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At that time, says the L ord, the bones of the kings of Judah, the bones of its officials, the bones of the priests, the bones of the prophets, and the bones of the inhabitants of Jerusalem shall be brought out of their tombs; 2and they shall be spread before the sun and the moon and all the host of heaven, which they have loved and served, which they have followed, and which they have inquired of and worshiped; and they shall not be gathered or buried; they shall be like dung on the surface of the ground. 3Death shall be preferred to life by all the remnant that remains of this evil family in all the places where I have driven them, says the L ord of hosts.


The Blind Perversity of the Whole Nation


You shall say to them, Thus says the L ord:

When people fall, do they not get up again?

If they go astray, do they not turn back?


Why then has this people turned away

in perpetual backsliding?

They have held fast to deceit,

they have refused to return.


I have given heed and listened,

but they do not speak honestly;

no one repents of wickedness,

saying, “What have I done!”

All of them turn to their own course,

like a horse plunging headlong into battle.


Even the stork in the heavens

knows its times;

and the turtledove, swallow, and crane

observe the time of their coming;

but my people do not know

the ordinance of the L ord.



How can you say, “We are wise,

and the law of the L ord is with us,”

when, in fact, the false pen of the scribes

has made it into a lie?


The wise shall be put to shame,

they shall be dismayed and taken;

since they have rejected the word of the L ord,

what wisdom is in them?


Therefore I will give their wives to others

and their fields to conquerors,

because from the least to the greatest

everyone is greedy for unjust gain;

from prophet to priest

everyone deals falsely.


They have treated the wound of my people carelessly,

saying, “Peace, peace,”

when there is no peace.


They acted shamefully, they committed abomination;

yet they were not at all ashamed,

they did not know how to blush.

Therefore they shall fall among those who fall;

at the time when I punish them, they shall be overthrown,

says the L ord.


When I wanted to gather them, says the L ord,

there are no grapes on the vine,

nor figs on the fig tree;

even the leaves are withered,

and what I gave them has passed away from them.



Why do we sit still?

Gather together, let us go into the fortified cities

and perish there;

for the L ord our God has doomed us to perish,

and has given us poisoned water to drink,

because we have sinned against the L ord.


We look for peace, but find no good,

for a time of healing, but there is terror instead.



The snorting of their horses is heard from Dan;

at the sound of the neighing of their stallions

the whole land quakes.

They come and devour the land and all that fills it,

the city and those who live in it.


See, I am letting snakes loose among you,

adders that cannot be charmed,

and they shall bite you,

says the L ord.


The Prophet Mourns for the People


My joy is gone, grief is upon me,

my heart is sick.


Hark, the cry of my poor people

from far and wide in the land:

“Is the L ord not in Zion?

Is her King not in her?”

(“Why have they provoked me to anger with their images,

with their foreign idols?”)


“The harvest is past, the summer is ended,

and we are not saved.”


For the hurt of my poor people I am hurt,

I mourn, and dismay has taken hold of me.



Is there no balm in Gilead?

Is there no physician there?

Why then has the health of my poor people

not been restored?

Interpreters think that the Prophet here directs his words to the priests, and the false prophets, and the other chiefs of the people, because they proudly arrogated to themselves the knowledge of the law: but what is said may be no less extended to the whole people; for, as we shall presently see, all of them, from the least to the greatest, no doubt boasted that they were sufficiently wise. I hence think that the Prophet here inveighs against the whole body of the people; for all, almost without exception, rejected his teaching, as we see also to be done at the present day; for who is there that can bear to be admonished and reproved? All say that they are wise enough: “Oh! do you think that I am a child?” or, as it is commonly said, “Do you think that I am a goose? I know how I am to live, and I am not without reason.” Thus the rudest and the most ignorant set up their own wisdom and sharpness of wit against God and his prophets. Such audacity and ferociousness prevailed no doubt in the time of Jeremiah. For when he sharply reproved them, they were ready with their answer, — “Oh! thou treatest us as though we were barbarians, as though God’s law was unknown to us, as though we had not been taught from our childhood how we are to live: does not God dwell in the midst of us?” Since, then, the Jews did set up as it were this shield against the doctrine of the Prophet, he attacks them here with great vehemence, —

How say ye, We are wise? He afterwards describes the kind of wisdom which they claimed, The law of God is with us: and doubtless, to attend to God’s law is the way of becoming really wise. Had they justly boasted that they had the law, the Prophet would not have brought against them the charge, that they were doubly foolish. But as they falsely made this pretense, he says to them, How? and here he asks a question as to what was very strange, “How are you so foolish, “he says, “that ye think yourselves wise, as though the law of God were with you? Surely, if so, in vain has the law been written; for ye shew by your whole life that you have never known anything of what God by the law commands and sets before us, and what the design of it is.”

Thus Jeremiah shows by their life that there was no ground for their foolish boasting; for they gave no evidence of their wisdom. It is indeed necessary for those who seek to be God’s disciples to bring forth some fruit: but as there was among them so much impiety, so much contempt of God, and as, in short, their whole life proclaimed them to be wholly insane, he says, In vain has he prepared his pen, even the writer of the law; and in vain have been the scribes, that is, the teachers; for by scribes, in the second place, he understands teachers. 221221     The latter part of this verse has another meaning according to the ancient versions. They are substantially to this purport, —
   Behold, surely to deceive is what the false pen of the scribes has done.

   The Vulgate, with which the rest materially agree, is as follows, —

   Verily, falsehood has the false pen of the scribes wrought.

   As a proof of this it is added in the next verse, that those who pretended to be wise were made ashamed, etc. That the reference is made to the false glosses of the scribes, the expounders of the law, is confirmed by verse 11. I render the whole verse thus, —

   8. How can ye say, “Wise are we, And the law of Jehovah is with us?” Indeed! — Behold, to deceive Has the deceptive pen of the scribes served.

   He ironically admits that they had the law; but he refers to the false interpretation of the teachers; and in the next verse he mentions the effect on the pretended wise, and the fact as to God’s law, —

   9. Ashamed have become the wise, They have been dismayed and ensnared: Behold, the word of Jehovah have they despised; And wisdom, what have they!

    — Ed.

I explain this passage somewhat different from other interpreters; for there seems to be implied a kind of irony, as we commonly say, Il faut bruler tous les livres. Hence Jeremiah derides their folly, in saying that they knew how they were to live, because the teaching of the law prevailed among them. “If it be so, “he says, “what is God’s law? Doubtless, nothing, as the whole of its teaching must in this way be deemed as nothing.” We now then see that the Jews are here reproved as false, for they claimed the law, as though it were a shadow without a body, and possessed not a particle of right knowledge. He afterwards adds —

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