THE PROPHECY LETTER
Studies in Jeremiah
As Did Isaiah, Jeremiah Remains in Judea
46 Against Necho, at Carchemish
25 The Seventy year Captivity to follow
45 The Book written by Baruch (30:1-2)
36 The Book read, burnt, and re-written
33 The Rechabites, undated
22 Exhortation to Zedekiah
23 Condemns false shepherds; the Branch
24 Vision: two baskets of figs
26 Fall of House; threats to person
27 Yokes sent to surrounding kingdoms
28 Hananiah, false prophet
29 Letter to captives in Babylon
50 Letter to be read in open, then …
51 cast into Euphrates: Babylon’s fall
30 Not dated: restoration
31 Not dated: restoration
47 -48 Judgments on neighboring kingdoms
49 Ditto; dating uncertain
18 Visit to potter: siege begins?
19 Potter’s vessel: sign of city fall
20 Jeremiah in stocks
21 Babylon not to be resisted
34 Spoken to Zedekiah before Jeremiah imprisoned
37 Siege lifted: Egypt: Anathoth
32 In prison, nephew, field in Anathoth
33 In prison, restoration
38 In cistern, Ebed-Melech
39 City falls
52 City falls
40 Jeremiah meets guerillas
41 Gedaliah slain, and sequel
42 Intent to enter Egypt
43 Egypt: Jeremiah’s prophecy re: Nebuchadnezzar
As with nearly every recorded prophecy, Jeremiah begins with some identifying information about himself and his father. His family lived in Anathoth, which was north of Jerusalem, in the allotment of Benjamin.
Being a priest, Jeremiah was a Levite. His resident city of Anathoth was one of the 48 cities given to the Levites, but was not one of the original six cities of refuge (Numbers 35:12, 13).
Anathoth is located three miles northeast of Jerusalem, barely within the allotment of Benjamin, and was the place of the first persecution of Jeremiah (chapter 11:21). For this unrighteous action Anathoth was condemned to destruction – verses 22, 23.
And so the words of Jeremiah are set forth:
Jer 1:1 The words of Jeremiah the son of Hilkiah, of the priests that were in Anathoth in the land of Benjamin:
Jer 1:2 To whom the word of the LORD came in the days of Josiah the son of Amon king of Judah, in the thirteenth year of his reign.
Jeremiah actually prophesied during the reigns of five kings, two of which are not mentioned here perhaps because their reigns lasted only about three months each; these were Jehoahaz and Jehoiachin (2Chronicles 34:3). The time of this writing was near the end of the Kingdom of Judah and the beginning of the Babylonian captivity. But some of it was recorded earlier – a fact which we shall note when we encounter these chapters.
Jer 1:3 It came also in the days of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah king of Judah, unto the end of the eleventh year of Zedekiah the son of Josiah king of Judah, unto the carrying away of Jerusalem captive in the fifth month.
And His First Prophecy
Jer 1:4 Then the word of the LORD came unto me, saying,
In almost every case, when this formula is used, “the word of the LORD came unto me.” it is found in the writing of two of the four longer prophets who were also priests – namely, Jeremiah and Ezekiel.
As with Isaiah in Isaiah 49:5, q.v., the special calling of Jeremiah is revealed by the word of the LORD:
Jer 1:5 Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee (a metonym for I chose thee); and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations.
The “nations” here are primarily Judah and Israel; but others are certainly involved with the destiny of these and could have benefitted from the words of God through Jeremiah; but they seemingly did not.
Jer 1:6 Then said I, Ah, Lord GOD! behold, I cannot speak: for I am a child.
How often do we hear this plaint from the chosen ones of the LORD!
Moses claimed to be unable to speak in public in Exodus 3:10, and not to be eloquent of speech. He may have meant he was not prepared spiritually to do so, for his learning was that of Egypt. But he had learned the language and ways of God in the waste places of Arabia, and was at that time far more ready than he could realize. Even then, the Almighty reassured him by appointing Moses’ brother Aaron to be his mouthpiece.
Jeremiah was at this moment reassured that the LORD would be with him at all times, giving him the words to speak – and the people who should receive the Father’s words.
Jer 1:7 But the LORD said unto me, Say not, I am a child: for thou shalt go to all that I shall send thee, and whatsoever I command thee thou shalt speak.
Jer 1:8 Be not afraid of their faces: for I am with thee to deliver thee, saith the LORD.
This reassurance by the LORD should have allayed Jeremiah’s trepidation. In many future encounters he would be frightened, we must be sure; but here the Almighty promises his ultimate protection, just as He does for His servants of all the succeeding years: Luke 12: 4,5; Ephesians 6:20, q.v.
Jer 1:9 Then the LORD put forth his hand, and touched my mouth. And the LORD said unto me, Behold, I have put my words in thy mouth.
In other cases the Father’s ability to speak His words were given his servants in similar ways. Isaiah’s lips were cleansed by a live coal in the hand of a Serpahim: Isaiah 6:5-7. After that act of cleansing, Isaiah was sent to prophesy to Judah’s errant people.
In Revelation 10: 8-11 there is the account of the Apostle John’s obedient consumption of the little book (scroll) given him by the Angel of the Bow, after which he was instructed that Thou must prophesy again before many peoples, and nations, and tongues, and kings. (verse 11)
Ezekiel, in Ezekiel:2:9 – 3:4 was given a scroll to eat for a similar reason.
Daniel 10:16-19 is a similar action by an angel who touches Daniel’s lips, giving him words of confidence and wisdom to convey to his hearers.
These were acts of confidence-building in His servants, and were the providential conference of His power upon them as dedicated (hallowed) servants who should convey His word to their subjects.
They are also clear evidence of the Almighty’s special inspiration given to all such in order to magnify the word of the LORD which they should convey to their hearers.
Jer 1:10 See, I have this day set thee over the nations and over the kingdoms, to root out, and to pull down, and to destroy, and to throw down, to build, and to plant.
Consider for a moment what these words imply! Jeremiah was given the surrogate power of the LORD in all these things – not to wield power as HE would, but as his Father instructed him.
Jeremiah was here appointed as a type of Christ as to authority over those to whom he came.
And like Christ, the servant became the master in the context of which he served!
Jeremiah’s Second Prophecy
Jer 1:11 Moreover the word of the LORD came unto me, saying, Jeremiah, what seest thou? And I said, I see a rod of an almond tree.
Jer 1:12 Then said the LORD unto me, Thou hast well seen: for I will hasten my word to perform it.
The Hebrew for “rod” is Strong’s H4731, Mak’kale, a rod for striking, or guiding. It is said to be of almond wood, indicating a diligent watchman, and one who watches even beginning in the early hours, awakening early – similar to the early budding of the almond tree. Almond is H8247, Shaked, meaning almond, an early waker: the first tree to blossom in the spring.
Therefore it is indicative of a watcher, or one who is alert from an early hour, one who is diligently observing. Indeed the words I will hasten my word is glossed as I am watching – Shaked (Companion Bible f.n.) which emphasizes the inevitability of His will being given and done.
Jeremiah’s Third Prophecy
But there is another vision, which completes the sense of the first vision.
Jer 1:13 And the word of the LORD came unto me the second time, saying, What seest thou? And I said, I see a seething pot; and the face thereof is toward the north.
In this case we visualize the prophet at Jerusalem, looking north, from which the boiling cauldron faces him.
A seething pot is a boiling cauldron – one blown upon, in the sense of blowing upon the fire as with a bellows – making it extremely hot and violent.
This second vision speaks of judgment upon Judea by a power coming with great force and vigor from the north.
This is true even though the power itself (Babylon) is located to the east of Jerusalem; it must circle northward along the Fertile Crescent and enter the Land from Assyria – from the north.
The next inspiration informs Jeremiah of just this scenario:
Jer 1:14 Then the LORD said unto me, Out of the north an evil shall break forth upon all the inhabitants of the land.
Jer 1:15 For, lo, I will call all the families of the kingdoms of the north, saith the LORD; and they shall come, and they shall set every one his throne at the entering of the gates of Jerusalem, and against all the walls thereof round about, and against all the cities of Judah.
The historical account of Jeremiah 39: 1-3 attests to this invasion of Nebuchadnezzar and all his princes – and the literal setting of their thrones in the gates of the City, signifying complete domination and conquest of the place.
This shall be God’s doing – they shall be HIS judgments against His people, Judah.
Jer 1:16 And I will utter my judgments against them (Judah) touching all their wickedness, who have forsaken me, and have burned incense unto other gods, and worshipped the works of their own hands.
Descriptive of idolatry of the worst sort, this scathing judgment comes upon Judah due to its repudiation of the Almighty as their One and Only Deity. Now his specific instruction to Jeremiah, to gird up thy loins – meaning, prepare for action!
Jer 1:17 Thou therefore gird up thy loins, and arise, and speak unto them all that I command thee: be not dismayed at their faces, lest I confound thee before them.
The Almighty in this admonition is telling Jeremiah that the resistance he shall receive shall be fierce; the rulers of the people will not heed Jeremiah’s words – which, of course, are the words of the LORD to them. It is typical of their hard-headedness and hard-heartedness – and their rebellion against their God which has brought these judgments upon them!
The kings and princes of Judah (several were to be involved) would vehemently resist Jeremiah’s message. The priests would advise against heeding Jeremiah, and would oppress him severely.
In order to warn them graphically and visually of the oncoming invasion and conquest by Babylon, Jeremiah (in chapter 27) is commanded to prepare a yoke about his neck, and create bonds, to indicate and visually signify the coming captivity not only of Judah but also of the neighboring nations round about: Edom, Moab, Ammon, Tyre, Zidon, along with Jerusalem.
He should show himself to the anxious ambassadors of those nations who would come to Jerusalem, and also to the King of Judah, bearing the wooden yoke, which represented the bonds which Nebuchadnezzar should impose upon those kings and his own people of Judah in the near future.
There is an intriguing sequel to this story … but we digress.
In his next words, the Almighty reassures Jeremiah of His ultimate protection and care; through thick and thin times, the LORD shall stand with Jeremiah!
Jer 1:18 For, behold, I have made thee (i.e., Jeremiah, personally) this day a defenced city, and an iron pillar, and brasen walls against the whole land, against the kings of Judah, against the princes thereof, against the priests thereof, and against the people of the land.
His opposition would be not only rigorous, but also universal! But these metaphorical objects related to Jeremiah, indicate that he would be impervious to their insults and ridicule. God’s protection shall hover over him in all these conflicts.
Jer 1:19 And they shall fight against thee; but they shall not prevail against thee; for I am with thee, saith the LORD, to deliver thee.
Here Jeremiah begins his long series of prophecies to the Jews. He is presumably sent from Anathoth to Jerusalem.
Jeremiah 2:1 Moreover the word of the LORD came to me, saying,
Jer 2:2 Go and cry in the ears of Jerusalem, saying, Thus saith the LORD; I remember thee, the kindness of thy youth, the love of thine espousals, when thou wentest after me in the wilderness, in a land that was not sown.
Jeremiah is sent from Anathoth to Jerusalem to cry repentance to her people and king.
Jeremiah’s words reflect the fondness and intense affection which the Almighty felt for His young son, Israel, in his tender years of the Exodus from Egypt. In those years, the Name of God was written obviously upon His son; and His protection and devotion covered them profoundly.
However, remembrance is of two kinds.
There is remembrance that is good, as in Psalm 98:3 – He hath remembered his mercy and his truth toward the house of Israel: and Psalm 106:46 – And he remembered for them his covenant, and repented according to the multitude of his mercies. 46 He made them also to be pitied of all those that carried them captives.
And there is remembrance that is not good, as in Nehemiah 13:29 – Remember them, O my God, because they have defiled the priesthood, and the covenant of the priesthood, and of the Levites. Also Psalm 137: 7 – Remember, O LORD, the children of Edom in the day of Jerusalem; who said, Rase it, rase it, even to the foundation thereof.
Remembrance here was probably indicative of both kinds.
Good remembrance was on God’s part as in verse 2 – His fondness for the affection that Israel sometimes showed Him, and the obedience engendered by such devotion to Him.
Evil remembrance was on Israel’s part because even in the wilderness they did not obey Him, or devote themselves to God on every occasion, as evidenced by Acts 7:39: To whom our fathers would not obey, but thrust him from them, and in their hearts turned back again into Egypt, 40 Saying unto Aaron, Make us gods to go before us: for as for this Moses, which brought us out of the land of Egypt, we wot not what is become of him.
Regardless of His peoples’ attitude toward Him, He regarded them in a special, sanctified way. He knew their end from their beginnings, and their ultimate destiny which He should bring about in spite of their hard-heartedness and their willfulness to self-service.
The Almighty’s devotion to them, and His jealousy for His holy name, is reflected in his next words:
Jer 2:3 Israel was holiness unto the LORD, and the firstfruits of his increase: all that devour him shall offend; evil shall come upon them, saith the LORD.
Holiness unto the LORD is an appellative which indicates true sanctification in His sight – that they were a people dedicated to His glory.
It is a quality which at the first was attributed, or assigned, to His people regardless of their merit; it becomes operative through the mercy and compassion which the Almighty expresses for repentant sinners, even those who formerly rejected Him, without which provision none could ever hope to be vested with immortality.
His remark as to their being the firstfruits of his increase is notable in that the firstfruits are the produce which was consecrated to God – always given Him in thanks for His bounty and effulgence of blessing.
Here is also the positive echo and confirmation of that blessing originally given Abram in Ur: Gen_12:3 And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.
Israel – as well as we foreigners (Gentiles) who are “grafed in” (Romans 11:24) to Israel, the good olive tree – are most fortunate in this regard. Through Israel only – and through the Saviour which that people produced – may salvation be granted!
Jer 2:4 Hear ye the word of the LORD, O house of Jacob, and all the families of the house of Israel:
Jer 2:5 Thus saith the LORD, What iniquity have your fathers found in me, that they are gone far from me, and have walked after vanity (idols), and are become vain (idolaters)?
The question, What iniquity have… is obviously rhetorical, for in Him is no unrighteousness or fault. But the response of Israel was that they seem to have perceived some irregularity on His part – or to have claimed to have done so … and had acted as if they had – to their own hurt. They were without excuse for their iniquities; their vanities had brought them to depravity, and decadence of life.
Their sense of wonder and appreciation for the Almighty’s great bounty had been abandoned; their gratitude daunted, their thankfulness annulled and blunted. They had become an insensitive and unthankful people. They should have remembered those qualities of their Father which had been extolled by Moses and Joshua. But they had abandoned these blessings.
Jer 2:6 Neither said they, Where is the LORD that brought us up out of the land of Egypt, that led us through the wilderness, through a land of deserts and of pits, through a land of drought, and of the shadow of death, through a land that no man passed through, and where no man dwelt?
Jer 2:7 And I brought you into a plentiful country, to eat the fruit thereof and the goodness thereof; but when ye entered, ye defiled my land, and made mine heritage an abomination.
Jer 2:8 The priests said not, Where is the LORD? and they that handle the law knew me not: the pastors also transgressed against me, and the prophets prophesied by Baal, and walked after things that do not profit.
In these depraved responses to God’s blessings, they repudiated those blessings, ascribing them to the Baals and other abominations of the Godless people of the land.
Yet His patience is expressed as being infinite. His “pleading’ with them is set to continue.
Jer 2:9 Wherefore I will yet plead with you, saith the LORD, and with your children's children will I plead.
Jer 2:10 For pass over the isles of Chittim, and see; and send unto Kedar, and consider diligently, and see if there be such a thing.
These two named regions, Chittim (Cyprus) and Kedar (in Arabia), were west and east of their land, and represented the rest of the earth wherein they were exhorted to search for similar behavior.
His conclusion is that they should find NO similar behavior among the heathen.
Jer 2:11 Hath a nation changed their gods, which are yet no gods? but my people have changed their glory for that which doth not profit.
Jer 2:12 Be astonished, O ye heavens, at this, and be horribly afraid, be ye very desolate, saith the LORD.
Jer 2:13 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.
Cisterns are merely rock-hewn containers – vessels – which can hold only that which is put within them. They are not like springs, which produce a steady stream of benefits and blessings. But in addition, their cisterns were “broken,” meaning that they were unable even to hold their infused contents. The instruction which He had graciously given them through the prophets and righteous men of Israel had been lost – had leaked out, and been wasted – and their vessel was becoming dry and desiccated.
Jer 2:14 Is Israel a servant? is he a homeborn slave? why is he spoiled?
“Spoiled” here is in the sense of “Why has Israel become a spoil?” Is he a slave that should be used in such a way? He was enslaved by Egypt, and later by Assyria. But that was not God’s way for them.
Jer 2:15 The young lions roared upon him, and yelled, and they made his land waste: his cities are burned without inhabitant.
Jer 2:16 Also the children of Noph and Tahapanes have broken the crown of thy head.
Their oppression and desecration would become signal, as these enemies bore down upon them, threatening them, spoiling them, taking them captive. It was a dreary outlook; but they did not accept it as retribution for their evil ways, to their great hurt.
The great unremitting fact is, that Israel had brought these oppressive results upon themselves by their conduct of forsaking the LORD. The succeeding words of the prophet make this profusely clear:
Jer 2:17 Hast thou not procured this unto thyself, in that thou hast forsaken the LORD thy God, when he led thee by the way?
Jer 2:18 And now what hast thou to do in the way of Egypt, to drink the waters of Sihor? or what hast thou to do in the way of Assyria, to drink the waters of the river?
Jer 2:19 Thine own wickedness shall correct thee, and thy backslidings shall reprove thee: know therefore and see that it is an evil thing and bitter, that thou hast forsaken the LORD thy God, and that my fear is not in thee, saith the Lord GOD of hosts.
Now the LORD invokes their memories of past episodes of their gross crimes and the resultant punishment wrought upon them by Him.
During the era of the Judges, how many of these horrendous cycles of freedom and oppression may we clearly define in which the people went astray? The Almighty brought upon them an oppressor; they repented; He relented; He gave them a savior to break the yokes of their oppressors; then the people were greatly blessed – only to repeat the cycle within a few months, or years. He reminds them of this:
Jer 2:20 For of old time I have broken thy yoke, and burst thy bands; and thou sadist (as a result of the breaking), I will not transgress; when upon every high hill and under every green tree thou wanderest, playing the harlot.
The high hills and open spaces were the locations of the “high places” where the idolaters worshipped the Asherim, and where they worshipped Molech, who they called Ba’al (lord).
His disappointment with His people is next illustrated by their having been planted a noble vine, and their degenerate downturn to depravity and sub-prime quality:
Jer 2:21 Yet I had planted thee a noble vine, wholly a right seed: how then art thou turned into the degenerate plant of a strange vine unto me?
Jer 2:22 For though thou wash thee with nitre, and take thee much soap, yet thine iniquity is marked before me, saith the Lord GOD.
Nitre is a nitrate-containing substance, alkaline in quality, from which soap (‘sope” in the Anglo Saxon language of the A.V.!) was made. Soap of such quality was early discovered to exert a cleansing quality upon fabrics and hides, and human skins that were soiled.
But such measures should be ineffective if adopted by them, as their iniquity is “marked” (engraved) before Him, and cannot so easily be removed – similar to a tattoo.
Jer 2:23 How canst thou say, I am not polluted, I have not gone after Baalim? see thy way in the valley, know what thou hast done: thou art a swift dromedary traversing her (own, her selfish) ways;
Jer 2:24 A wild ass used to the wilderness, that snuffeth up the wind at her pleasure (after her own desire); in her occasion who can turn her away? all they that seek her will not weary themselves; in her month they shall find her.
