The disobedient Jews reproved. (1-10) Their utter ruin. (11-17) The people would be destroyed who sought the prophet's life. (18-23)
Verses 1-10 God never promised to bestow blessings on his rational creatures, while they persist in wilful disobedience. Pardon and acceptance are promised freely to all believers; but no man can be saved who does not obey the command of God to repent, to believe in Christ, to separate from sin and the world, to choose self-denial and newness of life. In general, men will hearken to those who speak of doctrines, promises, and privileges; but when duties are mentioned, they will not bend their ear.
Verses 11-17 Evil pursues sinners, and entangles them in snares, out of which they cannot free themselves. Now, in their distress, their many gods and many altars stand them in no stead. And those whose own prayers will not be heard, cannot expect benefit from the prayers of others. Their profession of religion shall prove of no use. When trouble came upon them, they made this their confidence, but God has rejected it. His altar shall yield them no satisfaction. The remembrance of God's former favours to them shall be no comfort under troubles; and his remembrance of them shall be no argument for their relief. Every sin against the Lord is a sin against ourselves, and so it will be found sooner or later.
Verses 18-23 The prophet Jeremiah tells much concerning himself, the times he lived in being very troublesome. Those of his own city plotted how they might cause his death. They thought to end his days, but he outlived most of his enemies; they thought to blast his memory, but it lives to this day, and will be blessed while time lasts. God knows all the secret designs of his and his people's enemies, and can, when he pleases, make them known. God's justice is a terror to the wicked, but a comfort to the godly. When we are wronged, we have a God to commit our cause to, and it is our duty to commit it to him. We should also look well to our own spirits, that we are not overcome with evil, but that by patient continuance in praying for our enemies, and in kindness to them, we may overcome evil with good.
Jeremiah 11:1-23 . EPITOME OF THE COVENANT FOUND IN THE TEMPLE IN JOSIAH'S REIGN. JUDAH'S REVOLT FROM IT, AND GOD'S CONSEQUENT WRATH.
2. this covenant--alluding to the book of the law ( Deuteronomy 31:26 ) found in the temple by Hilkiah the high priest, five years after Jeremiah's call to the prophetic office (2 Kings 22:8-23:25').
Hear ye--Others besides Jeremiah were to promulgate God's will to the people; it was the duty of the priests to read the law to them ( Malachi 2:7 ).
3. ( Deuteronomy 27:26 , Galatians 3:10 ).
4. in the day--that is, when. The Sinaitic covenant was made some time after the exodus, but the two events are so connected as to be viewed as one.
iron furnace--( Deuteronomy 4:20 , 1 Kings 8:51 ). "Furnace" expresses the searching ordeal; "iron," the long duration of it. The furnace was of earth, not of iron ( Psalms 12:6 ); a furnace, in heat and duration enough to melt even iron. God's deliverance of them from such an ordeal aggravates their present guilt.
do them--namely, the words of the covenant ( Jeremiah 11:3 ).
so, &c.--( Leviticus 26:3 Leviticus 26:12 ).
5. oath--( Psalms 105:9 Psalms 105:10 ).
a land flowing with milk and
as it is this day--These are the concluding words of God to the Israelites when formerly brought out of Egypt, "Obey . . . that I may at this time make good the promise I made to your fathers, to give," &c. [MAURER]. English Version makes the words apply to Jeremiah's time, "As ye know at this time, that God's promise has been fulfilled," namely, in Israel's acquisition of Canaan.
So be it--Hebrew, Amen. Taken from Deuteronomy 27:15-26 . Jeremiah hereby solemnly concurs in the justice of the curses pronounced there (see Jeremiah 11:3 ).
6. Jeremiah was to take a prophetic tour throughout Judah, to proclaim everywhere the denunciations in the book of the law found in the temple.
Hear . . . do--( Romans 2:13 , 1:22 ).
7. rising early--( Jeremiah 7:13 ).
8. imagination--rather, "stubbornness."
will bring--The words, "even unto this day" ( Jeremiah 11:7 ), confirm English Version rather than the rendering of ROSENMULLER: "I brought upon them."
words--threats ( Jeremiah 11:3 Deuteronomy 27:15-26 ).
9. conspiracy--a deliberate combination against God and against Josiah's reformation. Their idolatry is not the result of a hasty impulse ( Psalms 83:5 , Ezekiel 22:25 ).
11. cry unto me--contrasted with "cry unto the gods," ( Jeremiah 11:12 ).
not hearken--( Psalms 18:41 , Proverbs 1:28 , Isaiah 1:15 , Micah 3:4 ).
12. cry unto the gods . . . not save--( Deuteronomy 32:37 Deuteronomy 32:38 ). Compare this verse and beginning of Jeremiah 11:13 , Jeremiah 2:28 .
in the time of their trouble--that is, calamity ( Jeremiah 2:27 ).
