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Go to Bible: Jeremiah 7
|Jer 7:1||- (top)|
“Yahweh’s house.” That is, the Temple in Jerusalem. By standing in the gate of the Temple, Jeremiah was in a very good place to speak to both the honest and humble people who loved God and were going to the Temple to worship, and the coldhearted hypocritical people who were religious but not godly.
“worship.” Or, “bowed down to.” 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].(top)
“and I will let you live in this place.” We know from the Bible and history that the Judeans did not listen to God and amend their ways and obey God, and they were carried away from Judah and Jerusalem in the Babylonian Captivity (cp. 2 Kings 24-25; 2 Chron. 36:6-20.)(top)
“lying words.” The fact that the Temple of Yahweh was in Jerusalem was not a lie, but what the false prophets meant by those words was a lie. The false prophets were promoting that since the Temple of Yahweh was in Jerusalem, He would never let Jerusalem be conquered (cp. Micah 3:11). This idea was no doubt supported by the fact that God had miraculously protected Jerusalem during the time of Hezekiah, when 185,000 Assyrian soldiers were killed by an angel of Yahweh and Jerusalem was saved (2 Kings 19:32-35).
But God said that because of the sins of Judah the idea He would protect Jerusalem because of His Temple was “worthless” (Jer. 7:8). God told the people to reflect on Shiloh where God had earlier had the Tent of Meeting (“Tabernacle”), because Shiloh had been destroyed (Jer. 7:12-15), and Jerusalem would be conquered also (Jer. 7:15).(top)
|Jer 7:5||- (top)|
|Jer 7:6||- (top)|
|Jer 7:7||- (top)|
|Jer 7:8||- (top)|
“steal, murder, and commit adultery, and swear falsely.” Jeremiah’s accusation should have caught the attention of the people since he used the very words in the Ten Commandments: “steal” (Exod. 20:15), “murder” (Exod. 20:13), “commit adultery” (Exod. 20:14), and “swear falsely” (Exod. 20:16). Furthermore, Jeremiah’s reference to following other gods was in direct disobedience to the opening of the Ten Commandments (Exod. 20:3-5). But in spite of their flagrant sin and the clarity of their disobedience to God, the people did not repent.(top)
“We are delivered!” The hardhearted and self-deceived sinners of Judah would sin and then go into the Temple of Yahweh and proclaim they were delivered from danger, that they were “safe” from harm. “We are delivered” is translated as “We are safe” in some versions (NAB, NET, NIV, NLT, NRSV), and that is certainly what the people thought. The people did not believe that Yahweh would ever let His Temple be destroyed; how wrong they were!(top)
“den of robbers.” The Hebrew word translated “den” is me`arah (#04631 מְעָרָה), which means “cave.” A robber’s den, or a “robbers cave” was generally a cave in a deserted area away from authorities where robbers could band together, live, and use as a hideout, and from which they could go forth and raid. Robber’s dens were very effective in the ancient world because there was no police force and thus for any wronged person or camp to get justice they would have to round up a large number of people and attack the robbers. Many people were reticent to do that since it almost always meant men would lose their lives in the fight, so often injustice would go on for years.
Here in Jeremiah 7:11, God compares the pious sinners' use of the Temple as a robber’s cave. The context here in Jeremiah makes it clear that people, including the political and religious leaders, would sin and break God’s commands, and then retreat to the Temple where they thought they would be “safe.” Sadly, today this behavior still often continues, and some people use religion and pious behavior as a cover for their sin.(top)
“But go now to my place that was in Shiloh.” Jeremiah was a descendant of Eli, and it was at Shiloh that Eli so disobeyed God that Eli’s line was somewhat set aside, and eventually the High Priest’s line was switched from Eleazar to Ithamar. Solomon sent Abiathar home to Anathoth, where Jeremiah was from (1 Kings 2:26).(top)
“rising up early and speaking.” This is an idiom meaning to send again and again, and to be eager to do it. The idea is that God rose up early and sent His prophets, and sent them over and over as the day progressed. We have kept the idiom but inserted the meaning of the idiom by adding “again and again” in italics. The people rose up early to sin, and God rose up early to correct them (see Zeph. 3:7). [For more on this idiom and where it occurs, see commentary on Jeremiah 26:5].(top)
“the house that is called by my name.” The Temple.
