The *Sins of God’s People
An EasyEnglish Bible Version and Commentary (2800 word vocabulary) on Jeremiah chapters 1 to 10
This commentary has been through Advanced Checking.
Words in boxes are from the Bible.
A word list at the end explains words with a *star by them.
The members of Jeremiah’s family were priests. They lived in the town called Anathoth. It was about 3 miles (5 kilometres) away from Jerusalem. Jeremiah *prophesied during the 7th century *BC, when there were great political problems. Baruch, Jeremiah’s secretary, recorded the messages that Jeremiah dictated. But King Jehoiakim burnt that record (Jeremiah chapter 36). So Baruch wrote it again and Jeremiah added more messages. Many of the *prophecies are poems. Sometimes Jeremiah used dramatic actions to make the people understand his message. The various messages are not in the order in which Jeremiah gave them. So sometimes we do not know to which period in history they refer.
Jeremiah loved his country called Judah. But God would punish the people from Judah because of their wicked behaviour. Jeremiah had great mental pain when he had to warn his own people. Also he had troubles because many people insulted him. They attacked him too. On several occasions, he was close to death. But many years later, people respected Jeremiah. Some people thought that he was the Servant of the *LORD. Isaiah wrote about the Servant of the *LORD in Isaiah 52:12–53:12. Some people thought that Jesus was Jeremiah. They thought that Jeremiah had become alive again (Matthew 16:14).
Jeremiah had a close relationship with the *LORD. One of the most important things that Jeremiah spoke about was the New *Covenant. It replaced the *covenant that the *LORD had made with the *Jews during the life of Moses. In the first *Covenant, the *LORD promised to look after his people, the *Israelites. Because they were the *LORD’s people, they had to obey his orders. In the New *Covenant, the *LORD promised that his people will want to obey him. And the *LORD promised to forgive their *sins (Jeremiah 31:31-34)
During the 7th century *BC, the nations called Assyria, Egypt and Babylon wanted to gain political control in the Middle East. The *Assyrians defeated the ten *tribes in the northern *kingdom in 721 *BC. These 10 *tribes were called Israel. But the *Assyrian *kingdom ended and the powerful *Babylonian nation defeated Egypt in 605 *BC. Then the *Babylonians attacked the two *tribes in the southern *kingdom called Judah. Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon, destroyed Jerusalem in 586 *BC. The *Babylonian army took their prisoners away from Judah. They took the prisoners into *exile in Babylon.
King Manasseh and King Amon had allowed all kinds of *pagan acts in their religion. They allowed people to *sacrifice children.
King Josiah tried to destroy all the *pagan *idols and the places where people *worshipped them. Also he encouraged the people in Judah to *worship in Jerusalem. He did not want them to *worship at the local holy places. Jeremiah supported Josiah’s action. As a result, Jeremiah became unpopular with the priests in his own town. Later, Jeremiah realised that the people’s inner attitude had not changed. Josiah died in battle in 608 *BC. He was trying to stop the Egyptians so that they did not help Assyria against Babylon.
King Jehoahaz. The ruler of Egypt took him into Egypt and replaced him with Jehoiakim.
King Jehoiakim. Jehoiakim was another son of Josiah. Jehoiakim was a wicked and selfish ruler. He had destroyed Baruch’s first record (Jeremiah chapter 36). He did not remain loyal to his new master Nebuchadnezzar. So in 598 *BC the *Babylonian king made Jehoiakim a prisoner. But Nebuchadnezzar died at the beginning of the journey to Babylon.
King Jehoiachin (Jeconiah) went to Babylon as a prisoner in 597 *BC. But the next *Babylonian king freed him. And Jehoiachin received honour and regular meals for the rest of his life (Jeremiah 52:31-34).
King Zedekiah. The *Babylonians made him king. But he was a weak ruler. Against Jeremiah’s advice, he tried not to be loyal to Babylon. That action led to the end of the *kingdom called Judah in 586 *BC. Most of the people from Judah went into *exile in Babylon.
