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23. Lying Prophets

Woe be unto the pastors that destroy and scatter the sheep of my pasture! saith the Lord. 2Therefore thus saith the Lord God of Israel against the pastors that feed my people; Ye have scattered my flock, and driven them away, and have not visited them: behold, I will visit upon you the evil of your doings, saith the Lord. 3And I will gather the remnant of my flock out of all countries whither I have driven them, and will bring them again to their folds; and they shall be fruitful and increase. 4And I will set up shepherds over them which shall feed them: and they shall fear no more, nor be dismayed, neither shall they be lacking, saith the Lord.

5Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will raise unto David a righteous Branch, and a King shall reign and prosper, and shall execute judgment and justice in the earth. 6In his days Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely: and this is his name whereby he shall be called, THE Lord OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS. 7Therefore, behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that they shall no more say, The Lord liveth, which brought up the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt; 8But, The Lord liveth, which brought up and which led the seed of the house of Israel out of the north country, and from all countries whither I had driven them; and they shall dwell in their own land.

9Mine heart within me is broken because of the prophets; all my bones shake; I am like a drunken man, and like a man whom wine hath overcome, because of the Lord, and because of the words of his holiness. 10For the land is full of adulterers; for because of swearing the land mourneth; the pleasant places of the wilderness are dried up, and their course is evil, and their force is not right. 11For both prophet and priest are profane; yea, in my house have I found their wickedness, saith the Lord. 12Wherefore their way shall be unto them as slippery ways in the darkness: they shall be driven on, and fall therein: for I will bring evil upon them, even the year of their visitation, saith the Lord. 13And I have seen folly in the prophets of Samaria; they prophesied in Baal, and caused my people Israel to err. 14I have seen also in the prophets of Jerusalem an horrible thing: they commit adultery, and walk in lies: they strengthen also the hands of evildoers, that none doth return from his wickedness: they are all of them unto me as Sodom, and the inhabitants thereof as Gomorrah. 15Therefore thus saith the Lord of hosts concerning the prophets; Behold, I will feed them with wormwood, and make them drink the water of gall: for from the prophets of Jerusalem is profaneness gone forth into all the land. 16Thus saith the Lord of hosts, Hearken not unto the words of the prophets that prophesy unto you: they make you vain: they speak a vision of their own heart, and not out of the mouth of the Lord. 17They say still unto them that despise me, The Lord hath said, Ye shall have peace; and they say unto every one that walketh after the imagination of his own heart, No evil shall come upon you. 18For who hath stood in the counsel of the Lord, and hath perceived and heard his word? who hath marked his word, and heard it? 19Behold, a whirlwind of the Lord is gone forth in fury, even a grievous whirlwind: it shall fall grievously upon the head of the wicked. 20The anger of the Lord shall not return, until he have executed, and till he have performed the thoughts of his heart: in the latter days ye shall consider it perfectly. 21I have not sent these prophets, yet they ran: I have not spoken to them, yet they prophesied. 22But if they had stood in my counsel, and had caused my people to hear my words, then they should have turned them from their evil way, and from the evil of their doings. 23 Am I a God at hand, saith the Lord, and not a God afar off? 24Can any hide himself in secret places that I shall not see him? saith the Lord. Do not I fill heaven and earth? saith the Lord. 25I have heard what the prophets said, that prophesy lies in my name, saying, I have dreamed, I have dreamed. 26How long shall this be in the heart of the prophets that prophesy lies? yea, they are prophets of the deceit of their own heart; 27Which think to cause my people to forget my name by their dreams which they tell every man to his neighbour, as their fathers have forgotten my name for Baal. 28The prophet that hath a dream, let him tell a dream; and he that hath my word, let him speak my word faithfully. What is the chaff to the wheat? saith the Lord. 29 Is not my word like as a fire? saith the Lord; and like a hammer that breaketh the rock in pieces? 30Therefore, behold, I am against the prophets, saith the Lord, that steal my words every one from his neighbour. 31Behold, I am against the prophets, saith the Lord, that use their tongues, and say, He saith. 32Behold, I am against them that prophesy false dreams, saith the Lord, and do tell them, and cause my people to err by their lies, and by their lightness; yet I sent them not, nor commanded them: therefore they shall not profit this people at all, saith the Lord.

33And when this people, or the prophet, or a priest, shall ask thee, saying, What is the burden of the Lord? thou shalt then say unto them, What burden? I will even forsake you, saith the Lord. 34And as for the prophet, and the priest, and the people, that shall say, The burden of the Lord, I will even punish that man and his house. 35Thus shall ye say every one to his neighbour, and every one to his brother, What hath the Lord answered? and, What hath the Lord spoken? 36And the burden of the Lord shall ye mention no more: for every man’s word shall be his burden; for ye have perverted the words of the living God, of the Lord of hosts our God. 37Thus shalt thou say to the prophet, What hath the Lord answered thee? and, What hath the Lord spoken? 38But 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; 39Therefore, 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: 40And I will bring an everlasting reproach upon you, and a perpetual shame, which shall not be forgotten.

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 נשה, nushe, making ה, 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 משא, mesha, which has often been mentioned, comes from the same root; משא, mesha, a burden, is derived from נשא, 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 נשא, nusha, be taken in the second place as signifying to take away. “I will forget you, that I may take you away.” 120120     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 הנני, “behold me,” is commonly, if not uniformly, followed by a participle and then by a verb, preceded by ו 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 נשיתי, as most do, to be from נשא. These anomalies are evident in the text as it now stands. Suppose the misplacing of one word, and put נשא after הנני, 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 נשה means to loosen, to disengage one’s self from a thing, to remit, to let go. Then נמש 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 23:33Ed

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 נטש, 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, —


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