13. shameful thing--Hebrew, "shame," namely, the idol, not merely shameful, but the essence of all that is shameful ( Jeremiah 3:24 , Hosea 9:10 ), which will bring shame and confusion on yourselves [CALVIN].
14. There is a climax of guilt which admits of no further intercessory prayer ( Exodus 32:10 , in the Chaldee version, "leave off praying"; Jeremiah 7:16 , 1 Samuel 16:1 , 15:35 , 1 John 5:16 ). Our mind should be at one with God in all that He is doing, even in the rejection of the reprobate.
for their trouble--on account of their trouble. Other manuscripts read, "in the time of their trouble" a gloss from Jeremiah 11:12 .
15. my beloved--My elect people, Judea; this aggravates their ingratitude ( Jeremiah 12:7 ).
lewdness with many--( Ezekiel 16:25 ). Rather, "that great (or, manifold) enormity"; literally, "the enormity, the manifold"; namely, their idolatry, which made their worship of God in the temple a mockery (compare Jeremiah 7:10 , Ezekiel 23:39 ) [HENDERSON].
holy flesh--( Haggai 2:12-14 , Titus 1:15 ), namely, the sacrifices, which, through the guilt of the Jews, were no longer holy, that is, acceptable to God. The sacrifices on which they relied will, therefore, no longer protect them. Judah is represented as a priest's wife, who, by adultery, has forfeited her share in the flesh of the sacrifices, and yet boasts of her prerogative at the very same time [HORSLEY].
when thou doest evil--literally, "when thy evil" (is at hand). PISCATOR translates, "When thy calamity is at hand (according to God's threats), thou gloriest" (against God, instead of humbling thyself). English Version is best (compare Proverbs 2:14 ).
16. called thy name--made thee.
olive--( Psalms 52:8 , Romans 11:17 ). The "olive" is chosen to represent the adoption of Judah by the free grace of God, as its oil is the image of richness (compare Psalms 23:5 , 104:15 ).
with . . . noise of . . . tumult--or, "at the noise," &c. namely, at the tumult of the invading army ( Isaiah 13:4 ) [MAURER]. Or, rather, "with the sound of a mighty voice," namely, that of God, that is, the thunder; thus there is no confusion of metaphors. The tree stricken with lightning has "fire kindled upon it, and the branches are broken," at one and the same time [HOUBIGANT].
17. that planted thee--( Jeremiah 2:21 , Isaiah 5:2 ).
against themselves--The sinner's sin is to his own hurt
18, 19. Jeremiah here digresses to notice the attempt on his life plotted by his townsmen of Anathoth. He had no suspicion of it, until Jehovah revealed it to him ( Jeremiah 12:6 ).
the Lord . . . thou--The change of person from the third to the second accords with the excited feelings of the prophet.
then--when I was in peril of my life.
their doings--those of the men of Anathoth. His thus alluding to them, before he has mentioned their name, is due to his excitement.
19. lamb--literally, a "pet lamb," such as the Jews often had in their houses, for their children to play with; and the Arabs still have ( 2 Samuel 12:3 ). His own familiar friends had plotted against the prophet. The language is exactly the same as that applied to Messiah ( Isaiah 53:7 ). Each prophet and patriarch exemplified in his own person some one feature or more in the manifold attributes and sufferings of the Messiah to come; just as the saints have done since His coming ( Galatians 2:20 , Philippians 3:10 , Colossians 1:24 ). This adapted both the more experimentally to testify of Christ.
devices--( Jeremiah 18:18 ).
tree with . . . fruit--literally, "in its fruit" or "food," that is, when it is in fruit. Proverbial, to express the destruction of cause and effect together. The man is the tree; his teaching, the fruit. Let us destroy the prophet and his prophecies; namely, those threatening destruction to the nation, which offended them. Compare Matthew 7:17 , which also refers to prophets and their doctrines.
20. triest . . . heart--( Revelation 2:23 ).
revealed--committed my cause. Jeremiah's wish for vengeance was not personal but ministerial, and accorded with God's purpose revealed to him against the enemies alike of God and of His servant ( Psalms 37:34 , 54:7 , 112:8 , 118:7 ).
21. Prophesy not--( Isaiah 30:10 , Amos 2:12 , Micah 2:6 ). If Jeremiah had not uttered his denunciatory predictions, they would not have plotted against him. None were more bitter than his own fellow townsmen. Compare the conduct of the Nazarites towards Jesus of Nazareth ( Luke 4:24-29 ).
22. The retribution of their intended murder shall be in kind; just as in Messiah's case ( Psalms 69:8-28 ).
23. ( Jeremiah 23:12 ).
the year of . . . visitation--The Septuagint translates, "in the year of their," &c., that is, at the time when I shall visit them in wrath. JEROME supports English Version. "Year" often means a determined time.