Jeremiah Chapter 19:3-6; 21:1-5, 11-12 Antique Commentary Quotes

John Calvin
Jer 19:3
He now adds, Hear ye the word of Jehovah. This is a confirmation of the former sentence. We hence see why it was said, Cry, or, with a clear voice proclaim, what I shall say to thee; it was, that they might know that he spake not according to his own ideas as a man, but that he was a celestial herald to proclaim what God commanded. Hear, he says, ye kings of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem. We see how the Prophet did not spare even kings, according to what God had before commanded him, that he should act boldly and shew no respect of persons, (Jer_1:8.) He then faithfully performed his office, as he did not flatter kings, and was not terrified by their dignity and power. But he addressed them first, and then the people, because they who had most grievously sinned, were made rightly to bear the first reproof. We hence see what the next passage means, “Reprove mountains and chide hills,” (Mic_6:1 ) and also this passage, “I have set thee over nations and kingdoms,” (Jer_1:10 ) for heavenly truth ought to bring under subjection, as Paul says, everything high in the world, so that all the pride of man may be subdued. (2Co_10:5.) Kings indeed do very ill bear to be thus boldly treated; for they wish to be exempt from every law and to be free from every yoke. But if they now acknowledge not their subjection to God’s word, they must at last come before his tribunal; and then they shall find how perversely they have abused their power. As to teachers, they ought, small and great, to teach after the example of Jeremiah; they ought to reprove and to rebuke, when necessary, without shewing any respect of persons.

Thus saith Jehovah of hosts, and the God of Israel, Behold, I am bringing an evil on this place, of which whosoever shall hear, tingle shall his ears. The prophetic word had more power when the Jews were brought to the very place where the event was exhibited, he might have said the same thing in the Temple or in the gate or in the palace of the king but his prophecy would not have been so effectual. We indeed know how much tardiness there is in men in general; but so great was then the obstinacy of the Jews, that however forcibly the truth might have been set forth, yet it was received with so much indifference, that it was neglected. God then intended to shew to them, as it were, the event itself. He says, Jehovah of hosts and the God of Israel; and he used these words, that they might know, as we have stated elsewhere, that they had to do with God, whose power is dreaded even by angels. And in order to shake off their foolish boasting, that they were the children of Abraham, — “God,” he says, “has sufficient power to chastise you, and the same is the God of Israel, whose name ye falsely and absurdly pretend to profess.” These subjects I only in a brief manner handle, because I have explained them more fully elsewhere.

He says that such a calamity was nigh that place as would make the ears to tingle:when there is a violent noise, our ears are stunned, and there is at the same time a certain tingling or ringing. When a man is killed, or when ten or twelve men are slain, there is a dreadful cry; but in a great tumult occasioned by men perishing, such is the noise that it stuns in a manner the ears, like that which proceeds from cataracts; for the violent noise of the Nile, they say, causes some degree of deafness. So also the Prophet says here, I am bringing, says God, a calamity on this place, which shall not only terrify those who will hear of it, but also render them quite astonished, so that their ears shall tingle, as is the case when there is a violent and dreadful noise. The cause follows —

Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown
Jer 19:3
The scene of their guilt is chosen as the scene of the denunciation against them.

kings — the king and queen (Jer_13:18); or including the king’s counselors and governors under him.

tingle — as if struck by a thunder peal (1Sa_3:11; 2Ki_21:12).

John Calvin
Jer 19:4
The reason is given why God would so severely deal with that place. We indeed know that hypocrites are ever ready with their answer; as soon as God threatens them, they bark and bring forward their evasions. The Prophet then shews that the judgment announced would be just, lest the Jews should pretend that it was extreme.

God first complains that he had been forsaken by them, because they had changed the worship which had been prescribed in his Law. And this is what ought to be carefully considered; for no one would have willingly confessed what Jeremiah charged upon them all; they would have said, — “We have not forsaken God, for we are the children of Abraham; but what we wish to do is to add to his worship; and why should it be deemed a reproach to us, if we are not content with our own simple form of worship, and add various other forms? and we worship God not only in the Temple, but also in this place; and further, we do not spare our own children.” But God shews by one expression that these were frivolous evasions; for he is not acknowledged except what he orders and commands is obediently received. Let us know, that God is forsaken as soon as men turn aside from his pure word, and that all are apostates who turn here and there, and do not follow what God approves.

