The Jews' profession of religion was hypocritical. (1-9) The cruel proceedings of their enemies. (10-18) Their apostacy and idolatry. (19-31)
Verses 1-9 None could be found who behaved as upright and godly men. But the Lord saw the true character of the people through all their disguises. The poor were ignorant, and therefore they were wicked. What can be expected but works of darkness, from people that know nothing of God and religion? There are God's poor, who, notwithstanding poverty, know the way of the Lord, walk in it, and do their duty; but these were willingly ignorant, and their ignorance would not be their excuse. The rich were insolent and haughty, and the abuse of God's favours made their sin worse.
Verses 10-18 Multitudes are ruined by believing that God will not be so strict as his word says he will; by this artifice Satan undid mankind. Sinners are not willing to own any thing to be God's word, that tends to part them from, or to disquiet them in, their sins. Mocking and misusing the Lord's messengers, filled the measure of their iniquity. God can bring trouble upon us from places and causes very remote. He has mercy in store for his people, therefore will set bounds to this desolating judgment. Let us not overlook the "nevertheless," ver. ( 18 ) . This is the Lord's covenant with Israel. He thereby proclaims his holiness, and his utter displeasure against sin while sparing the sinner, ( Psalms 89:30-35 ) .
Verses 19-31 Unhumbled hearts are ready to charge God with being unjust in their afflictions. But they may read their sin in their punishment. If men will inquire wherefore the Lord doeth hard things unto them, let them think of their sins. The restless waves obeyed the Divine decree, that they should not pass the sandy shores, which were as much a restraint as lofty mountains; but they burst all restraints of God's law, and were wholly gone into wickedness. Neither did they consider their interest. While the Lord, year after year, reserves to us the appointed weeks of harvest, men live on his bounty; yet they transgress against him. Sin deprives us of God's blessings; it makes the heaven as brass, and the earth as iron. Certainly the things of this world are not the best things; and we are not to think, that, because evil men prosper, God allows their practices. Though sentence against evil works is not executed speedily, it will be executed. Shall I not visit for these things? This speaks the certainty and the necessity of God's judgments. Let those who walk in bad ways consider that an end will come, and there will be bitterness in the latter end.
Jeremiah 5:1-31 . THE CAUSE OF THE JUDGMENTS TO BE INFLICTED IS THE UNIVERSAL CORRUPTION OF THE PEOPLE.
1. a man--As the pious Josiah, Baruch, and Zephaniah lived in Jerusalem at that time, Jeremiah must here mean the mass of the people, the king, his counsellors, the false prophets, and the priests, as distinguished from the faithful few, whom God had openly separated from the reprobate people; among the latter not even one just person was to be found ( Isaiah 9:16 ) [CALVIN]; the godly, moreover, were forbidden to intercede for them ( Jeremiah 7:16 ; compare Genesis 18:23 , &c. Psalms 12:1 , Ezekiel 22:30 ).
see . . . know--look . . . ascertain.
pardon it--rather, her.
2. ( Titus 1:16 ).
swear falsely--not a judicial oath; but their profession of the worship of Jehovah is insincere ( Jeremiah 5:7 , Jeremiah 4:2 ). The reformation under Josiah was merely superficial in the case of the majority.
3. eyes upon the truth--( Deuteronomy 32:4 , 2 Chronicles 16:9 ). "Truth" is in contrast with "swear falsely" ( Jeremiah 5:2 ). The false-professing Jews could expect nothing but judgments from the God of truth.
stricken . . . not grieved--( Jeremiah 2:30 , Isaiah 1:5 , 9:13 ).
refused . . . correction--( Jeremiah 7:28 , Zephaniah 3:2 ).
4. poor--rather, "the poor." He supposes for the moment that this utter depravity is confined to the uninstructed poor, and that he would find a different state of things in the higher ranks: but there he finds unbridled profligacy.
5. they have known--rather, "they must know." The prophet supposes it as probable, considering their position.
but these--I found the very reverse to be the case.
burst . . . bonds--set God's law at defiance ( Psalms 2:3 ).
6. lion . . . wolf . . . leopard--the strongest, the most ravenous, and the swiftest, respectively, of beasts: illustrating the formidable character of the Babylonians.
of the evenings--Others not so well translate, of the deserts. The plural means that it goes forth every evening to seek its prey ( Psalms 104:20 , Habakkuk 1:8 , Zephaniah 3:3 ).
leopard . . . watch . . . cities--( Hosea 13:7 ). It shall lie in wait about their cities.
7. It would not be consistent with God's holiness to let such wickedness pass unpunished.
sworn by--( Jeremiah 5:2 , Jeremiah 4:2 ); that is, worshipped.
no gods--( Deuteronomy 32:21 ).
fed . . . to the full--so the Keri (Hebrew Margin) reads, God's bountifulness is contrasted with their apostasy ( Deuteronomy 32:15 ). Prosperity, the gift of God, designed to lead men to Him, often produces the opposite effect. The Hebrew Chetib (text), reads: "I bound them (to Me) by oath," namely, in the marriage covenant, sealed at Sinai between God and Israel; in contrast to which stands their "adultery"; the antithesis favors this.
adultery . . . harlots' houses--spiritually: idolatry in temples of idols; but literal prostitution is also included, being frequently part of idol-worship: for example, in the worship of the Babylonian Mylitta.
8. in the morning--( Isaiah 5:11 ). "Rising early in the morning" is a phrase for unceasing eagerness in any pursuit; such was the Jews' avidity after idol-worship. MAURER translates from a different Hebrew root, "continually wander to and fro," inflamed with lust ( Jeremiah 2:23 ). But English Version is simpler (compare Jeremiah 13:27 , Ezekiel 22:11 ).
