Jeremiah 7:23
But this thing commanded I them, saying, Obey my voice, and I will be your God, and you shall be my people: and walk you in all the ways that I have commanded you, that it may be well to you.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(23) But this thing commanded I them.—The words that follow are a composite quotation, partly from the lately re-found Deuteronomy (Deuteronomy 5:33), partly from the words that were strictly true of the “day” when Israel came out of Egypt (Exodus 19:5), partly from the very book which seemed to be most characterised by sacrificial ritual, Leviticus (Leviticus 26:12). The influence of Jeremiah’s teaching on later Jewish thought is shown by the fact that this very section of Jeremiah (Jeremiah 7:21-28) appears in the Synagogue ritual as the Haphtara, or second lesson from the prophets, after Leviticus 6-8, as the Parashah, or first lesson from the Law. The Synagogue worship, indeed, was, in the nature of the case, the result of the teaching of scribes and prophets rather than of priests, and therefore a witness for the spiritual truth symbolised in sacrifice, and not for the perpetuation of the symbol.

7:21-28 God shows that obedience was required of them. That which God commanded was, Hearken diligently to the voice of the Lord thy God. The promise is very encouraging. Let God's will be your rule, and his favour shall be your happiness. God was displeased with disobedience. We understand the gospel as little as the Jews understood the law, if we think that even the sacrifice of Christ lessens our obligation to obey.Obey ... - These words are not found verbatim in the Pentateuch, but are a sum mary of its principles. Sacrifice is never the final cause of the covenant, but always obedience (Exodus 19:5-6; Leviticus 11:45. Compare Exodus 20; Deuteronomy 11, in which the moral object of the Mosaic dispensation is most clearly taught). In connection with Jeremiah's argument, notice that Amos 5:25 (taken in conjunction with Joshua 5:2-7) proves that the ceremonial law was not observed during the 40 years' wandering in the wilderness. A thing so long in abeyance in the very time of its founder, could not be of primary importance.23. (Ex 15:26; 19:5). This thing, or word, which is the rule by which all obedience is to be tried, viz. what commands, every thing else being but mere superstition.

That it may be well unto you: he shows what would be the good effect of their obedience, Exodus 15:26 Deu 5:29,33, which implies that their sufferings are from their perverseness, as it is expressed in the next verse. But this thing commanded I them, saying,.... This was the sum and substance of what was then commanded, even obedience to the moral law; this was the main and principal thing enjoined, and to which the promise was annexed:

obey my voice: the word of the Lord, his commands, the precepts of the decalogue; obedience to which was preferable to the sacrifices of the ceremonial law; see 1 Samuel 15:22, wherefore it follows:

and I will be your God, and ye shall be my people; the meaning is, that while they were obedient to him, he would protect them from their enemies, and continue them in their privileges and blessings, which he had bestowed upon them as his peculiar people:

and walk ye in all the ways that I have commanded you; not only in some of them, but in all of them; not merely in the observance of legal sacrifices, but chiefly in the performance of moral actions; even in all the duties of religion, in whatsoever is required in the law, respecting God or man:

that it may be well unto you; that they might continue in the land which was given them for an inheritance, and enjoy all the blessings promised to their obedience.

But this thing commanded I them, saying, Obey my voice, and I will be your God, and ye shall be my people: and walk ye in all the ways that I have commanded you, that it may be well unto you.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
23. The nature of the compact was protection on the one hand conditional upon obedience on the other.

Hearken unto my voice] The nearest approach to these words, considered as a quotation, is Exodus 19:5, but it corresponds closely to the general tone of Deuteronomy.

