Jeremiah 33
Pulpit Commentary
Moreover the word of the LORD came unto Jeremiah the second time, while he was yet shut up in the court of the prison, saying,
Verse 1. - In the court of the prison; rather, of the guard (Jeremiah 32:2).
Thus saith the LORD the maker thereof, the LORD that formed it, to establish it; the LORD is his name;
Verse 2. - Thus saith the Lord, the Maker thereof, etc.; rather, Thus saith Jehovah, who doeth it, Jehovah who frameth it that he may establish it, whose name is Jehovah. It was needless to express the object of the verbs. Jehovah's great purpose is the regeneration of his people. To "frame" or "form" is synonomous with "purpose" (see on. Jeremiah 38:11). The meaning of the verse is that Jehovah's very Name is a pledge of his fidelity to his promises (comp. Jeremiah 32:18). To "establish" is synonymous with "to carry out."
Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and shew thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not.
Verse 3. - Mighty things; rather, secret things (literally, inaccessible). It must be admitted that this introduction hardly corresponds to the sequel, which does not contain any special secrets, as we should have thought. Either vers. 2, 3 have been inserted by a later (inspired) editor, whose mind was absorbed in high thoughts of the latter days - for this view may be urged the style and phraseology, which are hardly those of the surrounding chapters, hardly those of Jeremiah; or else we must adopt Hengstenberg's perhaps over subtle suggestion, which, however, does not touch the question of the phraseology, "that throughout Scripture dead knowledge is not regarded as knowledge; that the hope of restoration had, in the natural man, in the prophet, as well as in all believers, an enemy who strove to darken and extinguish it; that therefore it was ever new," or, in the words of Jeremiah, "great and secret things, which thou knowest not."
For thus saith the LORD, the God of Israel, concerning the houses of this city, and concerning the houses of the kings of Judah, which are thrown down by the mounts, and by the sword;
Verses 4-9. - The houses of Jerusalem, destroyed by the engines of the besiegers or filled with dead bodies, shall be restored; the captives shall be brought back; their sins shall be forgiven, and God be glorified. Verse 4. - By the mounts, and by the sword; rather, because of the mounds (see on Jeremiah 32:24) and because of the weapons of war. The latter are the warlike instruments used by the besiegers from their batteries or breastworks.
They come to fight with the Chaldeans, but it is to fill them with the dead bodies of men, whom I have slain in mine anger and in my fury, and for all whose wickedness I have hid my face from this city.
Verse 5. - They come to fight with the Chaldeans, but it is, etc. The passage is obscure, so obscure that we cannot avoid inferring that it is corrupt. "They come" could only refer to the Jews, but these would rather be said to "go out;" the Hebrew writers are particular in distinguishing between to "come" and to "go out." Besides, there is no grammatical connection with the preceding verse. The Septuagint omits "they come," but the passage still remains enigmatical.
Behold, I will bring it health and cure, and I will cure them, and will reveal unto them the abundance of peace and truth.
Verse 6. - I will bring it health and cure, etc. "Health" is properly the fresh skin which grows over a healing wound (as Jeremiah 8:22; Jeremiah 30:17). First the city is spoken of, then its inhabitants. Will reveal unto them; or perhaps, will roll unto them (comp. Jeremiah 11:20; Jeremiah 20:12). In this case the figure will be that of a mighty stream (comp. Amos 5:24; Isaiah 48:18; Isaiah 66:12). Truth; rather, continuance (comp. Jeremiah 14:13).
And I will cause the captivity of Judah and the captivity of Israel to return, and will build them, as at the first.
Verse 7. - I will cause the captivity... to return (see on Jeremiah 29:14). Will build them (see on Jeremiah 31:14).
And I will cleanse them from all their iniquity, whereby they have sinned against me; and I will pardon all their iniquities, whereby they have sinned, and whereby they have transgressed against me.
