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Bible Commentaries
Jeremiah 4

Trapp's Complete CommentaryTrapp's Commentary

Verse 1

If thou wilt return, O Israel, saith the LORD, return unto me: and if thou wilt put away thine abominations out of my sight, then shalt thou not remove.

If thou wilt return, O Israel. — As thou seemest willing to do, and for very good reason. Jeremiah 2:22-24 Thou art but a beaten rebel, and to stand it out with me is to no purpose; thou must either turn or burn. Neither will it help thee to return fainly, for I love truth in the inward parts, and hate hypocrisy, halting, and tepidity. If therefore thou wilt return,

Return unto me. — Return as far as to me; not from one evil course to another, Jeremiah 2:36 for that is but to be tossed as a ball from one of the devil’s hands to the other, but "to me with thy whole heart," seriously, sincerely, and zealously; for Non amat, qui non zelat. To a tyrant thou shalt not turn, but to one that will both assist thee, Proverbs 1:23 and accept thee. Zechariah 1:2

And if thou wilt put away thine abominations out of my sight,i.e., Thine idols out of thine house and out of thine heart. Ezekiel 14:3-4

Then shalt thou not remove. — But still dwell in the land and do good; feeding on faith, as Tremellius rendereth that Psalms 37:3 .

Verse 2

And thou shalt swear, The LORD liveth, in truth, in judgment, and in righteousness; and the nations shall bless themselves in him, and in him shall they glory.

And thou shalt swear, The Lord liveth. — Not by Baal shalt thou swear, or other idols, but by the living God, or by the life of God. The Egyptians once sware by the life of Pharaoh, as the proud Spaniards now do by the life of their king. But, to speak properly, none liveth but the Lord, and none should be sworn by but he alone, an oath being a proof of the divine power, which one worshippeth. The Pythagoreans used to swear by πεπρακτην , Quaternity, which they called παγαν αενναου φυσεως , the fountain of eternal being; and this doubtless was the same with τετραγραμματον , Jehovah.

In truth, in judgment, and in righteousness.Vere, rite, et iuste: Tremel. (1.) In truth, Romans 9:1 that is, to that which is true, lest we fall into perjury. Leviticus 19:12 And (2.) Truly, agreeable both to the intentions of our mind, not deceitfully, Psalms 24:2 and agreeable also to the intentions of him that ministereth the oath, and not with mental reservations, as Romish priests oft swear.

In judgment. — Or, Considerately, duly weighing the conditions and circumstances, not rashly and unadvisedly, Leviticus 5:4 1 Samuel 14:39 as those that swear in heat and choler, swear when they should fear. Deuteronomy 10:20 ; Deuteronomy 28:58 The Romans used that most considerate word arbitror, when the jurors said those things which they knew most certainly. Suidas. The Grecians, when they would swear by their Jupiter, out of the mere dread and reverence of his name, forbore to mention him. And the Egyptians bore such respect to Mercurius Trismegistus, that they held it not lawful to pronounce his name lightly and rashly. This is check to many swearing pseudo-Christians. Such also as swear in jest, will, without repentance, go to hell in earnest. The ancient form of taking and imposing an oath was, Give glory to God. Joshua 7:19 John 9:24

And in righteousness. — (1.) Promising by oath lawful and possible things only, not making an oath a bond of iniquity. 1 Samuel 25:21-22 ; 1 Samuel 28:10 (2.) Careful to perform what we have sworn, though to our own hindrance. Psalms 15:4

And the nations shall bless themselves in him. — Or, Shall be blessed in him - that is, in that God to whom thou returnest, and by whom thou thus swearest. They shall turn to God by thine example, and hold themselves happy in such a good turn.

Verse 3

For thus saith the LORD to the men of Judah and Jerusalem, Break up your fallow ground, and sow not among thorns.

Break up your fallow ground.Novellate vobis novale. Tertullian rendereth it, Renovate vobis novamen novuum, put off the old man, and put on the new. See Hosea 10:11 . See Trapp on " Hosea 10:11 " By the practice of repentance, runcate, extirpate, root up and rid your hearts and lives of all vile lusts and vicious practices. The breaking up of sinful hearts may prevent the breaking down of a sinful nation.