The *Babylonians appointed Gedaliah as the ruler of Judah. The chief officer in the army freed Jeremiah from prison. They invited Jeremiah to go to Babylon. But Jeremiah preferred to stay with the people in Judah. Ishmael and his followers killed Gedaliah. The people asked Jeremiah what they should do. He told them not to leave the country. But, against his advice, they ran away to Egypt and they took Jeremiah with them. Jeremiah continued to *prophesy in Egypt (Jeremiah chapters 40 to 44).
1. *LORD (some Bibles use the *Hebrew word ‘Yahweh’). God told Moses that this was God’s name (Exodus 3:14). It sounds like the *Hebrew word for I AM. It means that the *LORD has no beginning and no end. The *LORD was present. He knew what was happening in Israel and in Judah. The *LORD gave his messages to Jeremiah. The *LORD guided and protected him (Jeremiah 1:17-19). Jeremiah uses this name most often for God.
2. Creator. God made the world (Jeremiah 10:12-13). He set the boundaries for the sea (Jeremiah 5:22). He sends the rain to provide the harvests (Jeremiah 5:24). But God can prevent the rain and the harvests also. He would do that because of Judah’s *sin (Jeremiah 3:3; 8:13).
3. King. God rules everyone with his great power Jeremiah (Jeremiah 10:6-7). He can send an enemy from the north to punish the people in Israel and in Judah (Jeremiah 1:14-15). Nebuchadnezzar was God’s servant, to take away the *LORD’s people into a foreign country (Jeremiah 27:6). Nobody can hide from God (Jeremiah 23:23-24).
4. God of Israel. God had rescued his people from Egypt (Jeremiah 16:14). At the mountain called Sinai, God promised that the *Israelites will be his special people. They will belong to him. The *Israelites agreed that they would obey the *LORD (Deuteronomy 26:16-19). The *Israelites were like a bride, and the *LORD was her husband. The *covenant was like the promises that men and women made at their marriage. But Judah had been like a wife who looked for other lovers. The people *worshipped the local false gods. Judah was not loyal to the *LORD alone (Jeremiah 2:2; 3:1). Hosea describes Israel in the same way (Hosea 2:5-8).
The *LORD loved his people. So he would not be satisfied with the *sacrifices and ceremonies of their religion alone (Jeremiah 7:22-23). The people must not continue to *worship false gods that have no value. The *LORD’s people had to obey his laws. Then the *LORD would see that they *worshipped him sincerely. The *LORD was like their husband, but he was also their Father. The *LORD wanted his children to return to him (Jeremiah 3:19; 4:22). Jeremiah often uses the word ‘turn’ or ‘return’. The *LORD wanted his people to turn back to him.
Verse 1 Jeremiah’s father may have come from the family of Abiathar. Abiathar had been a priest in the time of King Solomon (1 Kings 1:25; 2:26-27). Anathoth was a village about 3 miles (5 kilometres) to the north of Jerusalem.
Verse 2 Josiah was the last good king of Judah. He ruled from 640 to 609 *BC. Jeremiah became a *prophet in 626 *BC.
Verse 3 Jehoiakim was king from 609 to 598 *BC. He was a bad king and he opposed Jeremiah. The writer leaves out Jehoahaz (his other name is Shallum) and Jehoiachin. The writer did that because they were kings for only about three months each. Zedekiah was the last king of Judah. That was before Nebuchadnezzar, the king of the *Babylonians, controlled Jerusalem. That happened in 586 *BC. He took into Babylon the people who were living in Jerusalem. Psalm 137 describes how sad those people were in Babylon. They wept for their own country ‘by the rivers in Babylon’.
Verses 5-6 Jeremiah believed that the *LORD had chosen him. The *LORD chose him to be a *prophet. He had chosen Jeremiah even before he was born. But Jeremiah was like Moses in Exodus 4:10. Jeremiah did not believe that he had the experience or the character. He was still too young to be a *prophet.
Verses 7-8 The *LORD denied that Jeremiah was too young. There was no need for Jeremiah to be afraid. The *LORD will give his authority to his *prophet. And the *LORD will protect him.
