Jeremiah 31:40
And the whole valley of the dead bodies, and of the ashes, and all the fields unto the brook of Kidron, unto the corner of the horse gate toward the east, shall be holy unto the LORD; it shall not be plucked up, nor thrown down any more for ever.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(40) The whole valley of the dead bodies . . .—We have to think of this city as Jeremiah saw it during the horrors of the siege—the lower part, the “plain” or “valley” of the city, the valley of Hinnom (comp. Jeremiah 19:11), filled with corpses lying unburied in the streets (Lamentations 2:21; Lamentations 4:9), the “ashes” of burnt and shattered houses encumbering the streets with their débris, the fields or open spaces that stretched to the Kidron valley, and the “horse-gate” by the king’s palace (2Kings 11:16; 2Chronicles 23:15; Nehemiah 3:28)—all this now lay before him as a scene of unspeakable desolation; but in his vision of the restored city he sees it all cleansed from whatever was defiling, consecrated to Jehovah, and holy as the precincts of the Temple. It is, perhaps, not without significance in connection with this passage, that when the city was restored, the region above the “horse-gate” was repaired by the priests, who seem to have had their houses in that quarter (Nehemiah 3:28-29). They appear to have been anxious to restore the sanctity of that over which Jeremiah had lamented as desecrated and defiled. The word for “ashes” was a technical one (Leviticus 6:10-11) for the refuse which remained on the altar after a burnt-offering, and which was to be carried without the camp (Leviticus 4:12; Leviticus 6:11). Probably this and the sweepings of the Temple were thrown into the valley of Hinnom.

31:35-40 As surely as the heavenly bodies will continue their settled course, according to the will of their Creator, to the end of time, and as the raging sea obeys him, so surely will the Jews be continued a separate people. Words can scarcely set forth more strongly the restoration of Israel. The rebuilding of Jerusalem, and its enlargement and establishment, shall be an earnest of the great things God will do for the gospel church. The personal happiness of every true believer, as well as the future restoration of Israel, is secured by promise, covenant, and oath. This Divine love passes knowledge; and to those who take hold upon it, every present mercy is an earnest of salvation.The whole valley of the dead bodies - Probably some part of the Valley of Ben-Hinnom. Comparing Zechariah 2:4, the conclusion seems evident that Jeremiah's words are to be spiritually understood. His city is one that renders holy unto Yahweh what was before unclean. Compare John's new Jerusalem Revelation 21:27. 40. valley of … dead—Tophet, where the bodies of malefactors were cast (Isa 30:33), south of the city.

fields … Kidron—so 2Ki 23:4. Fields in the suburbs reaching as far as Kidron, east of the city.

horse gate—Through it the king's horses were led forth for watering to the brook Kidron (2Ki 11:16; Ne 3:28).

for ever—The city shall not only be spacious, but both "holy to the Lord," that is, freed from all pollutions, and everlasting (Joe 3:17, 20; Re 21:2, 10, 27).

The whole valley of the dead bodies; a valley so called (as some think) from the multitude of Sennacherib’s army slain there; or, (as others think,) from the bodies of malefactors put to death at Golgotha, (which was near,) cast or buried there.

And of the ashes; so called (as is thought) from the ashes of the sacrifices carried thither. Some think that

the horse gate had its name from the king’s horses led out at it. The sum is, the whole city shall be built.

Shall be holy unto the Lord; all these places shall be parts of the holy city, and God’s name shall be sanctified, and he shall be worshipped in them all; and the city for a long time shall abide, and

not be plucked up, nor thrown down; for we know after many years it was plucked up by the Romans. If we interpret the word

for ever of a perpetuity, the church of God must here be understood, against which the gates of hell shall never prevail, as Christ hath promised.

