Jeremiah 23:15
Therefore thus saith the LORD of hosts concerning the prophets; Behold, I will feed them with wormwood, and make them drink the water of gall: for from the prophets of Jerusalem is profaneness gone forth into all the land.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(15) Wormwood . . . water of gall.—See Notes on Jeremiah 8:14; Jeremiah 9:15.

Profaneness.—The root-meaning of the Hebrew word is that of “veiling,” hence that of simulated holiness, or, as in the margin, “hypocrisy;” but the associations of the word attached to it the further sense of the hypocrisy that desecrates, so that “profaneness” is, on the whole, the best rendering. The corresponding concrete noun is rendered in Isaiah 9:17 by “hypocrite;” in Psalm 35:16 by “hypocritical mocker;” above, in Jeremiah 23:11, by “profane.”

Jeremiah 23:15. Therefore thus saith the Lord concerning the prophets — The priests also, and all ecclesiastical guides, are included. Behold, I will feed them with wormwood — Will afflict them with most bitter calamities. For from the prophets of Jerusalem is profaneness gone forth — Or, hypocrisy, which seems rather to be the meaning of חנפה, the word here used. Certain it is, that this was a vice they were generally addicted to. These false prophets affected to be looked upon as pious, while they indulged themselves in various acts of wickedness; and as this could not be totally concealed, the people took example from them, and indulged themselves in vice, while they put on the garb of piety. The Jewish nation continued much in this habit even to the times of Christ, as is sufficiently evident from what is said of the Pharisees in the New Testament.

23:9-22 The false prophets of Samaria had deluded the Israelites into idolatries; yet the Lord considered the false prophets of Jerusalem as guilty of more horrible wickedness, by which the people were made bold in sin. These false teachers would be compelled to suffer the most bitter part of the Lord's indignation. They made themselves believe that there was no harm in sin, and practised accordingly; then they made others believe so. Those who are resolved to go on in evil ways, will justly be given up to believe strong delusions. But which of them had received any revelation of God, or understood any thing of his word? There was a time coming when they would reflect on their folly and unbelief with remorse. The teaching and example of the true prophets led men to repentance, faith, and righteousness. The false prophets led men to rest in forms and notions, and to be quiet in their sins. Let us take heed that we do not follow unrighteousness.Profaneness - Desecration. 15. gall—poison (see on [922]Jer 8:14; Jer 9:15). Under the term prophets he comprehendeth all the ecclesiastical guides of Jerusalem at this time, whether priests or prophets. He threatens to

feed them with wormwood; some think the word is better translated poison: by wormwood, or poison, and the water of gall, he threatens great and fatal judgments that he would bring upon them. And he giveth the reason why God would deal so severely with that order of men, who seemed by their office and employment to have the nearest relation to himself, because they were the fountain of wickedness, those from whom wickedness flowed out over the whole land. This was either by their conniving at wicked men’s sins, for fear of displeasing them; or by teaching them licentious doctrine, that gave a liberty to the flesh; or by their vile lives setting the people patterns of sin. And indeed thus it is generally, when ministers, and such as are to teach others, are wicked, either in their doctrine or practice, they are a fountain of wickedness; wickedness floweth from them to the whole city, town, parish where they are employed: and on the contrary it is observed, that where God gives a place a good ministry, goodness in one degree or other floweth from them to the whole city, town, or parish; though all are not converted, yet the generality are civilized and restrained from those gross and brutish immoralities which other places abound with. Ill ministers must look for the severest indignation of God. Others sin, and shall die in their sins; but they teach others to break God’s commandments, and have the sins of many to answer for, who perish either by their flatteries, or loose doctrine, or looser lives and examples.

Therefore thus saith the Lord of hosts concerning the prophets,.... Concerning the false prophets, as the Targum; their sin is before declared, and now their punishment:

behold, I will feed them with wormwood; with some bitter affliction and calamity; so the Targum,

"behold, I will bring upon them distress bitter as wormwood;''

they that have been fed with dainties, and lived upon the fat of the land; their views in pleasing the people with their lies being to serve their own bellies; now they shall fare after another manner:

and make them drink the water of gall: or, "the juice of hemlock", as some; or "poison", as others; "the savour of death", so Kimchi; as they poisoned the people with their false doctrines, they shall drink poison themselves; they shall not only have that which is bitter and unpleasant, but that which is noxious and hurtful; not only a bitter potion, but a destructive one. The Targum is,

"I will cause them to drink a cup of the curse, bad as the heads of serpents;''

as pernicious as poison; see Jeremiah 8:14;

for from the prophets of Jerusalem is profaneness gone forth into all the land; by their false doctrines, and bad examples, debauchery, irreligion, and wickedness of all kinds, were encouraged, and spread all over the land; Jerusalem, the metropolis of the nation, being infected by them, the contagion spread from thence throughout the country. Evil teachers have a bad influence all around them; from whom, and from whence, true doctrine and real religion should have been propagated; from them, and thence, was the source of all impiety and pollution. Some render it, "hypocrisy" (z), or "flattery"; as if by means of the hypocrisy and flattery of these false prophets, all manner of sin was countenanced; and the like hypocritical spirit and behaviour everywhere prevailed.

(z) "hypocrisis", Vatablus, Piscastor, Cocceius, Schmidt.

Therefore thus saith the LORD of hosts concerning the prophets; Behold, I will feed them with {m} wormwood, and make them drink the water of gall: for from the prophets of Jerusalem is profaneness gone forth into all the land.

(m) Read Jer 8:14.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
15. Behold, I will.…] identical with words in Jeremiah 9:15, where see notes. Here it may be originally a marginal note by a copyist, reminiscent of that passage.

wormwood] Cp. Deuteronomy 29:18; Proverbs 5:4; Lamentations 3:15.

Verse 15. - On the punishment here threatened, see note on Jeremiah 9:15. Jeremiah 23:15To display the vileness of the prophets, these are parallelized with the prophets of Samaria. The latter did foolishly (תּפלה, prop. of that which is unsalted, insipid, Job 6:6, hence irrational, insulsum), since they prophesied, being inspired by Baal the no-god, and by such prophesying led the people into error; cf. 1 Kings 18:19. Much more horrible is the conduct of the prophets of Jerusalem, who commit adultery, walk in lying, and strengthen the wicked in their wickedness, not merely by their delusive pretences (cf. Jeremiah 23:17, Jeremiah 6:14; Jeremiah 14:13), but also by their immoral lives, so that no one turns from his wickedness, cf. Ezekiel 13:22. לבלתּי is here and in Jeremiah 27:18, as in Exodus 20:20, construed, contrary to the usage everywhere else, not with the infin., but with the verb. fin. As the prophets, instead of converting the wicked, only confirmed them in their sins, therefore all the inhabitants of Judah or Jerusalem are become as corrupt as Sodom and Gomorrah. "They all" are not the prophets, but the inhabitants of Judah or Jerusalem; and "the inhabitants thereof" are those of the capital, cf. Deuteronomy 32:32; Isaiah 1:10. On the seducers the Lord will therefore inflict punishment, because impiousness has gone forth from them over the whole land. With the punishment threatened in Jeremiah 23:15, cf. Jeremiah 9:14.
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