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A COPY of the epistle that Jeremias sent to them that were to be led away captives into Babylon, by the king of Babylon, to declare to them according to what was commanded him by God.

PREFACE

 

A copy.  Sept. place this after the Lamentations, which follow Baruch.  H.

 

--- Jeremias wrote it before the captives departed.  Baruch read it to them at Babylon, and it was sent back to Jerusalem.  W.

 

--- It might be delivered to the captives at Reblatha.  We have it not entire, as another circumstance respecting the ark is mentioned.  2 Mac. ii. 5.  C.



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1 For the sins that you have committed before God, you shall be carried away captives into Babylon by Nabuchodonosor the king of Babylon.

PREFACE

 

A copy.  Sept. place this after the Lamentations, which follow Baruch.  H.

 

--- Jeremias wrote it before the captives departed.  Baruch read it to them at Babylon, and it was sent back to Jerusalem.  W.

 

--- It might be delivered to the captives at Reblatha.  We have it not entire, as another circumstance respecting the ark is mentioned.  2 Mac. ii. 5.  C.



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2 And when you are come into Babylon, you shall be there many years, and for a long time, even to seven generations: and after that I will bring you away from thence with peace.

Ver. 2.  Seven generations; that is, seventy years.  Ch.

 

--- A generation sometimes consisted of seven, ten, fifteen, thirty, thirty-five, fifty, or a hundred years.  A. Lap.  Menage.

 

--- Eighteen years of the seventy had already elapsed.  C.

 

--- Seven is often put for many, (H.) or a general number, (W.) because so many days form a week.  H.

 

--- Grotius substitutes dekadwn for genewn, "seven decads," very properly.  Houbigant.




3 But now, you shall see in Babylon gods of gold, and of silver, and of stone, and of wood borne upon shoulders, causing fear to the Gentiles.

Ver. 3.  Shoulders.  This custom was very ancient, suggested by the avarice of the priests, who begged on such occasions.  Menander, ap. Clem. protrep.



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4 Beware therefore that you imitate not the doings of others, and be afraid, and the fear of them should seize upon you.

Ver. 4.  Fear.  Worship not such things.  H.


5 But when you see the multitude behind, and before, adoring them, say you in your hearts: Thou oughtest to be adored, O Lord. 6 For my angel is with you: And I myself will demand an account of your souls.

Ver. 6.  Angel Michael, the conductor of Israel in the desert, &c.  Dan. x. 13.  Ex. xxxiii. 2.  C.

 

--- He protected them also in Babylon.  W.


7 For their tongue that is polished by the craftsman, and themselves laid over with gold and silver, are false things, and they cannot speak. 8 And as if it were for a maiden that loveth to go gay: so do they take gold and make them up.

Ver. 8.  Gay.  Nothing could be more despicable.  C.


9 Their gods have golden crowns upon their heads: whereof the priests secretly convey away from them gold, and silver, and bestow it on themselves. 10 Yea and they give thereof to prostitutes, and they dress out harlots: and again when they receive it of the harlots, they adorn their gods.

Ver. 10.  The Harlots.  Their hire was rejected by the Lord.  But idols suffered themselves to be despoiled or adorned at pleasure.  Gr. "But they will give of them even to harlots under the same roof, while they adorn them (idols) like men with garments, gods of gold, silver, and wood."  H.


11 And these gods cannot defend themselves from the rust, and the moth.
12 But when they have covered them with a purple garment, they wipe their face because of the dust of the house, which is very much among them.

Ver. 12.  Them, of account of the many votaries, v. 16.  Arnobius (6) ridicules such gods.  C.

 

--- Prot. adopt similar arguments against the real presence as if we believed that Christ was hurt when the sacramental species were broken or devoured by vermin.  A little more boldness will prompt them to reject the divinity of Christ, who was pleased to give up his body to those who treated him shamefully.  Almost every argument which is levelled against Christ's real presence in the blessed Eucharist, maybe turned against the incarnation; and hence so many now become Socinians, being unwilling to submit their understanding to the mysteries of religion.  To apply these texts to holy pictures, would be nugatory.  See Is. xl 18.  H.

