satiated the weary soul, and every sorrowful soul have I re- 
plenished. 26 Upon this I awaked, and beheld; and my sleep 

* Or, return to 

It is perhaps not uninteresting to record the attempts which have been 
made at various times to explain the phrase; no doubt it had its 
meaning for those for whom it was written, and indeed may be a refer- 
ence to a popular proverb, but all clue to it has now been lost, (a) The 
woman shall woo the man, i.e. Israel shall court Jehovah (Cheyne; but 
cf. Critica Biblica, pp. 70 f. for his later ideas) ; (6) the woman shall 
protect the man, i.e. Israel shall protect Jehovah (that is the temple); 
or taking the phrase Hterally, a time of peace is coming in which the 
protection of the man will be unnecessary ; (c) a woman shall be turned 
into a man'. This suggestion, which involves a slight change in the 
Heb., alone seems to satisfy tbe need for a 'portent'; it was first sug- 
gested by Ewald and is explained as a promise that the woman Israel 
shall be endowed with manly courage; {d) ?eaxm\\ On the Creed takes 
the sign as being a forecast of the miraculous conception of our Lord, and 
quotes passages from Jewish writers which definitely apply the prophecy 
to the Messiah. 

23 — 30. The promise of restoration to Ephraim is also to be made 
to Judah. This passage is similar in many ways to m. 12 — 14, and, as 
it presupposes the fall of Jerusalem, is probably later than Jeremiah ; 
nor would the prophet have been likely to refer to the capital as the 
mountain of holiness. 

23. hahitation of justice... mountain of holiness. Cf. 1. 7; Zech.viii. 3 
'a city of truth. ..the holy mountain'; Ps. ii. 6; Is. Ixvi. 20. 

25. This V. recalls the promises of w. 12 and 14. Cf. Matt. xi. 28 ff.; 
Jn. vii. 37. 

26. my sleep. It is not quite clear who is the speaker in this v. 
The consensus of opinion is against attributing the words to either 
God or the exiles, and the most suitable speaker is the prophet himself. 
The words just uttered have come to him in a vision, and the nature 
of its contents are of a sufficiently pleasant character to justify the 
epithet sweet. It is hardly likely that the passage can be from Jere- 
miah as his estimate of the value of the revelations which come through 
dreams is too well known (see xxiii. 25). 

" 1 Hippocrates and Pliny found no difficulty in believing accounts of such trans- 
formations ; and in later times Casaubon accepted them as did Bishop Burnet (see 
Mark Pattison, Isaac Casaubon, pp. -IJ? f.). 



238 THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH [xxxi. .6-31 

was sweet unto me. 27 Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, 
that I will sow the house of Israel and the house of Judah with 
the seed of man, and with the seed of beast. 28 And it shall 
come to pass, that like as I have watched over them to pluck up 
and to break down, and to overthrow and to destroy, and to 
afflict ; so will I watch over them to build and to plant, saith the 
Lord. 29 In those days they shall say no more. The fathers have 
eaten sour grapes, and the children's teeth are set on edge. 
30 But every one shall die for his own iniquity : every man that 
eateth the sour grapes, his teeth shall be set on edge. 

31 Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will make a 

27 f. These vv. may well come from Jeremiah. The land to which 
the exiles will return will be only thinly populated and like an unsown 
field ; God will till it and sow it (Ez. xxxvi. 9) with the seeds of men 
and of beasts, and so make it populous. Cf the legend of Cadmus, 
who sowed the teeth of the dragon which he had slain, and from them 
there sprang up armed men who became the first inhabitants of his 
city, Cadmeia, afterwards called Thebes. The threat that Israel should 
be greatly reduced in number is constantly held out (Ez. xxxvi. 12, &c.), 
and it was substantially fulfilled, for even in the time of Nehemiah 
the people — or at any rate those of them who had returned to Palestine — 
were few in number (Neh. vii. 4). The promise of restoration and 
multiplication is however still remembered (Is. xxvi. W — 19: Ez. xxxvi. 
36; Hos. i. 10; Zech. ii. 4). 

28. Cf i. 10, and 11 f 

30 f This passage attacks a doctrine, which, based as it was on the 
primitive idea of the solidarity of the tribe or nation, was widely pre- 
valent. If any member of the body corporate sinned his relatives were 
involved in his guilt, and, if his ofii'ence were against the tribe law or 
custom they were liable to punishment; if the offence were against 
another tribe or one of its members, the whole body might be involved 
in a blood feud (see, further, Introd. pp. liv f ). The same proverbial 
expression of the doctrine is found in Ez. xviii. 2. The genuineness of 
the passage here has been denied as it seems to regard the doctrine 'as 
justifiable under the present conditions, but as inapplicable and un- 
called for in the time to which he looks forward,' and that 'such a 
judgement we cannot easily reconcile with what we know of Jeremiah' 
(Dr Peake). But surely the writer is attacking a popular saying, and 
his meaning is that God's action in restoring the innocent descendants 
of the original exiles will take away any justification that there was, 
even to the popular mind, for the ideas underlying the proverb. Cf. a 
similar proverb derived from agricultural life in Hos. viii. 7. 

31 — 34. In the age of the restoration the people will have God's 
laws written on their hearts, and will not be dependent for their know- 



xxxi. 3«-34] THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH 239 

new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of 
Judah : 32 not according to the covenant that I made with their 
fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them 
out of the land of Egypt; ^ which my covenant they brake, 
although I was -an husband unto them, saith the Lord. 33 But 
this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after 
those days, saith the Lord ; I will put my law in their inward 
parts, and in their heart will I write it ; and I will be their God, 
and they shall be my people : 34 and they shall teach no more 
every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, 
Know the Lord: for they shall all know me, from the least of 
them unto the greatest of them, saith the Lord : for I will forgive 

1 Or, forasmuch as they brake imj covenant ^ Or, lord over them 

ledge of His will upon an external code. All will know God. This 
passage is one of the most important in the Old Dispensation and a 
forecast of that New Covenant which our Blessed Lord sealed with 
His own blood (Matt. xxvi. 28). For an estimate of the teaching of 
the doctrine see Introd. pp. li ff., and for a discussion of its authorship 
see note pp. 241 ff. 

31. covenant. For the meaning and use of the term see note, pp. 243 f 
and with the house of Judah. This phrase is almost certainly a 

gloss (cf. V. 33) and its removal brings the v. into the Qinah rhythm. 

32. The negative description of the covenant; it is not to be like 
the one made at Sinai which has proved ineffective. 

in the day. See on vii. 22. 

by the hand. Cf Hos. xi. 1—4; Dt. i. 31. 

husband unto them. The Heb. word Baal may mean either lord or 
husband (cf Hos. ii. 16 where the nation is told no more to use the 
ambiguous word in addressing .Jehovah, but to call him Ishi, i.e. vir), 
hence mg. reading lord over them. Recent scholars adopting an emenda- 
tion proposed by Giesebrecht, an emendation which involves the change 
of a single letter only in the Heb. , read and I abhorred them ; this 
reading is supported by lxx. (cf the quotation in Heb. viii. 9) and Syr. 

33. / ivill put my law. 'God's word, not in a book but in the 
heci,rt and mouth of His servants, is the ultimate ideal as well as the 
first postulate of prophetic theology.' W. Robertson Smith, O.T. in 
Jewish Church, p. 300. Mr C J. Ball compares the prayer of Nabopo- 
lassar '0 Sin... the Fear of thy Great Godhead' in the heart of their 
people do Thou implant' 

34. In this v. the knowledge of God is closely connected with for- 
giveness and the removal of that sin which is the great hindrance to 
its attainment. Cf St Augustine 'Man being renewed in his mind, 
and able to discern and understand the truth, needs no more any 
direction of man.' Conf. xiii. 22. This v. is apparently referred to by 



240 THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH [xxxi. 34-3T 

their iniquity, and their sin will I remember no more. 35 Thus 
saith the Lord, which giveth the sun for a light by day, and the 
ordinances of the moon and of the stars for a light by night, 
which ^stirreth up the sea, that the waves thereof roar ; the Lord 
of hosts is his name : 36 If these ordinances depart from before 
me, saith the Lord, then the seed of Israel also shall cease from 
being a nation for ever. 37 Thus saith the Lord : If heaven above 
can be measured, and the foundations of the earth searched out 
beneath, then will I also cast off all the seed of Israel for all that 

i Or, stilleth the sea, ivhen (&c. See Is. li. 15. 

NT. and patristic writers (e.g. Jn. vi. 45; 1 Cor. ii. 13; 1 Thes. iv. 9; 
and Ep. Barn. § 21; Athenag. Leg. § 11, &c.), though possibly the 
reference in these cases is rather to Is. Kv. 13 'all thy sons shall be 
taught of God.' 

35 — 40. The survival of Israel is as certain as the eternity of the 
ordinances which control the world of nature: Jerusalem is not only to 
be preserved, but to be greatly enlarged. These vv. with their strongly 
national tone come somewhat strangely after the passage recording the 
promise of the New Covenant, and it is hard to imagine that Jere- 
miah is responsible for them, or, at any rate, for their position. The last 
part of the section {vv. 38 — 40) is almost certainly late and bears 
marked similarities to Zech. xiv. (cf. Is. liv. 2) ; _ the mind of Jeremiah 
was too wide in its outlook to stoop to details such as the future 
topography of the Holy City. The earher part {vv. 35—37) if it is a 
genuine utterance must be a fragment. Critics are not agreed as to the 
authorship, some condemning the passage for the extreme nationalism 
exhibited, as well as for its prosaic style. Giesebrecht finds parallels to 
the later chh. of Isaiah (see especially xl. 12, 26, xHi. 5, xhv. 24 fF., 

xlv. 7, 18). 

35. ordinances. In Gen. i. 16 ff. God is said to have given the two 
great luminaries to divide the light from the darkness, and it is to this 
behef that the present passage points; a similar statement is found in 
Ps. cxxxvi. 7 — 9, and one which is indeed nearer to this in form. 
Cf Ps. Sol. xviii. 13f. 

the Lord of hosts. So in Am. iv. 13, v. 8, ix. 6 (all passages dealing 
with the creation). 

36. If these &c. Our Lord used still stronger language ' Heaven and 
earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away' Mk. xiii. 31. 

a nation. The preservation of the Jews as a separate people is one 
of the greatest miracles of history; probably the writer of these words 
thought not so much of the national existence in itself as of the peculiar 
privileges which the people enjoyed in being the chosen of God ; cf next v. 

37. In order to deepen the impression of Israel's stability a further 
comparison is made, not this time to the eternity of the heavens, but 



XXXI. 37-4o] THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH 241 

they have done, saith the Lord, 38 Behold, the days come, saith 
the Lord, that the city shall be built to the Lord from the tower 
of Hananel unto the gate of the corner. 39 And the measuring 
line shall yet go out straight onward unto the hill Gareb, and 
shall turn about unto Goah. 40 And the whole valley of the dead 
bodies, and of the ashes, and all the fields unto the brook Kidron, 
unto the corner of the horse gate toward the east, shall be holy 
unto the Lord ; it shall not be plucked up, nor thrown down any 
more for ever. 

to their immensity. (Cf. Job xi. 8; Enoch xciii. 14.) In lxx. this v. 
comes before v. 35; it is possibly a marginal gloss which has been 
incorporated into the text. 

38. the city. The various places named in this account are intended 
to shew the boundaries of the Jerusalem of the return; not much, how- 
ever, is known of them, and so it is not possible to say how much larger 
the new city was than the old one (see PEFQS. Jan. 1912, p. 28, for a 
discussion of the places named). 

the tower of Hananel. Mentioned also in Zech. xiv. 10; and Neh. 
iii. 1, xii. 39 ; the latter passages locate it at the NE. corner of the 
city wall. 

gate of the corner. See also Zech. xiv. 10; 2 K. xiv. 13 ; 2 Ch. xxvi. 9, 
The corner gate seems to have been at the NW. end of the wall. 

39. Gareb. ..Goah. Nothing further is known of these places, they 
are evidently on the W. and S. of the wall. 

40. the... valley of the dead bodies. The valley of Hinnom to S. of 
Jerusalem (see on vii. 31). 

horse gate. Mentioned in Neh. iii. 27 f ; it was on SE. of Jerusalem. 

holy. Every place included within the boundaries of the city, even 
those which were before held to be unclean like Hinnom, was to be 
considered Jioly, the city itself was to be a vast sanctuary ; hence per- 
haps the omission of any mention of the temple. 



Additional Note on the Authorship of xxxi. 31 — 34. 

These vv. have been described by Coniill as 'the cUmax and crown of 
Jeremiah's prophetic activity,' and with certain exceptions, to be considered 
later, critics have conchided that the passage as a whole is the work of the 
prophet himself Those who do not accept the accuracy of Cornill's statement, 
at any rate as regards authorship, may be divided into two classes ; writers who 
reject xxx. and xxxi. as a whole and this passage with them, e.g. Smend (in 
A. T. Religionsgesch. pp. 239 fF.), Stade (Gesch. d. Volk. Isr. i. p. 643), and 
Schmidt {Enc. Bib. 934, 2391); and those who reject the dp. on their own 
merits, amongst which class the outstanding name is Duhm. The first class of 
B. 16 



242 THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH 

critics has been dealt with in the Introd. to xxx., xxxi., though it is interesting 
to notice that Hitzig, who sees much in the chh. which comes from 2 Is. (follow- 
ing Movers), is firmly convinced of the genuineness of this oracle. The arguments 
of Duhm, as the representative of the latter class, must now be considered. 

It should be stated first of all that Duhm only rejected these vv. after much 
consideration and with obvious reluctance, which needless to say makes his 
condemnation all the more weighty. His arguments are arranged under two 
main heads: style and contents. The style of the prophecy is condemned as 
bad, cumbersome, and inexact, neither has it any of those figures of speech 
which distinguish even the shorter poems of Jeremiah, whilst it contains phrases 
which are typical of the supplementer. It will perhaps simplify the discussion 
if these criticisms are dealt with immediately before going on to state Duhm's 
objections to the matter of the prophecy which are of a much more serious 
nature. The objections to the style of the passage are easily met, so it seems 
to the present writer ; in the first place no one would deny that the prophecy 
as it is preserved in the text has received small and unimportant additions 
from a later hand, but after laying aside such words and phrases, so careful a 
critic as Cornill is able to say of the passage that it is a 'rhythmic, elevated 
and articulate discourse.' The truth of the matter is that Duhm, in considering 
questions of style, is prejudiced by his own somewhat arbitrary notions of what 
is Jeremiah's workmanship and what is not; he is unable to apply to any 
particular passage a sufficiently wide standard of comparison, since for him 
what is genuine and typical of the prophet is limited to a small number of 
poems written in one particular metre. 

Duhm's arguments against the contents of the prophecy must now be 
stated. He sees in the passage not an attempt to put into words a highly 
spiritual doctrine, but the efforts of a legalistic scribe to defend and enforce the 
law; the promise that was needed was not that the 'law' should be written on 
men's hearts, but that an entirely new law should be given ; as it stands the 
New Covenant is no advance on the teaching of such passages as Dt. vi. 6—8 
and xxx. llff. which recognise the necessity of the law being ever 'on the 
heart' and emphasise its 'nearness'; the knowledge of God and the knowledge 
of the law are not the same thing. Duhm makes the further objection that the 
interpretation of the passage which sees in it a promise of a spiritual bond 
between God and the individual must face the question why the original 
covenant had no such provision. This last objection can be dismissed with a 
few words ignoring as it does the progressive nature of God's revelation. 
Why, it might equally well be asked, did not our Lord appear on earth at the 
creation 5 why was not man made capable of receiving the full knowledge of 
God from the very first I To state such questions is to answer them, or rather 
is sufficient to shew that no answer is possible ; these matters of times and 
seasons are in the hands of God Himself and it is not for man to know them. 
The course and development of history, alike in religion and politics, we can 
indeed trace out, but the deeper questions of ultimate origin and control are 
beyond the grasp of finite minds. 



THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH 243 

Duhm's main argument, then, is that the doctrine of the New Covenant is 
not a spiritualising of the Old, not a step forward in the evolution of religion, 
but a desire to rivet still firmer upon the Jewish Cliurch the fetters of a formal 
law. He protests against the danger of being led away by phrases which have 
at different times quite different meanings; in his eyes the doctrine is not 
worthy of a prophet whose ideas of religion were those of Jeremiah. There is 
not a sufficient antithesis between the passage and Deuteronomy. All these 
arguments to an unprejudiced mind seem purely arbitrary; Duhm first of all 
reads into the vo. his own meaning, and then proceeds to shew that from the 
standpoint of his interpretation they could not have come from Jeremiah ; he 
is sufficiently candid to admit that if the genuineness of the passage could be 
proved its importance would be very great, because it would then present that 
antithesis to the teaching of Deuteronomy which in his opinion would be found 
in a genuine utterance of Jeremiah. It is hard to sympathise with special 
pleading of this nature, and, as in the question of style, Duhm seems to have 
been led away by his preconceived notions. 

