Jeremiah 5


The prophet, having described the judgments impending over his

countrymen, enlarges on the corruptions which prevailed among

them. Their profession of religion was all false and

hypocritical, 1, 2.

Though corrected, they were not amended, but persisted in their

guilt, 3.

This was not the case with the low and ignorant only, 4;

but more egregiously so with those of the higher order, from

whose knowledge and opportunities better things might have been

expected, 5.

God therefore threatens them with the most cruel enemies, 6;

and appeals to themselves if they should be permitted to

practise such sins unpunished, 7-9.

He then commands their enemies to raze the walls of Jerusalem,


that devoted city whose inhabitants added to all their other

sins the highest contempt of God's word and prophets, 11-13.

Wherefore his word, in the mouth of his prophet, shall be as

fire to consume them, 14;

the Chaldean forces shall cruelly addict them, 15-17;

and farther judgments await then as the consequence of their

apostasy and idolatry, 18, 19.

The chapter closes with a most melancholy picture of the moral

condition of the Jewish people at that period which immediately

preceded the Babylonish captivity, 20-31.


Verse 1. Broad places] Market-places, and those where there was

most public resort.

If ye can find a man] A certain philosopher went through the

streets of Athens with a lighted lamp in his hand; and being asked

what he sought, answered, "I am seeking to find a MAN." So in

Jerusalem none was found, on the most diligent search, who acted

worthy the character of a rational being.

I will pardon it.] I will spare the city for the sake of one

righteous person. So at the intercession of Abraham, God would

have spared Sodom if there had been ten righteous persons found in

it; Ge 18:26.

Verse 2. The Lord liveth] Though they profess to bind themselves

by Jehovah, as if they acknowledged him their God and only Lord,

yet they swore falsely; for not believing in him, they took a

false oath; one by which they did not believe themselves bound,

not acknowledging him as their Lord. See on Jer 4:2.

Verse 4. These are poor] They are ignorant; they have no

education; they know no better.

Verse 5. I will get me unto the great men] Those whose

circumstances and rank in life gave them opportunities of

information which the others could not have, for the reasons

already given.

These have altogether broken the yoke] These have cast aside all

restraint, have acted above law, and have trampled all moral

obligations under their feet, and into their vortex the lower

classes of the people have been swept away. Solon said, "The laws

are like cobwebs; they entangle the small fry, but the great ones

go through them, and carry all away with them."

Verse 6. Wherefore a lion] Nebuchadnezzar, according to the

general opinion; who is called here a lion for his courage and

violence, a bear for his rapaciousness, and a leopard for his

activity. Dahler supposes the Scythians to be intended, both here

and in Jer 4:7.

Verse 7. In the harlots' houses.] In places consecrated to

idolatry. In the language of the prophets, adultery generally

signifies idolatry. This we have often seen.

Verse 8. After his neighbour's wife.] This may have been

literally true, as the abominations of idolatry, in which they

were so deeply practised, would necessarily produce such a state

of things as that here mentioned.

Verse 10. Go ye up upon her walls] This is the permission and

authority given to the Chaldeans to pillage Jerusalem.

Take away her battlements] Some translate netishoth,

branches; others, vines. Destroy the branches, cut down the

stem; but do not damage the root. Leave so many of the people that

the state may be regenerated. The Septuagint, Syriac, and Arabic,

read, "Leave her foundations, for they are the Lord's;" and this

agrees with "Destroy, but make not a full end."

Verse 12. They have belied the Lord] kichashu. They have

denied or disavowed the Lord.

It is not he] lo hu, he is not; there is no such

being; therefore this evil shall not come upon us. On their

premises, this conclusion was just. There is no judge; therefore

there shall be no judgment. Thus they denied the Lord. They were

atheists at heart.

Verse 13. And the prophets shall become wind] What are the

prophets? Empty persons. Their words are wind; we hear the sound

of their threatenings, but of the matter of the threatenings we

shall hear no more.

And the word is not in them] There is no inspirer, but may their

own predictions fall on their own heads! This seems the natural

sense of this passage.