 

--- The absurdities here specified, shew how foolish are those who serve idols or take any images to be gods.  W.

 

--- Calvin represents the pagans as adoring God under the images, as if they used them in the same light as Catholics do; which is contrary to this epistle, &c.  T.


13 This holdeth a sceptre as a man, as a judge of the country, but cannot put to death one that offendeth him.

Ver. 13.  Judge, or ruler.  C.

 

--- The sceptre and spear were badges of power.  Eustath.

 

--- Mars had a sword, Hercules a club.  We know little of the idols of Babylon.


14 And this hath in his hand a sword, or an axe, but cannot save himself from war, or from robbers, whereby be it known to you, that they are not gods. 15 Therefore fear them not. For as a vessel that a man uses when it is broken becometh useless, even so are their gods:

Ver. 15.  Vessel; armour, or any utensil.  C.


16 When they are placed in the house, their eyes are full of dust by the feet of them that go in. 17 And as the gates are made sure on every side upon one that hath offended the king, or like a dead man carried to the grave, so do the priests secure the doors with bars and locks, lest they be stripped by thieves. 18 They light candles to them, and in great number, of which they cannot see one: but they are like beams in the house.

Ver. 18.  Candles.  Lit. "lamps."  H.

 

--- Some temples in Egypt were famous for their number.  Herod. ii. 62.

 

--- The Lord prescribed them to be used.  But who ever imagined that they stood in need of them to see, as the idolaters supposed their idols did?


19 And they say that the creeping things which are of the earth, gnaw their hearts, while they eat them and their garments, and they feel it not.

Ver. 19.  Hearts: the wood is worm-eaten.  C.


20 Their faces are black with the smoke that is made in the house. 21 Owls, and swallows, and other birds fly upon their bodies, and upon their heads, and cats in like manner. 22 Whereby you may know that they are no gods. Therefore fear them not. 23 The gold also which they have, is for shew, but except a man wipe off the rust, they will not shine: for neither when they were molten, did they feel it.
24 Men buy them at a high price, whereas there is no breath in them.

Ver. 24.  Price, foolishly believing that they have divine power.  W.


25 And having not the use of feet they are carried upon shoulders, declaring to men how vile they are. Be they confounded also that worship them.

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26 Therefore if they fall to the ground, they rise not up again of themselves, nor if a man set them upright, will they stand by themselves, but their gifts shall be set before them, as to the dead.

Ver. 26.  Gifts.  The Chaldees supposed that Bel could eat.  Dan. xiv.

 

--- Dead.  Food was placed on the tombs.  S. Aug. abolished this custom in Africa.


27 The things that are sacrificed to them, their priests sell and abuse: in like manner also their wives take part of them, but give nothing of it either to the sick, or to the poor.

Ver. 27.  Take.  Gr. "salt."  They give none to the poor, for fear of their imposture being detected, though they allow even the unclean to eat.  v. 28.  Lev. xii. 2.  Deut. xiv. 29.


28 The childbearing and menstruous women touch their sacrifices: knowing therefore by these things that they are not gods, fear them not. 29 For how can they be called gods? because women set offerings before the gods of silver, and of gold, and of wood:

Ver. 29.  Women.  They make gods.  C.

 

--- Qui rogat, ille facit.  Mart. viii. 24.


30 And priests sit in their temples, having their garments rent, and their heads and beards shaven, and nothing upon their heads.

Ver. 30.  Shaven, as in mourning, contrary to the custom of Israel.  Lev. xxi. 10.  C.

 

--- Heads.  The Jewish priests wore mitres or caps.


31 And they roar and cry before their gods, as men do at the feast when one is dead.

Ver. 31.  Dead, even of Adonis, (H.) whose worship is here ridiculed.  C.

 

--- At Biblos people bewailed his death, and the next day proclaimed that he was alive.  All cut off their hair, as the Egyptians do for Apis, except such as submitted to prostitute themselves to strangers.  The hire they consecrated to Venus.  Lucian, Dea Syra.