Verses 9-10 Jeremiah had to speak to the people in his own country called Judah. But Jeremiah had to speak to other nations too. Jeremiah chapters 46-51 contain the *LORD’s messages to the nations.
First, Jeremiah had to give the *LORD’s message about his punishment. The *LORD would destroy those people who had not obeyed him. But Jeremiah had to give a message about hope also. A nation would realise why it had troubles. Then the *LORD would build that nation again. He would bring it back to its own country.
Verses 11-12 An almond is a type of nut. The almond tree has the first flowers in the spring. So Jeremiah was looking at the branch of a tree that ‘wakes up’ early. The*Hebrew word for the tree is very similar to the word to be ‘awake’. The *LORD knew what was happening in Judah. He spoke and he was watching. He said that certain things would happen. And the *LORD will make sure that they happen. His words are the truth.
Verses 13-16 The *kingdoms in the north were probably Babylon and the nations that fought with Babylon. The rulers of a city used to meet at the gates in the city. So the rulers from Babylon replaced Judah’s rulers. The *LORD used Babylon to punish the people in Judah. They had *worshipped false gods. They had *worshipped *idols. They had made those *idols themselves. Isaiah had laughed at the people who did that (Isaiah 44:12-20).
Verses 17-19 The *LORD warned Jeremiah that everyone would oppose him. The rulers, the *religious leaders and the rest of the people would not like his message. But Jeremiah had to be brave. He had to declare the whole message that the *LORD had given to him. The *LORD would be present with him. Jeremiah would be as strong as a city with walls. He would be as strong as very strong metals. The *LORD ordered Jeremiah to be loyal. But the *LORD also promised to defend his servant, Jeremiah.
Verses 2-3 Jeremiah refers to Israel in two ways:
a) A bride. Israel was a bride and the *LORD was her husband. Hosea used a similar description (Hosea 2:2-20). After the *LORD rescued Israel from Egypt, Israel had been like a new bride. The *Israelites had been loyal to the *LORD when he led them through the *desert.
b) The first part and the best part. The people brought the first part and the best part of their annual harvest to the *Temple. They gave it to the priests. The first part of the harvest showed that all their crops were a gift from the *LORD. The first part was also the evidence that the complete harvest would follow (Leviticus 23:10; 17). Israel was the first nation that belonged to the *LORD. Israel was the evidence that other nations will belong to the *LORD.
The *LORD will punish any nation that opposes Israel. For example, Amos mentions the people in Edom. They had attacked Israel many times (Amos 1:11).
Verses 5-6 The people in Israel had forgotten all that the *LORD had done for them. He had rescued them from Egypt. He had guided them on their journey through the dangerous *desert. And he had protected them in the *desert. Usually people avoided that place because there was no water.
Verse 7 The *LORD had taken them into a good country. The land produced plenty of fruit and food. But the people did not thank the *LORD for his gifts. Instead they began to *worship the *Baals. They believed that those local false gods sent the rain. They believed that those false gods provided the crops.
Verse 8 The *religious leaders and other rulers were responsible. They did not teach the people to follow the *LORD. Instead they encouraged the people to *worship false and *worthless gods.
Verses 9-11 The *LORD contrasts the behaviour of Israel with the behaviour of the other nations. Israel should notice the country called Cyprus and all of other nations in the west. They should look closely at Kedar, where the Arab *tribes lived in the east. All those nations remained loyal to their false gods, although they were not real gods. But Israel had left the *LORD who deserved honour. Israel started to *worship objects that were of no use.
Verse 12 The skies had been a witness to the *covenant between the *LORD and the *Israelites at *Mount Sinai (Deuteronomy 30:19). Now Israel had not obeyed that *covenant because they were not loyal to the *LORD. So the *LORD called out to the skies. Israel’s behaviour should astonish and disgust them.
Verse 13 The *LORD makes people alive. People need water to remain alive. The *LORD is like fresh water that comes up from the ground. ‘Wells’ refer to places that store water. Israel had trusted false gods. But those false gods were like wells that have cracks in them. Those wells were of no use as the water leaked out. That means that Israel’s false gods were of no use.