Sow not among thorns,i.e., Cares and lusts of life, fitly called thorns, because (1.) They prick and gore the soul; (2.) Harbour the old serpent; (3.) Choke the word. There is no looking for a harvest in a hedge: stock them, and stub them up therefore; 1 Peter 2:1 James 1:21 do not plough here, and make a trench there, …

Verse 4

Circumcise yourselves to the LORD, and take away the foreskins of your heart, ye men of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem: lest my fury come forth like fire, and burn that none can quench [it], because of the evil of your doings.

Circumcise yourselves to the Lord. — There is a twofold circumcision, corporis et cordis, outward and inward: that without this availeth nothing. Galatians 6:15 See the inward described Colossians 2:11 . It is the putting off the old Adam with his actions. It is purgatio animae et aliectio vitiorum, saith Origen; the cleansing of the soul, and the casting away of sin, that filthy foreskin, that "superfluity of naughtiness." James 1:21 It is a wonderful work of the Holy Spirit wrought by the Word upon the saints at their first conversion, whereby corruption of nature is wounded, beloved sins cast away with sorrow, and the sinner received into an everlasting communion with God and his saints. Those that are not thus circumcised are not Israelites, but Ishmaelites; whereas Jether, though by nature an Ishmaelite, 1 Chronicles 2:17 yet, being thus inwardly circumcised, he was, for his faith and religion, called and counted an Israelite. 2 Samuel 17:25 See Philippians 3:3-5 .

And take away the foreskin of your heart. — Not of the flesh only, see 1 Peter 3:21 as the carnal Israelite, who rests in the work done, glorious in outward privileges, neglects the practice of religion and power of godliness, pursueth him that is born after the Spirit, the Israelite indeed, …, and is therefore disprivileged, hated, and defied by God, as Goliath, that uncircumcised Philistine, was by David, "dead in sins and the uncircumeision of the flesh," Colossians 2:13 subject to utter excision, Genesis 17:14 as having no portion in Christ nor in Canaan. Take away therefore the foreskin of the heart; stick not in the bark, pare not off the foreskin of the flesh only, off with the whole "body of sin"; Colossians 2:11 begin at Adam’s sin, bewail that; then set upon the beloved sin, out with that eye, off with that hand, "cast away all your transgressions" with as great indignation as angry Zipporah did her child’s foreskin. Take unto you for this end the sword of the Spirit, the Word, sharper than those stones that she made use of; Exodus 4:25 consider the threats - these will work faith, and that will work fear - apply the promises, Deuteronomy 30:6 Ezekiel 36:26 ; Ezekiel 36:28 doubt not God’s power, but pray him to thrust his holy hand into your bosoms, and to fetch off the filthy foreskin that is there. Lo, this is the way, walk in it.

And burn that none can quench it. — When once it hath caught your thorns. Jeremiah 4:3

Verse 5

Declare ye in Judah, and publish in Jerusalem; and say, Blow ye the trumpet in the land: cry, gather together, and say, Assemble yourselves, and let us go into the defenced cities.

Declare ye in Judah. — As if the prophet should say, I do but lose my labour in calling upon you to mortify your corruptions and to cast away all your transgressions. Uncircumcised ye are in heart and ears, and so will be. Now therefore stand upon your guard against the approaching enemy, and defend yourselves, if at least you are able, from the evil that is coming upon you. Moat up yourselves against God’s fire. Jeremiah 4:4

Verse 6

Set up the standard toward Zion: retire, stay not: for I will bring evil from the north, and a great destruction.

Set up the standard towards Zion. — All this seemeth to be ironically spoken. as Jeremiah 4:5

For I will bring evil from the north,i.e., From Babylon. Ab aquilone nihil boni. There is also another Babylon spoken of in the Revelation, which to the true Church hath of long time been lerna malorum; and so the poor persecuted Protestants in Poland feel at this day. Roma radix omnium malorum.

Verse 7

The lion is come up from his thicket, and the destroyer of the Gentiles is on his way; he is gone forth from his place to make thy land desolate; [and] thy cities shall be laid waste, without an inhabitant.

The lion is come up from his thicket,i.e., Nebuchadnezzar from Babylon, where he lieth safe, sicut leo in vepreto, and will shortly show himself for a mischief to many people, who shall feel his force and fierceness.

Verse 8

For this gird you with sackcloth, lament and howl: for the fierce anger of the LORD is not turned back from us.

For this, gird you with sackcloth. — Repent, if at least it be not too late, as the next words hint that now it was.

