Jeremiah 6

CHAPTER VI

Jeremiah, in the spirit of prophecy, seeing the Chaldeans on

their march, bids his people set up the usual signals of

distress, and spread the general alarm to betake themselves to

flight, 1.

Then, by a beautiful allusion to the custom of shepherds moving

their flocks to the richest pastures, Jerusalem is singled out

as a place devoted to be eaten up or trodden down by the armies

of the Chaldeans, who are called up against her, and whose

ardour and impatience are so great that the soldiers, when they

arrive in the evening, regret they have no more day, and desire

to begin the attack without waiting for the light of the

morning, 2-5.

God is then represented as animating and directing the

besiegers against this guilty city, which sinned as incessantly

as a fountain flows, 6, 7,

although warned of the fatal consequence, 8.

He intimates also, by the gleaning of the grapes, that one

invasion should carry away the remains of another, till their

disobedience, hypocrisy, and other sins should end in their

total overthrow, 9-15.

And to show that God is clear when he judgeth, he mentions his

having in vain admonished and warned them, and calls upon the

whole world to witness the equity of his proceedings, 16-18,

in punishing this perverse and hypocritical people, 19, 20,

by the ministry of the cruel Chaldeans, 21-23.

Upon this a chorus of Jews is introduced expressing their fears

and alarm, 24, 25;

to which the prophet echoes a response full of sympathy and

tenderness, 26.

The concluding verses, by metaphors taken from the process of

refining gold and silver, represent all the methods hitherto

used to amend them as wholly ineffectual, 27-30.

NOTES ON CHAP. VI

Verse 1. O ye children of Benjamin, gather yourselves to flee]

As the invading armies are fast approaching, the prophet calls on

the inhabitants of Jerusalem to sound an alarm, and collect all

the people to arm themselves and go against the invaders. They are

called the children of Benjamin, because Jerusalem was in the

tribe of Benjamin.

Tekoa] Was a city about twelve miles to the south of Jerusalem.

Beth-haccerem] Was the name of a small village situated on an

eminence between Jerusalem and Tekoa. On this they were ordered to

set up a beacon, or kindle a large fire, which might be seen at a

distance, and give the people to understand that an enemy was

entering the land.

Out of the north] From Babylon. The Scythians.-Dahler.

Verse 3. The shepherds with their flocks] The chiefs and their

battalions. The invading army is about to spoil and waste all the

fertile fields round about the city, while engaged in the siege.

Verse 4. Prepare ye war against her] The words of the invaders

exciting each other to the assault, and impatient lest any time

should be lost; lest the besieged should have time to strengthen

themselves, or get in supplies.

Verse 5. Arise, and let us go by night] Since we have lost the

day, let us not lose the night; but, taking advantage of the

darkness, let us make a powerful assault while they are under the

impression of terror.

Verse 6. Hew ye down trees] To form machines.

And cast a mount] That may overlook the city, on which to place

our engines.

This is the city to be visited] We are sure of success, for

their God will deliver it into our hands, for it is full of

oppression, and he has consigned it to destruction.

Verse 7. As a fountain casteth out her waters] The inhabitants

are incessant in their acts of iniquity; they do nothing but sin.

Verse 8. Be thou instructed] Still there is respite: if they

would even now return unto the Lord with all their heart, the

advancing Chaldeans would be arrested on their march and turned

back.

Verse 9. They shall thoroughly glean the remnant of Israel as a

vine: turn back thine hand] The Chaldeans are here exhorted to

turn back and glean up the remnant of the inhabitants that were

left after the capture of Jerusalem; for even that remnant did not

profit by the Divine judgments that fell on the inhabitants at

large.

Verse 10. The word of the Lord is unto them a reproach] It is an

object of derision; they despise it.

Verse 11. I am full of the fury of the Lord] God has given me a

dreadful revelation of the judgments he intends to inflict: my

soul is burdened with this prophecy. I have endeavoured to

suppress it; but I must pour it forth upon the children, on the

young people, on husbands and wives, on the old and the

super-annuated. All must partake in these judgments.

