Jeremiah 7:17-19

17. Seest thou not what they do in the cities of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem?

17. An non rvides tu quid ipsi faciant in urbibus Jehudah et in compitis Jerusalem?

18. The children gather wood, and the fathers kindle the fire, and the women knead their dough, to make cakes to the queen of heaven, and to pour out drink offerings unto other gods, that they may provoke me to anger.

18. Filii colligunt ligna, et patres accendunt ignem, et mulieres ad ponendum ut faciant placentas Reginae coelorum, et fundant (libent) libamina diis alienis, ut me provocent ad iram.

19. Do they provoke me to anger? saith the LORD: do they not provoke themselves to the confusion of their own faces?

19. An me ipsi ad iram provocant, dicit Jehova? an non seipsos ad erubescentiam facierum suarum?


Here God shews first why he ought to be implacable towards the people: for the command to the Prophet not to pray for them seems at the first hearing to be very severe; and it might have been objected and said, "What if they repent? Is there no hope of pardon?" God shews that they were past remedy -- How so? He says, Dost thou not see? Here he refers the examination of the cause to his servant Jeremiah; as though he had said, "There is no reason for thee to contend with me; open thine own eyes, and consider how they have fallen; for children gather wood, and fathers kindle the fire, and women knead dough." Some render the last words, "Women are busy with the paste;" but literally, "they set the dough, "la paste. God intimates here shortly, that the whole people were become corrupt, as though they had wickedly conspired together, so that men, women, and children, were all led away into idolatry as by a mad impulse; for he speaks here only of their superstitions. He had before charged them with adulteries, murders, and plunders; but he now condemns them for having wholly profaned God's worship, and at the same time shews the fruit of their impiety -- that they all strove to outdo one another by an insane rivalship.

The children, he says, gather wood. He ascribes the collecting of wood to the young; for it was a more laborious work. As then that age excels in strength, they collected wood; and the fathers kindled the fire: the women, what did they do? They were busy with the meal. Thus no part was neglected. "What then is to be done? and what else can I do, but wholly to cut off a people so wicked?" Then he says, that they may make Mynwk, cunim, which is translated "cakes, "and this is the most common rendering. Some think that kindling is meant, deriving the word from hwk, cue, which means to kindle. But I prefer the opinion of those who derive the word from Nwk, cun, which is to prepare, as cakes are things prepared. I do not then doubt, but that cakes are meant here, as it appears also from other places. The second interpretation I regard as too refined.1

With regard to the word tklml, lamelcath, many consider the letter a left out, and think that "works" are intended. In this case m would be a servile: but others consider it a radical, and render the word, "Queen;" which appears to me probable; though I do not wholly reject what some hold that the workmanship of the heavens is here meant. Some understand the stars, others the sun, and others the moon: let every one enjoy his own opinion. However, I think, that if the workmanship of the heavens be meant, the whole celestial host is to be included, as the Scripture thus calls all the stars. But if "the Queen of the heavens" be adopted, then I am inclined to think that the moon is intended: and we know how much superstition has ever prevailed among most people as to the worship of the moon. Hence I approve of this meaning. Yet I readily admit that all the stars, not one only, may be here designated, and called the work or the workmanship of the heavens. And the Jews, we know, were very much given to this madness: for as the sun was considered by the Orientals as the supreme God, when the Jews became enamoured with this error, they also thought that some high and adorable divinity belonged to the sun: they turned also afterwards to the stars; and this absurdity is often referred to in the Law and also in the Prophets.2

It is then added, That they may pour forth libations to foreign gods, to provoke me to wrath. When God complains of being provoked, it is the same as though he had said, that the Jews now openly carried on war with him, -- " They sin not through ignorance, nor is it unknown to them how much they offend me by these profanations; but it is as it were their object and design to provoke me and to carry on war with me by these acts of impiety."

He then subjoins, Do they provoke me, and not rather to the shame of their own faces? God here intimates, that however reproachfully the Jews acted towards him, they yet brought no loss to him, for he stood in no need of their worship. Why then does he so severely threaten them? Because he had their sins in view: but yet he shews that he cared not for them nor their sacrifices, for he could without any loss be without them. Hence he says, that they sought their own ruin, and whatever they devised would fall on their own heads. They seek to provoke me; they shall know with whom they have to do." It is like what is said by the Prophet Zechariah, "They shall know whom they have pierced: I indeed continue uninjured; and though they provoke me as much as they can, I yet despise all their wickedness, for they cannot reach me; they can neither hurt me nor take anything from me." But he says, they provoke themselves, that is, their fury shall return on their own heads; and hence it shall be, that their faces shall be ashamed.3


Grant, Almighty God, that as we are inclined not only to superstitions, but also to many vices, we may be restrained by thy word, and as thou art pleased daily to remind us of thy benefits, that thou mayest keep us in the practice of true religion, -- O grant, that we may not be led astray by the delusions of Satan and by our own vanity, but continue firm and steady in our obedience to thee, and constantly proceed in the course of true piety, so that we may at length partake of its fruit in thy celestial kingdom, which has been obtained for us by the blood of thine only -- begotten Son. -- Amen.

1 The ancient versions (the Arabic excepted) and the Targum render the word, cakes-placentas. It is only found elsewhere in Jeremiah 44:19.-Ed.

2 The Septuagint render the words here, "the host of heaven, "and in Jeremiah 44:17 and 19, "the queen of heaven." The Vulgate in the three places, renders them "the queen of heaven, "-the Targum, "the star of heaven, "-and the Syriac, "the army of heaven, "in the two first places, but in the last, "the queen of heaven." There are several MSS., in the three places, which insert the a, so as to make the word "work, "or workmanship: but this change has evidently arisen from the Septuagint. But this word is never used to designate the work of the visible heavens: the word used in that case is hsem. See Psalm 8:3; Psalm 19:1; Psalm 102:25; Psalm 163:5. Our version and the Vulgate are no doubt right. But what is intended by the queen of heaven is not the moon; for the word commonly used for the moon is always masculine, and the word generally used for the sun is commonly feminine. This may appear strange; but so it is. In South Wales the word for sun is always feminine, but in North Wales, masculine.

In Deuteronomy 4:19, the sun, the moon, and the stars, as constituting the host of heaven, are mentioned together: these the first, as including all the rest, seems to be intended. Instead of "queen, "we should say in our language, "the king of the heavens." We do not read that the Jews worshipped the moon; but the worship of the sun among them is specifically referred to and mentioned. See 2 Kings 23:11; Ezekiel 8:16. The Israelites adored the sun under the name of Baal, which was the Chemosh of the Moabites, and the Moloch of the Ammonites.-Ed.

3 The verb rendered "provoke, "means to disturb, to disquiet, to cause an annoyance, to irritate,-

Is it I they are annoying, saith Jehovah? Is it not themselves, to the confusion of their own faces?

They were not disturbing, as it were, the repose of God, but their own. They could do no hurt or annoyance to God, but they were annoying and injuring themselves; and this would turn out to their own shame and confusion.-Ed.