Jeremiah 9:6
Your habitation is in the middle of deceit; through deceit they refuse to know me, said the LORD.
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(6) Thine habitation . . .—The words may be an individualised, and therefore more emphatic, reproduction of the general warning of Jeremiah 9:4. It is, however, better to take them as spoken by Jehovah to the prophet individually. The LXX., following a different reading and punctuation, translates “usury upon usury, deceit upon deceit; they refuse to know Me, saith the Lord.” And this has been adopted by Ewald, among recent commentators.

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.A continuation of the warning given in Jeremiah 9:4. "Trust no one: for thou dwellest surrounded by deceit on every side." Their rejection of God is the result of their want of honesty in their dealings with one another 1 John 4:20.6. Thine—God addresses Jeremiah, who dwelt in the midst of deceitful men.

refuse to know me—Their ignorance of God is wilful (Jer 9:3; 5:4, 5).

This God speaks to the prophet, either to inform him that there is no hope of this people’s reformation, Jeremiah 8:5; therefore he expresseth a deceitful people by the abstract,

deceit, i.e. nothing among them but deceit one to another, and hypocrisy towards me, as Psalm 109:2, and vanity for vain men, Job 35:13; or to caution and advise him how to behave himself among such a people, that he be very wary he be not insnared by them, Jeremiah 12:6.

They refuse to know me; either hoping to shift well enough by their several means they think to use, they are careless of turning to me, Jeremiah 8:5; or by hearkening to their false prophets, who have all along deceived them, they obstinately reject my ways and counsels, Psalm 36:1-4 82:5. Thine habitation is in the midst of deceit,.... In the midst of a people of deceit, as Kimchi and Ben Molech. These are the words of the Lord to the prophet, showing what a people he dwelt among, and had to do with; how cautiously and prudently he should act; how little they were to be trusted to and depended upon; and what little hope there was of bringing them to true repentance, since there was so much deceit and hypocrisy among them. The Targum interprets the words not of the habitation of the prophet, but of the people, thus,

"they sit in the house of their own congregation, and talk of their iniquities deceitfully;''

and so Jarchi,

"while they are sitting they devise deceitful devices.''

Through deceit they refuse to know me, saith the Lord: or, "because of deceit" (t); hypocrisy being a reigning and governing sin in them; they liked not the true knowledge of God, and refused to worship him according to the revelation of his will.

(t) "ob dolum", Schmidt.

Thy habitation is in the midst of deceit; {g} through deceit they refuse to know me, saith the LORD.

(g) They would rather have forsaken God than left their wicked trade.

Verse 6. - Thine habitation, etc. According to St. Jerome, this is addressed to the prophet; but it is better to follow the Targum, which makes the clause refer to the Jewish people. The connection is (as Dr. Payne Smith points out)," Trust no one; for thou dwellest surrounded by deceit on every side." The hopeless case of the people and kingdom moves the seer so deeply, that he bursts forth with the cry: For the breaking of my people I am broken (the Hoph. השׁבּרתּי, of the breaking of the heart, only here; in this sig. usu. the Niph., e.g., Jeremiah 38:7. Horror hath taken hold on me, is stronger than: Anguish hath taken hold on me, Jeremiah 6:24, Micah 4:9. Help is nowhere to be found. This thought is in Jeremiah 8:22 clothed in the question: Is there no balm in Gilead, or no physician there? "There" points back to Gilead. Graf's remark, that "it is not known that the physicians were got from that quarter," shows nothing more than that its author has mistaken the figurative force of the words. צרי, balsam, is mentioned in Genesis 37:25 as an article of commerce carried by Midianite merchants to Egypt (cf. Ezekiel 27:17), but is hardly the real balsam from Mecca (amyris opobalsamum), which during the Roman sovereignty was grown under culture in the gardens of Jericho, and which only succeeds in a climate little short of tropical. It was more likely the resina of the ancients, a gum procured from the terebinth or mastic tree (lentiscus, σχῖνος), which, acc. to Plin. h. nat. xxiv. 22, was held in esteem as a medicament for wounds (resolvitur resina ad vulnerum usus et malagmata oleo). Acc. to our passage and Jeremiah 46:11, cf. Genesis 37:25, it was procured chiefly from Gilead; cf. Movers, Phniz. ii. 3, S. 220ff., and the remarks on Genesis 37:25. To these questions a negative answer is given. From this we explain the introduction of a further question with כּי: if there were balm in Gilead, and a physician there, then a plaister would have been laid on the daughter of my people, which is not the case. As to עלתה , lit., a plaister comes upon, see on Jeremiah 30:17.
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