in all the way, etc.] Only once elsewhere, viz. Deuteronomy 5:33.Verse 23. - But this thing... Obey my voice, etc. Comp. Deuteronomy 6:3, "Hear [the verb rendered here 'obey'] therefore, O Israel, and observe to do it; that it may be well with thee," etc. The words, I will be your God; rather, to you a God, etc., occur in Leviticus 26:12 (comp. Exodus 6:7; Deuteronomy 29:13). Walk ye in all the ways, etc., is not a citation, but reminds us of passages like Deuteronomy 9:12, 16; Deuteronomy 11:28; Deuteronomy 31:29. That it may be well unto you is a characteristic phrase of Jeremiah (Jeremiah 43:6; Jeremiah 38:20; Jeremiah 40:9); but is also frequent in Deuteronomy (comp., besides the passage quoted above, Deuteronomy 4:40; Deuteronomy 5:16; Deuteronomy 6:18; Deuteronomy 12:25). This punishment will be turned aside, neither by intercession, because the people re2fuses to give up its idolatry, nor by sacrifice, which God desires not, because for long they have turned to Him the back and not the face, and have not hearkened to His words. - Jeremiah 7:16. "But thou, pray not for this people, and lift not up for them cry and prayer; and urge me not, for I do not hear thee. Jeremiah 7:17. Seest thou not what they do in the cities of Judah, and in the streets of Jerusalem? Jeremiah 7:18. The sons gather sticks, and the fathers kindle the fire, and the women knead dough, to make cakes for the Queen of heaven, and to pour out drink-offerings unto other gods, to provoke me. Jeremiah 7:19. Provoke they me, saith Jahveh, not themselves, to the shaming of their face? Jeremiah 7:20. Therefore thus saith the Lord Jahveh, Behold, mine anger and my fury shall be poured out on this place, upon man, upon beast, upon the trees of the field, and upon the fruit of the ground; and shall burn, and not be quenched. Jeremiah 7:21. Thus saith Jahveh of hosts, the God of Israel: Your burnt-offerings add to your slain-offerings, and eat flesh. Jeremiah 7:22. For I spake not with your fathers, nor commanded them in the day that I brought them out of the land of Egypt, concerning the matters of burnt-offering or slain-offering. Jeremiah 7:23. But this word commanded I them, saying, Hearken to my voice, and I will be your God, and ye shall be my people; and walk in the way which I command you, that it may be well with you. Jeremiah 7:24. But they hearkened not, nor inclined their ear, and walked in the counsels, in the stubbornness of their evil heart, and turned to me the back, and not the face. Jeremiah 7:25. Since the day that your fathers went forth of the land of Egypt until this day, I sent to you all my servants the prophets, daily from early morn sending them; Jeremiah 7:26. But they hearkened not to me, nor inclined their ear, and were stiffnecked, and did worse than their fathers. Jeremiah 7:27. And though thou speakest all these words unto them, yet will they not hearken unto thee; and though thou callest unto them, yet will they not answer thee. Jeremiah 7:28. Thus speak to them: This is the people that hearken not unto the voice of Jahveh its God, and that receive not correction. Perished is faithfulness, cut off from their mouth."

The purport of Jeremiah 7:16, that God will not suffer Himself to be moved by any entreaties to revoke the doom pronounced on the wicked people, is expressed by way of a command from God to the prophet not to pray for the people. That Jeremiah did sometimes pray thus, however, we see from Jeremiah 14:19. (cf. Jeremiah 18:20), when to his prayer the same answer is given as we have here, and all intercession for the corrupt race is characterized as in vain. The second clause: lift not up for them crying, i.e., supplicatory prayer, expresses the same, only more strongly; while the third clause: urge me not, cuts off all hope of success from even the most importunate intercession. The reason for this command to desist is shown in Jeremiah 7:17, by a reference to the idolatry which was openly practised throughout the land by young and old, men and women. Each takes part according to strength and capacity: the sons gather wood together, the fathers set the fire in order, etc. The deity so zealously worshipped by the people is called the Queen of heaven, and is mentioned only by Jeremiah. Besides here, there is reference to her in Jeremiah 44:17, where we see that her worship was very diligently cultivated, and that she was adored as the bestower of earthly possessions. (מלכת is stat. constr., either from the Chald. form מלך, or from מליכה, after the analogy of גּברת, st. constr. of גּבירה; but perhaps it has מלכת in stat. abs.) This worship was combined with that of the stars, the host of heaven, which especially prevailed under Manasseh (2 Kings 21:5). Thence it may be presumed that the Queen of heaven was one of the deities who came to Western Asia with the Assyrians, and that she corresponds to the Assyrian-Persian Tanais and Artemis, who in the course of time took the place once occupied by the closely related Phoenician Astarte. She is originally a deification of the moon, the Assyrian Selene and Virgo caelestis, who, as supreme female deity, was companion to Baal-Moloch as sun-god; cf. Movers, Phnizier, i. S. 623ff. With this accords the statement of Steph. Byz., that σελήνη is also πήπανον τι τῷ ἄστρω παραπλήσιον. The offerings which, acc. to this verse and Jeremiah 44:19, were brought to her, are called כּוּנים, a word which would appear to have come to the Hebrews along with the foreign cultus. By the lxx it was Grecized into χαυῶνας, for which we find in glossators and codd. καυῶνας and χαβῶνας. They were, acc. to the Etymol. magn. and Suidas, ἄρτοι ἐλαίῳ ἀναφυραθέντες or λάχανα ὄπτα (? cooked vegetables); acc. to Jerome, χαυῶνας, quas nos placentas interpretati sumus. In any case, they were some kind of sacrificial cakes, which Vitr. put alongside of the πόπανα of Aristophanes and Lucian; cf. the various interpretations in Schleussner, Lexic. in lxx s.v. χαυών. These cakes were kindled on the altar (cf. מקטּרים, Jeremiah 44:19) as a kind of Minchah (meat-offering), and with this Minchah a libation or drink-offering (נסכים) was combined. הסּך corresponds to לעשׂות, so that ל has to be repeated; cf. Jeremiah 44:19, Jeremiah 44:25, where we find libations poured out to the Queen of heaven. In the 18th verse the expression is generalized into "other gods," with reference to the fact that the service of the Queen of heaven was but one kind of idolatry along with others, since other strange gods were worshipped by sacrifices and libations. To provoke me; cf. Deuteronomy 31:29; Deuteronomy 32:16, etc.

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