 

--- At funerals a feast was usually made, as is still the custom in Syria, (Roger. ii. 14.) and near Bagdad.  Chardin. ii. 7.


32 The priests take away their garments, and clothe their wives and their children. 33 And whether it be evil that one doth unto them, or good, they are not able to recompense it: neither can they set up a king nor put him down: 34 In like manner they can neither give riches, nor requite evil. If a man make a vow to them, and perform it not, they cannot require it.

Ver. 34.  Requite.  Gr. "brass," much less gold.  H.


35 They cannot deliver a man from death nor save the weak from the mighty.
36 They cannot restore the blind man to his sight: nor deliver a man from distress. 37 They shall not pity the widow, nor do good to the fatherless. 38 Their gods, of wood, and of stone, and of gold, and of silver, are like the stones that are hewn out of the mountains: and they that worship them shall be confounded. 39 How then is it to be supposed, or to be said, that they are gods? 40 Even the Chaldeans themselves dishonour them: who when they hear of one dumb that cannot speak, they present him to Bel, entreating him, that he may speak,

Ver. 40.  Chaldees.  The priests themselves despise the idols most, (C.) and expose them to contempt, by pretending that they work miracles.  H.

 

--- "Those who first set up representations of the gods, deprived cities of reverential awe, and increased the error," said Varro; "prudently supposing that gods might easily be contemned, when like stupid images."  In simulacrorum stoliditate.  S. Aug. de Civ. Dei. iv. 26.


41 As though they could be sensible that have no motion themselves: and they, when they shall perceive this, will leave them: for their gods themselves have no sense.

Ver. 41.  They.  Gr. "he could perceive.  And they reflecting on this, cannot still abandon them; for they have no sense."  H.

 

--- They are so stupid, that they will not quit such impotent idols.  C.


42 The women also with cords about them, sit in the ways, burning olive stones.

Ver. 42.  Women.  Aristophanes calls harlots, "corded bodies."  Eccles. Act. i.  The women of Babylon "prostituted themselves once, in honour of Venus, (H. Mylitta.  C.) sitting with crowns on their heads in the temple, till some stranger selected them, and took them from their partition, made with cords," (H.) to some more secret place, where they broke their bands.  Herod. i. 199.  C.

 

--- That some deluded women, led by various desires, should think thus to honour that impure deity, by an action which some modern casuists have not scrupled to rank among simple venial sins, cannot excite our astonishment so much, when we reflect on the tenets of the ancient Gnostics, and of Antinomians at the present day, whom J. Wesley, the last founder of the Methodists, applauded and followed even in the meridian of the gospel light!  See Deut. xvi. 22. and xxiii. 17.  Yet these men read and perhaps distributed the Bible!

 

--- Stones.  Lit. "bones;" (H.) or the refuse  of what had been crushed, (pitura.  Athen. ii. 14.) to excite impure love.  M.  T.

 

--- Theocritus (Phar.) represents a witch doing the like; and Sanchez tells us, that some were taken in the fact in Spain.  C.

 

--- Fumigation, used by the Babylonians after marriage, (Herod. i. 198.) may be insinuated.  Grotius.


43 And when any one of them, drawn away by some passenger, lieth with him, she upbraideth her neighbour, that she was not thought as worthy as herself, nor her cord broken. 44 But all things that are done about them, are false: how is it then to be thought, or to be said, that they are gods? 45 And they are made by workmen, and by goldsmiths. They shall be nothing else but what the priests will have them to be.

Ver. 45.  To be.  Is. xliv. 14.  Horace (i. Sat. 8) introduces Priapus thus ridiculously explaining his origin; "I was formerly an useless piece of a fig-tree; when the workman, not knowing whether to make a bench or a Priapus, chose rather that I should be a god.  Hence I am a god, the greatest terror of thieves and birds."  Sept. "they are nothing but what the workmen wish to form."  H.