Jer 2:25 Withhold thy foot from being unshod, and thy throat from thirst: but thou saidst, There is no hope: no; for I have loved strangers, and after them will I go.
Jer 2:26 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,
Jer 2:27 Saying to a stock, Thou art my father; and to a stone, 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.
He regards that cry for help as vacuous and ineffectual; they are not sincere – or at the least will soon relinquish their ardor for Him, and revert to their corrupt ways. He exhorts them to seek help instead from the gods that they have adopted; let those Baalim (lords, including Molech) assist them!
Jer 2:28 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.
Jer 2:29 Wherefore will ye plead with me? ye all have transgressed against me, saith the LORD.
Jer 2:30 In vain have I smitten your children; they received no correction: your own sword hath devoured your prophets, like a destroying lion.
His insensitive people have slain their own best hope for redemption – their prophets, which were the direct provision of their God.
Jer 2:31 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?
Jer 2:32 Can a maid forget her ornaments, or a bride her attire? yet my people have forgotten me days without number.
Jer 2:33 Why trimmest thou thy way to seek love? therefore hast thou also taught the wicked ones thy ways.
Jer 2:34 Also in thy skirts is found the blood of the souls of the poor innocents: I have not found it by secret search, but upon all these.
Their transgressions are not hidden, but are on plain and open display – brazen, affrontive, offensive to Him. All are culpable in this wickedness.
Jer 2:35 Yet thou sayest, Because I am innocent, surely his anger shall turn from me. Behold, I will plead with thee, because thou sayest, I have not sinned.
Jer 2:36 Why gaddest thou about so much to change thy way? thou also shalt be ashamed of Egypt, as thou wast ashamed of Assyria.
Jer 2:37 Yea, thou shalt go forth from him, and thine hands upon thine head: for the LORD hath rejected thy confidences, and thou shalt not prosper in them.
The Judgments of Judah Continue
There were many well-known and accepted axioms among the people of Israel. One of these was this standard of conduct:
Jer 3:1 They say, If a man put away his wife, and she go from him, and become another man's, shall he return unto her again? shall not that land be greatly polluted? but thou hast played the harlot with many lovers; yet return again to me, saith the LORD.
It would appear that their perception of their vile conduct could not be viewed by them in moral terms – in the context of their unfaithfulness to the Almighty – yet they desired to return to Him again and again. It was not acceptable to Him!
In His next words through Jeremiah, the LORD advises the people to be introspective, to be objective in their assessment of their place before Him at this time. He uses the metaphor of adultery and fornication, for these practices reflect precisely their lack of faithfulness to Him and His ways.
Jer 3:2 Lift up thine eyes unto the high places, and see where thou hast not been lien with. In the ways hast thou sat for them, as the Arabian in the wilderness; and thou hast polluted the land with thy whoredoms and with thy wickedness.
They are even viewed by their neighbors as being like them – the neighbors – in their whoredoms. These iniquities have brought great disadvantage upon His people, some of which are listed here.
Jer 3:3 Therefore the showers have been withholden, and there hath been no latter rain; and thou hadst a whore's forehead, thou refusedst to be ashamed.
In this language he calls to their attention that they are deporting themselves as a common harlot – in impudence, in coquetry, in self-will – headstrong and bent upon her own satisfaction in that she exhibits no shame; instead she is confident and obstinate in her ways, seeing no reason for changing them. For this cause the refreshing, nourishing rains have been withheld by Him – His blessing of basket and store.
Jer 3:4 Wilt thou not from this time cry unto me, My father, thou art the guide of my youth?
Jer 3:5 Will he reserve his anger for ever? will he keep it to the end? Behold, thou hast spoken and done evil things as thou couldest.
These ominous words portend future retribution for His people. His patience is not endless. His forbearance is limited. But they are not aware of that limit!
Jeremiah’s Fifth Prophecy
This prophecy came during Jeremiah’s early period, when he was beginning to bring to Judah’s attention the enormity of their transgressions. These words are for the people as a whole. Note here that “Israel” indicates the Ten Tribes, which had long before gone into captivity in Assyria. He invites his readers (hearers?) to think upon Israel’s earlier trials: In this narrative, the prophet encourages Judah sensibly to compare their behavior to that of Israel, which earlier had suffered the captivity from which it should not return until the coming of Messiah.
Jer 3:6 The LORD said also unto me in the days of Josiah the king, Hast thou seen that which backsliding Israel hath done? she is gone up upon every high mountain and under every green tree, and there hath played the harlot.
The remote, high mountains, among the green trees; this is the location of their idolatrous “high places,” where they worshipped the Baalim (gods). Israel is thus offered Judah as an example of the consequences of idolatry.
Jer 3:7 And I said after she had done all these things, Turn thou unto me. But she returned not. And her treacherous sister Judah saw it.
Jer 3:8 And I saw, when for all the causes whereby backsliding Israel committed adultery (spiritual unfaithfulness) I had put her away, and given her a bill of divorce; yet her treacherous sister Judah feared not, but went and played the harlot also.
Jer 3:9 And it came to pass through the lightness of (her wanton attitude toward) her whoredom, that she defiled the land, and committed adultery with stones and with stocks (indicating the materials from which idols are made).
Jer 3:10 And yet for all this her treacherous sister Judah hath not turned unto me with her whole heart, but feignedly (insincerely – by word only), saith the LORD.
Jer 3:11 And the LORD said unto me, The backsliding Israel hath justified herself more than treacherous Judah.
The North, their Source of Retribution
Jer 3:12 Go and proclaim these words toward the north, and say, Return, thou backsliding Israel, saith the LORD; and I will not cause mine anger to fall upon you: for I am merciful, saith the LORD, and I will not keep anger for ever.
Jer 3:13 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.
Given even their decided turn away from Him, the Almighty issues yet another call for His people to “turn,” reminding them that He is married unto them, and that it is His intention to bring them again to Zion.
The decision applies to both peoples – Israel and Judah – for this is His stated intention in many other passages of His word.
The process of their return, at least at first, indicates a gradual, laborious, difficult, but progressive return to the Land in the end time, later to be enhanced by His obviously providential enhancement of their Return.
The Reason: His Call for Their Return to Him
Jer 3:14 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:
Their RETURN to Zion is thus mandated by Him; their return “unto the children of Israel,” (Micah 5:3). Only then shall His profuse, abundant, end time blessings be poured out upon the grateful, repentant people of Israel:
Jer 3:15 And I will give you pastors according to mine heart, which shall feed you with (genuine) knowledge and understanding.
Jer 3:16 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.
In these words, the prophet denies any re-adoption of the Law under which they were then living. The new Administration shall be founded upon a different basis – the foundation of faith. Their move forward from the Ark of the Covenant with its foreshadowing Mercy Seat covering it, to the Throne of Messiah, its antitype, is thus indicated!
Jer 3:17 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.
Preliminarily, the prophet addresses all the nations of the earth; ALL shall eventually be gathered to and give allegiance to Jerusalem, and to the name of YHVH Tz’vaoth, the Lord of Hosts, Who shall be enthroned there.
Their pervasive conversion to His way is reflected in the words, neither shall they walk any more after the imagination of their evil heart.
But another healing measure shall also be in place – the security and unity of His own Chosen Ones shall be established, reversing their earlier separation and disunity from each other.
Jer 3:18 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.
This utterance speaks to the healing of the rift between Israel and Judah much in the same measure as does Isaiah 11: 12, 13, another text revealing the means by which the two formerly separated nations shall again come to be in full unity of identity and purpose.
The same principle is emphasized in Ezekiel 37, when the People shall have emerged fully from the Valley of Dry Bones – as the unified stick in the prophet’s hand, an acted parable which sealed this promise to them.
Jer 3:19 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.
Here the prophet indicates that Israel shall inherit the goodly heritage of the nations round about Israel – all those which now occupy the Land of the Promise to Abraham: all the land from the Nile northward to the Euphrates, and from the Mediterranean to the Persian Gulf! This means that Eastern Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula, the Gaza Strip, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Saudi Arabia (how much of it we know not), the Gulf Emirates, Kuwait, Yemen, and Oman are (likely) destined to become the inheritance of Abraham and his Seed.
It is by computation, an area of about 1.7 million square English miles, now mostly deserted wasteland. But every square centimeter of it shall blossom as the rose as extremely fertile ground, then being watered by regular moisture from the heavens, by gentle winds, and enjoying a moderate temperature range.
But before this certain time in future, much reconciliation and many adjustments must be made by His returned people.
Decidedly, repentance for her past sins is necessary for Israel, and wholehearted acceptance of their Redeemer when He appears among them – a landmark event referred to in Zechariah 12 and 13. But His call for their return to Him is issued in these words, which decidedly indicate both a physical and a spiritual return (the first being necessary, and preliminary to the second):
Jer 3:20 Surely as a wife treacherously departeth from her husband, so have ye dealt treacherously with me, O house of Israel, saith the LORD.
Jer 3:21 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.
Jer 3:22 Return, ye backsliding children, and I will heal your backslidings. Behold, we come unto thee; for thou art the LORD our God. (This is the attitude that they must adopt – submission to Him, devotion to His cause, and love for His Land.)
Jer 3:23 Truly in vain is salvation hoped for from the hills, and from the multitude of mountains: truly in the LORD our God is the salvation of Israel.
Herein is recalled the hills and mountains of their former abominations, to which they sought for solace and blessing – the abominable Asherim, or groves, where they worshipped the gods of the land. These are NOT the source of such reward, for truly in the LORD our God is the salvation of Israel.
The final words of this chapter voice the repentant mien which shall be adopted in that day by His people, and their humble acceptance of their release from their alienation from Him. Their confession of their transgression is profoundly insightful and weighty.
Of such confession and repentance come redemption and salvation!
Jer 3:24 For shame hath devoured the labour of our fathers from our youth; their flocks and their herds, their sons and their daughters.
Jer 3:25 We lie down in our shame, and our confusion covereth us: for we have sinned against the LORD our God, we and our fathers, from our youth even unto this day, and have not obeyed the voice of the LORD our God.
This is essentially the confessional voice of the Hebrew multitude of the final days, when Messiah has come to them in full power and glory – when they shall have beheld with their own eyes the enormous deliverance which He shall bring about for them, and they shall rejoice, and say, Blessed is He Who cometh in the name of the Lord! (Luke 13:35)
The Reason: His Call for Their Return to Him
The prophet ends this particular admonition to Israel in these final words; he furnishes to them a solid, purposeful reason for them to return to God’s land and ways.
Jer 4:1 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 (i.e., stray away from Him).
Jer 4:2 And thou shalt swear, The LORD liveth, in truth, in judgment, and in righteousness; and the nations (Israel and Judah, primarily, but ultimately ALL nations) shall bless themselves in him, and in him shall they glory.
Here are set forth the parameters by which they may be assured of His forgiveness and reconciliation! It is interesting that He tells them that by such actions, they shall essentially bless themselves in Him! This statement however does not obviate the truth that it is He who blesses them for these good reasons.
Turning his attention now to Judah, the prophet continues his instructions for their reconciliation with their God. His language is highly figurative, but is put in terms that his people would readily understand.
Jer 4:3 For thus saith the LORD to the men of Judah and Jerusalem, Break up your fallow ground, and sow not among thorns.
That is, prepare yourselves to receive his seeds of salvation, which do not grow among thorns and thistles; they must cultivate these out of their society in order to receive His favour, overturning and smoothing the fertile soil that could be found in Israel, and prepare it to receive the seeds.
Jer 4:4 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.
This figure of cutting off the impulses of their flesh (spiritual circumcision) is also fundamental to their understanding, being compared to physical circumcision. Cf., Deuteronomy 10:16 - Circumcise therefore the foreskin of your heart, and be no more stiffnecked; and 30:6 - And the LORD thy God will circumcise thine heart, and the heart of thy seed, to love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, that thou mayest live.
It also makes them think of their covenant relationship with their Father, and the advisability of faithfulness only to HIM. The remembrance of these elements is conducive to their development of a deeper affection for their God and His righteousness.
The urgency of that “return” to Him is emphasized by his next words:
Jer 4:5 Declare ye in Judah, and publish in Jerusalem; and say, Blow ye the trumpet (Shofar) in the land: cry, gather together, and say, Assemble yourselves, and let us go into the defenced cities.
The Shofar of Assembly draws their rapt attention toward their need for unity with Him, a spiritual return to their Father and their God. It is needful for them to re-form and reinforce their spiritual defenses against the immoral incursions of the heathen round about, and to rid themselves of those influences.
Only then shall their return be successful and effectual, only then giving true honor to Him.
Certain steps were prescribed for them to take to accomplish this:
Jer 4:6 Set up the standard (Hebrew, nes = a flag or banner) toward Zion: retire, stay not: for I will bring evil from the north, and a great destruction.
These words urgently advise a heart-felt return to the Almighty, not one of words only, which has been their former practice. He urges a conversion of heart and mind – and repudiation of their fleshly tendencies.
Jer 4:7 The lion (Hebrew, Ariel, or Ariyeh = a lion) is come up from his thicket, and the destroyer of (from) the Gentiles is on his way; he is gone forth from his place to make thy land desolate; and thy cities shall be laid waste, without an inhabitant.
This is the figure, Hypocatastasis, or resemblance. The King of Babylon should exhibit fierceness resembling that of the lion against them, at his coming. It is well founded that the symbol of Assyria/Babylon was the winged LION. Elaborate ceramic figures of this gigantic mythic creature adorned the gates of Babylon, and may be seen today in the Museums of Istanbul, Chicago and London, as excavated from that very site.
The people understood the ferocity of that fierce beast, for he ranged throughout their lands of the time, especially in the thickets of Jordan (cf., Jeremiah 49:19).
They called their altar of sacrifice by the same name, Ariel, because it totally consumed the sacrifices placed upon it. In this context, they would understand the destruction and ruin that awaited them from the northern power, Babylon!
(Another) Call to Repentance
He warns Judah to prepare, by repentance (sackcloth, lamentation and howling).
Given no repentance, the penalty is sure to come upon them in great force.
Jer 4:8 For this gird you with sackcloth, lament and howl: for the fierce anger of the LORD is not turned back from us.
Jer 4:9 And it shall come to pass at that day, saith the LORD, that the heart of the king shall perish, and the heart of the princes; and the priests shall be astonished, and the prophets shall wonder.
The entire society had been deceived by the false prophets who withstood Jeremiah so strongly. When the destruction comes upon them, they shall be “astonished,” and taken by surprise. In the next sentence the prophet puts their lament in their own mouths in a Hebrew idiom which indicates that they would be deceived by the false prophets; it was an effect which they brought upon themselves, but which they would perceive as being from the Almighty.
Jer 4:10 Then said I, Ah, Lord GOD! surely thou hast greatly deceived this people and Jerusalem (a false perception on their parts), saying, Ye shall have peace; whereas the sword reacheth unto the soul.
Jer 4:11 At that time shall it be said to this people and to Jerusalem, A dry wind of the high places in the wilderness toward the daughter of my people, not to fan, nor to cleanse,
Jer 4:12 Even a full wind from those places shall come unto me: now also will I give sentence against them.
In these words the prophet evokes their familiarity with Khamsin, the fierce, hot wind (ruach) from the eastern deserts, which blew upon them clouds of dust and fine grit, contaminating every part of their environment, fanning (cooling) or cleansing absolutely nothing.
Jer 4:13 Behold, he shall come up as clouds, and his chariots shall be as a whirlwind: his horses are swifter than eagles. Woe unto us! for we are spoiled.
Jer 4:14 O Jerusalem, wash thine heart from wickedness, that thou mayest be saved. How long shall thy vain thoughts lodge within thee?
Jer 4:15 For a voice declareth from Dan, and publisheth affliction from mount Ephraim.
The overpowering forces of Babylon would enter the land from the north – through Dan and the high country of the Golan Heights and the mountains of Lebanon.
Jer 4:16 Make ye mention to the nations (this means primarily Judah and Israel; “nations” is here goy, most often used of the Gentile nations – to which status, by their iniquity, they had reduced themselves); behold, publish against Jerusalem, that watchers (Hebrew H5341, natsar, one who besieges) come from a far country, and give out their voice against the cities of Judah.
Details of Their Punishment
The prophet now gives a detailed account of the punishments which are coming upon Judah. These are graphic and violent – consumptive of the people and their society of that day.
Jer 4:17 As keepers (defenders) of a field, are they (their enemies) against her round about; because she hath been rebellious against me, saith the LORD.
Jer 4:18 Thy way and thy doings have procured these things unto thee; this is (the result of) thy wickedness, because it is bitter, because it reacheth unto thine heart.
There can be no doubt in Israel’s mind as to their own responsibility for the coming evil.
Jer 4:19 My bowels, my bowels! I am pained at my very heart; my heart maketh a noise in me (the picture here is that of a pounding heart as experienced in acute anxiety, or fear); I cannot hold my peace, because thou hast heard, O my soul, the sound of the trumpet, the alarm of war.
Jer 4:20 Destruction upon destruction is cried; for the whole land is spoiled: suddenly are my tents spoiled, and my curtains (or tents) in a moment.
Jer 4:21 How long shall I see the standard, and hear the sound of the trumpet?
Jer 4:22 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.
Jer 4:23 I beheld the earth, and, lo, it was without form, and void; and the heavens, and they had no light.
His Son, Israel, had lost all his defining attributes; note how similar this description is to that of the earth, in Genesis 1:2, when the earth was without form and void – and darkness was upon the face of the deep, in the era before the Spirit of God moved to bring about a new creation.
The coming destruction would be almost indescribable, comparable to a great earthquake. He pictures the desolation of the land and people.
Jer 4:24 I beheld the mountains, and, lo, they trembled, and all the hills moved lightly.
Jer 4:25 I beheld, and, lo, there was no man, and all the birds of the heavens were fled.
Jer 4:26 I beheld, and, lo, the fruitful place was a wilderness, and all the cities thereof were broken down at the presence of the LORD, and by his fierce anger.
Jer 4:27 For thus hath the LORD said, The whole land shall be desolate; yet will I not make a full end.
As the Almighty nearly ALWAYS does, He here reassures any faithful remnant that they are not forsaken forever. Leviticus 26:44; Zechariah 9:11, q.v.
Jer 4:28 For this shall the earth mourn, and the heavens above be black: because I have spoken it, I have purposed it, and will not repent, neither will I turn back from it.
Jer 4:29 The whole city shall flee for the noise of the horsemen and bowmen; they shall go into thickets, and climb up upon the rocks: every city shall be forsaken, and not a man dwell therein.
Jer 4:30 And when thou (this is the figure, Prosopopoeia, referring to an adulterous woman) art spoiled, what wilt thou do? Though thou clothest thyself with crimson, though thou deckest thee with ornaments of gold (these are the garments of an harlot) , though thou rentest thy face (eyes) with painting (a reference to enlarging, or making prominent her eyes and face with face-paints), in vain shalt thou make thyself fair; thy lovers will despise thee, they will seek thy life.
Jer 4:31 For I have heard a voice as of a woman in travail, and the anguish as of her that bringeth forth her first child, the voice of the daughter of Zion, that bewaileth herself, that spreadeth her hands, saying, Woe is me now! for my soul is wearied because of murderers.
Details of Their Punishment - Continued
The initial recommendation of this chapter shows the extreme measure of God’s mercy; Run … see now … if there be any (in Jerusalem) that executeth (true) judgment, that seeketh the truth; and I will pardon it (them).
Tanakh states the same principle in a sort of reverse way: Run … you will not find a man, there is none who acts justly, who seeks integrity, that I should pardon her.
