8. The priests said not, Where is the Lord? and they that handle the law knew me not: the pastors also transgressed against me, and the prophets prophesied by Baal, and walked after things that do not profit,
8. Sacerdotes non dixerunt, Ubi Jehova? et qui tenebant (vel, servabant) legem (ad verbum est, apprehendentes, vel, tenentes legem) non cognoverunt me: et pastores perfide egerunt mecum; et prophetae prophetarunt in Baal (hoc est, per Baal,) et post ea qua non prosunt ambulaverunt (vel, profecti sunt).
God assails here especially the teachers and those to whom was committed the power of ruling the people. It often happens that the common people fall away, while yet some integrity remains in the rulers. But God shews here that such was the falling away among the whole community, that priests as well as prophets and all the chief men had departed from the true worship of God, and from all uprightness.
Now, when Jeremiah thus rebukes the teachers and the priests and others, he does not excuse the common people, nor extenuate the crimes, which then prevailed everywhere, as we shall see from what follows. As many think that they set up a shield against God, when they pretend that they are not acquainted with so much learning as to distinguish between light and darkness, but that they are guided by their rulers, the Prophet, therefore, does not here cast the faults of the people upon their rulers, but, on the contrary, he amplifies the atrocity of their impiety, for they had, from the least to the greatest, rejected God and his Law. We now, then, understand the design of the Prophet.1
We may learn from this passage how unwise and foolish are they who think that they are in part excusable when they can say, that they have proceeded in their simplicity and have been drawn into error by the faults of others; for it appears evident that the whole community was in a hopeless state when God gave up the priests and rulers unto a reprobate mind; and there is no doubt but that the people had provoked God's vengeance, when every order, civil as well as religious, was thus corrupt. God then visited the people with deserved punishment, when he blinded the priests, the prophets, and the rulers.
Hence Jeremiah now says, that the priests did not inquire
"Thou who hast the form of the law -- thou who preachest against adultery, committest adultery, and thou who condemnest idols art thyself guilty of sacrilege; for thou keepest the law, restest in it, boastest in God, and with thee is understanding and knowledge." (Romans 2:20-22.)
Paul in these words detects the wickedness of hypocrites; for the more detestable they were, as they were thus inflated with false glory; they profaned the name of God, while they pretended to be his heralds, and as it were his prophets. We now see that this second clause refers to the priests, and that they are called the keepers of the law, because they were so appointed, according to what we read in Malachi.2
He afterwards adds,
And he says, that the
He says that they prophesied
Nor does the Prophet insist on a name; for it may have been that these false teachers pretended to profess the name of the eternal God, though falsely. But God is no sophist: there is then no reason for the Papists to think that they are at this day unlike these ancient impostors, because they profess the name of the only true God. It has always been so. Satan has not begun for the first time at this day to transform himself into an angel of light; but all his teachers in all ages have presented their poison, even all their errors and fallacies, in a golden cup. Though, then, these prophets boasted that they were sent from above, and confidently affirmed that they were the servants of the God of Abraham, it was yet all an empty profession; for they mingled with the truth those corruptions which they had derived from the ungodly errors of heathen nations.
1 It appears that the Prophet has already condemned the people in the foregoing portion of this chapter. In Jeremiah 1:18, we find the different classes thus arranged-kings and princes, priests, the people of the land. At the beginning of this chapter, he addresses the people-the whole community, and here he names the priests, and the pastors, i.e., in the state, including kings and princes. Thus he reverses the order according to the common usage of Scripture: but to these are added here, prophets, because they were the spiritual pastors, as kings and princes were the civil.-Ed.
2 Perhaps no better word can express the verb here used than that of our versions., "handle"-"they that handle the law," that is. explain and teach it. To "handle the harp," is to play on it, Genesis 4:21; to "handle war," is to carry it on, Numbers 31:27; to "handle the our," is to ply with it, Ezekiel 27:29; and to "handle the bow," is either to use it, or to know how to use it, Amos 2:15. They who handled the law were evidently those who undertook to explain and teach it to others. To lay hold on, seems to be the primary meaning of the verb, and that either for a good or a bad purpose. "The Scribes," observes Scott, "who undertook to expound the Scriptures, did not understand them."-Ed.
3 Some say that idols are referred to; and others, as Calvin think that the false gods are intended: the meaning is the same; only the context seems more favorable to the latter idea. The Septuagint have a neuter adjective, " After what is profitless-
Arol neb a lesant y rhodiasant.
After none (who) profit have they walked.
That is, After none who can do them good have they gone.-Ed.
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