Cornill, in his admirable refutation of the arguments of Duhm, begins by 
making clear what Jeremiah meant by the Old Covenant which the new teaching 
was to replace, and from this basis he proceeds to demonstrate the true 
spirituality of the conception of the New Covenant and its fitness to be the 
crown of the prophet's preaching. 

Before enquiring what Jeremiah meant by the Old Covenant, however, it 
vpill be well to ask ourselves what is the real meaning of the Hebrew word 
n''")? (perlth) which is rendered covenant in B W. In ordinary usage a covenant 
is an agreement, but such a meaning is too narrow for the original word. 
Dr McNeile in the note in his commentary on Exodus gives as its nearest 
English equivalent obligation, and he points out further that an obligation may 
be imposed upon another or upon oneself, or that mutual obligations may be 
incurred^. The covenant which Jeremiah has in mind is the series of mutual 
obligations incurred between Jehovah and Israel when He led them out of 
Egypt and brought them to Sinai. In his teaching Jeremiah laid very great 
stress on that part of the Covenant of Sinai which is called the Ten Words or 
the Decalogue (see especially ch. vii.). These commandments had been delivered 
to Israel by Moses and though written by the finger of Jehovah, they had been 
written upon tables of stone (Ex. xxxi. 18) and not iipon the living heart of the 
people. It is this law therefore that Duhm regards as obsolete and requiring 

1 Exodus, pp. 150 ff., see also Enc. Bib. 928 ff., and the elaborate enquiry by 
Valetoii in ZATIV. 189'2, pp. Iff., 224 ff., 1893, pp. 245 ff. In the opinion of the 
present writer there is still room for further investigation into the early use of the 
word when it was employed in a very vague way and apparently without any technical 
or theological meaning at all (cf. Am. i. 9 ; Hos. ii. 20). Driver is ready to admit 
that in Amos and Isaiah it has no technical meaning, but he cites Hos. vi. 7 and 
viii. 1 as instances of such a use in early times. But Hos. viii. 1 is almost certainly 
late (so Wellhausen, Nowack, Harper, &e.) and vi. 7 does not require any 'theologi- 
cal' content, as the translation 'like men who break covenants' gives a perfectly 
satisfactory sense. 

16—2 



244 THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH 

to be done away with, but it will surely be admitted that the Decalogue is still 
the basis of morality, and One greater than Jeremiah was not ashamed to con- 
fess that He came not to destroy the law but to fulfil it (Matt. v. 17). The New 
Covenant was indeed the promise of this 'fulfilment' of the Covenant at Sinai, 
because it was to spiritualise that Covenant and to enable men to carry it out'. 
The law was to be written no longer on tables of stone, that is it was not to 
consist of mere outward ordinances, but it was to be written on the heart (cf. 
Is. 1. 13 ; Joel ii. 28 f. ; Jn. vi. 15). Teaching such as this is quite what might 
reasonably be expected from the lips of Jeremiah, for following the example of 
his predecessor Hosea, he laid constant stress on the importance of ' knowing ' 
God (ii. 8, iv. 22, ix. 3, 5, 24, xxii. 16, xxiv. 7 ; cf. Hos. iv. 1, v. 4, vi. 6); further 
he had already made the attempt of spiritualising the legal requirement of 
circumcision (iv. 4) 2. In addition, as was pointed out above ^, the experiences 
of the prophet's own life were such as to make him realise the necessity for 
personal communion with God such as is the real basis of the New Covenant. 
It may also be allowable to see in Jeremiah's strong conviction that the religion 
of Jehovah would survive the downfall of the nation a further argument in 
favour of the authenticity of this passage, postulating as it did a new and more 
spiritual conception of the bond subsisting between Jehovah and His wor- 
shippers*. 

In conclusion the present writer, after much thought and a fresh review of 
all the available evidence, feels in complete agreement with Dr W. J. Moulton 
when he says that ' Every conception of the passage becomes transparent and 
easy if we attribute it to Jeremiah ; all the difficulties arise if it is of late date 
and unknown authorship ^' 



Chapter XXXH. 
The Purchase of the Field at Anathoth. 

This ch., like that which follows it, comes from a time when Jeremiah was 
imprisoned in the court of the guard {v. 2 ; cf. xxxiii. 1). Incidents such as that 
which it relates, the request that the next of kin should exercise the right or 
duty of buying the family possessions in order that they should not pass into 
alien hands, must have been no uncommon thing in Judah ; what made it so 

1 Cf. Vatke, Bihl. Theol. p. 526, 

2 Duhm's own note on this passage is interesting in view of bis rejection of 
xxxi. 31 ff. 

3 Introd. pp. lii f. 

* The following references to special covenants between Jehovah and His people 
contained in later writers are interesting, though of course no certain arguments 
cao be based upon them: 'I will make an everlasting covenant with you' (Is. Iv. 3, 
cf. Ixi. 8; Ez. xvi. 60, xxxvii. 26); 'this is my covenant, &c. ' (Is. lix. 21); 'people 
in whose heart is my law' (Is. Ii. 7) ; 'I will make with them a covenant of peace' 
(Ez. xxxiv. 25, cf. xxxvii. 26). 

® See his article in The Expositor, 1906, pp. 370 ff. 



XXXII. 1-4] THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH 245 

striking on this occasion was that the actual property sold was at the time 
occupied by the Chaldean armies who were besieging Jerusalem. The offer 
which Hanamel made to Jeremiah seemed to the prophet a divinely sent op- 
portunity of shewing his faith in the restoration of the nation, and his belief in 
the over-ruling hand of God (cf. Introd. p. Ixv). The incident itself is described 
in quite a brief manner, though full details ai"e given {vv. 6 — 15), and it seems 
probable that the rest of the ch. consists mainly of editorial additions. The 
discussion of these additions will be dealt with in the introduction to each 
section. The following are the divisions of the ch. : 

{a) The prophet's circumstances at the time of the purchase. 1 — 5. 

(b) The description of the transaction. 6 — 15. 

(c) The p>rophefs doubts and the Divine reply. 16 — 27. 

{d) The fate of Jerusalem and the sins which have made it inevitable. 

28—35. 
{e) The promise of restoration. 36 — 44. 

XXXII. 1 The word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord 
in the tenth year of Zedekiah king of Judah, which was the 
eighteenth year of Nebuchadrezzar. 2 Now at that time the 
king of Babylon's army besieged Jerusalem : and Jeremiah the 
prophet was shut up in the court of the guard, which was in the 
king of Judah's house. 3 For Zedekiah king of Judah had shut 
him up, saying, Wlierefore dost thou prophesy, and say, Thus 
saith the Lord, Behold, I will give this city into the hand of the 
king of Babylon, and he shall take it ; 4 and Zedekiah king of 

XXXII. 1 — 5. A description of the exact date of the purchase and 
of the situation in which the prophet found himself at the time. The %w. 
are almost certainly the work of an editor supplied in order to acquaint 
the reader with the desperate position both of the prophet himself and 
also of the state. 

1. the tenth year. As the siege began in Zedekiah's ninth year 
(xxxix. 1) afiairs were probably getting very desperate. 

2. was shut up. Jeremiah had been arrested on attempting to 
leave the city during the short interval which elapsed between the 
Chaldean withdrawal from Jerusalem on the approach of an Egyptian 
army and their return to continue the siege (xxxvii. 5, 11 — 15). Duhm 
and Cornill were both of the opinion that the incident took place before 
the resumption of the siege, but the latter in the Introduction to his 
Commentary (p. xxxvi) withdraws his statement to this effect contained 
in the body of the work (p. 248). 

the court of the guard. This was near to the king's palace (Neh. 
iii. 25), and was evidently used as a place of detention for political or 
other prisoners who were not to be imprisoned with the common folk. 

3 — 5. These w. explain why Jeremiah was imprisoned. 



240 THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH [xxxii. 4-^ 

Judah shall not escape out of the hand of the Chaldeans, but 
shall surely be delivered into the hand of the king of Babylon, 
and shall speak with him mouth to mouth, and his eyes shall 
behold his eyes ; 5 and he shall lead Zedekiah to Babylon, and 
there shall he be until I visit him, saith the Lord : though ye 
fight with the Chaldeans, ye shall not prosper? 

6 And Jeremiah said, The word of the Lord came unto me, 
saying, 7 Behold, Hanamel the son of Shallum thine uncle shall 
come unto thee, sayijig. Buy thee my field that is in Anathoth : 
for the right of redemption is thine to buy it. 8 So Hanamel 
mine uncle's son came to me in the court of the guard according 
to the word of the Lord, and said unto me, Buy my field, I pray 
thee, that is in Anathoth, which is in the land of Benjamin : for 
the right of inheritance is thine, and the redemption is thine ; 
buy it for thyself. Then I knew that this was the word of the 
Lord. 9 And I bought the field that was in Anathoth of Hanamel 
mine uncle's son, and weighed him the money, even seventeen 

5. visit kirn. Visitation, as St Jerome says, may mean either con- 
solation or punishment. In this case it probably meant death. 

6—15. The visit of Hanamel and the sale of the field to Jeremiah 
in the presence of witnesses and with all the necessary legal formalities. 

6. A7id Jeremiah said &c. lxx. has a simpler text reading The 
wai'd of the Lord came to Jeremiah saying. 

7. Hanamel the son of Shallum thine uncle. It is clear from vv. 8 
and 9 that it was Shallum who was the prophet's uncle. 

Anathoth. See Introd. p. xxviii. 

the right of redemption. Amongst the Hebrews, as amongst other 
Semitic peoples, every effort was made to prevent land from passing 
out of the possession of a family and going to strangers (cf Lev. xxv. 
24 f ; Ruth iv. 6 ; and, for the custom with the Arabs, see Doughty, 
Arabia Deserta, 11. p. 116). The right of the next-of-kin included the 
power of buying back the land even if it had been sold, but there is no 
reason for supposing that Hanamel had already disposed of the field. 
He was evidently a refugee in Jerusalem and perhaps in financial diffi- 
culties owing to his position, and therefore he came to his kinsman to 
raise money by the sale of his property. 

8. which... Benjamin. Jeremiah hardly needed to be told the situa- 
tion of his own home ; lxx. rightly omits. 

9. The prophet buys the field for the normal price in spite of its 
being in the possession of the besiegers; cf Livy xxvi. 11 where the 
actual ground on which Hannibal's army was encamped was sold by 
public auction in Rome. 

seventeen shekels. The shekel was worth about 2s. ^d. of English 



XXXII. 9-1 6] THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH 247 

shekels of silver. 10 And I subscribed the deed, and sealed it, 
and called witnesses, and weighed him the money in the balances. 

11 So I took the deed of the purchase, both that which was sealed, 
^according to the law and custom, and that which was open: 

12 and I delivered the deed of the purchase unto Baruch the son 
of Neriah, the son of Mahseiah, in the presence of Hanamel mine 
uncle's son, and in the presence of the witnesses that subscribed 
the deed of the purchase, before all the Jews that sat in the 
court of the guard. 13 And I charged Baruch before them, 
saying, 14 Thus saith the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel : Take 
these deeds, this deed of the purchase, both that which is sealed, 
and this deed which is open, and put them in an earthen vessel; 
that they may continue many days. 15 For thus saith the Lord 
of hosts, the God of Israel : Houses and fields and vineyards shall 
yet again be bought in this land. 

16 Now after I had delivered the deed of the purchase unto 

1 Or, containing the terms and conditions 

money though its purchasing power was much greater. It is interesting 
to compare the prices paid in other similar transactions : Abraham paid 
for the field of Ephron and the cave of Machpelah four hundred shekels 
(Gen. xxiii. 16); David paid fifty shekels for the threshing-floor of 
Araunah together with the oxen (2 S. xxiv. 24). 

10. vjitnesses. As in Gen. xxiii. 16. Witnesses were customsivy in 
Babylonian land transactions (AT^. iv.p. 109 fl".), and in the Assuan papyri 
eight are apparently necessary. In Jeremiah's case the witnesses served 
a double purpose, they made the purchase binding, and also they bore 
testimony to future ages of the prophet's trust in God (of. Is. viii. 1 ff".). 

11. The details of the legal customs described in this v. at one 
time caused some amount of difficulty; the discovery of similar deeds 
in Babylonia and Assyria has, however, removed them. It was appa- 
rently the usual thing to enclose the actual deed in an outer wrapper 
which itself bore a copy of the deed (cf. Jeremias, O.T. in the Light of 
the Ancient East, ii. p. 281; Johns, Bab. and Ass. Laws, &c. pp. 10 f.). 
Commercial customs in the East go back to the remotest antiquity, an 
article in the Asiatic Quarterly Rev. Oct. 1901, describes the system 
in use in Susa before 4000 B.C. Contract tablets from Gezer from times 
earlier than Jeremiah shew the influence of Assyrian customs. 

12. Baruch. This is the first mention of Jeremiah's faithful friend 
and secretary, and the man to whom we probably owe most of the book of 
Jeremiah. In the apocryphal epistle of Baruch the genealogy is carried 
several stages further back. See Introd. pp. Ixxiv f 

16—27. The prophet's doubts. In spite of the far-seeing faith 



248 THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH [xxxii. i6-,o 

Baruch the son of Neriah, I prayed unto the Lord, saying, 
17 Ah Lord God! behold, thou hast ma^e the heaven and the 
earth by thy great power and by thy stretched out arm ; there 
is nothing too ^hard for thee: 18 which she west mercy unto 
thousands, and recompensest the iniquity of the fathers into the 
bosom of their children after them : the great," the mighty God, 
the Lord of hosts is his name: 19 great in counsel, and mighty 
in work : whose eyes are open upon all the ways of the sons of 
men ; to give every one according to his ways, and according to 
the fruit of his doings : 20 which didst set signs and wonders 

^ Or, wonderful 

which Jeremiah exhibited in buying the field of Hanamel, and buying 
it in so striking a manner, his heart began to fail him; according to 
the account in this section he despaired because the fall of Jerusalem 
seemed imminent. It is of course possible that a mind such as that 
of Jeremiah might thus by a single bound travel from lively hope to 
the deepest pessimism, but the best explanation of the passage is that 
it comes from an interpolator. Jeremiah had too frequently faced the 
certainty of the fall of the city, deeming it a necessary preliminary to 
the ultimate recovery of the nation, to be^dismayed because it was about 
to come to pass. The actual contents of the section, consisting as they 
do of a collection of phrases found elsewhere in the prophet's writings 
and the book of Deuteronomy, are not such as to restore confidence in 
its genuineness. The long and elaborate introduction leading up to 
a prayer which consists of two vv. only, is unlike Jeremiah, and indeed 
finds a close parallel in Neh. ix. 5—38. Many critics look upon the 
pra}^er itself {vv. 24 f.) as genuine, but in this case it seems best to 
follow Dnhm, and, in view of the difficulties named above, to reject it. 
Although the introductory passage is out of proportion to the matter 
which \t introduces it is in itself no unskilful composition ; it begins 
by reciting the power and the mercy of God {vv. 17—19), especially 
as shewn in the history of the chosen people {vv. 20—22), and ends 
with a statement of their ingratitude {v. 23). 

17. stretched out arm. This phrase as a rule refers to Jehovah's 
interventions in history and not to His creative activity: cf v. 21; 
Ps. cxxxvi. 12; and see on xxvii. 5. 

there is... hard for thee. Quoted in Enoch Ixxxiv. 3. lxx. reads 
hidden for hard. 

18. unto thousands. There is here a reference to the Decaloffue 
(Ex. XX. 5 ; Dt. v. 9). 

the bosom. In the robe of an Eastern the folds at the bosom were 
used as a pocket (cf. Ruth iii. 15; Is. xl. 11, &c.). The figurative 
use of the phrase is also found in Is. Ixv. 6; Ps. Ixxix. 12. 

19. all tJm ways. Cf Jn. ii. 25. 

20. didst set. C£ Dt. vi. 22; Neh. ix. 10. 



xxxn. 20-^28] THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH 249 

in the land of Egypt, even unto this day, ^both in Israel and 
among other men ; andf madest thee a name, as at this day ; 
21 and didst bring forth thy people Israel out of the land of 
Egypt with signs, and with wonders, and with a strong hand, 
and with a stretched out arm, and with great terror; 22 and 
gavest them this land, which thou didst swear to their fathers 
to give them, a land flowing with milk and honey ; 23 and they 
came in, and possessed it ; but they obeyed not thy voice, neither 
walked in thy law; they have done nothing of all that thou 
commandedst them to do : therefore thou hast caused all this 
evil to come upon them : 24 behold the mounts, they are come 
unto the city to take it ; and the city is given into the hand of 
the Chaldeans that fight against it, because of the sword, and of 
the famine, and of the pestilence : and what thou hast spoken is 
come to pass; and, behold, thou seest it. 25 And thou hast 
said unto me, Lord God, Buy thee the field for money, and 
call witnesses; whereas the city is given into the hand of the 
Chaldeans. 

26 Then came the word of the Lord unto Jeremiah, saying, 
27 Behold, I am the Lord, the God of all flesh: is there any 
thing too hard for me ? 

