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Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

Jeremiah 12:16

 

 

"Then if they will really learn the ways of My people, to swear by My name, `As the LORD lives,' even as they taught My people to swear by Baal, they will be built up in the midst of My people.

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

The accomplishment of this blessing depends upon both Judah and the Gentiles reversing their past conduct. Then shall the believing Gentile be admitted within the fold of the true, because spiritual, Israel - Christ‘s Church.


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Bibliography
Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Jeremiah 12:16". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/jeremiah-12.html. 1870.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

And it shall come to pass, if they will diligently learn the ways of my people,.... Not their evil ways of sin or superstition, they sometimes stray into; but the ways which God has prescribed to them, and has directed them to walk in, and in which they do walk; and which are to be learned of the Lord, by a diligent attendance with his people on his word and ordinances; see Isaiah 2:3,

to swear by my name, the Lord liveth; that is, to worship and serve the living God, a self-existent Being, who has life in himself, and of himself, and not another; and is the fountain, author, and giver of natural life to all creatures, and spiritual and eternal life to his true worshippers: swearing is here put for the whole of religious worship, as in Deuteronomy 6:13,

(as they taught my people to swear by Baal;) to worship him, and other idols:

then shall they be built in the midst of my people; become part of the spiritual building the church; being laid upon the same foundation of the apostles and prophets, and built up a holy temple; a spiritual house for the Lord to dwell in; partaking of the same privileges and ordinances as the people of God; being fellow heirs, and of the same body, and partakers of the promise in Christ by the Gospel, Ephesians 2:20, it denotes the settlement and establishment of the Gentiles with the Jews in a Gospel church state. So the Targum,

"and they shall be established in the midst of my people.'


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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.
A printed copy of this work can be ordered from: The Baptist Standard Bearer, 1 Iron Oaks Dr, Paris, AR, 72855

Bibliography
Gill, John. "Commentary on Jeremiah 12:16". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/jeremiah-12.html. 1999.

Geneva Study Bible

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

(r) The true doctrine and manner to serve God.

(s) Read (Jeremiah 4:2).

(t) They will be of the number of the faithful, and have a place in my Church.


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Bibliography
Beza, Theodore. "Commentary on Jeremiah 12:16". "The 1599 Geneva Study Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/gsb/jeremiah-12.html. 1599-1645.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

swear by my name — (Jeremiah 4:2; Isaiah 19:18; Isaiah 65:16); that is, confess solemnly the true God.

built — be made spiritually and temporally prosperous: fixed in sure habitations (compare Jeremiah 24:6; Jeremiah 42:10; Jeremiah 45:4; Psalm 87:4, Psalm 87:5; Ephesians 2:20, Ephesians 2:21; 1 Peter 2:5).


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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 12:16". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/jfb/jeremiah-12.html. 1871-8.

Wesley's Explanatory Notes

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.


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These files are public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available on the Christian Classics Ethereal Library Website.

Bibliography
Wesley, John. "Commentary on Jeremiah 12:16". "John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/wen/jeremiah-12.html. 1765.

Calvin's Commentary on the Bible

We see that this refers to the Gentiles, who were previously aliens to the grace of God; nay, they entertained the most dire hatred towards his chosen people. In short, God declares that he would be merciful and propitious to these miserable nations, of whose salvation no hope was entertained, for they had been rejected by him, and they had oftell and long, and in various ways, provoked his vengeance; and though he speaks of neighbors, as we have seen, yet this prediction belongs generally to the whole world, and was at length fulfined in the call of the Gentiles; for God then gathered a Church indiscriminately both from the Jews and the Gentiles.

But a condition is here laid down — If the Gentiles, who had hitherto opposed the true worship of God, received his law. We indeed know how much hated was true religion, especially by the neighboring nations; for their hatred was increased, because they saw that their superstitions were condenmed by this one people. As then they had been greatly incensed against God and the pure doctrine of his law, he now requires a change in them; If they will learn, he says, the ways of my people By the ways of his people he understands what he had commanded. The people of Israel had indeed often departed from true religion; but God here refers to himself rather than to their perverse conduct, for the law had not been abolished by the wickedness and ingratitude of his people. We hence see that, by the ways of his people, we are not to understand those glosses which the Jews had devised, but the law itself, which God had delivered to them. The authority of men, therefore, cannot be hence established, as though they had power to frame a religion for themselves; but God means only that by his good pleasure alone the Jews had been taught what was right. In short, Jeremiah understands the ways of the people passively, not those which the people had contrived for themselves, but such as they had received from above.

