Jeremiah 12 Bible Commentary

John Wesley’s Explanatory Notes

(Read all of Jeremiah 12)

Verse 1

[1] Righteous art thou, O LORD, when I plead with thee: yet let me talk with thee of thy judgments: Wherefore doth the way of the wicked prosper? wherefore are all they happy that deal very treacherously?

Talk with thee — Not by way of accusing thee, but for my own satisfaction concerning thy judicial dispensations in the government of the world.

Wherefore — I know thy ways are just and righteous, but they are dark; I cannot understand why thou doest this.

Verse 2

[2] Thou hast planted them, yea, they have taken root: they grow, yea, they bring forth fruit: thou art near in their mouth, and far from their reins.

Far — Thou art far from their inward parts, they neither fear thee, nor love thee.

Verse 4

[4] How long shall the land mourn, and the herbs of every field wither, for the wickedness of them that dwell therein? the beasts are consumed, and the birds; because they said, He shall not see our last end.

He — They were bold to say, neither the prophet nor any other should see their last end.

Verse 5

[5] If thou hast run with the footmen, and they have wearied thee, then how canst thou contend with horses? and if in the land of peace, wherein thou trustedst, they wearied thee, then how wilt thou do in the swelling of Jordan?

If — If thou art not able to encounter lesser dangers, how wilt thou be able to overcome greater? I have greater dangers for thee to encounter than those at Anathoth; if thou art so disturbed with them, how wilt thou be able to grapple with those at Jerusalem.

Jordan — Anathoth seems to be understood by the land of thy peace, that is, the land of thy friends wherein thou hadst a confidence: if thy enemies there tire thee, what wilt thou do in the swellings of Jordan? In a place in which thou art like to meet with greater troubles, like the swelling of Jordan (which in harvest used to overflow its banks).

Verse 6

[6] For even thy brethren, and the house of thy father, even they have dealt treacherously with thee; yea, they have called a multitude after thee: believe them not, though they speak fair words unto thee.

For even — The men of Anathoth, thine own town and country, and those of thy own family have conspired evil against thee secretly.

A multitude — They have exposed thee to the rage of a multitude.

Though — Tho' therefore they give thee fair words, yet repose no confidence in them.

Verse 7

[7] I have forsaken mine house, I have left mine heritage; I have given the dearly beloved of my soul into the hand of her enemies.

My house — God by his house here understands the temple.

Heritage — The whole body of the Israelites, whom God threatens to leave with respect to his special providence.

Verse 8

[8] Mine heritage is unto me as a lion in the forest; it crieth out against me: therefore have I hated it.

As a lion — Those that were my sheep, are become like lions.

Verse 9

[9] Mine heritage is unto me as a speckled bird, the birds round about are against her; come ye, assemble all the beasts of the field, come to devour.

The birds round about — It is usual for other birds to flock about a strange coloured bird, such as they have not been used to see.

Verse 10

[10] Many pastors have destroyed my vineyard, they have trodden my portion under foot, they have made my pleasant portion a desolate wilderness.

A wilderness — They have caused God to turn the country which he had chosen for his portion, into a wilderness.

Verse 11

[11] They have made it desolate, and being desolate it mourneth unto me; the whole land is made desolate, because no man layeth it to heart.

They — Heb. He hath made it desolate: but it cannot be meant of God, for it is God that speaketh, and God is he mentioned in the next words; it must therefore either be understood of Nebuchadnezzar, the instrumental cause; or (one number being put for another) of the people or the rulers as the meritorious cause, and in that rueful state into which their sins had brought it, it cried onto God.

Because — And one great cause of this sore judgment was, the peoples not seriously considering what God had done or was doing against it.

Verse 12

[12] The spoilers are come upon all high places through the wilderness: for the sword of the LORD shall devour from the one end of the land even to the other end of the land: no flesh shall have peace.

Are come — The prophet, as usual, speaks of a thing as already done, which was very shortly to be done.

No flesh — No rank or order of men.

Verse 13

[13] They have sown wheat, but shall reap thorns: they have put themselves to pain, but shall not profit: and they shall be ashamed of your revenues because of the fierce anger of the LORD.

Shall not profit — All the works of their hands, all their counsels and deliberations should be of no profit unto them.

Because — The fierce anger of God shall be so shewed, that the returns of their labours or estates, the profits of their trades, shall be so small, that they shall be ashamed of them.

Verse 14

[14] Thus saith the LORD against all mine evil neighbours, that touch the inheritance which I have caused my people Israel to inherit; Behold, I will pluck them out of their land, and pluck out the house of Judah from among them.

Behold — I will bring the sword upon them also, and they shall be led into captivity; and tho' they may have made inroads upon my people, and carried away some of them, yet I will fetch them out of their captivity.

Verse 16

[16] And it shall come to pass, if they will diligently learn the ways of my people, to swear by my name, The LORD liveth; as they taught my people to swear by Baal; then shall they be built in the midst of my people.

If — If they will leave their idolatries, and learn to worship me, and swear by my name the Lord liveth, that is, pay that homage which they owe to the Divine being to me, the living and true God.

Then — They shall have a portion among my people, which was eminently fulfilled in the conversion of the Gentiles.