Jeremiah 11:16
The LORD called your name, A green olive tree, fair, and of goodly fruit: with the noise of a great tumult he has kindled fire on it, and the branches of it are broken.
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(16) A green olive tree.—The parable is essentially the same, though a different symbol is chosen, as that of the vine of Isaiah 5:1; Jeremiah 2:21, or the fig-tree of Luke 13:6. The olive also was naturally a symbol of fertility and goodness, as in Psalm 52:8; Hosea 14:6; Zechariah 4:3; Zechariah 4:11. In the words “the Lord called thy name” we have the expression of the Divine purpose in the “calling and election” of Israel. This was what she was meant to be.

Fair, and of goodly fruit.—The words point, as before, to the ideal state of Israel. She had made no effort to attain that ideal, and therefore the thunderstorm of God’s wrath fell on it. The word for “tumult” is used in Ezekiel 1:24 for the sound of an army on its march, and is probably used as combining the literal or figurative meaning.

Jeremiah 11:16-17. The Lord hath called thy name, A green olive-tree — Perhaps Jeremiah here alludes to Hosea 11:7, where Israel is compared to an olive-tree. The Jewish nation, which, in its flourishing state, is often compared by the sacred writers to a vine, is also sometimes compared to an olive-tree, chiefly because of the fruits of holiness and righteousness which God might justly have expected from them, after all the care and pains he had bestowed upon them to make them fruitful. Fair, and of a goodly fruit — Amiable and serviceable, pleasant to the eye, and good for yielding food. With the noise of a great tumult he hath kindled a fire upon it, &c. — The words קול המולה, here rendered the noise of a great tumult, occur Ezekiel 1:24, and are there explained to be כקיל מחנה, like the voice of a host. Here they undoubtedly signify the confused murmur, noise, and tumult of the Chaldean army, coming to desolate Jerusalem and its dependances with fire and sword, described under the image of an olive-tree, whose branches are cut down that they may be burned, or which is burned as it stands; its branches, or lofty boughs, as דליותיוmore properly signifies, meaning the priests and princes. For the Lord that planted thee — And expected fruit from thee in vain; hath pronounced evil against thee — Hath passed a condemnatory sentence upon thee, and marked thee out for destruction. For the evil of the house of Israel and the house of Judah — The evil of whose heinous sins shall now be followed with the evil of most dreadful punishments.11:11-17 Evil pursues sinners, and entangles them in snares, out of which they cannot free themselves. Now, in their distress, their many gods and many altars stand them in no stead. And those whose own prayers will not be heard, cannot expect benefit from the prayers of others. Their profession of religion shall prove of no use. When trouble came upon them, they made this their confidence, but God has rejected it. His altar shall yield them no satisfaction. The remembrance of God's former favours to them shall be no comfort under troubles; and his remembrance of them shall be no argument for their relief. Every sin against the Lord is a sin against ourselves, and so it will be found sooner or later.The "goodly" or "shapely fruit," signifies the righteousness and faith which ought to have been the result of Israel's possession of extraordinary privileges. The tree did not bear this fruit, and God now destroys it by a thunderstorm. 16. called thy name—made thee.

olive—(Ps 52:8; Ro 11:17). The "olive" is chosen to represent the adoption of Judah by the free grace of God, as its oil is the image of richness (compare Ps 23:5; 104:15).

with … noise of … tumult—or, "at the noise," &c., namely, at the tumult of the invading army (Isa 13:4) [Maurer]. Or, rather, "with the sound of a mighty voice," namely, that of God, that is, the thunder; thus there is no confusion of metaphors. The tree stricken with lightning has "fire kindled upon it, and the branches are broken," at one and the same time [Houbigant].

That is, the Lord fixed thee when he brought thee first into Canaan, in a beautiful flourishing state and condition, so as thou wert in a capacity both to have done thyself much good, and to have brought him much glory, like a beautiful fair olive tree, fit to bear fair and goodly fruit. But thou hast so behaved thyself, that the Lord is altering the course of his providence to thee, he that planted thee is about to pluck thee up. God is about to kindle a fire which will burn thee up, and to break thy branches. There is nothing more usual in prophetical writings than to have things yet to come expressed as if past, because of the certainty of them; they being what shall as certainly be as if already done. The Lord called thy name a green olive tree,.... That is, compared the Jewish church and people to one, and made them as one, very prosperous and flourishing in the enjoyment of privileges, civil and religious, being highly favoured with the word and ordinances: fair, and of goodly fruit; which, for a while, brought forth the fruit of good works; and, while such, was amiable and goodly to look upon; was, as the Syriac version is, "fair with fruit, and beautiful in sight"; and whereas it might have been expected she would have so continued, and been still as a green olive tree in the house of God, as David says, Psalm 52:8, now it was otherwise, she was become barren, dry, and fruitless: and therefore it follows:

