WHAT DOES “SOTTISH” MEAN?
by Shawn Brasseaux
Jeremiah 4:22 employs the word: “For my people is foolish, they have not known me; they are sottish children, and they have none understanding: they are wise to do evil, but to do good they have no knowledge.” It is such strong language, but it is warranted. The Prophet Jeremiah conducted his ministry in Judah 600 years before Christ, during a time of great apostasy—a falling away from the truth. He preached before and during the Babylonian Captivity, God’s judgment on the Southern Kingdom for its persistent idolatry.
“And I will utter my judgments against them touching all their wickedness, who have forsaken me, and have burned incense unto other gods, and worshipped the works of their own hands” (Jeremiah 1:16). “For my people have committed two evils; they have forsaken me the fountain of living waters, and hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water…. For of old time I have broken thy yoke, and burst thy bands; and thou saidst, I will not transgress; when upon every high hill and under every green tree thou wanderest, playing the harlot” (Jeremiah 2:13,20).
“As the thief is ashamed when he is found, so is the house of Israel ashamed; they, their kings, their princes, and their priests, and their prophets. Saying to a stock [wooden idol], Thou art my father; and to a stone [stone idol], Thou hast brought me forth: for they have turned their back unto me, and not their face: but in the time of their trouble they will say, Arise, and save us. But where are thy gods that thou hast made thee? let them arise, if they can save thee in the time of thy trouble: for according to the number of thy cities are thy gods, O Judah. Wherefore will ye plead with me? ye all have transgressed against me, saith the LORD. In vain have I smitten your children; they received no correction: your own sword hath devoured your prophets, like a destroying lion. O generation, see ye the word of the LORD. Have I been a wilderness unto Israel? a land of darkness? wherefore say my people, We are lords; we will come no more unto thee? Can a maid forget her ornaments, or a bride her attire? yet my people have forgotten me days without number” (Jeremiah 2:26-32).
“If thou wilt return, O Israel, saith the LORD, return unto me: and if thou wilt put away thine abominations out of my sight, then shalt thou not remove. And thou shalt swear, The LORD liveth, in truth, in judgment, and in righteousness; and the nations shall bless themselves in him, and in him shall they glory. For thus saith the LORD to the men of Judah and Jerusalem, Break up your fallow ground, and sow not among thorns. Circumcise yourselves to the LORD, and take away the foreskins of your heart, ye men of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem: lest my fury come forth like fire, and burn that none can quench it, because of the evil of your doings” (Jeremiah 4:1-4).
Back to verse 22 of Jeremiah chapter 4. “For my people is foolish, they have not known me; they are sottish children, and they have none understanding: they are wise to do evil, but to do good they have no knowledge.” The Jews are spiritually senseless, insane, lunatic. Instead of heeding sound Bible doctrine—especially the Law of Moses—they are thinking like idolatrous heathen. Rather than being spiritual adults, they are mere children; immaturity has so crippled them, and their religious silliness shows throughout the Book of Jeremiah as well as much of the Old Testament Scriptures! It is in this context that the adjective “sottish” appears. The word simply means foolish, with the Hebrew term (“sakal”) translated “fool” or “foolish” in Ecclesiastes (2:19; 7:17; 10:3,14) and Jeremiah (5:21). It is therefore no coincidence “sottish” is from the Middle English word indicating “fool.”
Rejecting God’s wisdom for her (Deuteronomy 4:1-10), Israel did not guard herself from the foolishness of the evil world system around her. What was true of the Gentiles at the Tower of Babel ultimately became applicable to Israel as well! “For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse: Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things. Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves: Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen” (Romans 1:20-25).
Thankfully, in the Millennium, Israel will be given new spiritual leaders, people who will teach her sound Bible doctrine so she can think as the LORD God designed them to think. Pay close attention to verse 15 below (contrasted with Jeremiah 4:22).
