Jeremiah Chapter 16  PDF  MSWord

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Go to Bible: Jeremiah 16
Jer 16:1(top)
Jer 16:2(top)
Jer 16:3(top)
Jer 16:4

“their dead bodies will be food.” The dead bodies of animals and unwanted humans were left unburied and were usually eventually eaten by animals and birds. In this particular case, the Babylonians were about to kill many Judeans in their attack on Judah and Jerusalem, and those people would not be buried because their families would have been killed or captured. In a culture when family tombs and burial plots were common and it was a great curse to not be buried, most people believed (falsely, but it was a very widely held belief) that a proper burial was important for a comfortable existence in the afterlife. Thus, this verse was a horrifying threat of unspeakable loneliness and rejection (see commentary on Jer. 14:16).

“the birds of heaven.” The Hebrew is literally, “the birds of the heavens,” but the Hebrew word “heavens” is always plural, there is no singular word “heaven” in Hebrew.

Jer 16:5

“the house of mourning.” That is, a house where there is mourning, which would also have food for the family and guests to eat as often happens today.

Jer 16:6

“They will not be buried.” During the lifetime of Jeremiah, so many people were killed or carried away from Judah by the Babylonians that there were not enough family left to bury the dead. It was a terrible curse to not be buried (see commentary on Jer. 14:16).

“nor cut themselves.” It was a pagan custom practiced by some people to cut yourself when you were in mourning for the dead. This is mentioned in a number of verses (see commentaries on Jeremiah 41:5 and 1 Kings 18:28).

“shave their heads.” Some people shaved their heads as a sign of mourning (see commentary on Jeremiah 47:5, “baldness”).

Jer 16:7

“break bread for those in mourning to comfort them.” There was often food and drink associated with a funeral. The customs varied but were similar, which is understandable. Occasionally the house, and/or the family members in it, would be unclean from the dead body and so food had to be brought into the house by neighbors (cp. Ezek. 24:17).

Jer 16:8

“You must not go into the house of feasting.” God changes the subject from mourning to feasting for happy times. Although no specific reason for the feast was given here in Jeremiah 16:8, the next verse mentions marriage, and that would certainly be a reason for a feast.

Jer 16:9(top)
Jer 16:10(top)
Jer 16:11

“worshiped them.” Or, “to bowed down to them.” The same Hebrew verb, shachah (#07812 שָׁחָה), is translated as both “bow down” and “worship;” traditionally “worship” if God is involved and “bow down” if people are involved, but the verb and action are the same, the act of bowing down is the worship. The common biblical way of bowing down before people or God was to fall to one’s knees and bow the upper body to the earth. [For more on bowing down, see commentary on 1 Chron. 29:20].

Jer 16:12(top)
Jer 16:13(top)
Jer 16:14(top)
Jer 16:15

“I will bring them again into their land that I gave to their fathers.” There are many prophecies in the Bible that the people of Israel will be reunited as one country (see commentary on Jer. 32:37), and this will happen when Jesus Christ conquers the earth and rules over it. That Israel would be gathered back together and given their ancestral land was a major part of the wonderful hope for the future that Israel had, and having a bright hope for the future is important for having the mental energy to live a godly life, especially in challenging times. [For more on Christ’s future kingdom on earth, see Appendix 3, “Christ’s Future Kingdom on Earth”].

Jer 16:16

“I will send for many fishermen.” Hunting and fishing were common practices and were well known and thus a good metaphor to use for the enemy coming and “catching” the people. Fishing for people is is a common biblical metaphor (cp. Ezek. 12:13; 29:4; Amos 4:2; Hab. 1:14-17).

“hunt them from every mountain, and from every hill.” God pictures the coming judgment as a thorough one; the Judeans will be searched for and hunted out from wherever they are.

Jer 16:17

“they are not hidden from my face, nor is their iniquity concealed.” The ways of the Judeans, i.e., what they were doing, and their sin, was not hidden from God who sees everything.

Jer 16:18

“I will repay their iniquity and their sin double.” The Hebrew word translated “double” is mishneh (#04932 מִשְׁנֶה), and its normal meaning in a context like this is double. It is worth noting, however, there has been found at Alalakh in Syria a similar word (but not identical) that means “equivalent,” and some scholars have suggested that mishneh has that meaning here, that God will fully pay back the sin of Judah without showing mercy and lessening His judgment. Although that might be possible, at this time there is no way to know. “Double” makes sense because, as God says in the verse, the Judeans had defiled both themselves and God’s land.

“the corpses of their detestable idols.” The Hebrew reads more literally “detestable things,” but the “things” are idols. From God’s perspective, the idols are lifeless—dead—and they lay as dead bodies on the ground, defiling God’s land; dead bodies defile the land (Num. 35:33; Deut. 21:23). God uses humor and irony here in calling the idols “corpses” as if they were once living, but in the eyes of the idolatrous people they were alive in some way, so the word “corpses” would have hit them very deeply.

Jer 16:19(top)
Jer 16:20(top)
Jer 16:21

“my hand.” Idiomatic for “my power,” all that I will do.


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