Then he says that they had alienated the place. God had consecrated to himself the whole of Judea: he would not indeed have sacrifices offered to him in every place; but when the Jews worshipped him, as they were taught by Moses and the prophets, the whole land was as it were an altar and a temple to him. Then God complains that his authority in that part of the suburbs was taken away; as though he had said, — “The whole of Judea is my right and my jurisdiction, and Jerusalem is the royal palace in which I dwell; but ye, deluded beings, do by force take away my right and transfer it to another, as though one gave to a robber a place nigh a royal residence.” Thus God justly complains that they had alienated that place)

But we must remember the reason, which immediately follows, because they had burned incense to Baal. They pretended, no doubt, the name of God; but yet it was a most preposterous superstition, when they worshipped inferior gods, as the Papists do at this day. The word Baal is sometimes used in the singular number by the prophets, and sometimes in the plural: but what is Baal? a patron. They were not content with one patron, but every one desired a patron for himself: hence under the words Baal and Baalim, the prophets characterized all fictition is modes of worship: when they worshipped God’s name, they blended the worship of patrons, who had not been made known to them; hence he adds, They have made incense in it to foreign gods. He afterwards says, that these foreign gods were such as neither they nor their fathers nor their kings knew. By saying that they were gods unknown to their fathers as well as to themselves and to their kings, he no doubt calls their attention to the doctrine of the law, and to the many certain proofs by which they had found that he was the only true God.

The Jews might have raised such an objection as the Papists do at this day, — that their modes of worship were not devised in their time, but that they had derived them from their ancestors. But God regarded as nothing those kings and the fathers, who had long before degenerated from true and genuine religion. It must be here observed, that true knowledge is connected with verity: for they who had first contrived new forms of worship, doubtless followed their own foolish imaginations; as when any one in the present day asks the Papists, why they weary themselves so much with their superstitions, good intention is ever their shield, — “O, we think that this is pleasing to God.” Therefore rightly does God here repudiate their inventions as wholly vain, for they possess nothing solid or permanent. At the same time, he by implication condemns the Jews for rejecting his law, whose authority had been established among them, so that they ought not to have entertained any doubt: for it would have been the greatest ingratitude to say, “We know not who introduced the Law!” God had indeed sanctioned the law by so many miracles, that it could not have been disputed; and they had also found by many evidences and proofs that he was the only brue God. tie had then been known by their fathers as well as by their kings, even by David and by all his godly successors. Hence their crime was exaggerated, by seeking for themselves foreign gods.

Now we also see how foolishly the Papists lay hold on this passage and similar passages, in order to commend their abominations by the pretext of antiquity, for vain are their disguises when they say, “O, we have been thus taught by our ancestors, and we have the authority of kings.” But the Prophet here does not speak of fathers indiscriminately; but by fathers he means those who had embraced the true and pure worship of God, as they had been taught by the law; and those kings were alone worthy of imitation, who had faithfully worshipped God according to the doctrine of the law: and thus he excludes all those fathers and kings who had degenerated from the law of Moses.

Jamieson,Fausset, and Brown
Jer 19:4
(Isa_65:11).
estranged this place — devoted it to the worship of strange gods: alienating a portion of the sacred city from God, the rightful Lord of the temple, city, and whole land.

nor their fathers — namely, the godly among them; their ungodly fathers God makes no account of.

blood of innocents — slain in honor of Molech (Jer_7:31; Psa_106:37).

John Calvin
Jer 19:5
He at last adds, that that place was filled with the blood of innocents; for there they killed their children. And by this circumstance Jeremiah again amplifies the wickedness of the people; for they had not only despised God and his law, but also cruelly destroyed their innocent infants; and thus he proved them guilty not only of impiety and profaneness in vitiating the worship of God, but also of brutal and barbarous savageness in not sparing innocent blood.

Adam Clarke
Jer 19:5
Offerings unto Baal – A general name for all the popular idols; Baal, Moloch, Ashtaroth, etc.

Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown
Jer 19:5
commanded not — nay, more, I commanded the opposite (Lev_18:21; see Jer_7:31, Jer_7:32).