The A.V. reads this way: [We shall insert meanings of words where their instruction is not clear to speakers of modern English.]
Jer 5:1 Run ye to and fro through the streets of Jerusalem, and see now, and know, and seek in the broad places thereof, if ye can find a man, if there be any that executeth judgment, that seeketh the truth; and I will pardon it.
We would express this sentiment today as “searching high and low for an honest man” and none could be found. Even though their on-the-surface, objective statements have a double meaning…
Jer 5:2 And though they say, The LORD liveth; surely they swear falsely.
This statement of their duplicity comes from the all-knowing Father of us all.
It is an attitude which He will not tolerate from them any longer.
Jer 5:3 O LORD, are not thine eyes upon the truth (i.e., desiring their faithfulness – Companion Bible f.n.)? thou hast stricken them, but they have not grieved (i.e., have felt no pain or distress – have not profited from His chastisement); thou hast consumed them, but they have refused to receive correction: they have made their faces harder than a rock; they have refused to return.
Their hearts were indeed adamant – reflected in their resolute actions against YHVH.
Jer 5:4 Therefore I said, Surely these are poor (impoverished); they are foolish: for they know not the way of the LORD, nor the judgment (justice) of their God.
Jer 5:5 I will get me unto the great men, and will speak unto them; for they have known the way of the LORD, and the judgment of their God: but these have altogether broken the yoke, and burst the bonds.
There are those transgressors among His people whom He considers to have been wise – men of principle and conscience … integrity. But their influence is not significant – or has faded. This fact shall have dire consequences …
Jer 5:6 Wherefore a lion (again evoking the King of Babylon) out of the forest shall slay them, and a wolf (Hebrew H2061, Z’eb, or Ze’ev = yellow, or a wolf) of the evenings (Hebrew H6160, Arabah = deserts; the word “evening” is an awkward translation when the dry, desolate haunts of the wolf is more suitable; the word can mean either) shall spoil them, a leopard shall watch over their cities: every one that goeth out thence shall be torn in pieces: because their transgressions are many, and their backslidings (apostasies, or extremely serious failings) are increased.
There is in this short list of these three various wild animals – a strangely NEAR parallel to the first of the four beasts of Daniel 7: there, the first is a winged lion, representing Babylon; the second is a bear (instead of a wolf), representing Medo-Persia; and the third is a leopard, representing Greece.
We have no suggestion to explain this similarity and this difference, but in the certainty that the lion represents Babylon, why would a wolf be substituted for a bear if this series, if this statement is indeed related to the future oppressors of Judah?
Jer 5:7 How shall I pardon thee for this? thy children have forsaken me, and sworn by them that are no gods: when I had fed them to the full, they then committed adultery, and assembled themselves by troops in the harlots' houses (both consistent with their spiritual backsliding).
Jer 5:8 They were as fed horses in the morning: every one neighed after his neighbour's wife. Seeking solace from other “gods” they were as lustful adulterers.
Jer 5:9 Shall I not visit for these things? saith the LORD: and shall not my soul (“soul” here is nephesh, i.e., I, Myself) be avenged on such a nation as this?
To be avenged means to stop short of their consummate and final obliteration, in parallel with the promise in Jeremiah 4:27, and the next words – not make a full end, as well as verse 18, q.v..
Jer 5:10 Go ye up upon her walls, and destroy; but make not a full end: take away her battlements; for they are not the LORD'S.
Battlements are aspects of a fortress, or a wall of protection. Theirs was a wall of self-deceit, and as such, were not substantial or defensive against the coming invaders.
Jer 5:11 For the house of Israel and the house of Judah have dealt very treacherously against me, saith the LORD.
Jer 5:12 They have belied the LORD, and said, It is not he; neither shall evil come upon us; neither shall we see sword nor famine:
Jer 5:13 And the prophets shall become wind, and the word is not in them: thus shall it be done unto them. The warnings of Jeremiah and others were to them as a gentle breeze, which meant nothing to them: empty warnings which had no validity.
Jer 5:14 Wherefore thus saith the LORD God of hosts (YHVH Tz’vaoth), Because ye speak this word (these words of denial), behold, I will make my words in thy (Jeremiah’s) mouth fire, and this people wood, and it shall devour them.
Oh! The power of God’s word!
Jer 5:15 Lo, I will bring a nation upon you from far, O house of Israel, saith the LORD: it is a mighty nation, it is an ancient nation, a nation whose language thou knowest not, neither understandest what they say.
That nation would be Chaldean Babylon, which has not yet been named by the prophet in these early writings, originating in the land of Shinar, according to Genesis 10:10.
Jer 5:16 Their quiver is as an open sepulchre, they are all mighty men.
Jer 5:17 And they shall eat up thine harvest, and thy bread, which thy sons and thy daughters should eat: they shall eat up thy flocks and thine herds: they shall eat up thy vines and thy fig trees: they shall impoverish thy fenced cities, wherein thou trustedst, with the sword.
The rapacity and evil that was coming swiftly upon them was inconceivable – touching every aspect of their nation and people – devouring and destroying all of it in God’s name. But still He insists on preserving them in part in order to supply recipients of His future blessing…
Jer 5:18 Nevertheless in those days, saith the LORD, I will not make a full end with you. Cf., note on 5:9.
Jer 5:19 And it shall come to pass, when ye shall say, Wherefore doeth the LORD our God all these things unto us? then shalt thou (Jeremiah) answer them, Like as ye have forsaken me, and served strange gods in your land, so shall ye serve strangers (foreigners, aliens) in a land that is not yours.
Jer 5:20 Declare this in the house of Jacob, and publish it in Judah, saying,
Jer 5:21 Hear now this, O foolish people, and (those who are) without understanding (Hebrew labe, will or intellect – from H3824, lebab, or the heart, as the most internal organ, and the supposed seat of wisdom); which have eyes, and see not; which have ears, and hear not:
Physical attributes do not necessarily result in spiritual acuity or impressibility.
This fact is the ground substance of the comments of Paul to the Jews of Rome who, by their own volition refused to hear the valid words of Truth from His Apostle: Acts 28:25 And when they (the Jews of Rome – v. 17) agreed not among themselves, they departed, after that Paul had spoken one word, “Well spake the Holy Ghost by Esaias the prophet unto our fathers, 26 Saying, ‘Go unto this people, and say, “’Hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and not perceive: ’” 27 For the heart of this people is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes have they closed; lest they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them.
This failure to hear and understand was not imposed upon them from without; from this passage we understand that it was a SELF-imposed penalty, fatal to their personal destiny – yes – but self-imposed nevertheless.
The cause of it was revealed in the phrases, For the heart of this people is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes have they closed … Such vessels of perception are not likely to receive the water of life issuing so freely from the wells of salvation!
Their lack of humility and of teachability of the infinite will of the mighty Creator of the universe is Jeremiah’s next consideration.
Jer 5:22 Fear ye not me? saith the LORD: will ye not tremble at my presence, which have placed the sand for the bound of the sea by a perpetual decree, that it cannot pass it: and though the waves thereof toss themselves, yet can they not prevail; though they roar, yet can they not pass over it?
The sense of this statement is that His words to them should have brought immediate responses of righteousness; He has successfully placed immovable physical boundaries in natural circumstances, essentially fencing in the destructive capacity of the natural elements.
Yet the bounds that He has set for His people are willingly ignored and overcome by them in their lustful course.
Jer 5:23 But this people hath a revolting and a rebellious heart (“heart” is again labe: will or understanding); they are revolted (have rebelled) and gone (away from Me).
Jer 5:24 Neither say they (this form of words) in their heart, Let us now fear the LORD our God, that giveth rain, both the former and the latter, in his season: he reserveth unto us the appointed weeks of the harvest.
Jer 5:25 (But the fact is, that …) Your iniquities have turned away (refused, pushed aside) these things, and your sins have withholden good things from you.
He reminds them time and again that their misfortune is a result of their own actions…
Jer 5:26 For among my people are found wicked men: they lay wait, as he that setteth snares; they set a trap, they catch men.
Jer 5:27 As a cage is full of birds, so are their houses full of deceit: therefore they are become great, and waxen rich.
Jer 5:28 They are waxen fat, they shine: yea, they overpass the deeds of the wicked: they judge not (i.e., give no justice to) the cause, the cause of the fatherless, yet they prosper; and the right of the needy do they not judge.
Jer 5:29 Shall I not visit (hold them responsible) for these things? saith the LORD: shall not my soul be avenged on such a nation as this?
Jer 5:30 A wonderful (‘wonderful’ in the sense of astounding, or full of wonder even to Him) and horrible thing is committed in the land;
Jer 5:31 The prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests bear rule by their means; and my people love to have it so: and what will ye do in the end thereof?
His people loved to hear smooth words and comforting platitudes much as the populace of our own times. It had been so even during the time of Isaiah, as recorded by him in Isaiah 30:8 Now go, write it before them in a table, and note it in a book, that it may be for the time to come for ever and ever (thus defining the ways of the flesh of mankind – this unchanging trait of self-will, of trust in the protection of Egypt, and arrogance against The Creator): 9 That this is a rebellious people, lying children, children that will not hear the law of the LORD: 10 Which say to the seers, See not; and to the prophets, Prophesy not unto us right things, speak unto us smooth things, prophesy deceits: 11 Get you out of the way, turn aside out of the path, cause the Holy One of Israel to cease from before us.
These offensive notions were not necessarily their objective speech upon this matter, but the end result was that they summarily refused God’s Way and Will by their arrogance and waywardness. In our further study of the writings of Jeremiah, the reader will see this principle demonstrated and acted out verbatim, as stated in this passage, by their steadfast attitude of resistance to God’s word being sent to them through the lips of Jeremiah. <HEL 4N> ~2200 words.
The chapter opens with a figure of speech known as Synechdoche, or Transfer – the exchange of one idea for another, associated idea. His address is to ye children of Benjamin, which is put for the whole of Judah, on account of their close connection with the Gibeathites – Judges 19:16, and Hosea 10:9.
Jer 6:1 O ye children of Benjamin, gather yourselves to flee out of the midst of Jerusalem, and blow the trumpet in Tekoa (ten miles south of Jerusalem), and set up a sign of fire (a signal issued by building a giant bonfire when danger came) in Bethhaccerem (the Hebrew means House of the Vineyards; location unknown, but suggestion has been made that it was in Ain Karem, a western suburb of Jerusalem and birthplace of John Immerser. It is further north than Tekoa, and its signal fire would serve as an early warning for the forces there. These towns apparently were to be their positions of retreat when the invasion came.): for evil appeareth out of the north, and great destruction.
Jer 6:2 I have likened the daughter of Zion to a comely and delicate woman.
Jer 6:3 The shepherds with their flocks (the Chaldeans) shall come unto her; they shall pitch their tents against her round about; they shall feed every one in his place.
Next are the attributed words against Judah to be spoken by the Chaldeans.
Jer 6:4 Prepare ye war (Hebrew, Qadash Milchamah – to set up an holy war, one sanctified to accomplish its objective on the Almighty’s terms) against her (Judah); arise, and let us go up at noon. Woe unto us! for the day goeth away, for the shadows of the evening are stretched out.
Jer 6:5 Arise, and let us go by night, and let us destroy her palaces.
But Jerusalem’s condemnation is not at the volition or even the election of the Chaldeans; it is decreed by the LORD. He has condemned them for their iniquities.
Jer 6:6 For thus hath the LORD of hosts said, Hew ye down trees, and cast a mount against Jerusalem: this is the city to be visited; she is wholly oppression in the midst of her.
Jer 6:7 As a fountain (a well, or spring) casteth out her waters, so she casteth out her wickedness: violence and spoil is heard in her; before me continually is grief and wounds.
Jer 6:8 Be thou instructed, O Jerusalem, lest my soul (Nefesh, or life substance) depart from thee; lest I make thee desolate, a land not inhabited.
Jer 6:9 Thus saith the LORD of hosts, They shall throughly glean the remnant of Israel as a vine: turn back thine hand as a grape-gatherer into the baskets.
The Almighty continues to address their iniquity through Jeremiah.
Jer 6:10 To whom shall I speak, and give warning, that they may hear? behold, their ear is uncircumcised, and they cannot hearken: behold, the word of the LORD is unto them a reproach; they have no delight in it.
A reproach here is indicative of the generalized, progressive decline and rejection by Him of Jerusalem as representative of His people during Jeremiah’s times. [See f.n. on verse in C.B.]
Here in 6:10 it is regarded with reproach.
In 8:2 it is rejected.
In 17:15 it is scoffed at.
In 23:36 it is perverted.
Jer 6:11 Therefore I am full of the fury of the LORD; I am weary with holding in: I will pour it out upon the children abroad, and upon the assembly of young men together: for even the husband with the wife shall be taken, the aged with him that is full of days.
Jer 6:12 And their houses shall be turned unto others, with their fields and wives together: for I will stretch out my hand upon the inhabitants of the land, saith the LORD.
Jer 6:13 For from the least of them even unto the greatest of them every one is given to covetousness; and from the prophet even unto the priest every one dealeth falsely. In these words he refers to the many false prophets among the people; Jeremiah and a few friends, such as Baruch, are the only stalwarts for truth and objectivity. It would be extremely depressing to these righteous men being required to stand up to the godlessness and evil of the king and people of Judah, but they were pricks against which Judah kicked with futility.
Jer 6:14 They have (falsely) healed also the hurt of the daughter of my people slightly, saying, Peace, peace; when there is no peace.
The same tactic was condemned by Ezekiel in 13:10: Because, even because they (the false prophets – those who spoke smooth words to them) have seduced my people, saying, Peace; and there was no peace; and one built up a wall, and, lo, others daubed it with untempered morter:
This evil practice was endemic in Judah, as in Israel before her; it was construction that was flimsy and untenable, being made with un-tempered mortar, or mortar which would not “cure” properly and become true and strong.
Their evil counsel was crumbling all around them but they would not admit their error!
In a slightly different context today, Israel is again seeking peace with its aggressors. This was evident when, in 1992-1996, the Labor Party under the leadership of Yitzhak Rabin as PM and Shimon Peres (whose name means “dividing!”) cried Peace! Peace! when there was none.
The later Prime Minister, Benyamin Netanyahu, seemed bent on reversing those earlier decisions, but during his first term did not. Now – in 2016 – he is again PM, and pursuing the same old “land for peace” formula that has incessantly failed in the past! The word of the LORD through the Prophet Joel specifically forbids dividing the land, and implies that those who do shall suffer the consequences.
After receiving the Palestine Mandate, Britain divided the land, giving about 78% of it to Abdullah of Mecca, forming Trans-Jordan, later to become Jordan. Britain has lost its empire and it naval superiority along with many other elements of its polity as a result. The United Nations Organization did it once more in 1947 and has become an organization with no teeth and no real authority.
Back to Jeremiah:
Jer 6:15 Were they ashamed when they had committed abomination? nay, they were not at all ashamed, neither could they blush: therefore they shall fall among them that fall: at the time that I visit them they shall be cast down, saith the LORD.
Jer 6:16 Thus saith the LORD, Stand ye in the (righteous) ways, and see (understand, perceive Truth), and ask for the old paths (the Almighty’s earlier instruction, which they first heard and believed), where(in which) is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls. But they said, We will not walk therein. Cf. also Matthew 11:29, 30.
Interestingly, in this lone verse, we see prescribed a mini-map of the pathway His people must employ in their lives in order to regain their earlier favorable position before the LORD:
Jer 6:17 Also I set watchmen over you, saying, Hearken to the sound of the trumpet. But they said, We will not hearken.
“Watchmen” here is H6822, Tsaphah, meaning to lean forward and peer into the distance; to be on alert for danger. It describes keen observers, critical men of reason, spiritually minded leaders. But theirs were not of that sort.
Jer 6:18 Therefore hear, ye nations, and know, O congregation (an early word meaning the physical assembly of saints), what is among them.
Jer 6:19 Hear, O earth (Judah): behold, I will bring evil (in the sense of calamity) upon this people, even the fruit of their thoughts, because they have not hearkened unto my words, nor to my law, but rejected it.
Jer 6:20 To what purpose cometh there to me incense from Sheba, and the sweet cane from a far country? your burnt offerings are not acceptable, nor your sacrifices sweet unto me.
These sacrifices, being offered spuriously by them, brought no alleviation of their guilt before Him, and were no longer efficacious to do so. They reeked in His nostrils.
Jer 6:21 Therefore thus saith the LORD, Behold, I will lay stumblingblocks before this people, and the fathers and the sons together shall fall upon them; the neighbour and his friend shall perish.
Jer 6:22 Thus saith the LORD, Behold, a people cometh from the north country, and a great nation shall be raised from the sides (this word “sides” is an idiom for a great distance and a wide perimeter) of the earth.
Jer 6:23 They (the Chaldeans) shall lay hold on bow and spear; they are cruel, and have no mercy; their voice roareth like the sea; and they ride upon horses, set in array as men for war against thee, O daughter of Zion.
Jer 6:24 We have heard the fame thereof: our hands wax feeble: anguish hath taken hold of us, and pain, as of a woman in travail.
Jer 6:25 Go not forth into the field, nor walk by the way; for the sword of the enemy and fear is on every side.
Jer 6:26 O daughter of my people, gird thee with sackcloth, and wallow thyself in ashes: make thee mourning, as for an only son, most bitter lamentation: for the spoiler shall suddenly come upon us.
Now we read words directed to Jeremiah, for reassurance and comfort in the distress that he shall suffer at their hands and mouths:
Jer 6:27 I have set thee for a tower (Hebrew, Bachon, meaning an assayer, or a tester of metals; Jeremiah is to resist them and test their mettle) and a fortress among my people, that thou mayest know and try (assay, or give a grade to) their way.
Jer 6:28 They are all grievous revolters, walking with slanders: they are brass and iron (these are baser metals, containing no silver, or gold – the nobler, more valuable elements); they are all corrupters.
Jer 6:29 The bellows are burned, the lead is consumed of the fire; the founder melteth in vain: for the wicked are not plucked away.
The dross (waste) of their refining does not rise to the surface, for the entire concoction is dross. The metal, lead, may resemble silver, but is far baser and relatively worthless.
Note that the fire against them has been stoked to great heat: to the extent that even the bellows – the blower, or stoker – of the fire is burned! This represents consummate destruction and displacement of the evil ones.
Jer 6:30 Reprobate (contaminated, impure) silver shall men call them, because the LORD hath rejected them.
Place: the Gate of the Temple – 7:1 to 10:25
Commentators have shown that this chapter has an appendix, and that it is Chapter 26. In that chapter is recorded the specific danger related in this chapter.
Chapter 26 is supposed by researchers to have been recorded during the fourth year of Jehoiakim.
Jer 7:1 The word that came to Jeremiah from the LORD (this form of the word is always YHVH), saying,
Jer 7:2 Stand in the gate of the LORD'S house, and proclaim there this word, and say, Hear the word of the LORD, all ye of Judah, that enter in at these gates to worship the LORD.
Here, at the entrance to the Temple grounds, every Israelite would hear Jeremiah’s words, for they all came there to worship, albeit an idolatrous affair.
Their Disobedience Reiterated
Shiloh an Example of His Retribution
Jer 7:3 Thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel (this extensively utilized Name, YHVH Tz’vaoth, the Elohim of Israel occurs 32 times in Jeremiah; it leaves no doubt as to the source of the message it speaks! This reference should have arrested their rapt attention: but it did not), Amend your ways and your doings, and I will cause you to dwell in this place.