For the fierce wrath of the Lord is not turned back from us. — Or, Because the fierce wrath of the Lord will not turn from us; it will have its full forth. See Zephaniah 2:2 . See Trapp on " Zechariah 2:2 "

Verse 9

And it shall come to pass at that day, saith the LORD, [that] the heart of the king shall perish, and the heart of the princes; and the priests shall be astonished, and the prophets shall wonder.

The heart of the king shall perish. — His courage shall be quailed, and he shall be strangely crestfallen. This was fulfilled in Zedekiah, who sought to save himself by flight, but could not.

Verse 10

Then said I, Ah, Lord GOD! surely thou hast greatly deceived this people and Jerusalem, saying, Ye shall have peace; whereas the sword reacheth unto the soul.

Surely thou hast greatly deceived this people,sc., By those false prophets. Jeremiah 4:9 Compare 1 Kings 18:22-29 Ezekiel 14:9 . This God doth as a just judge, punishing sin with sin. The words may be rendered as a question, "Hast thou indeed thus deceived this people?" Is it possible that thou shouldst have an active, or so much as a permissive, hand in such a business?

Whenas the sword reacheth unto the soul,i.e., To the heart, it goes as far as it can. Capulo tenus abdidit ensem. See Psalms 69:11 .

Verse 11

At that time shall it be said to this people and to Jerusalem, A dry wind of the high places in the wilderness toward the daughter of my people, not to fan, nor to cleanse,

A dry wind of the high places.Ventus urens et exsiccans, as the north wind is. Understand hereby the King of Babylon, as Jeremiah 4:6 blasting and wasting all before him.

Not to fan, nor to cleanse. — But to dissipate and destroy.

Verse 12

[Even] a full wind from those [places] shall come unto me: now also will I give sentence against them.

Even a full wind from those places. — An impetuous and stiff wind, such as shall carry away chaff, and grain, and all.

Now also will I give sentence against them. — Heb., Utter judgments with them - i.e., I will speak no more by my prophets, but by my judgments.

Verse 13

Behold, he shall come up as clouds, and his chariots [shall be] as a whirlwind: his horses are swifter than eagles. Woe unto us! for we are spoiled.

Behold, he shall come up as clouds. — Swiftly and numerously.

His horses are swifter than eagles. — Which, though the biggest of all fowls, yet fly with greatest speed.

Woe unto us, for we are spoiled. — This he premiseth fitly to his exhortation to repentance; Jeremiah 4:14 q.d., We are utterly undone, if repentance prevent not.

Currat ergo paenitentia, ne praecurrat sententia.

Verse 14

O Jerusalem, wash thine heart from wickedness, that thou mayest be saved. How long shall thy vain thoughts lodge within thee?

O Jerusalem, wash thine heart from wickedness. — Which defileth it worse than any leprosy, Frustra sunt lavamenta, ubi nulla est innocentia. - Oecol. or jakes, doth the body. Mark 7:19-20 ; Mark 7:23 Thy hands thou often washest, and other outward parts, placing therein no small religion, thou canst not wash them in innocence; wash them therefore in tears, and when thou hast so done, cry to God with Augustine, Lava lachrymas meas Domine: ipsae enim lachrymae sunt lachrymabiles; Wash my very tears, Lord, for they are lamentable ones. Beg of him to bathe thy soul in the blood of his Son, to wash thee thoroughly from thine iniquity, and to cleanse thee from thy sin. Psalms 51:2

That thou mayest be saved,i.e., Have safety here, and salvation hereafter.

How long shall thy vain thoughts lodge within thee?Hic mora cogitationis redarguitur et eius adlubescentia. - Oecol. Heb., In the midst of thee, in the very heart of thee. Creep in they will, but why should they lodge there? why should the devil be at inn with us? be any man’s bedfellow, as he is the angry man’s? Ephesians 4:26 David oft "communed with his own heart, and his spirit made diligent search" for such vagrants. Psalms 77:6 Scopabam spiritum meum, Vulgate. so some render it, I swept out my spirit. Carnal hearts are stews of unclean thoughts, slaughter houses of cruel and bloody thoughts, exchanges and shops of vain and vile thoughts, a very forge and mint of false political undermining thoughts, yea, oft a little hell of confused and black imaginations. They had need therefore to be carefully cleansed, and kept with all custody. Grace beginneth at the centre, and from thence goeth to the circumference. God and nature begin at the heart; art begins with the face and outward lineaments; so doth hypocrisy at outward paintings and expressions; it cleanseth the outside of the cup and platter, when the inside is full of ravening and wickedness. Luke 11:39

Verse 15

For a voice declareth from Dan, and publisheth affliction from mount Ephraim.