John Calvin
Jer 19:6
We saw in the last Lecture that the Prophet was sent by God’s bidding to the house of the potter, that he might there take an earthen bottle, carry it to Topher, and there explain the judgment of God, which was nigh at hand on account of his worship being violated. And he shewed why the Jews deserved reproof, even because they made incense to Baal, built groves and high places for themselves, and committed their sons and daughters to the fire: they were not only profane towards God, but also cruel towards innocent souls. Now, lest they pretended an excuse, he also added, that such a thing never came to God’s mind; and this is worthy of notice, because God by this one expression fulminates against all those inventions with which men delight themselves. As then there is no command, it follows that whatever is thus attempted is frivolous and useless.

He now denounces punishment, The days are coming, or shall come, in which this place shall no more be called Tophet, nor The valley of the son of Hinnom, but The valley of slaughter. This seemed incredible to the Jews; for they had chosen that place for themselves to perform their superstitions: they thought therefore that a great part of their safety depended on their false worship.

As to the word Tophet, some think that it is to be taken simply for hell, or for eternal death; but this cannot by any means be admitted. More probable is their opinion who derive it from תף, teph, which means a drum; for they think that they did beat drums when infants were killed, that their cries might not be heard. But as this is only a conjecture, I know not whether another reason may be given. Some derive the word from יפהiphe, which signifies to be decorous or beautiful; and this etymology has something apparently in its favor. And perhaps it ought to be so taken in Job_17:6, where the holy man complains that he was become a proverb, and that he had been תפתTophet, in the presence of all. There are indeed some who explain the word there as signifying something monstrous, and thus take it in a bad sense. But it seems rather to have been put in contrast with the former clause, — he had been a pleasant spectacle, but he was now become detestable. But they who take the word there as meaning hell, do so entirely without any reason, for that Job perished, seeing and knowing his perdition, as they say, is a forced view. I doubt not then but that he said, that he had been תפתTophet; that is, an object of joy and of praise, but that he was then a sad and mournful spectacle. And it is certain that his name, תפת, Tophet, was given to the valley of Hinnom, because of the hilarity and joy which thence arose to the people; for they thought that God was propitious to them, when they so sedulously offered there their sacrifices, and yet they provoked his wrath. Then Tophet is to be taken in a good sense, when we regard the origin of the word. It is indeed true that in Isa_30:33, Tophet is to be taken for Gehenna; but it may be that the prophets had now begun so to execrate the place as to call hell indiscriminately Gehennon and Tophet; for the word Gehenna, as we have stated elsewhere, had its origin from the same place; it is indeed corrupted, but its origin is not doubtful. Now, the reason why the prophets and other faithful men called the place hell, was plainly this, — because the devil reigned in that place, when God’s worship became vitiated, and the whole of true religion was subverted; and especially, because superstition became so deeply fixed in the hearts of the people, that it could not be rooted up except by an extraordinary force and power.

However this may have been, we may conclude from this passage, as well as from other passages, that this name was given on account of the joy experienced there, even because they thought themselves altogether happy, as God was pacified towards them. But what does Jeremiah say? This place shall be no more called Tophet, nor The valley of the son of Hinnom, but The valley of slaughter. This seemed, as I have said, incredible to the Jews. But it however behoved the Prophet boldly to declare what was to be. It afterwards follows, —

Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown
Jer 19:6
no more … Tophet — from Hebrew, toph, “drum”; for in sacrificing children to Molech drums were beaten to drown their cries. Thus the name indicated the joy of the people at the fancied propitiation of the god by this sacrifice; in antithesis to its joyless name subsequently.

valley of slaughter — It should be the scene of slaughter, no longer of children, but of men; not of “innocents” (Jer_19:4), but of those who richly deserved their fate. The city could not be assailed without first occupying the valley of Hinnom, in which was the only fountain: hence arose the violent battle there.

John Calvin
Jer 21:1
Jeremiah relates how he received the king’s messengers, who sought from him an answer, whether he could bring any comfort in a state of things so perplexed and almost hopeless, he then says, that two had been sent to him; one was Pashur, not the priest mentioned in the last chapter, for he was the son of Immer but this was the son of Melchiah; and the other was Zephaniah the priest, the son of Maaseiah. But he shews that the king and his counsellors were disappointed of their hope, for they expected a favor-able answer, as though God would be propitious to Jerusalem; but the Prophet answered as he was commanded by God, that it was all over with the city, the kingdom, and the whole nation.

We shall also see from other passages that Zedekiah was not one of the worst; though he did not really fear God and was led away by false counsels, there was yet in him some regard for religion, so that he did not avowedly despise God as Epicureans do. Many such are found even at this day in the world, who think it enough to cherish a half-buried fear of God, and to retain some little regard for religion; but it is very fading, and disappears on even the least occasion. So it was with Zedekiah; he was as it were neutral, for he neither seriously worshipped God nor yet despised him.