Even upon the eve of their destruction, the Almighty yet extended His mercy to them; but we know they did not repent and genuinely call upon Him.
Jer 7:4 Trust ye not in lying words, saying, The temple of the LORD, The temple of the LORD, The temple of the LORD, are these.
This series of repetitive, identical statements is the figure Epizeuxis, for great emphasis, and is reminiscent of the fanaticism of idolaters. We can visualize their chants (e.g., Great is Diana of the Ephesians!) and their dolorous moans and wails of simulated delight and passion as they “worship” their gods.
Unfortunately, we see these same extreme, even bizarre emotions in the fervent “worship” of many Christian congregations of today, weeping, extending the hands upward, swaying in fervent supplication, even falling to the floor in an emotional expression of ecstasy.
Instead, His desire and demand is sincerity – absolutely serious conformation with His Law.
Jer 7:5 For if ye throughly amend your ways and your doings; if ye throughly execute (righteous) judgment between a man and his neighbour;
Jer 7:6 If ye oppress not the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow, and shed not innocent blood (cf., Leviticus 19:10) in this place, neither walk after other gods to your hurt:
This extensive catalog of transgressions is a dire picture of the extent of His People’s sins. It is a criminatory list of sins against them, but their repentance could bring a return of His favor. His promise was for His eternal favor (forever and ever).
Jer 7:7 Then will I cause you to dwell in this place, in the land that I gave to your fathers, for ever and ever.
Jer 7:8 Behold, ye trust in lying words, that cannot profit.
Jer 7:9 Will ye steal, murder, and commit adultery, and swear falsely, and burn incense unto Baal, and walk after other gods whom ye know not;
Jer 7:10 And come and stand before me in this house, which is called by my name, and say, We are delivered to do all these abominations?
Their amazingly insensitive attitude seems to have been, that they were permitted these abominations!
Jer 7:11 Is this house, which is called by my name, become a den of robbers in your eyes? Behold, even I have seen it, saith the LORD.
The Lord referred pointedly to these words of Jeremiah in Luke 19:46, q.v.
Judah cannot with any good conscience perform these vile acts, yet they do them.
The prophet offers a more realistic and truthful alternative in his next words … an object lesson of sorts, comparing themselves with Israel, the Ten Tribes before them.
Jer 7:12 But go ye now unto my place which was in Shiloh, where I set my name at the first, and see what I did to it for (because of) the wickedness of my people Israel. Cf., Jeremiah 26:6. [As to the terrible decline of events at Shiloh, cf. also Joshua 18:1; Judges 18:31; I Samuel 1:3.]
Jer 7:13 And now, because ye have done all these works, saith the LORD, and I spake unto you, rising up early and speaking, but ye heard not; and I called you, but ye answered not;
Jer 7:14 Therefore will I do unto this house, which is called by my name, wherein ye trust, and unto the place which I gave to you and to your fathers, as I have done to Shiloh.
The historical spiritual demise of the worship center at Shiloh, the holy place of many sacrifices, should have been an object lesson – but was not.
Jer 7:15 And I will cast you out of my sight, as I have cast out all your brethren, even the whole seed of Ephraim.
The prophet calls to their minds the Ten Tribes (Ephraim) which were already in captivity; the same fate awaited them!
YHVH commands that Jeremiah no longer make intercession for these iniquitous servants…He has now closed His ears to their petitions.
Jer 7:16 Therefore pray not thou for this people, neither lift up cry nor prayer for them, neither make intercession to me: for I will not hear thee.
Jer 7:17 Seest thou not what they do in the cities of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem?
Jer 7:18 The children gather wood, and the fathers kindle the fire, and the women knead their dough, to make cakes to the queen of heaven, and to pour out drink offerings unto other gods, that they may provoke me to anger.
Their invocations to the Queen of Heaven reminds us of the present universal Roman Catholic adoration of Mary, whom they likewise call Queen of Heaven! They believe not that Mary is in the grave, not in heaven, and has long ago dissolved into the elemental molecules of her mortal physiology. She cannot hear them nor respond to their financial contributions or their futile pleas – completely similar to “Baal” to which the priests on Carmel made wild and frenzied supplication. Mary is as absent and unresponsive at this moment as was Baal, a “lord” never having existed, just as Mary has never been a “Christian” intercessor; the Almighty has made it known plainly that He will not give His glory to another (Isaiah 48: 11) … and that there is but one mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus! I Timothy 2: 5.
Jer 7:19 Do they provoke me to anger? saith the LORD: do they not provoke themselves to the confusion of their own faces?
Yes, they do provoke Him to anger; but the greater harm is that confusion that they bring upon themselves.
Jer 7:20 Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, mine anger and my fury shall be poured out upon this place, upon man, and upon beast, and upon the trees of the field, and upon the fruit of the ground; and it shall burn, and shall not be quenched.
Jer 7:21 Thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; Put your burnt offerings unto your sacrifices, and eat flesh.
Jer 7:22 For I spake not unto your fathers, nor commanded them in the day that I brought them out of the land of Egypt, concerning burnt offerings or sacrifices:
Why is this true?
Because the Law had not been given at the time of their deliverance from Egypt – the ordinances of sacrifice and offering. There had been requirements, however …
Jer 7:23 But this thing commanded I them, saying, Obey my voice, and I will be your God, and ye shall be my people: and walk ye in all the ways that I have commanded you, that it may be well unto you.
Jer 7:24 But they hearkened not, nor inclined their ear, but walked in the counsels and in the imagination of their evil heart, and went backward, and not forward.
Jer 7:25 Since the day that your fathers came forth out of the land of Egypt unto this day I have even sent unto you all my servants the prophets, daily rising up early and sending them:
Jer 7:26 Yet they hearkened not unto me, nor inclined their ear, but hardened their neck: they did worse than their fathers.
Jer 7:27 Therefore thou shalt speak all these words unto them; but they will not hearken to thee: thou shalt also call unto them; but they will not answer thee.
From past experience, the Almighty already knew that He would receive no positive response from His people of the day!
Jer 7:28 But thou shalt say unto them, This is a nation that obeyeth not the voice of the LORD their God, nor receiveth correction: truth is perished, and is cut off from their mouth.
A Call for Lamentation
Jer 7:29 Cut off thine hair, O Jerusalem, and cast it away, and take up a lamentation on high places; for the LORD hath rejected and forsaken the generation of his wrath.
Cutting their hair was indicative of repentance and mourning; to cast it away meant the signal end of the matter – its confirmation, and permanence – this decided change of their ways (needed but not achieved).
Jer 7:30 For the children of Judah have done evil in my sight, saith the LORD: they have set their abominations in the house which is called by my name, to pollute it.
The surpassing enormity of this transgression cannot be overstated; it is an abomination, and a bald-faced repudiation of His authority and holiness.
Jer 7:31 And they have built the high places of Tophet, which is in the valley of the son of Hinnom, to burn their sons and their daughters in the fire; which I commanded them not, neither came it into my heart.
The Valley of Hinnom was probably named after one of the earlier Jebusite inhabitants.
It was a trash repository, and place of flaming destruction of unburied (unclaimed) bodies of criminals, the homeless and such, but was also the site of the worship of Molech – another abomination where the worshippers sacrificed their firstborn sons to the raging fires that occupied the sitting idol’s lap. That ritual was supposed to ensure fertility and bounty of harvest and children.
Jer 7:32 Therefore, behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that it shall no more be called Tophet, nor the valley of the son of Hinnom, but the valley of slaughter: for they shall bury in Tophet, till there be no place.
This “sacrifice” of a great number of slaughtered ones will not be propitiatory, but simply a great, regrettable loss to Him.
Jer 7:33 And the carcasses of this people shall be meat for the fowls of the heaven, and for the beasts of the earth; and none shall fray them away.
Jer 7:34 Then will I cause to cease from the cities of Judah, and from the streets of Jerusalem, the voice of mirth, and the voice of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom, and the voice of the bride: for the land shall be desolate.
The final end of their commonwealth is imminent. All its joys shall be removed, forbidden, banned from that place for an extended time. The land shall indeed be desolate!
<HEL 4N> ~1900 words.
Jer 8:2 And they shall spread them before the sun, and the moon, and all the host of heaven, whom they have loved, and whom they have served, and after whom they have walked, and whom they have sought, and whom they have worshipped: they shall not be gathered, nor be buried; they shall be for dung upon the face of the earth.
This practice of observing the stars, sun and moon in this way indicates a mystical view of the heavens as in astrology – a practice entirely forbidden to Israel. The practice acknowledges a ‘guide’ different from their God, and dishonors His name, even as it does today. In accepted Hebrew practice, this is a desecration of the bones of any man or woman.
It is a refusal of the life which He offers. It is extremely pertinent that the prophet is instructed to tell his listeners that exposure to those elements brings NO assistance, but merely complete dissolution – relapse into the death state.
Jer 8:3 And death shall be chosen rather than life by all the residue of them that remain of this evil family, which remain in all the places whither I have driven them, saith the LORD of hosts.
Jer 8:4 Moreover thou shalt say unto them, Thus saith the LORD; Shall they fall, and not arise? shall he turn away, and not return?
A clearer translation of this last phrase is – c.f., f.n., Companion Bible: Shall they return (to Him), and He not return (t0 them)? Here is another nuance of their future redemption, if they should turn again to Him; the doorway is always open to their repentant return to His ways.
Jer 8:5 Why then is this people of Jerusalem slidden back by a perpetual backsliding? they hold fast deceit, they refuse to return.
Jer 8:6 I hearkened and heard, but they spake not aright: no man repented him of his wickedness, saying, What have I done? every one turned to his course, as the horse rusheth into the battle.
Jer 8:7 Yea, the stork in the heaven knoweth her appointed times; and the turtle (turtle-dove) and the crane and the swallow observe the time of their coming; but my people know not the judgment of the LORD.
The brute beasts of the avian world know by instinct the times of their migrations, and observe them without question or preparation. But the knowledgeable, able, nimble-witted people of Judah reject the judgments which they have been meticulously taught by Him. It is an enigma of the most profound depth to him.
Jer 8:8 How do ye say, We are wise, and the law of the LORD is with us? Lo, certainly in vain made he it; the pen (meaning their writings of holy writ) of the scribes is in vain.
Jer 8:9 The wise men are ashamed, they are dismayed and taken: lo, they have rejected the word of the LORD; and what wisdom is in them?
Jer 8:10 Therefore will I give their wives unto others, and their fields to them
that shall inherit them: for every one from the least even unto the greatest is given to covetousness, from the prophet even unto the priest every one dealeth falsely.
Enigmatically, the prophets had been raised up because of the gross failures of the priests; now both were at fault, and the kingdom was ready to perish because of their evil counsel and leadership.
Jer 8:11 For they have healed (this is said in irony, for no healing has really happened; these are soothing, but false words) the hurt of the daughter of my people slightly, saying, Peace, peace; when there is no peace.
This false mantra was attributed to them earlier, in 6:14, and was discussed there.
Jer 8:12 Were they ashamed when they had committed abomination? nay, they were not at all ashamed, neither could they blush: therefore shall they fall among them that fall: in the time of their visitation they shall be cast down, saith the LORD.
Jer 8:13 I will surely consume them, saith the LORD: there shall be no grapes on the vine, nor figs on the fig tree, and the leaf shall fade; and the things that I have given them shall pass away from them. A clearer rendering of this last phrase is, I have appointed them those that shall pass over them. (f.n., C.B.)
Jer 8:14 Why do we sit still ? (words of the prophets to themselves – introspection of their actions, this is the figure Erotesis, asking a question not for an answer, but to make an obvious point) Assemble yourselves, and let us enter into the defenced cities, and let us be silent there: for the LORD our God hath put us to silence, and given us water of gall to drink, because we have sinned against the LORD.
This passage has Jeremiah including himself with the people five times, using the pronoun “us,” and “we,” and continues with one more use of the pronoun “we” in the next verse.
Jer 8:15 We looked for peace, but no good came; and for a time of health, and behold trouble (or terror)!
A vivid example of the terror is in the terrible noises which they hear from the north, even now – the noises of battle and destruction …
Jer 8:16 The snorting of his horses was heard from Dan: the whole land trembled at the sound of the neighing of his strong ones; for they are come, and have devoured the land, and all that is in it; the city, and those that dwell therein.
Why is the northern Tribe of Dan mentioned here??? It is because his territory is the pathway which will be used as an entry point for the invasion of Nebuchadnezzar!
Jer 8:17 For, behold, I will send serpents, cockatrices, among you, which will not be charmed (neutralized), and they shall bite you, saith the LORD.
Jer 8:18 When I (Jeremiah) would comfort myself against sorrow, my heart is faint in me.
Jer 8:19 Behold the voice of the cry of the daughter of my people because of them that dwell in a far country: Is not the LORD in Zion? is not her king in her? Why have they provoked me to anger with their graven images, and with strange vanities?
The three highlighted words, Behold! Is the figure Asterismos, that is, attention-getting words of announcement. They trumpet the message: Pay attention!
But again, they did not. The consistent drumbeat of warnings is falling on their deaf ears. Even reading this long series of condemnation is tedious, seeming to be endless – droning, repetitive, monotonous – but necessary.
The Prophet: Sorrow
Jer 8:20 The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved.
Jer 8:21 For the hurt of the daughter of my people am I hurt; I am black; astonishment hath taken hold on me.
Jer 8:22 Is there no balm (this was an healing potion made of balsam) in Gilead; is there no physician there? why then is not the health of the daughter of my people recovered?
The health for which he longs is their spiritual health – the healing of their souls (their lives). The prophet’s sorrow is about to terminate in a long list of the reasons FOR his sorrow in the next chapter. <HEL 4N> ~ 1400 words.
Jer 9:1 Oh that my head were waters, and mine eyes a fountain of tears, that I might weep day and night for the slain of the daughter of my people!
The first two phrases are the figure, Catabasis, or gradual descent; always used to indicate humiliation and sorrow. But the prophet is powerless to avert tragedy for his people.
Reasons for the Prophet’s Sorrow
Jer 9:2 Oh that I had in the wilderness a lodging place of wayfaring men; that I might leave my people, and go from them! for they be all adulterers, an assembly of treacherous men.
Jer 9:3 And they bend their tongues like their bow for lies: but they are not valiant for the truth upon the earth; for they proceed from evil to evil, and they know not me, saith the LORD.
Jer 9:4 Take ye heed every one of his neighbour, and trust ye not in (do not confide in) any brother: for every brother will utterly supplant, and every neighbour will walk with slanders. Literally no one may be trusted!
Jer 9:5 And they will deceive every one his neighbour, and will not speak the truth: they have taught their tongue to speak lies, and weary themselves to commit iniquity.
Their commitment to evil seems almost a professional vocation for them!
Jer 9:6 Thine habitation is in the midst of deceit; through deceit they refuse to know me, saith the LORD.
Jer 9:7 Therefore thus saith the LORD of hosts, Behold, I will melt them (meaning, refine them as metals are refined – in the heat of fire), and try them; for how (or what) shall I do for (because of the wickedness of) the daughter of my people?
Jer 9:8 Their tongue is as an arrow shot out; it speaketh deceit: one speaketh peaceably to his neighbour with his mouth, but in heart he layeth his wait.
The deceitfulness of the People was astonishing at this dark time in their history. Subterfuge and iniquity abounded.
Jer 9:9 Shall I not visit them for these things? saith the LORD: shall not my soul (Nephesh, meaning I, Myself) be avenged on such a nation as this?
A Call for Lamentation
Jer 9:10 For the mountains (the pleasant dwelling places) will I take up a weeping and wailing, and for the habitations of the wilderness (the open fields, as lush pastures) a lamentation, because they are burned up, so that none can pass through them; neither can men hear the voice of the cattle; both the fowl of the heavens and the beast are fled; they are gone.
Jer 9:11 And I will make Jerusalem heaps, and a den of dragons (Hebrew, Tannin, meaning a land or sea monster, probably a jackal – the forlorn scavenger of the desolate condition into which the City should fall); and I will make the cities of Judah desolate, without an inhabitant.
This promise was fulfilled. It was in ultra-force until the Zionist movement was initiated. The extensive record of the appearance of the Land by Samuel F. Clements (Mark Twain) in Innocents Abroad is a story of sadness and pathos as relates to the physical lands and the sparse inhabitants of Palestine in the mid-19th century.
Jer 9:12 Who is the wise man, that may understand this? and who is he to whom the mouth of the LORD hath spoken, that he may declare it, for what (cause does the land perish) the land perisheth and is burned up like a wilderness, that none passeth through?
The answer to this question is made known in the next sentence.
Jer 9:13 And the LORD saith, Because they have forsaken my law which I set before them, and have not obeyed my voice, neither walked therein;
Jer 9:14 But have walked after the imagination (idolatrous stubbornness) of their own heart, and after Baalim, which their fathers taught them:
Jer 9:15 Therefore thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel (YHVH Tz’vaoth, Elohim of Israel – the word comes from the highest authority!); Behold, I will feed them, even this people, with wormwood (Hebrew, La’anah, or hemlock: a poison), and give them water of gall (the word translated gall is Rosh, or head, probably relating to the prominent blossom of the poppy; also hemlock) to drink.
The sentence is to their death and dissolution. It is fulfillment of the prophetic words recorded in Deuteronomy 31:16 - And the LORD said unto Moses, Behold, thou shalt sleep with thy fathers; and this people will rise up, and go a whoring after the gods of the strangers of the land, whither they go to be among them, and will forsake me, and break my covenant which I have made with them.
Deu 31:17 Then my anger shall be kindled against them in that day, and I will forsake them, and I will hide my face from them, and they shall be devoured, and many evils and troubles shall befall them; so that they will say in that day, Are not these evils come upon us, because our God is not among us? 18 And I will surely hide my face in that day for all the evils which they shall have wrought, in that they are turned unto other gods.
Their wonderment at their punishment seems to ignore their own complicity in the matter – but it is because of “all the evils which they shall have wrought, in that they are turned unto other gods.” Their punishment is for this reason pre-arranged for national failure …
Jer 9:16 I will scatter them also among the heathen (Cf., Leviticus 26:23, 24), whom neither they nor their fathers have known: and I will send a sword after them, till I have consumed them.
Their plight is precarious; so what must they do now?
There is no effective remedy, given the iniquity of the people.
Jer 9:17 Thus saith the LORD of hosts, Consider ye, and call for the mourning women, that they may come; and send for cunning women (skillful in mourning), that they may come:
Jer 9:18 And let them make haste, and take up a wailing for us, that our eyes may run down with tears, and our eyelids gush out with waters.
The custom was to hire women to come to a funeral or a deathbed – women who would weep and cry for the victim of disease or death. They would utter words of mourning and regret and anguish, would tear their garments in anguish, and even don sackcloth.
But they were otherwise disinterested in the deceased or his family; they were paid professionals - and stereotypes of how the real circumstances should have been. In this regard they are similar to today’s professional “men of the cloth” who for hire, teach false doctrines and promote unpromised blessings to the ignorant people of today – for a wage.
Jer 9:19 For a voice of wailing is heard out of Zion, (saying) How are we spoiled (how we have been ravaged)! we are greatly confounded, because we have forsaken the land, because our dwellings have cast us out.
Jer 9:20 Yet hear the word of the LORD, O ye women, and let your ear receive the word of his mouth, and teach your daughters wailing, and every one her neighbour lamentation.
The women of Judah had also done their part to bring about these calamities, so the prophet exhorts them to come and share the results which the LORD shall bring.
Jer 9:21 For death is come up into our windows, and is entered into our palaces, to cut off the children from without, and the young men from the streets.