with the noise of a great tumult he hath kindled fire upon it: that is, by means of the Chaldean army, which came with a mighty rushing noise, as a numerous army does; the Lord hath destroyed it, and burnt it with fire; what the Chaldeans did is ascribed to God, because it was done according to his will, and by his direction and overruling providence:

and the branches of it are broken; the high and principal ones, the king, princes, and nobles, their palaces, and the house of God. The apostle seems to have respect to this passage in Romans 11:17. The Targum is,

"as an olive tree that is beautiful in form and comely of sight, whose branches overshadow the trees, so the Lord hath magnified thy name among the people; but now that thou hast transgressed the law, the armies of the people, who are strong as fire, shall come against thee, and helps shall be joined to them.''

The LORD called thy name, A green olive tree, fair, and of goodly fruit: with the {m} noise of a great tumult he hath kindled fire upon it, and the branches of it are broken.

(m) Of the Babylonians and Chaldeans.

16. Here also there are probably corruptions in MT., but R.V. gives the general sense.

called thy name] acknowledged thee to be worthy of comparison with.

green] spreading, luxuriant. The Hebrew word does not in itself denote colour. For the figure cp. Psalm 52:8; Hosea 14:6.

tumult] lit. roaring, i.e. of the tempest.Verse 16. - A green olive tree. The olive tree is "one of the most thriving, hardy, and productive trees in the East" (it was the first tree elected king in the parable, Judges 9:8), and with its "foliage of a deep, perennial green," furnishes a striking symbol of healthful beauty. A psalmist, speaking in the character of the typical righteous man, compares himself to a "green olive tree in the house of God' (Psalm 52:8). The word rendered "green "is one of those which are the despair of translators (see on Jeremiah 2:20). It gives a picture in itself. We seem to see a flourishing, sappy tree, with abundance of pliant, gracefully moving, perennially green branches. With the noise of a great tumult. Either the tumult of the melee of battle is meant (the same uncommon word is used with such a reference in Ezekiel 1:24) or the crashing of thunder. "With a rushing mighty sound" would be a more forcible rendering. (For the concluding figure, comp. Ezekiel 31:12.) He hath kindled fire, etc. There is no occasion to explain this as merely the perfect of prophetic certitude. It was literally true that the fire of war had already devastated the fairest portion of the Holy Land. Israel (expressly referred to in Ver. 17) had already been carried into captivity, and Judah was, to the prophetic eye, as good as destroyed. Here, no doubt, that wonderful perfect of faith does come in. The people's breach of the covenant, and the consequences of this. - Jeremiah 11:9. "And Jahveh said unto me: Conspiracy is found among the men of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem. Jeremiah 11:10. They are turned back to the iniquities of their forefathers, which refused to give ear to my words, and they are gone after other gods to serve them; the house of Israel and the house of Judah have broken my covenant which I made with their fathers. Jeremiah 11:11. Behold, I bring evil upon them, from which they cannot escape; and though they cry to me, I will not hear them. Jeremiah 11:12. And the cities of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem shall go and cry unto the gods unto whom they offer incense, but they shall not help them in the time of their trouble. Jeremiah 11:13. For as many as are thy cities, so many are thy gods become, O Judah; and as many as are the streets of Jerusalem, so many altars have ye set up to Shame, altars to offer odours to Baal."

Jeremiah is once more to enforce the words of the covenant upon the people, because they have broken the covenant, returned to the idolatry of the fathers. Conspiracy is found, is to be seen. The people's defection from Jahveh, their breach of faith towards the covenant God, is called conspiracy, because it had become as universal as if it had been initiated by a formal preconcertment. "The former fathers," forefathers of the people, are the Israelites under Moses, who broke the covenant by idolatry while still at Sinai, and those of the time of the Judges. With והמּה the subject is changed; "they" are not the forefathers, but the prophet's contemporaries. In the last clause of Jeremiah 11:10 is comprehended the apostasy of the whole people: Like Israel, Judah too has broken the covenant. Israel has been punished for this by being cast out among the heathen, the like doom awaits Judah.

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