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Notes on the Bible, by Albert Barnes, [1834], at

Jeremiah Chapter 10

Jeremiah 10:2

jer 10:2

Signs of heaven - Extraordinary appearances, such as eclipses, comets, and the like, which seemed to the pagan to portend national calamities. To attribute importance to them is to walk in pagan ways.

Jeremiah 10:3

jer 10:3

The customs - Better, as the marg, "the ordinances," established institutions, "of the peoples, i. e." pagan nations.

Jeremiah 10:4

jer 10:4

They deck it - It was covered with plates of gold and silver, and then fastened with nails in its place, that it might not "more, i. e." tumble down.

The agreement in this and the following verses with the argument in Isa. 40-44 is so manifest, that no one can doubt that the one is modelled upon the other. If, therefore, Jeremiah took the thoughts and phrases from Isaiah, it is plain that the last 27 chapters of Isaiah were prior in date to Jeremiah's time, and were not therefore written at the close of the Babylonian exile. This passage then is a crucial one to the pseudo-Isaiah theory. Two answers are attempted,

(1) that the pseudo-Isaiah borrowed from Jeremiah. But this is refuted by the style, which is not that usual with Jeremiah.

(2) that it is an interpolation in Jeremiah.

But how then are we to account for its being found in the Septuagint Version? The only argument of real importance is that these verses break the continuity of thought; but the whole chapter is somewhat fragmentary, and not so closely connected as the previous three. Still there is a connection. The prophet had just included all Israel under the ban of uncircumcision: he now shows them their last chance of safety by enlarging upon the truth, that (compare Jer 9:23-24) their true glory is their God, not an idol of wood, but the King of nations. Then comes the sad feeling that they have rejected God and chosen idols Jer 10:17-18; then the nation's deep grief Jer 10:19-22 and earnest prayer Jer 10:23-25. It is quite possible that only portions of the concluding part of Jeremiah's templesermon were embodied in Baruch's scroll, and that had the whole been preserved, we should have found the thoughts as orderly in development as those in Jer. 7-9.

Jeremiah 10:5

jer 10:5

They are upright ... - Rather, "They are like a palm tree of turned work, i. e." like one of those stiff inelegant pillars, something like a palm tree, which may be seen in oriental architecture. Some translate thus: "They are like pillar's in a garden of cucumbers, i. e." like the blocks set up to frighten away the birds; but none of the ancient versions support this rendering.

Jeremiah 10:6

jer 10:6

For as much as - Or, "No one is like unto thee, O Jehovah." In Jer 10:6-11, the prophet contrasts God's greatness with the impotence of idols.

Jeremiah 10:7

jer 10:7

O King of nations - i. e., pagan nations. Yahweh is not the national God of the Jews only, but He reigns over all mankind Psa 22:28.

It - i. e., everything.

In all their kingdoms - More correctly, "in all their royalty or kingship."

Jeremiah 10:8

jer 10:8

Brutish - Jer 10:21 and foolish Theirs was the brutishness of men in a savage state, little better than mere animals: their folly that of stupidity.

The stock ... - Rather, the instruction of idols is a piece of wood. That is what they are themselves, and "ex nihilo nihil fit" (from nothingness, nothing is made).

Jeremiah 10:9

jer 10:9

Or, "It is a piece of wood (Jer 10:8 note); yea, beaten silver it is, which is brought from Tarshish, and gold from Uphaz: it is the work etc."

Tarshish ... Uphaz - See the marginal reference and Gen 10:4. Possibly Uphaz was a place in the neighborhood of the River Hyphasis.

Blue and purple - Both colors were purple, from dyes obtained from shellfish: but the former had a violet, the latter a red tinge.

Jeremiah 10:11

jer 10:11

This verse is (in the original) in Chaldee. It was probably a proverbial saying, which Jeremiah inserts in its popular form.

