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Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

Jeremiah 10:3

 

 

For the customs of the peoples are delusion; Because it is wood cut from the forest, The work of the hands of a craftsman with a cutting tool.

Adam Clarke Commentary

The customs of the people are vain - חקות chukkoth ; the statutes and principles of the science are vain, empty, and illusory. They are founded in nonsense, ignorance, idolatry, and folly.

One cutteth a tree out of the forest - See the notes on Isaiah 40:19; (note), and Isaiah 44:9; (note), etc., which are all parallel places and where this conduct is strongly ridiculed.


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Bibliography
Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Jeremiah 10:3". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/jeremiah-10.html. 1832.

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

The customs - Better, as the marg, “the ordinances,” established institutions, “of the peoples, i. e.” pagan nations.


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Bibliography
Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Jeremiah 10:3". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/jeremiah-10.html. 1870.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

For the customs of the people are vain,.... Or, "their decrees", or "statutes"F15חקות "decreta", Targ.; "statua", Junius & Tremellius, Piscator, Cocceius, Schmidt. , their determinations and conclusions, founded upon the observation of the stars; or, their "rites and ceremonies"F16Ritus, Vatablus; "ceremoniae", Tigurine version. in religion, in the worship of the sun and moon, and the hosts of heaven. The Syriac version is, "the idols of the people are nothing"; and which appears by what follows:

for one cutteth a tree out of the forest (the work of the hands of the workman) with the axe; not for building, or for burning, but to make a god of; the vanity, stupidity, and folly of which are manifest, when it is considered that the original of it is a tree that grew in the forest; the matter and substance of it the body and trunk of a tree cut down with an axe, and then hewed with the same, and planed with a plane, and formed into the image of a man, or of some creature; and now, to fall down and worship this must be vanity and madness to the last degree; see Isaiah 44:13.


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The New John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible Modernised and adapted for the computer by Larry Pierce of Online Bible. All Rightes Reserved, Larry Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario.
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Bibliography
Gill, John. "Commentary on Jeremiah 10:3". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/jeremiah-10.html. 1999.

Geneva Study Bible

For the b customs of the people [are] vain: for [one] cutteth a tree out of the forest, the work of the hands of the workman, with the axe.

(b) Meaning not only in the observation of the stars, but their laws and ceremonies by which they confirm their idolatry, which is forbidden, (Deuteronomy 12:30).

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Bibliography
Beza, Theodore. "Commentary on Jeremiah 10:3". "The 1599 Geneva Study Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/gsb/jeremiah-10.html. 1599-1645.

Calvin's Commentary on the Bible

The Prophet seems to break off his subject, and even to reason inconclusively; for he had said in the last verse, “Learn not the rites of the Gentiles, and fear not the celestial signs;” and he now adds, Because the rites of the Gentiles are vanity; for wood they cut down from the forest. He seems then, as though forgetting himself, to have passed off to idols. But we must observe, that the Jews were influenced by that ancient opinion, that the Chaldeans and the Egyptians were alone wise, and that they had acquired a fame of this kind among all nations. We find also that heathen writers, when speaking of the origin of the sciences, trace them up to the Chaldeans and the Egyptians; for with them, it is said, have originated astrology and all the liberal sciences. The Jews then, no doubt, allowed so much authority to the Chaldeans and the Egyptians, that their minds, being possessed by that prejudice, could discern nothing aright. The Prophet then shakes off from them this stupidity, and shews how foolish they were, who yet would have themselves to be alone deemed wise, and regarded others, compared with themselves, as barbarous and ignorant. We now then see why the Prophet connects idolatry with that false and spurious astrology which he had mentioned.

He says, Laws: the word, חקות, chekut, means strictly, statutes. The word, חק chek, signifies to decree, or to write; and hence decrees are called חקות, chekut. The word Law is general; and one of those which are special and often occurs in Scripture, is the statute. Some render it “Edict;” and the verb means to publish by edict. But this word is often applied to ceremonies and rites. He then says, that the rites of the nations were vanity.

He then proves this, Because they cut for themselves trees from the forest; and after having polished them by art, they think them to be gods. How detestable was this madness, to think that a tree, cut from the forest, was a god, as soon as it assumed a certain form or shape! As then a madness, so great and so monstrous, prevailed among the Chaldeans and the Egyptians, what right knowledge or judgment could have been in them? The Jews then were very foolish in thinking that they were very clear — sighted. “They are,” he says, “brute animals; for it is wholly contrary to reason to suppose that a god can be made from a dead piece of wood. When, therefore, the Chaldeans and the Egyptians amaze and astonish you through the influence of a false opinion, derived from nothing, that they are alone wise, do ye not see that ye are doubly and trebly mad? for where is their wisdom, when they thus make gods from trunks of trees?”

We now then perceive the design of the Prophet: but as these circumstances have not been considered by interpreters, they have only elicited a frigid doctrine and gathered some general thoughts. But when any one rightly and carefully examines the design of the Prophet, he will find how important is what he teaches; and no one can otherwise rightly understand what Jeremiah means.

A tree then does one cut, etc.: he uses the singular number. (4) He then adds, the work of the hands of the artificer by the ax He shews that nature itself is changed through the false imagination of men; for as soon as it takes a new form, it seems to be no longer a tree. The tree, while it grows, when it produces fruit, is not worshipped as God; but when it is cut down, the dead and dry trunk is substituted in the place of God: for what reason? even because the ax has been applied. Some render it “hatchet,” hache, ou doloire, which is the same; for there is no ambiguity in the meaning: they cut down trees from the forests; and then after the tree was formed by the ax and worked by the hands of the artificer, what follows was done to it —

3.Verily, the customs of the nations are very vanity; For a tree from the forest they cut down, — The work of the hands of the worker with the ax!

