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The Utter Corruption of God’s People


Run to and fro through the streets of Jerusalem,

look around and take note!

Search its squares and see

if you can find one person

who acts justly

and seeks truth—

so that I may pardon Jerusalem.


Although they say, “As the L ord lives,”

yet they swear falsely.


O L ord, do your eyes not look for truth?

You have struck them,

but they felt no anguish;

you have consumed them,

but they refused to take correction.

They have made their faces harder than rock;

they have refused to turn back.



Then I said, “These are only the poor,

they have no sense;

for they do not know the way of the L ord,

the law of their God.


Let me go to the rich

and speak to them;

surely they know the way of the L ord,

the law of their God.”

But they all alike had broken the yoke,

they had burst the bonds.



Therefore a lion from the forest shall kill them,

a wolf from the desert shall destroy them.

A leopard is watching against their cities;

everyone who goes out of them shall be torn in pieces—

because their transgressions are many,

their apostasies are great.



How can I pardon you?

Your children have forsaken me,

and have sworn by those who are no gods.

When I fed them to the full,

they committed adultery

and trooped to the houses of prostitutes.


They were well-fed lusty stallions,

each neighing for his neighbor’s wife.


Shall I not punish them for these things?

says the L ord;

and shall I not bring retribution

on a nation such as this?



Go up through her vine-rows and destroy,

but do not make a full end;

strip away her branches,

for they are not the L ord’s.


For the house of Israel and the house of Judah

have been utterly faithless to me,

says the L ord.


They have spoken falsely of the L ord,

and have said, “He will do nothing.

No evil will come upon us,

and we shall not see sword or famine.”


The prophets are nothing but wind,

for the word is not in them.

Thus shall it be done to them!



Therefore thus says the L ord, the God of hosts:

Because they have spoken this word,

I am now making my words in your mouth a fire,

and this people wood, and the fire shall devour them.


I am going to bring upon you

a nation from far away, O house of Israel,

says the L ord.

It is an enduring nation,

it is an ancient nation,

a nation whose language you do not know,

nor can you understand what they say.


Their quiver is like an open tomb;

all of them are mighty warriors.


They shall eat up your harvest and your food;

they shall eat up your sons and your daughters;

they shall eat up your flocks and your herds;

they shall eat up your vines and your fig trees;

they shall destroy with the sword

your fortified cities in which you trust.


18 But even in those days, says the L ord, I will not make a full end of you. 19And when your people say, “Why has the L ord our God done all these things to us?” you shall say to them, “As you have forsaken me and served foreign gods in your land, so you shall serve strangers in a land that is not yours.”



Declare this in the house of Jacob,

proclaim it in Judah:


Hear this, O foolish and senseless people,

who have eyes, but do not see,

who have ears, but do not hear.


Do you not fear me? says the L ord;

Do you not tremble before me?

I placed the sand as a boundary for the sea,

a perpetual barrier that it cannot pass;

though the waves toss, they cannot prevail,

though they roar, they cannot pass over it.


But this people has a stubborn and rebellious heart;

they have turned aside and gone away.


They do not say in their hearts,

“Let us fear the L ord our God,

who gives the rain in its season,

the autumn rain and the spring rain,

and keeps for us

the weeks appointed for the harvest.”


Your iniquities have turned these away,

and your sins have deprived you of good.


For scoundrels are found among my people;

they take over the goods of others.

Like fowlers they set a trap;

they catch human beings.


Like a cage full of birds,

their houses are full of treachery;

therefore they have become great and rich,


they have grown fat and sleek.

They know no limits in deeds of wickedness;

they do not judge with justice

the cause of the orphan, to make it prosper,

and they do not defend the rights of the needy.


Shall I not punish them for these things?

says the L ord,

and shall I not bring retribution

on a nation such as this?



An appalling and horrible thing

has happened in the land:


the prophets prophesy falsely,

and the priests rule as the prophets direct;

my people love to have it so,

but what will you do when the end comes?


Jeremiah comes now, I think, to the second table, and mentions one kind of evil; but his object was to shew that there was no chastity, no faithfulness, no honesty in that people. He therefore compares them to wanton and lustful horses, and thus exposes their infamous conduct. Had he said that every one did lie in wait for the bed of his neighbor, it would have been a heinous crime; but when he calls their lust neighing, and calls them horses, and those well fed, and who rise early after they are filled, he doubtless shews that such was their incontinence, that they were not only wanton and adulterous, but that they were worse and more base, for they differed nothing from lustful horses, and horses well fed. Some read the last word “armed, “deducing it from יוןizan, which means to be armed; and others derive it from זון, zun, which signifies to eat, and hence they take מוזן, muzan, for food. There is indeed no doubt but that it means here “fed, “or fat; for why should he call them armed horses? What some say, that they rose early after having committed adultery, in order to exhibit their disgrace, and to boast of their vices, is too far-fetched. What is meant is, that they were strong horses, and active, and that they rose up early after having been well fed. 138138     The literal rendering of this verse, and countenanced by ancient versions, is as follows, —
   Horses well fed! libidinous have they become; They neigh, every one at the wife of his neighbor.

   Both Venema and Blayney agree in giving this meaning.

   It does not seem, when the whole context is viewed, that adultery here is to be taken in its literal sense. It is spiritual adultery, that is, idolatry, that is referred to throughout the chapter. Besides, the comparison in this verse is such, that its application is more suitable to idolatrous acts than to those which are adulterous. The same may be said of what is found in the preceding verse, — that they crowded the house of the harlot. This is not so much the case in adultery as in idolatry, when people fill their idolatrous temples. A simile is sometimes carried beyond what is actually the case, in order to convey a right idea of what it is intended to illustrate. When they are said to be like well-fed stallions, and neighing at the wives of their neighbors, the purpose was to shew with what intense ardor they were devoted to idolatry: and the degrading comparison was no doubt made in order to pour contempt on their mad propensity: it was like the impetuous instinct of an animal, uncontrolled by any reason, persuasion, or remonstrance. — Ed.

We now then understand the Prophet’s object: the sum of the whole is, — that there was no chastity among the Jews, for they gave themselves up to wanton lusts, not only like adulterers and whoremongers, but like lascivious horses. Nevertheless, as we have said, he includes here, under incontinency, thefts, frauds, rapines, and all vices of this kind; for he no doubt charges the Jews as guilty of transgressing against the second table of the law. He afterwards adds —

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