Lecture Twenty-Eighth

Jeremiah 7:12-14

12. But go ye now unto my place which was in Shiloh, where I set my name at the first, and see what I did to it for the wickedness of my people Israel.

12. Nempe ite nunc (vel, agedum) in locum meum, qui erat in Silo, ubi habitare feci nomen meum initio, et videte quid fecerim illic propter malitiam populi mei Israel.

13. And now, because ye have done all these works, saith the LORD, and I spake unto you, rising up early and speaking, but ye heard not; and I called you, but ye answered not;

13. Et nunc quia fecistis omnia opera haee (id est, quia imitati estis Israelitas) dicit Jehovah, et loquutus sum ad vos mane surgens, et quum loquerer, non audistis, et inclamarem vos, non respondistis.

14. Therefore will I do unto this house, which is called by my name, wherein ye trust, and unto the place which I gave to you and to your fathers, as I have done to Shiloh.

14. Faciam igitur domui huic, in qua (super quam) invocatum est nomen meum, de qua vos fiditis (in qua vos confiditis, sequitur postea relativum) et loco, quem dedi vobis et patribus vestris, sicuti feci Silo.


The Prophet confirms by an example what he said yesterday, -- that the Jews deceived themselves in thinking that they were covered by the shadow of the Temple, while yet they disclosed themselves, and when the whole world were witness of their impious rebellion. He therefore mentions what had before happened. The Ark of the Covenant, as it is well known, had long rested in Shiloh. Now the Temple did not excel in dignity on its own account, but on account of the Ark of the Covenant and the altar. It was indeed splendidly adorned; but the holiness of the Temple was derived from the Ark of the Covenant, the altar, and the sacrifices. This Ark had been in Shiloh.1 Hence Jeremiah shews how foolish were the Jews in being proud, because they had among them the Ark of the Covenant and the altar, for the first place, where sacrifices had been offered to God, was not preserved in safety. This is the import of the whole.

But he did not in vain say, Even go to Shiloh. The yk, ki, here, though commonly a causal particle, seems to be taken as explanatory. If yet it be viewed only as an affirmative, I do not object, "Well, go to Shiloh." But the language in this case is ironical, "Ye glory in the Temple; forsooth! go to Shiloh." And God calls it his place -- my place, in order that the Jews might understand that it had nothing superior in itself. The Ark of the Covenant had indeed been removed into Mount Sion, and there God had chosen a perpetual habitation for himself; but the other place was superior as to antiquity. This is the reason why he calls it "my place, "and adds, Where I made my name to dwell, that is, where I designed the Ark to be: for the Ark of the Covenant and the altar, with all their furniture, were properly the name of God; nor was it by chance that all the tribes had placed the Ark in Shiloh; but it was God's will to be there worshipped for a time. Hence he says, that the place was sacred before Jerusalem; and therefore he says at the first, hnwsarb, berashune; that is, the Shilomites are not only equal with you, but antiquity brings them a greater honor: if then a comparison is made, they excel you as to what is ancient.

See, he says, what I did to that place for the iniquity of my people Israel. He calls here Israel his people, not for honor's sake, but that he might again remind the Jews that they were only equal to the Israelites; and yet that it profited all the tribes nothing, that they were wont to assemble there to worship God.2 For when we reason from example, we must always see that there be no material difference. Jeremiah then shews that the Israelites were equal to the Jews, and that if the Jews claimed a superiority, the claim was neither just nor right, for Israel were also the people of God, inasmuch as it was God's will to fix there the Ark of the Covenant, that sacrifices might be there offered to him; and then antiquity was in its favor, for it was a holy place before it was known that God had chosen Mount Sion as a situation for his Temple.

