Jeremiah was a priest, a native of Anathoth, in the tribe of Benjamin. He was called to the prophetic office when very young, about seventy years after the death of Isaiah, and exercised it for about forty years with great faithfulness, till the sins of the Jewish nation came to their full measure and destruction followed. The prophecies of Jeremiah do not stand as they were delivered. Blayney has endeavoured to arrange them in more regular order, namely, ch. 1-20; 22; 23; 25; 26; 35; 36; 45; 24; 29; 30; 31; 27; 28; 21; 34; 37; 32; 33; 38; 39; (ver. 15-18, 1-14.) 40-44; 46-52. The general subject of his prophecies is the idolatry and other sins of the Jews; the judgments by which they were threatened, with references to their future restoration and deliverance, and promises of the Messiah. They are remarkable for plain and faithful reproofs, affectionate expostulations, and awful warnings.
Jeremiah's call to the prophetic office. (1-10) A vision of an almond-tree and of a seething-pot, Divine protection is promised. (11-19)
Verses 1-10 Jeremiah's early call to the work and office of a prophet is stated. He was to be a prophet, not to the Jews only, but to the neighbouring nations. He is still a prophet to the whole world, and it would be well if they would attend to these warnings. The Lord who formed us, knows for what particular services and purposes he intended us. But unless he sanctify us by his new-creating Spirit, we shall neither be fit for his holy service on earth, nor his holy happiness in heaven. It becomes us to have low thoughts of ourselves. Those who are young, should consider that they are so, and not venture beyond their powers. But though a sense of our own weakness and insufficiency should make us go humbly about our work, it should not make us draw back when God calls us. Those who have messages to deliver from God, must not fear the face of man. The Lord, by a sign, gave Jeremiah such a gift as was necessary. God's message should be delivered in his own words. Whatever wordly wise men or politicians may think, the safety of kingdoms is decided according to the purpose and word of God.
Verses 11-19 God gave Jeremiah a view of the destruction of Judah and Jerusalem by the Chaldeans. The almond-tree, which is more forward in the spring than any other, represented the speedy approach of judgments. God also showed whence the intended ruin should arise. Jeremiah saw a seething-pot boiling, representing Jerusalem and Judah in great commotion. The mouth or face of the furnace or hearth, was toward the north; from whence the fire and fuel were to come. The northern powers shall unite. The cause of these judgments was the sin of Judah. The whole counsel of God must be declared. The fear of God is the best remedy against the fear of man. Better to have all men our enemies than God our enemy; those who are sure they have God with them, need not, ought not to fear, whoever is against them. Let us pray that we may be willing to give up personal interests, and that nothing may move us from our duty.
Jeremiah 1:1-19 . THE GENERAL TITLE OR INTRODUCTION
Jeremiah 1:1-3 , probably prefixed by Jeremiah, when he collected his prophecies and gave them to his countrymen to take with them to Babylon [MICHAELIS].
1. Anathoth--a town in Benjamin, twenty stadia, that is, two or three miles north of Jerusalem; now Anata (compare Isaiah 10:30 , and the context, Isaiah 10:28-32 ). One of the four cities allotted to the Kohathites in Benjamin ( Joshua 21:18 ). Compare 1 Kings 2:26 1 Kings 2:27 ; a stigma was cast thenceforth on the whole sacerdotal family resident there; this may be alluded to in the words here, "the priests . . . in Anathoth." God chooses "the weak, base, and despised things . . . to confound the mighty."
2, 3. Jehoiakim . . . Josiah . . . Zedekiah--Jehoahaz and Jehoiachin are omitted for they reigned only three months each. The first and last of the kings under whom each prophet prophesied are often thus specified in the general title. See on these kings, and Jeremiah's life, my
thirteenth . . . of his reign--( Jeremiah 25:3 ).
fifth month--( 2 Kings 25:8 ).
4-10. Jeremiah's call to the prophetical office.
unto me--other manuscripts read "to him"; but English Version probably represents the true Hebrew text; this inscription was doubtless made by Jeremiah himself.
5. knew--approved of thee as My chosen instrument ( Exodus 33:12 Exodus 33:17 ; compare Isaiah 49:1 Isaiah 49:5 , Romans 8:29 ).
sanctified--rather, "separated." The primary meaning is, "to set apart" from a common to a special use; hence arose the secondary sense, "to sanctify," ceremonially and morally. It is not here meant that Jehovah cleansed Jeremiah from original sin or regenerated him by His Spirit; but separated him to his peculiar prophetical office, including in its range, not merely the Hebrews, but also the nations hostile to them (Jeremiah 25:12-38,27:1-21,46:1-51:64'), [HENDERSON]. Not the effect, but the predestination in Jehovah's secret counsel, is meant by the sanctification here (compare Luke 1:15 Luke 1:41 , Acts 15:18 , Galatians 1:15 , Ephesians 1:11 ).
6. From the long duration of his office ( Jeremiah 1:2 Jeremiah 1:3 , Jeremiah 40:1 , &c. Jeremiah 43:8 , &c.), it is supposed that he was at the time of his call under twenty-five years of age.
child--the same word is translated, "young man" ( 2 Samuel 18:5 ). The reluctance often shown by inspired ministers of God ( Exodus 4:10 , Exodus 6:12 Exodus 6:30 , Jonah 1:3 ) to accept the call, shows that they did not assume the office under the impulse of self-deceiving fanaticism, as false prophets often did.
