Jeremiah 23:9

9. Mine heart within me is broken because of the prophets; all my bones shake: I am like a drunken man, and like a man whom wine hath overcome, because of the Lord, and because of the words of his holiness.

9. Propter prophetas (alii, ad prophetas, et potest legi ita ad verbum) contritum est (vel, confractum est) cor meum in medio mei; commota sunt (vel, concussa) omnia ossa mea (proprie, luxata sunt, quia de ossibus agitur; quantum ad verbum spectat, significat agitari, et moveri; sed quoniam nunc loquitur de ossibus, sermo erit aptior, luxata esse ossa;) fui tanquam vir ebrius super quem transiit vinum (hoc est tanquam vir obrutus vino) a facie Jehovae, et a facie sermonum sanctitatis ejus.


The Prophet here again inveighs against the wickedness of the people; but as the prophets by their flatteries had then led astray the king and his princes, as well as the people, the Prophet directed his discourse to them, and says that his heart was troubled on account of the prophets. We know that men think themselves half absolved when no one severely reproves them. When, therefore, the prophets ceased from their work, there was so great a security among the whole people, that there was no fear of God in them. This is the reason why the Prophet now says that his heart was troubled on account of so much indifference; for the prophets were, as it is said elsewhere, like dumb dogs; they overlooked the most grievous and the most atrocious sins, they made no effort to restore the people to the right way. Troubled, then, he says, is my heart for the prophets; a heavier judgment awaited them, for they ought to have been the instruments of God's Spirit, the heralds of his judgments; they ought to have undertaken his cause by using exhortations, reproofs, and threatenings.

There is yet no doubt but that what is said ought to be extended to the whole body of the people. But Jeremiah wished to begin with the prophets, as though he had said that it was monstrous that the prophets boasted that they were God's ministers, and yet were dumb in the midst of so much wickedness. On account of the prophets,1 he says, broken is my heart. Then he says that his bones were disjointed. In the first chapter of Genesis, when Moses speaks of the Spirit as moving on the waters, he uses the same verb, but in a different conjugation. However this may be, it is most suitable to say that his bones were disjointed.2 And we know that the bones are tied together by sinews, that they may not be moved from their places; for the loosening of one bone renders the whole body almost useless. He meant, then, by this kind of speaking, to express the most painful perturbation of mind, as though he had said that what he had, as the firmost and strongest thing, was become weak and altogether feeble.

He afterwards compares himself to a drunken man; by which metaphor he understands that he was completely stunned, and that all his senses were taken from him. And he adds, over whom wine has passed. The verb rbe, ober, means to pass beyond; but to pass over is its meaning here. He who is overcome by immoderate drinking seems as though he was drowned; for when one falls under the water, he is no more sunk than he who drowns his brain with wine; for drunkenness is like a grave, inasmuch as it holds the whole man under its power. Yet the Prophet meant no other thing than that this monstrous thing rendered those astonied who were of a sane and sound mind, and that it also shook and disjointed all the members, and terrified and confounded minds otherwise quiet and tranquil. For, certainly, Jeremiah was a wise man, and was also endued with courage, so that he would not have quailed under every evil though great; nor could he have been easily overwhelmed with stupor like a drunken man. Hence by these comparisons he shows how dreadful and monstrous it was, that the prophets were so unconcerned as not to say a word, when they saw that impiety and contempt of God were so rampant, when they saw the whole land defiled with every kind of wickedness, as we shall presently see.

Then he says, On account of Jehovah, and on account of the words of his holiness. By saying, on account of Jehovah, he brings God before them as a judge and avenger; as though he had said, "If they believe that there is a God in heaven, it is a wonder that they are so brutish as to dare to boast of his name, and yet silently to allow heaven and earth to be mingled together. Where, then, is their reason, when they dare so heedlessly to profess a name so fearful and awful? for whenever God's name is mentioned, there ought to come into their minds not only his goodness and mercy, but also his severity, and then his power, which is dreadful to all the wicked. As then these men dare thus to trifle with God, must not their stupidity be monstrous?" What, then, the Prophet means is this, -- that it was a wonder that the prophets undertook their office, and yet had no concern for the glory of God.

And he adds, On account of the words of his holiness. Men would seek easiness were not God to rouse them by his word. But as the Law had been written for the Jews, as these false prophets knew that if they wished rightly to perform their work, they ought to have been the expounders of the Law -- as these things were sufficiently known, the Prophet justly refers here to the word of God, as though he would put a bridle in their mouths, lest they should, after their usual manner, evade what a bare profession of God's name implied. Since, then, God had testified in his Law how he would have his people ruled, how was it that these prophets were not terrified by God's words? And as hypocrites not only despise God himself, and depreciate his glory, but also disregard the doctrine of his law, the Prophet adorns God's words with a remarkable encomium, calling his words the words of his holiness. And he thus calls God's words holy, and therefore inviolable, in order that the ungodly might know, that a dreadful vengeance was nigh them, because they disregarded both God and his holy words. It follows --

1 These words are connected with the former verse in the Sept. where they seem to have no meaning. The Vulg. puts them as a heading to what follows, and Blayney has done the same, "concerning the prophets." The Syr. connects them with the following words, as Calvin does, and our version, and also the Arab. and Targ. The most suitable rendering would be, --

For the prophets broken is my heart within me.

The sentence is otherwise hardly complete. It may be rendered "with regard to the prophets," etc. -- Ed.

2 The idea of shaking or trembling is commonly given here to the verb: "are shaken," Sept.; "have trembled," Vulg., Syr., and Targ. The word "tremble" is the most suitable. -- Ed.


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