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Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

Jeremiah 10:8

 

 

But they are altogether stupid and foolish In their discipline of delusion--their idol is wood!

Adam Clarke Commentary

The stock is a doctrine of vanities - Dr. Blayney translates, - "The wood itself is a rebuker of vanities." The very tree out of which the god is hewn demonstrates the vanity and folly of the idolaters; for, can all the art of man make out of a log of wood an animate and intelligent being?


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Bibliography
Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Jeremiah 10:8". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/jeremiah-10.html. 1832.

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

Brutish - Jeremiah 10:21 and foolish Theirs was the brutishness of men in a savage state, little better than mere animals: their folly that of stupidity.

The stock … - Rather, the instruction of idols is a piece of wood. That is what they are themselves, and “ex nihilo nihil fit” (from nothingness, nothing is made).


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Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Jeremiah 10:8". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/jeremiah-10.html. 1870.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

But they are altogether brutish and foolish,.... In comparison of the Lord, there is no knowledge and wisdom in them, this is a certain fact; they are verily brutish and foolish; or they are one and all so, there is not a wise man among them: or, "in one thing they are brutish"F18ובאחת יבערו "in hoc uno Munster", Tigurine version; "et certe in una quadem re obbrutescunt", Piscator. So Jarchi and Abarbinel. , &c.; namely, in their idolatry; however wise they may be in other respects, in this they are foolish: or, to give no more instances of their brutishnessF19The Talmudists seem to take the word בער to have the signification of burning; for the sense of these words being asked, it is replied, there is one thing that burns the wicked in hell; what is it? idolatry; as it is here written, "a doctrine of vanities is the stock." and folly, this one is sufficient, even what follows,

the stock is a doctrine of vanities; or what they teach persons, as to worship the trunk of a tree, or any idol of metal, or of wood, is a most vain and foolish thing, and argues gross stupidity and folly, and proves them to be brutish, and without understanding.


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Bibliography
Gill, John. "Commentary on Jeremiah 10:8". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/jeremiah-10.html. 1999.

Geneva Study Bible

But they are altogether senseless and foolish: the stock [is] a e doctrine of vanities.

(e) Because the people thought that to have images was a means to serve God, and to bring them to the knowledge of him, he shows that nothing more displeases God, nor brings man into greater errors and ignorance of God: and therefore he calls them the doctrine of vanity, the work of errors, (Jeremiah 10:15). (Habakkuk 2:18) calls them the teachers of lies: contrary to that wicked opinion, that they are the books of the lay people.

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Bibliography
Beza, Theodore. "Commentary on Jeremiah 10:8". "The 1599 Geneva Study Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/gsb/jeremiah-10.html. 1599-1645.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

altogether — rather, “all alike” [Maurer]. Even the so-called “wise” men (Jeremiah 10:7) of the Gentiles are on a level with the brutes and “foolish,” namely, because they connive at the popular idolatry (compare Romans 1:21-28). Therefore, in Daniel and Revelation, the world power is represented under a bestial form. Man divests himself of his true humanity, and sinks to the level of the brute, when he severs his connection with God (Psalm 115:8; Jonah 2:8).

stock is a doctrine of vanities — The stock (put for the worship of all idols whatever, made out of a stock) speaks for itself that the whole theory of idolatry is vanity (Isaiah 44:9-11). Castalio translates, “the very wood itself confuting the vanity” (of the idol).


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Bibliography
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Jeremiah 10:8". "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

The Prophet shews here, in one sentence, that the wisest in the whole world could be proved guilty of the greatest madness, or of a twofold folly, because they willingly worshipped the trunks of trees, and they worshipped stones; for Under one kind he includes the other. There is no one, he says, however intelligent, who does not approve of the superstitions of the people, who does not bend the knee before a wood or a stone. There have been, indeed, a few in the world who ridiculed such sottishhess, but no one dared openly to condemn it, and no one introduced anything better. And even the Platonics hold that the Greeks had not without reason invented gods like men; and they say that there was not so much judgment among the barbarians as to form such ideas of the gods as were suitable to their nature. However this may have been, it is evident that the grossest superstitions of the nations were ever approved by all their wise men.

