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Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

Jeremiah 10:5

 

 

"Like a scarecrow in a cucumber field are they, And they cannot speak; They must be carried, Because they cannot walk! Do not fear them, For they can do no harm, Nor can they do any good."

Adam Clarke Commentary

They are upright as the palm tree - As straight and as stiff as the trees out of which they are hewn.


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Bibliography
Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Jeremiah 10:5". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/jeremiah-10.html. 1832.

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

They are upright … - Rather, “They are like a palm tree of turned work, i. e.” like one of those stiff inelegant pillars, something like a palm tree, which may be seen in oriental architecture. Some translate thus: “They are like pillar‘s in a garden of cucumbers, i. e.” like the blocks set up to frighten away the birds; but none of the ancient versions support this rendering.


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Bibliography
Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Jeremiah 10:5". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/jeremiah-10.html. 1870.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

They are upright as the palm tree,.... Being nailed to a post, or fastened to a pillar, or set upon a pedestal, and so stand erect without bending any way; and are like a palm tree, which is noted for its uprightness; hence the church's stature is compared to it, Song of Solomon 7:7, here it is a sarcasm, and a bitter one:

but speak not; man, that is of an erect stature, in which he differs from other creatures, has the faculty of speech, which they that go upon four feet have not; but the idols of the Gentiles, though erect, have not the power of speaking a word; and therefore can give no answer to their worshippers; see Psalm 115:5,

they must needs be borne: or, "in carrying be carried"F17נשוא ינשוא "portando portantur", Schmidt; "portabitur" Pagninus; "portabuntur", Montanus; "omnino portanda sunt", Junius & Tremellius, Piscator. ; when being made they are fixed in the designed place, or are moved from place to place; they are then carried in men's arms, or on their shoulders:

because they cannot go; they have no life, and so are incapable of motion of themselves; they have feet, but walk not; and cannot arise and bestir themselves for the help of those that pray unto them, Psalm 115:7,

be not afraid of them, for they cannot do evil; that is, inflict judgment, cause drought, famine, or pestilence, or any other evil or calamity:

neither is it also in them to do good; to give rains and fruitful seasons, or bestow any favour, temporal or spiritual; see Jeremiah 14:21.


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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 10:5". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/jeremiah-10.html. 1999.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

upright — or, “They are of turned work, resembling a palm tree” [Maurer]. The point of comparison between the idol and the palm is in the pillar-like uprightness of the latter, it having no branches except at the top.

speak not — (Psalm 115:5).

cannot go — that is, walk (Psalm 115:7; Isaiah 46:1, Isaiah 46:7).

neither … do good — (Isaiah 41:23).


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These files are a derivative of an electronic edition prepared from text scanned by Woodside Bible Fellowship.
This expanded edition of the Jameison-Faussett-Brown Commentary is in the public domain and may be freely used and distributed.

Bibliography
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Jeremiah 10:5". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/jfb/jeremiah-10.html. 1871-8.

Calvin's Commentary on the Bible

He goes on with the same subject, and borrows his words from the forty — fourth chapter of Isaiah (Isaiah 44:0); for the passage is wholly similar. Jeremiah, being later, was induced to take the words from his predecessor, that his own nation might be more impressed, on finding that the same thing was said by two Prophets, and that thus they had two witnesses.

He then says that these wise men, who filled the Jews with wonder and astonishment, adorned their images, or statues, with silver and gold, and afterward fixed them with nails and with hammers, that they might not move Some refer the last word to the metal, “that the pieces might not come off,” as the verb sometimes means to depart. But the simpler meaning is, that the statues were fixed by nails and hammers, that they might not be moved. Then the Prophet adds by way of concession, They are indeed erect as the palm-trees; and thus there appears in them something remarkable: but they speak not; and then, being raised they are raised, that is, they cannot move themselves; for they cannot walk Then he says, Be not afraid of them; for they do no evil, nor is it in their power to do good

We now see what the Prophet meant to teach us, — that the wisdom of the Chaldeans, and also of the Egyptians, was celebrated throughout the world, and also so blinded the Jews, or so enraptured, them, that they thought that nothing proceeded from them but what deserved to be known and esteemed. In order therefore to remove and demolish this false notion, he shews that they were beyond measure foolish; for what could have been more sottish than to think that the nature of a tree is changed as soon as it receives a new form? How? By the hand of the artificer. Can it be in the power of man to make a god at his will? This is a folly which heathen authors have derided. Horace has this sentence: —