Verse 14. They have healed also the hurt of the daughter of my

people slightly] Of the daughter is not in the text, and is here

improperly added: it is, however, in some MSS.

Peace, peace] Ye shall have prosperity-when there was none, and

when God had determined that there should be none. Here the

prophets prophesied falsely; and the people continued in sin,

being deceived by the priests and the prophets.

Verse 16. Thus saith the Lord, Stand ye in the ways, and see]

Let us observe the metaphor. A traveller is going to a particular

city; he comes to a place where the road divides into several

paths, he is afraid of going astray; he stops short,-endeavours to

find out the right path: he cannot fix his choice. At last he sees

another traveller; he inquires of him, gets proper

directions-proceeds on his journey-arrives at the desired

place-and reposes after his fatigue. There is an excellent sermon

on these words in the works of our first poet, Geoffrey Chaucer;

it is among the Canterbury Tales, and is called Chaucer's Tale.

The text, I find, was read by him as it appears in my old MS.

Bible:-Standith upon weies and seeth, and asketh of the olde

pathes; What is the good weie? and goth in it, and gee schul

fynden refresching to your soulis. The soul needs rest; it can

only find this by walking in the good way. The good way is that

which has been trodden by the saints from the beginning: it is the

old way, the way of faith and holiness. BELIEVE, LOVE, OBEY; be

holy, and be happy. This is the way; let us inquire for it,

and walk in it. But these bad people said, We will not walk in it.

Then they took another way, walked over the precipice, and fell

into the bottomless pit; where, instead of rest, they find-

____________a fiery deluge, fed

With ever-burning sulphur, unconsumed.

Verse 17. I set watchmen] I have sent prophets to warn you.

Verse 20. Incense frown Sheba] Sheba was in Arabia, famous for

the best incense. It was situated towards the southern extremity

of the peninsula of Arabia; and was, in respect of Judea, a far

country.

And the sweet cane from a far country] The calamus aromaticus,

which, when dried and pulverized, yields a very fine aromatic

smell; see on Isa 43:24. This was employed in making the

holy anointing oil. See Ex 30:23.

Verse 23. They shall lay hold on bow and spear] Still pointing

out the Chaldeans: or according to Dahler, the Scythians, who had

before their invasion of Palestine overrun many parts of Asia, and

had spread consternation wherever their name was heard.

Verse 27. I have set thee for a tower and a fortress] Dr.

Blayney translates, I have appointed thee to make an assay among

my people. The words refer to the office of an assayer of silver

and gold; and the manner of assaying here intended is by the

cupel, a flat broad iron ring filled with the ashes of burnt

bones. To separate the alloy from the silver they add a portion of

lead; and when all is fused together, and brought into a state of

ebullition, the cupel absorbs the lead, and with it the dross or

alloy, and the silver is left pure and motionless on the top of

the cupel. The people are here represented under the notion of

alloyed silver. They are full of impurities; and they are put

into the hands of the prophet, the assayer, to be purified. The

bellows are placed, the fire is lighted up, but all to no

purpose: so intensely commixed is the alloy with the silver, that

it cannot be separated. The nozzle of the bellows is even melted

with the intensity of the fire used to effect the refinement; and

the lead is carried off by the action of the heat; and the assayer

melteth in vain, for the alloy still continues in union with the

metal. The assayer gives up the process,-will not institute one

more expensive or tedious-pronounces the mass unfit to be coined,

and denominates it reprobate silver, Jer 6:30. Thus, the evil

habits and dispositions of the Israelites were so ingrained that

they would not yield to either the ordinary or extraordinary means

of salvation. God pronounces them reprobate silver,-not

sterling,-full of alloy;-having neither the image nor the

superscription of the Great King either on their hearts or on

their conduct. Thus he gave them up as incorrigible, and their

adversaries prevailed against them. This should be a warning to

other nations, and indeed to the Christian Church; for if God did

not spare the natural branches, neither will he spare these.

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