Jeremiah 23:38-39

38. But since ye say, The burden of the Lord; therefore thus saith the Lord, Because ye say this word, The burden of the Lord, and I have sent unto you, saying, Ye shall not say, The burden of the Lord;

38. Quod si onus Jehovae dixeritis, propterea sic dicit Jehovah, Ne dicatis hoc verbum (hoc est, ne proferatis hunc sermonem) onus Jehovae; et misi ad vos (sed debet resolvi oratio, quum miserium ad vos,) et ne dicatis, onus Jehovae:

39. Therefore, behold, I, even I, will utterly forget you, and I will forsake you, and the city that I gave you and your fathers, and cast you out of my presence.

39. Propterea ecce ego et tollam vos tollendo (vel, obliviscar vestri obliviscendo, ut alii vertunt; tertia est sententia, obliviscar vestri, ut tollam, vel, ad tollendum,) et evellam vos (vel, projiciam, melius; alii vertunt, relinquam, male,) et urbem hanc, quam dedi vobis et patribus vestris, a facie mea.


Here the Prophet confirms what he had said, for God might have seemed to be too indignant, having been so grievously offended at one short expression. The Jews had borrowed from the prophets themselves, when they called prophecies burdens, as we have already said, and as we find in many places. Now as the lubricity of language is great, though the Jews might have done wrong as to one word, it might yet have appeared an insufficient reason for the punishment which God threatened to inflict. But the Prophet here shews that God was justly angry with them, for he had sent to them, and often warned them not to use this form of speaking, which was a manifest evidence of their impiety. As then they had thus disregarded God and his warnings, was it an excusable mistake? In short, Jeremiah shews that they had not erred inconsiderately, as it often happens as to those who speak rashly and thoughtlessly, but that this perverted way of speaking proceeded from determined wickedness, from a wish to affix some mark of disgrace to God's word; and thus they acted in disdain towards God himself. This then is the import of the words.

If ye shall say, even when I warn you not to speak in this manner; if then ye persevere in this obstinacy, Behold I, etc.; God here declares that he would take vengeance. As to this sentence, most interpreters derive the verb from hsn, nushe, making h, he, the final letter; but I doubt the correctness of this; yet if this explanation be adopted, we must still hold that the Prophet alludes to the verb, to take away, which immediately follows. But I am disposed to take another view, that God would by removing remove them. It must be noticed that the word asm, mesha, which has often been mentioned, comes from the same root; asm, mesha, a burden, is derived from asn, nusha, to remove or take away. As therefore this proverb was commonly used, that prophetic doctrine ever brought some burden and trouble, God answers, "I will take you away;" that is, "ye shall find by experience how grievous and burdensome your wickedness is to me, it shall rebound on your heads; ye have burdened and treated with indignity my word, and I will treat you with indignity," but in what manner? I will take you away even by taking you away. If any one approves more of the sense of forgetting, let him follow his own judgment; but that explanation appears to me unmeaning, "I will forget you," except asn, nusha, be taken in the second place as signifying to take away. "I will forget you, that I may take you away."1

He adds, And I will pluck you up; which some render, "I will forsake you," but they seem not to understand what the Prophet intended; for he declares something more grievous and more dreadful than before, when he says, I will pluck you up; and yet this sense does not satisfy me. The verb sjn, nuthash, means to extend, and metaphorically to cast far off; and casting off or away seems to suit the passage best. God then would not only remove or take away the Jews from their own place, but would also cast them far off into distant countries. He thus denounces on them an exile, by which they were to be driven as it were into another world. For had they dwelt in the neighborhood, it would have been more tolerable to them, but as they were to be driven away, as by a violent storm to the farthest and remotest regions, it was much more grievous.

He afterwards says, And the city also which I gave to you and to your fathers. The verbs, to cast away and to pluck up, do not well suit stones; but as to the sense, it may rightly be said that God would take away the city with its inhabitants, as though they were driven away by the wind. And this was added designedly, for the Jews relying on this promise, "This is my rest for ever, here will I dwell," thought it impossible that the sanctuary of God would ever be destroyed. As then this vain confidence deceived them, that the city which God had chosen as his habitation would stand always, the Prophet expressly adds that the city itself would perish.

And it is also added, that it was given to them and their fathers. He anticipates all objections, and shakes off from the Jews the vain hope by which they were inebriated, even that the city was given perpetually to them, and that God resided there to defend them; "This donation," he says, "will not keep you nor the city itself from destruction." He adds, From my presence; for it was customary for them to pretend God's name, when they sought to harden their hearts against the threatenings of the prophets; but God here answers them and says, from my presence; as though he had said, "In vain do ye harbor the thought respecting the perpetuity of the city and the Temple; for this depends on my will and good pleasure. As ye then stand or fall as it seems right to me, I now declare that ye shall be ejected and wholly removed from my presence." It follows, --

1 The variety in the Versions as to this clause, and the different constructions given of it by expositors, seem to intimate some derangement in the text, and the text itself as it now exists, (and there are no different readings,) is not according to the Hebrew idiom; for ynnh, "behold me," is commonly, if not uniformly, followed by a participle and then by a verb, preceded by w conversive in the past tense. See Jeremiah 9:7; Jeremiah 10:18; Jeremiah 16:16. This is not the case here. Besides, when a verb, and the same verb as a gerund are put together, which is no uncommon thing, the gerund in general, if not always, precedes the verb; not so here, if we take ytysn, as most do, to be from asn. These anomalies are evident in the text as it now stands. Suppose the misplacing of one word, and put asn after ynnh, and the sentence will be perfectly grammatical, and the version would be as follows, --

Therefore, behold, I will carry off and let you go; Yea, I will dismiss you and the city, Which I gave to you and to your fathers, From my presence.

Alluding to burden, he says that he would carry them off as one carries a burden, and then let them go, or throw them down: the verb hsn means to loosen, to disengage one's self from a thing, to remit, to let go. Then smn has a similar meaning, to set loose, to relax, to set free, to dismiss, to cast off; which intimates that he would not suffer them to continue as it were in his presence. It is the same verb as in Jeremiah 23:33 -- Ed.