It is then added, That they may swear in my name The expression is a part for the whole, for in it is included the whole worship and service of God. Swearing, as we have said elsewhere, is a part of God’s worship and of true religion, for we profess that we ourselves and our life are in God’s hand when we swear by his name; and we also refer judgment to him, and own that he is really God, inasmuch as he knows our hearts and judges of hidden things. All these things are included in swearing. It is therefore no wonder that, in this place and in many other places, the whole of religion is designated by this expression, according to what is said elsewhere,

“Swear shall they all in my name, Live do I, saith Jehovah; to me shall bend every knee, and by me shall every tongue swear.”
(
Isaiah 45:23)

And as by the altar, in another place, is meant the worship of God, so here by swearing. The meaning is, — that if the Gentiles became so changed as to submit their neck to the yoke of the law, and allow themselves to be ruled by God, they would be made partakers of the mercy which the Jews had before enjoyed.

Then follows the common form of swearing, Live does Jehovah So the Scripture speaks everywhere; and by these words men do not merely testify that they swear by the life of God, but they also ascribe eternity to him, as though it was said, “God alone exists:” for no life is anywhere to be found but in God. Men, indeed, and brute animals, and even trees, are said to live; but in trees there is only vigor without the senses, in brutes the senses without reason and understanding; but in men the life is light; yet they live not by or of themselves, but they derive life from God, according to what we see on the earth, on which light shines; but we know that there is really no light where we dwell but what descends and is conveyed to us by the rays of the sun. In the same manner it may be said that life dwells in men, being conveyed to them by the hidden power of God. Nor do angels, properly speaking, live of themselves. We hence see the meaning of the words, Live does Jehovah The eternity of God is hereby set forth; he is also owned as the Judge of the world; and further, whatever he claims for himself, men thus testify that it is justly and by right his due.

It afterwards follows, As they taught my people to swear by Baal The corruptions of heathens had greatly prevailed among the chosen people; and the greater part, when they saw that the nations prospered, had cast aside every care for true worship and sincere religion. As then the Jews had been so much given to the superstitions of the heathens, the Prophet says, speaking in God’s name, — “If the Gentiles, who have hitherto taught my people to swear by Baal, who have drawn them away to their own idolatries and fictitious and false forms of worship, begin now to swear by my name, faithfully to worship me alone, they shall be built in the midst of my people.” The metaphor of building is very common; but in this place God intimates no more than that the Gentiles would become a part of his flock, when they cast away their superstitions, and embraced the pure worship prescribed in the law. Nor is this to be applied to any particular place, as some have frigidly explained it, but “in the midst of the people,” is the same as though he had said, — “I will count those nations my people, as a part of my Church,” according to what is said in the Psalms, — that though the Tyrians and Sidonians, and Egyptians, and others who had been hostile nations, were born here and there, yet they would boast that they were all born at Jerusalem when God owned them as members of his own people. (Psalms 138:3) (69) It follows —

There is here a clear instance of ו being rendered “then,” and it cannot be rendered othersise, — “If learning they will learn, etc., then shall they be built up,” etc. In the first clause there is also a striking correspondence between the Welsh and the אם, — “(lang. cy) Os gan ddysgu y dysgant.” — Ed


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Bibliography
Calvin, John. "Commentary on Jeremiah 12:16". "Calvin's Commentary on the Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/cal/jeremiah-12.html. 1840-57.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

Jeremiah 12:16 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.

Ver. 16. If they will diligently learn.] Heb., Learning, learn the ways of my people, chalked out unto them in my Word, and their conformity thereunto; for the lives of God’s people are but the Word exemplified, they walk as patterns of the rule, and are of exemplary holiness. {as Luke 1:6}

To swear by my name.] In righteousness, in truth, and in judgment. {as Jeremiah 4:2}

Then shall they be built,] i.e., Blest.