Jer 9:22 Speak, Thus saith the LORD, Even the carcasses of men shall fall as dung upon the open field, and as the handful after the harvestman, and none shall gather them.
Conditions became so profoundly terrible that funerals and burials were apparently not held. Rotting corpses littered the landscape in their worst depravity.
Jer 9:23 Thus saith the LORD, Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, neither let the mighty man glory in his might, let not the rich man glory in his riches:
The instruction here is global in intent and application – even to ourselves today – and encourage the humility that is required from His faithful servants.
Jer 9:24 But let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth me, that I am the LORD which exercise lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness, in the earth: for in these things I delight, saith the LORD.
To understand and KNOW the LORD lies at the foundation of every blessing.
Without knowing God, one cannot believe in Him; without knowing God one cannot trust in Him; and without knowing God, one cannot please Him, for he or she cannot possibly be truly aware of God’s requirements.
In this relative sense, it is impossible for an abject sinner to receive forgiveness for anything without first understanding the nature of sin and human nature (briefly summarized as “the Truth” of God’s word); thus one can never “just pray this prayer of repentance” urged by the TV “evangelists” and have it bring salvation. Unfortunately, the commodity such actions bring is the tinkling of silver in the purses of the purveyors of such drivel – but not a prayer for salvation from sin.
It is astounding that His people, even after the prophet’s voluminous warnings, should turn away from the special blessings which He has reserved ONLY for them – above and beyond all other peoples of the earth – and they refused His largess!
For these blessings He could surely have been honored, but they would not!
The Apostle Paul quotes part of this statement in 1Corinthians 1: 28 And base things of the world, and things which are despised (by the flesh of men), hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not (have not come to pass?), to bring to nought things that are: 29 That no flesh should glory in his presence. 30 But of him are ye in (the Covenant of) Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption: 31 That, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.
His conclusion is disastrous for them; their destiny is to be no better than those who know Him not at all!
Jer 9:25 Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will punish all them which are circumcised with the uncircumcised;
It is notable that Israel were at this time circumcised in flesh only, but not in “ears” (6:10) or in “heart” (4:4). Moses’ words, recorded in Deuteronomy, pointedly refer to their extremely advantageous position before the LORD, but also to their hardness of heart: Deuteronomy 10:15: Only the LORD had a delight in thy fathers to love them, and he chose their seed after them, even you above all people, as it is this day. 16 Circumcise therefore the foreskin of your heart, and be no more stiffnecked.
The uncircumcised include all these:
Jer 9:26 Egypt, and Judah, and Edom, and the children of Ammon, and Moab, and all that are in the utmost corners, that dwell in the wilderness: for all these nations are uncircumcised, and all the house of Israel are uncircumcised in the heart.
Jer 10:1 Hear ye the word which the LORD speaketh unto you, O house of Israel:
Jer 10:2 Thus saith the LORD, Learn not the way of the heathen, and be not dismayed at the signs of heaven; for the heathen are dismayed at them.
This statement refers to the heathen practice of Astrology, in which some practitopmers inferred future events to come, by “conjunctions” of planets, or “alignment” of stars, and other perceived “signs” as affecting their destiny. For these “signs” they worshipped the idols. This practice was a corruption of the infant science (at that time) of Astronomy, a valid scientific pursuit even today.
The prophet’s words reflect astonishment at his brethren’s commonplace practices of idolatry – the insensitivity and futility, even the sense of denial of God’s way, with which they approached their idolatrous practices. Exactly as the heathen about them, they performed these inane operations in the creation of their idols: it is a practice described here in unique detail…
Jer 10:3 For the customs of the people are vain: for one cutteth a tree out of the forest, the work of the hands of the workman, with the axe.
Jer 10:4 They deck it with silver and with gold; they fasten it with nails and with hammers, that it move not.
Jer 10:5 They are upright as the palm tree, but speak not: they must needs be borne, because they cannot go. Be not afraid of them; for they cannot do evil, neither also is it in them to do good.
Jer 10:6 Forasmuch as there is none like unto thee, O LORD; thou art great, and thy name is great in might.
These words are certainly parallel to, if not identical to the Song of Moses and the Lamb which is sung by the Redeemed, in Revelation 15:3 And they sing the song of Moses the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying, Great and marvellous are thy works, Lord God Almighty; just and true are thy ways, thou King of saints. 4 Who shall not fear thee, O Lord, and glorify thy name? for thou only art holy: for all nations shall come and worship before thee; for thy judgments are made manifest.
The prophet’s thoughts now return to the reality of wisdom, the product of deep concentration upon the blessings of their God to them daily …
Jer 10:7 Who would not fear thee, O King of nations? for to thee doth it appertain: forasmuch as among all the wise (a description uttered in irony) men of the nations, and in all their kingdoms, there is none like unto thee.
Jer 10:8 But they are altogether brutish and foolish: the stock (meaning the idol made from the tree) is a doctrine of vanities.
Jer 10:9 Silver spread into plates is brought from Tarshish, and gold from Uphaz, the work of the workman, and of the hands of the founder (the prophet’s emphasis is that these are not the work of YHVH): blue and purple is their clothing: they are all the work of cunning men.
But these items of tinsel and metal are not even to be compared to the glory of the God of Israel! They perish with age and corruption; their temporal end is dust and ashes. A healthy measure of introspection could have brought more sober and worthwhile thoughts into their minds …
Jer 10:10 But the LORD is the true God, he is the living God, and an everlasting king: at his wrath the earth shall tremble, and the nations shall not be able to abide his indignation.
Jer 10:11 Thus shall ye say unto them, The gods (idols) that have not made the heavens and the earth, even they shall perish from the earth, and from under these heavens.
Commentators have noted that this verse is recorded in the language of Chaldea; these words would serve as a confession of their faith while in exile – that is, for those who repented of their sin and profited from His instruction. It is a confession which they must make before the Almighty would accept them again.
Jer 10:12 He hath made the earth by his power, he hath established the world by his wisdom, and hath stretched out the heavens by his discretion.
Jer 10:13 When he uttereth his voice, there is a multitude of waters in the heavens, and he causeth the vapours to ascend from the ends of the earth; he maketh lightnings with rain, and bringeth forth the wind out of his treasures.
This exalted revelation recognizes and accurately describes the hydrostatic cycle, recognizing that the heavens contain much water, and that it has ascended to the heavens from the earth in an endless cycle, resulting in the turbulent storms which result in lightning and rain – the spectacular means by which He blesses all people!
Jer 10:14 Every man is brutish in his knowledge: every founder (the foundry worker, or iron worker) is confounded by the graven image: for his molten image is falsehood, and there is no breath in them.
Jer 10:15 They are vanity (the common appellative for idols), and the work of errors: in the time of their visitation they shall perish.
Jer 10:16 The portion of Jacob is not like them: for he is the former (in the sense of the One Who forms) of all things; and Israel is the rod of his inheritance: The LORD of hosts is his name.
Here is simple summary of Judah’s drastic error; they have failed to give the Almighty any credit for all the wonderful things He has created, and have devoted them to idols!
Jer 10:17 Gather up thy wares out of the land, O inhabitant of the fortress.
The people would be taken out of the land with only the possessions that they could carry. They would lose all else, and file away in poverty of both material goods and spiritual values.
Jer 10:18 For thus saith the LORD, Behold, I will sling out (that is, violently and swiftly eject) the inhabitants of the land at this once, and will distress them, that they may find it so.
Jeremiah now voices their dismay at the coming deportation of his people. They would rue their unbelief in the days to come; and after they returned to the land from Babylonian exile, they were never again guilty of idolatry on a large scale!
Jer 10:19 Woe is me for my hurt! my wound is grievous: but I said, Truly this is a grief, and I must bear it.
Jer 10:20 My tabernacle is spoiled, and all my cords are broken: my children are gone forth of me, and they are not: there is none to stretch forth my tent any more, and to set up my curtains.
Jer 10:21 For the pastors (priests and governors, or rulers) are become brutish, and have not sought the LORD: therefore they shall not prosper, and all their flocks shall be scattered.
This is apt description of Jehoiakim’s reign, and that of Hezekiah as well. They were incapable of adhering to God’s way, but insisted upon their own selfish desires. Of course, as went the king, so went his subjects; thus, they led their entire congregations down the primrose path of evil pleasure and indulgence by their personal practices of idolatry.
Jer 10:22 Behold, the noise of the bruit is come, and a great commotion out of the north country, to make the cities of Judah desolate, and a den of dragons (again, jackals).
The final conclusion is, therefore:
Jer 10:23 O LORD, I know that the way of man is not in himself: it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps.
It is an high-sounding, noble saying – one worthy of all acceptation – but one which, although sincerely voiced, rang empty upon their collective conscience. Yet it is the mantra of the faithful of all ages. Psalm 2:12 enjoins His people to … Kiss the Son (i.e., do His bidding), lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all they that put their trust in him.
Jer 10:24 O LORD, correct me, but with judgment; not in thine anger, lest thou bring me to nothing.
Jer 10:25 Pour out thy fury upon the heathen that know thee not, and upon the families that call not on thy name: for they have eaten up Jacob, and devoured him, and consumed him, and have made his habitation desolate.
Sadly, this destitution of His people has been first spiritual, then physical. Their idolatry is duplication of the heathen practices that they adopted and followed; their exile came as a result of that transgression. <HEL 5N> ~1450 words.
Prophecies to Judah and Jerusalem (through 12:17)
Jer 11:1 The word that came to Jeremiah from the LORD, saying,
Jer 11:2 Hear ye the words of this covenant, and speak unto the men of Judah, and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem;
Moses made reference to the Covenant of Sinai in Deuteronomy 4:23 - Take heed unto yourselves, lest ye forget the covenant of the LORD your God, which he made with you, and make you a graven image, or the likeness of any thing, which the LORD thy God hath forbidden thee.
The covenant of Exodus had been specifically renewed by Judah during the days of Josiah, in his eighteenth year – 2Kings 20:1-3 – with great emotion and positive rededication of the people. But they had strayed even from this affirmation.
Jer 11:3 And say thou unto them, Thus saith the LORD God of Israel (“Israel” is still used of Judah, as exemplified in 1Kings 12:17); Cursed be the man that obeyeth not the words of this covenant,
Jer 11:4 Which I commanded your fathers in the day that I brought them forth out of the land of Egypt, from the iron furnace, saying, Obey my voice, and do them, according to all which I command you: so shall ye be my people, and I will be your God:
Jer 11:5 That I may perform the oath which I have sworn unto your fathers, to give them a land flowing with milk and honey, as it is this day. Then answered I, and said, So be it, O LORD.
This is the response of YHVH to Jeremiah; it will be opportunity for His people to correct their errors of the past.
Jer 11:6 Then the LORD said unto me, Proclaim all these words in the cities of Judah, and in the streets of Jerusalem, saying, Hear ye the words of this covenant, and do them.
Jer 11:7 For I earnestly protested unto your fathers in the day that I brought them up out of the land of Egypt, even unto this day, rising early and protesting, saying, Obey my voice.
Jer 11:8 Yet they obeyed not, nor inclined their ear, but walked every one in the imagination (the stubbornness) of their evil heart: therefore I will bring upon them all the words of this covenant, which I commanded them to do; but they did them not.
Jer 11:9 And the LORD said unto me, A conspiracy is found among the men of Judah, and among the inhabitants of Jerusalem.
Jer 11:10 They are turned back to the iniquities of their forefathers, which refused to hear my words; and they went after other gods to serve them: the house of Israel and the house of Judah have broken my covenant which I made with their fathers.
Jer 11:11 Therefore thus saith the LORD, Behold, I will bring evil upon them, which they shall not be able to escape; and though they shall cry unto me, I will not hearken unto them.
Jer 11:12 Then shall the (people of the) cities of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem go, and cry unto the gods unto whom they offer incense: but they shall not save them at all in the time of their trouble.
Jer 11:13 For according to the number of thy cities were thy gods, O Judah; and according to the number of the streets of Jerusalem have ye set up altars to that shameful thing (here “shame” is put by metonymy for the effects that their idolatrous actions bring), even altars to burn incense unto Baal.
Jer 11:14 Therefore pray not thou for this people, neither lift up a cry or prayer for them: for I will not hear them in the time that they cry unto me for their trouble.
Their continuous and consistent evil conduct has made them anathema to their Father; He will no longer hear their pleas for relief.
Jer 11:15 What hath my beloved to do in mine house, seeing she hath wrought lewdness with many, and the holy flesh (effectual sacrifices for sin) is passed from thee? when thou doest evil, then thou rejoicest.
Jer 11:16 The LORD called thy name, A green olive tree, fair, and of goodly fruit: with the noise of a great tumult he hath kindled fire upon it, and the branches of it are broken.
Israel is indicated by many similes and metaphors in God’s word. Here the nation is labeled a green olive tree. Cf. also Romans 11: 17-24.
We refer also to Psalm 52:8 But I am like a green olive tree in the house of God: I trust in the mercy of God for ever and ever.
In Judges 9:8-12 a remarkable passage likens Israel to three members of the plant kingdom: the olive, the fig, and the vine.
Helpful footnotes in the Companion Bible explain the similarities between these three:
That the olive is representative of Israel’s religious privilege (Romans 11),
That the fig is representative of Israel’s national privilege (Luke 13:6-9),
And the vine is representative of Israel’s spiritual privilege (Isaiah 5; John 15).
Now, all these are planted in the soil of Israel’s land. All should have produced good fruits, and therefore have glorified His name and purpose; but none of them had done so.
Jer 11:17 For the LORD of hosts, that planted thee, hath pronounced evil against thee, for the evil of the house of Israel and of the house of Judah, which they have done against themselves to provoke me to anger in offering incense unto Baal.
Prophecies Against the Men of Anathoth
Jer 11:18 And the LORD hath given me knowledge of it, and I know it: then thou shewedst me their doings.
Jeremiah is here similar to Messiah, and a type of Him; the figurative comparison follows in his next words.
Jer 11:19 But I was like a lamb or an ox that is brought to the slaughter; and I knew not that they had devised devices against me, saying, Let us destroy the tree with the fruit thereof, and let us cut him (Jeremiah) off from the land of the living (as was Christ: see Isaiah 53:8), that his name may be no more remembered.
Jer 11:20 But, O LORD of hosts, that judgest righteously, that triest the reins and the heart, let me see thy vengeance on them: for unto thee have I revealed my cause.
Who were these enemies of Jeremiah, primarily? They were his kinsmen – the men and women of Anathoth – who had sworn vengeance upon Jeremiah because he had spoken to them the words of the LORD! They wanted not to hear truth, but “smooth” words of falsehood and deceit – as if the utterance of such by Jeremiah would bring the desired end!
Jer 11:21 Therefore thus saith the LORD of the men of Anathoth, that seek thy life, saying, Prophesy not in the name of the LORD, that thou die not by our hand:
Incredibly, his kinsmen were willing to – and threatened to – kill Jeremiah for speaking the words of God!
Jer 11:22 Therefore thus saith the LORD of hosts, Behold, I will punish them: the young men shall die by the sword; their sons and their daughters shall die by famine:
Jer 11:23 And there shall be no remnant of them: for I will bring evil (retribution) upon the men of Anathoth, even the year of their visitation.
Prophecies Against Anathoth, Continued
Jer 12:1 Righteous art thou, O LORD, when I plead with thee: yet let me talk with thee of thy judgments: Wherefore doth the way of the wicked prosper? Wherefore are all they happy that deal very treacherously?
Jer 12:2 Thou hast planted them, yea, they have taken root: they grow, yea, they bring forth fruit: thou art near in their mouth (applying especially to Anathoth, a city of the priests, the teachers of the people who purveyed His word), and far from their reins.
Their words toward the Almighty are pleasant, and complimentary. But their ways belie those words. “Reins” refer to the renal glands – the kidneys – to which were attributed the affections of mankind.
Jer 12:3 But thou, O LORD, knowest me: thou hast seen me, and tried mine heart toward thee: pull them out like sheep for the slaughter, and prepare them (or separate them, consecrate them) for the day of slaughter.
Jer 12:4 How long shall the land mourn, and the herbs of every field wither, for (because of) the wickedness of them that dwell therein? the beasts are consumed, and the birds; because they said, He shall not see our last end.
Jer 12:5 If thou hast run with the footmen, and they have wearied thee, then how canst thou contend with horses? and if in the land of peace, wherein thou trustedst, they wearied thee, then how wilt thou do in the swelling of Jordan?
The Jordan overflowed typically in the time of harvest (Joshua 2: 15), and is symbolic of insurgency of oppression upon the people.
Jer 12:6 For even thy brethren, and the house of thy father, even they have dealt treacherously with thee; yea, they have called a multitude after thee: believe them not, though they speak fair words unto thee.
False prophets were abundant in that day. This fact made Jeremiah’s work even harder.
The Beloved People Threatened
The sorrowing words of the Almighty continue: these are given in response to their continuing sinful condition – their unrepentant conduct before him and the nations round about.
Jer 12:7 I have forsaken mine house, I have left mine heritage; I have given the dearly beloved of my soul into the hand of her enemies.
Jer 12:8 Mine heritage is unto me as a lion in the forest; it crieth out against me: therefore have I hated it.
Jer 12:9 Mine heritage is unto me as a speckled bird (an aggressive bird of prey – an object of an adverse “pecking order” due to its being different from that which God had willed for them), the birds round about are against her; come ye, assemble all the beasts of the field, come to devour.
Jer 12:10 Many pastors (rulers; pasturers of His flock) have destroyed my vineyard, they have trodden my portion (My possession – Ginsburg) under foot, they have made my pleasant portion a desolate wilderness.
Jer 12:11 They have made it desolate, and being desolate it mourneth unto me; the whole land is made desolate, because no man layeth it to heart.
This refusal of the Father’s loving care for them was just beginning to usher in the great desolation that the Land would experience in the centuries that lay ahead.
Jer 12:12 The spoilers are come upon all high places through the wilderness: for the sword of the LORD shall devour from the one end of the land even to the other end of the land: no flesh shall have peace.
This is yet another clear indication of the coming rapacity and conquest of Judah by Babylon’s armies – the armies of the LORD against his wicked people. The swift decline of the Land’s productive capacity should soon follow – fallow lands, uncontrolled erosion, lack of rainfall, a degradation in usefulness to the few who remained there.
Jer 12:13 They have sown wheat, but shall reap thorns: they have put themselves to pain, but shall not profit: and they shall be ashamed of your revenues (the consequences of their actions) because of the fierce anger of the LORD.
Jer 12:14 Thus saith the LORD against all mine evil neighbours (those named specifically in 9:26: Egypt, Moab, Edom, Ammon, Philistia), that touch the inheritance which I have caused my people Israel to inherit; Behold, I will pluck them out of their land, and pluck out the house of Judah from among them.
Jer 12:15 And it shall come to pass, after that I have plucked them out I will return, and have compassion on them, and will bring them again, every man to his heritage, and every man to his land.
These events were fulfilled in their order. In the end times we have witnessed their “captivity” return – the return of peoples to those areas of habitation in preparation for the end time wars of Israel.
Jer 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.
Jer 12:17 But if they will not obey, I will utterly pluck up and destroy that nation, saith the LORD.
This promise of His disaffection, and their dispersal, would come from their disobedience; it is in extreme contrast to their treatment in the latter days, such as Amos 9:15, q.v.
<HEL 5N> ~900 words.
The Linen Girdle
Jer 13:1 Thus saith the LORD unto me, Go and get thee a linen girdle, and put it upon thy loins, and put it not in water.
