|<< Jeremiah 5 >>|
Barnes' Notes on the Bible
The capture and the destruction of Jerusalem was owing to its utter immorality. Josiah's reforms were frustrated by the immorality prevalent among all classes. The prophet sees evil triumphing, but we must not take his words so literally as to conclude that there were no good men then in Jerusalem (compare Jeremiah 4:27; Jeremiah 24:5).
1Run 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 executeth judgment, that seeketh the truth; and I will pardon it.
The broad places - The open spaces next the gates, and other places of concourse.
A man - Or, anyone.
That executeth - "That" practiceth.
Truth - uprightness, probity (so in Jeremiah 5:3).
2And though they say, The LORD liveth; surely they swear falsely.
Though they take the most binding form of oath, they do so only as a means of deceiving others.
3O LORD, are not thine eyes upon the truth? thou hast stricken them, but they have 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.
Upon the truth - God looks to the "faith," the upright purpose of the heart, and without it the nominal fealty of an oath is an abomination.
4Therefore I said, Surely these are poor; they are foolish: for they know not the way of the LORD, nor the judgment of their God.
Therefore - More simply "and."
They are foolish - Or, they act foolishly (see Numbers 12:11), not having that knowledge which would enable them to guide their ways with discretion.
5I will get me unto the great men, and will speak unto them; for they have known the way of the LORD, and the judgment of their God: but these have altogether broken the yoke, and burst the bonds.
They have known ... - Men of education, who read the Scriptures, and learn from them the nature of God's judgments.
But these - literally, surely they (compare Jeremiah 5:4).
The yoke - The Mosaic law.
And burst ... - They have torn off, torn themselves loose from.
The bonds - The fastenings by which the yoke was fixed upon the necks of the oxen.
6Wherefore a lion out of the forest shall slay them, and a wolf of the evenings 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.
Evenings - See the margin. From its habit of skulking about in the twilight the wolf is often called the "evening wolf" Habakkuk 1:8; Zephaniah 3:3, but the word used here means a sandy desert.
Leopard - panther.
7How shall I pardon thee for this? thy children have forsaken me, and sworn by them that are no gods: when I had fed them to the full, they then committed adultery, and assembled themselves by troops in the harlots' houses.
Rather, Why, "for what reason" should "I pardon thee?"
When ... - Or, "though I bound them to me by oath, yet they committed adultery."
The harlots' houses - The harlot's house, i. e., the temple of an idol; the prophet had also in view (see Jeremiah 5:8) the unchastity which accompanied most forms of nature-worship.
8They were as fed horses in the morning: every one neighed after his neighbour's wife.
In the morning - Render, they rove about. Some prefer, "(horses) from Mesech."
9Shall I not visit for these things? saith the LORD: and shall not my soul be avenged on such a nation as this?
10Go ye up upon her walls, and destroy; but make not a full end: take away her battlements; for they are not the LORD'S.
Her walls - It is Possible that not the city walls, but those of a vineyard are meant. Judaea is God's vineyard Isaiah 5:1-7, and God permits the enemy to enter the vineyard to destroy her.
Battlements - tendrils. The tendrils and branches of Judah's vine are given up to ruin, but not the stock. See Isaiah 6:13 note.
11For the house of Israel and the house of Judah have dealt very treacherously against me, saith the LORD.
12They have belied the LORD, and said, It is not he; neither shall evil come upon us; neither shall we see sword nor famine:
It is not he - i. e., Who speaks by the prophets.
13And the prophets shall become wind, and the word is not in them: thus shall it be done unto them.
Word - Rather, speaker. Literally, And he who speaketh is not in them, i. e., there is no one who speaketh in them; what the prophets say has no higher authority than themselves.
Thus ... - i. e., May the evil which the prophets threaten fall upon their head.
14Wherefore thus saith the LORD 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.
15Lo, I will bring a nation upon you from far, 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.
Israel is not put here for the ten tribes, but for the whole house of Jacob, of which Judah was now the representative.
Mighty - "permanent, enduring." The word is the usual epithet of the rocks Numbers 24:21, and of ever-flowing streams Deuteronomy 21:4, Hebrew). It describes therefore a nation, whose empire is firm as a rock, and ever rolling onward like a mighty river. The epithet "ancient" refers simply to time.
Whose laguage thou knowest not - This would render them more pitiless, as they would not understand their cries for mercy.
16Their quiver is as an open sepulchre, they are all mighty men.
Their quiver - See Jeremiah 4:29, note.
17And 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 impoverish thy fenced cities, wherein thou trustedst, with the sword.
