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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?

He says now that the wise were ashamed, and astonished, and ensnared By which words he means, that the Jews gained nothing by their craftiness, while they arrogated to themselves wisdom, and under this pretense rejected all admonitions, and sought to be spared.

“This wisdom, “he says, “avails you nothing, for God, as it is said in another place, will take you unawares.” (Isaiah 29:14; 1 Corinthians 1:19.)

Ashamed, then, he says, are they; not that they were then ashamed; for be said before, in Jeremiah 6:15, and will state the same presently, that they were so hardened that they could not be made ashamed, nor be made to blush: 222222     It would be better to consider the shame in this verse as referring to the people, and the want of shame in Jeremiah 8:12, as applied to the teachers, the scribes, the false interpreters of the law, who promised peace, while there was no peace. — Ed. but he here denounces a punishment, which was soon to overtake them; as though he had said, “Ye have now an iron front, and think that ye can elude God and his servants with impunity; but God will take you unawares, and will so shake off the masks under which you hide yourselves, that your disgrace shall be made manifest to all.” This is the meaning.

For the same purpose he says, “Ye are now secure, but God will shortly fill you with such terror, that he will make you greatly astonished ” He intimates, then, that nothing would benefit them while they took delight in their vices, and increasingly hardened themselves; for God would deprive them of their craftiness, and cast them down with terror, however secure and perverse they were now.

By the third word he sets forth the manner in which they would be treated: God would have his snares by which he would take them. He alludes to the subterfuges in which those hypocrites trust, who proudly oppose God, while they think that by their arts they can escape in this or that way, and often devise some new schemes by which they may deceive God. Hence the Prophet, alluding to their perverse cunning, says, that God would be as it were a fowler, who would ensnare them, and hold them captive.

He afterwards assigns the reason, Because they had repudiated, or despised or rejected, 223223     The verb is here followed by ב: see note on Jeremiah 2:37 (for the verb means all these things,) the word of Jehovah And he uses a demonstrative particle, Behold, that they might not, as usual, make any evasions: “The thing, “he says, “is sufficiently known, and even children can be judges of your impiety, that you have rejected the word of Jehovah.” He draws hence this inference, What does wisdom avail them? or, What is their wisdom? Either of these meanings may be admitted, They were wise to no purpose, while they provoked God by their impious contempt. “I hate the wise who is not wise for himself, “is an old proverb. As then the Jews ill consulted their own benefit, by rejecting the word of God, in which their safety was involved, the Prophet justly alleges, that their wisdom availed them nothing. Others read, “What is their wisdom, “when there is no fear of God? And doubtless it ever remains a truth, that the fear of God is the beginning and the chief part of wisdom. (Proverbs 1:7; Proverbs 9:10; Psalm 111:10.) Since then they had basely despised God’s word, rightly does the Prophet ask, “What is their wisdom?” But there is a third meaning which is suitable, even this, And wisdom, what to them? So it is literally, — What is wisdom to them? He still speaks to them ironically, as though he said, “They are indeed wise, but in their own esteem; they have therefore no need of being taught: What then is wisdom to them!” The meaning is, that they were so swollen with pride that they received no instruction. How so? They refused wisdom through the false conceit with which they were inflated. Let, however, every one choose for himself; my object is to shew what I mostly approve. There will be no lecture to — morrow, as a consistory is to be held.

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