For a voice declareth from Dan. — Which was first called Laish, then Dan, and after that, in honour of Tiberius Caesar, Caesarea Philippi. Joseph. Antiq., lib. xviii. It was the utmost bound of Israel northward; and therehence came a rumour of the enemy entering and making his first impression into the land, and so, by Mount Ephraim, to the Jews of Jerusalem. This Jeremiah, by a spirit of prophecy, foretelleth long before, against their vain confidence of better.

And publisheth affliction. — The same Hebrew word signifieth vanity or iniquity in the verse aforegoing. Sin is the mother of misery and molestation.

Verse 16

Make ye mention to the nations; behold, publish against Jerusalem, [that] watchers come from a far country, and give out their voice against the cities of Judah.

Make ye mention to the nations,i.e., To the Jews, who haply are called the nations, because once better accounted of than all nations. Thus the saints are called "All things," Colossians 1:18 and the Rabbis have a saying, that those seventy souls which came down to Egypt with Jacob, were more worth than all the seventy nations of the world besides.

That watchers are come. — Nebuchadnezzar’s body guard, say some. Heb., Notserim - i.e., Nebuchadnezzarenes. Sicut a Caesare Caesariani, a Praetore Praetoriani. Others give a better reason of the word from the next verse.

And give out their voice against the cities of Judah. — While they invade them cum barritu militari, with a horrid and horrible noise, such as the Turks use today also when they set upon any city to storm it.

Verse 17

As keepers of a field, are they against her round about; because she hath been rebellious against me, saith the LORD.

As keepers of a field, are they against her. — They have straitly besieged her, so that there is no escaping their hands.

Verse 18

Thy way and thy doings have procured these [things] unto thee; this [is] thy wickedness, because it is bitter, because it reacheth unto thine heart.

Thy way and thy doings have procured these things unto thee. — This is like as we use to say to our children when they have taken cold or got any harm, This is your gadding and dabbling in the dirt, your going in the snow, your eating of fruit, …

This is thy wickedness,i.e., Merces malitlae; the wages of thy wickedness, the fruit of thy folly.

Because it is bitter. — Thou hast given God a bitter pill, as it were, that went to his heart; and now he hath given thee as bitter a potion, that reacheth unto thine heart.

Verse 19

My bowels, my bowels! I am pained at my very heart; my heart maketh a noise in me; I cannot hold my peace, because thou hast heard, O my soul, the sound of the trumpet, the alarm of war.

My bowels, my bowels! — So, "My head, my head"; 2 Kings 4:19 "My leanness, my leanness." Isaiah 24:16 Thus the prophet here, to express his inexpressible grief for the calamities of his people.

I am pained. — As a woman in travail; Doleo instar parturientis.

At the very heart. — Heb., At the walls of my heart; scil., to see, in spirit, the city walls surprised.

My heart maketh a noise in me.Saltitat et palpitat, ut in pavidis et perculsis fieri solet, leaps and throbs.

I cannot hold my peace. — Heb., I will not.

Because thou hast heard,i.e., I have heard in the spirit, and am affected with it, as if already come.

Verse 20

Destruction upon destruction is cried; for the whole land is spoiled: suddenly are my tents spoiled, [and] my curtains in a moment.

Destruction upon destruction.Fluctus fluctum trudit; one mischief upon another, the sword after famine, captivity after a siege.

For the whole land is spoiled. — Or, Plundered; which word we first heard of in the Swedish wars.

Verse 21

How long shall I see the standard, [and] hear the sound of the trumpet?

How long shall I see the standard? — Sad sights and doleful ditties are common in times of war.

And hear the sound of the trumpet.Tubam turbamque hostiurn.

Verse 22

For my people [is] foolish, they have not known me; they [are] sottish children, and they have none understanding: they [are] wise to do evil, but to do good they have no knowledge.

For my people is foolish, they have not known me. — To know and to worship God aright, is the only true wisdom, saith Lactantius. Lib. iii. cap. 30.