It shall eat "thine harvest and thy bread:"
They shall eat "thy sons and thy daughters."
It shall eat thy sheep and thy cattle:
It shall eat "thy vines and thy fig-trees."
They shall impoverish ... - Or, It shall batter thy "fortified cities, wherein thou" trustest, with weapons of war. There is probably reference here to an instrument like a battering-ram, with which the Assyrians beat down the walls of their enemies.
18Nevertheless in those days, saith the LORD, I will not make a full end with you.
19And it shall come to pass, when ye shall say, Wherefore doeth the LORD our God all these things unto us? then shalt thou answer them, Like as ye have forsaken me, and served strange gods in your land, so shall ye serve strangers in a land that is not yours.
The reason why God so chastises His people. As they in a land especially consecrated to Yahweh had served "strange" (i. e., foreign gods, so shall they in a land belonging to others be the slaves of strangers.
20Declare this in the house of Jacob, and publish it in Judah, saying,
Against the God
(1) of Creation Jeremiah 5:22, and
(2) of Providence Jeremiah 5:24,
They sin, not merely by apostasy, but by a general immorality extending to all classes Jeremiah 5:25-28. It is in this immorality that their idolatry has its root.
21Hear now this, O foolish people, and without understanding; which have eyes, and see not; which have ears, and hear not:
22Fear 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?
The sea is the symbol of restless and indomitable energy, chafing against all resistance, and dashing to pieces the works whereby man endeavors to restrain its fury. Yet God has imposed upon it laws which it must obey, and keeps it in its appointed place, not by barriers of iron but by a belt of sand. Modern science has shown that the resisting power of sand is enormous. A wave which would shatter rocks fails powerless upon sand.
Can they not prevail - The opposite of "thou couldest" Jeremiah 3:5. The sea, the mightiest of God's works, cannot prevail, cannot break God's laws, because He has not endowed it with free-will. Man, physically impotent, can prevail, because, being made in God's image, he is free.
23But this people hath a revolting and a rebellious heart; they are revolted and gone.
The heart, or will of the Jews was first "revolting," literally a will that "drew back" from God, because it disliked His service; and secondly it was "rebellious," a will that actively resisted Him. Compare Deuteronomy 21:18, Deuteronomy 21:20.
24Neither say they in their heart, Let us now fear the LORD our God, that giveth rain, both the former and the latter, in his season: he reserveth unto us the appointed weeks of the harvest.
As God's Providence addresses itself chiefly to the thoughtful, Jeremiah says in their heart. By the intelligent study of God's dealings men perceive that they are not merely acts of power but also of love.
The appointed weeks - literally, He guardeth, maintaineth, for us the weeks which are the statutes or settled laws "of the harvest." These were the seven weeks from the Passover to Pentecost, and were as important for the ingathering of the crops as the rainy seasons for their nourishment.
25Your iniquities have turned away these things, and your sins have withholden good things from you.
It was not that the rains did not fall, or that the harvest weeks were less bright; the good was there, but the wickedness of the community blocked up the channels, through which it shou d have reached the people. The lawlessness and injustice of the times kept the mass of the people in poverty.
26For among my people are found wicked men: they lay wait, as he that setteth snares; they set a trap, they catch men.
Rather, he spieth about like the crouching down of fowlers; they have set the fatal snare; "they catch men."
Trap - literally, "The destroyer;" it was probably a gin, which strangled the birds caught in it.
27As a cage is full of birds, so are their houses full of deceit: therefore they are become great, and waxen rich.
Deceit - The wealth gained by deceit and fraud.
28They are waxen fat, they shine: yea, they overpass the deeds of the wicked: they judge not the cause, the cause of the fatherless, yet they prosper; and the right of the needy do they not judge.
Fatness is admired in the East as a sign of wealth.
They shine - This word is used of the sleekness of the skin, soft and smooth as ivory.
They overpass the deeds of the wicked - literally, "They have overpassed words of wickedness," i. e., they go to excess in wickedness.
Yet they prosper - Or, that they (the orphans) may prosper, enjoy their rights.
29Shall I not visit for these things? saith the LORD: shall not my soul be avenged on such a nation as this?
30A wonderful and horrible thing is committed in the land;
Rather, A terrible "and horrible thing" has happened "in the land."
31The prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests bear rule by their means; and my people love to have it so: and what will ye do in the end thereof?
Bear rule by their means - Rather, "The priests" rule at their hands, i. e., govern according to their false prophecies, guidance, and directions.
My people love to have it so - False teaching lightens the yoke of God's Law, and removes His fear from the conscience: and with this, man is ready to be content.