Jer 23:1-40. The Wicked
Rulers to Be Superseded by the King, Who Should Reign over the Again
United Peoples, Israel and Judah.
This forms the epilogue to the denunciations
of the four kings, in Jer 21:1-22:30.
1. pastors—Shallum, Jehoiakim, Jeconiah,
and Zedekiah (Eze 34:2).
2. Ye have not … visited them … I will
visit upon you—just retribution. Play upon the double sense
of "visit." "Visit upon," namely, in wrath (Ex 32:34).
3, 4. Restoration of Judah from Babylon
foretold in language which in its fulness can only apply to the final
restoration of both "Judah" and "Israel" (compare Jer 23:6); also "out of all
countries," in this verse and Jer 23:8; also, "neither shall they be lacking,"
that is, none shall be missing or detached from the rest: a prophecy
never yet fully accomplished. It holds good also of the spiritual
Israel, the elect of both Jews and Gentiles (Mal
3:16, 17; Joh 10:28; 17:12).
As to the literal Israel also, see Jer 32:37;
Isa 54:13; 60:21; Eze 34:11-16.
shepherds … shall feed
them—(Jer 3:15; Eze 34:23-31). Zerubbabel, Ezra, Nehemiah, and the
Maccabees were but typical of the consummating fulfilment of these
prophecies under Messiah.
5. As Messianic prophecy extended over many
years in which many political changes took place in harmony with these,
it displayed its riches by a variety more effective than if it had been
manifested all at once. As the moral condition of the Jews required in
each instance, so Messiah was exhibited in a corresponding phase, thus
becoming more and more the soul of the nation's life: so that He is
represented as the antitypical Israel (Isa 49:3).
unto David—Hengstenberg observes that Isaiah dwells more on His
prophetical and priestly office, which had already been
partly set forth (De 18:18; Ps 110:4). Other prophets dwell more on His
kingly office. Therefore here He is associated with "David"
the king: but in Isa 11:1 with
the then poor and unknown "Jesse."
righteous Branch—"the Branch of
righteousness" (Jer 33:15);
"The Branch" simply (Zec 3:8; 6:12); "The Branch of the Lord" (Isa 4:2).
prosper—the very term applied to
Messiah's undertaking (Isa 52:13,
Margin; Isa 53:10).
Righteousness or justice is the characteristic of Messiah
elsewhere, too, in connection with our salvation or
justification (Isa 53:11; Da 9:24; Zec 9:9). So in the New Testament He is
not merely "righteous" Himself, but "righteousness to us" (1Co 1:30), so that we become "the righteousness
of God in Him" (Ro 10:3, 4; 2Co 5:19-21; Php 3:9).
execute judgment and justice in the
earth—(Ps 72:2; Isa 9:7; 32:1, 18). Not merely a spiritual reign in the
sense in which He is "our righteousness," but a righteous reign "in the
earth" (Jer 3:17, 18). In some passages He is said to come to
judge, in others to reign. In Mt 25:34, He is called "the King." Ps 9:7 unites them. Compare Da 7:22, 26,
6. Judah … Israel … dwell
safely—Compare Jer 33:16,
where "Jerusalem" is substituted for "Israel" here. Only Judah,
and that only in part, has as yet returned. So far are the Jews from
having enjoyed, as yet, the temporal blessings here foretold as the
result of Messiah's reign, that their lot has been, for eighteen
centuries, worse than ever before. The accomplishment must, therefore,
be still future, when both Judah and Israel in their own land shall
dwell safely under a Christocracy, far more privileged than even the
old theocracy (Jer 32:37; De
33:28; Isa 54:1-17; 60:1-22; 65:17-25; Zec 14:11).
shall be called, the Lord—that is,
shall be (Isa 9:6)
"Jehovah," God's incommunicable name. Though when applied to created
things, it expresses only some peculiar connection they have
with Jehovah (Ge 22:14; Ex 17:15), yet when applied to Messiah it must
express His Godhead manifested in justifying power towards
our—marks His manhood, which is
also implied in His being a Branch raised unto David, whence His
human title, "Son of David" (compare Mt 22:42-45).
Godhead, for God alone can justify the ungodly (compare Ro
4:5; Isa 45:17, 24, 25).
