Jer 8:1-22. The Jew's Coming Punishment; Their Universal and Incurable Impenitence.
1. The victorious Babylonians were about to violate the sanctuaries of the dead in search of plunder; for ornaments, treasures, and insignia of royalty were usually buried with kings. Or rather, their purpose was to do the greatest dishonor to the dead (Isa 14:19).
2. spread ... before the sun, &c. -- retribution in kind. The very objects which received their idolatries shall unconcernedly witness their dishonor.
loved ... served ... after ... walked ... sought ... worshipped -- Words are accumulated, as if enough could not be said fully to express the mad fervor of their idolatry to the heavenly host (2Ki 23:5).
nor ... buried -- (Jer 22:19).
dung -- (Jer 9:22; Ps 83:10).
3. The survivors shall be still worse off than the dead (Job 3:21, 22; Re 9:6).
which remain in all the places -- |in all places of them that remain, whither I ... that is, in all places whither I have driven them that remain [Maurer].
4. |Is it not a natural instinct, that if one falls, he rises again; if one turns away (that is, wanders from the way), he will return to the point from which he wandered? Why then does not Jerusalem do so?| He plays on the double sense of return; literal and metaphorical (Jer 3:12; 4:1).
5. slidden ... backsliding -- rather, as the Hebrew is the same as in Jer 8:4, to which this verse refers, |turned away with a perpetual turning away.|
perpetual -- in contrast to the |arise| (|rise again,| Jer 8:4).
refuse to return -- in contrast to, |shall he ... not return| (Jer 8:4; Jer 5:3).
6. spake not aright -- that is, not so as penitently to confess that they acted wrong. Compare what follows.
every one ... his course -- The Keri reads |course,| but the Chetib, |courses.| |They persevere in the courses whatever they have once entered on.| Their wicked ways were diversified.
horse rusheth -- literally, |pours himself forth,| as water that has burst its embankment. The mad rapidity of the war horse is the point of comparison (Job 39:19-25).
7. The instinct of the migratory birds leads them with unfailing regularity to return every spring from their winter abodes in summer climes (So 2:12); but God's people will not return to Him even when the winter of His wrath is past, and He invites them back to the spring of His favor.
in the heaven -- emphatical. The birds whose very element is the air, in which they are never at rest, yet show a steady sagacity, which God's people do not.
times -- namely, of migrating, and of returning.
my people -- This honorable title aggravates the unnatural perversity of the Jews towards their God.
know not, &c. -- (Jer 5:4, 5; Isa 1:3).
8. law ... with us -- (Ro 2:17). Possessing the law, on which they prided themselves, the Jews might have become the wisest of nations; but by their neglecting its precepts, the law became given |in vain,| as far as they were concerned.
scribes -- copyists. |In vain| copies were multiplied. Maurer translates, |The false pen of the scribes hath converted it [the law] into a lie.| See Margin, which agrees with Vulgate.
9. dismayed -- confounded.
what wisdom -- literally, |the wisdom of what?| that is, |wisdom in what respect?| the Word of the Lord being the only true source of wisdom (Ps 119:98-100; Pr 1:7; 9:10).
10-12. Repeated from Jer 6:12-15. See a similar repetition, Jer 8:15; Jer 14:19.
inherit -- succeed to the possession of them.
11. (Eze 13:10).
13. surely consume -- literally, |gathering I will gather,| or |consuming I will consume.|
no grapes ... nor figs -- (Joe 1:7; Mt 21:19).
things that I have given ... shall pass away -- rather, |I will appoint to them those who shall overwhelm (pass over) them,| that is, I will send the enemy upon them [Maurer]. English Version accords well with the context; Though their grapes and figs ripen, they shall not be allowed to enjoy them.
14. assemble -- for defense.
let us be silent -- not assault the enemy, but merely defend ourselves in quiet, until the storm blow over.
put us to silence -- brought us to that state that we can no longer resist the foe; implying silent despair.
water of gall -- literally, |water of the poisonous plant,| perhaps the poppy (Jer 9:15; 23:15).
15. Repeated (Jer 14:19).
We looked for -- owing to the expectations held out by the false prophets.
health -- healing; that is, restoration from adversity.
16. his horses -- the Chaldean's.
was heard -- the prophetical past for the future.
from Dan -- bordering on Phoenicia. This was to be Nebuchadnezzar's route in invading Israel; the cavalry in advance of the infantry would scour the country.
strong ones -- a poetical phrase for steeds, peculiar to Jeremiah (Jer 47:3; compare Jer 4:13, 29; 6:23).
17. I -- Jehovah.
cockatrices -- basilisks (Isa 11:8), that is, enemies whose destructive power no means, by persuasion or otherwise, can counteract. Serpent-charmers in the East entice serpents by music, and by a particular pressure on the neck render them incapable of darting (Ps 58:4, 5).
18. (Isa 22:4). The lamentation of the prophet for the impending calamity of his country.
against sorrow -- or, with respect to sorrow. Maurer translates, |Oh, my exhilaration as to sorrow!| that is, |Oh, that exhilaration ('comfort', from an Arabic root, to shine as the rising sun) would shine upon me as to my sorrow!|
in me -- within me.
19. The prophet in vision hears the cry of the exiled Jews, wondering that God should have delivered them up to the enemy, seeing that He is Zion's king, dwelling in her (Mic 3:11). In the latter half of the verse God replies that their own idolatry, not want of faithfulness on His part, is the cause.
because of them that dwell in a far country -- rather, |from a land of distances,| that is, a distant land (Isa 39:3). English Version understands the cry to be of the Jews in their own land, because of the enemy coming from their far-off country.
strange vanities -- foreign gods.
20. Proverbial. Meaning: One season of hope after another has passed, but the looked-for deliverance never came, and now all hope is gone.
21. black -- sad in visage with grief (Joe 2:6).
22. balm -- balsam; to be applied to the wounds of my people. Brought into Judea first from Arabia Felix, by the queen of Sheba, in Solomon's time [Josephus, Antiquities, 8.2]. The opobalsamum of Pliny; or else [Bochart] the resin drawn from the terebinth. It abounded in Gilead, east of Jordan, where, in consequence, many |physicians| established themselves (Jer 46:11; 51:8; Ge 37:25; 43:11).
health ... recovered -- The Hebrew is literally, |lengthening out ... gone up|; hence, the long bandage applied to bind up a wound. So the Arabic also [Gesenius].