Verses 14-16 The people in Israel were not born as slaves. But their enemies had taken away their freedom. Jeremiah describes the powerful country called Assyria. He says that it was like a fierce lion. The *Assyrians had attacked the northern part of Israel and they had destroyed its cities. In 722 *BC the *Assyrians had destroyed Samaria, the capital city of Israel. The cities were empty. The *Assyrians warned the people in Judah about what might happen to them. Memphis and Tahpanhes were towns in Egypt. Judah would have troubles if they tried to accept political help from Egypt. Already the men from Memphis and Tahpanhes had hurt them badly.
Verses 17-18 ‘To drink water from the River Nile or the River Euphrates.’ This describes how Judah tried to make friends with the powerful countries called Egypt and Assyria. The *LORD had rescued his people from Egypt. But they were turning back to a country that could not help them. Judah was trusting Egypt for help. Already Isaiah had said that this was foolish (Isaiah 30:1-5; 31:1-3).
Verse 19 Judah turned to other countries for help. But that would cause Judah to have troubles in the future. King Jehoiakim had to pay large sums of silver and gold to Egypt (2 Kings 23:35). *Assyrian soldiers killed prisoners in cruel ways. Or the soldiers took the prisoners away to Assyria (Amos 4:2). The people in Israel had caused those punishments to happen to them. So the people in Judah should learn from that. Bad things would happen to them also if they did not honour the *LORD.
Verse 20 Israel was like an animal that refused to obey the farmer. It had broken the *yoke that was on its shoulders. It had torn the thick strings that link the *yoke to the plough. Israel had behaved like that kind of an animal. For many years, Israel had refused to obey the *LORD. The people *worshipped the false gods called *Baals. The people had acts of sex with other people. They believed that this behaviour produced good crops.
Verse 21 Isaiah had described Israel as the *LORD’s *vineyard too. (Isaiah 5:1-7). Also Jeremiah thought about a plant that produces *grapes. He says that Israel has disappointed the *LORD. They were like a good plant. They should have produced the very best fruit. Instead, they became like a plant that produced small, wild fruits.
Verse 22 Jeremiah thought about dirty stains that even the strongest soap cannot remove. Israel’s behaviour was like a bad mark that nothing could remove.
Verse 23-24 Israel might say that they had not *worshipped the local *Baals. But they had been like a wild animal that was ready to mate. Also the camel was ready for the males to find her. Israel had been ready to jooin with other nations.
Verse 25 If the people in Judah continued to follow foreign false gods, they would become prisoners. They would have to walk into a foreign country with bare feet. They would suffer because they would not have enough water to drink. Yet they were foolish and they loved foreign false gods.
Verses 26-27 Perhaps someone catches a thief while he is stealing. The thief will feel ashamed. Many people and leaders were responsible for Israel’s *sins. And in a similar way, all of them would be ashamed. They asked sticks and stones to help them when they were in trouble. But they were no use.
Verses 28-29 When Judah had troubles, their many false gods had no power to rescue the people. The people may complain that the *LORD was not dealing with them fairly. But they deserved punishment. They had refused to obey the *LORD.
Verse 30 Judah had not learned from what had happened to Israel. They had not listened to the *LORD’s *prophets. Instead, Judah killed the *prophets. Those *prophets had urged them to return to the *LORD. Manasseh had killed many *prophets when he was the king of Judah (2 Kings 21:16).
Verses 31-32 The *LORD had guided his people through the dangerous *desert. Now, Israel wanted to forget the *LORD. That was very hard to believe. At *Mount Sinai, Israel had become the *LORD’s ‘bride’. Israel had made a *covenant with the *LORD. A bride will never forget her wedding clothes. And yet Israel, the *LORD’s bride, had forgotten the *LORD.
Verses 33-34 The people had become skilful in their acts of sex. It was part of how they *worshipped the *Baals. The people were very clever in their wicked behaviour. They were able even to help professional *prostitutes. Anyone who killed a thief at night was not guilty (Exodus 22:2-3). But those people were not going into your house to steal. The *LORD’s people had no excuse. They deserved the *LORD’s punishment because they had killed innocent people.