Verse 8. - I will cleanse them, etc. Restored prosperity without spiritual purification would be of no avail; how could it give happiness (comp. Jeremiah 31:34)?
And it shall be to me a name of joy, a praise and an honour before all the nations of the earth, which shall hear all the good that I do unto them: and they shall fear and tremble for all the goodness and for all the prosperity that I procure unto it.
Verse 9. - And it shall be; viz. Jerusalem. A name of joy; rather, on the analogy of Isaiah 55:13. etc., a monument of joy; i.e. joy giving. They shall fear and tremble. As feeling the contrast between their "unprofitable" idol gods and the faithful God of Israel.
Thus saith the LORD; Again there shall be heard in this place, which ye say shall be desolate without man and without beast, even in the cities of Judah, and in the streets of Jerusalem, that are desolate, without man, and without inhabitant, and without beast,
Verse 10. - In this place; i.e. "in this land," as in Jeremiah 7:7 and elsewhere. Shall be desolate; rather, is desolate.
The voice of joy, and the voice of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom, and the voice of the bride, the voice of them that shall say, Praise the LORD of hosts: for the LORD is good; for his mercy endureth for ever: and of them that shall bring the sacrifice of praise into the house of the LORD. For I will cause to return the captivity of the land, as at the first, saith the LORD.
Verse 11. - The sacrifice of praise (see on Jeremiah 17:26).
Thus saith the LORD of hosts; Again in this place, which is desolate without man and without beast, and in all the cities thereof, shall be an habitation of shepherds causing their flocks to lie down.
Verse 12. - An habitation; rather, a pasture (including the idea of an encampment). The expression reminds us of Jeremiah 23:3, 4, but it is preferable to take the present passage in its literal sense rather than as metaphorical.
In the cities of the mountains, in the cities of the vale, and in the cities of the south, and in the land of Benjamin, and in the places about Jerusalem, and in the cities of Judah, shall the flocks pass again under the hands of him that telleth them, saith the LORD.
Verse 13. - In the cities, etc. A parallel description to Jeremiah 17:26; Jeremiah 32:44. The vale; rather, the lowland (about the Mediterranean, on the south). The south. It is the Negeb, or south country, which is meant. Under the hands; rather, at the beck. Of him that telleth them. Comp. Milton, 'L'Allegro' -

"And every shepherd tolls his tale
Under the hawthorn in the dale."
Virgil, 'Eel.,' 3:34 -
Bisque die numerant ambo pecus, alter et haedos.
Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will perform that good thing which I have promised unto the house of Israel and to the house of Judah.
Verses 14-26. - These verses are omitted in the Septuagint, and some leading critics think that both the style and the contents point to a different author from our prophet. In particular it is urged that the promise of a multitude of Levites and of descendants of David is isolated among the prophecies of Jeremiah, who elsewhere speaks of a single great representative of David as the object of pious hope, and of the intercourse between Jehovah and his people as being closer and more immediate than under the old Law. A variation in the form of expressing the Messianic hope is, however, not of much importance. Isaiah, for instance, sometimes refers to a single ideal king (Isaiah 9:6, etc.); sometimes to a succession of noble, God-fearing kings (Isaiah 32:1; Isaiah 33:17). Verse 14. - That good thing which I have promised; viz. in the parallel passage, Jeremiah 23:5, 6 (which see).
In those days, and at that time, will I cause the Branch of righteousness to grow up unto David; and he shall execute judgment and righteousness in the land.
Verse 15. - The Branch of righteousness; rather, the Plant of righteousness (see on Jeremiah 23:5).
In those days shall Judah be saved, and Jerusalem shall dwell safely: and this is the name wherewith she shall be called, The LORD our righteousness.
Verse 16. - Wherewith she shall be called; viz. Jerusalem; in Jeremiah 23:6, the parallel passage, the subject is "Israel," unless there is a corruption of the text. The Lord our righteousness; rather, The Lord (is) our righteousness.