Hence it was, that he sent messengers to Jeremiah. He knew that while God was displeased with them no safety could be hoped for; but he did not understand the way of appeasing God, nor had he any real desire to be reconciled to him; as the case is with hypocrites, who, though they wish God to be kind to them, yet when God’s mercy is offered to them, either openly reject it, or are unwilling to embrace it, because they cannot bear to surrender themselves to God. Such was the state of mind in which Zedekiah was; and hence it was, that he asked the Prophet to consult God. But we must also observe that this was an honorable message; and it hence more fully appears that Zedekiah was not one of those furious tyrants, who like the giants seek to fight with God. For by sending two messengers to the Prophet, and employing him as an advocate to seek some favor from God, he proved that religion was not wholly suppressed and extinguished in him.

And hence also it may be seen how bold and courageous was the Prophet; for he was not softened by the honor paid to him, but gave such answer as was calculated to exasperate the king, and to drive him into great rage. But we ought especially to notice, that they did not flatter the Prophet so as to induce him to give a false answer, but wished God to be consulted. It hence appears that they were convinced of Jeremiah’s integrity, that he would say nothing rashly or from himself, but would be a faithful interpreter and herald of heavenly oracles. And yet we see, and shall hereafter see in several passages, that the king was very incensed against God’s Prophet. But hypocrites, though they are forced to reverence God, are yet carried here and there, and maintain no consistency, especially when they perceive that God is against them; for they are not turned by threatenings. They cannot, therefore, but make tumult, and strive like refractory horses to shake off their rider. Such an instance we find in Zedekiah; for he acknowledged Jeremiah as God’s faithful servant; for he did not say, “Tell a lie for us, or in our favor but, inquire of God for us.

Adam Clarke
Jer 21:1
The word which came unto Jeremiah – The chapters in the remaining parts of this prophecy seem strangely interchanged. This subject has been mentioned in the introduction, and some tables given; and to these the critical reader is requested to refer. The discourse here was delivered about the ninth year or the reign of Zedekiah. This chapter, observes Dr. Blayney, contains the first of those prophecies which were delivered by Jeremiah, subsequent to the revolt of Zedekiah, and the breaking out of the war thereupon; and which are continued on to the taking of Jerusalem, related in chap. 29, in the following order: Jer_21:1-14, 34, 37, 32, 33, 38, 39.

Pashur the son of Melchiah – There can be little doubt that this Pashur was a different person from him who was called the son of Immur in the preceding chapter.

Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown
Jer 21:1
Jer_21:1-14. Zedekiah consults Jeremiah what is to be the event of the war: God’s answer.

Written probably when, after having repulsed the Egyptians who brought succors to the Jews (Jer_37:5-8; 2Ki_24:7), the Chaldees were a second time advancing against Jerusalem, but were not yet closely besieging it (Jer_21:4, Jer_21:13) [Rosenmuller]. This chapter probably ought to be placed between the thirty-seventh and thirty-eight chapters; since what the “princes,” in Jer_38:2, represent Jeremiah as having said, is exactly what we find in Jer_21:9. Moreover, the same persons as here (Jer_21:1) are mentioned in Jer_37:3; Jer_38:1, namely, Pashur and Zephaniah. What is here more fully related is there simply referred to in the historical narrative. Compare Jer_52:24; 2Ki_25:18 [Maurer].

Zedekiah — a prince having some reverence for sacred things, for which reason he sends an honorable embassy to Jeremiah; but not having moral courage to obey his better impulses.

Pashur — son of Melchiah, of the fifth order of priests, distinct from Pashur, son of Immer (Jer_20:1), of the sixteenth order (1Ch_24:9, 1Ch_24:14).

Zephaniah — of the twenty-fourth order. They are designated, not by their father, but by their family (1Ch_24:18).

Albert Barnes
Jer 21:1
By sending this embassy Zedekiah acknowledged that Jeremiah held the same position in the kingdom which Isaiah had held under Hezekiah 2Ki_19:2. Pashur and Zephaniah belonged to the party who were for resisting Nebuchadnezzar by force of arms.

