Jeremiah 4:10
(10) Ah, Lord God! (literally, my Lord Jehovah!) surely thou hast greatly deceived this people.--The words are startling, but are eminently characteristic. Jeremiah had been led to utter words that told of desolation and destruction. But if these were true, what was he to think of the words of the other prophets, who, speaking in the name of the Lord, had promised peace through the reign of Josiah, and even under Jehoiakim? Had not Jehovah apparently sanctioned those prophets also? and, if so, had He not deceived the people? (Comp. Jeremiah 20:7.) This seems, on the whole, preferable to the interpretations which see in it a dramatic irony representing the prophet as having shared in the hopes of the people and awakening to a terrible disappointment, or refer the words to the contrast between the glorious visions of the future in Isaiah and his own terrible predictions, or to the bolder course of an alteration of the text, so that the words would run "it is said," the complaint being represented as coming from the people.

Verse 10. - Ah, Lord God! rather, Alas! O Lord Jehovah (see on Jeremiah 1:6). Thou hast greatly deceived this people, etc. Much difficulty has been felt in interpreting this verse, partly because it seems directly to charge Jehovah with "deceit," and partly because the prophecy, Ye shall have peace, on which this charge is founded, accords exactly with the strain of the "false prophets" (see Jeremiah 6:14; Jeremiah 14:13; Jeremiah 23:17). Hence some (e.g., Ewald) have altered the points of the verb at the beginning of the verse., so as to enable them to render. "And one shall say," the subject understood being either a "false prophet" or one of the people. This view is not in itself impossible (Keil's objection will not bear examination), but is not absolutely necessary, for the present is not the only passage in which Jeremiah, under the influence of strong emotion, charges Jehovah with "deceit" (see Jeremiah 20:7, a synonymous word is used; and comp. 1 Kings 22:23), and the words, "Ye shall have peace, may be meant to summarize the cheering promises in Jeremiah 3:14-18. Jeremiah may (it is not incorrect to conjecture) have supposed the fulfillment of his prophecy to be nearer than it really was (comp. 1 Peter 1:11); hence his disappointment, and hence his strong language. So St. Jerome, "Quia supra dixerat, In illo tempore vocabunt Jerusalem solium Dei, etc.. et nunc dicit, Peribit cor regis, turbatur propheta et in se Deum putat esse meutitum; nec intelligit, illud multa post tempera repromissum, hoc autem vicino futurum tempore." To suppose, with Keil, that Jeremiah refers the prophecies of the "false prophets" to God as their ultimate Author, seems inconsistent with Jeremiah's own statements in Jeremiah 14:14 (comp. Jeremiah 5:13). Moreover, we have parallels elsewhere in the prophets, as well as in the Book of Job, for the use of language with regard to Providence which a calmer judgment would condemn. A notable instance is Isaiah 63:17, where the Jewish Church, through its mouthpiece the prophet, throws the responsibility of its errors upon Jehovah. Depressed by melancholy, they give way for the moment to those human "thoughts" which are not as "My thoughts." They felt the "burden of the mystery." Unto the soul; i.e. unto the life.

4:5-18 The fierce conqueror of the neighbouring nations was to make Judah desolate. The prophet was afflicted to see the people lulled into security by false prophets. The approach of the enemy is described. Some attention was paid in Jerusalem to outward reformation; but it was necessary that their hearts should be washed, in the exercise of true repentance and faith, from the love and pollution of sin. When lesser calamities do not rouse sinners and reform nations, sentence will be given against them. The Lord's voice declares that misery is approaching, especially against wicked professors of the gospel; when it overtakes them, it will be plainly seen that the fruit of wickedness is bitter, and the end is fatal.Then said I, ah, Lord God!.... Expressing great sorrow and concern: this "ah" is by way of lamentation. The Targum interprets it as a petition,

"and I said, receive my prayer, O Lord God:''

surely thou hast greatly deceived this people and Jerusalem: what the false prophets did, that God is said to do, because he suffered them to deceive the people; see 1 Kings 22:20. The Targum ascribes the deception to the false prophets, and not to God,

"surely behold the false prophets deceive this people, and the inhabitants of Jerusalem;''

or this may be ironically said, because the false prophets pretended to speak in the name of the Lord; wherefore Jeremiah says, "surely thou hast greatly deceived", &c. "saying, ye shall have peace"; as the false prophets did, Jeremiah 6:14,

whereas the sword reacheth unto the soul; takes away the life, many are slain by it; so the Targum,

"and now behold the sword killeth among the people;''

great slaughter is made by it. L'Empereur (w) observes that the word here used signifies, in the Arabic language, to educate or bring up; and then the sense is,

"ah, Lord, thou hast brought up this people with great tenderness, and promised them all manner of happiness; but now thou thunderest out threatenings of calamities of all sorts, and death itself; and assigned a place for the sword to enter into their very souls;''

so the Arabic word used in the version of Acts 22:2.

(w) Not. ad Mosis Kimchi, p. 186.

Jeremiah 4:9
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