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8. Sin and Punishment

At that time, saith the Lord, they shall bring out the bones of the kings of Judah, and the bones of his princes, and the bones of the priests, and the bones of the prophets, and the bones of the inhabitants of Jerusalem, out of their graves: 2And they shall spread them before the sun, and the moon, and all the host of heaven, whom they have loved, and whom they have served, and after whom they have walked, and whom they have sought, and whom they have worshipped: they shall not be gathered, nor be buried; they shall be for dung upon the face of the earth. 3And death shall be chosen rather than life by all the residue of them that remain of this evil family, which remain in all the places whither I have driven them, saith the Lord of hosts.

4Moreover thou shalt say unto them, Thus saith the Lord; Shall they fall, and not arise? shall he turn away, and not return? 5Why then is this people of Jerusalem slidden back by a perpetual backsliding? they hold fast deceit, they refuse to return. 6I hearkened and heard, but they spake not aright: no man repented him of his wickedness, saying, What have I done? every one turned to his course, as the horse rusheth into the battle. 7Yea, the stork in the heaven knoweth her appointed times; and the turtle and the crane and the swallow observe the time of their coming; but my people know not the judgment of the Lord. 8How do ye say, We are wise, and the law of the Lord is with us? Lo, certainly in vain made he it; the pen of the scribes is in vain. 9The wise men are ashamed, they are dismayed and taken: lo, they have rejected the word of the Lord; and what wisdom is in them? 10Therefore will I give their wives unto others, and their fields to them that shall inherit them: for every one from the least even unto the greatest is given to covetousness, from the prophet even unto the priest every one dealeth falsely. 11For they have healed the hurt of the daughter of my people slightly, saying, Peace, peace; when there is no peace. 12Were they ashamed when they had committed abomination? nay, they were not at all ashamed, neither could they blush: therefore shall they fall among them that fall: in the time of their visitation they shall be cast down, saith the Lord.

13I will surely consume them, saith the Lord: there shall be no grapes on the vine, nor figs on the fig tree, and the leaf shall fade; and the things that I have given them shall pass away from them. 14Why do we sit still? assemble yourselves, and let us enter into the defenced cities, and let us be silent there: for the Lord our God hath put us to silence, and given us water of gall to drink, because we have sinned against the Lord. 15We looked for peace, but no good came; and for a time of health, and behold trouble! 16The snorting of his horses was heard from Dan: the whole land trembled at the sound of the neighing of his strong ones; for they are come, and have devoured the land, and all that is in it; the city, and those that dwell therein. 17For, behold, I will send serpents, cockatrices, among you, which will not be charmed, and they shall bite you, saith the Lord.

18 When I would comfort myself against sorrow, my heart is faint in me. 19Behold the voice of the cry of the daughter of my people because of them that dwell in a far country: Is not the Lord in Zion? is not her king in her? Why have they provoked me to anger with their graven images, and with strange vanities? 20The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved. 21For the hurt of the daughter of my people am I hurt; I am black; astonishment hath taken hold on me. 22 Is there no balm in Gilead; is there no physician there? why then is not the health of the daughter of my people recovered?

The Prophet in these words shews still more clearly that they were wholly irreclaimable; for they had divested themselves of every shame. It is no doubt a proof of a wickedness past all remedy, when no shame remains. This verse has been also explained in the sixth chapter; it forms the fifteenth verse. But we must bear in mind the design of the Prophet. It is then briefly this, — to shew that the wickedness of the people was unhealable, and for this reason, because they had an iron front.

Hence he asks, Have they been ashamed, because they have committed abomination? as though he had said, “They have been proved guilty of wickedness, can they be made to feel any shame?” To this he answers, Even in their shame they are not ashamed The particle גם, gam, even, is emphatic, Then the meaning may be thus given, — that when God brought against them their shameful conduct, and proved them guilty, so that they could not escape by any evasion — that when they were thus convicted, they yet had no feeling of shame. At the same time, this passage may be explained as referring to what is commonly called actual conviction; for they were well — nigh consumed with miseries, through their untamable perverseness, while contending with God’s judgment. Even then in shame itself they had no feeling of shame

Added is the reason, They know not how to blush By this want of shame, then, Jeremiah proves that they were men past remedy. And on this account he adds, Fall therefore shall they among those who fall, and in the time of their visitation they shall perish, or stumble. By these words he intimates that they were no longer to be reasoned with, and that God’s vengeance would be just in wholly destroying them, for he had in vain spoken to them, he had in vain contended with them, he had in vain tried to bring them to the right way. The import of the whole then is, — that the only thing that remained for them was destruction; for they had without shame rejected all instruction and every warning.

And he says, among the fallen, because every one, as it is commonly the case, encouraged others in their contempt of God, and in their perverseness. When therefore they saw others to be like themselves, they entertained hope of impunity; and hence they were allured to sin by this deception. On this account the Prophet says, that ruin was nigh them all. They shall fall, he says, among the fallen, 226226     This may be differently understood. There are here throughout the passage two parties spoken of, — the people, and the priests together with the prophets. The “wise” men, in Jeremiah 8:9, made ashamed were the people deluded by the priests and prophets. Those who felt no shame, mentioned in this verse, though their words proved false, were the priests and prophets: and hence we see the import of this expression here, that they were appointed to fall with the fallen, that punishment would reach them as well as the people.
   This verse is somewhat different from the fifteenth of the sixth chapter, and may be thus rendered, —

   12. Have they been ashamed, Because they have done abomination? Even with shame they are not ashamed, And how to blush they know not: Therefore fall shall they with the fallen; At the time of their visitation They shall perish, saith Jehovah.

   The “abomination” was the perversion of the law so as to justify idolatry and all kinds of wickedness. — Ed.
and stumble in the time of their visitation. He shews that God had fixed a day in which they were to be destroyed. But if he deferred the time, there was no reason for them to think that it would be to their advantage; for they would by their obstinacy procure for themselves a heavier judgment. In short, though God might spare them for a time, yet the Prophet warns them, that this would avail them nothing, as God’s time of visitation was fixed. Then follows a confirmation —


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