Keil and Delitzsch
Jer 21:1
The Taking of Jerusalem by the Chaldeans. – Jer_21:1 and Jer_21:2. The heading specifying the occasion for the following prediction. “The word of the Lord came to Jeremiah when King Zedekiah sent unto him Pashur the son of Malchiah, and Zephaniah the son of Maaseiah the priest, saying: Inquire now of Jahveh for us, for Nebuchadrezzar the king of Babylon maketh war against us; if so be that the Lord will deal with us according to all His wondrous works, that he may go up from us.” The fighting of Nebuchadrezzar is in Jer_21:4 stated to be the besieging of the city. From this it appears that the siege had begun ere the king sent the two men to the prophet. Pashur the son of Malchiah is held by Hitz., Graf, Näg., etc., to be a distinguished priest of the class of Malchiah. But this is without sufficient reason; for he is not called a priest, as is the case with Zephaniah the son of Maaseiah, and with Pashur the son of Immer (Jer_21:1). Nor is anything proved by the circumstance that Pashur and Malchiah occur in several places as the names of priests, e.g., 1Ch_9:12; for both names are also used of persons not priests, e.g., Malchiah, Ezr_10:25, Ezr_10:31, and Pashur, Jer_38:1, where this son of Gedaliah is certainly a laic. From this passage, where Pashur ben Malchiah appears again, it is clear that the four men there named, who accused Jeremiah for his speech, were government authorities or court officials, since in Jer_38:4 they are called שָׂרִים. Ros. is therefore right in saying of the Pashur under consideration: videtur unus ex principibus sive aulicis fuisse, cf. Jer_38:4. Only Zephaniah the son of Maaseiah is called priest; and he, acc. to Jer_29:25; Jer_37:3; Jer_52:24, held a high position in the priesthood. Inquire for us of Jahveh, i.e., ask for a revelation for us, as 2Ki_22:13, cf. Gen_25:22. It is not: pray for His help on our behalf, which is expressed by הִתְפַּלֵּל בַּעֲדֵנוּ, Jer_37:3, cf. Jer_52:2. In the request for a revelation the element of intercession is certainly not excluded, but it is not directly expressed. But it is on this that the king founds his hope: Peradventure Jahveh will do with us (אֹותָנוּ for אִתָּנוּ) according to all His wondrous works, i.e., in the miraculous manner in which He has so often saved us, e.g., under Hezekiah, and also, during the blockade of the city by Sennacherib, had recourse to the prophet Isaiah and besought his intercession with the Lord, 2Ki_19:2., Isa_37:2. That he (Nebuch.) may go up from us. עָלָה, to march against a city in order to besiege it or take it, but with מֵעַל, to withdraw from it, cf. Jer_37:5; 1Ki_15:19. As to the name Nebuchadrezzar, which corresponds more exactly than the Aramaic-Jewish Nebuchadnezzar with the Nebucadurriusur of the inscriptions (נבו כדר אצר, i.e., Nebo coronam servat), see Comm. on Daniel at Dan_1:1.

John Calvin
Jer 21:2
He then adds, If Jehovah will deal with us according to all his wondrous works(19) We again see that Zedekiah had some sense of religion; but it was very evanescent; for he was not influenced by any real impression, being like hypocrites who wish, as it has been said, to have peace with God, provided it be on their own terms. But as they are unwilling wholly to surrender themselves to God, they take a circuituous course, and seek to allure God to themselves, at least they come not to him except through various windings, and not in a direct way. Hence Zedekiah refers here to God’s miraculous works which had been wrought in behalf of the Israelites in all ages; as though he had said, “God has hitherto dealt; in a wonderful manner with his chosen people, and whenever he brought help to our fathers, he manifested wonderful proofs of his power; will he not deal with us at this day in the same manner?” He assumes the principle, that God’s covenant remained inviolable; and this was quite true, but the application was false; for Zedekiah and the whole people ought to have kept faith with God. For if they wished God to be propitious to them, why did they not in return worship and serve him as their God? But as they were covenant-breakers, how foolishly and vainly did they allege God’s covenant, which they themselves had rendered void? But it is usual with hypocrites to apply to themselves every favor which God shews to his own children; for they falsely assume the name as a covering, and say, that they are members of the Church because God had adopted them. This was the reason why Zedekiah asked whether God would do according to his wonderful works, as though he had said, “Surely God is ever like himself, and we are his people; and as he has so often delivered his Church, and in such various ways, his power has always been wonderfully displayed; why, then, will he not deal with us in the same manner?”