28 Therefore thus saith the Lord: Behold, I will give this 

1 Or, and 

unto this day. The expression is hard to explain, perhaps in the 
land of Egypt is a gloss as Cornill thinks; or it may be that the memory 
of the wonders was still maintained, and it was thus possible to speak 
of them by a slight exaggeration as continuing to this day. 

Israel... men. For a similar contrast see Jud. xvi. 7; Ps. Ixxiii. 5. 

madest thee a name. Cf. Geji. xi. 4; Is. Ixiii. 12, 14. 

21. This V. is very similar to Dt. xxvi. 8; cf. also Ex. xv, 14; 
Dt. ii. 25, iv. 34; Josh. ii. 9 ff., &c. 

22. Cf. xi. 5 ; and see Neh. ix. 22—35. 

23. Cf. xi. 8. 

24. the mounts. Cf. vi. 6. 

is given. The city is as good as lost al#|ady so far have the siege 
works of the Chaldeans progressed. 

26 f. In these two vv. God reassures the prophet by emphasising 
His omnipotence. 

27. of all flesh. Cf Nu. xvi. 22, xxvii. 16; Job xii. 10; Am. ix. 7. 

too hard. Cf. the positive statement in v. 11. 

28 — 35. This section in its attitude is quite in accordance with 



250 THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH [xxxii. 18-54 

city into the hand of the Qhaldeans, and into the hand of Nebu- 
chadrezzar king of Babylon, and he shall take it: 29 and the 
Chaldeans, that fight against this city, shall come and set this 
city on fire, and burn it, with the houses, upon whose roofs they 
have ofiered incense unto Baal, and poured out drink offerings 
unto other gods, to provoke me to anger. 30 For the children 
of Israel and the children of Judah have only done that which 
was evil in my sight from their youth : for the children of Israel 
have only provoked me to anger with the work of their hands, 
saith the Lord. 31 For this city hath been to me a provocation 
of mine anger and of my fury from the day that they built it 
even unto this day ; that I should remove it from before my face : 
32 because of all the evil of the children of Israel and of the 
children of Judah, which they have done to provoke me to anger, 
they, their kings, their princes, their priests, and their prophets, 
and the men of Judah, and the inhabitants of Jerusalem. 33 And 
they have turned unto me the back, and not the face : and though 
I taught them, rising up early and teaching them, yet they have 
not hearkened to receive instruction. 34 But they set their 
abominations in the house which is called by my name, to defile 

the usual teaching of Jeremiah — the fate of the nation will be the fruit 
of its own sin and folly — but as a reply from God to the prophet's 
doubts it is most unsuitable. 

29. upon whose roofs. Is this a reference to the worship of the 
^avenly bodies ? (cf. Zeph. i. 5). 

30. This V. contains two difficulties; Jeremiah has elsewhere 
spoken in quite a different tone of the youth of Israel (ii. 2 ; cf. Hos. 
xi. 1) ; and the sins of the children of Israel are hardly a reason for the 
destruction of Jerusalem. The latter half of the v. is missing from lxx. 
probably correctly as the phrase children of Israel is used in two quite 
different senses in the two halves of the v. 

31. Ezekiel takes the same view of the sin of Jerusalem but 
attributes it to the heathen origin of the city (xvi. 3 — 6). This pre- 
sent V. suggests that the city had been built by the Israelites, but the 
reference is perhaps to its rebuilding when it became the chief city of 
Israel (2 S. v. 9). 

33. For the figure of God as the Teacher of His people, cf Is. 
xlviii. 17; Ps. Ixxi. 17. 

34 f. These vv. are very similar to vii. 30 f. where see notes. 

34. their abominations. For a description of the illegal objects of 
worship which were introduced by the last generation of the men of 
Judah into the house of God, see Ez. v. 11, viii. 6ff. 



XXXII. 34-36] THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH 251 

it. 35 And they built the high places of Baal, which are in the 
valley of the son of Hinnom,to cause their sons and their daughters 
to pass through the fire unto Molech; which I commanded them 
not, neither came it into my ^mind, that they should do this 
abomination ; to cause Judah to sin. 

36 And now therefore thus saith the Lord, the God of Israel, 

^ Heb. heart. 

35. Baal... Molech. The two deities are apparently identified. 
As was pointed out above (see on vii. .31), Molech is probably intended 
for Melech, the Heb. for king, and tbe title king was applied to various 
gods by the Phoenicians (see Dr Barnes' note in the Camb. Bible on 
1 K. xi. 5). A Phoenician deity named Melechbaal ('pyna'po) is men- 
tioned in CIS. 147, 194, 380. At the same time the later part of the 
V. seems to regard the sacrifices as offered to Jehovah Himself, as it is 
He who protests that He never commanded them (cf vii. 22) ; it 
should not be forgotten that the titles both of Baal and Melech are 
applied to Jehovah (Hos. ii. 16; Lev. xviii. 21, xx. 2 — 5)\ 

to pass through the fire. The exact meaning or manner of the rite 
has been lost. It is not absolutely necessary to look upon it as a 
sacrifice, it may have been merely a ceremony of purification, though 
the destruction of the children is almost certain : cf. Nu. xxxi. 23, and 
see E71C. Bib. 3184; Frazer, Magic Art, ii. p. 232; Adonis, ii. p. 219. 

36 — 44. The promise of restoration. The fate of the city is 
certain, it is to be given up to the sword, the pestilence and the famine, 
the three invariable accompaniments of every prolonged siege. But 
none the less the future contains a hope which is equally certain, the 
nation will be restored once more to its own land, and at the same 
time a closer relationship will be made possible between Jehovah and 
the individual Israelite. The genuineness of this section has been 
much more readily recognised than that of the previous vv. though 
the majority of scholars reject it (e.g. Duhm, Cornill and Giesebrecht). 
There are considerable difficulties to be faced by those who regard the 
vv. as coming from Jeremiah himself; v. 37, for example, looks upon 
the dispersion as already accomplished, and v. 43 must be from a time 
subsequent to the desolation of Judah. There is, however, in this 
passage some originality, it is not merely a string of quotations, and it 
is ",7ell suited to the position of the prophet as revealed in vv. 6 — 15; 
the present writer is therefore disposed to follow Lr Peake in accepting 
the section as ' substantially Jeremianic, but committed to writing in 
its present form after the destruction of Jerusalem and the deportation 
of the captives had taken place. Even the reference to the deportation 
is not necessarily impossible on Jeremiah's lips : cf xxiii. 3, 7, 8, xxiv. 9.' 

36. therefm-e. This word seems to look back to v. 27. 

1 Dr Kennett has made the interesting suggestion that the children may have 
been offered originally to the reigning king regarded as an incarnation of the deity. 
This suggestion has been worked out by Frazer, Adonis, ii. pp. 219 ff. 



252 THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH [xxxii. 36-44 

concerning this city, whereof ye say, It is given into the hand of 
the king of Babylon by the sword, and by the famine, and by 
the pestilence: 37 Behold, I will gather them out of all the 
countries, whither I have driven them in mine anger, and in my 
fury, and in great wrath ; and I will bring them again unto this 
place, and I will cause them to dwell safely : 38 and they shall 
be my people, and I will be their God : 39 and I will give them 
one heart and one way, that they may fear me for ever ; for the 
good of them, and of their children after them : 40 and I will 
make an everlasting covenant with them, that I will not turn 
away ^from them, to do them good; and I will put my fear in 
their hearts, that they shall not depart from me. 41 Yea, I will 
rejoice over them to do them good, and I will plant them in this 
land ^assuredly with my whole heart and with my whole soul. 
42 For thus saith the Lord : Like as I have brought all this great 
evil upon this people, so will I bring upon them all the good that 
I have promised them. 43 And fields shall be bought in this 
land, whereof ye say. It is desolate, without man or beast ; it is 
given into the hand of the Chaldeans. 44 Men shall buy fields 
for money, and subscribe the deeds, and seal them, and call 
witnesses, in the land of Benjamin, and in the places about 
Jerusalem, and in the cities of Judah, and in the cities of the 
hill country, and in the cities of the lowland, and in the cities 
of the South : for I will cause their captivity to return, saith the 
Lord. 

1 Heb. frovi after them. - Heb. in truth. 

37. Cf. xxiii. 3, 6; Hos. xi. 11. 

38. Cf. xxxi. 33. 

39. tJiey may fear .. .after them. Cf. Dt. iv. 10, vi. 24. 

40. The everlasting covenant of this v. is evidently the same as the 
New Covenant of xxxi. 31 ft'. Cf. Is. Iv. 3; Ez. xvi. 60. 

41. plant them. Cf. xxiv. 6, xxxi. 27 f. 

my whole heart. . .soul. The phrase is Deuteronomic and is not used 
elsewhere of God. 

44. Cf xvii. 26 for the meaning of the various geographical 
divisions of the country. 



XXXIII. 1-4] THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH 253 

Chapter XXXHI. 

Further Promises of Return and Restoration. 

This ch. is connected with xxxi., as was pointed out above, and involves 
some of the same problems. The first half of the passage {vv. 1—13) is as a 
whole probably genuine, in spite of the contrary opinion of Duhm and Cornill ; 
it is necessary however to allow for the presence in it of later interpolations. 
The latter part {vc. 14 — 26) has been rejected by nearly all recent scholars and 
the fact that it is entirely missing from lxx. condemns it as late. It is replete 
with phrases apjiarently borrowed from other parts of the book, and also con- 
tains expressions which can hardly have been used in the time of Jeremiah. 
The contents may be divided as follows : 

(a) JehovaKs invitation to the prophet. 1 — 3. 

(6) Jerusalem will fall hut her latter days will he glorious. 4 — 9. 

(c) The restoration of the desolate land. 10 — 13. 

{d) God will give kings and priests in due succession. 14 — 18. 

ifi) The ordinances of nature are no surer than the future of Israel 
19—26. 

XXXIII. 1 Moreover the word of the Lord came unto Jere- 
miah the second time, while he was yet shut up in the court of 
the guard, saying, 2 Thus saith the Lord that doeth it, the Lord 
that formeth it to establish it ; the Lord is his name : 3 Call 
unto me, and I will answer thee, and will shew thee great things, 
and difficult, which thou knowest not. 4 For thus saith the 

1 Heb. fenced in. 

XXXIII. 1 — 3. Jehovah calls upon Jeremiah when in the court 
of the guard to share in His secret plans. 

1. the second time. See xxxii. 2 for the previous occasion, and for 
the expression cf. i. 13. 

the court of the guard. See note on xxxii. 2. 

2 f. These vv. are rejected by nearly all scholars as a later insertion 
probably influenced by 2 Is. (e.g. xlv. 18, xlvii. 4, xlviii. 6). The last 
part of V. 3 is strange, as the contents of the promised revelation merely 
repeat what had already been declared in xxxi., xxxii. 

2. that doeth it. The reading of LXX. is to be preferred who made 
the earth and formed it to establish it. 

3. Call unto me. Prophecy and prayer are here connected; cf. 
Prov. ii. 1 — 6 (the search for wisdom). The v. is very interesting and 
important as shewing the need for human cooperation if the Divine reve- 
lation, which God is willing and anxious to unfold, is to become possible. 

difficult. Lit. cut oj^, inaccessible; cf. mg. fenced in^. 

1 Certain MSS. read ni"l1V>1 hidden for nn-l^n-l fenced in; possibly this is the 
correct reading ; cf. Is. xlviii. 6. 



254 THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH [xxxiii. 4-9 

Lord, the God of Israel, concerning the houses of this city, and 
concerning the houses of the kings of Judah, which are broken 
down to make a defence against the mounts, and against the 
sword: 5 They come to fight with the Chaldeans, but it is to 
fill them with the dead bodies of men, whom I have slain in mine 
anger and in my fury, and for all whose wickedness I have hid 
my face from this city. 6 Behold, I will bring it ^health and 
cure, and I will cure them ; and I will reveal unto them abund- 
ance of peace and truth, 7 And 1 will cause the captivity of 
Judah and the captivity of Israel to return, and will build them, 
as at the first. 8 And I m ill cleanse them from all their iniquity, 
whereby they have sinned against me ; and I will pardon all their 
iniquities, whereby they have sinned against me, and whereby 
they have transgressed against me. 9 And this city shall be to 

^ Or, healing 

4 — 9. The resistance to the Chaldeans will only result in useless 
bloodshed; but Jehovah Himself will bring salvation by the turning 
back of the captivity of Judah and Israel. 

4 f. These vv. give a vivid picture, which bears every mark of being 
original, of the state of the besieged city, the breaking down of houses 
to strengthen the defences, the terrible slaughter of the defenders. 

4. mounts. See on vi. 6, and cf. xxxii. 24, lii. 4 ; Ez. iv. 2. 

5. They come. This v. as it stands is quite evidently corrupt, for 
the antecedent of they must be houses which does not make sense. 
Various suggestions involving changes of a somewhat violent nature 
have been put forward to simplify the v., taking, as a rule, the Chaldeans 
as the subject. Cornill's reconstruction is perhaps the best. The houses 
...which are broken down, against which the Chaldeans come with mounds 
and swords to fight and to fill them with the dead bodies of men whom &c. 

hid my face. God hides His face in anger and displeasure ; cf. 
Ez. xxxix. 23; and contrast Nu. vi. 26. 

6. health. Mg. healing; liierAly fresh flesh; see on viii. 22. The 
object of God's compassion is probably the city regarded as a person. 

abundance. The Heb. word occurs here only and from the evidence 
of the versions the text is probably corrupt. Duhm would read by 
a slight emendation treasures (cf. Is. x. 13). 

peace and truth. It is perhaps better to read as in xiv. 1^ peace of 
truth; the true peace founded on God's faithfulness and contrasted 
with the vain peace of the false prophets. 

7. as at the first. Cf. Hos. ii. 15; Is. i. 26. 

8. cleanse them .. .pardon. The forgiveness of the past and its 
obliteration from God's sight; cf. xxxi. 24; Ez. xxxvi. 25. 

9. Cf. xiii. 11; Mic. vii. 151!".; Is. Ix. 5. In the latter passage 
the emotion referred to is one of pleasure, see Wade ad loc. 



XXXIII. 9-14] THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH 255 

me for a name of joy, for a praise and for a glory, before all the 
nations of the earth, which shall hear all the good that I do unto 
them, and shall fear and tremble for all the good and for all the 
peace that I procure unto it. 10 Thus saith the Lord: Yet 
again there shall be heard in this place, whereof ye say, It is 
waste, without man and without beast, even in the cities of Judah, 
and in the streets of Jerusalem, that are desolate, without man 
and without inhabitant and without beast, 11 the voice of joy 
and the voice of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom and the 
voice of the bride, the voice of them that say. Give thanks to the 
Lord of hosts, for the Lord is good, for his mercy endureth for 
ever: and of them that bring sacrifices o/ thanksgiving into the 
house of the Lord, For I will cause the captivity of the land to 
return as at the first, saith the Lord. 12 Thus saith the Lord 
of hosts : Yet again shall there be in this place, which is waste, 
without man and without beast, and in all the cities thereof, an 
habitation of shepherds causing their flocks to lie down. 13 In 
the cities of the hill country, in the cities of the lowland, and in 
the cities of the South, and in the land of Benjamin, and in the 
places about Jerusalem, and in the cities of Judah, shall the 
flocks again pass under the hands of him that telleth them, saith 
the Lord. 

14 Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will perform 

10 — 13. The desolate land shall once more be inhabited and flocks 
shall lie down in safety. 

10 f. These vv. form the basis of the closing part of the benediction 
in the Jewish Marriage Service at the present day. 

11. Give thanks to the Lord &c. The people in their rejoicing do 
not forget the source from which it springs. The actual form in which 
they express their thanksgivings is very similar to some of the later 
psalms; e.g. Ps. cvi. 1, cvii. 1, 22, &c. ; cf, also 1 Ch. xvi. 34; Ezra 
iii. 11. 

12. The picture of the misery and desolation of the present throws 
into stronger light the joy and plenteousness of the future. 

13. that telleth them. Tell, i.e. to count; cf Milton, L' Allegro, 67, 
'every shepherd tells his tale'; and Dryden's translation of Virgil, 
Eclogue, iii. 34 ' she takes the tale of all the lambs.' There is perhaps 
a reference to Lev. xxvii. 32. 

14 — 18. In the future age there shall be an unfailing succession of 
kings upon the throne of David; the priests also shall never be cut 
short. 