They are wise to do evil, but to do good they have no knowledge.In terrenis lyncei, in caelestibus talpae. Wise the wicked are in their generation, subtle and sly; but so is the serpent, or the fox. The swine that wandereth can make better shift to get home than the sheep can to the fold. They have received "the spirit of this world"; 1 Corinthians 2:12 the devil also worketh effectually in them, as a smith in his forge. Ephesians 2:2 Hence they are "wise to do evil." Elymas was a sorcerer, subtle fellow, but the devil’s child, and so the more dangerous. Acts 13:10 Magnum ingenium et magna tentatio, saith Vincentius Lirinensis, concerning Origen, who had a great wit, but proved a great scandal to the Church. The devil covets to be adorned by thee, said Augustine to one that was wittily wicked. Surely as jet gathereth dross and refuse things to itself, but lets go gold and precious things; so do the world’s wizards.

Verse 23

I beheld the earth, and, lo, [it was] without form, and void; and the heavens, and they [had] no light.

I beheld the earth, and, lo, it was without form, and void.Tohu vabohit as Genesis 1:2 sightless and shapeless. Sermo est hyperbolicus, all was in a confusion. What shall it, then, be at the last day?

Verse 24

I beheld the mountains, and, lo, they trembled, and all the hills moved lightly.

I beheld the mountains, and, lo, they trembled. — War is a woe that no words, how wide soever, can sufficiently utter.

And all the hills moved lightly. — As being lightened of their burden, saith a Rabbi, trees and houses.

Verse 25

I beheld, and, lo, [there was] no man, and all the birds of the heavens were fled.

I beheld, and, lo, there was no man. — But all killed, captived, or fled. Judaea lay utterly waste for seventy years; insomuch that after the slaughter of Gedaliah, when all, men, women, and children, fled into Egypt, there was not a Jew left in the country.

And all the birds of the heavens were fled. — Birds were given men for food, medicine, and delight, as companions of his life; therefore it is reckoned, both here and Jeremiah 9:10 , as a judgment to lose them.

Verse 26

I beheld, and, lo, the fruitful place [was] a wilderness, and all the cities thereof were broken down at the presence of the LORD, [and] by his fierce anger.

At the presence of the Lord, … — Who was the chief agent; as Titus the Roman emperor also acknowledged after be had destroyed Jerusalem: Non se id fecisse dixit, sed Deo iram suam declaranti manus suas accommodasse; Suidas. he said it was not he that had done it, but that he had only lent his hands to God, justly displeased at that nation.

Verse 27

For thus hath the LORD said, The whole land shall be desolate; yet will I not make a full end.

Yet I will not make a full end. — God kept the room empty all those seventy years, till the return of the natives.

Verse 28

For this shall the earth mourn, and the heavens above be black: because I have spoken [it], I have purposed [it], and will not repent, neither will I turn back from it.

Because I have spoken it, …Quod scrips; scrips, said Pilate, I will not alter it. See the like, Ezekiel 24:13-14 .

Verse 29

The whole city shall flee for the noise of the horsemen and bowmen; they shall go into thickets, and climb up upon the rocks: every city [shall be] forsaken, and not a man dwell therein.

Every city shall be forsaken. — See Jeremiah 4:25 .

Verse 30

And [when] thou [art] spoiled, what wilt thou do? Though thou clothest thyself with crimson, though thou deckest thee with ornaments of gold, though thou rentest thy face with painting, in vain shalt thou make thyself fair; [thy] lovers will despise thee, they will seek thy life.

Though thou rendest thy face with paint. — Jezebel-like, 2 Kings 9:30 Ezekiel 23:40

In vain shalt thou make thyself fair,i.e., Seek to ingratiate with the Chaldees, by submitting to them, and worshipping their idols.

Thy lovers will despise thee. — As an old withered strumpet, and now out of date. See Ezekiel 16:36 ; Ezekiel 23:22 .

Verse 31

For I have heard a voice as of a woman in travail, [and] the anguish as of her that bringeth forth her first child, the voice of the daughter of Zion, [that] bewaileth herself, [that] spreadeth her hands, [saying], Woe [is] me now! for my soul is wearied because of murderers.

As of her that bringeth forth her first child.Primiparae: such have greatest pains, and least patience oft.

For my soul is wearied because of murderers. — Once her paramours, her sweethearts. There is nothing got by comporting with idolaters. The Duke of Medina’s sword knew no difference between Papists and Protestants in 1588, and that they should have found had the Spaniard then prevailed.

Bibliographical Information
Trapp, John. "Commentary on Jeremiah 4". Trapp's Complete Commentary. https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jtc/jeremiah-4.html. 1865-1868.
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