Jeremiah 10:12

jer 10:12

Discretion - Or, understanding. The three attributes ascribed to the Creator are very remarkable. The creation of the earth, the material world, is an act of "power;" the "establishing," i. e., the ordering and arranging it as a place fit for man's abode, is the work of his "wisdom;" while the spreading out the heavens over it like a tent is an act of "understanding," or skill. Naturally, the consideration of these attributes has led many to see here an allusion to the Holy Trinity.

Jeremiah 10:13

jer 10:13

When ... - i. e., the rushing downpour of rain follows immediately upon the thunder. The rest of the verse is identical with marginal reference; but probably the words belong to Jeremiah, the Psalm being of comparatively late date.

With rain - For the rain Psa 135:7.

Jeremiah 10:14

jer 10:14

In his knowledge - Rather, "without knowledge; i. e., on comparing his powerless idols with the terrific grandeur of a tropical thunderstorm the man who can still worship them instead of the Creator is destitute of knowledge.

Every founder ... - Or, "every goldsmith is put to shame etc." He has exhausted his skill on what remains an image.

Jeremiah 10:15

jer 10:15

Rather, "They are vanity, a work of mockery," deserving only ridicule and contempt.

Jeremiah 10:16

jer 10:16

The portion, of Jacob - i. e., Yahweh. He is not like gods made by a carpenter and goldsmith.

Of all things - literally, of the all, the universe.

The rod of his inheritance - See Psa 74:2; compare Isa 63:17. The rod is the scepter, and Israel the people over whom Yahweh especially rules.

Jeremiah 10:17

jer 10:17

The prophet now returns to the main subject of his sermon, the conquest of Judaea.

Thy wares - Rather, thy bundle, which could contain a few articles for necessary use, and be carried in the hand. They are going into exile.

O inhabitant of the fortress - i. e., thou that art besieged, that inhabitest a besieged town.

Jeremiah 10:18

jer 10:18

Sling out - A similar metaphor for violent ejection occurs in Isa 22:18 (see the note).

At this once - Or, "at this time." Previous invasions had ended either in deliverance, or at most in temporary misfortune. God's long-suffering is exhausted, and this time Judaea must cease to be an independent nation.

That they may find it so - Omit "so," and explain either

(1) "I will distress them" with the rigors of a siege "that they may feel it, i. e., the distress; or,

(2) "that they may find" Me, God, that which alone is worth finding.

Jeremiah 10:19

jer 10:19

The lamentation of the daughter of Zion, the Jewish Church, at the devastation of the land, and her humble prayer to God for mercy.

Jer 10:19

Grievous - Rather, "mortal," i. e., fatal, incurable.

A grief - Or, "my grief."

Jer 10:20

tabernacle - i. e., "tent." Jerusalem laments that her tent is plundered and her children carried into exile, and so "are not," are dead Mat 2:18, either absolutely, or dead to her in the remote land of their captivity. They can aid the widowed mother no longer in pitching her tent, or in hanging up the curtains round about it.

Jer 10:21

Therefore they shall not prosper - Rather, "therefore they have not governed wisely." "The pastors," i. e., the kings and rulers Jer 2:8, having sunk to the condition of barbarous and untutored men, could not govern wisely.

Jer 10:22

The "great commotion" is the confused noise of the army on its march (see Jer 8:16).

Dragons - i. e., jackals; see the marginal reference.

Jer 10:23

At the rumour of the enemy's approach Jeremiah utters in the name of the nation a supplication appropriate to men overtaken by the divine justice.

Jer 10:24

With judgment - In Jer 30:11; Jer 46:28, the word "judgment" (with a different preposition) is rendered "in measure." The contrast therefore is between punishment inflicted in anger, and that inflicted as a duty of justice, of which the object is the criminal's reformation. Jeremiah prays that God would punish Jacob so far only as would bring him to true repentance, but that he would pour forth his anger upon the pagan, as upon that which opposes itself to God Jer 10:25.

Next: Jeremiah Chapter 11