256 THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH [xxxiii. 14-24 

that good word which I have spoken concerning the house of 
Israel and concerning the house of Judah. 15 In those days, 
and at that time, will I cause a ^Branch of righteousness to grow 
up unto David ; and he shall execute judgement and righteous- 
ness in the land. 16 In those days shall Judah be saved, and 
Jerusalem shall dwell safely : and this is the name whereby she 
shall be called, ^The Lord is our righteousness. 17 For thus 
saith the Lord: ^ David shall never want a man to sit upon the 
throne of the house of Israel ; 18 neither shall the priests the 
Levites want a man before me to offer burnt offerings, and to 
burn * oblations, and to do sacrifice continually. 19 And the 
word of the Lord came unto Jeremiah, saying, 20 Thus saith 
the Lord: If ye can break my covenant of the day, and my 
covenant of the night, so that there should not be day and night 
in their season; 21 then may also my covenant be broken with 
David my servant, that he should not have a son to reign upon 
his throne ; and with the Levites the priests, my ministers. 22 As 
the host of heaven cannot be numbered, neither the sand of the 
sea measured ; so will I multiply the seed of David my servant, 
and the Levites that minister unto me. 23 And the word of 
the Lord came to Jeremiah, saying, 24 Considerest thou not 

^ See ch. xxiii. 5. "^ See ch. xxiii. 6. 

' Heb. There shall not be cut off from David. * Or, meal offerings 

15 f. These vv. are closely parallel to xxiii. 5 f., xxix. 10. 

16. she shall be called. In this place the title The Lord is our 
righteousness is given to the city and not to the ideal king as in xxiii. 6 
(cf. Ez. xlviii. 35; and the name which Gideon gave to the altar in his 
city ' Jehovah-shalom '—the Lord is peace ; Jud. vi. 24). 

18. the priests the Levites. Before the return from exile the terms 
priest and Levite were synonymous (see Dr McNeile, Numbers, pp. xivff., 
in the Camb. Bible). Afterwards the Levites were degraded into temple- 
servants and were not allowed to offer burnt offerings, to burn oblations 
or to sacrifice (cf. Ez. xliv. 10 — 16; Nu. xvi. 9f.). 

19 — 26. In this passage the argument from the fixity of the natural 
laws is again used to prove the certainty of God's promises (cf. xxxi. 
35 f ), this time with special reference to the assured continuity of the 
kings and the priests. In the later vv. the same argument is used of 
the restoration of both branches of the family of Israel. 

21. with David. See 2 S. vii. 12—16; 1 K. ii. 4; and cf Ps. 
Ixxxix. 3, cxxxii. 11, for other notices of the Davidic covenant. 

24. This V. as it stands is difficult, as it is impossible to say 



xxxiii. 24-26] THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH 257 

what this people have spoken, saying, The two families which 
the Lord did choose, he hath cast them off? thus do they despise 
my people, that they should be no more a nation before them. 

25 Thus saith the Lord: If my covenant of day and night stand 
not, if I have not appointed the ordinances of heaven and earth ; 

26 then will I also cast away the seed of Jacob, and of David 
my servant, so that I will not take of his seed to be rulers over 
the seed of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob: for I will ^ cause their 
captivity to return, and will have mercy on them. 

^ Or, return to their captivity 

whether this people refers to Israel or to the heathen. Duhm's emenda- 
tion restores the meaning Im hath cast them off, and despised his people, 
that it should be tio more a nation before him. 

The two Jamilies. Israel and Judah (cf. v. 26), not Levi and David. 

did choose. This is the only reference to the choice of Israel in the 
whole book; in Ez. also there is but one reference, xx. 5. The idea of 
the choice is found in Am. iii. 2 ; Ex. xix. 5 f. and is common in Dt. 

25. If mxj covenant. A slight change in the Heb. gives the reading 
If I have not created (Duhm), and it is then unnecessary to supply 
a verb as is done by EVV. 

26. Isaac. The spelling of the original^ is unusual and found 
elsewhere only in Am. vii. 9, 16; Ps. cv. 9. 



CHAPTERS XXXIV.— XXXIX. 

In these chapters the personal history of the prophet, which was interrupted 
after xxix. 32, is once more resumed. The general subject of the division is 
Jeremiah's life during the siege. Some of the events narrated in it can be 
pai'alleled from the earlier chapters of the book and in the arrangement of his 
matter the compiler has not been influenced by a strict regard for chronological 
sequence. The contents may be grouped under the following heads : 

The message to Zedekiah. xsxiv. 1 — 7. 

The release of the slaves, xxxiv. 8 — 22. 

The incident of the Rechabites. xxxv. 

Jeremiah's roll and its fate, xxxvi. 

Warnings and persecutions, xxxvii., xxxviii. 28 a. 

The fall of Jerusalem, xxxviii. 28 & — xxxix. 14. 

The message to Ebed-Melech. xxxix. 15 — 18. 



1 pnb'^ for pnv\ 



258 THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH [xxxiv. 1-5 

Chapter XXXIV. 1—7. 

The Message to Zedekiah. 

The prophecy recorded in this passage was evidently delivered in the early 
part of the siege and before the temporary relief brought by the approach of 
the Egyptian army ; Jeremiah is still at liberty (». 6) and two other cities besides 
Jerusalem are still holding out against the Babylonians (». 7). 

XXXIV. 1 The word which came unto Jeremiah from the 
Lord, when Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, and all his army, 
and all the kingdoms of the earth that were under his dominion, 
and all the peoples, fought against Jerusalem, and against all 
the cities thereof, saying: 2 Thus saith the Lord, the God of 
Israel, Go, and speak to Zedekiah king of Judah, and tell him, 
Thus saith the Lord, Behold, I will give this city into the hand 
of the king of Babylon, and he shall burn it with fire : 3 and 
thou shalt not escape out of his hand, but shalt surely be taken, 
and delivered into his hand; and thine eyes shall behold the 
eyes of the king of Babylon, and he shall speak with thee mouth 
to mouth, and thou shalt go to Babylon. 4 Yet hear the word 
of the Lord, O Zedekiah king of Judah: thus saith the Lord 
concerning thee. Thou shalt not die by the sword ; 5 thou shalt 

XXXIV. 1. The form of this v. is very elaborate and resembles 
the opening of an Assyrian inscription rather than a Hebrew prophecy ; 
the simpler text preserved in lxx., which omits the kingdoms of and 
and all the peoples, is probably original. 

kingdoms. These would be the contingents sent from subject states 
(cf. 2 K. xxiv. 2). 

3. thine eyes &c. Cf. xxxii. 3 f. Zedekiah was in an unenviable 
position, and the consciousness of his broken pledges (cf. Ez. xvii.) must 
have weighed heavily on his mind. There is no mention here of the 
putting out of Zedekiah's eyes, which leads Duhm to question the account 
contained in lii. 11 and 2 K. xxvii. 7; Ez. xii. 13, however, seems con- 
clusive on the point. 

m.outh to mouth. Lit. his mouth shall speak with thy mouth. 

4f. These vv. come rather strangely in a threatening prophecy, 
Jeremiah would hardly be likely at this juncture to foretell smooth 
things to Zedekiah; possibly some clause has fallen out which made 
the promises conditional. 

4. Yet. God reveals His plans gradually whether they be plans 
of punishment or of reward. 



XXXIV. 5-7] THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH 259 

die in peace ; and with the burnings of thy fathers, the former 
kings which were before thee, so shall they ^make a burning for 
thee ; and they shall lament thee, saying, Ah lord ! for I have 
spoken the word, saith the Lord. 6 Then Jeremiah the prophet 
spake all these words unto Zedekiah king of Judah in Jerusalem, 
7 when the king of Babylon's army fought against Jerusalem, 
and against all the cities of Judah that were left, against Lachish 
and against Azekah ; for these alone remained of the cities of 
Judah as fenced cities. 

1 See 2 Chr. xvi. 14, xxi. 19. 

5. the burnings of thy fathers. Cf. 2 Ch. xvi. 14, xxi. 19, and see 
Joseph. De Bell. Jud. i. xxxiii. 19 (at the funeral of Herod). It has 
been suggested that these burnings for the kings were a heathen 
survival, Renan, Hist, du peuple d' Israel, in. p. 121; cf also Frazer, 
Adonis, i. pp. 177 f. 

7. Lachish... Azekah. Both these towns had been fortified by 
Rehoboam (2 Ch. xi. 9). Lachish was some 35 miles SW. of Jerusalem 
on the site of the modern Tell el-Hesy (see F. J. Bliss, A Mound of Many 
Cities). It had been the headquarters of Sennacherib (Is. xxxvi. 2), 
though the Assyrian monarch only captured the town with difficulty 
and after very elaborate preparations (see Layard, Nineoeh and Babylon, 
p. 149). The site of Azekah is unknown but it probably lay some 
15 miles SW. of Jerusalem. Cf. Josh. xv. 35; 1 S. xvii. 1; Neh. xi. 
30 (with Lachish). 

Chapter XXXIV. 8—22. 
The Release of the Slaves. 

In the early part of the siege of Jerusalem the men of the city released their 
Hebrew slaves, perhaps in accordance with the requirements of the law (see on 
vv. 8 and 14), and as a bribe to Jehovah to gain His help against Babylon ; 
perhaps also, as Duhm thinks, to provide more defenders for the city, for the 
newly emancipated slaves would have more interest in keeping out the besiegers. 
The former and religious motive was evidently the more prominent, the release 
being guaranteed by a solemn covenant. In the eyes of the men of Jerusalem 
their piety was speedily rewarded; for the Egyptians exhibited an unusual 
measure of activity and advanced to the relief of the city. Their efforts were 
successful and the Babylonians were compelled to abandon the siege. Ignoring 
their solemn oath to God, ignoring the claims of brotherly love, or even of 
common justice, the Hebrews immediately re-enslaved their brethren. The 
prophet's condemnation followed swiftly on this unrighteous conduct. Just as 
release had been given to the slaves, so would Jehovah give the men of Jerusalem 

17—2 



260 THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH [xxxiv. s-n 

release from His service, and, what followed as a consequence, from His protec- 
tion. On the other hand just as they had made their slaves to return, so would 
Jehovah make the besiegers to return upon the faithless city. 

(a) The covenant of liberty. 8 — 11. 

(6) Law and perjury. 12 — 16. 

(c) The punishment of broken obligations. 17 — 22. 

8 The word that came unto Jeremiah from the Lord, after 
that the king Zedekiah had made a covenant with all the people 
which were at Jerusalem, to proclaim liberty unto them ; 9 that 
every man should let his manservant, and every man his maid- 
servant, being an Hebrew or an Hebrewess, go free ; that none 
should serve himself of them, to wit, of a Jew his brother: 10 and 
all the princes and all the people obeyed, which had entered into 
the covenant, that every one should let his manservant, and 
every one his maidservant, go free, that none should serve them- 
selves of them any more ; they obeyed, and let them go : 11 but 
afterwards they turned, and caused the servants and the hand- 
maids, whom they had let go free, to return, and brought them 

8 — 11. Zedekiah and the people made a covenant to release all 
native slaves of either sex. Cf. Neh. v. 8 — 12 for a similar action on 
the part of Nehemiah. 

8. had made a covenant. The release of the male slave at the end of 
six years from the beginning of servitude is provided for in Ex. xxi. 2 (E) 
and of the female in Dt. xv. 2. If this law had ever been accepted 
before the days of Jeremiah, it had by his time fallen into neglect, and 
instead of its provisions a covering measure compelling the release of 
all slaves was agreed to by the people. The number of slaves must 
have been very great as the frequent invasions had ruined the small 
landowners, who were also oppressed by the greed of the great pro- 
prietors (cf Am. ii. 7; Mic. ii. 2, 9; Is. v. 8, &c.) and in their poverty 
reduced to servitude (see Introd. p. lix). 

all... at Jerusalem. As the rest of the inhabitants of Judah were 
cut off by the besiegers the covenant related to Jerusalem only. 

libert'ii. Heb. "'^"''^.; deror, lit. flowing, and therefore fi'ee (cf. the 
Babylonian durdru, and see S. A. Cook, Laws of 3Ioses, &c., pp. 159 
note 1, 229 note 1). The word is used in a similar connexion in Lev. 
XXV. 10; Ez. xlvi. 17; Is. Ixi. 1: it also gives her name to the swallow. 

9. that none... his brother. So Lev. xxv. 39 — 46. lxx. reads so 
that no one of Judah should any more be a slave. 

11. afterivards they turned. 'A death-bed repentance, with the 
usual sequel on recovery,' Peake. Cf. Dean Church, St Anselm, pp. 
226 f. 



XXXIV. ii-t8] THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH 261 

into subjection for servants and for handmaids : 1 2 therefore the 
word of the Lord came to Jeremiah from the Lord, saying, 13 Thus 
saith the Lord, the God of Israel : I made a covenant with your 
fathers in the day that I brought them forth out of the land of 
Egypt, out of the house of ^bondage, saying, 14 At the end of 
seven years ye shall let go every man his brother that is an 
Hebrew, which ^hath been sold unto thee, and hath served thee 
six years, thou shalt let him go free from thee : but your fathers 
hearkened not unto me, neither inclined their ear. 15 And ye 
were now turned, and had done that which is right in mine eyes, 
in proclaiming liberty every man to his neighbour ; and ye had 
made a covenant before me in the house which is called by my 
name: 16 but ye turned and profaned my name, and caused 
every man his servant, and every man his handmaid, whom ye 
had let go free at their pleasure, to return ; and ye brought them 
into subjection, to be unto you for servants and for handmaids. 
17 Therefore thus saith the Lord: Ye have not hearkened unto 
me, to proclaim liberty, every man to his brother, and every man 
to his neighbour: behold, I proclaim unto you a liberty, saith 
the Lord, to the sword, to the pestilence, and to the famine ; and 
I will make you to be ^tossed to and fro among all the kingdoms 
of the earth. 18 And I will give the men that have transgressed 
my covenant, which have not performed the words of the cove- 
nant which they made before me, *when they cut the calf in 

1 Heb. bondmen. ^ Or, hath sold himself 

3 Or, a terror unto * Heb. the calf ichich they cut d'c. 

12 — 16. The prophet tells the people that they have not only 
broken the law, but also the special covenant which they had made 
with God ; perjury has been added to treachery. 

14. At the end of seven years, lxx. reads six which is the period 
really contemplated ; the Hebrews in making a calculation of this kind 
included both the first term and the last in their reckoning (cf. ' after 
three days' Mk. viii. 31; contrast ix. 31, x. 34). According to the 
Code of Hammurabi, § 117, if a man sold his wife or children for a debt 
they were to be returned at the end of three years. 

16. at tJieir pleasure. Lit. according to their soul; cf. xxii. 27. 

17 — 22. The sentence is proclaimed. Because the people have 
neglected to carry out the law of emancipation they are to be emanci- 
pated from Jehovah's servic^ and protection. ' The punishment is to 
be according to the jus talionis ' (Giesebrecht). Cf. Matt. vii. 2. 

18. when they cut the calf in twain. Cf. Gen. xv. 9 — 11, 17 (with 



262 THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH [xxxiv. 18-22 

twain and passed between the parts thereof; 19 the princes of 
Judah, and the princes of Jerusalem, the eunuchs, and the priests, 
and all the people of the land, which passed between the parts 
of the calf; 9,0 I will even give them into the hand of their 
enemies, and into the hand of them that seek their life: and 
their dead bodies shall be for meat unto the fowls of the heaven, 
and to the beasts of the earth. 21 And Zedekiah king of Judah 
and his princes will I give into the hand of their enemies, and 
into the hand of them that seek their life, and into the hand of 
the king of Babylon's army, which are gone up from you. 22 Be- 
hold, I will command, saith the Lord, and cause them to return 
to this city ; and they shall fight against it, and take it, and burn 
it with fire: and I will make the cities of Judah a desolation, 
without inhabitant. 

Driver's note). The animal was slain and its carcase divided up ; each 
of the parties to the agreement then passed between them, invoking 
a similar fate upon himself if he failed to keep his contract. Dr Bennett 
{Expos. Bible, ad loc.) compares the case of the agreement made by the 
leaders of the contending factions of the Macedonian army after the 
death of Alexander, when the compromise was ratified by the contracting 
parties going between the two halves of a dog (cf also Iliad, iii. 298). 
The Chinese, even in the present day, take an oath by kneeling down 
and smashing a saucer, saying meanwhile ' I shall tell the truth, the 
whole truth. The saucer is broken and if I tell not the truth my soul 
will be broken like the saucer.' See further McNeile, Exodus, p. 154 
note 1. Robertson Smith, however, is not satisfied with the above * 
explanation as it fails to account for ' the characteristic feature in the 
ceremony — the passing between the pieces; and, on the other hand, 
we see from Ex. xxiv. 8... that the dividing of the sacrifice and the 
application of the blood to both parties go together. The sacrifice 
presumably was divided into two parts, when both parties joined in 
eating it : and when it ceased to be eaten, the parties stood between 
the pieces as a symbol that they were taken within the mystical life of 
the victim.' Rel Sem.^ p. 481 \ 

20. Cf vii. 33, xvi. 4. 

21. Zedekiah. Contrast v. 5 where the judgement passed on 
Zedekiah is comparatively favourable. 



' For other instances of the rite in both ancient and modern times see J. G. Frazer, 
The Magic Art, i. p. 289, and the authorities there quoted. 



THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH 263 

Chapter XXXV. 
The Incident of the Rechahites. 