Such sashes, or belts, were worn by the upper classes; they were made of linen or of silk. Jeremiah was not to immerse it in water so that the cause of its future marring could not be mistaken. His response is immediate.
Jer 13:2 So I got a girdle according to the word of the LORD, and put it on my loins.
Jer 13:3 And the word of the LORD came unto me the second time, saying,
Jeremiah’s Eighth Prophecy – an Acted Parable
Jer 13:4 Take the girdle that thou hast got, which is upon thy loins, and arise, go to Euphrates, and hide it there in a hole of the rock.
Jeremiah would wear the girdle as he journey northward toward Euphrates. That activity would account for some of the girdle’s soiling – being worn in the Almighty’s service.
But there was more to come.
The Euphrates is, significantly, on the road to Babylon which they would later travel. The road went to Carchemish, which was then held by Egypt.
The distance to be traveled was several days’ journey – several hundreds of miles.
It would be a major undertaking by Jeremiah, and would be so noted by his contemporaries. Thus they would note the symbology of his actions and the distinct marring of the girdle. He would later make the significance of the marred girdle known to them.
The lesson should have been graphic and meaningful, but it was not.
Jer 13:5 So I went, and hid it by Euphrates, as the LORD commanded me.
Now Jeremiah undertakes the arduous journey back to Judea. After several days he arrives there; some time passes after he arrives back in Jerusalem – “many days” according to his words.
Jer 13:6 And it came to pass after many days, that the LORD said unto me, Arise, go to Euphrates, and take the girdle from thence, which I commanded thee to hide there.
Again, the patient laborer of God, the prophet sets out toward the north to retrieve the girdle from its hiding place.
Jer 13:7 Then I went to Euphrates, and digged, and took the girdle from the place where I had hid it: and, behold, the girdle was marred, it was profitable for nothing.
The girdle now reflected the character of His marred people who had placed themselves in contact with the filth of the earth (symbolized by the dirt of the hiding place), having abandoned their place at the waist of a faithful man. Their betrayal of His ways had marred them horribly.
Jer 13:8 Then the word of the LORD came unto me, saying,
Jer 13:9 Thus saith the LORD, After this manner will I mar the pride of Judah, and the great pride of Jerusalem.
Jer 13:10 This evil people, which refuse to hear my words, which walk in the imagination of their heart, and walk after other gods, to serve them, and to worship them, shall even be as this girdle, which is good for nothing.
Now the Almighty reveals the symbology of the marred girdle. He rehearses His original intention for Israel to cleave unto Him – to adhere to His laws and testimonies – but they had not followed His commandments; they would not hear (Him).
Jer 13:11 For as the girdle cleaveth to the loins of a man, so have I caused to cleave unto me the whole house of Israel and the whole house of Judah, saith the LORD; that they might be unto me for a people, and for a name, and for a praise, and for a glory: but they would not hear.
The transitional language that follows shows that the misfortunes which should befall them was due to their spiritual deafness.
To illustrate the dire result of their refusal to hear, he speaks another parabolic sentence upon them – that of drunkenness, disorientation, staggering in the ways which He had intended for them.
Jer 13:12 Therefore thou shalt speak unto them this word; Thus saith the LORD God of Israel, Every bottle (these were earthenware jars, not leather or skins) shall be filled with wine: and they shall say unto thee, Do we not certainly know that every bottle shall be filled with wine?
It was a common practice to store wine in such vessels; but Jeremiah was instructed to explain that his action meant something different from the physical storage of wine, which was a staple of their diet and represented the fat of the land to them.
The earthenware pots represented His word and will for the people of Judah.
The Almighty had stored His word and His will in His people for ages; but the effect upon them was unsuccessful. By this gracious blessing, they should have been admonished and instructed in His ways, but instead they appropriated their appointed position of favor to an ill end, disobeying His wishes and statutes, by which they would be made incoherent and unstable (inebriated) as they worshipped their idols.
The Apostle Paul uses this same symbology of the infusion of His word, in 2Corinthians 4:7, telling the Corinthians, in highly similar terminology …
Their receipt of the same kind of blessing, stored within themselves as earthen vessels, was evident – their being apprised of His purpose with them – but they had refused to observe them. Therefore, that refusal would become a source of distress for them.
Jer 13:13 Then shalt thou say unto them, Thus saith the LORD, Behold, I will fill all the inhabitants of this land, even the kings that sit upon David's throne, and the priests, and the prophets, and all the inhabitants of Jerusalem, with drunkenness.
All were culpable in their transgressions, from the king to the common people. All had sinned against Him. The result would be division and strife – and captivity in Babylon.
Jer 13:14 And I will dash them one against another, even the fathers and the sons together, saith the LORD: I will not pity, nor spare, nor have mercy, but destroy them.
It was a pitiful downfall which they were suffering at their own hand. And their end would be destruction.
The Signification: Pride
Jer 13:15 Hear ye, and give ear; be not proud: for the LORD hath spoken.
Jer 13:16 Give glory to the LORD your God, before he cause darkness (the CB footnote here relates that the word for “darkness” is Nesheph, an Homonym meaning both darkness and daylight), and before your feet stumble upon the dark mountains, and, while ye look for light, he turn it into the shadow of death, and make it gross darkness.
The complex figure of speech thus connotes physical daylight and darkness comparing their spiritual enlightenment to their darkened understanding.
Jer 13:17 But if ye will not hear it, my soul shall weep in secret places for your pride; and mine eye shall weep sore, and run down with tears, because the LORD'S flock is carried away captive.
Jer 13:18 Say unto the king and to the queen (here it is the young King Jehoiachin and the queen mother), Humble yourselves, sit down: for your principalities shall come down, even the crown of your glory.
Jer 13:19 The cities of the south shall be shut up, and none shall open them: Judah shall be carried away captive all of it, it shall be wholly carried away captive.
Jer 13:20 Lift up your eyes, and behold them that come from the north: where is the flock that was given thee, thy beautiful flock?
The Signification: Punishment
Jer 13:21 What wilt thou say when he shall punish thee? for thou hast taught them to be captains, and as chief over thee: shall not sorrows take thee, as a woman in travail?
Jer 13:22 And if thou say in thine heart, Wherefore come these things upon me? For the greatness of thine iniquity are thy skirts discovered, and thy heels made bare.
This is the language of whoredoms and prostitution into which His people had fallen on a spiritual plane. They had in their idolatry curried the favor of nearby nations, becoming like them in their erroneous ways. These are likened to “lovers” of Judah – consorts in iniquity and sin. Words written by Ezekiel reflect the same fate for them:
The reasoning, the logic, which He now employs shows the futility of their course of action, indicating the intensity of their deviation from His way.
Jer 13:23 Can the Ethiopian change his skin, or the leopard his spots? then may ye also do good, that are accustomed to do evil. The implication in both cases is No! Neither can change be effected in either group. There will be consequences …
Jer 13:24 Therefore will I scatter them as the stubble that passeth away by the wind of the wilderness.
This powerful figure of “stubble” should have warned them of the dire consequences of their iniquities – that they should become as the ashes of burned wheat or grain stalks, and blown to the four winds.
Jer 13:25 This is thy lot, the portion of thy measures from me, saith the LORD; because thou hast forgotten me, and trusted in falsehood.
Jer 13:26 Therefore will I discover thy skirts upon thy face, that thy shame may appear.
Again, a stark reference to their whoredoms.
Jer 13:27 I have seen thine adulteries, and thy neighings, the lewdness of thy whoredom, and thine abominations on the hills in the fields. Woe unto thee, O Jerusalem! wilt thou not be made clean? when shall it once be?
Literal Drought: 14:1 to 15:21
Jeremiah’s Tenth Prophecy
The first several verses evoke a severe drought of rain upon the land. The effects are profound. The people and the animals suffer immeasurably. There is widespread despair, and terror becomes a real possibility. Famine will result – and widespread death (verse 18).
Jer 14:1 The word of the LORD that came to Jeremiah concerning the dearth.
Jer 14:2 Judah mourneth, and the gates thereof languish; they are black unto the ground; and the cry of Jerusalem is gone up.
Jer 14:3 And their nobles have sent their little ones to the waters: they came to the pits, and found no water; they returned with their vessels empty; they were ashamed and confounded, and covered their heads.
Jer 14:4 Because the ground is chapt, for there was no rain in the earth, the plowmen were ashamed, they covered their heads.
Jer 14:5 Yea, the hind also calved in the field, and forsook it, because there was no grass.
Jer 14:6 And the wild asses did stand in the high places, they snuffed up the wind like dragons; their eyes did fail, because there was no grass.
Intercession of Jeremiah
Jer 14:7 O LORD, though our iniquities testify against us, do thou it for thy name's sake: for our backslidings are many; we have sinned against thee.
Jer 14:8 O the hope of Israel, the saviour thereof in time of trouble, why shouldest thou be as a stranger in the land, and as a wayfaring man that turneth aside to tarry for a night?
Jeremiah’s companions were treating the Almighty as a stranger; his admonitions meant nothing to them anymore.
Jer 14:9 Why shouldest thou be as a man astonied, as a mighty man that cannot save? yet thou, O LORD, art in the midst of us, and we are called by thy name; leave us not.
Jeremiah’s pleading meant nothing to his people. His prayers of logic and sincerity went unwanted by them, and rejected as to their end result.
Jer 14:10 Thus saith the LORD unto this people, Thus have they loved to wander, they have not refrained their feet, therefore the LORD doth not accept them; he will now remember their iniquity, and visit their sins.
The next words from the LORD are dreadful in their portent. The prophet is enjoined not even to pray for his people anymore, for his prayers will not be heard …
Jer 14:11 Then said the LORD unto me, Pray not for this people for their good.
Jer 14:12 When they fast, I will not hear their cry; and when they offer burnt offering and an oblation, I will not accept them: but I will consume them by the sword, and by the famine, and by the pestilence.
Jer 14:13 Then said I, Ah, Lord GOD! behold, the prophets say unto them, Ye shall not see the sword, neither shall ye have famine; but I will give you assured peace in this place.
Their words convey a soft landing, assuring their gullible people that the LORD should not punish them. Their cry is “Peace! Peace!” … when there is no peace. Jeremiah 6: 14.
Jer 14:14 Then the LORD said unto me, The prophets prophesy lies in my name: I sent them not, neither have I commanded them, neither spake unto them: they prophesy unto you a false vision and divination, and a thing of nought, and the deceit of their heart.
Jer 14:15 Therefore thus saith the LORD concerning the prophets that prophesy in my name, and I sent them not, yet they say, Sword and famine shall not be in this land; By sword and famine shall those prophets be consumed.
It is ironic that the specific dangers that the false prophets deny are the threats that shall consume them in the short term. But not only are the false prophets destroyed – their hearers are also decimated!
Jer 14:16 And the people to whom they prophesy shall be cast out in the streets of Jerusalem because of the famine and the sword; and they shall have none to bury them, them, their wives, nor their sons, nor their daughters: for I will pour their wickedness upon them.
Their blind hearts cannot conceive the enormity of the punishments that are coming to them!
Jer 14:17 Therefore thou shalt say this word unto them; Let mine eyes run down with tears night and day, and let them not cease: for the virgin daughter of my people is broken with a great breach, with a very grievous blow.
Jer 14:18 If I go forth into the field, then behold the slain with the sword! and if I enter into the city, then behold them that are sick with famine! yea, both the prophet and the priest go about into a land that they know not.
How could their sensibilities be so blunted? How could their minds not perceive their own faults – their multitudinous sins and iniquities?? They were blinded by their own greed – and by their addiction to idolatry. They held YHVH responsible for their declining conditions. They were dismayed that their God had deserted them in their time of trouble.
Their overall reaction is unbelief …
Jer 14:19 Hast thou utterly rejected Judah? hath thy soul lothed Zion? why hast thou smitten us, and there is no healing for us? we looked for peace, and there is no good; and for the time of healing, and behold trouble!
They are now on the verge of despair; they seem to confess their wickedness. But is their plea genuine? Even if it is, the LORD will not hear them.
Jer 14:20 We acknowledge, O LORD, our wickedness, and the iniquity of our fathers: for we have sinned against thee.
Jer 14:21 Do not abhor us, for thy name's sake, do not disgrace the throne of thy glory: remember, break not thy covenant with us.
Jer 14:22 Are there any among the vanities of the Gentiles (their idols and devotions that crowd every street corner) that can cause rain? or can the heavens give showers? art not thou he, O LORD our God? therefore we will wait upon thee: for thou hast made all these things
These supplications seem to indicate a turn of their hearts back to the Father. But they are surely empty words, void of true intent on their parts. Perhaps they are words uttered in their necessity to speak pleasing words to him, but words that are empty of repentance and any turning aside from their wickedness. The text of the next chapter bears out this impression.
<HEL 10P> ~950 words.
Jer 15:1 Then said the LORD unto me, Though Moses and Samuel stood before me, yet my mind (Hebrew, Nephesh = literally, My soul, Myself) could not be toward this people: cast them out of my sight, and let them go forth.
Why does the Almighty evoke Moses and Samuel?
Because they were the epitome of those who heard AND OBEYED His voice – and were men who had successfully interceded for them in past history. The psalmist records that the prime hearers and doers of His word were these: Psalm 99:6: Moses and Aaron among his priests, and Samuel among them that call upon his name; they called upon the LORD, and he answered them. 7 He spake unto them in the cloudy pillar: they kept his testimonies, and the ordinance that he gave them.
These faithful brethren stand in stark contrast to His present audience, all of whom were descended from those faithful ones of old; yet they would not hear or obey.
Jer 15:2 And it shall come to pass, if they say unto thee, Whither shall we go forth? then thou shalt tell them, Thus saith the LORD; Such as are for death, to death; and such as are for the sword, to the sword; and such as are for the famine, to the famine; and such as are for the captivity, to the captivity.
This complex Hebrew idiom speaks to the destiny of the unfaithful ones of Judah; it assigns some to death, some to be slain by the sword of Babylon, some to perish by famine, and others to go into captivity. Their certain destiny was unsavory and bitter; but it was all due to their credit and fault. See in addition, 2 Samuel 12:31; Revelation 13:10.
The poetic language of the next verse personalizes their four worst enemies of the day: the sword, dogs, fowls and beasts…
Jer 15:3 And I will appoint over them four kinds, saith the LORD: the sword to slay, and the dogs to tear, and the fowls of the heaven, and the beasts of the earth, to devour and destroy.
Leviticus 26: 16, 17 speak to the condemnation of their disobedience. Here, four destroyers are numbered: the sword, dogs, fowls, and ravenous beasts. Adding insult to injury, they would be forcibly deported to a far country with a strange language, from the king to the peasant, rich and poor, wise and ignorant. And all this is attributed to Manasseh, son of Hezekiah, and his vigorous descent back into idolatry: See 2Kings 21:3.
Jer 15:4 And I will cause them to be removed into all kingdoms of the earth, because of Manasseh the son of Hezekiah king of Judah, for that which he did in Jerusalem.
Jer 15:5 For who shall have pity upon thee, O Jerusalem? or who shall bemoan thee? or who shall go aside to ask how thou doest?
The distinct implication is that the Almighty, for One, shall not so seek Jerusalem’s good. The reason for his abandonment is stated clearly – they have forsaken Him; in turn, He shall “forsake” them (or “give them up” as in Micah 5:3; 2Chronicles 30:7; Hosea 11:8, q.v.)
Jer 15:6 Thou hast forsaken me, saith the LORD, thou art gone backward: therefore will I stretch out my hand against thee, and destroy thee; I am weary with repenting.
Jer 15:7 And I will fan them with a fan in the gates of the land; I will bereave them of children, I will destroy my people, since they return not from their ways.
A “fanned” fire burns more vigorously and hotter than one not so nourished; their punishment will seem to them similar to the flames of a fiercely stoked fire. Their children shall be taken away. Unfortunately, this is their destiny for millennia to come, because of their intransigent iniquities and sins. The gates of the city bring to mind the chief men of each city who occupy those gates as judges, all of whom are to be judged by Him.
Jer 15:8 Their widows are increased to me (their husbands having been slain) above the sand of the seas: I have brought upon them against the mother of the young men a spoiler at noonday: I have caused him to fall upon it suddenly, and terrors upon the city.
Jer 15:9 She that hath borne seven languisheth: she hath given up the ghost (“hath breathed out her soul,” or Nephesh: life-breath); her sun is gone down while it was yet day: she hath been ashamed and confounded: and the residue of them will I deliver to the sword before their enemies, saith the LORD.
Jer 15:10 Woe is me, my mother, that thou hast borne me a man of strife and a man of contention to the whole earth! I have neither lent on usury, nor men have lent to me on usury; yet every one of them doth curse me.
Jer 15:11 The LORD said, Verily it shall be well with thy remnant; verily I will cause the enemy to entreat thee well in the time of evil and in the time of affliction.
These ominous words concerning “the remnant” shall lie heavily upon His People in future years when they finally realize that they have escaped complete extinction only through His beneficence to them because of the steadfast promises made to their fathers …
Jer 15:12 Shall iron break the northern iron and the steel?
No available forces can resist the northern invader! He is inevitably coming upon them!
Jer 15:13 Thy substance and thy treasures will I give to the spoil without price, and that for all thy sins, even in all thy borders.
Jer 15:14 And I will make thee to pass with thine enemies (as captives) into a land which thou knowest not: for a fire is kindled in mine anger, which shall burn upon you.
Now Jeremiah speaks – uttering a sincere plea on behalf of his brethren:
Jer 15:15 O LORD, thou knowest: remember me, and visit me, and revenge me of my persecutors; take me not away in thy longsuffering: know that for thy sake I have suffered rebuke.
Jer 15:16 Thy words were found, and I did eat them; and thy word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of mine heart: for I am called by thy name, O LORD God of hosts.
The meaning of Yeremiah’s name is Yah will rise as already noted.
The word of the Lord to which he refers here was re-discovered during the 18th year of Josiah. Josiah as well as Jeremiah heeded them, as had many others of his brethren; but these contemporaries do not remember their instruction, nor heed God’s word.
The prophet’s having eaten these words here indicates his spiritual consumption of God’s will, and the joy, the confidence, and the rejoicing which they engendered.
Here Jeremiah maintains the fact of his personal adherence to the Almighty’s will and instruction. The figure of speech emphasizes the succor and strength which he has received from God’s words. By this he is assured that he IS a true son of God.
The prophet continues prayerfully to review his adherence to the will of the Almighty …
Jer 15:17 I sat not in the assembly of the mockers, nor rejoiced; I sat alone because of thy hand (the hand is put by the figure metonomy for the guidance it provided): for thou hast filled me with indignation.
Jer 15:18 Why is my pain perpetual, and my wound incurable, which refuseth to be healed? wilt thou be altogether unto me as a liar, and as waters that fail? This language calls to mind a brook which fails to continue supplying water, and in that sense would be a liar, or betrayer.
God’s word is not such unto him as these are rhetorical questions in light of Jeremiah’s pain and distress.
Jer 15:19 Therefore thus saith the LORD, If thou (Judah) return (i.e., return to Him in heart and conversation), then will I bring thee again, and thou shalt stand before me: and if thou take forth the precious from the vile (i.e., judge righteously), thou shalt be as my mouth: let them return unto thee; but return not thou unto them.
Jer 15:20 And I will make thee unto this people a fenced brasen wall: and they shall fight against thee, but they shall not prevail against thee: for I am with thee to save thee and to deliver thee, saith the LORD.
This promised blessing is reiteration of the Almighty’s earlier reassurance of His favor: cf., Jeremiah 1:18, 19.
