Jeremiah 9:3
And they bend their tongues like their bow for lies: but they are not valiant for the truth on the earth; for they proceed from evil to evil, and they know not me, said the LORD.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(3) Like their bow for lies.—The inserted words turn the boldness of the metaphor into a comparatively tame simile. They bend their tongue to be their bow of lies. The same figure meets us in Psalm 57:4; Psalm 58:7; Psalm 64:3.

They are not valiant for the truth upon the earth.—Better, they are not mighty for truth, i.e., faithfulness, in the landi.e., they do not rule faithfully. It is not without some regret that we part with a phrase which has gained something of a proverbial character as applied to the champions of speculative truth or abstract right, but the above gives the true meaning of the Hebrew.

They know not me.—“Know” in the sense of acknowledging and obeying (1Samuel 2:12; Job 18:21). This was the root evil from which all other evils issued.

Jeremiah 9:3. They bend their tongues like their bow — With a great deal of craft, their tongues are fitted for lying, as a bow which is bent is for shooting. Thus the psalmist compares the tongue to a bow and words of calumny and falsehood to arrows, Psalm 64:3-4. But they are not valiant for the truth — They use their tongues in defence of lies rather than of the truths of God; and, in the administration of justice, they have not courage to stand by an honest cause that has truth on its side, if greatness and power be on the other side. Truth is fallen in the land, and they dare not lend a hand to help it up, Isaiah 59:14-15. They proceed from evil to evil — From one sin to another, and from one degree of sin to another. They every day grow more bold in their wickedness, because they escape punishment, and they enrich themselves by their evil deeds, and so become formidable, defending and maintaining their wickedness by fresh acts of wickedness. And they know not me, saith the Lord — And where men have not the true knowledge of God, what but evil can be expected from them? Observe, reader, men’s ignorance of God is the cause of all their bad conduct one toward another.9:1-11 Jeremiah wept much, yet wished he could weep more, that he might rouse the people to a due sense of the hand of God. But even the desert, without communion with God, through Christ Jesus, and the influences of the Holy Spirit, must be a place for temptation and evil; while, with these blessings, we may live in holiness in crowded cities. The people accustomed their tongues to lies. So false were they, that a brother could not be trusted. In trading and bargaining they said any thing for their own advantage, though they knew it to be false. But God marked their sin. Where no knowledge of God is, what good can be expected? He has many ways of turning a fruitful land into barrenness for the wickedness of those that dwell therein.Rather, "And they bend their tongue to be their bow of lies, i. e." just as men before a battle get their bows ready, so they of set purpose make ready to do mischief, only their arrows are lying words: "neither do they rule faithfully in the land, i. e." Judaea.3. bend … tongues … for lies—that is, with lies as their arrows; they direct lies on their tongue as their bow (Ps 64:3, 4).

not valiant for … truth—(Jer 7:28). Maurer translates, "They do not prevail by truth" or faith (Ps 12:4). Their tongue, not faith, is their weapon.

upon … earth—rather, "in the land."

know not me—(Ho 4:1).

Bend, Heb. tread, because bows are usually kneeled or trod upon when they are bent, Jeremiah 1 14 51:3.

Like their bow; their tongues are here compared to a bow, and lies to arrows, because as a bow shoots out arrows, so doth the tongue words, Psalm 64:3.

For lies, i.e. all reproachful, false, and noxious words, to the damage of one another; and so bending may be preparing, framing, and contriving that mischief which they purpose to vent with their tongues, Psalm 52:2-4 64:3, as bending is preparing the bow to do execution with the arrow.

They are not valiant for the truth; equity, justice; they are as eager in the ways of falsehood as men engaged in war, but show no valour in maintaining the truth.

Upon the earth, i.e. no truth in the earth in them, as we use to express ourselves; or rather more genuinely in the land wherein they live, they have no courage in what is good.