And the whole valley of the dead bodies, and of the ashes,.... The Targum paraphrases it,

"where the carcasses of the Assyrian army fell;''

Sennacherib's army, destroyed by an angel; and so Jarchi and Kimchi; which latter observes, that the word for "ashes" signifies "fat"; and so may describe the persons then destroyed, who were fat and lusty men: others think, more probably, that the valley of Tophet or Hinnom is here meant; so called, either from the persons that were burnt and sacrificed to Moloch; or from the carcasses of malefactors interred here; and from the ashes of the sacrifices which were brought from the temple, and laid here. This valley lay southwest of the city; it was a ditch at the foot of the mount of Calvary; where, as Monsieur Thevenot (s) says, now stands the chapel of the invention of the cross:

and all the fields unto the brook of Kidron; such as the potters and fullers' fields, which lay to the south of the city, or more to the east, where Kidron was situated:

unto the corner of the horse gate towards the east; and so the compass is fetched round the city to the eastern part of it, from whence it began, even to the tower of Hananeel, which was on the east of this horse gate; see 2 Kings 11:16. The Targum renders it,

"to the corner of the gate of the house of the king's course;''

supposed to be the gate at which the king's horses went in and out, when led to be watered or exercised:

shall be holy unto the Lord; that is, the whole city in its utmost compass thus rebuilt, yea, even the out parts of it, and those that were defiled with the carcasses of men, and ashes of the burnt offerings. It seems to respect the extensive holiness of the church of God in the latter day; compare with it Zechariah 14:10;

it shall not be plucked up, nor thrown down any more for ever; which, if understood literally of the city of Jerusalem, can only signify, that it should not be destroyed soon, but should continue a long time; for certain it is, that after it was rebuilt by Zerubbabel, it was plucked up, and thrown down by the Romans, and particularly by Hadrian, who ploughed it up, and built another city, and called it by his own name; but this figuratively rather intends the church of Christ, which is built on him the Rock, and so is immovable; and, like Mount Zion, shall abide for ever.

(s) Travels, par. 1. ch. 39. p. 189.

And the whole valley of the dead bodies, and of the ashes, and all the fields unto the brook of Kidron, unto the corner of the horse gate toward the east, shall be holy unto the LORD; it shall not be plucked up, nor thrown down any more for ever.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
40. valley of the dead bodies] the valley of Hinnom, into which carcases of criminals and of animals were cast. It was also defiled as the scene of human sacrifices offered to Molech (Jeremiah 7:31, Jeremiah 32:35), and to these the “ashes” also seem to refer. So Dr.

the fields] The MT. gives us alternative readings, exhibiting only the slightest difference in spelling, but one of them unknown outside this passage. The other, to be rendered as in E.VV., is in all probability the original one and is found in a kindred context, 2 Kings 23:4.

the horse gate] mentioned Nehemiah 3:28 at the S.E. corner of the Temple courts, 2 Kings 11:16 = 2 Chronicles 23:15.

This verse makes the same announcement as to the S. side of Jerusalem as the earlier ones had done for the N. and W. sides, viz. that it should in the future enclose spaces now considered unclean.

Verse 40. - The southern boundary of the city. The whole valley of the dead bodies, and of the ashes; rather,... even the dead bodies and the ashes. It is assumed by most that Jeremiah means the valley of Hinnom, which, after its defilement by Josiah (2 Kings 23:10), had become a receptacle of rubbish and offal. It is, however, against this view that the word for "valley" is not gai (elsewhere connected with Hinnom), but emek, i.e. "deep lying plain." The "dead bodies" are the corpses of men and animals, destroyed by the judgment of God, and lying unburied; but where, seems uncertain. Ashes. Wood ashes are not here meant, but those of flesh and fat, which remained after the burning of a sacrificial victim (see Leviticus 1:16; and comp. 4:12). The horse gate. Mentioned in Nehemiah 3:28. Holy unto the Lord. The unclean spots in the neighbourhood having been transformed. The expression reminds us of Exodus 28:36 (the legend on the forefront of the high priest's mitre).