Verse 35 The people said that they were innocent. They thought that the *LORD accepted their ways now. King Josiah was a good king who trusted the *LORD. Josiah had made changes to the *religious customs (2 Kings chapter 23). The people had accepted some of the changes. But the people’s real attitude had not changed. They continued to deny that they had not obeyed the *LORD’s laws. So the *LORD would punish them.
Verses 36-37 The nations called Assyria and Egypt did not help Israel and Judah. But the *LORD’s people continued to trust those nations. The *LORD is the only God whom his people could trust always. But they forgot that. If the *Israelites asked Egypt to help, they would return as prisoners. The *LORD rules all nations. So he would punish Judah for their foolish political ideas. And the *LORD would punish Judah because Judah did not trust him. There is a picture on the wall of an Egyptian *temple. It shows prisoners with their hands tied together above their heads.
Verses 1-2 A wife, who is divorced, may marry another man. But later, if she returns to her first husband, he must not marry her again (Deuteronomy 24:1-4). Jeremiah used that law to teach Israel. They must not expect the *LORD to forgive them easily. The people had behaved like *prostitutes. They *worshipped the local false gods on the tops of the hills. Israel had been like a *prostitute who was waiting to attract men. Tamar had waited by the road for Judah. And Tamar had pretended to be a *prostitute (Genesis 38:14).
Verses 3-4 The *LORD had not let the rain fall. He wanted to make the nation realise its *sin. The *LORD controls nature. Their lack of water reminded them about that. Their false gods had no real power. A *prostitute does not look ashamed. The nation had been like that. When the lack of rain continued, people asked the *LORD to help. They said that always the *LORD had been their father and their friend. They were not speaking the truth. They had failed many times to give honour to the *LORD alone.
Verse 5 When they complained to the *LORD, they should not expect him to answer. They did not change their behaviour. Still they refused to obey the *LORD’s laws.
Verses 6-7 Judah saw what Israel had done. But Judah had behaved in the same way. They failed to respect the *LORD. And they had *worshipped the *Baals. The *LORD hoped that Judah would return to him. But the *LORD hoped in vain.
Verses 8-9 The *LORD had ‘divorced’ Israel. He allowed the *Assyrians to take Israel away from their own country. Judah refused to learn from Israel’s experience. Instead, Judah had followed Israel’s example. That caused the country to be *unclean.
Verses 10-11 King Josiah had removed wrong acts from their religion. Then the people in Judah said that they would be loyal to the *LORD. But Judah had lied. Judah had not been sincere when they returned to the *LORD. Both Israel and Judah had not been loyal to the *LORD. But Judah was more guilty than Israel. Judah had seen what had happened to Israel. But the people in Judah had failed to learn from what they saw. And Judah was even more to blame because the people pretended to be loyal to the *LORD.
Verses 12-14 In 722 *BC the *Assyrians had taken away the ten *tribes of the northern *kingdom (Israel). The *Assyrians made them prisoners. The *Assyrians had taken them away from their own country. The *LORD told the people in Israel to turn back to him sincerely. If they did, he would not continue to be angry. He would forgive them. He would bring them back to their own country. Zion is another name for Jerusalem. Israel should confess that they had not been loyal to the *LORD. Israel had been wicked and they had not obeyed the *LORD’s laws. The *LORD is the true husband of Israel. The word *Baal means ‘husband’ or ‘master’. It shows that the false *Baal was not Israel’s husband (for example, Jeremiah 2:26).
Only a few people returned to Jerusalem. Isaiah wrote about the small number of people who had remained loyal to the *LORD (Isaiah 10:22).
Verses 15-16 Often the leaders of the people are called *shepherds. A *shepherd looks after sheep. In a similar way, leaders should look after their people. The *LORD would give to Judah new leaders who would be the *LORD’s true servants. The people would not need the *covenant box.