“in which you trust.” The false prophets and people “trusted” a lie: that the very presence of the Temple would protect them no matter how they behaved. This is a good example of false religion, and there are many false beliefs that involve “things” protecting or bringing God’s blessing. God protects us, and if we are evil we walk away from His protection no matter how many “religious things” we have or do.(top)
“Ephraim.” The most influential tribe in the nation of Israel, and here put by metonymy for the ten tribes of Israel, which were carried into captivity by the Assyrians (2 Kings 17:5-6, 18-20).(top)
“As for you.” God spoke personally to Jeremiah here in Jeremiah 7:16 and told him not to pray for Judah. It would only allow their evil to continue. This was not the only time God told Jeremiah not to pray for Judah, He said it two other times (Jer. 11:14, 14:11). God also told Ezekiel, who was alive at the same time as Jeremiah, that He would not hear the prayers of the people of Judah (Ezek. 8:18). There are a number of verses that say God does not answer the prayers of the wicked (cp. Job 35:12-13; Prov. 15:29; Isa. 1:15; 59:1-2; Ezek. 8:17-18; Micah 3:4; Zech. 7:12-13; and James 4:3).
[For more on God not hearing the prayers of the wicked or honoring their sacrifices, see commentary on Amos 5:22].(top)
|Jer 7:17||- (top)|
“to make cakes.” Providing ritual food to the gods, which would usually be burned up or eaten by the priests, was part of what God meant when He said that His people were not to “serve” other gods. The pagan gods demanded things that required service.
“the Queen of Heaven.” The Queen of Heaven was the Assyro-Babylonian goddess Astarte (also known as “Ishtar,” although at different times and places there is a difference between the two goddesses, and she was worshiped in Canaan as Astoreth. She was widely worshiped in the Middle East, including in the west from Phoenicia on the Mediterranean coast and on into the Mediterranean world, to the east throughout Babylon, and south through Canaan, and she even had worshipers in Egypt. She was connected with fertility, sex, and war, and lust, although exactly which attributes were emphasized differed from place to place and at different times. Statues of her often show her naked. No doubt the ritual sex associated with her worship increased her popularity.
“making me angry.” The NET First Edition text note says, “There is debate among grammarians and lexicographers about the nuance of the Hebrew particle…Some say it always denotes purpose, while others say it may denote either purpose or result, depending on the context.” The people of Israel, the fathers, mothers, and children, did not worship other gods with the purpose of making God angry, so in this context translating the phrase as a result clause is likely more accurate than translating it as a purpose clause. However, it is possible the text is saying that God is venting His frustration and anger by making an ironic, hyperbolic statement, something such as “They do this just to make me angry.” God is an emotional God (and we emotional humans are created in His image), and He could be expressing His frustration with humans by saying they worship other gods to insult Him. The fact is that even if the humans did not worship other gods to spite Yahweh, the demons that were behind the pagan worship did have the purpose of insulting God in mind, and they led the humans astray.(top)
“Are they not doing it to themselves.” The wrath of God is expressed in many ways on earth, including famine, plague, war, etc. Here God is saying that the godless actions of Judah are only really hurting themselves. Also, although the verb translated “making me angry” is not repeated in the second sentence, in a sense it is being brought forward by the missing verb (“doing it” is supplied in italics but is not in the Hebrew text). So the people were hurting themselves, and the evil consequences that they were experiencing because of their ungodly actions were making them angry, as well as likely frustrated and confused.(top)
“on man and on animal, and on the trees of the field and on the fruit of the ground.” The anger and wrath of God did not come directly from God, but rather the words are an expression that summarized what things would be like on earth when people abandoned God. God’s wrath would come, but in contexts such as this one in Jeremiah, the wrath of God was the wrath the people and land would experience when they abandoned God and He could no longer protect them. When people disobey God, He cannot righteously protect them from His archenemy the Devil, and so the Devil and his demons attack in any way they can, affecting people, animals, and the land itself. It is why Leviticus 18:28, in the context of various kinds of sexual sin, say the land will vomit out its inhabitants. Demons afflict people and animals, and they affect the weather patterns so there are droughts and floods, they shake the land so there are earthquakes, they influence insects so there are locust plagues, and they do many other harmful things. One of the great lessons of the Bible is that the behavior of people affects the land that they live on. This lesson is throughout the Old Testament (cp. Deut. 11:13-17; 28:1, 12, 15, 22-25, 38-40; Lev. 18:24-25; Ps. 107:33-34; Jer. 3:2-3; 12:4; 23:10; Amos 4:6-10; see commentary on Lev. 18:25).(top)
“Add your burnt offerings to your sacrifices.” The regulations for many of the sacrifices were that the people who offered them got to eat some of the meat, and the priests got some too. Here in Jeremiah 7:21, God is using sarcasm to point out that the people do not offer sacrifices to Him from love and devotion, but so they could feast on the meat. The people acted religious by making lots of sacrifices, but it was only to look good and so they could have meat to eat.(top)
“out of concern for.” Jeremiah 7:22 has caused much controversy in the theological world, including the thought that the Torah might have been written much later than the Exodus. However, there is a very important and quite simple explanation for Jeremiah 7:22. The Hebrew phrase usually translated “concerning,” (“I did not speak to your fathers…concerning burnt offerings and sacrifices,” ESV; NASB) is the Hebrew al dibri (עַל־דִּבְרֵ֥י). The text note in the Holman Christian Study Bible reads that al dibri “is best rendered ‘for the sake of,’ ‘in the interest of,’ or ‘out of concern for’ (Deut. 4:21; 2 Sam. 18:5; 2 Kings 22:13).”