“When the workman was uncertain whether to make a bench or Priapus, He chose rather to make a god.” (5)

That poet, as he dared not generally to condemn the madness which then prevailed, indirectly shewed how shameful it was to make a log of wood a god, because the workman had given it a form. The very richest worshipped a wooden god, while he despised the artificer! He who would not have condescended to give the workman a cup of water, yet prostrated himself befbre the god which the workman had made! This then is what our Prophet now says, “Behold, with silver and gold do they adorn trunks of trees; they indeed stood up, for they are erect statues;” and he compares them to palm-trees, because they stood high: and he says, “but they speak not; they are raised up, for they have no life; hence fear them not:” and then he adds, “They cannot do evil, and it is not in their power to do good.”

The Prophet seems to speak improperly when he says that they were not gods, because they could do no evil; for it is wholly contrary to the nature of the only true God to do evil: but the Prophet, according to what is common, uses the word for the infliction of punishment. God, then, is said to do evil, not because he does harm to any one, not because he does wrong to any mortals, but because he chastises them for their sins. And it is a way of speaking derived from the common judgment of man, for we call those things evils which are afflictions to us; for famine, diseases, poverty, cold, heat, disgrace, and things of this kind, are called afflictions or adversities. Now, the Prophet says, that the idols of the Gentiles, or their fictitious gods, do no evil, that is, they have no power to inflict punishment on men. And this is taken from Isaiah. God uses there a twofold argument, while claiming divinity to himself alone: he says,

“I alone am he who foresees and predicts future things;”

and hence I am God alone; and then he says,

“I alone am he who do good and evil;”

hence I alone am God. (Isaiah 45:22; Isaiah 48:3.) He says, that he doeth evil, because he is the Judge of the world. We hence see that this expression is not to be taken in a bad sense, but, as I have said, it is to be taken in a sense used by men; for we consider and call those punishments, with which God visits us, evils. It follows —


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Bibliography
Calvin, John. "Commentary on Jeremiah 10:5". "Calvin's Commentary on the Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/cal/jeremiah-10.html. 1840-57.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

Jeremiah 10:5 They [are] upright as the palm tree, but speak not: they must needs be borne, because they cannot go. Be not afraid of them; for they cannot do evil, neither also [is it] in them to do good.

Ver. 5. They are upright as the palm tree.] Which is straight, tall, smooth, and in summo profert fructus, and beareth fruits at the very top of it.


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Bibliography
Trapp, John. "Commentary on Jeremiah 10:5". John Trapp Complete Commentary. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/jeremiah-10.html. 1865-1868.

Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible

Jeremiah 10:5. They are upright, &c.— For they are like the trunk of the palm-tree, &c. Houb. "They are inflexible, immoveable, fixed, without action or motion, like the trunk of a palm-tree;" a comparison which admirably suits the ancient statues seen in Egypt and elsewhere, before the art of sculpture attained the perfection which it afterwards did in Greece. See Calmet.


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Bibliography
Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Jeremiah 10:5". 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

They are upright as the palm tree; the nature of which is to grow upright and tall, without any branchings, till it comes to the top, thereby possibly representing majesty.

But speak not; looking as if they were about to speak, standing in a speaking posture; but have not a word to utter, being only dumb stocks, wooden gods.

They must needs be borne, because they cannot go; they move no further or faster than you lift them, either when you go to set them up, or upon any occasion of removal, as stiff as stakes, being indeed but sticks.

Be not afraid of them; they can do you no more harm than the signs of heaven could do; they are but dead stocks. The heathens worshipped some idols that they might do them good, and others that they might do them no harm; but God tells them here, they can do neither good nor harm, as in the next words; they can neither punish nor reward; they can neither hurt their enemies, nor help their friends: by this the true God will be distinguished from idols, that he alone can foretell things to come, and he alone can reward or punish, Isaiah 48:5, and therefore the prophet endeavours to turn them off from their idols to the true God.