Verses 17-18 The city called Jerusalem will be the *LORD’s magnificent royal seat. People from every nation will come to *worship the *LORD there. Isaiah said that Jerusalem will be ‘a light’ to the people who are not *Jews (Isaiah 49:6). The people would be willing to change. They would stop their wicked behaviour. They would respect the *LORD. The people from Judah and some people from Israel would unite (Isaiah 11:12). They would return to the country that the *LORD gave to Abraham and to his *descendants. After Jesus had left the earth, people from all nations could become the *LORD’s people (Acts 11:18). But these promises will happen only when Jesus returns to earth. Then there will be ‘a new heaven and a new earth’ (Revelation 21:1-2). They will not need an *covenant box or a *temple then. The *LORD himself will be there in his magnificent heaven (Revelation 21:22-26).
Verses 19-20 The *LORD wanted to be Israel’s father. The *LORD wanted to act in the same way that a father acts towards his children. Hosea had described the *LORD’s care for Israel. The *LORD had brought them out from Egypt and he guided them (Hosea 11:1-4). The country to which the *LORD brought them was a good country. But the people were like a woman who was not loyal to her husband. They had left the *LORD and they had *worshipped the false gods in the country.
Verses 21-22 The tops of the hill are bare. Perhaps Josiah had destroyed the special places to *Baal there. Or ‘bare’ may describe actions there that have no result. The people continued to ask the *Baals to help when they were in trouble. The people were crying when they had troubles. Jeremiah saw that they had forgotten the *LORD. Their wrong actions showed that they had turned away from him. They had to return to the *LORD before he would help them.
Verses 23-25 This prayer is an ideal way for people to confess their *sins. In verse 24 the people call the *Baals ‘disgusting’ false gods. The people had *sinned against the *LORD from the time when they came out of Egypt. But the *Baals had not helped them. They *worshipped *Baal with its disgusting acts. Those acts had made their nation poor. The nation must accept that they should be very ashamed of themselves.
Verses 1-2 People may have said the prayer in Jeremiah 3:22-25. But many people did not let it change their lives. ‘You can be sure that the *LORD lives.’ That was the usual way to make a serious promise. It was only for people who accepted the *LORD as their king. The people who used those words had to obey the *LORD. The *LORD’s law says this. ‘Do not use the *LORD your God’s name in a wrong way.’ (Exodus 20:7). People had to be truthful, fair and honest. That showed that Israel was obeying the *covenant with the *LORD. Other nations would see that the *LORD *blessed Israel (Deuteronomy 28:1-6). Those nations would want those *blessings too. They will be very happy when they obey the *LORD as their king too. The *LORD had promised that he will *bless all the families on the earth. He promised to do that by means of Abraham’s *descendants (Genesis 22:18). If Israel were loyal to the *LORD, every nation would benefit. Isaiah realised that too (Isaiah 42:6).
Verse 3 The people had a wrong attitude. They did not accept the *LORD’s message. They were like a hard field that a farmer had not ploughed. A farmer prepares his field for a good harvest. In a similar way, the people had to prepare themselves to listen to the *LORD. A farmer did not sow seeds where there were weeds. The weeds stopped the corn so that it could not grow. Jesus showed what happened to the *LORD’s word when it grew among the weeds (Mark 4:18-19). A farmer has to clear the weeds from his ground. The people in Judah did wicked deeds. Those deeds were like the weeds. The people had to clear out their wicked deeds before they could serve the *LORD properly.
Verse 4 For Israel, *circumcision was the evidence of the *covenant between the *LORD and Israel (Genesis 17:10-14). The *LORD never intended it to be outer evidence only in the body. It was the evidence of Israel’s inner belief. *Circumcision showed that Israel belonged to the *LORD. It showed that they would serve him. The *LORD told Israel to obey him completely. They had to be loyal to the *LORD. They had to remove anything that prevented them. The *LORD had appealed to them to return to him. The *LORD would punish them if they refused to return sincerely. ‘Fire’ was a way to describe the *LORD’s punishment (Amos 5:6). Nobody can prevent or stop the fire of the *LORD’s anger.