Towards the end of the reign of Jehoiakim {v. 1 ; see note however) Judah 
was overrun by bands of Syrians and Chaldeans (2 K. xxiv. 2) who drove the 
inhabitants of the open country and of the smaller towns to seek refuge in 
Jerusalem. Amongst these fugitives was the family or clan of the Rechabites 
who had hitherto avoided living in towns or even in houses, preserving the 
simpler conditions of life as handed down to them by their forefathers. 

According to 1 Ch. ii. 55 the Rechabites were a branch of the Kenites, a 
tribe which had been associated with the Israelites from the earliest times, and 
who had finally settled in the south of Judah (Jud. i. 16; 1 S. xv. 6)^. Their 
avoidance of wine was not primarily a protest against di-unkenness and luxurj'^, 
but was part of the general religious policy of 'their father' Jonadab, the son 
of Rechab. This policy was probably based on the conception of Jehovah as the 
God of a wilderness people, and those who supported it were upholders of the 
' primitive severe and unimaginative ' religion of the Israelite nation against the 
later eclecticism with its sanction of heathen rites ^. When the nomad Israelites 
settled in Canaan they were bound to take up the cultivation of the soil in order 
to support themselves and their families ; in doing so they would be dependent 
on their Canaanite neighbours for instruction in the arts of agriculture, and 
these arts would involve the learning of religious rites intended to propitiate 
the Baalim who were responsible for the fertility of the ground. In adopting 
such practices the Israelites had no intention of abandoning, or even of com- 
promising, their allegiance to Jehovah as the supreme God of Israel, they looked 
upon the local Baalim as so many demigods or guardian spirits. In course of 
time, however, as the conception of Jehovah as the only God to be worshipped 
by Israel became more general, the rites paid to these local deities, with all 
their underlying superstitious, would be transfen-ed to Him. The policy of 
Jonadab was a protest against the nation's having anything to do with agricultural 
life, involving as it did the performance of these degi'ading rites, and this protest 
was carried so far as to make his followers avoid wine, at any rate, amongst the 
products of the soil. It should be remembered that Jeremiah had strong sym- 
pathies with the nomadic life (ii. 2; cf. Hos. ii. 14 f.), and these sympathies were 
no doubt intensified in the face of the growing luxury of the court (xxii. 14 f). 

1 G. F. Moore thinks that the Kenites were a branch of the Amalekites and that 
their connexion with the Rechabites is very doubtful ; Judges, p. 34 n. 

"^ Canon Kennett in HD Rel. and E. vii. pp. 440f. says 'It is not improbable 
that the Rechabites may be regarded as the representatives of the true Israelite as 
distinct from the Canaanite element in Israel. Presumably before the conquest of 
Canaan the Israelites lived mainly on milk, as do the Babima and the Todas in 
modern times, though the eating of game may also have been allowed.' On the 
other hand Eardmans does not look upon the Rechabites as good evidence for early 
Israelite religion; he thinks that they were travelling 'smiths' who came in the 
train of the Babylonians ; cf. their connexion with the Kenites ( = smiths). Expositor, 
VII. vi. 126 ff. 



264 THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH [xxxv. .-5 

The narrative of the encounter with the Rechabites bears on the face of it 
the marks of genuineness, and accordingly few critics have ventured to question 
it. Schmidt, however, rejects the account as he thinks that the very presence 
of the Rechabites within the walls of Jerusalem was a breach of the command 
of their ancestor. But there is no evidence of their living in houses during the 
siege, doubtless the number of houses within the city walls would not in any 
case have been sufficient to accommodate the mass of fugitives, and the events 
of the later siege make it probable that the number of houses available was 
reduced still further and that some of them were broken down to strengthen 
the defences (xxxiii. 4). If the Rechabites dwelt in tents within the walls, and 
there is no reason for doubting that they did so, they would not be the only 
people who were thus housed. Schmidt also thinks that, even if the Rechabites 
entered Jerusalem, it is unlikely that Jeremiah would have subjected them to 
so questionable and pubhc a test as the one related here {Enc Bib. 2387). 
This criticism like the last one is purely arbitrary and in view of the other 
evidence in favour of the genuineness of the ch. of little valued 

{a) The prophets invitation audits sequel. 1 — 11. 

(5) The lesson from the incident. 12—19. 

XXXV. 1 The word which came unto Jeremiah from the 
Lord in the days of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah, king of Judah, 
saying, 2 Go unto the house of the Rechabites, and speak unto 
them, and bring them into the house of the Lord, into one of 
the chambers, and give them wine to drink. 3 Then I took 

XXXV. 1 — 11. Jeremiah invites the Rechabites to drink wine 
in one of the chambers of the temple ; they refuse to do so because of 
their traditional avoidance of all customs inconsistent with the nomadic 
Hfe. 

1. the days of Jehoiakim. This chapter, with that which follows 
it, returns to the reign of Jehoiakim, and so causes a break in the 
account contained in chh. xxxii.— xliv. The correctness of the date 
has been challenged on the ground that Nebuchadrezzar, from whose 
approach the Rechabites had fled {v. 11), did not enter Judah till after 
the days of Jehoiakim, 'cf. Buttenwieser, Prophets, p. 45. It is not 
necessary to take the approach of Nebuchadrezzar to be in person, the 
phrase would be quite well represented by the approach of his armies 
(cf 2 K. xxiv. 2). 

2. Go unto the house, i.e. the family or clan. Jeremiah is evi- 
dently once more at liberty (cf. xxxvi. 19, 26). 

the chambers. There seem to have been many rooms in the temple 

1 la view of the suggestion made above that the Rechabites avoided wine from 
religious motives it is interesting to remember that the Greeks regarded intoxication 
as due to a divine influence dwelling in the grape, hence their worsh'p of Dionysus, 
'the spirit of fire and dew, alive and leaping in a thousand vines' as Walter Pater 
described him. 



XXXV. 3-6] THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH 265 

Jaazaniah the son of Jeremiah, the son of Habazziniah, and his 
brethren, and all his sons, and the whole house of the Rechabites ; 

4 and T brought them into the house of the Lord, into the cham- 
ber of the sons of Hanan the son of Igdaliah, the man of God, 
which was by the chamber of the princes, which was above the 
chamber of Maaseiah the son of Shallum, the keeper of the ^door: 

5 and I set before the sons of the house of the Rechabites bowls 
full of wine, and cups, and I said unto them. Drink ye wine. 

6 But they said, We will drink no wine : for Jonadab the son of 
Rechab our father commanded us, saying. Ye shall drink no 

1 Heb. threshold. 

courts and they were the scenes of several incidents in Jeremiah's 
ministry (xxxvi. 12, 20 f.). Giesebrecht points out that it was evidently 
possible for those outside to see and hear what was going on in the 
chamber. In 1 S. ix. 22 the same Heb. word liskka is used of ' a ban- 
queting hall for the communal sacrifice' and W. Robertson Smith 
thinks that it is identical with the Greek Xiaxv (Eel. Sem.^ p. 254). 

3. The names of the Rechabites as given in MT. all end in -iah; 
Lxx. seems to have had a different text or else it deliberately omitted 
the ending in the case of the two last names. It is possible that the 
-iah was added by a later scribe in view off. 19. 

4. Hanan. Nothing is known of Hanan except in this passage. 
The phrase man of God is used in 1 S. ii. 27, ix. 6; 1 K. xiii. 1, &c. of 
a prophet, and perhaps Hanan was himself a prophet; in which case 
his sows were most probably his disciples (cf 2 K. ii. 3, &c.), hence 
their sympathy with Jeremiali. 

Maaseiah. Probably father of Zephaniah, xxi. 1, xxix. 25, &c. 

keeper of the door. Better threshold. Three such officers are speci- 
fied in Hi. 24 and they were men of great importance ranking after the 
chief priest and second priest. Ps. Ixxxiv. 10 suggests that the door- 
keeper (the same root is used) was a person of low rank ; the reference 
however is probably not to an office at all but to an attitude, and the 
line is best translated ' I had rather stand at the threshold of the house 
of my God V 

_ 5. hoivls. The same word is used of Joseph's divining cup (Gen. 
xliv. 2, &c.), and of the bowls of the golden candlestick (Ex. xxv. 21, &c.). 

6. Jonadab the son of Rechab. Jonadab is mentioned in 2 K. x. 
15 — 27 as one of Jehu's sympathisers in the strong measures which 
were taken by that monarch against the worshippers of the Tyrian 
Baal. Cheyne, however, identifies him with Hobab the father-in-law 
of Moses {Enc. Bib. 2101 f). 

our father. This expression need not be taken literally (see 



1 Cf. Frazer, Folk-Lore in O.T. in. pp. 1 ff. 



266 THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH [xxxv. 6-11 

wine, neither ye, nor your sons, for ever : 7 neither shall ye build 
house, nor sow seed, nor plant vineyard, nor have any : but all 
your days ye shall dwell in tents ; that ye may live many days 
in the land wherein ye sojourn. 8 And we have obeyed the voice 
of Jonadab the son of Rechab our father in all that he charged 
us, to drink no wine all our days, we, our wives, our sons, nor 
our daughters ; 9 nor to build houses for us to dwell in : neither 
have we vineyard, nor field, nor seed: 10 but we have dwelt in 
tents, and have obeyed, and done according to all that Jonadab 
our father commanded us. 1 1 But it came to pass, when Nebu- 
chadrezzar king of Babylon came up into the land, that we said. 
Come, and let us go to Jerusalem for fear of the army of the 
Chaldeans, and for fear of the army of the Syrians ; so we dwell 
at Jerusalem. 

on V. 4). The head or founder of any society or group amongst the 
Arabs is still called its father (see W. Robertson Smith, Kinship, &c. 

P- 15)- . ... .... 

7. Prohibitions almost identical with those mentioned in this 

v. were laid upon the Nabataeans, not in their case from religious 
motives, but in order that their poverty might free them from fear of 
the covetousness of powerful neighbours (Diod. Siculus xix. 94; for 
other instances of a similar taboo see W. Robertson Smith, Rel. Sem.^ 
pp. 484 ff.). The Bedouin of the present day consider it an unworthy 
thing to engage in agriculture or handicrafts, and this feeling may date 
from similar ancestral prohibitions. The instinct which prompts nomads 
to be suspicious of higher types of civilisation is a true one and in- 
spired, consciously or unconsciously, by the desire for self-preservation 
(cf R. A. Nicholson, Literary Hist, of the Arabs, pp. 439 ff.). 
dwell in tents. Cf Gen. iv. 20. 

8. Dean Stanley quotes a very striking parallel to tliis instance, 
illustrating the way in which the Bedouin adhere to their traditions : 
' We passed a cairn, said to be the grave of the horse of Abu Zenneh, his 
horse killed in battle. Who Abft Zenneh was — when he lived — what 
the battle was — is quite unknown, but he left an ordinance that every 
Arab should throw sand on the cairn as if it were barley, and say, 
' Eat, eat, horse of Abii Zenneh,' as if the dead creature were still 
alive. So said our Bedouin, and accordingly each Arab muttered the 
words and pushed the sand twice or thrice with his foot as he passed. 
I could not help thinking of the Rechabites, as described by Jeremiah.' 
Sinai and Palr^ p. 54. 

11. Syrians. Cf. xii. 7—17; 2 K. xxiv. 2. Noldeke thinks that 
the great mass of the Chaldean army consisted of Arameans {Enc. Bib. 
280) ; on the other hand Neclio's army at Carchemish had its contingent 
of Phoenicians (see Miiller-Didot, Fragmenta Hist. Graecae, 11. p. 506). 



XXXV. 12-17] THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH 267 

12 Then came the word of the Lord unto Jeremiah, saying, 

13 Thus saith the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: Go, and say 
to the men of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, Will ye 
not receive instruction to hearken to my words? saith the Lord. 

14 The words of Jonadab the son of Rechab, that he commanded 
his sons, not to drink wine, are performed, and unto this day 
they drink none, for they obey their father's commandment : but 
I have spoken unto you, rising up early and speaking ; and ye 
have not hearkened unto me. 15 I have sent also unto you all 
my servants the prophets, rising up early and sending them, 
saying. Return ye now every man from his evil way, and amend 
your doings, and go not after other gods to serve them, and ye 
shall dwell in the land which I have given to you and to your 
fathers : but ye have not inclined your ear, nor hearkened unto 
me. 16 Forasmuch as the sons of Jonadab the son of Rechab 
have performed the commandment of their father which he com- 
manded them, but this people hath not hearkened unto me; 
17 therefore thus saith the Lord, the God of hosts, the God of 
Israel : Behold, I will bring upon Judah and upon all the inhabit- 
ants of Jerusalem all the evil that I have pronounced against 
them: because I have spoken unto them, but they have not 

There is, however, nothing contradictory in the two statements, the 
peoples of the ancient East had to provide troops for their overlord for 
the time being without any regard for their own wishes or sentiments. 

12 — 19. The fidehty of the Rechabites is to be rewarded. This 
section unlike that which precedes it is in the third person (see vv. 1 2 
and 18 but cf. LXX.) and consists mainly of strings of phrases apparently 
borrowed from other passages of Jeremiah. Erbt thinks that vv. 16, 19 
alone are genuine, and in any case, the substance of the passage is 
contained in these vv. viz. : the fruit of obedience to parents is worldly 
stability, a maxim which is well illustrated by the history of the 
Chinese (cf. Ex. xx. 12; Eph. vi. 2f.). 

14 f. In ii. 11 the Almighty tried to arouse in Israel a sense of 
shame by the example of the faithfulness of the heathen to their objects 
of worship ; here by the faithfulness of the Rechabites to mere human 
commands. The harsh and stringent prohibitions which Jonadab had 
laid on his followers were obeyed, but the requirements of Jehovah 
were disregarded. The prophet holds up these men, who were non- 
Israelites, as an example to the chosen people (cf. Matt, viii, 10 'I 
have not found so great faith, no not in Israel '). 

15. ' A summary in Jeremiah's phraseology of the teaching of the 
former prophets.' Driver. 



268 THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH [xxxv. 17-19 

heard ; and I have called unto them, but they have not answered. ■ 
18 And Jeremiah said unto the house of the Rechabites, Thus 
saith the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: Because ye have 
obeyed the commandment of Jonadab your father, and kept all 
his precepts, and done according unto all that he commanded 
you; 19 therefore thus saith the Lord of hosts, the God of 
Israel: Jonadab the son of Rechab shall not want a man to 
stand before me for ever. 

18. And Jeremiah said... Rechabites. Omit with lxx. 

19. to stand before. The phrase is used of attendance on a king 
(1 K. i. 2, X, 8, &c.), of Elijah and Elisha as ministers of Jehovah 
(1 K. xvii. 1, &c.), and of Jeremiah himself (xv. 19). It is usually 
employed as a description of the priests, and some scholars would so 
interpret it here. There are various traces, it is true, of a connexion 
between the Rechabites and the priesthood but these come from a later 
time, and may he a consequence of this passage. See Neh. iii. 14, the 
LXX. heading to Ps. Ixxi. vl(i>v 'loDvaSa^S, and Hegesippus' account of 
the stoning of James the Just where he speaks of ' one of the priests 
the sons of Rechab, a son of the Rechabites spoken of by Jeremiah the 
prophet' (quoted by Eusebius, Hist. Eccles. 11. p. 23). For later theories 
see The Jewish Quarterly Review, N.S. i. p. 253; Enc. Bib. 4019 if. 



Chapter XXXVI. 
Jeremiah's Roll and its Fate. 

This ch. like the one previous to it comes from the reign of Jehoiakim, 
though from a somewhat earher period. It contains an account of what is 
perhaps the most striking and dramatic incident in the whole book. But the 
action of Jehoiakim in destroying the roll, striking and dramatic though that 
incident may be, does not by any means exhaust the interest and still more 
the importance of the ch. ; on the contrary it would surely be no exaggeration 
to say that the composition of the roll itself, from the light which it throws on 
the origin of the book, outweighs in importance and even in interest the conduct 
of the king. 

The fourth year of Jehoiakim, in which the incident took place, synchronised 
with one of the most momentous epochs in the history of Israel, and indeed of 
the world — it was the year most probably of the battle of Carchemish, the battle 
in which was decided the fate of Syria and the sovereignty of the known world. 
It may be that it was the result of this conflict which impelled Jeremiah to 
commit his prophecies to writing, emphasising as they did the coming of the 
foe from the North ; it was a not unnatural temptation to him after all the years 
of scoffing and mockery to point out to the people that the words which God 



XXXVI. 1-3] THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH 269 

had spoken by his mouth were not so impossible of fulfilment, and that part of 
the prophecies having been brought to pass the remainder was surely worthy 
of deep consideration. He was no longer the discredited herald of woes that 
never came — the Babylonian triumph had vindicated his forecasts and shewn 
him to be the true prophet of Jehovah (cf. p. 182). 
The chapter may be analysed as follows : 

(a) The dictation of the roll. 1 — 8. 

(b) The first reading — to the people. 9f. 

(c) The second reading — to the princes. 11 — 15. 

(d) The princes' warning. 16 — 20. 

