Jeremiah 31:40 MEANING

Jeremiah 31:40
(40) The whole valley of the dead bodies . . .--We have to think of this city as Jeremiah saw it during the horrors of the siege--the lower part, the "plain" or "valley" of the city, the valley of Hinnom (comp. Jeremiah 19:11), filled with corpses lying unburied in the streets (Lamentations 2:21; Lamentations 4:9), the "ashes" of burnt and shattered houses encumbering the streets with their debris, the fields or open spaces that stretched to the Kidron valley, and the "horse-gate" by the king's palace (2 Kings 11:16; 2 Chronicles 23:15; Nehemiah 3:28)--all this now lay before him as a scene of unspeakable desolation; but in his vision of the restored city he sees it all cleansed from whatever was defiling, consecrated to Jehovah, and holy as the precincts of the Temple. It is, perhaps, not without significance in connection with this passage, that when the city was restored, the region above the "horse-gate" was repaired by the priests, who seem to have had their houses in that quarter (Nehemiah 3:28-29). They appear to have been anxious to restore the sanctity of that over which Jeremiah had lamented as desecrated and defiled. The word for "ashes" was a technical one (Leviticus 6:10-11) for the refuse which remained on the altar after a burnt-offering, and which was to be carried without the camp (Leviticus 4:12; Leviticus 6:11). Probably this and the sweepings of the Temple were thrown into the valley of Hinnom.

Verse 40. - The southern boundary of the city. The whole valley of the dead bodies, and of the ashes; rather,... even the dead bodies and the ashes. It is assumed by most that Jeremiah means the valley of Hinnom, which, after its defilement by Josiah (2 Kings 23:10), had become a receptacle of rubbish and offal. It is, however, against this view that the word for "valley" is not gai (elsewhere connected with Hinnom), but emek, i.e. "deep lying plain." The "dead bodies" are the corpses of men and animals, destroyed by the judgment of God, and lying unburied; but where, seems uncertain. Ashes. Wood ashes are not here meant, but those of flesh and fat, which remained after the burning of a sacrificial victim (see Leviticus 1:16; and comp. 4:12). The horse gate. Mentioned in Nehemiah 3:28. Holy unto the Lord. The unclean spots in the neighbourhood having been transformed. The expression reminds us of Exodus 28:36 (the legend on the forefront of the high priest's mitre).

31:35-40 As surely as the heavenly bodies will continue their settled course, according to the will of their Creator, to the end of time, and as the raging sea obeys him, so surely will the Jews be continued a separate people. Words can scarcely set forth more strongly the restoration of Israel. The rebuilding of Jerusalem, and its enlargement and establishment, shall be an earnest of the great things God will do for the gospel church. The personal happiness of every true believer, as well as the future restoration of Israel, is secured by promise, covenant, and oath. This Divine love passes knowledge; and to those who take hold upon it, every present mercy is an earnest of salvation.And the whole valley of the dead bodies, and of the ashes,.... The Targum paraphrases it,

"where the carcasses of the Assyrian army fell;''

Sennacherib's army, destroyed by an angel; and so Jarchi and Kimchi; which latter observes, that the word for "ashes" signifies "fat"; and so may describe the persons then destroyed, who were fat and lusty men: others think, more probably, that the valley of Tophet or Hinnom is here meant; so called, either from the persons that were burnt and sacrificed to Moloch; or from the carcasses of malefactors interred here; and from the ashes of the sacrifices which were brought from the temple, and laid here. This valley lay southwest of the city; it was a ditch at the foot of the mount of Calvary; where, as Monsieur Thevenot (s) says, now stands the chapel of the invention of the cross:

and all the fields unto the brook of Kidron; such as the potters and fullers' fields, which lay to the south of the city, or more to the east, where Kidron was situated:

unto the corner of the horse gate towards the east; and so the compass is fetched round the city to the eastern part of it, from whence it began, even to the tower of Hananeel, which was on the east of this horse gate; see 2 Kings 11:16. The Targum renders it,

"to the corner of the gate of the house of the king's course;''

supposed to be the gate at which the king's horses went in and out, when led to be watered or exercised:

shall be holy unto the Lord; that is, the whole city in its utmost compass thus rebuilt, yea, even the out parts of it, and those that were defiled with the carcasses of men, and ashes of the burnt offerings. It seems to respect the extensive holiness of the church of God in the latter day; compare with it Zechariah 14:10;

it shall not be plucked up, nor thrown down any more for ever; which, if understood literally of the city of Jerusalem, can only signify, that it should not be destroyed soon, but should continue a long time; for certain it is, that after it was rebuilt by Zerubbabel, it was plucked up, and thrown down by the Romans, and particularly by Hadrian, who ploughed it up, and built another city, and called it by his own name; but this figuratively rather intends the church of Christ, which is built on him the Rock, and so is immovable; and, like Mount Zion, shall abide for ever.

(s) Travels, par. 1. ch. 39. p. 189.

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