9. ( Jeremiah 5:29 , Jeremiah 9:9 , 44:22 ).
10. Abrupt apostrophe to the Babylonians, to take Jerusalem, but not to destroy the nation utterly
battlements--rather, tendrils [MAURER]: the state being compared to a vine ( Jeremiah 12:10 ), the stem of which was to be spared, while the tendrils (the chief men) were to be removed.
11. ( Jeremiah 3:20 ).
It is not he--rather, "(Jehovah) is not HE," that is, the true and only God ( Jeremiah 14:22 , Deuteronomy 32:39 , Isaiah 43:10 Isaiah 43:13 ). By their idolatry they virtually denied Him. Or, referring to what follows, and to Jeremiah 5:9 , "(Jehovah) is not," namely, about to be the punisher of our sins ( Jeremiah 14:13 , Isaiah 28:15 ).
13. Continuation of the unbelieving language of the Jews.
the prophets--who prophesy punishment coming on us.
the word--the Holy Spirit, who speaks through true prophets, is not in them [MAURER]. Or else, "There is no word (divine communication) in them" ( Hosea 1:2 ) [ROSENMULLER].
thus, &c.--Their ill-omened prophecies shall fall on themselves.
14. ye . . . thy . . . this people--He turns away from addressing the people to the prophet; implying that He puts them to a distance from Him, and only communicates with them through His prophet ( Jeremiah 5:19 ).
fire . . . wood--Thy denunciations of judgments shall be fulfilled and shall consume them as fire does wood. In Jeremiah 23:29 it is the penetrating energy of fire which is the point of comparison.
15. ( Jeremiah 1:15 , 6:22 ). Alluding to Deuteronomy 28:49 , &c.
Israel--that is, Judah.
mighty--from an Arabic root, "enduring." The fourfold repetition of "nation" heightens the force.
ancient--The Chaldeans came originally from the Carduchian and Armenian mountains north of Mesopotamia, whence they immigrated into Babylonia; like all mountaineers, they were brave and hardy
language . . . knowest not-- Isaiah 36:11 shows that Aramaic was not understood by the "multitude," but only by the educated classes [MAURER]. HENDERSON refers it to the original language of the Babylonians, which, he thinks, they brought with them from their native hills, akin to the Persic, not to the Aramaic, or any other Semitic tongue, the parent of the modern Kurd.
16. open sepulchre--(Compare Psalms 5:9 ). Their quiver is all-devouring, as the grave opened to receive the dead: as many as are the arrows, so many are the deaths.
17. ( Leviticus 26:16 ).
18. Not even in those days of judgments, will God utterly exterminate His people.
I will not make a full end with you--( Jeremiah 5:10 , Jeremiah 4:27 ).
19. Retribution in kind. As ye have forsaken Me ( Jeremiah 2:13 ), so shall ye be forsaken by Me. As ye have served strange (foreign) gods in your land, so shall ye serve strangers (foreigners) in a land not yours. Compare the similar retribution in Deuteronomy 28:47 Deuteronomy 28:48 .
21. eyes . . . ears, and--Translate, "and yet" (compare Deuteronomy 29:4 , Isaiah 6:9 ). Having powers of perception, they did not use them: still they were responsible for the exercise of them.
22. sand--Though made up of particles easily shifting about, I render it sufficient to curb the violence of the sea. Such is your monstrous perversity, that the raging, senseless sea sooner obeys Me, than ye do who profess to be intelligent [CALVIN], ( Job 26:10 , Job 38:10 Job 38:11 , Proverbs 8:29 , Revelation 15:4 ).
23. ( Jeremiah 6:28 ).
24. rain . . . former . . . latter--The "former" falls from the middle of October to the beginning of December. The "latter," or spring rain in Palestine, falls before harvest in March and April, and is essential for ripening the crops ( Deuteronomy 11:14 , Joel 2:23 ).
weeks of . . . harvest--the seven weeks between passover and pentecost, beginning on the sixteenth of Nisan ( Deuteronomy 16:9 ). By God's special providence no rain fell in Palestine during the harvest weeks, so that harvest work went on without interruption (see Genesis 8:22 ).
25. National guilt had caused the suspension of these national mercies mentioned in Jeremiah 5:24 (compare Jeremiah 3:3 ).
26. ( Proverbs 1:11 Proverbs 1:17 Proverbs 1:18 , Habakkuk 1:15 ).
as he that setteth snares--rather, "as fowlers crouch" [MAURER].
trap--literally, "destruction": the instrument of destruction.
catch men--not as Peter, to save ( Luke 5:10 ), but to destroy men.
27. full of deceit--full of treasures got by deceit.
rich--( Psalms 73:12 Psalms 73:18-20 ).
28. shine--the effect of fatness on the skin ( Deuteronomy 32:15 ). They live a life of self-indulgence.
overpass . . . the wicked--exceed even the Gentiles in wickedness ( Jeremiah 2:33 , Ezekiel 5:6 Ezekiel 5:7 ).
judge not . . . fatherless--( Isaiah 1:23 ).
yet . . . prosper--( Jeremiah 12:1 ).
29. ( Jeremiah 5:9 , Malachi 3:5 ).
30. ( Jeremiah 23:14 , Hosea 6:10 ).
31. bear rule by their means--literally, "according to their hands," that is, under their guidance ( 1 Chronicles 25:3 ). As a sample of the priests lending themselves to the deceits of the false prophets, to gain influence over the people, see Jeremiah 29:24-32 .
love to have it so--( Micah 2:11 ).
end thereof--the fatal issue of this sinful course when divine judgments shall come.