{e) The third reading — to the king., icho destroys the roll. 21 — 26 
(/) The roll re-written. 27—32. 



XXXVI. 1 And it came to pass in the fourth year of Jehoi- 
akim the son of Josiah, king of Judah, that this word came unto 
Jeremiah fi'om the Lord, saying, 2 Take thee a roll of a book, 
and write therein all the words that I have spoken unto thee 
against Israel, and against Judah, and against all the nations, 
from the day I spake unto thee, from the days of Josiah, even 
unto this day. 3 It may be that the house of Judah will hear 

XXXVI. 1 — 8. Jeremiah at the command of God dictates his 
prophecies to Baruch ; and because he is not free to go into the temple 
he instructs Baruch to read them to the people there assembled. It has 
recently been suggested by Dr Buttenwieser {Prophets, pp. 133 £f.) that 
the reason for Jeremiah's dictation of his prophecies was that he him- 
self could not write. As so little is known of the extent to which 
writing was practised amongst the ancient Hebrews there is no present 
possibility either of proving or disproving this theory: for a discussion 
of the question see J. Th. 8. xvi. pp. 135 i. Some difficulty has been felt 
as to the exact manner in which Jeremiah reproduced his prophecies, 
were they written down just as he had uttered them during a period of 
twenty-three years? If so how did the prophet remember them, unless 
he had indeed, as Stade suggests (ZATW. 1903, pp. 157 ff.), a repe- 
tition of the original ecstasy? In reply it may be taken as almost 
certain that the roll, which was only of moderate dimensions — it was 
read three times in one day — contained merely the bare outline and 
substance of Jeremiah's constantly repeated message. At the same 
time he may have preserved written copies of some of his discourses 
or they may have been retained in the minds of the hearers. Many of 
the passages which are contained in the eai'lier chh. of the canonical 
book shew traces of the time in which they claim to have been delivered. 

2, Israel, lxx. reading Jerusalem is much to be preferred. 

3. Cf V. 7, xxvi. 3. 



270 THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH [xxxvi. 3-7 

all the evil which I purpose to do unto them; that they may 
return every man from his evil way ; that I may forgive their 
iniquity and their sin. 4 Then Jeremiah called Baruch the son 
of Neriah; and Baruch wrote from the mouth of Jeremiah all 
the words of the Lord, which he had spoken unto him, upon a 
roll of a book. 5 And Jeremiah commanded Baruch, saying, I 
am ^shut up ; I cannot go into the house of the Lord : 6 there- 
fore go thou, and read in the roll, which thou hast written from 
my mouth, the words of the Lord in the ears of the people in 
the Lord's house upon ^the fast day: and also thou shalt read 
them in the ears of all Judah that come out of their cities. 7 It 
may be ^they will present their supplication before the Lord, 
and will return every one from his evil way: for great is the 
anger and the fury that the Lord hath pronounced against this 

1 Or, restrained ^ Or, a fast day ^ Heb. their supplication vnll fall. 

4. Baruch. See on xxxii. 12 f. 

mouth of Jeremiah. The prophet dictated to his scribe possibly 
reading from earlier documents (see above). 

5. shut up. The exact meaning of the phrase in this connexion 
has greatly puzzled commentators; the fact is obvious, Jeremiah, for 
some reason or other, was not allowed to enter the temple and address 
the people, possibly he had been 'inhibited' from preaching there after 
the incidents related in xxvi. (cf. Giesebrecht). Other critics suggest 
that he was ceremonially unclean; but it is not certain that such un- 
cleanness would have prevented his having access to the outer courts 
of the temple. In a similar case Doeg the Edomite saw and heard all 
that went on in the sanctuary at Nob (1 S. xxi. 8), though it is perhaps 
somewhat hazardous to cite customs Irom this simpler tabernacle as a 
precedent for the temple itself (cf Preuschen,^'^ J'fF. 1903, pp. 141 ff.). 
A more effective argument against the suggestion of ceremonial un- 
cleanness is to be found in the fact that Jeremiah's inability to enter 
the temple area lasted for a longer period than would be explained 
on such grounds. On the other hand it is hardly likely that we are 
intended to understand that the prophet was in prison at the time — 
though the same expression is used with this connotation in xxxiii. 1, 
xxxix. 15 — for in this case he would not have had sufficient liberty of 
action to carry out the advice of the princes to hide himself (vv. 19 
and 26). Buttenwieser (pp. cit. pp. 40 f ) thinks that Jeremiah was 
prevented from entering the temple or appearing openly because he 
was under sentence of death (see note on xxvi. 16). 

6. fast day. The prophets habitually took advantage of large 
gatherings of the people to deliver their message ; see xxvi. 2; Is. xxviii. 
7 f., xxix. 1—14 (but cf v. 11). 



XXXVI. 7-1 x] THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH 271 

people. 8 And Baruch the son of Neriah did according to all 
that Jeremiah the prophet commanded him, reading in the book 
the words of the Lord in the Lord's house. 

9 Now it came to pass in the fifth year of Jehoiakim the son 
of Josiah, king of Judah, in the ninth month, that all the people 
in Jerusalem, and all the people that came from the cities of 
Judah unto Jerusalem, proclaimed a fast before the Lord. 
10 Then read Baruch in the book the words of Jeremiah in 
the house of the Lord, in the chamber of Gemariah the son of 
Shaphan the scribe, in the upper court, at the entry of the new 
gate of the Lord's house, in the ears of all the people. 11 And 
when Micaiah the son of Gemariah, the son of Shaphan, had 

8. This V. is merely a summary of what follows. 

9 f. Baruch reads the roll in the ears of the people. 

9. fifth year... ninth month. There was evidently some little delay 
between the composition of the roll and its publication. This delay 
cannot be accounted for by supposing that it was occupied in copying 
out the roll, its size was too small for any such a length of time to be 
required. As the ninth month occurs in winter time (cf v. 22) the 
writer of the account is evidently using the Babylonian system of 
reckoning; by this system the year is considered to begin in April. 
The usage is not necessarily a sign of late date as it is found in Ezekiel. 

a fast. Before the exile fasting was a private custom, after the 
return regular days were appointed (cf Zech. vii. 3 ff., viii. 19; Lev. 
xvi. 29, xxiii. 27; and see Wade, Isaiah, pp. 368 f). This special fast 
may have been proclaimed because of the threatening approach of the 
Chaldeans. 

10. Duhm thinks that this exact and detailed account, in spite of 
its being written in the third person, can come from none other than 
Baruch himself. 

in the chamber. Baruch evidently despaired of attempting to gain 
the attention of all the people, they would be intent on the numerous 
sacrifices which were doubtless offered up on the occasion of the fast. 

Gemariah the son of Shaphan. Probably Shaphan is to be identified 
with Josiah's officer (2 K. xxii. 3). Gemariah, who must not be con- 
fused with the son of Hilkiah mentioned in xxix. 3, was most probably 
the brother of Ahikam, Jeremiah's protector (xxvi. 24) and the uncle 
of Gedaliah (xxxix. 14). Another son of Shaphan seems to have been 
a leader of the reactionary party (Ez. viii. 11), though it is by no 
means certain that Jaazaniah is the brother of Gemariah. The owner 
of the chamber was himself away at the time, being with the other 
princes in the palace {v. 12), but his son Micaiah was present {v. 11). 

11 — 15. Micaiah reports the contents of the roll to the princes, 
and Baruch at their request reads the roll before them. Micaiah's 



272 THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH [xxxvi. 11-15 

heard out of the book all the words of the Lord, 12 he went 
down into the king's house, into the scribe's chamber : and, lo, 
all the princes sat there, even Elishama the scribe, and Delaiah 
the son of Shemaiah, and Elnathan the son of Achbor, and 
Gemariah the son of Shaphan, and Zedekiah the son of Hananiah, 
and all the princes. 13 Then Micaiah declared unto them all 
the words that he had heard, when Baruch read the book in the 
ears of the people. 14 Therefore all the princes sent Jehudi the 
son of Nethaniah, the son of Shelemiah, the son of Cushi, unto 
Baruch, saying, Take in thine hand the roll wherein thou hast 
read in the ears of the people, and come. So Baruch the son of 
Neriah took the roll in his hand, and came unto them. 15 And 
they said unto him, Sit down now, and read it in our ears. So 



action may have been inspired by unfriendly motives, he may have felt 
that the contents of the roll ought to be reported to the authorities; 
his relationship to Gemariah, however, makes it probable that he was 
friendly to the prophet, and it was natural that he should give some 
kind of report to his father of the use made of the chamber. 

12, Elishama. The name also occurs in Nu. i. 10; 2 S. v. 16. 

14. Jehudi... Cushi. Cushi is the ordinary Heb. word for an Ethio- 
pian and it is hard to decide in most of the cases where it is used, 
whether a proper name or a gentilic is meant. In the ancestry of the 
prophet Zephaniah (i. 1) the word is certainly used of an individual, 
and in an inscription from Ipsambul it is also used with a personal 
reference {CIS. 112). Duhm thinks that a name of this kind might 
be given to a child in remembrance of some incident connected with its 
birth, for example Cushi might have been born during a visit to Ethiopia 
on the part of one or both parents ; this suggestion recalls the case of 
St Francis of Assisi who was brought into the world whilst his father 
was absent in France and baptised Giovanni, but on his parent's return 
received the name of Francesco. The name Cushi is here probably one 
of the ancestors of Jehudi though it is only usual for the ancestry of 
really important people to be traced back beyond the father, and Jehudi 
seems to have been only some kind of subordinate official. In con- 
sequence of this custom Cornill and other scholars would divide up 
the names into two groups reading Jehudi the son of Nethaniah and 
Shelemiah the son of Cushi. 

15. Sit down. The princes behave in a courteous manner towards 
Baruch, perhaps because he was of high social rank, or they may have 
recognised his right to adopt the proj^er attitude of an Oriental teacher 
(cf Lk. iv. 20). On the whole they appear to have been friendly; 
notice the warning in v. 19, and their leaving the roll behind them 
when they reported its contents to the king. When in Jehoiakim's 



xxxvi. 15-22] THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH 273 

Baruch read it in their ears. 16 Now it came to pass, when they 
had heard all the words, they turned in fear one toward another, 
and said unto Baruch, We will surely tell the king of all these 
words. 17 And they asked Baruch, saying, Tell us now, How 
didst thou write all these words at his mouth? 18 Then Baruch 
answered them. He pronounced all these words unto me with 
his mouth, and I wrote them with ink in the book. 19 Then 
said the princes unto Baruch, Go, hide thee, thou and Jeremiah ; 
and let no man know where ye be. 20 And they went in to the 
king into the court ; but they had laid up the roll in the chamber 
of Elishama the scribe ; and they told all the words in the ears 
of the king. 21 So the king sent Jehudi to fetch the roll : and 
he took it out of the chamber of Elishama the scribe. And Jehudi 
read it in the ears of the king, and in the ears of all the princes 
which stood beside the king. 22 Now the king sat in the winter 

presence, however, their better instincts seem to have been stifled by 
their fears. 

16 — 20. The princes make close enquiries as to the origin of the 
roll and then advise Baruch to join Jeremiah in his hiding-place. 

16. unto Baruch. lxx. rightly omits. 

17. The princes are anxious to know all the facts of the case before 
reporting it to the king; they knew that Jeremiah was the person 
ultimately responsible for the prophecy, but evidently wished to dis- 
cover whether he had composed the actual words. 

at his mouth. Ewald follows lxx. and omits this expression. 

18. ink. This is the only place where ink is mentioned in OT. ; 
of 2 Jn. 12'. For the use of ink amongst the ancient Jews see 
W. Robertson Smith's note in 0. T. in Jew. Church"', p. 71. 

19. Go, hide thee. It has been suggested that the hiding-place of 
the prophet and his companion was 'the Grotto of Jeremiah' outside 
the Damascus Gate (see PEFQS. 1912, p. 27). 

20. they had laid up the roll. Perhaps they did not want the king 
to learn the actual words of the prophecy, but wished to preserve peace 
by giving him a general idea of its contents in a somewhat milder 
form. 

21 — 26. Jehoiakim insists upon hearing the contents of the roll; 
and on his command being carried out he cuts the roll to pieces and 
burns it in the grate. 

22. winter house. This was not as a rule a separate building but a 
part of the house used in the cold season, the interior or possibly the 
lower storey (see Harper on Am. iii, 15 ; and G. F. Moore on Jud. iii. 20). 

^ LXX. omits, possibly because the translators were ignorant of the meaning of 
the word. 

B. 18 



274 THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH [xxxvi. 22-26 

house in the ninth month : and there was a fire in the brasier 
burning before him. 23 And it came to pass, when Jehudi had 
read three or four ^leaves, that the king cut it with the penknife, 
and cast it into the fire that was in the brasier, until all the roll 
was consumed in the fire that was in the brasier. 24 And they 
were not afraid, nor rent their garments, neither the king, nor 
any of his servants that heard all these words. 25 Moreover 
Elnathan and Delaiah and Gemariah had made intercession to 
the king that he would not burn the roll : but he would not hear 
them. 26 And the king commanded Jerahmeel ^the king's son, 

1 Or, colum7is ^ Or, the son of Hammelech 

f 

ninth month. The ninth month was one of piercing cold and wet 
(cf. Ezra x. 9). 

the brasier. The Heb. text is incomplete, as the words supplied in 
italics shew. Brasiers of charcoal were placed in the houses of the 
wealthy, and the fire here was doubtless very like the one mentioned in 
Jn. xviii. 18, in connexion with St Peter's denial of our Lord. The tem- 
perature of Jerusalem varied very greatly, and owing to its height the 
nights were extremely cold. 

23. when... read. Driver has suggested that in order to give full 
force to the imperfect of the original the translation should read as 
often as Jehudi read three or four columns, he cut them. This trans- 
lation agrees with the statement that all the roll was consumed and 
also with the use of the knife. The action of the king exhibits the 
climax of rebellion against God, his cool contempt in destroying the 
prophecy, portion by portion, is more horrible than would have been 
a burst of fierce anger ending in his throwing the whole roll on the 
brasier. 

leaves. The mg. columns is better ; the word literally means doors 
and Cornill compares the similar use of the Arabic hob. 

penknife. Lit. knife of a scribe; it was used for making and mending 
the pen and perhaps also for erasures. 

24. Cf V. 16 and 2 K. xxii. 11. The latter passage is probably in 
the mind of the writer, as suggesting a contrast. 

25. Elnathan... not burn the roll. According to the present text 
some of the princes overcame their lack of courage and endeavoured to 
bring the king to a better mind, lxx., however, omits the nat and 
states that these princes urged the king to burn the roll, the words fol- 
lowing he would not hear them are also omitted. This reading fits in 
better with -y. 24 and is perhaps the original. For Elnathan's attitude 
on a previous occasion see xxvi. 22. 

26. the king's so7i. i.e. a prince of the royal house. As Jehoiakim 
was only some thirty years old .nt the time Jerahmeel would scarcely 
be his offspring; moreover the natural way of representing the idea in 



XXXVI. .6-3i] THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH 275 

and Seraiah the son of Azriel, and Shelemiah the son of Abdeel, 
to take Baruch the scribe and Jeremiah the prophet : but the 
Lord hid them. 

27 Then the word of the, Lord came to Jeremiah, after that 
the king had burned the roll, and the words which Baruch wrote 
at the mouth of Jeremiah, saying, 28 Take thee again another 
roll, and write in it all the former words that were in the first 
roll, which Jehoiakim the king of Judah hath burned. 29 And 
concerning Jehoiakim king of Judah thou shalt say, Thus saith 
the Lord: Thou hast burned this roll, saying. Why hast thou 
written therein, saying. The king of Babylon shall certainly come 
and destroy this land, and shall cause to cease from thence man and 
beast? 30 Therefore thus saith the Lord concerning Jehoiakim 
king of Judah : He shall have none to sit upon the throne of 
David: and his dead body shall be cast out in the day to the 
heat, and in the night to the frost. 31 And I will punish him 

Heb. would be simply to write his son. The mg. Hammelech is merely 
a transliteration of the Heb. 

27 — 32. The prophet by God's command accepts the challenge im- 
plied in the burning of the roll, and re-writes it with the addition of 
fresh matter, including the announcement of the fate of the king and 
the destruction of the dynasty. Dean Stanley characteristically remarks 
that 'In this record... is contained the germ of the "Liberty of unlicensed 
Printing," the inexhaustible vitality of the written word^' Some critics 
see traces in this passage of later additions; and objection has been 
raised against the non-fulfilment, at any rate in the letter, of the 
prophecy in v. 30. But the fact that the forecast was not literally 
fulfilled is evidence in favour of the genuineness of the prophecy; a 
manufactured prophecy, we may be quite sure, would fit all the details 
of the actual event in the most exact manner. 

