Jeremiah 6:28

28. They are all grievous revolters, walking with slanders: they are brass and iron; they are all corrupters.

28. Omnes perversi perversorum ambulantes in obtrectatione (dicemus postea de hac voce;) aes (aut, chalybs, ut alii vertunt,) vel ferrum; omnes perditores (vel, corruptores) sunt.


The Prophet now shews what he found the Jews to be, whose manners and proceedings he had been commanded to observe. Had he said this at first, either the fury of the people would have been kindled, or his judgment would have been treated with contempt: but when God shewed what he had known through his servant, it had more weight, and then the fury of the people was also repressed, when they understood that it would avail them nothing to fight against God.

He says, that they were all the apostates of apostates, or the transgressors of transgressors. Some read yro, sari, with a s, shin, and render the words, "the princes of transgressors." But I adopt the first as the more approved reading. They who read "princes, "elicit a meaning from the words which appears strange, but not the true one: they say that they were the princes of transgressors, because the people were no better than their rulers, and because servants imitated their masters in all kinds of wickedness. But this, as all must see, is a strained meaning. Why then should anything be changed, since the sentence, as it is, has a most suitable meaning? They are then called the apostates of apostates, or the transgressors of transgressors, Myrro yro, sari sarerim. The Hebrews, we know, express the superlative degree by doubling the word, as, the heaven of heavens, the holy of holies, the God of gods. He then says, that they were not only wicked, but most wicked, who had reached the extreme point of depravity. For when impiety reaches its summit, then justly may men be called the apostates of apostates. This, I have no doubt, is what the Prophet means.

He afterwards adds, that they walked in slander. The same mode of speaking, if I mistake not, is found in Leviticus 19:16,

"Go not," or walk not, "among thy people with slander."

Yet this phrase may be otherwise explained, that is, that they walked in calumnies, or that they perverted everything. But in this place, the word slander, seems too feeble, as the Prophet, in my judgment, means more, even the audacity of the people, so that they allowed themselves every liberty in sinning, and thus walked in their own wickedness.

He adds, Brass and iron 1 Many render the words, "Brass mixed with iron;" that is, that the noble and the vulgar were mingled together, so that there was a common consent among them. Of this meaning I do not wholly disapprove: but as it is rather refined, I know not whether it be well -- founded. I therefore prefer to regard this as designating their hardness: They were like brass and iron, for they were inflexible. The Prophet then after having called them transgressors who had alienated themselves from God, and after having said, that they walked in their own depravity, now adds, that they were untamable, not capable of any improvements; and hence he compares them to brass and iron.

He at last adds, that they were all corrupters. This, as I think, is to be referred to their habits: for thus are enemies called, who plunder everything, and commit all excesses. But they are corrupters here, who not only like thieves plunder the goods of all, but who are leaders to others in wickedness: so that all things were in confusion, as it is wont to be said, from the head to the feet.2 He afterwards adds --

1 "Their impudence resembles brass, and their obstinacy may be compared to iron."-Lowth.

2 This verse and the preceding have been amended, and for the most part conjecturally, by Blayney, and though with the approbation of Horsley, yet with no satisfactory reasons. That the Prophet was made as it were a fortress, appears from Jeremiah 1:18: and there is here an evident allusion to that, though his being made a watchtower, or a watchman occupying such a place, was for a different purpose. The two verses I thus render,-

27. A watchtower have I given thee among my people, A fortress, that thou mightest know and try their way; Then we are told what he had found them to be,- All of them are the apostates of apostates, Companions of the slanderer; Brass and iron are all of them, Corrupted are they.

"The apostates of apostates," mean thorough, confirmed apostates, as "servant of servants" means the basest: "companions," etc., is literally, "Walkers with, "etc. "All of them, "clearly belong to "Brass and iron, "as "they" follows "corrupted." The ancient versions are not satisfactory, and the Targum is paraphrastic; but they give the general meaning. "Prover" or "examiner" is what the versions give for "watchtower." "Fortress" is omitted in the Septuagint, the Arabic, and the Targum, and is rendered "strong" by the Vulgate. "The apostates" is left out by the Septuagint and the Arabic, and is rendered "princes" by the Vulgate, Syriac, and the Targum. For "companions of the slanderer, "the Septuagint and Arabic have "walking perversely-skoliw~v;" the Syriac and Targum, "walking with guile-cum dolo;" and the Vulgate, "walking fraudulently-fraudulenter." The word lykr, "slanderer" is found in five other places, Leviticus 19:16; Proverbs 11:13; 20:19; Jeremiah 9:4; Ezekiel 22:9. In the first three passages it is rendered in our version "a talebearer, "but more correctly, a slanderbearer, or, as Parkhurst renders it, "a trader in slander." It does not mean "a sharper, "as Blayney thinks. The passages in Proverbs are inconsistent with such an idea. There is no passage where it may not be rendered "a slanderer, "except Ezekiel 22:9; where it evidently means "slander."-Ed.