The Prophet then shews that there was no need of a long discussion to discover the vanity of the wise; In one, in one thing, he says; and there is emphasis in this word, when he says, In one thing they are foolish and fatuitous; for there is to be understood a contrast, as though he had said, “I will not here join together many heads of accusation against them to expose their folly, one thing is sufficient; this one sentence is enough to condemn them, — that wood is the teaching of vanities.” (9) We have stated what the Prophet means,meven that all the wise, who together with the vulgar worshipped gods made of wood and stone, were very foolish: but we must notice the import of the expression, The teaching of vanities is the wood. It is, as we have said, an instance of a part being put for the whole; for under “wood” Jeremiah includes statues of stone, and others made of different materials; as though he had said, “Every form or effigy, representing a god, is the teaching of vanities.” He takes this as granted; and yet there had been, as we have lately stated, a great and fierce contention among the wise men on this subject; but the Prophet deigned not to contend or seriously to dispute with them, for the thing itself was sufficiently evident, that is, that nothing can be more absurd than to worship the trunk of a tree or a stone.

Now we may from this passage draw a general truth, — that when men seek to represent God under any visible form, they give way to the delusions and impostures of Satan. Well known is that sentence of Gregory to Serenus, the Bishop of Marseilles, when that good man cast down the images which he saw led to ungodly worship, and purged the churches of Marseilles from such pollutions: Gregory, though a pious man, yet wrote very foolishly — that Serenus acted rightly and wisely in forbidding images to be worshipped, but that he yet acted inconsiderately by emptying the churches of them; for “they are,” he said, “the books of the simple:” this is the conclusion of his epistle. And it is ever in the mouth of Papists — that images are the books of the simple. At the same time I would they retained this truth avowed by Gregory, that they ought not to be worshipped. They worship and adore them, as it is well known, in the place of God. But as I have already said, that answer of Gregory was puerile and foolish: for we hear what the Prophet says, — that in wood and stone and in every outward representation there is vanity, as Habakkuk also in the second chapter, where He speaks of idols, calls an idol the teacher of vanity. Every statue, every image, by which foolish men seek to represent God, is a teacher of falsehood. So our Prophet says, — that the teaching of vanities is found in all statues, because God is thus misrepresented; for what can be in a wood or stone that is like the infinite power of God, or his incomprehensible essence and majesty? Men, therefore, offer a serious affront to God when they thus deform him, as Paul also in Romans 1:25, says, — that the truth was thus changed into falsehood, that is, when he is supposed to have anything like to what external and dead figures have; as the same Paul further reasons in Acts 17:29, when he says, Do ye think that God is like to wood or stone, to silver or gold? And his argument was at that time suitable; for he had to do with heafilens: he did not refer to the law, though he might have quoted a passage in Deuteronomy, where God reminded the people that he so appeared to them that they saw no similitude; and he might have referred to the testimonies of Isaiah, Jeremiah, and of the other Prophets; but as he addressed heathens, even the Athenians, he says, “One of your poets has said, that we are the offspring of God:” if we are then, He says, the offspring of God, do ye not draw God down from his celestial throne, when ye seek to delineate him according to your fancies, and suppose that he lies hid in wood or stone, in silver and gold? For some life appears at least in men, they are endued with mind and intelligence, and so far they bear some likeness to God: but a dead wood and stone, which are void of sense, — gold also and silver, which are metals without reason, which have no life, — what affinity, He says, can these have to God? This subject might be more copiously handled; but I merely explain what the Prophet means, and also shew the import of his doctrine, and how it may be applied for general instruction. It now follows —

But they are together brutish and stupid; The teaching of vanities the wood is.

Literally, “the wood it,” but as Gataker says, the pronoun is often used in Hebrew for the substantive verb. The phrase is elliptical, no unusual thing in Hebrew. It may be thus, rendering in full, —

The teaching of vanities, is the teaching of the wood,
or respecting the wood.

What they taught respecting the wooden idols was “vanities,” that is, very or extremely vain; for so the plural often means. The version ofBlayney, after Castellio, and approved by Horsley, is the following, —

“The very wood itself being a rebuker of vanities.”

But it is a sentiment not suitable to this place. The most strict meaning of מוסר is restraint, and not rebuke; it often means teaching or instruction. — Ed


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Bibliography
Calvin, John. "Commentary on Jeremiah 10:8". "Calvin's Commentary on the Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/cal/jeremiah-10.html. 1840-57.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

Jeremiah 10:8 But they are altogether brutish and foolish: the stock [is] a doctrine of vanities.