Hence he draws this conclusion, Now, then, as ye have done all these works, that is, as ye have become like the Israelites, therefore, etc. But he first amplifies their crime, -- that they had not only imitated the wickedness of the twelve tribes, but had also perversely despised all warnings, I spake to you, he says, and rose up early. By this metaphor he intimates, that he was as solicitous for preserving the kingdom of Judah, as parents are wont to be for the safety of their children: for as a father rises early to see what is necessary for his family, so also God says, that he rose early, inasmuch as he had been assiduous in exhorting them. He appropriates to his own person what properly belonged to his prophets: but as he had roused them by his Spirit and employed them in their work, he justly claims to himself whatever he had done by them as his instruments: and it was an exaggeration of their guilt, that they were slothful, nay, stupid, when God sedulously labored for their safety.

He adds, I spoke, and ye heard not; I cried to you, and ye did not answer, he inveighs more at large against their hardness; for had he only once warned them, some pretense might have been made; but as God, by rising early every day, labored to restore them to himself, and as he had not only employed instruction, but also crying, (for by crying he doubtless means exhortations and threatenings, which ought to have produced greater effect upon them,) there appeared in this contumacy the highest degree of mad audacity. The meaning is, -- that God had tried all means to restore the Jews to a sound mind, but that they were wholly irreclaimable; for he had called them not only once, but often; and he had also endued his prophets with power to labor strenuously in the discharge of their office: he had not only shewed by them what was useful and necessary, but he had cried, that is, had employed greater vehemence, in order to correct their tardiness. Since then God, in using all these means, could effect nothing, what remained for them was miserably to perish, as they willfully sought their own destruction.

Therefore, he says, I will do to this house, which is called by my name, etc. He anticipates, no doubt, all objections, as though he had said, "I know what you will say, -- that this place is sacred to God, that his name is invoked here, and that sacrifices are here offered: all these things, he says, are alleged to no purpose, for in Shiloh also was his name invoked, and he dwelt there. Though then ye foolishly trust in this place, it shall not yet escape that judgment which happened to the former place." He adds, which I gave to you and to your fathers. Be it so; for this is to be considered as a concession; and at the same time objections are anticipated, in order that the Jews might understand that it availed them nothing, that God had chosen to build his sanctuary on Mount Sion; for the object was to promote religion. But as the place was converted to a wholly different purpose, and as God's name was there shamefully profaned, he says, "Though I gave this place to you and your fathers, yet nothing better shall be its fate than the fate of Shiloh."3 It follows --

1 This was in the tribe of Ephraim, between Bethel and Shechem, Judges 21:19, about twenty-five miles north of Jerusalem. The Ark had been there more than 300 years. It did not return there after it was brought forth in the war against the Philistines. The place afterwards declined, and its ruinous state became a proverb. See Joshua 18:1; Psalm 78:60; Jeremiah 26:6, 9.-Ed.

2 Blayney thinks that the reference is not to the ruinous condition of Shiloh, immediately subsequent to the time when the Ark was removed thence, but to the devastation occasioned by the captivity of the ten tribes, which was a recent occurrence, this reason is, because they were then directed to go and see the place. But if the place had ever continued in a ruinous state, and was so at that time, there was every propriety in saying, "Go now and see it." Besides, the argument is not so complete, as when its dilapidated state, occasioned by the sins of the people, when the Ark was thence removed, is referred to. "It is probable, "says Henry, "that the ruins of that once flourishing city were yet remaining: however, they might read the history of it, which ought to affect them as if they saw the place."-Ed.

3 The literal rendering of the two verses is as follows:-

13. And now, as ye have done all these doings, saith Jehovah, And as I have spoken to you, rising early and speaking, And ye have not hearkened, And I have called you, and ye have not answered;

14. I will also do to the house, On which my name is called, In which ye trust, and to the place, Which I gave to you and to your fathers, According to what I did to Shiloh:

"The house" was the Temple, "the place" was the city: both are threatened with destruction. Then he says in the next verse, "And I will cast you from my presence." The Temple and the city were to be destroyed like Shiloh; and they (" you") were to be dealt with as their brethren, the ten tribes, who had been driven into exile.-Ed.