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Jeremiah Proclaims God’s Judgment on the Nation
The word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord: 2Stand in the gate of the Lord’s house, and proclaim there this word, and say, Hear the word of the Lord, all you people of Judah, you that enter these gates to worship the Lord. 3Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: Amend your ways and your doings, and let me dwell with you in this place. 4Do not trust in these deceptive words: “This is the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord.”
5 For if you truly amend your ways and your doings, if you truly act justly one with another, 6if you do not oppress the alien, the orphan, and the widow, or shed innocent blood in this place, and if you do not go after other gods to your own hurt, 7then I will dwell with you in this place, in the land that I gave of old to your ancestors forever and ever.
8 Here you are, trusting in deceptive words to no avail. 9Will you steal, murder, commit adultery, swear falsely, make offerings to Baal, and go after other gods that you have not known, 10and then come and stand before me in this house, which is called by my name, and say, “We are safe!”—only to go on doing all these abominations? 11Has this house, which is called by my name, become a den of robbers in your sight? You know, I too am watching, says the Lord. 12Go now to my place that was in Shiloh, where I made my name dwell at first, and see what I did to it for the wickedness of my people Israel. 13And now, because you have done all these things, says the Lord, and when I spoke to you persistently, you did not listen, and when I called you, you did not answer, 14therefore I will do to the house that is called by my name, in which you trust, and to the place that I gave to you and to your ancestors, just what I did to Shiloh. 15And I will cast you out of my sight, just as I cast out all your kinsfolk, all the offspring of Ephraim.
The People’s Disobedience
16 As for you, do not pray for this people, do not raise a cry or prayer on their behalf, and do not intercede with me, for I will not hear you. 17Do you not see what they are doing in the towns of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem? 18The children gather wood, the fathers kindle fire, and the women knead dough, to make cakes for the queen of heaven; and they pour out drink offerings to other gods, to provoke me to anger. 19Is it I whom they provoke? says the Lord. Is it not themselves, to their own hurt? 20Therefore thus says the Lord God: My anger and my wrath shall be poured out on this place, on human beings and animals, on the trees of the field and the fruit of the ground; it will burn and not be quenched.
21 Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: Add your burnt offerings to your sacrifices, and eat the flesh. 22For in the day that I brought your ancestors out of the land of Egypt, I did not speak to them or command them concerning burnt offerings and sacrifices. 23But this command I gave them, “Obey my voice, and I will be your God, and you shall be my people; and walk only in the way that I command you, so that it may be well with you.” 24Yet they did not obey or incline their ear, but, in the stubbornness of their evil will, they walked in their own counsels, and looked backward rather than forward. 25From the day that your ancestors came out of the land of Egypt until this day, I have persistently sent all my servants the prophets to them, day after day; 26yet they did not listen to me, or pay attention, but they stiffened their necks. They did worse than their ancestors did.
27 So you shall speak all these words to them, but they will not listen to you. You shall call to them, but they will not answer you. 28You shall say to them: This is the nation that did not obey the voice of the Lord their God, and did not accept discipline; truth has perished; it is cut off from their lips.
Cut off your hair and throw it away;
raise a lamentation on the bare heights,
for the Lord has rejected and forsaken
the generation that provoked his wrath.
30 For the people of Judah have done evil in my sight, says the Lord; they have set their abominations in the house that is called by my name, defiling it. 31And they go on building the high place of Topheth, which is in the valley of the son of Hinnom, to burn their sons and their daughters in the fire—which I did not command, nor did it come into my mind. 32Therefore, the days are surely coming, says the Lord, when it will no more be called Topheth, or the valley of the son of Hinnom, but the valley of Slaughter: for they will bury in Topheth until there is no more room. 33The corpses of this people will be food for the birds of the air, and for the animals of the earth; and no one will frighten them away. 34And I will bring to an end the sound of mirth and gladness, the voice of the bride and bridegroom in the cities of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem; for the land shall become a waste.
Jer 7:1-34. The Seventh through Ninth Chapters. Delivered in the Beginning of Jehoiakim's Reign, on the Occasion of Some Public Festival.
The prophet stood at the gate of the temple in order that the multitudes from the country might hear him. His life was threatened, it appears from Jer 26:1-9, for this prophecy, denouncing the fate of Shiloh as about to befall the temple at Jerusalem. The prophecy given in detail here is summarily referred to there. After Josiah's death the nation relapsed into idolatry through Jehoiakim's bad influence; the worship of Jehovah was, however, combined with it (Jer 7:4, 10).
2. the gate—that is, the gate of the court of Israel within that of the women. Those whom Jeremiah addresses came through the gate leading into the court of the women, and the gate leading into the outer court, or court of the Gentiles ("these gates").
4. The Jews falsely thought that because their temple had been chosen by Jehovah as His peculiar dwelling, it could never be destroyed. Men think that ceremonial observances will supersede the need of holiness (Isa 48:2; Mic 3:11). The triple repetition of "the temple of Jehovah" expresses the intense confidence of the Jews (see Jer 22:29; Isa 6:3).
these—the temple buildings which the prophet points to with his finger (Jer 7:2).
5. For—"But" [Maurer].
judgment—justice (Jer 22:3).
6. this place—this city and land (Jer 7:7).
to dwell—to continue to dwell.
9, 10. "Will ye steal … and then come and stand before Me?"
whom ye know not—Ye have no grounds of "knowing" that they are gods; but I have manifested My Godhead by My law, by benefits conferred, and by miracles. This aggravates their crime [Calvin] (Jud 5:8).