Ver. 8. But they are altogether brutish and foolish.] The wise men are, for that, when they knew there was but one only true God - as did Pythagoras, Socrates, Plato, Seneca, &c. - they "detained the truth in unrighteousness," and taught the people to worship stocks and stones. [Romans 1:21-23] The nations are, because they yield to be taught devotion by images under what pretext soever. Considerentur hic subterfugia Papistarum. Let them regard this strategm of Popery. Pope Gregory first taught that images in churches were laymen’s books, a doctrine of devils.


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Trapp, John. "Commentary on Jeremiah 10:8". John Trapp Complete Commentary. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/jeremiah-10.html. 1865-1868.

Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible

Jeremiah 10:8. But they are altogether brutish, &c.— But they are altogether foolish, and have received the instruction of those which are nothing but wood. Houb.

The stock is a doctrine of vanities The true meaning and force of this passage seems to have escaped the notice of all the commentators, except Blayney. מוסר musar, properly signifies rectifying or correcting a false notion by just reproof; and by vanities are meant idols, so called from their being of no real use or advantage to those who had recourse to their assistance. And this unprofitableness of the idol the very dull and senseless matter, says the prophet, out of which it was formed, is capable of demonstrating. But the rebuke, strictly speaking, is not directed to the idol, but to those who had not sense to perceive, that all the efforts of human art could never change an inanimate log of wood into an animated being, possessed of power and intelligence far surpassing the person from whom its origin was derived. There is, therefore, an energy and pointedness in this short sentence, at least equal, in my opinion, to whatever has been said upon the same subject by the most spirited writer, whether sacred or profane. Not even the keen raillery of the Roman satirist in those celebrated lines, Olim truncus eram ficulnus,* &c. (Hor. Sat. lib. I. sat. Jeremiah 8:1.) cuts with greater severity.

* In days of yore our godship stood, A very worthless log of wood. FRANCIS.


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Bibliography
Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Jeremiah 10:8". 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 altogether brutish: the awe that the idol doth impress upon carnal men’s minds, and thereby taking them off from a due apprehension of the essence of God, doth keep them between such hope and fear, that they become as senseless and as inapprehensive of any true worship as brutes.

And foolish; not only some of them, but even all, both Jews and Gentiles: q.d. I need not stand to particularize, but take them altogether, they are become stupid idolaters, and have drank in the most gross superstitions of the Gentiles, as Romans 1:19,21.

The stock; a synecdoche put for all sorts of idols, of what materials soever; and a metonymy of the matter, to render them contemptible, either as deluding the ignorant, or in themselves considered; they are mere vain, foolish, helpless things.

Is a doctrine of vanities; the Hebrew word musar is taken for bad instruction, Proverbs 16:22: q. d. It is an easy matter to prove them very fools and brutish, when they look upon a stock, a piece of wood, to be their god, which hath neither knowledge nor providence, and therefore must needs be a doctrine of vanity, when they think to be taught devotion by images, which is a teacher of lies; that saith to the dumb stone, It shall teach, Habakkuk 2:18,19; like that doctrine of devils first broached by Pope Gregory, who first commended Serenus bishop of Massilia for not permitting images to be worshipped, but reproved him for throwing them out of the church, because they serve for ornaments and laymen’s books, which since hath been received as a catholic doctrine, that images are laymen’s books.


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Bibliography
Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Jeremiah 10:8". 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

8. The stock, etc. — Rather, the teaching of idols is wood. They themselves are wood, and nothing can proceed from them better than what is in them. The special point of this sentence, at once so keenly satirical and so truly philosophical, is this: Their shaping, polishing, decking, and plating would seem to be for the purpose of getting something more precious than wood. As they look upon their finished god, decked out with his trappings of gold and silver, they forget his genesis, and think of him as something else than he really is. And so the prophet condenses all the possibilities of the case into a single sentence; and then, as if in the way of individual justification, he hastily runs over the process of the manufacture of idols.


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Bibliography
Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Jeremiah 10:8". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/jeremiah-10.html. 1874-1909.

Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable

Song of Solomon -called wise men from the nations who worship a wooden idol are really stupid and foolish (cf. 1 Corinthians 1:21). Their disciplined worship is just a delusion accomplishing nothing.


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Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Jeremiah 10:8". "Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/dcc/jeremiah-10.html. 2012.