7, 8. Repeated from Jer 16:14, 15. The prophet said the same things
often, in order that his sayings might make the more impression. The
same promise as in Jer 23:3, 4. The wide dispersion of the Jews at the
Babylonish captivity prefigures their present wider dispersion (Isa
11:11; Joe 3:6). Their second
deliverance is to exceed far the former one from Egypt. But the
deliverance from Babylon was inferior to that from Egypt in respect to
the miracles performed and the numbers delivered. The final deliverance
under Messiah must, therefore, be meant, of which that from Babylon was
9. because of the prophets—so the
Masorites and Targum. But Vulgate, Septuagint, &c., make
this the inscription of the prophecy, Concerning the Prophets: as in Jer 46:2;
48:1; 49:1. Jeremiah
expresses his horror at the so-called "prophets" not warning the
people, though iniquity so fearfully abounded, soon to be followed by
bones shake—(Hab 3:16).
drunken—God's judgments are
represented as stupefying like wine. The effects of the Holy Spirit
also are compared to those of wine (Ac 2:17). In both cases ecstasy was produced.
This accounts for the denial of wine to those likely to be inspired,
Nazarites, &c. (Lu 1:15). It
was necessary to put it out of men's power to ascribe inspired ecstasy
to the effects of wine.
because of … words of …
holiness—because of Jehovah's holy words, wherewith He
threatened severe penalties, soon to be inflicted, against the breakers
of His law.
10. adulterers—spiritual, that is,
forsakers of God, Israel's true Husband (Isa 54:5) for idols, at the instigation of the
false "prophets" (Jer 23:9, 15). Literal adultery and
fornication, the usual concomitants of idolatry, are also meant.
swearing—Maurer, &c., translate, "Because of the curse
(of God on it), the land mourneth" (De 27:15-26;
28:15-68; Isa 24:6). More
than usual notoriety had been given to the curses of the law, by the
finding and reading of it in Josiah's time (2Ki 22:11, &c.). But Ho 4:2, 3, favors English Version (compare
12:4). A drought was sent by
God on the pastures ("pleasant places," oases) in the desert, on
account of the "profaneness" of the priests, prophets, and people
course … evil—They (both
prophets and people) rush into wickedness (Jer 23:21;
force … not right—Their
powers are used not on the side of rectitude, but on that
11. profane—(Eze 23:39; Zep
in my house—(Jer 7:30). They built altars to idols in the very
temple (2Ki 23:12; Eze 8:3-16). Compare as to covetousness under the
roof of the sanctuary, Mt 21:13; Joh 2:16.
12. slippery ways in …
darkness—Their "way" is their false doctrine which proves
fatal to them (Jer 13:16; Ps 35:6; Pr 4:19).
I will bring evil …
visitation—still more calamities than those already
inflicted. See on Jer 11:23; "visitation,"
namely, in wrath.
13. folly—literally, "insipidity,"
"unsavouriness" (Job 6:6), not
having the salt of godliness (Col 4:6).
in Baal—in the name of Baal; in
connection with his worship (see Jer 2:8).
caused … to err—(Isa 9:16).
14. "Jerusalem" and Judah were even worse than
"Samaria" and the ten tribes; the greater were the privileges of the
former, the greater was their guilt. They had the temple in their
midst, which the ten tribes had not; yet in the temple itself they
strengthen … hands of
as Sodom—(De 32:32; Isa
15. gall—poison (see on Jer 8:14; Jer 9:15).
16. make you vain—They seduce you to
vanity, that is, idolatry, which will prove a vain trust to you (Jer 2:5; 2Ki 17:15; Jon 2:8), [Gesenius]. Rather, "they delude you with vain
promises of security" (Jer 23:17;
of their own heart—of their own
invention (Jer 23:21; Jer 14:14).
17. say still—Hebrew, "say in
saying," that is, say incessantly.
peace—(Jer 6:14; Eze 13:10;
no evil—(Mic 3:11).
18. A reason is given why the false prophets
should not be heeded: They have not stood in the counsels of
Jehovah (an image from ministers present in a standing
posture at councils of Eastern kings) (compare Jer 23:22;
Job 15:8). The spiritual man
alone has the privilege (Ge 18:17; Ps 25:14;
Am 3:7; Joh 15:15; 1Co 2:16).
19. So far from all prosperity awaiting the
people as the false prophets say (Jer 23:17), wrath is in store for them.
whirling itself about, a tornado. In Jer 30:23, "continuing" is substituted for
fall grievously—it shall be hurled
20. in … latter days—that is, "the
year of their visitation" (Jer 23:12).
Primarily the meaning is: the Jews will not "consider" now God's
warnings (De 32:29);
but when the prophecies shall be fulfilled in their Babylonish exile,
they will consider and see, by bitter experience, their sinful folly.
The ultimate scope of the prophecy is: the Jews, in their final
dispersion, shall at last "consider" their sin and turn to Messiah
"perfectly" (Ho 3:5; Zec 12:5, 10-14; Lu 13:35).