Jeremiah 31:40In Jeremiah 31:40, without any change of construction, the southern border is described. "The whole valley of the corpses and of the ashes...shall be holy to Jahveh," i.e., be included within the space occupied by the new city. By "the valley of the corpses and of the ashes" expositors generally and rightly understand the valley of Ben-hinnom (פּגרים are the carcases of animals that have been killed, and of men who have been slain through some judgment of God and been left unburied). Jeremiah applies this name to the valley, because, in consequence of the pollution by Josiah of the place where the abominations had been offered to Moloch (2 Kings 23:10), it had become a sort of slaughtering-place or tan-yard for the city. According to Leviticus 6:3, דּשׁן means the ashes of the burnt-offerings consumed on the altar. According to Leviticus 4:12 and Leviticus 6:4, these were to be carried from the ash-heap near the altar, out of the city, to a clean place; but they might also be considered as the gross deposit of the sacrifices, and thus as unclean. Hence also it came to pass that all the sweepings of the temple were probably brought to this place where the ashes were, which thus became still more unclean. Instead of השּׁרמות, the Qeri requires השּׁדמות , and, in fact, the former word may not be very different from שׁדמות קדרון, 2 Kings 23:4, whither Josiah caused all the instruments used in idolatrous worship to be brought and burned. But it is improbable that שׁרמות is a mere error in transcription for שׁדמות. The former word is found nowhere else; not even does the verb שׁרם occur. The latter noun, which is quite well known, could not readily be written by mistake for the former; and even if such an error had been committed, it would not have gained admission into all the MSS, so that even the lxx should have that reading, and give the word as ̓Ασαρημώθ, in Greek characters. We must, then, consider שׁרמות as the correct reading, and derive the word from Arab. srm, or s]rm, or s[rm, "to cut off, cut to pieces," in the sense of "ravines, hollows" (Arab. s]arm), or loca abscissa, places cut off or shut out from the holy city. "Unto the brook of Kidron," into which the valley of Ben-hinnom opens towards the east, "unto the corner of the horse-gate towards the east." The horse-gate stood on the site of the modern "Dung-gate" (Ba equals b el Mogha equals riebh), in the wall which ran along from the south-east end of Zion to the western border of Ophel (see on Nehemiah 3:28), so that, in this verse before us, it is the south and south-eastern boundaries of the city that are given; and only the length of the eastern side, which enclosed the temple area, on to the north-eastern corner, has been left without mention, because the valley of the Kidron here formed a strong boundary.

The extent of the new city, as here given, does not much surpass that of old Jerusalem. Only in the west and south are tracts to be included within the city, and such tracts, too, as had formerly been excluded from the old city, as unclean places. Jeremiah accordingly announces, not merely that there will be a considerable increase in the size of Jerusalem, but that the whole city shall be holy to the Lord, the unclean places in its vicinity shall disappear, and be transformed into hallowed places of the new city. As being sacred to the Lord, the city shall no more be destroyed.

From this description of Jerusalem which is to be built anew, so that the whole city, including the unclean places now outside of it, shall be holy, or a sanctuary of the Lord, it is very evident that this prophecy does not refer to the rebuilding of Jerusalem after the exile, but, under the figure of Jerusalem, as the centre of the kingdom of God under the Old Testament, announces the erection of a more spiritual kingdom of God in the Messianic age. The earthly Jerusalem was a holy city only in so far as the sanctuary of the Lord, the temple, had been built in it. Jeremiah makes no mention of the rebuilding of the temple, although he had prophesied the destruction, not only of the city, but also of the temple. But he represents the new city as being, in its whole extent, the sanctuary of the Lord, which the temple only had been, in ancient Jerusalem. Cf. as a substantial parallel, Zechariah 14:10-11. - The erection of Jerusalem into a city, within whose walls there shall be nothing unholy, implies the vanquishment of sin, from which all impurity proceeds; it is also the ripe fruit of the forgiveness of sins, in which the new covenant, which the Lord will make with His people in the days to come, consists and culminates. This prophecy, then, reaches on to the time when the kingdom of God shall have been perfected: it contains, under an old Testament dress, the outlines of the image of the heavenly Jerusalem, which the seer perceives at Patmos in its full glory. This image of the new Jerusalem thus forms a very suitable conclusion to this prophecy regarding the restoration of Israel, which, although it begins with the deliverance of the covenant people from their exile, is yet thoroughly Messianic. Though clothed in an Old Testament dress, it does not implicitly declare that Israel shall be brought back to their native land during the period extending from the time of Cyrus to that of Christ; but, taking this interval as its stand-point, it combines in one view both the deliverance from the exile and the redemption by the Messiah, and not merely announces the formation of the new covenant in its beginnings, when the Christian Church was founded, but at the same time points to the completion of the kingdom of God under the new covenant, in order to show the whole extent of the salvation which the Lord will prepare for His people who return to Him. If these last verses have not made the impression on Graf's mind, that they could well have formed the original conclusion to the prophecy which precedes, the reason lies simply in the theological inability of their expositor to get to the bottom of the sacred writings.

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