Jeremiah 10

CHAPTER X

The Jews, about to be carried into captivity, are here warned

against the superstition and idolatry of that country to which

they were going. Chaldea was greatly addicted to astrology, and

therefore the prophet begins with warning them against it,

1, 2.

He then exposes the absurdity of idolatry in short but elegant

satire; in the midst of which he turns, in a beautiful

apostrophe, to the one true God, whose adorable attributes

repeatedly strike in view, as he goes along, and lead him to

contrast his infinite perfections with those despicable

inanities which the blinded nations fear, 3-16.

The prophet again denounces the Divine judgments, 17, 18;

upon which Jerusalem laments her fate, and supplicates the

Divine compassion in her favour, 19-25.

NOTES ON CHAP. X

Verse 1. Hear ye the word which the Lord speaketh unto you] Dr.

Dahler supposes this discourse to have been delivered in the

fourth year of the reign of Jehoiakim. It contains an invective

against idolatry; showing its absurdity, and that the Creator

alone should be worshipped by all mankind.

Verse 2. Learn not the way of the heathen] These words are more

particularly addressed to the ten tribes scattered among the

heathen by the Assyrians, who carried them away captive; they may

also regard those in the land of Israel, who still had the customs

of the former heathen settlers before their eyes.

Be not dismayed at the signs of heaven; for the heathen are

dismayed] The Chaldeans and Egyptians were notoriously addicted

to astrology; and the Israelites here are cautioned against it.

The signs of the heavens may mean either the sun, moon, planets,

and particular stars or constellations; or the figures or

characters by which they represented these heavenly bodies.

Verse 3. The customs of the people are vain] chukkoth;

the statutes and principles of the science are vain, empty, and

illusory. They are founded in nonsense, ignorance, idolatry, and

folly.

One cutteth a tree out of the forest]

See Clarke on Isa 40:19, and "Isa 44:9", &c., which are

all parallel places and where this conduct is strongly ridiculed.

Verse 5. They are upright as the palm tree] As straight and as

stiff as the trees out of which they are hewn.

Verse 7. Who would not fear thee] Who would not worship thee as

the Author and Giver of all good? The fear of God is often taken

for the whole of true religion.

Among all the wise men of the nation] Not even the wisest and

most cultivated of the nations have ever found out any one equal

to thee; but so exalted and holy art thou, that in all their

wisdom and research they have never been able to find out the true

God.

Verse 8. The stock is a doctrine of vanities.] Dr. Blayney

translates,-"The wood itself is a rebuker of vanities." The very

tree out of which the god is hewn demonstrates the vanity and

folly of the idolaters; for, can all the art of man make out of a

log of wood an animate and intelligent being?

Verse 9. Brought from Tarshish] Some suppose this to be

Tartessus in Spain, from which the Phoenicians brought much

silver. Uphaz, Calmet thinks to be the river Pison; some think

Ophir is intended.

Blue and purple is their clothing] These were the most precious

dyes; very rare, and of high price.

Verse 10. But the Lord] The original word should be preserved,

however we agree to pronounce it: Yehovah is the true God. He

is without beginning, and without end. This is true of no being

else.

He is the living God] His being is underived; and he gives life

to all. He is the very Fountain whence all life is derived.

And an everlasting king] As he has made, so he governs, all

things. His sway is felt both in the heavens and in the earth.

At his wrath the earth shall tremble] All storms, tempests,

tornadoes, and earthquakes are the effects of his power; and when

the nations are destroyed, or turned upside down, it is the effect

of his displeasure.

Verse 11. Thus shall ye say unto them] This is the message you

shall deliver to the Chaldean idolaters.

The gods that have not made the heavens and the earth, even they

shall perish] Both they and their worshippers shall be destroyed;

and idolatry shall finally be destroyed from the earth; and the

heavens shall look no more on so great an abomination. It is

suffered for a while: but in the end shall be destroyed. This

verse is written in a sort of Hebraeo-Syriaco-Chaldee; such a

dialect as I suppose was spoken at that time in Babylon, or during

the captivity. As it is a message to the Babylonians, therefore,

it is given in their own language. The Chaldee makes it the

beginning of the copy of the epistle which the Prophet Jeremiah

sent to the rest of the elders of the captivity who were in

Babylon. All the ancient Versions acknowledge this verse; and it

is found in all MSS. hitherto collated, except one of Dr.

Kennicott's numbered 526; and he has included it between lines,

as doubting its authenticity. Dr. Blayney supposes that some

public teacher during the captivity, deducing it by direct

inference from the prophet's words, had it inserted in the margin,

and perhaps usually read together with this section, in the

assemblies of the people, in order that they might have their

answer always ready, whenever they were molested on the point of

religion, or importuned to join the idolatrous worship of the

Chaldeans.

Dahler has left it entirely out of the text, and introduces it

in a note thus:-"After Jer 10:10 the Hebrew text is interrupted

by a verse written in the Chaldean or Babylonish tongue. It is

thus expressed:-

Ye shall say unto them, Let the gods perish!

Who have not made the heavens and the earth.

Let them be banished from above the earth,

and from under the heavens.

This verse can be considered only as a foreign insertion, not

only on account of the difference of the language, but also

because it interrupts the natural course of the ideas, and of the

connexion of the tenth and twelfth verses."