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Bibliography
Trapp, John. "Commentary on Jeremiah 12:16". John Trapp Complete Commentary. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/jeremiah-12.html. 1865-1868.

Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible

Jeremiah 12:16. Then shall they be built, &c.— We have here a clear prophesy of the calling of the Gentiles; and though, after the return from Babylon, the Maccabees in particular were zealous to make proselytes to the law of Moses, it is certain that this and other similar promises had their full accomplishment only in the preaching of the Gospel.

REFLECTIONS.—1st, The prosperity of the wicked has been a great temptation to more than one good man, Psalms 73. Jeremiah is staggered with it, and earnestly desires to be resolved concerning this point.

1. He presumes to plead with God, and talk with him of his judgment; desiring to obtain information, and have his own doubts silenced, fully persuaded that God is righteous, though he sees mysterious providences which he cannot solve. Note; (1.) Though we may not find fault with God's dispensations, we may reason with him upon them, and inquire into the grounds of them, for our greater satisfaction. (2.) Though there may be dark providences which we cannot understand, we must never quit this great and general truth, that God is righteous, and whatever he doth is well done.

2. The particular subject of his inquiry is, the prosperity of the wicked. Their way prospers, their malicious designs take effect, their treachery and hypocrisy meet with success, and they are happy to outward appearance; living at ease, and enjoying every earthly good. Thou hast planted them, as if they were God's peculiar care; yea, they have taken root; they grow, yea, they bring forth fruit; their families increase, their wealth accumulates, and they seem fixed in their possessions; thou art near in their mouth, they make a profession of godliness, and have the Lord's name often in their lips; but, notwithstanding, he is far from their reins, they have no real inward faith, fear, or love of him. Note; (1.) Worldly prosperity is here frequently the lot of God's enemies, who in their life-time receive their good things. (2.) The language of piety is easily learnt; but God trieth the reins, and requireth truth in the inward parts; without which, all besides is but sounding brass, and a tinkling cymbal.

3. God knew his simplicity as well as their hypocrisy, that his heart was right towards him; and that in all the trials he had been exposed to, he had approved his fidelity. Note; (1.) It is happy for us when we can appeal to God for our uprightness before him. (2.) God's judgment concerning us is not taken from our outward appearance, but from our hearts; keep, therefore, thy heart with all diligence. (3.) We may sit easy under men's revilings, if we are conscious of God's approbation of us.

4. He desires to see the ruin of these wicked ones; that, as fattened for slaughter, God would pull them out, and rid the land of that burden under which it groaned. For their wickedness, the famine devoured, and even the beasts and birds perished for want of sustenance, because they said He shall not see our last end; either God, whose judgments they defied, or Jeremiah, whose prophesy they despised, and whom they resolved to put to death, that he at least should not live to see the fulfilment of the threatenings which he denounced against them. Note; (1.) Prosperous sinners are only as the ox fattened for the slaughter. (2.) The earth groans under men's iniquities, but it shall shortly be relieved in their destruction.

5. God answers his complaints; not indeed in a direct explication of his dispensations, but in an admonition designed for his own profiting. If thou hast run with the foot-men, and they have wearied thee, then how canst thou contend with horses? If thou canst not find out the devices of the men of Anathoth, how shouldst thou fathom the secrets of God's providence? so some interpret it: or rather, if these conflicts with the men of Anathoth discouraged him, how would he be able to cope with the king, princes, and priests at Jerusalem? and if in the land of peace wherein thou trustedst, in his own city, where he promised himself peace and safety, they have wearied thee; made such an impression on his spirits; how wilt thou do in the swelling of Jordan? when a flood of greater persecution shall burst forth upon him, and threaten to overwhelm him. For even thy brethren, the priests, the house of thy father, to whom by blood he was so nearly connected; even they have dealt treacherously with thee, seeking to silence or destroy him: yea, they have called a multitude after thee, raised a mob against him, and instigated them to insult and hoot him as he passed; believe them not, though they speak fair words unto thee; they pretend to abhor persecution, and to discountenance such riotous proceedings, when in fact they are at the bottom of them; and when their words are smoother than oil, they have hearts full of rancorous enmity. Note; (1.) They who stand up for God and his truth, must prepare themselves for the world's opposition. (2.) Our bitterest enemies are often our nearest kinsmen, or our brethren in office. (3.) God prepares his servants by lesser trials for greater ones. (4.) In our own strength the least temptation will weary us; in God's strength, we shall be enabled to stem the swelling of Jordan.