Then verbs in the plural number follow in the next verse, —

4.With silver and with gold they beautify, With nails and with hammers they fasten them, So that none may move them

The verb for “move” is in Hiphil; it means in Kal to totter, “that none may cause them to totter.”

But the Septuagint have rendered the verb “cut down” as a passive participle, כרות, transposing the ו; and Venema takes this as the proper reading, — “For a tree from the forest is cut down.” But this does not run well with the following verse. The nations or heathens, is the nominative to all the verbs.

Venema renders the last line of the fourth verse, —

That nothing may make them to reel.

He considers that לא means often “nothing; ” but it means also sometimes, “none,” or no one. — Ed


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Bibliography
Calvin, John. "Commentary on Jeremiah 10:3". "Calvin's Commentary on the Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/cal/jeremiah-10.html. 1840-57.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

Jeremiah 10:3 For the customs of the people [are] vain: for [one] cutteth a tree out of the forest, the work of the hands of the workman, with the axe.

Ver. 3. For the customs of the people (a) are vain.] Their rites confirmed by custom; their imagery, for instance, a very magnum nihil, whether ye look to the efficient matter, form, or end of those idols.

For one cutteth a tree out of the forest.] See Isaiah 40:2; Isaiah 44:12-17, which last place Jeremiah here seemeth to have imitated.


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Bibliography
Trapp, John. "Commentary on Jeremiah 10:3". John Trapp Complete Commentary. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/jeremiah-10.html. 1865-1868.

Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible

Jeremiah 10:3. The people The nations.


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Bibliography
Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Jeremiah 10:3". Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/tcc/jeremiah-10.html. 1801-1803.

Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

The customs of the people are vain, i.e. such courses, institutions, idolatrous customs, and ceremonies as these, that many people follow, they are vain, and it is a foolish and wicked thing that any that profess the true God should give heed to such lying vanities.

One cutteth a tree out of the forest: here he annexeth their idolatry to their astrology: q.d. They cut down timber to make the images and representations of these stars and planets that they fear and worship as gods, either in memorial of them, when they could not see them, or else upon a superstitious conceit that the stars which they worshipped did by some magic art convey some virtue or spirit into these statues or images; or rather, he doth set forth the folly of the heathen, that whereas for the matter of them, they are but a piece of wood, a tree out of the forest; and as to the form of them, no other than the carver, a sorry man, is pleased to put them into by his axe, which I suppose is here put for any cutting tool of the artist whereby he shapes it; yet they are afraid of these, as if they were gods, Isaiah 40:20. See Poole "Jeremiah 8:2".


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Bibliography
Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Jeremiah 10:3". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/mpc/jeremiah-10.html. 1685.

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

3. Customs — Rather, ordinances, that is, their religious observances. These are as vain as the things on which they are based, namely, idols. The prophet now proceeds to show the vanity of idols in a passage which does, indeed, closely follow the thought of Isaiah, but is especially terse and graphic, and, when we consider that it was spoken when the popular current was setting toward idolatry, we shall feel it to be bold and effective. In the whole there is almost a vein of humour, which contrasts agreeably with Jeremiah’s accustomed pathos and sadness.


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Bibliography
Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Jeremiah 10:3". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/jeremiah-10.html. 1874-1909.

Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable

The worship of the Gentiles was an empty delusion. They worshipped only wood, cut from the forest, that a craftsman shaped with a tool. These gods were no more than pieces of wood.


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Bibliography
Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Jeremiah 10:3". "Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/dcc/jeremiah-10.html. 2012.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

customs = statutes, or ordinances.

people = peoples.

vain = a breath.

one cutteth a tree = it [is only] a tree which one cutteth.


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Bibliography
Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on Jeremiah 10:3". "E.W. Bullinger's Companion bible Notes". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/bul/jeremiah-10.html. 1909-1922.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

For the customs of the people are vain: for one cutteth a tree out of the forest, the work of the hands of the workman, with the axe.

One cutteth a tree out of the forest. Maurer translates, 'It (that which their "customs" have regard to: a sample of their "customs") is a tree which they cut out of the forest.'


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Bibliography
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Jeremiah 10:3". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/jeremiah-10.html. 1871-8.

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

(3) The customs of the people.—Better, ordinances of the peoples. The prophet is speaking, not of common customs, but of religious institutions, and of these as belonging, not to “the people,” i.e., Israel, but to the nations round them. The verses that follow are so closely parallel to Isaiah 41:7; Isaiah 44:9-17; Isaiah 46:5-7 (where see Notes), that the natural conclusion is that one writer had seen the work of the other. The grandeur and fulness of Isaiah’s language, and the unlikeness of what we find here to Jeremiah’s usual style, makes it more probable that he was the copyist, and so far adds to the argument for the authorship of the chapter ascribed to Isaiah. It is, however, possible, as some critics have thought, that these verses are an interpolation, and in that case they supply no evidence either way. The fact that they are found in the LXX. as well as in the Hebrew is, however, in favour of their genuineness. It may be noted that the substance of what follows has a parallel in the Epistle ascribed to Jeremiah in the apocryphal book of Baruch.


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Bibliography
Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on Jeremiah 10:3". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/ebc/jeremiah-10.html. 1905.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

For the customs of the people are vain: for one cutteth a tree out of the forest, the work of the hands of the workman, with the axe.
customs
Heb. statutes, or ordinances, are vanity.
8; 2:5; Leviticus 18:30; 1 Kings 18:26-28; Matthew 6:7; Romans 1:21; 1 Peter 1:18
one
Isaiah 40:19-31; 44:9-20; 45:20; Hosea 8:4-6; Habakkuk 2:18,19

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Bibliography
Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on Jeremiah 10:3". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/jeremiah-10.html.

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