As a curiosity I shall insert it in Hebrew, which the reader may

compare with the Chaldee text, which I also subjoin.

cazoth tomeru lahem; haelohim asher lo asu hashshamayim

vehaarets, yobedu min haarets, umin tachath hashshamayim elleh.

kidna temerun lehon; elahaiya di shemaiya vearka la

abadu, yebadu meara umin techoth shemaiya elleh.

The Hebrew is the translation of Leusden; the Chaldee is that

of the common text. Had not all the ancient Versions acknowledged

it, I also, principally on account of the strangeness of the

language, as being neither Chaldee nor Syriac, should have doubted

its authenticity.

Verse 13. When he uttereth his voice, there is a multitude of

waters] This is a plain allusion to a storm of thunder and

lightning, and the abundance of rain which is the consequence.

Water is composed of two gases, hydrogen and oxygen: the electric

or galvanic spark decomposes them, and they become air; when

recomposed, they form water. The lightning acts upon the hydrogen

and oxygen, which are found In the atmospheric air: they are

decomposed, and water or rain is the consequence; which, being

heavier than the air falls down in the form of rain.

This verse and the three following are the same in substance,

and nearly in words, as Jer 51:16, and following.

Verse 14. Every man is brutish] nibar, is a boor, acts as

a brute, who may suppose that a stock of a tree, formed like a

man, may be an intellectual being; and therefore shuns the form

as though it had life. See Isa 44:10, 11. Of which verses, by the

way, Dr. Blayney gives the following version to correct that of

Bishop Lowth:-

Verse 10. Who hath formed a god?

Or set up a graven image that profiteth not?

11. Behold, all that are connected with it shall be

ashamed,

And the artificers, they above all men!

They shall assemble all of them; they shall stand

forth;

They shall fear; they shall be ashamed at the same

time.

"That is, while they stand before the image they have set up, and

worship it with a religious dread, the glaring absurdity of their

conduct shall lead to their shame and disgrace." With due

deference to this learned man, I think this interpretation too

refined.

Verse 16. The Portion of Jacob is not like them] Every nation

had its tutelary god; this was its portion; in reference to this

God says De 4:19, "He has divided the sun, moon, and stars, to

all the nations under the heaven." And the Lord had taken the

Israelites to be his portion; for "the Lord's portion is his

people," De 32:9, and David says, "The Lord is the portion of

mine inheritance," Ps 16:5; 119:57. And hence Isaiah terms the

smooth stones of the brook, to which Divine honours were paid,

the portion of those idolaters, Isa 57:6. But in the text he

says, "The PORTION, i.e., the God of Jacob is not like them; for

he is the former of all things," and they are formed by their

foolish worshippers.

Verse 17. Gather up thy wares] Pack up your goods, or what

necessaries of life your enemies will permit you to carry away;

for,-

Verse 18. I will sling out the inhabitants of the land] I will

project you with violence from your country. I will send you all

into captivity. This discourse, from Jer 10:17, is supposed to

have been delivered in the eleventh year of Jehoiakim.

Verse 19. This is a grief, and I must bear it.] Oppressive as it

is, I have deserved it, and worse; but even in this judgment God

remembers mercy.

Verse 20. My tabernacle is spoiled] The city is taken, and all

our villages ruined and desolated.

Verse 21. The pastors are become brutish] The king and his

counsellors, who, by refusing to pay the promised tribute to

Nebuchadnezzar, had kindled a new war.

Verse 22. The noise of the bruit is come] How this silly French

word bruit, which signifies noise, got in here, I cannot imagine.

The simple translation is this: "The voice of the report! behold,

it is come; yea, great commotion from the land of the north;

(Chaldea;) to make the cities of Judea a desolation, a habitation

of wild beasts." That is, the report we had heard of the projected

invasion of Judea by Nebuchadnezzar is confirmed. He has entered

the land; the Chaldeans are at the doors, and the total desolation

of Judea is their sole object.

Verse 23. O Lord, I know that the way of man is not in himself]

I will not pretend to dispute with thee; thou dost every thing

wisely and justly; we have sinned, and thou hast a right to

punish; and to choose that sort of punishment thou thinkest will

best answer the ends of justice. We cannot choose; thou hast

appointed us to captivity; we must not repine: yet,

Verse 24. Correct me, but with judgment] Let not the punishment

be to the uttermost of the demerit of the offence; else we shall

be brought to nothing-totally and irrecoverably ruined.

Verse 25. Pour out thy fury upon the heathen] Even those who are

now the executors of thy justice upon us will, in their turn, feel

its scourge; for if judgment begins at us, who have been called

thy house and thy people, shall they who have not acknowledged

thee escape? It is impossible. The families and tribes which

invoke thee not shall have thy fury poured out upon them, and

especially they who "have eaten up Jacob and consumed him, and

have made his habitation desolate." This was fulfilled in the

Chaldeans. Nebuchadnezzar was punished with madness, his son was

slain in his revels, and the city was taken and sacked by Cyrus;

and the Babylonish empire was finally destroyed! This verse has

been often quoted against those ungodly families who set not up

the worship of God in their houses. These are spiritual Chaldeans,

worse indeed than the Chaldeans ever were: they acknowledge God

and his Christ; and yet neither worship nor serve him. How can

that family expect the blessing of God, where the worship of God

is not daily performed? No wonder their servants are wicked, their

children profligate, and their goods cursed! What an awful

reckoning shall such heads of families have with the Judge in the

great day, who have refused to petition for that mercy which they

might have had for the asking.

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