6. Therefore, behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that this place shall no more be called Tophet, nor The valley of the son of Hinnom, but The valley of slaughter.
6. Propterea ecce dies veniunt, dicit Jehova, et non (hoc est, quibus non) vocabitur locus hic ampliusThopheth et vallis filii Hinnon, sed vallis interfectionis.
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 tph, 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 yphh iphe, 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 tpht Tophet, 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 tpht Tophet; 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, tpht, 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 Isaiah 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, --