21. sent … spoken—"sent" refers to
the primary call: "spoken" to the subsequent charges
given to be executed. A call is required, not only external, on the
part of men, but also internal from God, that one should undertake a
pastor's office [Calvin].
22. stood in … counsel—(Jer 23:18).
they should have turned them from their evil
way—They would have given such counsels to the people as
would have turned them from their sins (Jer 25:5; Isa 55:11), and so would have averted punishment.
Their not teaching the law in which God's counsel is set forth proves
they are not His prophets, though they boast of being so (Mt 7:15-20).
23. Let not the false prophets fancy that
their devices (Jer 23:25)
are unknown to Me. Are ye so ignorant as to suppose that I can only see
things near Me, namely, things in heaven, and not earthly things as
being too remote?
24. (Ps 139:7, &c.; Am 9:2, 3).
fill heaven and earth—with My
omniscience, providence, power, and essential being (1Ki 8:27).
25. dreamed—I have received a prophetic
communication by dream (Nu 12:6; De 13:1, &c. Joe
26. prophets—a different Hebrew
form from the usual one, "prophesiers." "How long," cries Jeremiah,
impatient of their impious audacity, "shall these
prophecy-mongers go on prophesying lies?" The answer is given in
27. They "think" to make My people utterly to
forget Me. But I will oppose to those dreamers my true prophets.
fathers … for Baal—(Jud 3:7; 8:33,
28. God answers the objection which might be
stated, "What, then, must we do, when lies are spoken as truths, and
prophets oppose prophets?" Do the same as when wheat is mixed with
chaff: do not reject the wheat because of the chaff mixed with it, but
discriminate between the false and the true revelations. The test is
adherence to, or forgetfulness of, Me and My law (Jer 23:27).
that hath a dream—that pretends to
have a divine communication by dream, let him tell it "faithfully,"
that it may be compared with "my word" (2Co 4:2). The result will be the former (both
the prophets and their fictions) will soon be seen to be chaff;
the latter (the true prophets and the word of God in their mouth)
wheat (Ps 1:4; Ho 13:3).
29. As the "fire" consumes the "chaff," [Jer 23:28], so "My word" will consume the
false prophets (Mt 3:12; Heb 4:12). "My word" which is "wheat" [Jer 23:28], that is, food to the true
prophet and his hearers, is a consuming "fire," and a crushing "hammer"
21:44) to false prophets and
their followers (2Co 2:16).
The Word of the false prophets may be known by its promising men
peace in sin. "My word," on the contrary, burns and
breaks the hard-hearted (Jer 20:9). The "hammer" symbolizes destructive
power (Jer 50:23; Na 2:1, Margin).
30. steal my words—a twofold plagiarism;
one steals from the other, and all steal words from Jehovah's true
prophets, but misapply them (see Jer 28:2; Joh 10:1; Re
31. use—rather, "take" their tongue: a
second class (compare Jer 23:30)
require, in order to bring forth a revelation, nothing more than their
tongues, wherewith they say, He (Jehovah) saith: they bungle in
the very formula instead of the usual "Jehovah saith," being
only able to say "(He) saith."
32. Third class: inventors of lies: the
climax, and worst of the three.
lightness—wanton inventions (Zep 3:4).
not profit—that is, greatly
33. What is the burden—play on the
double sense of the Hebrew: an oracle and a
burden. They scoffingly ask, Has he got any new burden
(burdensome oracle: for all his prophecies are disasters)
to announce (Mal 1:1)?
Jeremiah indignantly repeats their own question, Do you ask, What
burden? This, then, it is, "I will forsake you." My word is burdensome
in your eyes, and you long to be rid if it. You shall get your wish.
There will be no more prophecy: I will forsake you, and that
will be a far worse "burden" to you.
34. The burden—Whoever shall in mockery
call the Lord's word "a burden," shall be visited
(Margin) in wrath.
35. The result of My judgments shall be, ye
shall address the prophet more reverentially hereafter, no longer
calling his message a burden, but a divine response or
word. "What hath the Lord
36. every man's word … his
burden—As they mockingly call all prophecies
burdens, as if calamities were the sole subject of prophecy, so
it shall prove to them. God will take them at their own
living God—not lifeless as their dumb
idols, ever living so as to be able to punish.
39. I will … forget you—just
retribution for their forgetting Him (Ho 4:6). But God cannot possibly forget
His children (Isa 49:15).
Rather for "forget" translate, "I will altogether lift you up (like a
'burden,' alluding to their mocking term for God's messages) and cast
you off." God makes their wicked language fall on their own head [Calvin]. Compare Jer 23:36: "every man's word shall be his
40. not be forgotten—If we translate
23:39 as English
Version, the antithesis is, though I forget you, your
shame shall not be forgotten.