7. to all that--to all "to whom" [ROSENMULLER]. Rather, "to all against whom"; in a hostile sense (compare Jeremiah 1:8 Jeremiah 1:17 Jeremiah 1:18 Jeremiah 1:19 ) [MAURER]. Such was the perversity of the rulers and people of Judea at that time, that whoever would desire to be a faithful prophet needed to arm himself with an intrepid mind; Jeremiah was naturally timid and sensitive; yet the Spirit moulded him to the necessary degree of courage without taking away his peculiar individuality.
8. ( Ezekiel 2:6 , 3:9 ).
I am with thee--( Exodus 3:12 , Joshua 1:5 ).
9. touched my mouth--a symbolical act in supernatural vision, implying that God would give him utterance, notwithstanding his inability to speak ( Jeremiah 1:6 ). So Isaiah's lips were touched with a living coal ( Isaiah 6:7 ; compare Ezekiel 2:8 Ezekiel 2:9 Ezekiel 2:10 , Daniel 10:16 ).
10. set thee over--literally, "appointed thee to the oversight." He was to have his eye upon the nations, and to predict their destruction, or restoration, according as their conduct was bad or good. Prophets are said to do that which they foretell shall be done; for their word is God's word; and His word is His instrument whereby He doeth all things ( Genesis 1:3 , Psalms 33:6 Psalms 33:9 ). Word and deed are one thing with Him. What His prophet saith is as certain as if it were done. The prophet's own consciousness was absorbed into that of God; so closely united to God did he feel himself, that Jehovah's words and deeds are described as his. In Jeremiah 31:28 , God is said to do what Jeremiah here is represented as doing (compare Jeremiah 18:7 , 1 Kings 19:17 , Ezekiel 43:3 ).
root out--( Matthew 15:13 ).
pull down--change of metaphor to architecture ( 2 Corinthians 10:4 ). There is a play on the similar sounds, lintbosh, linthotz, in the Hebrew for "root out . . . pull down."
build . . . plant--restore upon their repenting. His predictions were to be chiefly, and in the first instance, denunciatory; therefore the destruction of the nations is put first, and with a greater variety of terms than their restoration.
11. rod--shoot, or branch.
almond tree--literally, "the wakeful tree," because it awakes from the sleep of winter earlier than the other trees, flowering in January, and bearing fruit in March; symbol of God's early execution of His purpose; Jeremiah 1:12 , "hasten My word" (compare Amos 8:3 ).
12. hasten--rather, "I will be wakeful as to My word," &c.; alluding to Jeremiah 1:11 , "the wakeful tree" [MAURER].
13. Another vision, signifying what is the "word" about to be "performed," and by what instrumentality.
seething--literally, "blown under"; so boiling by reason of the flame under it kept brisk by blowing. An Oriental symbol of a raging war.
toward--rather, "from the north." Literally, "from the face of the region situated towards the north" (compare Jeremiah 1:14 Jeremiah 1:15 ) [MAURER]. The pot in the north rested on one side, its mouth being about to pour forth its contents southwards, namely, on Judea. Babylon, though east of Judea, was regarded by the Hebrews as north, because they appropriated the term "east" to Arabia-Deserta, stretching from Palestine to the Euphrates; or rather [BOCHART], the reference here is not to the site, but to the route of the Babylonians; not being able to cross the desert, they must enter the Holy Land by the northern frontier, through Riblah in Hamath ( Jeremiah 39:5 , 52:9 ).
14. break forth--"shall disclose itself."
Out of the north--( Jeremiah 4:6 , Jeremiah 6:1 Jeremiah 6:22 , 10:22 , 25:9 , Ezekiel 26:7 ). The Chaldeans did not cast off the yoke of Assyria till several years after, under Nabopolassar, 625 B.C.; but long previously they had so increased as to threaten Assyria, which was now grown weak, and other neighboring peoples.
15. families--the tribes or clans composing the various kingdoms of Babylon; the specification of these aggravates the picture of calamity ( Jeremiah 25:9 ).
throne at . . . gates--the usual place of administering justice. The conquering princes will set up their tribunal there ( Jeremiah 39:3 Jeremiah 39:5 , 52:9 ). Or the reference is to the military pavilion ( Jeremiah 43:10 ) [MAURER].
16. utter--pronounce. The judicial sentences, pronounced against the Jews by the invading princes, would be virtually the "judgments of God" ( Isaiah 10:5 ).
17. gird . . . loins--resolutely prepare for thy appointed task. Metaphor from the flowing robes worn in the East, which have to be girt up with a girdle, so as not to incommode one, when undertaking any active work ( Job 38:3 , Luke 12:35 , 1 Peter 1:13 ).
dismayed . . . confound--the same Hebrew word; literally, "to break." Be not dismayed at their faces (before them), lest I make thee dismayed before their faces (before them), that is, "lest I should permit thee to be overcome by them" (compare Jeremiah 49:37 ).
18. defenced city, &c.--that is, I will give thee strength which no power of thine enemies shall overcome ( Jeremiah 6:27 , 15:20 , Isaiah 50:7 , 54:17 , Luke 21:15 , Acts 6:10 ).
walls--plural, to express the abundant strength to be given him. DE ROSSI'S'S manuscripts read singular, "wall."
people of the land--the general masses, as distinguished from the princes and priests.