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Bibliography
Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Jeremiah 10:5". 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

5. Upright as the palm tree — Rather, as a palm tree of turned work, etc. The word rendered “palm tree,” occurs besides only in Judges 4:5, where it clearly has this meaning. But as in later Hebrew, (for example, Song of Solomon 3:6; Joel 2:30, and in the Talmud,) the root yields the sense of pillar. Keil would give it that sense in this place, and so translates, as a lathe-turned pillar, etc., that is, lifeless and motionless.

This verse is peculiar to Jeremiah. There is nothing answering to it in either of the kindred passages in Isaiah. The whole passage is grotesquely faithful, and the conclusion commends itself, They cannot do evil, neither also is it in them to do good.


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Bibliography
Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Jeremiah 10:5". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/jeremiah-10.html. 1874-1909.

Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable

These idols were similar to scarecrows, whose only power is to frighten birds. They did not speak to command, counsel, or comfort their worshippers. They could not walk to come to the aid of their devotees. People had to carry them; they were burdens to be borne rather than bearers of their suppliants" burdens. God"s people should not fear them because they do neither harm nor good. They are "do-nothing" gods.


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Bibliography
Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Jeremiah 10:5". "Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/dcc/jeremiah-10.html. 2012.

George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Tree. The ancient statues were ill-formed, (Diodorus 4.) before Dedalus brought the art to greater perfection, and gave them a living attitude.


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Bibliography
Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on Jeremiah 10:5". "George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/hcc/jeremiah-10.html. 1859.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

upright = stiff.

borne = carried.


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Bibliography
Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on Jeremiah 10:5". "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

They are upright as the palm tree, but speak not: they must needs be borne, because they cannot go. Be not afraid of them; for they cannot do evil, neither also is it in them to do good.

Upright , [ miqshaah (Hebrew #4749)] - 'Made of one solid piece,' one Rabbi translates it, or, 'They are of turned work, resembling a palm tree' (Maurer). The point of comparison between the idol and the palm was in the pillar-like uprightness and plain smoothness of the latter, it having no branches except at the top.

Speak not - (Psalms 115:5).

Cannot go - i:e., walk (Isaiah 46:1; Isaiah 46:7, "Their idols are a burden to the weary beast ... They bear (the idol) upon their shoulder, they carry him, and set him in his place, and he standeth: from his place shall he not remove").

Neither also is it in them to do good - (Isaiah 41:23, "That we may know ye are gods; yea, do good, or do evil," etc.)


Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.

Bibliography
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Jeremiah 10:5". "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

(5) Upright as the palm tree.—Better, perhaps, A pillar in a garden of gourds are they. The Hebrew word translated “upright” has two very different, though not entirely unconnected, meanings—(1) “twisted, rounded, carved,” and in this sense it is translated commonly as “beaten work” (Exodus 25:18; Exodus 25:31; Exodus 25:36), and is here applied (if we accept this meaning) to the twisted palm-like columns of a temple, to which the stiff, formal figure of the idol, with arms pressed close to the side, and none of the action which we find in Greek statues, is compared; (2) the other meaning adopted by many commentators is that of “a garden of gourds or cucumbers,” and the word is so rendered in Isaiah 1:8. The comparison, in the so-called “Epistle of Jeremy” in the apocryphal book of Baruch (10:70), of an idol to “a scarecrow in a garden of cucumbers” shows that the latter meaning was the accepted one when that Epistle was written. The thought, on this view, is that the idol which the men of Judah were worshipping was like one of the “pillars” (so the word for “palm tree” is translated in Song of Solomon 3:6; Joel 2:30), the Hermes, or Priapus-figures which were placed by Greeks and Romans in gardens and orchards as scarecrows. Like figures appear to have been used by the Phœnicians for the same purpose, and the practice, like the kindred worship of the Asherah, would seem to have been gaining ground even in Judah.


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Bibliography
Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on Jeremiah 10:5". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/ebc/jeremiah-10.html. 1905.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

They are upright as the palm tree, but speak not: they must needs be borne, because they cannot go. Be not afraid of them; for they cannot do evil, neither also is it in them to do good.
speak
Psalms 115:5-8; 135:16-18; Habakkuk 2:19; 1 Corinthians 12:2; Revelation 13:14,15
be borne
Isaiah 46:1,7
do evil
Isaiah 41:23,24; 44:9,10; 45:20; 1 Corinthians 8:4

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Bibliography
Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on Jeremiah 10:5". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/jeremiah-10.html.

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