Jeremiah 9:3
And they bend their tongues like their bow for 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.
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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. Jeremiah 9:3Jeremiah 9:1. "Oh that I had in the wilderness a lodging-place of wayfarers! then would I leave my people, and go away from them. For they be all adulterers, a crew of faithless ones. Jeremiah 9:2. They bend their tongue like their bow with lying; and not according to faithfulness do they manage in the land, but go on from evil to evil, and me they know not, saith Jahve. Jeremiah 9:3. Beware each of his neighbour, and trust not in any brother; for every brother supplanteth, and every friend goeth slandering. Jeremiah 9:4. And one overreaCheth the other, and truth they speak not; they teach their tongue to speak lies, to deal perversely they weary themselves. Jeremiah 9:5. Thy dwelling is in the midst of deceit; in deceit they refuse to know me, saith Jahveh. Jeremiah 9:6. Therefore thus hath spoken Jahveh of hosts: Behold, I will melt them, and try them; for how should I deal in regard to the daughter of my people? Jeremiah 9:7. A deadly arrow is their tongue; they speak deceit; with his mouth one speaketh peace with his neighbour, and inwardly within him he layeth ambush. Jeremiah 9:8. Shall I not visit this upon them? saith Jahveh; or on such a people as this shall not my soul take vengeance?"

Jeremiah would flee into the wilderness, far away from his people; because amidst such a corrupt, false, and cunning people, life had become unbearable, Jeremiah 9:1. מי יתּנני, as in Isaiah 27:4, equivalent to מי יתּן לי, Psalm 55:7 : who would give me equals Oh that I had! The "lodging-place" is not a resting-place under the open sky, but a harbour for travellers - a building (khan) erected on the route of the caravans, as a shelter for travellers. Adultery and faithlessness are mentioned as cardinal sins. The first sin has been rebuked in Jeremiah 5:7, the second is exposed in Jeremiah 9:2-4. בּוגד, faithless either towards God or one's fellow-men; here in the latter sense. The account of the unfaithful conduct is introduced in Jeremiah 9:2 by the imperf. with ו consec., and is carried on in the perf. Manifestations of sin are the issue of a sinful state of heart; the perfects are used to suggest the particular sins as accomplished facts.

In the clause, "they bend," etc., שׁקר is the second object; and "their bow" is in apposition to "their tongue:" they bend their tongue, which is their bow, with lying. For this construction the Hiph. is the proper form, and this is not to be changed into the Kal (as by Hitz., Gr., Ng.). In Job 28:8 the Hiph. is used instead of the Kal in the sense of tread upon, walk upon; here it is used of the treading of the bow to bend it, and lying is looked upon as the arrow with which the bow is stretched or armed for shooting. If the verb be changed into the Kal, we must join שׁקר with קשׁתּם: their lying-bow. For this connection דּרכּך זמּה, Ezekiel 16:27, may be cited; but it gives us the unnatural figure: their tongue as a bow, which is lying. It is neither the tongue nor the bow which is lying, but that which they shoot with their tongue as with a bow. According to faithfulness; ל of the rule, norm, as in Jeremiah 5:3. Not faithfulness to their convictions (Hitz.), but in their behaviour towards their fellow-man. גּבר, be strong, exercise strength, rule, and manage. The prophet has in view the great and mighty who had power in their hands, and who misused it to oppress their inferiors. From evil to evil they go on, i.e., they proceed from one sin to another; but God the Lord they know not, i.e., are determined to know nothing of Him; cf. 1 Samuel 2:12; Job 18:21. Hence each must keep himself on his guard against the other. To express this in the most emphatic manner, Jeremiah gives it the form of a command: Beware each of his neighbour, trust not in a brother; for each seeks to overreach and trip up the other. In the words עקוב יעקב there seems to be an allusion to Jacob's underhand dealing with his brother Esau, Genesis 27:36. On "goes slandering," cf. Jeremiah 6:28, and cf. also the similar description in Micah 7:5-6.

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