Verses 5-7 The message about the pot that was boiling over (Jeremiah 1:13-15) was becoming true. Jeremiah does not say who the enemy from the north was. The sound from the *trumpet warned people about danger. Jeremiah describes the alarm in short commands because the enemy was on its way. People had to run for safety into towns with strong walls round them. They had to escape to Zion (Jerusalem). There would be no buildings left in other towns. Nobody would be able to live there.
The lion may refer to the country called Assyria or Babylon. There are very good images of lions on *Assyrian walls and on an important street in Babylon. The enemy would destroy everything. The *LORD was using the enemy to punish the people in Judah because of their *sins.
Verses 8-9 When people were sad they wore rough cloth. It also showed that they were sorry because of their wrong actions. All the leaders, whom Jeremiah had blamed (Jeremiah 2:8; 26), would be very afraid.
Verse 10 The false *prophets promised that there would be peace (Jeremiah 6:14). But they did not speak true words. The enemy was ready to attack Judah. The *LORD is the King who will carry out his plans. Jeremiah believed that. But the *LORD allowed the people to believe wrong things. Jeremiah did not understand why the *LORD allowed it. Jeremiah had deep sympathy with his own people. Maybe that was why he protested. Maybe he hoped that the other *prophets spoke some truth.
Verses 11-12 The hot dry wind came from the desert. It burned up plants and trees. Farmers used a gentle wind to separate their ripe grain from its outer parts. They threw the grains into the air with a large fork. The wind blew the outer part away. The corn fell onto the ground. But a strong wind destroyed both the corn and its outer part. The hot strong wind described the *LORD’s punishment. It would destroy the good people and the bad people together.
Verse 13 Jeremiah compared the enemy to the clouds that warn about a storm. The carts for war are the vehicles in which the enemies rode. They seemed to come as fast as a great wind. Horses that pulled the carts were even faster than large strong birds. Clouds, carts for war, horses and large strong, birds are all ways to express great speed. They show how fast Judah’s enemy was approaching.
Verse 14 The people in Jerusalem must remove their wrong actions before the *LORD would save them. The enemy was on its way, but the people could avoid the *LORD’s punishment. They should stop their wicked plans.
Verse 15 Dan was a city in the north of Israel. Jeremiah imagined a person with a message who was running from Dan. He would warn everyone that the enemy was already on its way.
Verses 16-18 The hills of Ephraim are to the north of Jerusalem. They would receive the news first and then Jerusalem itself would receive it. The enemies, who came from a distant country, would shout. It would show that they are fighting against the cities in Judah.
Farmers built small shelters. They stayed in them while they protected their crops. In a similar way, the enemies would wait outside the cities. Jeremiah had spoken about kings who would come from the north. They would be at the gates of Jerusalem (Jeremiah 1:13-15). Judah had refused to obey the *LORD. All that had happened as a punishment for their actions. The nation’s troubles would be great. When they had troubles, it would be their own fault.
Verses 19-21 Jeremiah had courage. He had described what was happening to his nation. But he loved his people. He thought about the enemy who was coming to destroy them. So he cried out in deep pain. He had heard all the noise of war. He had seen the enemy destroy all the buildings. Very soon, there would be nowhere for people to find shelter and protection. Jeremiah continued to see the enemy’s flags. And he continued to hear the *trumpet that called for battle. He wondered how long he would be able to deal with that.
Verse 22 The people in Judah were stupid. They did not know the *LORD. That means that they did not live in the right way. They did not give honour to the *LORD. They had no relationship with him. So they were foolish and they did not understand. They knew how to behave in the wrong way. But they did not know how to behave in the right way. They were so stupid. They did not understand the *LORD. They deserved his punishment
Verses 23-26 Jeremiah describes the results of the *LORD’s punishment. He used language that is like the language in Genesis 1. But the *LORD is not creating the world and everything in it. Instead, everything has gone back into confusion. The earth is ‘without shape and it is empty’ (Genesis 1:2). There was no sun, no moon and there were no stars. Usually the mountains and the hills are firm and they show strength. But they were shaking and rocking. People left the country. And even the birds have flown away. There were no buildings left in the towns. All that happened because the *LORD was very angry with his people. The land that gave good crops had turned into a desert. This has happened in parts of the world today. People have cut down trees and the soil has become loose. Then the wind blows away the soil. All that is left is a desert.