A study of the Hebrew vocabulary in Jeremiah 7:22-23 as well as the scope of Scripture shows that when God refers to “the day I brought your fathers out of Egypt,” He is referring to the time when Israel entered the “Old Covenant” with God, and had the “scroll of the covenant” read to them (Exod. 24:3-8). The scroll of the covenant contained the Ten Commandments and God’s commands that are recorded in Exodus 21-23. Although it has a few basic statements about the Feasts and sacrifices, it certainly has nothing as elaborate as the descriptions of the sacrifices in Leviticus. What God was clearly concerned about when He made the Old Covenant with Israel was that the people obey Him. The idea of obeying God is woven throughout the whole record of the making of the Old Covenant (Exod. 19:5, 8; 20:6; 23:21, 22; 24:3, 7).
C. F. Keil sums up the meaning of Jeremiah 7:22 very well in his commentary: “When the Lord entered in to covenant with Israel at Sinai, He insisted on their hearkening to His voice and walking in all His commandments, as conditions necessary for bringing about the covenant relationship, in which He was to be God to Israel, and Israel a people to Him; but He did not at that time give all the various commandments as to the presenting of sacrifices. Such an intimation neither denies the divine origin of the Torah of sacrifice in Leviticus, nor discredits its character as part of the Sinaitic legislation. All it implies is, that the giving of sacrifices is not the thing of primary importance in the law, is not the central point of covenant laws, and that so long as the cardinal precepts of the Decalogue are freely transgressed, sacrifices neither are desired by God, nor secure covenant blessings for those who present them” (Keil and Delitzsch Commentary on the Old Testament).
There are a number of verses in the Bible that show that God is much more interested in obedience and a humble heart than in a person’s making sacrifices. The sacrifices were designed to be an outward show of an obedient and humble heart, not to acquire God’s favor if one’s heart was not right with God, as if God would overlook evil as long as one offered sacrifices (cp. 1 Sam. 15:22; Ps. 40:6-8; 51:16-17; Hos. 6:6 [quoted in Matt. 9:13 and 12:7]; Micah 6:6-8; Matt. 5:23-24).
[For more on the scroll of the covenant, see commentary on Exod. 24:7. For more on God not being as concerned with sacrifices and offerings as He is in the posture of a person’s heart, see commentary on Matt. 5:24].(top)
|Jer 7:23||- (top)|
|Jer 7:24||- (top)|
“rising up early and sending them.” This is an idiom meaning to send again and again. The idea is that God rose up early and sent His prophets, and sent them over and over as the day progressed. The REV has kept the idiom but inserted the meaning of the idiom by adding “again and again” in italics. [For more on this idiom and where it occurs, see commentary on Jeremiah 26:5].(top)
|Jer 7:26||- (top)|
“but they will not listen to you.” There are times when God asks believers to do something that does not seem to work out. Although the reason for that may not be apparent to us, God always has His reasons for doing that. When it comes to testifying for God and Jesus, there are times when God knows that people will not listen, such as here with Jeremiah, but the witness was important for God’s purposes. Judgment Day will come, and at that time scrolls that contain a record of what people have done will be opened and read (cp. Rev. 20:12). This is a serious matter, because people who are judged as being unrighteous will be thrown into the Lake of Fire and burned up (Rev. 20:14-15). In order for the judgment to be fair and just, it is important that people have had a chance to say “yes” or “no” to following God and His ways. It is quite possible that Judah was so evil in the days of Jeremiah that some people had not heard God’s law in a way that made it attractive and believable, or that they had not been warned about the seriousness of rejecting it. Jeremiah was to speak God’s word to the people and give them the chance to believe, even though God knew the hearts of the people and that they would not believe.