Verse 14. Because ye speak this word] Because ye thus treat my

message, "I will make my words in thy mouth fire." They have said

they are but air; but I will make them fire, and a fire too that

shall devour them. And how this was to be done, and by whom, is

mentioned in the next verse.

Verse 15. I will bring a nation] The Scythians, says Dahler;

the Babylonians, whose antiquity was great, that empire being

founded by Nimrod.

Whose language thou knowest not] The Chaldee, which, though a

dialect of the Hebrew, is so very different in its words and

construction that in hearing it spoken they could not possibly

collect the meaning of what was said.

Verse 16. Their quiver is an open sepulchre] They are such exact

archers as never to miss their mark; every arrow is sure to slay

one man.

Verse 18. I will not make a full end] There are more evils in

store for you. You shall not only be spoiled, and all your

property destroyed, but ye shall be carried into captivity; and ye

shall serve strangers in a land that is not yours, Jer 5:19.

Verse 22. Which have placed the sand for the bound of the sea]

What can I not do, who confine the sea, that enormous mass of

waters, and prevent it from overflowing the earth; not by immense

mountains and rocks, but by the sand, no particle of which is in

cohesion with another? The most tremendous waves cannot displace

nor pass over this simple barrier.

Verse 23. They are revolted and gone.] They have abandoned me,

and are gone farther and farther into transgression. They are gone

entirely away from truth and righteousness.

Verse 24. Giveth rain, both the former and the latter]

See Clarke on Jer 3:3.

The appointed weeks of the harvest.] As the early rains fell in

the northern parts of Judea about the end of September, in the

civil year of the Hebrews, so the latter rains fell before

harvest, in the months of March and April. The appointed weeks of

the harvest were those which fell between the passover and

pentecost. In the southern parts the harvest was earlier than in

the northern. Dr. Blayney translates, "A sufficiency of the

appointed things of harvest he secureth to us."

If the word weeks, be read with a sin instead of a

shin, it will signify fulness or sufficiency; and thus the

Septuagint and Vulgate have read it. I think the present reading

is much to be preferred. God appoints a harvest time, and in his

good providence he generally gives harvest weather.

Verse 25. Your iniquities have turned away these things] When

these appointed weeks of harvest do not come, should we not

examine and see whether this be not in God's judgments? Have not

our iniquities turned away these good things from us?

Verse 26. They lay wait, as he that setteth snares] A metaphor

taken from fowlers, who, having fixed their nets, lie down and

keep out of sight, that when birds come, they may be ready to draw

and entangle them.

Verse 27. As a cage is full of birds] There is no doubt that the

reference here is to a decoy or trap-cage, as Dr. Blayney has

rendered it; in these the fowlers put several tame birds, which

when the wild ones see, they come and light on the cage, and fall

into the snare.

Verse 28. They judge not the cause, yet they prosper] Perhaps we

might be justified in translating, "And shall they prosper?"

Verse 30. A wonderful and horrible thing is committed on the

land] Dahler translates: "Strange crimes and horrible trespasses

have been committed in the land." These have been already

detailed; but this may refer to what follows.

Verse 31. The prophets prophesy falsely] The false prophets

predict favourable things, that they may please both the princes

and the people.

The priests bear rule by their means] The false prophets

affording them all that their influence and power can procure, to

enable them to keep their places, and feed on the riches of the

Lord's house.

And my people love to have it so] Are perfectly satisfied with

this state of things, because they are permitted to continue in

their sins without reproof or restraint. The prophets and the

priests united to deceive and ruin the people. The prophets gave

out false predictions; by their means the priests got the

government of the people into their own hands; and so infatuated

were the people that they willingly abandoned themselves to those

blind guides, and would not hearken to the voice of any reformer.

In my Old Bible the words stand thus:-Stonyng and mervailis ben

made in the erthe, prophets prophecieden lesing; and prestis

flappiden with joye with ther bondes, and my peple lovid siche

thingis. False prophets and worldly priests have been in all ages

the bane of religion, and the ruin of many souls. When profligate

people stand up on behalf of profligate priests, corruption must

then be at its height.

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