2nd, We have,

1. God's dereliction of his people. His temple he deserts, his heritage he forsakes, the dearly-beloved of his soul he gives up into the hands of his enemies. Once they bore these favoured titles, God delighted in them, separated them for himself, and chose them for a peculiar people, setting his love upon them; but their ingratitude drove him from them, and left them an easy prey to every invader. The people of his heritage were as lions in the forest, roaring against God in the persons of his prophets, blaspheming his name, and renouncing his government, and become cruel, blood-thirsty, and oppressive; therefore have I hated it; withdrawn every token of favour from them, and devoted them to destruction. Note; Woe unto the soul, to the people from whom God departs; they are on the verge of ruin!

2. Their destruction by the Chaldeans. Come ye, assemble all the beasts of the field, come to devour; the armies of Nebuchadnezzar, fierce and savage, are summoned to take the field, and consume this devoted people, Revelation 19:17-18 and no sooner is it spoken than done. Many pastors, the captains of the Chaldean host, have destroyed my vineyard, they have trodden my portion under foot, they have made my pleasant portion a desolate wilderness: once God regarded this place and people as his own, and delighted in it as his portion; but now universal desolation reigns, the country is turned into a wilderness, the cities sacked, burnt, and rased from their foundations, the sword devours from one end of the land to the other: and while this impenitent people lay not their sins to heart, the very earth mourns as more deeply affected than they, upbraiding their ingratitude and hardness of heart; and all attempts to extricate themselves are vain. It is the sword of the Lord, and therefore no flesh shall have peace; though they sow wheat, they shall reap thorns; literally, a curse being upon the ground for their sins; and figuratively, though they contrived to engage the Egyptians as their auxiliaries, they would prove a vexation to them, rather than assistance. Their pains are spent to no profit; and shame and confusion will cover them, when they see all their schemes disappointed, and their revenues, so lavishly spent to hire foreign aid, thrown away, because of the fierce anger of the Lord; against which all their policy and power were equally fruitless, and which was infinitely more to be feared than even the Chaldean army. Note; (1.) If we have God for our enemy, we can hope for no peace in time or eternity. (2.) Nothing can engage sinners to lay to heart the evil of their ways, when God withdraws his Spirit from them; even the heaviest judgments then but harden and exasperate. (3.) If God spared not his own pleasant portion or land, let no other guilty land hope to escape.

3rdly, Jeremiah's commission extended not merely to his own people, but to the neighbouring nations.

1. God threatens them with destruction for their unkindness to Israel. They are called his evil neighbours, such as the Moabites, Ammonites, Philistines, &c, by their connexions with whom God's people had been led into sin and idolatry, and that is the greatest evil which any can do; that touch the inheritance which I have caused my people Israel to inherit, made inroads upon them, assisted the Chaldeans to destroy them, and led away many captives: for this God will visit them. Behold, I will pluck them out of their land, they too shall be utterly wasted and destroyed; and pluck out the house of Judah from among them; who, when their ruin came, would be released, and escape from their captivity. Note; (1.) It is a dangerous and irksome state to dwell in the midst of evil neighbours. (2.) They who have been our tempters, are often made our tormentors. (3.) If judgment begin at the house of God, let not the ungodly and the sinner think of escaping.

2. God still appears ready to have compassion on them, notwithstanding his judgments against them. Though cast out and captives, he will bring them again every man to his heritage, and every man to his land; on this condition, that, forsaking their former idolatries, they diligently learn the ways of my people, to worship and serve the true God, to swear by my name, The Lord liveth, and renounce all idols; in opposition to their former wicked conduct, when they taught my people to swear by Baal; then, not only shall their captivity be turned, but they shall be built in the midst of my people, become intitled to all the blessings and benefits of native Israelites, united with them in love, and admitted to the worship and service of God's temple. And this seems to look farther than to the conversion of many to the Jewish religion, who returned with them from Babylon; and had eminently its accomplishment when the Gentiles were gathered into the church, made fellow-heirs, and of the same body, and partakers of the promise in Christ by the Gospel; but shall have its complete fulfilment, when Jews and Gentiles become, without distinction, one fold under one shepherd. Note; (1.) The bitterest enemies of God and his people may yet be reconciled; there is ever hope for the returning sinner. (2.) Whey who learn the ways of God's people will have their happy lot with them. (3.) They who would be proficients in the school of Christ must use all diligence; sloth and ignorance are inseparable.

