1. The word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord, saying,
1. Sermo qui datus fuit Jeremiae (qui factus fuit ad Jeremiam, qui datus fuit, ad verbum) a Jehova, dicendo,
2. Stand in the gate of the Lord's house, and proclaim there this word, and say, Hear the word of the Lord, all ye of Judah, that enter in at these gates to worship the Lord
2. Sta in porta domus Jehovae (hoc est, Templum,) et clama illic hunc sermonem (hoc est, vociferare hunc sermonem, vel, cum clamore prefer,) et dicas, Audite sermonem Jehovae cunctus Jehudah, qui ingredimini per has portas, ut adoretis Jehovam:
3. Thus saith the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, Amend your ways and your doings, and I will cause you to dwell in this place.
3. Sic dicit Jehova exercituum, Deus Israel, Bonas facite vias vestras et studia vestra, et habitabo vobiscum in hoc loco;
4. Trust ye not in lying words, saying, The temple of the Lord, The temple of the Lord, The temple of the Lord, are these.
4. Ne confidatis vobis (hoc est, ne vobis fiduciam ponatis, vel, adjiciatis vobis fiduciam) ad verba mendacii, dicendo, Templum Jehovae, Templum Jehovae, Templum Jehovae sunt.
Here the Prophet gives a short account of the sermon, in which he severely reproved the people, because his labor had been useless, though he had sharply and severely reproved them. He says then, that he had a command from above to stand at the gate of the Temple. This was indeed usually done by the prophets: but God seems to have intended that this reproof should be heard by all. He says further, that he was commanded to address the whole tribe of Judah
It is hence probable, and what may be easily concluded, that this discourse was delivered on a feast -- day, when there was the usual assembly of the people. He could not indeed have made this address on other days; for then the inhabitants of the city only frequented the Temple. But on the feast -- days they usually came from the neighboring towns and from the whole country to celebrate God's rightful worship, which had been prescribed in the law. Since then Jeremiah addressed the whole tribe of Judah, we hence conclude, that he spoke not only to the inhabitants of the city, but also to the whole tribe, which came together to keep the feast -- day.
Now the object of his sermon was, to exhort them seriously to repent, if they wished God to be reconciled to them. So the Prophet shews, that God did not regard their sacrifices and external rites, and that this was not the way, as they thought, of appeasing him. For after they had celebrated the feast, every one returned home, as though they all, after having made an expiation, had God propitious to them. The Prophet shews here, that the way of worshipping God was very different, which was to reform their lives.
Make good, he says, your ways and your doings, then will I dwell in this place This promise contains an implied contrast; for the Prophet intimates, that the people would not long survive, unless they sought in another way to pacify God. |I will dwell, |he seems to say, -- in this place, when your life is changed.| It then follows on the other hand, |God will drive you into exile, except you change your life: in vain then do you seek a quiet and happy state through offering your sacrifices. God indeed esteems as nothing this external worship, except it be preceded by inward sincerity, unless integrity of life accompanies your profession.| This is one thing.
Then the Prophet comes closer to them when he says, Trust ye not in words of falsehood. For had not this been expressly said, the Jews might, according to their usual way, have found out some evasion: |Have we then lost all our labor in celebrating our festivals with so much diligence, in leaving our homes and families to present ourselves before God? We have spared no expense, we have brought sacrifices and spent our money; and is all this of no value before God?| For hypocrites always magnify their trumperies, as we find in the fifty-eighth chapter of Isaiah, where they expostulated with God, as though he were unkind to them, |We have from day to day sought the Lord.| To this the Lord answered, |In vain ye seek me from day to day and search for my ways.| Hence the Lord disregarded that diligence with which hypocrites sought to render him propitious without real sincerity of heart. It is for the same purpose that the Prophet now adds, Trust ye not, etc. It is an anticipation in order to prevent them from making their usual objection, |What then? Has the Temple been built in vain?| But he says, |Is not God worshipped here in vain? They are words of falsehood, when religious sincerity is absent.|
We hence see that external rites are here repudiated, when men seek in a false way to gain favor before God, and seek to redeem their sins by false compensations, while yet their hearts continue perverse. This truth might be enlarged upon, but as it often occurs in the prophets, I only notice it shortly. It is enough to regard the main point, -- that while the Jews were satisfied with the Temple, the ceremonies and the sacrifices, they were self -- deceivers, for their boasting was fallacious: |the words of falsehood| are to be taken as meaning that false and vain glorying in which the Jews indulged, while they sought to ward off God's vengeance by external rites, and at the same time made no effort to return into favor by ameliorating their life.
With regard to the expressions The Temple, etc., some explain them thus, -- they were |words of falsehood, |when they said that they came to the Temple; and so the supplement is, |when they said that they came, |for the pronoun demonstrative is plural. Hence they understand this of the people; not that the Jews called themselves the Temple of God, but that they boasted that they came to the Temple and there worshipped God. But I rather agree with others, who explain this of the three parts of the Temple. There was, we know, the court, then the Temple, and, lastly, the interior part, the Holy of holies, where was the Ark of the Covenant. The prophets often speak of the Temple only; but when they spoke distinctly of the form of the Temple, they mentioned the court, as I have said, where the people usually offered their sacrifices, and then the holy place, into which the priests entered alone; and, lastly, the secret place, which was more hidden, and was called the Holy of holies. It seems then that this passage of the Prophet is to be understood as meaning that the people said that the court, the Temple, and the interior part, were the Temples of God, as though they had a triple Temple.
But we must observe the design of the Prophet, which interpreters have omitted. The Prophet then made this repetition especially, because the Temple was as it were a triple defense to hypocrites, like a city, which, when surrounded, not by one, but by three walls, is deemed impregnable. Since, then, the Jews exalted their Temple, consisting of three parts, it was the same as they set up a triple wall or a triple rampart against God's judgments! |We are invincible; how can enemies come to us? how can any calamity reach us? God dwells in the midst of us, and here he has his habitation, and not one and single fort, but a triple fort; he has his court, his Temple, and his Holy of holies.| We now then understand why the Prophet made this repetition, and used also the plural number.