For thus saith the LORD; David shall never want a man to sit upon the throne of the house of Israel;
Verse 17. - David shall never want a man, etc. This is, in fact, a republication of the promise given by Nathan in 2 Samuel 7:12-16. It agrees in form with the announcements in 1 Kings 2:4; 1 Kings 8:25; 1 Kings 9:5.
Neither shall the priests the Levites want a man before me to offer burnt offerings, and to kindle meat offerings, and to do sacrifice continually.
Verse 18. - Neither shall the priests the Levites, etc. It has Been thought that this passage is inconsistent with the prophecies of a time when the ark should no more be remembered (Jeremiah 3:16), and when all should know Jehovah from the least to the greatest (Jeremiah 31:34). But though sin offerings would in this glorious time become things of the past, yet thank offerings are expressly excepted from abolition (ver. 11), and in Jeremiah 31:14 a special latter-day promise is given to the priests. Moreover, Ezekiel, who repeats the prophecy of the new spiritual covenant (Ezekiel 11:19; Ezekiel 36:26; Ezekiel 37:26), gives an elaborate sketch of a new temple with a sacrificial system (ch. 40, etc.); and, if there is any inconsistency, we find the same one in the latter part of Isaiah. In Isaiah 61:6 the whole regenerate people of Israel is called "the priests of Jehovah;" but in Isaiah 66:21 the prophet distinctly states that there will be, in some sense, a priestly class within the chosen people.
And the word of the LORD came unto Jeremiah, saying,
Thus saith the LORD; If ye can break my covenant of the day, and my covenant of the night, and that there should not be day and night in their season;
Verses 20-22. - The constant, regular succession of day and night is an emblem of the equally regular supply of royal descendants of David and of Levitical priests, and the countless grains of sand are symbolic of the wonderful increase of their numbers. At first sight the latter part of the promise seems a little unlike a blessing. But we have seen already (on Jeremiah 19:3) that the members of the various branches of the royal family probably occupied the principal offices of the state, and the prophet imagines the future in forms borrowed from the present. A numerous sacerdotal class seemed equally necessary for the due magnificence of the ritual; and we must remember that preternatural fertility of the soil was a standing element of Messianic descriptions. The expressions used are, no doubt, hyperbolical, but the meaning seems clear enough. (Hengstenberg's notion, that the prophet rather indicates the abolition of the royal and sacerdotal distinctions (comp. Exodus 19:6), is surely very far fetched.)
Then may also my covenant be broken with David my servant, that he should not have a son to reign upon his throne; and with the Levites the priests, my ministers.
As the host of heaven cannot be numbered, neither the sand of the sea measured: so will I multiply the seed of David my servant, and the Levites that minister unto me.
Moreover the word of the LORD came to Jeremiah, saying,
Verses 23-26. - The permanence of Israel as the people of God, with rulers of the house of David.
Considerest thou not what this people have spoken, saying, The two families which the LORD hath chosen, he hath even cast them off? thus they have despised my people, that they should be no more a nation before them.
Verse 24. - This people; i.e. not Egyptians or Babylonians (as some have supposed), but the people of Judah, regarded as alienated from Jehovah (hence the touch of disparagement), as elsewhere in Jeremiah (Jeremiah 4:10, 11; Jeremiah 5:14, 23; Jeremiah 6:19; Jeremiah 7:33, etc.). There were unworthy Jews, who, seeing their nation fallen from its high estate, despaired of its deliverance and regeneration. That they should be no more, etc.; rather, so that they are no more a people - no more an independent people The "two families," of course, are the "two houses of Israel" (Isaiah 8:14), i.e. the two kingdoms of Israel and Judah.

Thus saith the LORD; If my covenant be not with day and night, and if I have not appointed the ordinances of heaven and earth;
Then will I cast away the seed of Jacob, and David my servant, so that I will not take any of his seed to be rulers over the seed of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob: for I will cause their captivity to return, and have mercy on them.
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