Jer 15:21 And I will deliver thee out of the hand of the wicked, and I will redeem thee out of the hand of the terrible.
Seemingly in great jeopardy of bodily harm from his countrymen, these comforting words to Jeremiah assure him of the Father’s care and deliverance from evil men.
Still, Jeremiah’s faith to believe these promises was required, just as our faith is required to believe and accept His care for us in time of trouble.
In the finality, whether we live or die, we are in the LORD’s hands. This tender and comprehensive care is assured by Paul’s words recorded in Romans 14:8, For whether we live, we live unto the Lord; and whether we die, we die unto the Lord: whether we live therefore, or die, we are the Lord’s.
Symbol: No Wife – Or Children
Jer 16:1 The word of the LORD came also unto me, saying,
Jer 16:2 Thou shalt not take thee a wife, neither shalt thou have sons or daughters in this place.
“This place” is primarily Anathoth, where Jeremiah was born and lived; but in a larger sense, the birth of children in all of Judah was likewise futile, for all should be destroyed or displaced in some manner.
The next two verses attest to this destiny.
Jer 16:3 For thus saith the LORD concerning the sons and concerning the daughters that are born in this place, and concerning their mothers that bare them, and concerning their fathers that begat them in this land;
Jer 16:4 They shall die of grievous deaths; they shall not be lamented; neither shall they be buried; but they shall be as dung upon the face of the earth: and they shall be consumed by the sword, and by famine; and their carcases shall be meat for the fowls of heaven, and for the beasts of the earth.
Here is foreshadowed the vile, rapacious nature of the armies of Nebuchadnezzar. They are heartless, and violent beyond compehension.
Jer 16:5 For thus saith the LORD, Enter not into the house of mourning, neither go to lament nor bemoan them: for I have taken away my peace from this people, saith the LORD, even lovingkindness and mercies.
To mourn with them would be to partake of their sins with them – forbidden here. Clearly, the time for such repentance had passed; they were doomed to their coming fate.
Jer 16:6 Both the great and the small shall die in this land: they shall not be buried, neither shall men lament for them, nor cut themselves, nor make themselves bald for them:
This allusion t0 cutting and baldness is reference to the heathen practices of idol worship, reminiscent of the prophets of Baal as encountered by Elijah on Mount Carmel, who cut themselves, and wailed for Baal to answer their cries, rending their clothing with frenzied dancing before his altar. That account is found in 1Kings 18, q.v.
Jer 16:7 Neither shall men tear themselves for them in mourning, to comfort them for the dead; neither shall men give them the cup of consolation to drink for their father or for their mother.
This “cup of consolation” is allusion to alcoholic drinks which were given to the mourners in order to assist them to forget their sorrows: see Proverbs 31: 6,7.
Jer 16:8 Thou shalt not also go into the house of feasting, to sit with them to eat and to drink.
The house of feasting is in contrast to the house of mourning of verse 5. Jeremiah is forbidden any intercourse with the subjects of His wrath. He is to show them no accommodation or friendship whatever, and NO identification with their idolatrous convictions.
Jer 16:9 For thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; Behold, I will cause to cease out of this place in your eyes, and in your days, the voice of mirth, and the voice of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom, and the voice of the bride.
Jer 16:10 And it shall come to pass, when thou shalt shew this people all these words, and they shall say unto thee, Wherefore hath the LORD pronounced all this great evil against us? or what is our iniquity? or what is our sin that we have committed against the LORD our God?
Their obtuseness is nearly unbearable! How can they sincerely question their coming punishment? Jeremiah is given the answer that he is to supply to their queries … the sober reminders of their innate transgressions …
Jer 16:11 Then shalt thou say unto them, Because your fathers have forsaken me, saith the LORD, and have walked after other gods, and have served them, and have worshipped them, and have forsaken me, and have not kept my law;
Jer 16:12 And ye have done worse than your fathers; for, behold, ye walk every one after the imagination of his evil heart, that they may not hearken unto me:
Jer 16:13 Therefore will I cast you out of this land into a land that ye know not, neither ye nor your fathers; and there shall ye serve other gods day and night; where I will not shew you favour.
Jer 16:14 Therefore, behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that it shall no more be said, The LORD liveth, that brought up the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt;
Note carefully in this narrative, in the next verse, that the re-gathering of Israel from ALL lands of the earth is indicated, not just from Babylon.
The ominous meaning of these words is therefore that this immediately impending punishment shall not bring their lasting repentance – and that still another, wider, more far-flung dispersion would be necessary. It is destined to come from Rome, a power that was then only in its earliest infancy, but which would build to a crescendo in which it should become master of the known world!
The Almighty’s prescience leaps ahead several hundreds of years in these words of condemnation.
Jer 16:15 But, The LORD liveth, that brought up the children of Israel from the land of the north, and from all the lands whither he had driven them: and I will bring them again into their land that I gave unto their fathers.
This is a sure prophecy for our present time!
The recovery of Judah from Babylon was just that – and should be accomplished in seventy years. But their restoration to the Land should again come under a severe test, which they should also fail.
Their Messiah finally came to them in precisely the manner that had been prophesied, but they refused to recognize Him in preference to their own will – that He came as Deliverer from their temporal oppressors, from Rome.
Their concept of His coming first to offer Himself for sin had completely escaped their understanding, which was the factor which brought their demise and their scattering to all nations, in the Diaspora.
The writer to the Hebrews addresses this order of priority in Hebrews 9:28 - So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation.
It was necessary for One to appear among them to sacrifice Himself for their sin (i.e., the sin of all men, including Christ Himself), Who had no transgressional sin, but was born, like every man and woman, under (constitutional, or inborn) sin.
This is made evident to our minds by the words of Hebrews 2:14: Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through (His) death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil (which we understand to be that commonly-shared sin-principle which afflicts every man and woman; it was expressed in an immensely powerful set of temptations which Christ, in His own flesh, overcame in order to purchase salvation, styled “sin in the flesh” in Romans 9:3, q.v.);
The theme of verse 15 continues that of the previous verse … detailing some of the events of the re-gathering of His people from all nations.
The Jews of our end times immersed themselves in the intention to assimilate with the people of the nations into which they had been scattered. Many were successful attorneys and physicians, university professors, dentists, and philosophers in their adopted cultures.
But the Father’s plan for them was not assimilation. It became necessary for Him to exert force upon them by which to create a fierce determination in them to return to Him – i.e., to return to His Land – to the Palestine of the post-World War I era, later to be known as Israel.
They would not have returned voluntarily. So He sent “fishers” to entice them to emigrate to lands other than Nazi-threatened Europe. Some made their way to Palestine. Others went to far away nations to escape the persecution that was coming.
When it came, the Shoah brought death to fully two thirds of all the Jews within its area of execution.
The result was that, with the victory of the Allies of World War II, hundreds of thousands of the Remnant made Aliyah to Palestine, and later to Israel, after statehood was attained in 1948.
But many remained in the countries where they had been persecuted, thinking themselves now safe from the wrath of their neighbors.
Such was not the case, as we even now observe steeply rising anti-Semitism again, in Europe. These antagonists to God’s remaining scattered people may be viewed as “hunters,” for they seek out individual Jews for daily persecution and murder. In so doing, these predators are driving even more Jews to make Aliyah to their homeland in Israel.
The final result shall be the return of EVERY JEW on earth to the land of his fathers.
Jer 16:16 Behold, I will send for many fishers, saith the LORD, and they shall fish them; and after will I send for many hunters, and they shall hunt them from every mountain, and from every hill, and out of the holes of the rocks.
The “fishers” to our mind, are those who are seeking ways and means of Jews to return to their Land – the World Zionist Organization’s Jewish Agency arranged for the return of thousands upon thousands of returnees. Other organizations were formed for the special purpose of “catching” the Jews who remained from the Shoah, and for returning them to their Land. The figures of “hunters” and of “fishers” are quite appropriate to the case that developed!
Jer 16:17 For mine eyes are upon all their ways: they are not hid from my face, neither is their iniquity hid from mine eyes.
Jer 16:18 And first I will recompense their iniquity and their sin double (we see in this a reference to the Holocaust of Nazi Europe, and the death of six million of His people there); because they have defiled my land, they have filled mine inheritance with the carcases of their detestable and abominable things.
This accusation comes from the Father’s long-standing memory of their abominations prior to their scattering to all nations. Their succeeding sojourn among the hostile Gentile nations resulted from these heinous transgressions.
But the end result is redemption for them, and exoneration from their sins, following the humble submission which they shall give Him at His Second Coming, as detailed in Zechariah 12 and 13.
HE is indeed their strength and fortress and refuge in the day of affliction.
This “day” of affliction surely is so severe as to fulfill the prophecy of “the Time of Jacob’s trouble” of Jeremiah 30:7. That entire chapter speaks of the end time – of the dispersion and the final return of God’s people to their homeland for redemption, ending in this blessed condition: Jeremiah 30:22: And ye shall be my people, and I will be your God.
The progression of His righteousness being established in the earth brings other notable and unexpected results.
The next verse addresses the contrition and supplication of the Gentiles “from the ends of the earth,” meaning, we believe, the greatest proportion of ALL the Gentiles who remain at that time, for virtually NONE know God and His plan – a fact of which these words surely testify:
Jer 16:19 O LORD, my strength, and my fortress, and my refuge in the day of affliction, the Gentiles shall come unto thee from the ends of the earth, and shall say, Surely our fathers have inherited lies, vanity, and things wherein there is no profit.
This all-encompassing admission seems to be universal in number.
We can easily understand why they shall so confess, Our fathers have inherited lies … because their erroneous expectations were not met by the return of the Lord Jesus Christ to the earth.
The refrain that follows addresses their idolatrous folly; the futility of worshipping any “god” except the God of Israel, becomes clearly evident.
Their blessed future is here assured in the well-accepted formula of first persecution for sin, then redemption from it through His mercy and compassion.
Jer 16:20 Shall a man make gods unto himself, and they are no gods?
Jer 16:21 Therefore, behold, I will this once cause them to know, I will cause them to know mine hand and my might; and they shall know that my name is The LORD.
Literal: Sin of Judah
Trust, False and True
Alternation of Thought in this Chapter …
11-14 Trust, False and True
Jer 17:1 The sin of Judah is written with a pen of iron, and with the point of a diamond: it is graven upon the table of their heart, and upon the horns of your altars;
Jer 17:2 Whilst their children remember their altars and their groves by the green trees upon the high hills.
Jer 17:3 O my mountain in the field, I will give thy substance and all thy treasures to the spoil, and thy high places for sin, throughout all thy borders.
Jer 17:4 And thou, even thyself, shalt discontinue from thine heritage that I gave thee; and I will cause thee to serve thine enemies in the land which thou knowest not: for ye have kindled a fire in mine anger, which shall burn for ever.
Jer 17:5 Thus saith the LORD; Cursed be the man that trusteth in man, and maketh flesh his arm, and whose heart departeth from the LORD.
Jer 17:6 For he shall be like the heath in the desert, and shall not see when good cometh; but shall inhabit the parched places in the wilderness, in a salt land and not inhabited.
Jer 17:7 Blessed is the man that trusteth in the LORD, and whose hope the LORD is.
Jer 17:8 For he shall be as a tree planted by the waters, and that spreadeth out her roots by the river, and shall not see when heat cometh, but her leaf shall be green; and shall not be careful in the year of drought, neither shall cease from yielding fruit.
In this blessing and cursing, a clear picture is drawn between those who trust in man, and those who trust in the LORD. The happy state of the blessed ones is a vigorous and vibrant existence; their fruits are sure.
But the opposite condition applies to the deceitful ones. Jeremiah here utters the substantive definition of the heart of fleshly mankind; at heart he is desperately wicked.
In order to rise above that state, he has no alternative except to hope in the LORD.
Jer 17:9 The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?
There IS One Who knows it well; and His gifts of favor are awarded to the faithful.
Jer 17:10 I the LORD search the heart, I try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings.
Trust: False and True
Introversion of Thought
11 Forsaking: Partridge her eggs
11 False Trust
12, 13 True Trust
13-14 Forsaking: People their God
Jer 17:11 As the partridge sitteth on eggs, and hatcheth them not; so he that getteth riches, and not by right, shall leave them in the midst of his days, and at his end shall be a fool.
Jer 17:12 A glorious high throne from the beginning is the place of our sanctuary.
Jer 17:13 O LORD, the hope of Israel, all that forsake thee shall be ashamed, and they that depart from me shall be written in the earth, because they have forsaken the LORD, the fountain of living waters.
Jer 17:14 Heal me, O LORD, and I shall be healed; save me, and I shall be saved: for thou art my praise.
Contemplation by Jeremiah
Jer 17:15 Behold, they say unto me, Where is the word of the LORD? let it come now.
Jer 17:16 As for me (Jeremiah), I have not hastened from (i.e., have not avoided, or shunned) being a pastor to follow thee: neither have I desired the woeful day; thou knowest: that which came out of my lips was right before thee.
Jer 17:17 Be not a terror unto me: thou art my hope in the day of evil.
Jer 17:18 Let them be confounded that persecute me, but let not me be confounded: let them be dismayed, but let not me be dismayed: bring upon them the day of evil, and destroy them with double destruction.
Jer 17:19 Thus said the LORD unto me; Go and stand in the gate (above all, the main gate of the Court of the Temple) of the children of the people, whereby the kings of Judah come in, and by the which they go out, and in all the gates of Jerusalem;
Jer 17:20 And say unto them, Hear ye the word of the LORD, ye kings of Judah, and all Judah, and all the inhabitants of Jerusalem, that enter in by these gates:
By so placing himself, Jeremiah would be able to contact on a personal level, every citizen of the city and many others of the outliers. His message would be delivered successfully to them.
Jer 17:21 Thus saith the LORD; Take heed to yourselves, and bear no burden on the sabbath day, nor bring it in by the gates of Jerusalem;
Jer 17:22 Neither carry forth a burden out of your houses on the sabbath day, neither do ye any work, but hallow ye the sabbath day, as I commanded your fathers.
Jer 17:23 But they obeyed not, neither inclined their ear, but made their neck stiff, that they might not hear, nor receive instruction.
Jer 17:24 And it shall come to pass, if ye diligently hearken unto me, saith the LORD, to bring in no burden through the gates of this city on the sabbath day, but hallow the sabbath day, to do no work therein;
Jer 17:25 Then shall there enter into the gates of this city kings and princes sitting upon the throne of David, riding in chariots and on horses, they, and their princes, the men of Judah, and the inhabitants of Jerusalem: and this city shall remain for ever.
In such a case, their offerings would be accepted of Him, and they should be blessed. It may be seen by these words just how important keeping the Sabbath was to the Father. He rightfully demanded this service of His people – but they chose not to obey even this simplistic order!
Jer 17:26 And they shall come from the cities of Judah, and from the places about Jerusalem, and from the land of Benjamin, and from the plain (from Philistia), and from the (central) mountains, and from the south (the Negev), bringing burnt offerings, and sacrifices, and meat offerings, and incense, and bringing sacrifices of praise, unto the house of the LORD.
All these acts of obedience were praiseworthy – and acceptable to Him – but not if they did not also hallow the Sabbath day to keep it holy.
Jer 17:27 But if ye will not hearken unto me to hallow the sabbath day, and not to bear a burden, even entering in at the gates of Jerusalem on the sabbath day; then will I kindle a fire in the gates thereof, and it shall devour the palaces of Jerusalem, and it shall not be quenched.
Jeremiah 18:1 The word which came to Jeremiah from the LORD, saying,
Jer 18:2 Arise, and go down to the potter's house, and there I will cause thee to hear my words.
Jer 18:3 Then I went down to the potter's house, and, behold, he wrought a work on the wheels (the well-known potter’s wheel).
Jer 18:4 And the vessel that he made of clay was marred in the hand of the potter: so he made it again another vessel, as seemed good to the potter to make it.
Jeremiah illustrates that the potter can alter his work, that he can readily re-work it, supplying an improved version if he is dissatisfied with its original outcome. But he can only do this while the clay is pliable – has not “set.”
He then is shown that the Father is able to do likewise with His people, bringing about a perfected version if some principle or tenet is marred.
There is an excellent footnote in the CB on this principle in which is illustrated several cases of the original work or intention being marred, and His putting forth a perfect work in its place.
The “interpretation” belongs to the House of Israel, and that House being marred, the “new nation” is to be substituted – superseding it wholly.
The “application” belongs to a multitude of factors, examples of which are:
Jer 18:5 Then the word of the LORD came to me, saying,
Jeremiah’s Thirteenth Prophecy
Jer 18:6 O house of Israel, cannot I do with you as this potter? saith the LORD. Behold, as the clay is in the potter's hand, so are ye in mine hand, O house of Israel.
Jer 18:7 At what instant I shall speak concerning a nation, and concerning a kingdom, (voicing My intention) to pluck up, and to pull down, and to destroy it;
Jer 18:8 If that nation, against whom I have pronounced, turn from their evil, I will repent of the evil (the calamity) that I thought to do unto them.
It is clear in these words that YHVH is responsive to His People. Their repentance and realignment with His ways brings His favor; their continuance in sin brings further reproach from Him.
Some folk expect the People of Israel again to be uprooted and deported from their Land prior to the coming of the LORD. But this eventuality cannot happen, in our opinion. The present nation of Israel of our time is declared by Him to be planted in its Land and not ever again to be “plucked up,” in Amos 9:15, q.v.
This is His intention, and His desired outcome in any and every case – His extension of mercy to those whom He has condemned if they shall repent. The present day Israel’s drift is toward repentance, for a great multitude of its people have “returned to the children of Israel” in the physical sense – which is precisely as Micah 5:3 predicted.
Jer 18:9 And at what instant I shall speak concerning a nation, and concerning a kingdom, to build and to plant it;
Jer 18:10 If it do evil in my sight, that it obey not my voice, then I will repent of the good, wherewith I said I would benefit them.
This is the opposite of the desired outcome of any case – His extension of punishment on those whom He has blessed if they turn aside to do evil. Our contention is that Israel of today, although not “righteous” in the final sense, is obeying His mandate to “return unto Me.”
Jer 18:11 Now therefore go to, speak to the men of Judah, and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, saying, Thus saith the LORD; Behold, I frame (meaning “work”evil as the potter works clay in verse 3) evil against you, and devise a device against you: return ye now every one from his evil way, and make your ways and your doings good.
The Almighty attempts here to put into action the second principle as stated above. He issues an adverse sentence upon them; but their option is always open to mend their ways and adhere to His wishes, thus gaining His favor.
But they are not faithful enough to receive His words …
Jer 18:12 And they said, There is no hope: but we will walk after our own devices, and we will every one do the imagination (stubbornness) of his evil heart.
Jer 18:13 Therefore thus saith the LORD; Ask ye now among the heathen, who hath heard such things: the virgin of Israel hath done a very horrible thing.
Jer 18:14 Will a man leave the snow of Lebanon which cometh from the rock of the field? or shall the cold flowing waters that come from another place be forsaken? This illustrates the figures Erotesis and Ellipsis.
Bullinger, a linguist of the first order, glosses this Ellipsis as:
“Will [a man] leave the snow [water] of Lebanon for the rock of the field? Or shall the cold flowing waters [be forsaken] for strange waters?” (CB f.n. on verse)
Jer 18:15 Because my people hath forgotten me, they have burned incense to vanity, and they have caused them to stumble in their ways from (in that they forsook) the ancient paths, to walk in paths, in a way not cast up (not on an HIGH way, such as a causeway above the troubled waters);
Jer 18:16 To make their land desolate, and a perpetual hissing; every one that passeth thereby shall be astonished, and wag his head.
