King James Bible
with Catholic Commentary by George Leo Haydock

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Jeremiah 23

The restoration of the Jews to their own land. (1-8) The wickedness of the priests and prophets of Judah, The people exhorted not to listen to false promises. (9-22) The pretenders to inspiration threatened. (23-32) Also the scoffers at true prophecy. (33-40)

Jeremiah 23 Audio:

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The restoration of the Jews to their own land

1 Woe be unto the pastors that destroy and scatter the sheep of my pasture! saith the LORD.

2 Therefore thus saith the LORD God of Israel against the pastors that feed my people; Ye have scattered my flock, and driven them away, and have not visited them: behold, I will visit upon you the evil of your doings, saith the LORD.

3 And I will gather the remnant of my flock out of all countries whither I have driven them, and will bring them again to their folds; and they shall be fruitful and increase.

4 And I will set up shepherds over them which shall feed them: and they shall fear no more, nor be dismayed, neither shall they be lacking, saith the LORD.

5 Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will raise unto David a righteous Branch, and a King shall reign and prosper, and shall execute judgment and justice in the earth.

6 In his days Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely: and this is his name whereby he shall be called, THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS.

7 Therefore, behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that they shall no more say, The LORD liveth, which brought up the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt;

8 But, The LORD liveth, which brought up and which led the seed of the house of Israel out of the north country, and from all countries whither I had driven them; and they shall dwell in their own land.

The wickedness of the priests and prophets of Judah, The people exhorted not to listen to false promises

9 Mine heart within me is broken because of the prophets; all my bones shake; I am like a drunken man, and like a man whom wine hath overcome, because of the LORD, and because of the words of his holiness.

10 For the land is full of adulterers; for because of swearing the land mourneth; the pleasant places of the wilderness are dried up, and their course is evil, and their force is not right.

11 For both prophet and priest are profane; yea, in my house have I found their wickedness, saith the LORD.

12 Wherefore their way shall be unto them as slippery ways in the darkness: they shall be driven on, and fall therein: for I will bring evil upon them, even the year of their visitation, saith the LORD.

13 And I have seen folly in the prophets of Samaria; they prophesied in Baal, and caused my people Israel to err.

14 I have seen also in the prophets of Jerusalem an horrible thing: they commit adultery, and walk in lies: they strengthen also the hands of evildoers, that none doth return from his wickedness; they are all of them unto me as Sodom, and the inhabitants thereof as Gomorrah.

15 Therefore thus saith the LORD of hosts concerning the prophets; Behold, I will feed them with wormwood, and make them drink the water of gall: for from the prophets of Jerusalem is profaneness gone forth into all the land.

16 Thus saith the LORD of hosts, Hearken not unto the words of the prophets that prophesy unto you: they make you vain: they speak a vision of their own heart, and not out of the mouth of the LORD.

17 They say still unto them that despise me, The LORD hath said, Ye shall have peace; and they say unto every one that walketh after the imagination of his own heart, No evil shall come upon you.

18 For who hath stood in the counsel of the LORD, and hath perceived and heard his word? who hath marked his word, and heard it?

19 Behold, a whirlwind of the LORD is gone forth in fury, even a grievous whirlwind: it shall fall grievously upon the head of the wicked.

20 The anger of the LORD shall not return, until he have executed, and till he have performed the thoughts of his heart: in the latter days ye shall consider it perfectly.

21 I have not sent these prophets, yet they ran: I have not spoken to them, yet they prophesied.

22 But if they had stood in my counsel, and had caused my people to hear my words, then they should have turned them from their evil way, and from the evil of their doings.

The pretenders to inspiration threatened

23 Am I a God at hand, saith the LORD, and not a God afar off?

24 Can any hide himself in secret places that I shall not see him? saith the LORD. Do not I fill heaven and earth? saith the LORD.

25 I have heard what the prophets said, that prophesy lies in my name, saying, I have dreamed, I have dreamed.

26 How long shall this be in the heart of the prophets that prophesy lies? yea, they are prophets of the deceit of their own heart;

27 Which think to cause my people to forget my name by their dreams which they tell every man to his neighbour, as their fathers have forgotten my name for Baal.

28 The prophet that hath a dream, let him tell a dream; and he that hath my word, let him speak my word faithfully. What is the chaff to the wheat? saith the LORD.

29 Is not my word like as a fire? saith the LORD; and like a hammer that breaketh the rock in pieces?

30 Therefore, behold, I am against the prophets, saith the LORD, that steal my words every one from his neighbour.

31 Behold, I am against the prophets, saith the LORD, that use their tongues, and say, He saith.

32 Behold, I am against them that prophesy false dreams, saith the LORD, and do tell them, and cause my people to err by their lies, and by their lightness; yet I sent them not, nor commanded them: therefore they shall not profit this people at all, saith the LORD.

Also the scoffers at true prophecy

33 And when this people, or the prophet, or a priest, shall ask thee, saying, What is the burden of the LORD? thou shalt then say unto them, What burden? I will even forsake you, saith the LORD.

34 And as for the prophet, and the priest, and the people, that shall say, The burden of the LORD, I will even punish that man and his house.

35 Thus shall ye say every one to his neighbour, and every one to his brother, What hath the LORD answered? and, What hath the LORD spoken?