Jesus taught this same basic thing to his disciples. In Luke 21:12-15, when he told them they would be arrested and put on trial. He told them that their being brought before judges “will turn out as an opportunity for you to provide a testimony” (Luke 21:13; see commentary on Luke 21:13).
[For more on people burning up in the Lake of Fire and not “burning forever in hell,” see Appendix 5, “Annihilation in the Lake of Fire”].(top)
|Jer 7:28||- (top)|
“Cut off your hair.” A sign of mourning and sorrow.
“the generation.” The Hebrew text leaves the door open for this statement to be a general principle and not just a singular statement for that one generation. When a generation abandons God, then He cannot be with them, so in effect He rejects and forsakes them. The Hebrew text just leaves “generation” as the object of the verb and does not say “this generation.”
“that has aroused his wrath.” The Hebrew text reads, “of his wrath,” but this a genitive of production, i.e., the generation that has produced his wrath (cp. NET; NJB; NLT; NRSV). Some versions use the word “provoke” here, but that does not carry the correct implication. The people did not set out to make God angry, but what they did made God angry (cp. Deut. 4:25).(top)
“they have set up their abominations.” This is restated in Jeremiah 32:34.
“the house that is called by my name.” That is, the Temple.
“to defile it.” This is the reading of the Hebrew text of Jeremiah 7:30, and it cannot be ignored. While some modern versions change to the wording to “and defiled it” (cp. HCSB), and that certainly was a result of the abominations set up in the Temple, we cannot set aside the meaning of the Hebrew text that there were certainly at least some of the ungodly priests, prophets, and leaders who were in league with the Devil and put abominations in Yahweh’s Temple with the evil intent of defiling it.
The world is in a war between Good and Evil, and while many people who do evil things do them in ignorance of the spiritual realities, there are many evil people who know full well the evil that they do and do them intentionally to defy God, and to hurt God’s people. For example, the Jewish leaders at the time of Christ knew they were setting aside the commandments of God to keep their traditions (Mark 7:9). [For more about the war between Good and Evil, see commentary on Luke 4:6].(top)
“shrines.” The Hebrew word “shrines” is bamot, which referred to a place that was leveled and built up and on which were placed various idols and objects of worship. The context indicates these shires were pagan in nature (cp. NLT, “pagan shrines”). Many of the towns had such shrines (see commentary on Num. 33:52).
“Topheth.” A place where children were burned as human sacrifices (see commentary on 2 Kings 23:10).(top)
“because there is no place left to bury.” This is a horrifying prophecy. No Jew would want their body buried in Topheth because of all the dead bones scattered there. Yet we know that in the future, at the Battle of Armageddon, there will be so many dead bodies that the blood from the slain will flow for 180 miles (Rev. 14:20). Isaiah 34:3 hyperbolically expresses the huge volume of blood by saying that there is so much blood rushing down the mountains that it “melts” them; it carries them away. Here in Jeremiah 7:32 it is foretold that Judah will be so full of graves that people will be forced to bury the dead in the Valley of the Son of Hinnom,” (in Greek, Gehenna) because there is no room anywhere else to bury them.
However, as unclean as the Valley of Hinnom will become at the time of Armageddon, it will be cleaned up in Christ’s Millennial Kingdom on earth (Jer. 31:40; cp. Ezek. 39:14-15).
“Topheth.” A place where children were burned as human sacrifices (see commentary on 2 Kings 23:10). Over time the area where that was done must have been referred to as Topheth, as we see in Jeremiah 7:32, 19:6, 11.(top)
“The dead bodies of this people will be food.” It was considered a horrible tragedy for a person not to be buried, which showed honor and respect for the dead. It was even believed by many people that if a person was not buried their soul wandered the earth (see commentary on Jer. 14:16).
“the birds of the air.” 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.(top)
“the sound of joy and the sound of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom and the voice of the bride.” What God is saying here is that the normal sounds associated with happy and peaceful city life would cease. The Babylonian army would attack and conquer Judah and deport the people, and those happy sounds would come to an end.(top)