Jer 18:17 I will scatter them as with an east wind (the east wind is Khamsin – the dry, hot, desiccating winds from the Arabian desert, bringing fine sand and silt to Jerusalem, dulling all colors and limiting visibility; its effect is to dry and wither all vegetation, and to soil the landscape; it is symbolic of calamity and catastrophe) before the enemy; I will shew them the back, and not the face, in the day of their calamity.
That is, He shall turn His back to them – shall turn aside and go away from them.
Jer 18:18 Then said they, Come, and let us devise devices against Jeremiah; for the law shall not perish from the priest, nor counsel from the wise, nor the word from the prophet. Come, and let us smite him with the tongue (here the tongue is put by Metonomy for the harsh, cruel words spoken by it), and let us not give heed to any of his words.
Now Jeremiah pleads for help from YHVH in contending with his people …
Jer 18:19 Give heed to me, O LORD, and hearken to the voice of them that contend with me.
Jer 18:20 Shall evil be recompensed for good? for they have digged a pit for my soul (Hebrew, Nephesh = myself). Remember that I stood before thee to speak good for them, and to turn away thy wrath from them.
Jer 18:21 Therefore deliver up their children to the famine, and pour out their blood by the force of the sword; and let their wives be bereaved of their children, and be widows; and let their men be put to death; let their young men be slain by the sword in battle.
Jer 18:22 Let a cry be heard from their houses, when thou shalt bring a troop suddenly upon them: for they have digged a pit to take me, and hid snares for my feet.
Jer 18:23 Yet, LORD, thou knowest all their counsel against me to slay me: forgive not their iniquity, neither blot out their sin from thy sight, but let them be overthrown before thee; deal thus with them in the time of thine anger.
The Potter’s Bottle: Sign of the City’s Fall
Jer 19:1 Thus saith the LORD, Go and get a potter's earthen bottle, and take of the ancients of the people, and of the ancients of the priests;
Jer 19:2 And go forth unto the valley of the son of Hinnom, which is by the entry of the east gate, and proclaim there the words that I shall tell thee,
The word “east” here (baros = east) is evidently mistakenly pointed (vowel pointing) and should be baras = potter’s gate, better fitting the context. The east gate would lead to the Valley of the Kidron, not Himmon, which is to the southwest of the City of David.
Having arrived at that place, the prophet’s words would have stinging repercussion upon their ears …
Jer 19:3 And say, Hear ye the word of the LORD, O kings of Judah, and inhabitants of Jerusalem; Thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; Behold, I will bring evil upon this place, the which whosoever heareth, his ears shall tingle.
Jer 19:4 Because they have forsaken me, and have estranged this place, and have burned incense in it unto other gods, whom neither they nor their fathers have known, nor the kings of Judah, and have filled this place with the blood of innocents (the term means all blameless people, not merely babes, although these are included);
Jer 19:5 They have built also the high places of Baal, to burn their sons with fire for burnt offerings unto Baal, which I commanded not, nor spake it, neither came it into my mind:
Jeremiah 7:32 is a parallel reference to this vile practice. The image of Baal was a giant idol whose hands held a tilted flat platter in front of its body. A fire was built in the idol’s lap and the sacrifices were placed on the very hot platter and rolled into the fire of the idol’s belly thus sacrificing the infant to the idol. The infant would have been the firstborn of any family as this was the acceptable sacrifice to Baal.
We cannot avoid mentioning parallel practices of today – practices which shall bring equivalent retribution upon those who practice such vile acts as infant abortion on demand. The result is the same – depletion of a viable tiny human fetus of the life that is almost certainly should have had if it had not been terminated – sometimes in the most cruel and inhuman fashion by selfish, haughty, unfeeling females aided by selfish, haughty, unfeeling agents of death by such means.
In the United States it is estimated that over 55 million infant lives have been snuffed out by needless abortion prior to birth – or even at the moment of birth, heinous as that is.
Jer 19:6 Therefore, behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that this place shall no more be called Tophet, nor The valley of the son of Hinnom, but The valley of slaughter.
Again, 7:32 has already iterated these words. The “slaughter” shall be that of the transgressors and sinners of Judah – not the “innocents.” It shall be a sentence upon the perpetrators for their sins against the innocent.
Jer 19:7 And I will make void the counsel of Judah and Jerusalem in this place; and I will cause them to fall by the sword before their enemies, and by the hands of them that seek their lives: and their carcasses will I give to be meat for the fowls of the heaven, and for the beasts of the earth. This is the heinous description of the source of the term “slaughter” which was to be the future name of this valley.
Jer 19:8 And I will make this city desolate, and an hissing; every one that passeth thereby shall be astonished and hiss because of all the plagues thereof.
The slaughter will take on yet more horror in future persecutions which shall be leveled against His People, such as in 70AD and 135AD (the Bar Kockba Revolt).
Jer 19:9 And I will cause them to eat the flesh of their sons and the flesh of their daughters, and they shall eat every one the flesh of his friend in the siege and straitness, wherewith their enemies, and they that seek their lives, shall straiten them.
These horrible circumstances overtook the men and women of Judah in the siege of Jerusalem by the Romans as attested materially by Josephus Flavius in his History of the Jews. Cannibalism overtook many in the city as women slew and cooked and consumed their own children, driven by the pervasive hunger of the siege.
Jer 19:10 Then shalt thou break the bottle in the sight of the men that go with thee,
In symbol, the people of Jerusalem are contained within the clay “bottle” (pot); but the bottle is to be broken (their walls breached and their population, no longer protected, to be spilled out and destroyed). Jeremiah is involved in exhibiting to his compatriots an acted parable; its lessons must not go unheeded…
Jer 19:11 And shalt say unto them, Thus saith the LORD of hosts; Even so will I break this people and this city, as one breaketh a potter's vessel, that cannot be made whole again: and they shall bury them in Tophet, till there be no place to bury.
Jeremiah here lays before the people a graphic parable of action – the violent breaking of the water bottle – and reminding them that the vessel cannot be repaired. It has advanced beyond the wetness and pliability of the “wheel” stage of pottery production where its character may be altered; it is now dry and firm – set in its ways – hardened in the kiln, friable and highly fragile. Having been broken, it must be replaced; it cannot be re-shaped.
Jer 19:12 Thus will I do unto this place, saith the LORD, and to the inhabitants thereof, and even make this city (the entire City) as Tophet:
The consuming fires of Tophet should spread to the City itself – raging inside the walls and in every house, consuming everything, reducing it to ashes and cinders, erasing the memory of the people from that place.
The most stringent of the two fulfillments was the second – that of Roman conquest – after which the people were banned from the city for a long period, its name changed to Aeolia Capitolina, and its province re-named Philistia.
Jer 19:13 And the houses of Jerusalem, and the houses of the kings of Judah, shall be defiled as the place of Tophet, because of all the houses upon whose roofs they have burned incense unto all the host of heaven, and have poured out drink offerings unto other gods.
We see in these words “all the host of heaven,” a reference to astrology, which included such practices as card-reading, necromancy, and generalized idol worship (including the lewdness of their adherents, involving male and female prostitution, and vile homosexual acts, including bestiality; it was unbelievably evil in its whole makeup).
Jer 19:14 Then came Jeremiah from Tophet, whither the LORD had sent him to prophesy; and he stood in the court of the LORD'S house; and said to all the people,
Jer 19:15 Thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; Behold, I will bring upon this city and upon all her towns all the evil that I have pronounced against it, because they have hardened their necks, that they might not hear my words.
It is astonishing that a people could be so hardened as they were, given the powerful presence of Jeremiah among them, and seeing his words being fulfilled as they had already done and should soon do again.
However, IS that so strange? Is that so UNUSUAL?
Today the Believers in Christ minister to their relatives and friends with diligence, but their words fall on deaf ears – even in spite of the fact that they have no prospects nearly as attractive as the way of God.
His way is not as attractive to them as are their own ways of their own indulgencies followed by death.
We long, O LORD our Saviour, for Thy physical presence among us – and the opening of eyes for our dearly loved ones who are so prone to ignore Your offer of extended life, of perfect health, of infinite happiness and wealth, of blessing for every one of their number who will accept them with gracious hearts and a willing spirit of obedience to Him!
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Jeremiah in the Stocks
Jer 20:1 Now Pashur the son of Immer (meaning “talkative”) the priest, who was also chief governor in the house of the LORD, heard that Jeremiah prophesied these things.
Jer 20:2 Then Pashur (meaning, “liberation”) smote Jeremiah the prophet, and put him in the stocks that were in the high gate of Benjamin, which was by the house of the LORD. Pashur apparently couldn’t keep his mouth shut – and consistently overrode the will of YHVH.
Pashur, instead of liberating Jeremiah, confined him in a public place where his limbs were twisted into an uncomfortable position: not exactly the “stocks” that we know from Salem or Plymouth of early America, but perhaps something similar.
Therefore, Pashur did not fulfill his name’s meaning, unless he did so in “liberating” his people from the words and intents of Jeremiah!
Jer 20:3 And it came to pass on the morrow, that Pashur brought forth Jeremiah out of the stocks. Then said Jeremiah unto him, The LORD hath not called thy name Pashur, but Magormissabib.
Now Jeremiah points out to Pashur that he isn’t really “a liberator” but is this longer name which means “affright from around.” He brings terror to his victims. But that terror is to be reflexive upon Magormissabib according to the sentence now pronounced upon him by Jeremiah: it is the word of YHVH upon him. Note carefully how perfectly reflexive are his actions toward others effectively turned upon himself …
Jer 20:4 For thus saith the LORD, Behold, I will make thee a terror to thyself, and to all thy friends: and they shall fall by the sword of their enemies, and thine eyes shall behold it: and I will give all Judah into the hand of the king of Babylon, and he shall carry them captive into Babylon, and shall slay them with the sword.
Jer 20:5 Moreover I will deliver all the strength of this city, and all the labours (all the features which had resulted from their years of labor) thereof, and all the precious things thereof, and all the treasures of the kings of Judah will I give into the hand of their enemies, which shall spoil them, and take them, and carry them to Babylon.
The verbal warnings of Jeremiah seem to drone on and on; and his hearers are now dull of hearing, hapless and fearless before the wrath of the Almighty.
Jer 20:6 And thou, Pashur, and all that dwell in thine house shall go into captivity: and thou shalt come to Babylon, and there thou shalt die, and shalt be buried there, thou, and all thy friends, to whom thou hast prophesied lies.
Pashur the liberator was to have his own liberty taken away – and his life terminated – in retribution for his iniquities. This authoritative antagonist of Jeremiah would not be the first – nor the last. He sat in the seat of governor in the house of the LORD.
Jeremiah’s next words are not as they seem – not an inordinate complaint against the LORD. He is merely noting his inferior position to the Almighty, and rues his own personal rejection, and the deriding of his enemies daily – the mocking and derision they display toward him.
But the prophet is to be subject to many more such insults as these.
Jer 20:7 O LORD, thou hast deceived me, and I was deceived (induced, or persuaded: Hebrew pathah, in a good sense (Genesis 9:27 – enlarge)): thou art stronger ( i.e., to hold fast with more might) than I, and hast prevailed: I am in derision daily, every one mocketh (is laughing at) me.
Jer 20:8 For since I spake, I cried out, I cried violence and spoil; because the word of the LORD was made a reproach unto me, and a derision, daily.
The righteous burden of the LORD is severe, impacting heavily upon Jeremiah – but well worth bearing.
Jer 20:9 Then I said, I will not make mention of him, nor speak any more in his name. But his word was in mine heart as a burning fire shut up in my bones, and I was weary with forbearing, and I could not stay.
This complex figure indicates that even though Jeremiah had considered ceasing to witness for the LORD – to quit testifying as to His righteousness – his conscience would not allow such disobedience!
Jer 20:10 For I heard the defaming of many, fear on every side. Report, say they, and we will report it. All my familiars (acquaintances) watched for my halting, saying, Peradventure he will be enticed, and we shall prevail against him, and we shall take our revenge on him.
These men are predators, and out to “get” Jeremiah.
But Jeremiah finds that the LORD is faithful, and is living up to His promise that the prophet should not fear the people as already promised to him: Jeremiah 1:8 Be not afraid of their faces: for I am with thee to deliver thee, saith the LORD. His next words reinforce this assurance in his own mind …
Jer 20:11 But the LORD is with me as a mighty terrible one: therefore my persecutors shall stumble, and they shall not prevail: they shall be greatly ashamed; for they shall not prosper: their everlasting confusion shall never be forgotten.
Jer 20:12 But, O LORD of hosts, that triest the righteous, and seest the reins (the renal glands, or kidneys, put for the supposed seat of thoughts) and the heart, let me see thy vengeance on them: for unto thee have I opened my cause.
Jer 20:13 Sing unto the LORD, praise ye the LORD: for he hath delivered the soul of the poor from the hand of evildoers.
Jer 20:14 Cursed be the day wherein I was born: let not the day wherein my mother bare me be blessed.
Jer 20:15 Cursed be the man who brought tidings to my father, saying, A man child is born unto thee; making him very glad.
The prophet is not here cursing himself as one might conclude; he is voicing his abject humility before the LORD’s will – and his subservience to Him in the face of great difficulty. This is therefore not a cry of futility and regret, but of humility and subservience to YHVH.
Jer 20:16 And let that man be as the cities which the LORD overthrew, and repented not: and let him hear the cry in the morning, and the shouting at noontide;
Jer 20:17 Because he slew me not from the womb; or that my mother might have been my grave, and her womb to be always great with me.
Jer 20:18 Wherefore came I forth out of the womb to see labour and sorrow, that my days should be consumed with shame?
The howlings of Jeremiah are only hinted at in these words; their volumes are recorded in the Lamentations of Jeremiah. He is dejected from the overwhelming rejection by his country-men and -women. His spirits are low, and his dread of the coming events is great.
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Note now the regnal periods of the kings: this prophecy was given during the reign of Zedekiah , the last king of Judah, at probably around his eighth year when he revolted. In chapter 22, his last three predecessors: Shallum (or Jehoahaz); Jehoiakim; and Coniah (or Jechoniah). Then chapters 25, 26, 27 Jehoiakim; 28 – Zedekiah again, and the last days of Jerusalem; the severity of the judgments of this chapter are shown to be logical and necessary by the content of those following chapters.
Jer 21:1 The word which came unto Jeremiah from the LORD, when king Zedekiah sent unto him Pashur the son of Melchiah, and Zephaniah the son of Maaseiah the priest, saying,
This Pashur is not the same as that in chapter 20, for this episode is two decades later. The deportation of Jehoiachin had taken place, and the rulers had been replaced with a set which were worse than those earlier ones. The CB notes that this Pashur was a priest, if he was the son of the Melchiah of 1Chronicles 9:12.
Zedekiah n0w seeks the advice of the LORD Whom he has rejected for so many months. We cannot discern whether this request was sincere or whether it was done in irony.
Jer 21:2 Enquire, I pray thee, of the LORD for us; for Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon maketh war against us; if so be that the LORD will deal with us according to all his wondrous works, that he (Nebuchadnezzar) may go up (or raise (lift) the siege) from us.
Jer 21:3 Then said Jeremiah unto them, Thus shall ye say to Zedekiah:
Jer 21:4 Thus saith the LORD God of Israel; Behold, I will turn back the weapons of war that are in your hands, wherewith ye fight against the king of Babylon, and against the Chaldeans, which besiege you without the walls, and I will assemble them into the midst of this city.
Jer 21:5 And I myself will fight against you with an outstretched hand and with a strong arm, even in anger, and in fury, and in great wrath.
Note the irony here: the LORD will fight against His own people through the operations of the king of Babylon …
Jer 21:6 And I will smite the inhabitants of this city, both man and beast: they shall die of a great pestilence.
Ezekiel 5 tells details of such a pestilence utilizing many of the same phrases. The pestilence here may be that of starvation as he seems to define the “pestilence” as that of starvation in verse 5 of that chapter. The other two thirds are detailed in later phrases which are also definitive. Cf., verse 7 below.
It is apparent that this “pestilence,” although it was a feature of the Babylonian siege, was most pronounced in 70 AD when it was so severe that mothers actually boiled and ate some of their own children resultant from the devastating pall of hunger that overcame the city as had been prophesied in Deuteronomy 28:55, q.v.
Jer 21:7 And afterward, saith the LORD, I will deliver Zedekiah king of Judah, and his servants, and the people, and such as are left in this city from the pestilence, from the sword, and from the famine, into the hand of Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon, and into the hand of their enemies, and into the hand of those that seek their life: and he shall smite them with the edge of the sword; he shall not spare them, neither have pity, nor have mercy.
Jer 21:8 And unto this people thou shalt say, Thus saith the LORD; Behold, I set before you the way of life, and the way of death.
In these words, the LORD sets forth His final ultimatum to Zedekiah and his people …
But their ears were so dull of hearing that they could not comprehend – or at least would not comprehend or act upon – His words.
Jer 21:9 He that abideth in this city shall die by the sword, and by the famine, and by the pestilence: but he that goeth out, and falleth to the Chaldeans that besiege you, he shall live, and his life shall be unto him for a prey.
Later (chapter 39:9) Nebuzaradan, captain of the Babylonian guard, took captives away to Babylon relatively peacefully, and settled them there. So it did eventuate that those who gave up and left off defending their City did fare much better than their zealous brethren who continued to fight – effectively against the LORD – for His will and command was with Babylon in this grave punishment …
Jer 21:10 For I have set my face against this city for evil, and not for good, saith the LORD: it shall be given into the hand of the king of Babylon, and he shall burn it with fire.
Jer 21:11 And touching the house of the king of Judah, say, Hear ye the word of the LORD;
Jer 21:12 O house of David, thus saith the LORD; Execute judgment in the morning, and deliver him that is spoiled out of the hand of the oppressor, lest my fury go out like fire, and burn that none can quench it, because of the evil of your doings.
Jer 21:13 Behold, I am against thee, O inhabitant of the valley, and rock of the plain, saith the LORD; which say, Who shall come down against us? or who shall enter into our habitations?
Judah’s arrogance was colossal; and her downfall dreadful.
Jer 21:14 But I will punish you according to the fruit of your doings, saith the LORD: and I will kindle a fire in the forest thereof, and it shall devour all things round about it.
In these last two phrases, the forest (the cedars of Lebanon of which much of the city was built) is put by metonymy for the city and its inhabitants – especially the king’s house and the official buildings.
The City is now on the verge of its fall. The long-promised punishment of her rulers and priests has come. Many of them shall die in the siege; many more shall be transported to Babylon. Many of them will not return until the end time, over 2000 years in the future from this day, electing, at the end of the 70-year captivity, to remain in Babylon, and pass over into the kingdom of the Medes and Persians, Greeks, Romans, and others.
Yet, almost all of the anciently resident Jews from Iraq (then Babylon) were brought back to the nation of Israel between 1948 and 1953. A very small number still live there, and will be returned when comes Messiah to insist upon their habitation under His reign of glory and prosperity!
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Promise of the Branch: to 23:8
Exhortation To Jehoiakim, Individually
The instruction is to Jeremiah.
Jer 22:1 Thus saith the LORD; Go down to the house of the king of Judah (i.e., Jehoiakim), and speak there this word,
Jer 22:2 And say, Hear the word of the LORD, O king of Judah, that sittest upon the throne of David, thou, and thy servants, and thy people that enter in by these gates:
Jer 22:3 Thus saith the LORD; Execute ye judgment and righteousness