10. And come—And yet come (Eze 23:39).
We are delivered—namely, from all impending calamities. In spite of the prophet's threats, we have nothing to fear; we have offered our sacrifices, and therefore Jehovah will "deliver" us.
to do all these abominations—namely, those enumerated (Jer 7:9). These words are not to be connected with "we are delivered," but thus: "Is it with this design that ye come and stand before Me in this house," in order that having offered your worthless sacrifices ye may be taken into My favor and so do all these abominations (Jer 7:9) with impunity? [Maurer].
11. den of robbers—Do you regard My temple as being what robbers make their den, namely, an asylum wherein ye may obtain impunity for your abominations (Jer 7:10)?
12. my place … in Shiloh—God caused His tabernacle to be set up in Shiloh in Joshua's days (Jos 18:1; Jud 18:31). In Eli's time God gave the ark, which had been at Shiloh, into the hands of the Philistines (Jer 26:6; 1Sa 4:10, 11; Ps 78:56-61). Shiloh was situated between Beth-el and Shechem in Ephraim.
at the first—implying that Shiloh exceeded the Jewish temple in antiquity. But God's favor is not tied down to localities (Ac 7:44).
my people Israel—Israel was God's people, yet He spared it not when rebellious: neither will He spare Judah, now that it rebels, though heretofore it has been His people.
14. I gave—and I therefore can revoke the gift for it is still Mine (Le 25:23), now that ye fail in the only object for which it was given, the promotion of My glory.
Shiloh—as I ceased to dwell there, transferring My temple to Jerusalem; so I will cease to dwell at Jerusalem.
15. your brethren—children of Abraham, as much as you.
17. Jehovah leaves it to Jeremiah himself to decide, is there not good reason that prayers should not be heard in behalf of such rebels?
18. children … fathers … women—Not merely isolated individuals practised idolatry; young and old, men and women, and whole families, contributed their joint efforts to promote it. Oh, that there were the same zeal for the worship of God as there is for error (Jer 44:17, 19; 19:13)!
cakes … queen of heaven—Cakes were made of honey, fine flour, &c., in a round flat shape to resemble the disc of the moon, to which they were offered. Others read as Margin, "the frame of heaven," that is, the planets generally; so the Septuagint here; but elsewhere the Septuagint translates, "queen of heaven." The Phœnicians called the moon Ashtoreth or Astarte: the wife of Baal or Moloch, the king of heaven. The male and female pair of deities symbolized the generative powers of nature; hence arose the introduction of prostitution in the worship. The Babylonians worshipped Ashtoreth as Mylitta, that is, generative. Our Monday, or Moon-day, indicates the former prevalence of moon worship (see on Isa 65:11).
that they may provoke me—implying design: in worshipping strange gods they seemed as if purposely to provoke Jehovah.
20. beast … trees … ground—Why doth God vent His fury on these? On account of man, for whom these were created, that the sad spectacle may strike terror into him (Ro 8:20-22).
21. Put … burnt offerings unto … sacrifices … eat flesh—Add the former (which the law required to be wholly burnt) to the latter (which were burnt only in part), and "eat flesh" even off the holocausts or burnt offerings. As far as I am concerned, saith Jehovah, you may do with one and the other alike. I will have neither (Isa 1:11; Ho 8:13; Am 5:21, 22).
22. Not contradicting the divine obligation of the legal sacrifices. But, "I did not require sacrifices, unless combined with moral obedience" (Ps 50:8; 51:16, 17). The superior claim of the moral above the positive precepts of the law was marked by the ten commandments having been delivered first, and by the two tables of stone being deposited alone in the ark (De 5:6). The negative in Hebrew often supplies the want of the comparative: not excluding the thing denied, but only implying the prior claim of the thing set in opposition to it (Ho 6:6). "I will have mercy, and not sacrifice" (1Sa 15:22). Love to God is the supreme end, external observances only means towards that end. "The mere sacrifice was not so much what I commanded, as the sincere submission to My will gives to the sacrifice all its virtue" [Magee, Atonement, Note 57].
imagination—rather, as Margin, "the stubbornness."
backward, &c.—(Jer 2:27; 32:33; Ho 4:16).
25. rising … early—(Jer 7:13).
worse than their fathers—(Jer 16:12). In Jer 7:22 He had said, "your fathers"; here He says, "their fathers"; the change to the third person marks growing alienation from them. He no longer addresses themselves, as it would be a waste of words in the case of such hardened rebels.
27. Therefore—rather, "Though thou speak … yet they will not hearken" [Maurer], (Eze 2:7), a trial to the prophet's faith; though he knew his warnings would be unheeded, still he was to give them in obedience to God.
28. unto them—that is, in reference to them.
a nation—The word usually applied to the Gentile nations is here applied to the Jews, as being east off and classed by God among the Gentiles.
nor receiveth correction—(Jer 5:3).
truth … perished—(Jer 9:3).
hair—flowing locks, like those of a Nazarite.
high places—The scene of her idolatries is to be the scene of her mourning (Jer 3:21).
generation of his wrath—the generation with which He is wroth. So Isa 10:6; "the people of My wrath."
31. high places of Tophet—the altars [Horsley] of Tophet; erected to Moloch, on the heights along the south of the valley facing Zion.
burn … sons—(Ps 106:38).
32. valley of slaughter—so named because of the great slaughter of the Jews about to take place at Jerusalem: a just retribution of their sin in slaying their children to Moloch in Tophet.
34. Referring to the joyous songs and music with which the bride and bridegroom were escorted in the procession to the home of the latter from that of the former; a custom still prevalent in the East (Jer 16:9; Isa 24:7, 8; Re 18:23).