36 And the burden of the LORD shall ye mention no more: for every man’s word shall be his burden; for ye have perverted the words of the living God, of the LORD of hosts our God.

37 Thus shalt thou say to the prophet, What hath the LORD answered thee? and, What hath the LORD spoken?

38 But since ye say, The burden of the LORD; therefore thus saith the LORD; Because ye say this word, The burden of the LORD, and I have sent unto you, saying, Ye shall not say, The burden of the LORD;

39 Therefore, behold, I, even I, will utterly forget you, and I will forsake you, and the city that I gave you and your fathers, and cast you out of my presence:

40 And I will bring an everlasting reproach upon you, and a perpetual shame, which shall not be forgotten.

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G Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Ver. 1. Pastors. Successors of Josias (C.) and false prophets. M.

Ver. 3. Multiplied. The prophets subjoin tidings of peace to such as might cause affliction. Theodoret.

Ver. 4-5. Pastors; Zorobabel, &c. as figures of Christ, and of the pastors of his Church. — No more, as much as formerly. So many expressions must be understood. — Branch. Sept. “orient.” — Reign. Zorobabel was not chief governor, (C.) though at the head of his tribe. H. — The kingdom of Christ was not of this world. Jo. xviii. 36. C. — He alone imparts justice to others. W.

Ver. 6. Saved: less disturbed. The world shall be redeemed. Lu. ii. 14. Eph. ii. 14. — Just. Heb. “Justice,” by whom we are made just. He is the true God. Col. ii. 9. 14. No man could bear this title: and Grotius insidiously attempts to apply it to the Jews, though the Chal. &c. clearly speak of the Messias. He must be read with great caution. C. — Sept. “This is his name, which the Lord will call him, Josedech. In the prophets. 9. My,” &c. H. — Josedech means “the Lord justice.” C. — Sym. “Lord, justify us.”

Ver. 8. Land. The deliverance from Egypt and Babylon were emblems of man’s redemption, which was accomplished by far greater miracles.

Ver. 9. Prophets of falsehood. He directs his discourse to them, and afterwards to the priests, being filled with amazement at their impending ruin.

Ver. 10. Adulterers; impostors or idolaters. — Cursing of the Lord, or the abuse of his sacred name. C. — Unlike. Heb. “not right.” H.

Ver. 11. Defiled. Heb. “hypocrites.” My priests retain the appearance of religion, to join with impostors in deluding the people.

Ver. 14. Jerusalem. These were far worse, as they pretended to be inspired by God, whereas those of Samaria publicly adhered to Baal; so that the people must have been foolish to have been deceived by them. C.

Ver. 15. Gall, or something mortally bitter. C. ix. 15. H.

Ver. 16. Own. To rely on private judgment, and not on the Church, is a mark of falsehood. W.

Ver. 17. Blaspheme. Heb. “despise;” or Sept. “reject disdainfully the word of the Lord, you,” &c. C. vi. 14. and viii. 11.

Ver. 18. Counsel. Heb. “secret.” Which of you is acquainted with his designs? I will inform you, that your perdition is at hand. v. 20. C.

Ver. 21. Not send. The want of mission proves a prophet or preacher to be false. W.

Ver. 22. I should. Some copies read avertissent, “they would have turned,” conformably with the Heb. &c. and we should suspect that this was a mistake of the transcriber, if S. Jerom did not agree with the Vulg. in his commentary, (C.) though not in express terms: (H.) “I also should not have abandoned them to impurity…Let us behold how heretics, having once given way to despair,…seek the gratification of their sensual appetite.” S. Jer.

Ver. 23. Off? Can you so easily penetrate my designs, or escape my fury? Am I like your idols of yesterday? Sept. and Theodot. “I am a God at hand,” &c. which agrees with the sequel. C.

Ver. 27. Dreams, as if God had favoured them with his revelations. H. — Fathers; the false prophets of Baal, whom these imitate.

Ver. 28. Dream, to those who are really sent by God, (C.) and recognized. 1 Cor. xiv. 29. H.

Ver. 29. Pieces? True prophets will have a zeal fo the conversion of souls. C. xx. 9. Heb. iv. 12.

Ver. 30. Neighbour, causing those whom I have sent to be disregarded.

Ver. 31. Use. Hebrew also, “sharpen, or render smooth,” and insinuating. Ps. xlix. 16. C.

Ver. 32. Wonders. Prot. “lightness.” Sept. “frauds,” or pretended miracles. H. — False prophets cannot work true miracles: but it is more difficult to distinguish these than the former mark of being lawfully sent. v. 21. W.

Ver. 33. Burden, Massa, (H.) denotes a weight, or sometimes a prediction. C.

Ver. 34. Burden of the Lord. This expression is here rejected and disallowed, at least for those times: because it was then used in mockery and contempt by the false prophets, and unbelieving people, who ridiculed the repeated threats of Jeremias under the name of his burdens. Ch.

Ver. 35. Answered. I will make you alter your language by chastisements.

Ver. 39. Take. Heb. of the Masorets, (C.) “I, even I, will utterly forget (Prot. H.) or abandon you.” Chal. But the sense of the Sept. and Vulg. seems preferable. C.