30. He shall have none. The same threat has already been found 
in xxii. 19. Jehoiakim was in actual fact succeeded by his son Jehoiachin 
to whom the threat was also made (xxii. 30). 

heat... frost. Cf. Gen. xxxi. 40 where Jacob says 'in the day the 
drought consumed me and the frost by night.' The climate of Palestine 
is noted for its great changes of temperature (see G. A. Smith, Hist. 
Geog. pp. 69 ff.). Dean Stanley quotes the Jewish legend that 'on 
the skin of the dead corpse, as it thus lay exposed, there appeared in 
distinct Hebrew characters the name of the demon Codonazer, to whom 
he had sold himself".' 



^ The Jewish Church, ii. p. 456. ^ Op. cit. ii. p. 457. 

18—2 



276 THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH [xxxvi. 31-xxxvii. i 

and his seed and his servants for their iniquity; and I will bring 
upon them, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and upon the 
men of Judah, all the evil that I have pronounced against them, 
but they hearkened not. 32 Then took Jeremiah another roll, 
and gave it to Baruch the scribe, the son of Neriah ; who wrote 
therein from the mouth of Jeremiah all the words of the book 
which Jehoiakim king of Judah had burned in the fire : and there 
were added besides unto them many like words. 

32. there were added &c. God's punishments grow more severe 
as His warnings are neglected and His messengers despised. Dr Lock 
points out to me the resemblance in teaching between this incident 
and the legend of the Sibylline Books. In the classical story the books 
are burnt by the Sibyl herself because their value is not recognised 
by Tarquin who in the end has to pay for the three remaining volumes 
the same price as for the original nine; the message of the Deity being 
despised the terms became more severe. 

Chapters XXXVH.— XXXVHI. 28 a. 

Warnings and Persecutions. 

These chh. are made up of a collection of various incidents in which Jeremiah 
took part during the second siege of Jerusalem (588 — 586 B.C.). They are a 
record of the advice which the prophet continually gave to the people and their 
leaders, and of the suffering which he had to undergo in consequence of his 
faithfulness and courage. The section may be divided as follows : 

(a) The Chaldeans shall returyi. 1 — 10. 

(&) Jeremiah is arrested as a deserter and imprisoned. 11 — 15. 

(c) Zedekiah sends to consult him and regards his plea for better treat- 

m,ent. 16 — 21. 

{d) Jeremiah is cast into a dungeon, xxxviii. 1 — 6. 

{e) The kindness of Ehed-melech the Ethiopian. 7 — 13. 

{f) Jeremiah appeals to the king to surrender. 14 — 18. 

{g) The king's fears and the propliet's warnings. 19 — 23. 

{h) ZedekiaKs request for secrecy. 24 — 28a. 

XXXVII. 1 And Zedekiah the son of Josiah reigned as 

XXXVII. 1 — 10. After an introduction {vv. 1 — 2) an account is 
given of Jeremiah's warning that although the Chaldeans had retired 
from the city, yet they would surely return and not leave it until they 
had captured and burnt it. There is a somewhat similar narrative in 
xxi. and for the relation between the two incidents see the introduction 



XXXVII. i-s] THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH 277 

king, instead of ^Coniah the son of Jehoiakim, whom Nebuchad- 
rezzar king of Babylon made king in the land of Judah. 2 But 
neither he, nor his servants, nor the people of tlie land, did hearken 
unto the words of the Lord, which he spake by the prophet 
Jeremiah. 

3 And Zedekiah the king sent Jehucal the son of Shelemiah, 
and Zephaniah the son of Maaseiah the priest, to the prophet 
Jeremiah, saying. Pray now unto the Lord our God for us. 
4 Now Jeremiah came in and went out among the people : for 
they had not put him into prison. 5 And Pharaoh's army was 

1 See ch. xxii. 24. 

to thatch. Cornill suggests, in SBOT., that this section should be 
combined with xxxiv. as follows: xxxiv. 1 — 7, xxxvii. 5, 3, 6 — 10, 
xxxiv. 8 — 22. 

1 f. These vv. seem rather strange introducing as they do the 
accession of Zedekiah as if he had not been mentioned before. There 
are two explanations either of which may account for their presence : 
that (a) they are an editorial addition to mark the return from the 
reign of Jehoiakim to that of Zedekiah, or else (b) chh. xxxvii. — 
xxxviii. were circulated independently and the heading is original. 

1. Coniah. See on xxii. 24. 

2. people of the land. A common post-exilic phrase, used also in 
Ez. vii. 27, xii. 19, &c. 

3. Jehucal. In xxxviii. 1 — 6 a certain Jucal, son of Shelemiah, is 
given as one of the princes who tried to have Jeremiah put to death: 
Jehucal and Jucal are probably the same person. 

Zephaniah. See on xxi. 1, xxix. 25. 

Pray now &c. This action on the part of Zedekiah is hard to 
explain. According to xxxiv. II the princes and the people were so 
certain that the danger was permanently averted that they immediately 
broke their covenant with the slaves and took them once more into 
bondage. It seems strange therefore that a deputation should be sent 
to Jeremiah asking for his prayers at this particular moment. Cornill 
suggests that the king was not acting in good faith but merely wished 
to taunt the prophet on the failure of his forecasts; such an act seems 
hardly consistent with what is reported of Zedekiah in other passages, 
and the suggestion can hardly be accepted. On the other hand it must 
not be forgotten that Zedekiah was undoubtedly influenced by Jere- 
miah, and evidently recognised that the situation was as critical as 
ever, and that the insight into the future which the prophet had shewn 
himself to possess might be extremely useful in facing the problems 
which were bound to arise. It is necessary to make a distinction be- 
tween the people with their impulsive and unthinking optimism and 
the somewhat superstitious and timid monarch. 

5. Pharax)lbS army. Hophra was the name of this Egyptian monarch 



278 THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH [xxxvii. s-i^ 

come forth out of Egypt: and when the Chaldeans that besieged 
Jerusalem heard tidings of them, they brake up from Jerusalem. 
6 Then came the word of the Lord unto the prophet Jeremiah, 
saying, 7 Thus saith the Lord, the God of Israel : Thus shall ye 
say to the king of Judali, that sent you unto me to inquire of me; 
Behold, Pharaoh's army, which is come forth to help you, shall 
return to Egypt into their own land. 8 And the Chaldeans shall 
come again, and fight against this city ; and they shall take it, 
and burn it with fire. 9 Thus saith the Lord: Deceive not 
^yourselves, saying. The Chaldeans shall surely depart from us: 
for they shall not depart. 10 For though ye had smitten the 
whole army of the Chaldeans that fight against you, and there 
remained but ^wounded men among them, yet should they rise 
up every man in his tent, and burn this city with fire. 

1 1 And it came to pass that when the army of the Chaldeans 
was broken up from Jerusalem for fear of Pharaoh's army, 
12 then Jeremiah went forth out of Jerusalem to go into the land 
of Benjamin, to receive his portion ^ there, in the midst of the 

^ Heb. your souls. ^ Heb. thrust through. ^ Heb. from thence. 

and he probably reigned from 588 — 569 B.C. ; by Herodotus and Diodorus 
he is called, rather less accurately, Apries. See further on xliv. 30. 

7. The reasons for the retreat of the Egyptian army are not known, 
perhaps disaffection broke out amongst them or possibly an unsuccessful 
action was fought (cf. Ez. xxx. 21). 

9 f. The exaggerated language of these vv. is no argument against 
their genuineness. 

10. wounded. Mg. thrust through ; the reference is not to slightly 
wounded men, but. to those who had been stabbed again and again 
(cf Abimelech, Jud. ix. 54); the same word is used in li. 4 in paral- 
lelism with 'slain.' 

An interesting parallel to this prophecy is to be found in the history 
of the Indian Mutiny. At a time when the British power seemed broken 
a native prince sent to his astrologer to enquire as to what would finally 
be the issue of the mutiny, and he received the startling reply 'If all 
the Europeans save one are slain, that one will remain and fight and 
reconquer.' 

11 — 15. Jeremiah on attempting to go down to his native village 
is arrested as a deserter and placed in prison. 

12. to receive his 'portion. The meaning of Heb. is not quite clear. 
Driver paraphrases to receive an inheritance; possibly the prophet's 
journey had something to do with the subsequent sale to him of the 
family property (xxxii. 6 fif.). 



XXXVII. 12-17] THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH 279 

people. 13 And when he was in the gate of Benjamin, a captain 
of the ward was there, whose name was Irijah, the son of She- 
lemiah, the son of Hananiah ; and he laid hold on Jeremiah the 
prophet, saying, Thou fallest away to the Chaldeans. 14 Then 
said Jeremiah, It is false; I fall not away to the Chaldeans; 
but he hearkened not to him: so Irijah laid hold on Jeremiah, 
and brought him to the princes. 15 And the princes were wroth 
with Jeremiah, and smote him, and put him in prison in the house 
of Jonathan the scribe; for they had made that the prison. 
16 When Jeremiah was come into the ^dungeon house, and into 
the cells, and Jeremiah had remained there many days ; 17 then 
Zedekiah the king sent, and fetched him : and the king asked 

1 Or, house of the pit 

13. gate of Benjamin. On the uorth of the city; see xxxviii. 7 
and Zech. xiv. 10. 

Irijah... Hananiak. Nothing further is known of Irijah nor does 
the name occur elsewhere. Hananiah is almost certainly not the false 
prophet of xxviii. 1 ff. who must have been a younger man. 

Thou fallest away. As the prophet advised others to seek safety 
with the Babylonians (xxi. 9), and as many had done so (xxxviii. 19), 
it was the natural thing for Irijah to conclude that Jeremiah was 
deserting. 

15. the princes were wroth. These princes behaved in a much more 
violent and unjust manner than their predecessors under Jehoiakim, 
and no doubt helped to confirm Jeremiah's opinion as to the respective 
merits of the exiles and the people who remained (xxi v.). It is very 
probable that the real reason for the imprisonment and ill-treatment of 
the prophet was his interfering on behalf of the re-enslaved serfs (xxxiv.); 
and that the accusation of falling away to the enemy was trumped up 
for the occasion, more especially as it was a charge which could be sup- 
ported from his own utterances. 

16 — 21. Zedekiah sends for Jeremiah desiring to receive from him 
a message of hope; the prophet can give him no comfort, but makes 
an appeal on his own behalf for milder treatment, this appeal the king 
allows. The incident dealt with in this section in spite of the few words 
in which it is narrated is exceedingly vivid, the anxiety of the king, on 
the one hand, and the fearlessness of the prophet, on the other, are 
brought out with striking force. 

16. dungeon house. The mg. gives the literal translation of the 
original house of the pit; d. xxxviii. 6; Ex. xii. 29; some kind of sub- 
terranean prison is meant. 

17. Zedekiah, like Saul, felt the need for some word from the Lord 
and his own inability to oljtain it (cf 1 S. xxviii. 6). He seems also 



280 THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH [xxxvii. 17-21 

him secretly in his house, and said, Is there any word from the 
Lord? And Jeremiah said, There is. He said also, Thou shalt be 
delivered into the hand of the king of Babylon. 18 Moreover 
Jeremiah said unto king Zedekiah, Wherein have I sinned against 
thee, or against thy servants, or against this people, that ye have 
put me in prison? 19 Where now are your prophets which 
prophesied unto you, saying. The king of Babylon shall not come 
against you, nor against this land? 20 And now hear, I pray 
thee, my lord the king: let my supplication, I pray thee, ^be 
accepted before thee ; that thou cause me not to return to the 
house of Jonathan the scribe, lest I die there, 21 Then Zedekiah 
the king commanded, and they committed Jeremiah into the 
court of the guard, and they gave him daily a loaf of bread out 

1 Ueh.fall. 

to have nourished the vain hope that God's purposes might have 
changed since the last message from the prophet, and that conditions 
might be easier ; the return of the besiegers had evidently thrown him 
into a state of desperate panic. 

secretly. Perhaps the king thought that in a private interview he 
might obtain a more favourable message than in a public utterance. 
At the same time he was afraid of the scorn and rebukes of the princes 
(cf xxxviii. 5, 24 ff.). 

He said also. Omit with lxx. The prophet did not keep the king 
in suspense, but his answer flashed back like a sword- thrust. 

18. Jeremiah, in spite of his inability to gratify the king, now 
makes an appeal on his own behalf It is rather remarkable that the 
prophet is able to make this appeal which the king could grant only at 
some risk to himself, and that he should place so much reliance on 
honourable treatment by Zedekiah. The reproof must have fallen 
heavily on the king, extinguishing as it did his last hopes of pre- 
serving his independence, and it is hard to withhold a certain amount 
of pity from him and his feeble efforts to do what was right. 

19. Where now are. The siege has been renewed and the vain 
forecasts of the false prophets have been proved to be vain. 

21. court of the guard. See on xxxii. 2. 

loaf of bread. The staple food of the Hebrews, as of Western 
nations, was bread {ihe same Heb. word is used for bread and for food) 
and both OT. and NT. contain many references to its manufacture both 
in the household and, as in this v., by tradesmen. The loaf here men- 
tioned is 'a small round cake or bannock' and it would form but a 
scanty ration for a grown man; food was evidently getting scarce in 
the besieged city (cf. lii. 6). 



xxxvii. 21-xxxviii. 5] THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH 281 

of the bakers' street, until all the bread in the city was spent. 
Thus Jeremiah remained in the court of the guard. 

XXXVIII. 1 And Shephatiah the son of Mattan, and 
Gedaliah the son of Pashhur, and Jucal the son of Shelemiah, 
and Pashhur the son of Malchijah, heard the words that Jeremiah 
spake unto all the people, saying, 2 Thus saith the Lord, He that 
abideth in this city shall die by the sword, by the famine, and by 
the pestilence : but he that goeth forth to the Chaldeans shall 
live, and his life shall be unto him for a prey, and he shall live. 

3 Thus saith the Lord, This city shall surely be given into the 
hand of the army of the king of Babylon, and he shall take it. 

4 Then the princes said unto the king. Let tliis man, we pray 
thee, be put to death ; forasmuch as he weakeneth the hands of 
the men of war that remain in this city, and the hands of all the 
people, in speaking such words unto them : for this man seeketh 
not the welfare of this people, but the hurt. 5 And Zedekiah 
the king said, Behold, he is in your hand : for the king is not 

the haJcers' street. In the East each trade has its own street or 
quarter. Baking was a special trade in the cities (cf. Hos. vii. 4, 6; 
Joseph, Ant. xv. ix. 2). 

XXXVIII. 1 — 6. The prophet is cast into an underground dungeon 
by the command of the princes who accuse him of weakening the hands 
of the defenders of the city. If this section is in its right order Jeremiah 
did not long enjoy the comparative freedom granted to him by the king; 
ij. 21 of the previous chapter seems to suggest that the dole of bread to 
Jeremiah continued till the end of the siege and that the prophet re- 
mained in the court of the guard. 

1. Shephatiah. Not mentioned elsewhere. 

Gedaliah the son of Pashhur. This prince may have been the son of 
Jeremiah's old enemy (cf xx. 1 — 3). 

Jucal. The same as Jehucal in xxxvii. 3. 

Pashhur. See on xxi. 1. 

all the people. This statement suggests that the prophet is at liberty. 

2. This V. is almost identical with xxi. 9 and many critics think 
that it is derived ^aa thence. 

4. The attitude of Jeremiah during the siege must have been, to 
say the least of it, a great trial to those responsible for the defence, and 
his only justification was the consciousness that he was not expressing 
his own private opinion but what he felt to be the revealed will of God. 

tha,t remain. The ranks of the defenders had been thinned by death 
and disease as well as by desertions (cf v. 19). 

5. the king &c. Zedekiah was powerless in face of the predomi- 



282 THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH [xxxviii. 5-8 

he that can do any thing against you. 6 Then took they Jeremiah, 
and cast him into the ^dungeon of Malchijah ^the king's son, that 
was in the court of the guard : and they let down Jeremiah with 
cords. And in the dungeon there was no water, but mire : and 
Jeremiah sank in the mire. 7 Now when Ebed-melech the 
Ethiopian, an eunuch, which was in the king's house, heard that 
they had put Jeremiah in the dungeon ; the king then sitting in 
the gate of Benjamin ; 8 Ebed-melech went forth out of the king's 

1 Or, pit 2 Or, the son of Hammelech 

naut war party, and handed over the prophet to them without a struggle. 
The text of lxx. is perhaps better which reads for the king was not 
able. ..them. DrPeake remarks that Zedekiah gave no permission to inflict 
the death penalty; but surely the power of the princes was so great as 
to make such permission unnecessary, and Jeremiah owed his escape 
from instant execution more to his reputation as a prophet whose fore- 
casts had been confirmed by actual events than to any half-hearted 
attempts at protection on the part of the king. 

6. the dungeon of Malchijah. The place into which the unfortunate 
prophet was cast was probably a pit or cistern (see mg.) for storing 
water such as was usually to be found in an Eastern house. The in- 
tention of the princes was evidently that Jeremiah should die there 
either from starvation or from suffocation as the depth of mud at the 
bottom of the pit was considerable (cf v. 10). 

7 — 13. Jeremiah is rescued from the persecutions of his own 
countrymen by Ebed-Melech an Ethiopian eunuch, who with the king's 
permission has the prophet drawn out of the pit. 