Jeremiah 3:13-21: “ Only acknowledge thine iniquity, that thou hast transgressed against the LORD thy God, and hast scattered thy ways to the strangers under every green tree, and ye have not obeyed my voice, saith the LORD.  Turn, O backsliding children, saith the LORD; for I am married unto you: and I will take you one of a city, and two of a family, and I will bring you to Zion:  And I will give you pastors according to mine heart, which shall feed you with knowledge and understanding.  And it shall come to pass, when ye be multiplied and increased in the land, in those days, saith the LORD, they shall say no more, The ark of the covenant of the LORD: neither shall it come to mind: neither shall they remember it; neither shall they visit it; neither shall that be done any more.  At that time they shall call Jerusalem the throne of the LORD; and all the nations shall be gathered unto it, to the name of the LORD, to Jerusalem: neither shall they walk any more after the imagination of their evil heart.  In those days the house of Judah shall walk with the house of Israel, and they shall come together out of the land of the north to the land that I have given for an inheritance unto your fathers.  But I said, How shall I put thee among the children, and give thee a pleasant land, a goodly heritage of the hosts of nations? and I said, Thou shalt call me, My father; and shalt not turn away from me.  Surely as a wife treacherously departeth from her husband, so have ye dealt treacherously with me, O house of Israel, saith the LORD.  A voice was heard upon the high places, weeping and supplications of the children of Israel: for they have perverted their way, and they have forgotten the LORD their God.”
“Sottish” can also mean “stupefied with or as if with drink; drunken.” This is another key to explaining Israel’s lack of mental acuity in the spiritual realm. Revelation chapter 17, descriptive of the Antichrist’s (future) false religious system, relays the following: “ And there came one of the seven angels which had the seven vials, and talked with me, saying unto me, Come hither; I will shew unto thee the judgment of the great whore that sitteth upon many waters:  With whom the kings of the earth have committed fornication, and the inhabitants of the earth have been made drunk with the wine of her fornication.  So he carried me away in the spirit into the wilderness: and I saw a woman sit upon a scarlet coloured beast, full of names of blasphemy, having seven heads and ten horns.  And the woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet colour, and decked with gold and precious stones and pearls, having a golden cup in her hand full of abominations and filthiness of her fornication:  And upon her forehead was a name written, MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH.”
The “wine” that will make the world and Israel drunken in the future under the Antichrist is false religion, Baal worship, pagan idolatry. Here is exactly what polluted the world and Israel during Old Testament times (especially throughout Jeremiah’s ministry). The Whore of Babylon is the culmination of the pagan idolatry that began at the Tower of Babel some 4,000 years ago. Even today, we believers in Christ are told not only to avoid inebriation with physical wine, but also not be drunk with figurative wine (mind-altering false teaching).
“See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, Redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is. And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit; Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord; Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ; Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God” (Ephesians 5:15-21).
Read Jeremiah 4:22 again: “For my people is foolish, they have not known me; they are sottish children, and they have none understanding: they are wise to do evil, but to do good they have no knowledge.” This stands in contrast to the Holy Spirit’s will for the Body of Christ in Romans 16:19: “For your obedience is come abroad unto all men. I am glad therefore on your behalf: but yet I would have you wise [skilled] unto that which is good, and simple [uninformed, ignorant] concerning evil.” Have we been faithful in following Romans here? Nay! Have we grasped even the basics of the Dispensation of Grace as found in Romans? Nay!
Throughout the 20 centuries of its existence, the professing Body of Christ has been skillful in reciting denominational creeds and prayers, knowledgeable of the writings of the church fathers, and mindful of intellectual gymnastics and conspiracy theories, but—after 2,000 years of having a completed Holy Bible—can it identify what Father God is doing today and what He would have us do today? Nay! Beloved, we are following in the footsteps of ancient “sottish” Israel! If we are to grow up in grace, we had better listen to the Lord Jesus Christ speaking through the Apostle Paul, the Bible Books of Romans through Philemon!