They proceed from evil to evil; either in kind or in degree; they go on from bad to worse, 2 Timothy 3:13, which speaks little hopes of their repentance; the ground of all which is said here to be, their not knowing of God, as in the next clause, Judges 2:10,11 1 Samuel 2:12. The heart cannot work strongly after God where there be but mean apprehensions of him. And they bend their tongues like their bow for lies,.... Their tongues were like bows, and their lying words like arrows, which they directed against persons to their injury; see Psalm 11:2, or, "like their deceitful bow" (p); to which the Targum agrees,

"they teach their tongues words of falsehood, they are like to a deceitful bow.''

Most agreeably to the accents the words may be rendered, "they bend their tongues, their bow is a lie" (q); either deceitful, or carries a lie in it, and shoots one out of it:

but they are not valiant for the truth upon the earth; which a man should do everything for, and nothing against; and which he should earnestly contend for, and not part with or give up at any rate; not only for the truth of doctrine, for faith, as the Targum; for the doctrine of faith, the truth of the Gospel, and as it is in Christ; but for truth between man and man, for veracity, rightness, and integrity: for they proceed from evil to evil; from one sin to another, growing worse and worse, as wicked men and deceivers usually do. Kimchi observes, it may be interpreted, as of evil works, so of the evil of punishment, from one evil of the enemy to another; or this year they are smitten with blasting, another with mildew, or with the locust, and yet they turn not from their evil ways:

and they know not me, saith the Lord; the God of truth, and without iniquity, and who will severely punish for it; they did not serve and worship him as the only Lord God. The Targum is,

"the knowledge of my fear they learned not.''

(p) "veluti acum falsum", Munster; "quasi arcum mendacii", V. L. (q) "Et tetenderunt linguam suam, arcus ipsorum mendacium est", De Dieu; "qui tendunt linguam suam, arcus eorum est mendacium", Schmidt. Approved by Reinbeck. De Accent. Heb. p. 437.

And they bend their tongues like their bow for {d} lies: but they are not valiant for the truth upon the earth; for they proceed from evil to evil, and they know not me, saith the LORD.

(d) To belie and slander their neighbours.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
3. falsehood] as the arrow. For the figure cp. Psalm 64:3 f.

truth] mg. faithfulness. See on Jeremiah 5:1.Verse 3. - And they bend their tongues, etc.; rather, and they bend their tongue as their bow of falsehood, and they use not their valor in (literally, according to) good faith. There is a sad, stern irony in these words, which remind us of Isaiah's (Isaiah 5:22) "valiant men - for drinking wine" and of our own prophet's repetition of himself in Jeremiah 22:10, "Their valor is - untruth." A less pointed form of the same figurative statement is that of the psalmist in Psalm 64:3. Upon the earth; rather, in the land. The Authorized Version pays very little regard to the context in its rendering of the ambiguous word erec. From a far country he hears the people complain: Is Jahveh not in Zion? is He no longer the King of His people there? The suffix in מלכּהּ refers to "daughter of my people," and the King is Jahveh; cf. Isaiah 33:22. They ask whether Jahveh is no longer King in Zion, that He may release His people from captivity and bring them back to Zion. To this the voice of God replies with the counter-question: Why have they provoked me with their idolatry, sc. so that I had to give them over into the power of the heathen for punishment? "Images" is expounded by the apposition: vanities (no-gods; for הבל, see on Jeremiah 2:5) of a foreign land. Because they have chosen the empty idols from abroad (Isaiah 14:22) as their gods, Jahveh, the almighty God of Zion, has cast them out into a far country amidst strange people. The people goes on to complain in Jeremiah 8:20 : Past is the harvest...and we are not saved. As Schnur. remarked, these words have something of the proverb about them. As a country-man, hoping for a good harvest, falls into despair as to his chances, so the people have been in vain looking for its rescue and deliverance. The events, or combinations of events, to which it looked for its rescue are gone by without bringing any such result. Many ancient commentators, following Rashi, have given too special a significance to this verse in applying it to the assistance expected from Egypt in the time of Jehoiakim or Zedekiah. Hitz. is yet more mistaken when he takes the saying to refer to an unproductive harvest. From Jeremiah 8:19 we see that the words are spoken by the people while it pines in exile, which sets its hopes of being saved not in the productiveness of the harvest, but in a happy turn of the political situation.
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