7. Ebed-melech. This man was an eunuch and his presence in the 
court was a sign of the spread in Judah of that degraded and luxurious 
civilisation which was in part responsible for the downfall of the nation. 
Cheyne, however, thinks that the Heb. word saris may also be used of 
a court officer or a captain (see Enc. Bib. 1427), so also Jensen {Zeit. 
Assyr. vii. 174) who connects it with the Assyrian sa-resi-he who is 
head. It is probable that Ebed-melech was in charge of the women's 
quarters and that he was actually an eunuch. For a note on Ethiopia 
see on xiii. 23, and for the prophet's gratitude to his deliverer see 
xxxix. 15fif.\ 

gate of Benjamin. To the north of the city and therefore a point 
of importance and danger. 

^ Cheyne {Life and Times, p. 174) looks upon Ebed-melech as a title; 'His true 
name we know not; he passed among the Jews as "King's slave" — Ebedmelech.' 

\?D *13r, however, is almost certainly a proper name (so lxx. 'A^de/x^Xex) as the 

ofiSce would require the definite article "|T'Dn H^^ (cf. 2 K. xxii. 12, where the office 
is evidently a high one; see Stade, Gesch. Isr. i. p. 650). 



XXXVIII. 8-14] THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH 283 

house, and spake to the king, saying, 9 My lord the king, these 
men have done evil in all that they have done to Jeremiah the 
prophet, whom they have cast into the dungeon; and ^he is like 
to die in the place where he is because of the famine : for there is 
no more bread in the city. 10 Then the king commanded Ebed- 
melech the Ethiopian, saying, Take from hence thirty men with 
thee, and take up Jeremiah the prophet out of the dungeon, 
before he die. 11 So Ebed-melech took the men with him, and 
went into the house of the king under the treasury, and took 
thence old cast clouts and old rotten rags, and let them down by 
cords into the dungeon to Jeremiah. 12 And Ebed-melech the 
Ethiopian said unto Jeremiah, Put now these old cast clouts and 
rotten rags under thine armholes under the cords. And Jeremiah 
did so. 13 So they drew up Jeremiah with the cords, and took 
him up out of the dungeon : and Jeremiah remained in the court 
of the guard. 

14 Then Zedekiah the king sent, and took Jeremiah the 

1 Heb. he is dead. 

9. because of the /amine. Whilst it is quite true that Jeremiah 
from his position would be liable to miss his share of the rations yet 
the explanation offered in this clause is not sufficient to account for 
the great haste which seemed to be necessary in order to save the 
prophet's life. The obvious reason was that as the prophet became 
weaker he would gradually sink in the mire and be smothered. 

10. thirty. Ewald long ago suggested that the number should be 
three, which would be quite sufficient for the task, and indeed probably 
as many as could be reasonably spared for it. Tlie MT. as it stands is 
irregular as according to Heb. usage nouns following ' tens ' should be 
in the singular. 

12. Put now these &c. LXX. omits old cast clouts... armholes, and 
Duhm prefers its reading to that of MT. 

14 — 28 a. This section as a whole has been accepted as genuine 
by practically all critics, mainly on account of the minute and exact 
knowledge which is exhibited in it. Peake says, for example, that it 
is ' unquestionably trustworthy. Its information is too precise to come 
from any but a first-hand source.' It is quite true that exact details 
are given of the conversation between the king and Jeremiah and of 
the place where the interview took place; but there are no means left 
to scholars by which the details concerning the latter can be either 
confirmed or denied (see on v. 14), and the report of what happened at 
a secret meeting naturally enough admits of no verification, it can only 
be judged by the test of what was probable and what was not. On the 



284 THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH [xxxviii. h 

whole the report of the intercourse between the prophet and Zedekiah 
is not convincing. The following reasons against its genuineness have 
been advanced by Dr Buttenwieser {op. cit. pp. 55 ff.): — {a) The ac- 
count is based on the similar secret interview contained in xxxvii. 
17 — 21. This interview followed Jeremiah's imprisonment in the 
dungeon of Jonathan and the prophet during his conversation with 
the king begged not to be sent back to the dungeon (xxxvii. 20) which 
was quite natural under the circumstances. In xxxviii. 26 Zedekiah 
tells the prophet to account for his interview — that is an interview 
which purports to have occurred after the rescue from the cistern — by 
saying that he had made this very petition to the king. In the con- 
versation recorded in xxxviii. 14 ff. there is no trace of such a request. 
It is possible that the writer of the account confused the two imprison- 
ments, though, at the same time, as the statement suggested to the 
prophet by Zedekiah was only an excuse there is no reason why it 
should have been a true one (on this point see on v. 27). (6) The 
second objection lies against the manner in which Jeremiah is depicted. 
He will not reveal his message to the king until he has demanded an 
oath from him safeguarding his life ; the king is afraid that he will not 
reveal the whole truth {vv. 14 ff.). Now it may be admitted that 
Jeremiah was naturally of a timid disposition, and that his terrible 
experiences may have undermined his courage, but Zedekiah must 
have known him sufficiently well to be fully aware that no fears for 
himself would make the prophet keep back a word of his message, and 
it is almost impossible to imagine that one whose faith in God was so 
great as that of Jeremiah needed the oath of a feeble sovereign like 
Zedekiah before he would declare his message; the narrative itself 
shews what value was to be attached to the king's protection (cf vv. 
24 if.), (c) Although the interview is said to have been a secret one it 
is known to the princes immediately (as the king himself seemed to 
anticipate), and they are full of curiosity to know what has taken 
place. Such curiosity on the part of the princes is most unlikely as 
they regarded the prophet with a contempt which was perhaps even 
greater than their contempt for the king himself (d) Dr Buttenwieser 
also condemns the description of the conduct of the harem on the 
occasion of the fall of the city which is put into the mouth of Jeremiah 
{vv. 22 f.). 'Is it credible,' he asks, 'that Jeremiah, whose sensitive 
soul suffered agonies at every thought of his people's doom, could have 
conceived such an unnatural and revolting scene as is this picture of 
the women of the King's harem coming forth to jeer at the degradation 
of their lord.... A picture so psychologically untrue could not have 
suggested itself to Jeremiah. He would have known instinctively that 
in that hour of misery and despair those women, however frivolous, 
would not be in the mood for derision. Had he chosen to harrow the 
mind of the King with a picture of his women on that day, he would 
most certainly have painted the grim reality, as Amos in his prophecy 
to Amaziah — "Thy wife will be ravished in the city.'" {e) Finally 
the advice to Zedekiah to surrender is suspicious and is not found in 



XXXVIII. I4-I8] THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH 285 

prophet unto him into the third entry that is in the house of the 
Lord : and the king said unto Jeremiah, I will ask thee a thing ; 
hide nothing from me. 15 Then Jeremiah said unto Zedekiah, 
If I declare it unto thee, wilt thou not surely put me to death? 
and if I give thee counsel, thou wilt not hearken unto me. 16 So 
Zedekiah the king sware secretly unto Jeremiah, saying. As the 
Lord liveth, that made us this soul, I will not put thee to death, 
neither will I give thee into the hand of these men that seek thy 
life. 17 Then said Jeremiah unto Zedekiah, Thus saith the Lord, 
the God of hosts, the God of Israel: If thou wilt go forth unto 
the king of Babylon's princes, then thy soul shall live, and this 
city shall not be burned with fire ; and thou shalt live, and thine 
house : 18 but if thou wilt not go forth to the king of Babylon's 
princes, then shall this city be given into the hand of the Chaldeans, 

the earlier account : it is almost certain also that the king was quite 
without the necessary power of adopting such a policy, and that any 
attempt on his part to do so would have led to his dethronement at 
the hands of the princes. His supposed excuse is too feeble even for 
the lips of Zedekiah. He must have known that had he surrendered, 
his fears for his dignity would not have been on account of the taunts 
of his compatriots but from the indignities of the Chaldeans. To sum 
up it may be said that it would be difficult for anyone who compared 
the accounts of the two interviews, that in xxxvii. 17 — 21 and that in 
the present passage, to imagine that they took place between the same 
people; and if the question were asked as to which best suited the 
character of the prophet, would there be any hesitation in deciding on 
the authentic record ? 

14 — 18. Following upon a request by Zedekiah for counsel, Jere- 
miah advises the king to surrender. 

14. the third entry. This place is unknown and such a description 
is -not used elsewhere. Giesebrecht suggested that it might be the 
entry of the body-guard, a reading which can be obtained by a slight 
change in the Heb. (ci. 2 K. xi. 19). 

16. secretly, lxx. omits. 

As the Lord liteth &c. To take an oath by Jehovah was not 
a breach of the third commandment; cf iv. 2; Dt. vi. 13, x. 20. The 
form of the oath is strange ; that made us this soul means that gave us 
life (cf. Is. Ivii. 16). _. 

17. go forth. This can hardly have been intended as a plea that 
the king should desert, the soul of even such a man as Zedekiah would 
have revolted against the suggestion. The alternative is that the king 
was urged to surrender; on the difficulty of so doing see above. 

king of Babylon's princes. Nebuchadrezzar was not present in 
person (cf. xxxix. 5). 



286 THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH [xxxviii. 18-24 

and they shall burn it with fire, and thou shalt not escape out of 
their hand. 19 And Zedekiah the king said unto Jeremiah, I am 
afraid of the Jews that are fallen away to the Chaldeans, lest 
they deliver me into their hand, and they mock me. 20 But 
Jeremiah said. They shall not deliver thee. Obey, I beseech thee, 
the voice of the Lord, in that which I speak unto thee : so it shall 
be well with thee, and thy soul shall live. 21 But if thou refuse 
to go forth, this is the word that the Lord hath shewed me : 
22 Behold, all the women that are left in the king of Judah's house 
shall be brought forth to the king of Babylon's princes, and those 
women shall say, ^Thy familiar friends have ^set thee on, and 
have prevailed over thee : now that thy feet are sunk in the mire, 
they are turned away back. 23 And they shall bring out all thy 
wives and thy children to the Chaldeans: and thou shalt not 
escape out of their hand, but shalt be taken by the hand of the 
king of Babylon: and ^thou shalt cause this city to be burned 
with fire. 24 Then said Zedekiah unto Jeremiah, Let no man 

^ Heb. The men of thy peace. ^ Or, deceived thee ^ Heb. thou shalt burn dc. 

19 — 23. The king's fears are brushed aside and terrible warnings 
put in their place. 

19. afraid. The Heb. word is rather uncommon, it is generally 
used of anxiety, or worry rather than of actual fear. The root is the 
same as that from which Doeg is derived (1 S. xxi. 8, &c.). 

mock. Better make a toy of me, divert themselves with me. 

22. all the ivomen &c. The usual fate of the harem ; cf Senna- 
cherib's boast that he had taken from Hezekiah ' his daughters, female 
inmates of his palace and female slaves.' 

Thy familiar friends &c. The last part of this v. forms two strophes 
of a Qinah measure. Budde {HDB. 'Heb. Poetry') thinks that this 
measure was used by the women especially, either in lamentation for 
the dead, or in taunt-songs as here. The first line appears again in 
Chad. 7 where it is almost certainly borrowed from this passage (see 
Brewer, Ohad. p. 6). 

mire. Cf. v. 6. The connexion may only be artificial as the figure 
here used is that of a wayfarer who strays into a bog and is then 
deserted by his fellow-travellers. 

23. This V. is rejected by Duhm as redundant. 

24 — 28 a. Zedekiah warns the prophet to keep the subject matter 
of the interview secret and provides him with an answer to any en- 
quiries which may be made by the princes. 

24. There seems no point in Zedekiah's warning as the prophet 



XXXVIII. 24-28] THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH 287 

know of these words, and thou shalt not die. 25 But if the princes 
hear that I have talked with thee, and they come unto thee, and 
say unto thee, Declare unto us now what thou hast said unto the 
king ; hide it not from us, and we will not put thee to death : 
also what the king said unto thee : 26 then thou shalt say unto 
them, I ^presented my supplication before the king, that he would 
not cause me to return to Jonathan's house, to die there. 27 Then 
came all the princes unto Jeremiah, and asked him : and he told 
them according to all these words that the king had commanded. 
So they left off speaking with him; for the matter was not ^per- 
ceived. 28 So Jeremiah abode in the court of the guard until 
the day that Jerusalem was taken. 

1 Heh. caused to fall. ^ Or, reported 

had declared from the first that the city was to fall. His persistence, 
however, might constitute an aggravation of his crime. 

26. Critics have displayed much ingenuity in defending Jeremiah 
from the charge of deception, probably quite unnecessarily, as it is 
almost certain that the account here given of the prophet's action is 
not authentic. At the same time OT. furnishes many examples of 
actual deceit (cf the threefold story in Gen. xii. 12, xx. 1, xxvi. 7; 
and the blessing of Jacob, Gen. xxvii. 19 ; also Rahab's treachery in 
Josh. i.). 

27. ' They questioned Jeremiah, and Jeremiah lied quite calmly.' 
Duhm. 

Chapters XXXVHI. 28 6— XXXIX. 14. 

The Fall of Jerusalem. 

This section is fiilf of difficulties and the gi-eater part of it is missing from 
Lxx. As the previous chh. dealt with the fortunes of Jeremiah during the siege, 
an account of what befell the prophet when the Babylonians actually entered 
the city would have been the natural sequel ; such an account is indeed presented 
in this passage but it has been so overlaid by other matter that to a casual 
readci the fate of Zedekiah and of the people in general is the important subject 
of the narrative. The fate of the king and people is however dealt mth at some 
length elsewhere in the book (see lii.), and much of the matter contained in the 
present ch. has the appearance of being taken from the account in that eh. 
Duhm, Cornill, and Giesebrecht accept only vv. 3 and 14 in xxxix. as genuine. 
This involves the rejection of three groups of vv.: (a) vv. 1, 2; (b) iw. 4 — 10; 
(c) vv. 11 — 13. The first group interrupt the sequence between xxxviii. 28 & 
and xxxix. 3 and seem to be a note of time introduced from lii. 4 — 7 (2 K. 
XXV. 1—4) ; there can be little doubt that they are a gloss and should be omitted. 



288 THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH [xxxviii. 28-xxxix. 3 

The second group of vv. are missing from lxx. and they connect awkwardly with 
the rest of the passage : (i) v. 4 makes the flight of Zedekiah subsequent to the 
entry of the princes and their taking up a position in the middle gate, whereas 
lii. 7 says that the men of war fled when the first breach was made ; (ii) the 
princes mentioned in v. 3 are ignored in the rest of the passage, and Nebuzaradan 
— who is not mentioned in the list — is aj^parently in charge of the fallen city. 
But according to lii. 12 Nebuzaradan did not arrive in Jerusalem until a month 
after it had been captured. The third group of vv. are actually concerned with 
Jeremiah, but it is very doubtful whether Nebuchadrezzar would be at pains 
to give special instructions about the prophet ; further they are, with the previous 
group, missing from lxx. ; and Nebuzaradan is likewise mentioned in them. 
At the same time the grounds for rejection are not so strong as in the case of 
vv. 1, 2 and 4 — 10 and the present writer shares Giesebrecht's hesitation in re- 
jecting them. 

And it came to pass when Jerusalem was taken, XXXIX. 
1 ^(inthe ninth year of Zedekiah king of Judah,inthe tenth month, 
came Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon and all his army against 
Jerusalem, and besieged it ; 2 in the eleventh year of Zedekiah, 
in the fourth month, the ninth day of the month, a breach was 
made in the city :) 3 that all the princes of the king of Babylon 
came in, and sat in the middle gate, even Nergal-sharezer, 
Samgar-nebo, Sarsechim, ^Rab-saris, Nergal-sharezer, ^Rab-mag, 

1 See ch. lii. 4, &c., 2 Kings xxv. 1—12. ^ Titles of officers. 

XXXIX. 3. sat. The word suggests that the capture of the 
city was completed and that the princes met in conference to decide 
matters connected with its fate. 

middle gate. The situation of this gate is not known. 

Nergal-sharezer &c. The names in this v. have been the source 
of much trouble to critics and it is very hard to say to what extent 
they are personal or official designations. In u 13 only two princes 
are mentioned and each of them has an official title after his name; 
Hitzig regards this shorter list as the original and looks upon the 
present v. as a corruption of it. It seems possible that by mistake 
Nergal-sharezer has got into the list twice, Samgar being a corruption 
of Sar-mag = Rab-mag, i.e. the office of Nergal-sharezer in both the 
other places in which he is mentioned. If Samgar-nebo is a proper 
name it is the only instance of nebo occurring in the second half of 
a name; at the same time it is possible that Samgar is related in some 
way to Shamgar (Jud. iii. 31) and possibly to the king of Gargamish 
named Sangar (see Tiele, Babyl.-assyr. Gesch. p. 175). Sarsechim is 
unknown and is probably a corruption of shazban (v. 13) and by com- 
bining it with the previous nebo(u) the reading Nebushazban is obtained. 
The second mention of Nergal-sharezer, who is perhaps the Nergal- 



XXXIX. 3-6