Jer 1:1-19. The General Title or Introduction
Jer 1:1-3, probably prefixed by Jeremiah, when he collected his prophecies and gave them to his countrymen to take with them to Babylon [Michaelis].
1. Anathoth -- a town in Benjamin, twenty stadia, that is, two or three miles north of Jerusalem; now Anata (compare Isa 10:30, and the context, Isa 10:28-32). One of the four cities allotted to the Kohathites in Benjamin (Jos 21:18). Compare 1Ki 2:26, 27; a stigma was cast thenceforth on the whole sacerdotal family resident there; this may be alluded to in the words here, |the priests ... in Anathoth.| God chooses |the weak, base, and despised things ... to confound the mighty.|
2, 3. Jehoiakim ... Josiah ... Zedekiah -- Jehoahaz and Jehoiachin are omitted for they reigned only three months each. The first and last of the kings under whom each prophet prophesied are often thus specified in the general title. See on these kings, and Jeremiah's life, my Introduction.
thirteenth ... of his reign -- (Jer 25:3).
fifth month -- (2Ki 25:8).
4-10. Jeremiah's call to the prophetical office.
unto me -- other manuscripts read |to him|; but English Version probably represents the true Hebrew text; this inscription was doubtless made by Jeremiah himself.
5. knew -- approved of thee as My chosen instrument (Ex 33:12, 17; compare Isa 49:1, 5; Ro 8:29).
sanctified -- rather, |separated.| The primary meaning is, |to set apart| from a common to a special use; hence arose the secondary sense, |to sanctify,| ceremonially and morally. It is not here meant that Jehovah cleansed Jeremiah from original sin or regenerated him by His Spirit; but separated him to his peculiar prophetical office, including in its range, not merely the Hebrews, but also the nations hostile to them (Jer 25:12-38; 27:1-21; 46:1-51:64), [Henderson]. Not the effect, but the predestination in Jehovah's secret counsel, is meant by the sanctification here (compare Lu 1:15, 41; Ac 15:18; Ga 1:15; Eph 1:11).
6. From the long duration of his office (Jer 1:2, 3; Jer 40:1, &c.; Jer 43:8, &c.), it is supposed that he was at the time of his call under twenty-five years of age.
child -- the same word is translated, |young man| (2Sa 18:5). The reluctance often shown by inspired ministers of God (Ex 4:10; 6:12, 30; Jon 1:3) to accept the call, shows that they did not assume the office under the impulse of self-deceiving fanaticism, as false prophets often did.
7. to all that -- to all |to whom| [Rosenmuller]. Rather, |to all against whom|; in a hostile sense (compare Jer 1:8, 17, 18, 19) [Maurer]. Such was the perversity of the rulers and people of Judea at that time, that whoever would desire to be a faithful prophet needed to arm himself with an intrepid mind; Jeremiah was naturally timid and sensitive; yet the Spirit moulded him to the necessary degree of courage without taking away his peculiar individuality.
8. (Eze 2:6; 3:9).
I am with thee -- (Ex 3:12; Jos 1:5).
9. touched my mouth -- a symbolical act in supernatural vision, implying that God would give him utterance, notwithstanding his inability to speak (Jer 1:6). So Isaiah's lips were touched with a living coal (Isa 6:7; compare Eze 2:8, 9, 10; Da 10:16).
10. set thee over -- literally, |appointed thee to the oversight.| He was to have his eye upon the nations, and to predict their destruction, or restoration, according as their conduct was bad or good. Prophets are said to do that which they foretell shall be done; for their word is God's word; and His word is His instrument whereby He doeth all things (Ge 1:3; Ps 33:6, 9). Word and deed are one thing with Him. What His prophet saith is as certain as if it were done. The prophet's own consciousness was absorbed into that of God; so closely united to God did he feel himself, that Jehovah's words and deeds are described as his. In Jer 31:28, God is said to do what Jeremiah here is represented as doing (compare Jer 18:7; 1Ki 19:17; Eze 43:3).
root out -- (Mt 15:13).
pull down -- change of metaphor to architecture (2Co 10:4). There is a play on the similar sounds, linthosh, linthotz, in the Hebrew for |root out ... pull down.|
build ... plant -- restore upon their repenting. His predictions were to be chiefly, and in the first instance, denunciatory; therefore the destruction of the nations is put first, and with a greater variety of terms than their restoration.
11. rod -- shoot, or branch.
almond tree -- literally, |the wakeful tree,| because it awakes from the sleep of winter earlier than the other trees, flowering in January, and bearing fruit in March; symbol of God's early execution of His purpose; Jer 1:12, |hasten My word| (compare Am 8:3).
12. hasten -- rather, |I will be wakeful as to My word,| &c.; alluding to Jer 1:11, |the wakeful tree| [Maurer].
13. Another vision, signifying what is the |word| about to be |performed,| and by what instrumentality.
seething -- literally, |blown under|; so boiling by reason of the flame under it kept brisk by blowing. An Oriental symbol of a raging war.
toward -- rather, |from the north.| Literally, |from the face of the region situated towards the north| (compare Jer 1:14, 15) [Maurer]. The pot in the north rested on one side, its mouth being about to pour forth its contents southwards, namely, on Judea. Babylon, though east of Judea, was regarded by the Hebrews as north, because they appropriated the term |east| to Arabia-Deserta, stretching from Palestine to the Euphrates; or rather [Bochart], the reference here is not to the site, but to the route of the Babylonians; not being able to cross the desert, they must enter the Holy Land by the northern frontier, through Riblah in Hamath (Jer 39:5; 52:9).
14. break forth -- |shall disclose itself.|
Out of the north -- (Jer 4:6; 6:1, 22; 10:22; 25:9; Eze 26:7). The Chaldeans did not cast off the yoke of Assyria till several years after, under Nabopolassar, 625 B.C.; but long previously they had so increased as to threaten Assyria, which was now grown weak, and other neighboring peoples.
15. families -- the tribes or clans composing the various kingdoms of Babylon; the specification of these aggravates the picture of calamity (Jer 25:9).
throne at ... gates -- the usual place of administering justice. The conquering princes will set up their tribunal there (Jer 39:3, 5; 52:9). Or the reference is to the military pavilion (Jer 43:10) [Maurer].
16. utter -- pronounce. The judicial sentences, pronounced against the Jews by the invading princes, would be virtually the |judgments of God| (Isa 10:5).
works -- idols.
17. gird ... loins -- resolutely prepare for thy appointed task. Metaphor from the flowing robes worn in the East, which have to be girt up with a girdle, so as not to incommode one, when undertaking any active work (Job 38:3; Lu 12:35; 1Pe 1:13).
dismayed ... confound -- the same Hebrew word; literally, |to break.| Be not dismayed at their faces (before them), lest I make thee dismayed before their faces (before them), that is, |lest I should permit thee to be overcome by them| (compare Jer 49:37).
18. defenced city, &c. -- that is, I will give thee strength which no power of thine enemies shall overcome (Jer 6:27; 15:20; Isa 50:7; 54:17; Lu 21:15; Ac 6:10).
walls -- plural, to express the abundant strength to be given him. De Rossi's'S manuscripts read singular, |wall.|
people of the land -- the general masses, as distinguished from the princes and priests.