He at last, adds, that he may ascend from us, that is, that the King Nebuchadnezzar may raise the siege and leave us free.

Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown
Jer 21:2
Nebuchadrezzar — the more usual way of spelling the name in Jeremiah than Nebuchadnezzar. From Persiac roots, meaning either “Nebo, the chief of the gods,” or, “Nebo, the god of fire.” He was son of Nabopolassar, who committed the command of the army against Egypt, at Carchemish, and against Judea, to the crown prince.

according to all his wondrous works — Zedekiah hopes for God’s special interposition, such as was vouchsafed to Hezekiah against Sennacherib (2Ki_19:35, 2Ki_19:36).

he — Nebuchadnezzar.

go up from us — rise up from the siege which he sat down to lay (Jer_37:5, Jer_37:11, Margin; Num_16:24, Num_16:27; 1Ki_15:19, Margin).

John Calvin
Jer 21:3
Now follows the answer of Jeremiah, say ye to Zedekiah, etc.; he did not go to the king himself, but by way of contempt delivered the message to be borne by the messengers. The Prophet no doubt did this designedly, and through the impulse of the Holy Spirit. He did not, indeed, proudly despise his king; but it was necessary for him by his magnanimity to cast down the pride of the king, so that he might know that he had to do with the living God, whom he had very insolently treated. Say ye to Zedekiah, Thus saith Jehovah, the God of Israel, etc. He adds the words, the God of Israel, that Zedekiah might know that the wonderful works, in reliance on which he still thought that their condition was safe, did not belong to him and the people; as though the Prophet had said, “Though God did not help thee and thy people, he would not yet be inconsistent with himself, or depart from his covenant; but he would remain ever the God of Israel, though he destroyed thee and all thy people.”

John Calvin
Jer 21:4
He says, Behold I, etc.; it was said before, Nebuchadnezzar is come to make war with us: now he says, “I am God;” as though he had said, “Nebuchadnezzar may be conquered, he may change his counsel, he may leave you through weariness; but know ye that Nebuchadnezzar fights under my authority.” Behold, he says, I prohibit (for so ought מסכto be rendered) all the warlike instruments which are in your hands, and with which ye fight against the king of Babylon and against the Chaldeans; as though he had said, “However furnished ye may be with weapons and forces, and whatever may be necessary to defend the city, I forbid the use of these weapons, that is, I will cause that they will avail you nothing.” Some, as I have said, render the word, “I will turn them against you.” But the meaning seems more suitable to the etymology of the word, when we say, that the weapons which the Jews had would avail them nothing, because God would prevent them from producing any effect.

He afterwards adds, the Chaldeans, who fight without the wall against youHe described their state at that time, for the city was besieged by the Chaldeans; there was a wall between them, and the Jews thought that they could repel the attacks of their enemies. But God says, “theChaldeans are this day shut out by the wall, but I will gather them, he says, into the middle of this city; that is, I will make a breach, so that the wall may not be a hinderance to prevent, the Chaldeans from occupying the very bosom of the city.” It follows, —

Adam Clarke
Jer 21:4
I will turn back the weapons – Every attempt you make to repel the Chaldeans shall be unsuccessful.

I will assemble them into the midst of this city – I will deliver the city into their hands.

Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown
Jer 21:4
God of Israel — Those “wondrous works” (Jer_21:2) do not belong to you; God is faithful; it is you who forfeit the privileges of the covenant by unfaithfulness. “God will always remain the God of Israel, though He destroy thee and thy people” [Calvin].

turn back the weapons — I will turn them to a very different use from what you intend them. With them you now fight against the Chaldees “without the walls” (the Jewish defenders being as yet able to sally forth more freely, and defend the fountains outside the walls in the valley under Mount Zion; see Jer_21:13; Jer_19:6, Jer_19:7); but soon ye shall be driven back within the city [Maurer], and “in the midst” of it, I will cause all your arms to be gathered in one place (“I will assemble them,” namely, your arms) by the Chaldean conquerors [Grotius], who shall slay you with those very arms [Menochius].

John Calvin
Jer 21:5
He proceeds with the subject; and though he afterwards is more diffuse, he yet confirms here what we have just seen, — even that God was the leader of the war, and that the Chaldeans were, as it were, his hired soldiers, whom he guided by his own hand, and to whom he would give the signal to fight.