Joseph Benson's Commentary of the Old and New Testaments

Jeremiah 10:8. But they are altogether brutish — Or, all alike brutish. They that make images, saith the psalmist, Psalms 115:8, are like unto them, equally stupid and insensible. The stock is a doctrine of vanities — Or lies. The use of images in worship is grounded on a false and foolish opinion, that God is like the work of men’s hands, and that images have some divine power lodged within them, and in this opinion it has a direct tendency to confirm the ignorant. Hence an image is called by Habakkuk, A teacher of lies. Instead of the stock, &c., Dr. Waterland reads, Vain institutions! very wood! Blaney, in consistency with his interpretation of the 7th verse, given above, renders this, But they, when they approach, (namely, to worship,) are stupid and sottish, the very wood itself being a rebuker of vanities. On which he observes, “The contrast is thus strongly marked between the true God, and the objects of heathen superstition. The servants of the former, when they approached him in their devotions, could not but be impressed with a reverential awe of a being so transcendently glorious. But those who drew near to worship the latter, manifested the greatest stupidity, in not discovering what was so obvious to common apprehension, the gross unworthiness of the objects to which their adorations were addressed.” On the latter clause, The very wood itself, &c., he remarks, “The true meaning and force of this passage seem to have escaped the notice of all the commentators. מוסר, (which our translators render doctrine,) properly signifies rectifying, or correcting, a false notion by just reproof; and by vanities are meant idols, so called from their being of no real use or advantage to those who had recourse to their assistance. And this unprofitableness of the idol, the very dull and senseless matter, says the prophet, out of which it was formed, is capable of demonstrating. But the rebuke, strictly speaking, is not directed to the idol, but to those who had not sense to perceive, that all the efforts of human art could never change an inanimate log of wood into an animated being, possessed of power and intelligence far surpassing those of the person from whom its origin was derived. There are, therefore, an energy and pointedness in this short sentence, at least equal to whatever has been said on the same subject by the most spirited writer, whether sacred or profane. Not even the keen raillery of the Roman satirist in those celebrated lines, olim truncus eram, &c., cuts with greater severity.” See note on Isaiah 44:12, &c.


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Bibliography
Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on Jeremiah 10:8". Joseph Benson's Commentary. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/rbc/jeremiah-10.html. 1857.

George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Vanity, and shews them clearly to be foolish (Calmet) and wicked. (Haydock)


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Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on Jeremiah 10:8". "George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/hcc/jeremiah-10.html. 1859.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

But they are altogether brutish and foolish: the stock is a doctrine of vanities.

They are altogether - rather, all alike (Maurer).

Brutish - even the so-called "wise" men (Jeremiah 10:7) of the Gentiles are on a level with the brutes and "foolish," namely, because they connive at the popular idolatry (cf. Romans 1:21-28. Therefore, in Daniel and Revelation, the world-power is represented under a bestial form. Man divests himself of his true humanity, and sinks to the level of the brute, when he severs his connection with God (Psalms 115:8; Jonah 2:8).

The stock is a doctrine of vanities. The stock (put for the worship of all idols whatever, made out of a stock) speaks for itself, that the whole theory of idolatry is vanity (Isaiah 44:9-11, "They that make a graven image are all of them vanity, and their delectable things shall not profit; and they are their own witnesses: they see not, nor know, that they may be ashamed"). Castalio translates, 'the very wood itself confuting the vanity' (of the idol).

In Jeremiah 10:9, everything connected with idols is the result of human effort.


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Bibliography
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Jeremiah 10:8". "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

(8) Altogether.—Literally, in one, probably in the sense in one word, in one fact, sc., that which follows in the next clause.

The stock is a doctrine of vanities.—Better, inverting the subject and predicate, the teaching of vanities (i.e., of idols) is a word, or is a log. That is all it comes to; that one word is its condemnation.


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Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on Jeremiah 10:8". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/ebc/jeremiah-10.html. 1905.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

But they are altogether brutish and foolish: the stock is a doctrine of vanities.
altogether
Heb. in one, or at once. brutish.
14; 51:17,18; Psalms 115:8; 135:18; Isaiah 41:29; Habakkuk 2:18; Zechariah 10:2; Romans 1:21,22
the stock
2:27; Isaiah 44:19; Hosea 4:12

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Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on Jeremiah 10:8". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/jeremiah-10.html.

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