46 For the artificers themselves that make them, are of no long continuance. Can those things then that are made by them be gods? 47 But they have left false things and reproach to them that come after.
48 For when war cometh upon them, or evils, the priests consult with themselves where they may hide themselves with them. 49 How then can they be thought to be gods, that can neither deliver themselves from war, nor save themselves from evils? 50 For seeing they are but of wood, and laid over with gold, and with silver, it shall be known hereafter that they are false things, by all nations and kings: and it shall be manifest that they are no gods, but the work of men's hands, and that there is no work of God in them. 51 Whence therefore is it known that they are not gods, but the work of men's hands, and no work of God is in them?

Ver. 51.  Them.  Gr. has simply, (C.) "Who then knows not that they are no gods?"  H.


52 They cannot set up a king over the land, nor give rain to men. 53 They determine no causes, nor deliver countries from oppression; because they can do nothing, and are as daws between heaven and earth.

Ver. 53.  Daws.  They have no greater influence (C.) than jackdaws.


54 For when fire shall fall upon the house of these gods of wood, and of silver, and of gold, their priests indeed will flee away, and be saved: but they themselves shall be burnt in the midst like beams. 55 And they cannot withstand a king and war. How then can it be supposed, or admitted that they are gods? 56 Neither are these gods of wood, and of stone, and laid over with gold, and with silver, able to deliver themselves from thieves or robbers: they that are stronger than them. 57 shall take from them the gold, and silver, and the raiment wherewith they are clothed, and shall go their way, neither shall they help themselves. 58 Therefore it is better to be a king that sheweth his power: or else a profitable vessel in the house, with which the owner thereof will be well satisfied: or a door in the house, to keep things safe that are therein, than such false gods.

Ver. 58.  Gods.  Sept. repeat this after satisfied, or "will use;" and here add, "or a pillar of wood in palaces, than," &c.  H.


59 The sun, and the moon, and the stars being bright, and sent forth for profitable uses, are obedient.

Ver. 59.  Obedient to God.  They were appointed to mark out the seasons, &c. (Gen. i. 14.) and if any creature were worthy of adoration, they would.  C.

 

--- The Babylonians adored them as well as statues, and therefore their proper destination is specified here and by Moses.


60 In like manner the lightning, when it breaketh forth, is easy to be seen: and after the same manner the wind bloweth in every country. 61 And the clouds when God commandeth them to go over the whole world, do that which is commanded them. 62 The fire also being sent from above to consume mountains and woods, doth as it is commanded. But these neither in shew, nor in power are like to any one of them. 63 Wherefore it is neither to be thought, nor to be said, that they are gods: since they are neither able to judge causes, nor to do any good to men. 64 Knowing therefore that they are not gods, fear them not. 65 For neither can they curse kings, nor bless them. 66 Neither do they shew signs in the heaven to the nations, nor shine as the sun, nor give light as the moon. 67 Beasts are better than they, which can fly under a covert, and help themselves. 68 Therefore there is no manner of appearance that they are gods: so fear them not. 69 For as a scarecrow in a garden of cucumbers keepeth nothing, so are their gods of wood, and of silver, and laid over with gold.

Ver. 69.  Scarecrow.  Priapus answered this glorious purpose.  v. 45.  H.

 

--- When birds become accustomed to such things, they mind them not.  C.


70 They are no better than a white thorn in a garden, upon which every bird sitteth. In like manner also their gods of wood, and laid over with gold, and with silver, are like to a dead body cast forth in the dark. 71 By the purple also and the scarlet which are motheaten upon them, you shall know that they are not gods. And they themselves at last are consumed, and shall be a reproach in the country.

Ver. 71.  Scarlet.  Gr. "marble" coloured wood.  Grotius would substitute margarou, "a pearl," which decays through age.  C.

 

--- Gr. also, "From the purple, which also shines upon them rotting, you shall," &c.  Marmarou means, "of marble or shining."


72 Better therefore is the just man that hath no idols: for he shall be far from reproach.

Ver. 72.  Reproach, provided he also avoid the idols of the mind and of the heart.  H.


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