I, myself he says, will fight against you He put this in opposition to the wonderful works which Zedekiah had mentioned. God, indeed, had formerly been in a wonderful way present with his Church, not only once, but a thousand times; but he says now, “whatever power I have, it shall be exercised now against you; expect, therefore, no aid from me, but know that I am armed, and shall wholly destroy you.” He adds, with an extended hand and a strong arm; as though he had said, “your fathers found wonderful works done for their safety; but you shall by experience learn how great is my power to destroy you.” In short, he means that all God’s power would be a cause of terror to the Jews, and that therefore they could not escape, as there is nothing more dreadful than to have God’s hand opposed to us. To the same purpose is what follows, in wrath, and in fury, and in great indignation God intimates in these words that he would be implacable, and that hence Zedekiah was mistaken when he thought that the end of their evils was nigh at hand.

He might indeed have said briefly, “I will fight with an extended hand and with wrath;” but he mentioned wrath three times in various words. Hence what I have said appears evident, that Zedekiah was deprived of every hope, lest he should deceive himself, as though he would somehow propitiate God, who had already given up the city to final destruction. But we shall see that the Prophet had not ceased from the discharge of his office, and that he had allowed some room for repentance. But he made expressly this answer, for the king could not have been otherwise awakened. We shall see how he explained himself; but this beginning was as it were a thunderclap to lay prostrate the pride of the king and of the people. They had become first torpid in their evils, and then such was their contumacy that they sought to subject God to themselves. As then their stupidity and their obstinacy were so great, the Prophet could not, with any hope of success, have exhorted them to repent and offered them the mercy of God; it was therefore necessary for them to be so smitten as to perceive that they were wholly lost, and that God was so angry with them that they could not be saved by any human means. But we must defer the rest till to-morrow.

Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown
Jer 21:5
The Jews shall have not merely the Chaldees, but Jehovah Himself in wrath at their provocations, fighting against them. Every word enhances the formidable character of God’s opposition, “I myself … outstretched hand … strong arm (no longer as in Exo_6:6, and in the case of Sennacherib, in your behalf, but) in anger … fury … great wrath.”

John Calvin
Jer 21:11
Now the Prophet tells us that he was sent to the king and his counsellors. Hitherto he has been addressing the king and the whole people indiscriminately; but here a special message is committed to him to be delivered at the palace of the king; and he was to say that judgment was nigh him and his counsellors. But he is not now threatened as before, for there is a condition interposed: he exhorts them to repent, and indirectly promises them pardon, for in vain would he have spoken to them of repentance had he not given them some hopes of pardon and deliverance. He is not yet inconsistent with himself, for though the king was to be driven into exile, he might yet obtain some favor, after having submitted to a paternal correction. Though, then, the Prophet here exhorts the king and his counsellors to repent, he does yet shew that they were not to be wholly free from punishment, and yet he promises some mitigation.

And this passage reminds us that we ought not to rush headlong into despair when some great evil is suspended over us, and when God shews that we cannot wholly escape punishment. For there is nothing more unreasonable than that the fear by which God restores us to himself should be the cause of despair, so that we repent not; for though God’s wrath be not wholly removed, yet it is a great thing that it is mitigated, which is an alleviation accompanying the evil itself.

In short, the Prophet intimates that God’s wrath might be alleviated, though not wholly pacified, provided the king and his counsellors began to act rightly and justly. But he mentions the house of David, not for honor’s sake, but, on the contrary, by way of reproach; nor does he refer to David, as some unmeaningly assert, because he ruled justly and was a most excellent and upright king; but the Prophet had regard to God’s covenant. For we know that they deceived themselves when they thought that they were to be exempt from trouble through a peculiar privilege, because God had chosen that family, and promised that the kingdom would be perpetual. Thus hypocrites appropriate to their own advantage whatever God has promised; and at the same time they boast, though without faith and repentance, that God is bound to them. Such, then, was the presumption of the king and his counsellors; for they who were David’s descendants doubted not but that they were exempt from the common lot of men, and that they were, as they say, sacred beings. Hence the Prophet says, in contempt, The house of David! that is, “let these vain boastings now cease, for God will not spare you, though you may a hundred times boast that you are the descendants of David.” And at the same time he upbraids them with having become wholly degenerate, for God had made a covenant with David on the condition that he served him faithfully; but his posterity were become perfidious and apostates. Therefore the Prophet brought before them the name of David, in order that he might the more reproach them, because they were become wholly unlike their father, having departed from his piety.