3. Judgment is denounced on those who refused to obey the Gospel, and return to God. I will utterly pluck up and destroy that nation, saith the Lord. Note; There is but one alternative; either we must turn to God, and be made happy in everlasting blessedness; or by departing from God, and continuing impenitent, go down into everlasting burnings.


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Bibliography
Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Jeremiah 12:16". Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/tcc/jeremiah-12.html. 1801-1803.

Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

Though these people be heathens, yet if they will leave their idolatries, and superstitious ways of worship, and learn to worship and serve me, as my people do and ought to worship me, and

swear by my name, The Lord liveth; that is, pay that homage which they pay to the Divine Being to me, the living and true God; owning me alone as the fountain of life, and searcher of the hearts (for there is a great homage paid to the true God in swearing by his name only, which showeth the great impiety and profaneness of other oaths); then, saith God, I will bless and prosper them also, and they shall not only have a portion in the earth, but amongst my people; which was eminently fulfilled in the conversion of the Gentiles, Romans 11:17; they were originally wild olives, and grafted in amongst the Jews, and with them made partakers of the root and fatness of the olive tree.


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Bibliography
Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Jeremiah 12:16". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/mpc/jeremiah-12.html. 1685.

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

16. Learn the ways of my people — That is, adopt the worship of Jehovah. As they led God’s people away into the worship of Baalim, so they shall be led by Israel into “the ways” of Jehovah, and thus be built up with his “people” into a spiritual unity.


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Bibliography
Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Jeremiah 12:16". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/jeremiah-12.html. 1874-1909.

Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable

If these neighbors came to trust and worship Yahweh (cf. Genesis 31:51-53), as they had formerly taught the Judahites to trust in Baal, the Lord would accept them (cf. Ruth).

"At the same time, there is no concession to the old ways or the old gods-in our modern terms, to religious pluralism" [Note: Kidner, p62.]

Jeremiah 12:15-16 will find fulfillment in the Millennium (cf. Genesis 12:1-3; Zechariah 14:16; Romans 11:15).


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Bibliography
Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Jeremiah 12:16". "Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/dcc/jeremiah-12.html. 2012.

George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

People. After the captivity, converts were more cherished. Yet the predictions concerning the call of the Gentiles were accomplished only by the preaching of the gospel. (Calmet)

 


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Bibliography
Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on Jeremiah 12:16". "George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/hcc/jeremiah-12.html. 1859.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

as = according as.

built = rebuilt. See note on Numbers 13:22.


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Bibliography
Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on Jeremiah 12:16". "E.W. Bullinger's Companion bible Notes". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/bul/jeremiah-12.html. 1909-1922.

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

(16) To swear by my name.—There is an obvious reference to the hopes expressed in Jeremiah 4:2. To acknowledge Jehovah in all the most solemn forms of adjuration (comp. Jeremiah 5:2; Psalms 63:11), and to do this, not hypocritically, but in the spirit of reverence and righteousness, was the ideal state of the restored Judah. To be led by her example of faith and holiness, instead of leading her to acknowledge Baal by like forms of speech as they had done, was the ideal state of the nations round about her. In this hope the prophet was echoing that of Isaiah 2:3; Micah 4:2.


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Bibliography
Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on Jeremiah 12:16". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/ebc/jeremiah-12.html. 1905.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

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.
my name
4:2; 5:2; Deuteronomy 10:20,21; Song of Solomon 1:8; Isaiah 9:18-21; 45:23; 65:16; Romans 14:11
as they
Joshua 23:7; Psalms 106:35,36; Zephaniah 1:5
built
Isaiah 19:23-25; 56:5,6; Zechariah 2:11; Romans 11:17; 1 Corinthians 3:9; Ephesians 2:19-22; 1 Peter 2:4-6

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Bibliography
Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on Jeremiah 12:16". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/jeremiah-12.html.

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