Albert Barnes
Jer 21:11
Rather, And as to the royal house of Judah, Hear ye. Omit say. The words are no command to the prophet, but form his introduction to the discourse which extends to the end of Jer_23:8. The king and his officers are to hear the gist of all the messages sent to the royal house since the accession of Jehoiakim.

John Calvin
Jer 21:12
Thus saith Jehovah, he adds, Judge ye judgmentThere was no doubt a great liberty taken by the king and his courtiers in committing plunder, for the Prophet would not have here recommended justice to them had they not wholly neglected what was just and right. As, then, there was no care to administer justice, the Prophet bade them to recognize what was due to God and to his people. But it was a most grievous trial to all the godly to see that the sacred house, in which the living image of God ought to have shone forth brightly, was become a house of spoils, where robbers dwelt, who with impunity plundered all around them. When, therefore, the state of things is in such a disorder that the very judges, whom God has set over his Church, are like robbers, let us know that such a thing happened formerly; nor is there a doubt but that God thus took vengeance on the impiety and wickedness of the people, for he would have never suffered that house to be so contaminated and so filled with so many crimes, had not the people been unworthy of a good and faithful king and of upright counsellors. Let us, then, know that the Prophet exhorted the king and his counsellors to execute justice, because they had forgotten their office, and were become like rapacious wolves.

He specifies one act, Free ye the spoiled from the hand of his oppressor Some read, “from the hand of the fraudulent,” as though עשק, oshek, should mean to oppress by calumny and malice, or by fraudulent means; but it is to be taken otherwise here. Some distinguish between the two words עשק, oshek, and גזל, gesal, and say that the first means to retain a deposit or wages, or anything that belongs to another, and that the latter signifies to take a thing by force, to plunder. But this difference, as it appears, is not observed by the Prophet, for he says, “Free ye the plundered or the spoiled.” From whose hand? from “the hand of the oppressor.” As, then, these two words correspond, I doubt not but that גזל, gesal, means both to take by force and to plunder; and that though עשק, oshek, means often fraudulently to oppress, yet not always. However this may be, God intimates that neither the king nor his counsellors had any care for the poor, so as to repress violence, and robbery, and plunder. Then the very judges themselves were the associates of robbers, for they allowed them with impunity to rob and plunder without affording any aid to helpless men when they were thus wickedly harassed. There is, however, no doubt but that God would have them to perform their duties towards all, both rich and poor, without exception; but as injustice in this particular was especially seen, this is the reason why by stating a part for the whole he specified only one thing.

He then adds, Lest my indignation go forth like fire, and burn, and there be none to extinguish it Here the Prophet intimates, that except the king and his courtiers repented, it was all over with them. There is then a contrast to be understood here between that paternal correction of which he had spoken, and the destruction of which the Prophet now speaks. God’s indignation had been already kindled, nor could it be immediately extinguished; and though they had to suffer, yet the issue would have been happy and according to their wishes: but he here declares that there would be an irreconcilable war with God, except they labored to return to his favor. He adds, On account of the wickedness of their doings There is here a change of person, except we read כם, cam, “you;” but this sort of change often occurs in Scripture. The Prophet, after having addressed them, says now, “on account of the wickedness of their doings,” as though having finished his discourse, he spoke of them as being absent, or as though God, after having given orders to his Prophet, then added, “I denounce this on them, because they have so deserved.”

Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown
Jer 21:12
house of David — the royal family and all in office about the king. He calls them so, because it was the greater disgrace that they had so degenerated from the piety of their forefather, David; and to repress their glorying in their descent from him, as if they were therefore inviolable; but God will not spare them as apostates.

in the morning — alluding to the time of dispensing justice (Job_24:17; Psa_101:8); but the sense is mainly proverbial, for “with promptness” (Psa_90:14; Psa_143:8). Maurer translates, “every morning.”

lest my fury … like fire — Already it was kindled, and the decree of God gone forth against the city (Jer_21:4, Jer_21:5), but the king and his house may yet be preserved by repentance and reformation. God urges to righteousness, not as if they can thereby escape punishment wholly, but as the condition of a mitigation of it.

Albert Barnes
Jer 21:12
Execute judgment – As the administration of justice was performed in old time in person, the weal of the people depended to a great degree upon the personal qualities of the king (see 2Sa_15:4). And as “the oppressor” was generally some powerful noble, it was especially the king’s duty to see that the weaker members of the community were not wronged.

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