Verse 27 The *LORD will not destroy his people completely. Some people remained after the enemy had destroyed the country. Isaiah had spoken about that hope (Isaiah 10:20-22).
Verse 28 Jeremiah describes the earth as a person who is sad. The sky becomes black because the light has gone (verse 23).
Verses 29-31 The people in Judah heard the enemy coming nearer. So the people ran away. They were afraid of the arrows that the enemy used. The people in Judah tried to find safe places to hide. They went into the woods and into caves in the cliffs (Isaiah 2:19). Jeremiah describes how Judah tried desperately to be at peace with the enemy. He describes Judah like a *prostitute. The *prostitute puts on bright clothes. She paints on a black powder round her eyes. It makes her eyes look larger and more attractive. But it was no use for Judah to make herself look beautiful. Judah’s ‘lovers’ were Egypt and Assyria or Babylon. But they hated Judah and they wanted to kill her.
Jeremiah then changes his description. He describes a woman who gives birth to her first child. The woman was crying because of the pain. She held out her hands for help. The people in Jerusalem cried out as the enemy was ruining it.
Verses 1-3 Jerusalem was more wicked than the city called Sodom. The *LORD had spoken to Abraham. The *LORD would forgive Sodom if there were 10 good men in the city (Genesis 18:31-32). Jeremiah searched in the streets and in public places in Jerusalem. He searched for only one good person. It seemed that he searched in vain. That showed that the nation deserved the *LORD’s punishment. The *prophets Amos and Micah had also appealed to the people to be honest and to be fair (Amos 5:24, Micah 6:8). But the people in Judah were not truthful. They made serious promises and they used these words. ‘You can be sure that the *LORD lives.’ Often they did not remember their promise. However, they did not expect the *LORD to punish them. Their actions were different from what they said. The *LORD had tried to punish them already. But they refused to learn. Three times Jeremiah mentions that his people refused to change their behaviour.
Verses 4-6 Jeremiah thought that there was some excuse for the poor people. He may not have meant those people with little money. The poor people were those who were foolish. They did not understand what the *LORD’s law required. The leaders knew the *LORD’s law. But they had acted like an animal that was trying to free itself from it’s *yoke. It was breaking the thick string that tied it to the *yoke (Jeremiah 2:20). The leaders had chosen not to obey the *LORD’s law. Lions, wild animals and fierce animals referred to the enemies. The enemies would attack and destroy Judah. The people in Judah had refused to obey the *LORD many times.
Verses 7-9 The *LORD could not forgive his people. They had left him. They made serious promises. But they used the names of false gods that did not exist. The *LORD had supplied everything that his people needed. But they had not obeyed their *covenant with the *LORD. They had not been grateful (Deuteronomy 32:15-17). Many of them had gone to *prostitutes. The people were like horses that had plenty to eat. So they were ready to attract mates. The people in Judah were so wicked. They were like animals that were looking for a mate. The *LORD would punish the nation because they behaved without shame.
Verses 10-11 Judah was like the *LORD’s *vineyard. The people should have a good life. They should be like a *vine that grows good *grapes. The *LORD was disappointed when his people did not obey him. Isaiah had described that (Isaiah 5:1-7). The *LORD would order an enemy to enter the *vineyard. (Jeremiah does not name that enemy.) The enemy would not destroy the *LORD’s *vines completely. But the enemy would cut off the branches that had not produced fruit. The fruit means good lives. Israel and Judah had separated themselves from the *LORD. Jesus described God’s *vineyard in a similar way. Jesus described himself as the *vine. He described the people who follow him as the branches (John 15:1-7).
Verses 12-14 The people refused to believe that the *LORD would punish them. They laughed at *prophets like Jeremiah. He had spoken about war and lack of food. Verse 13 may describe Jeremiah’s message to the false *prophets. The *Hebrew word for wind is ‘ruach’. It also can mean ‘spirit’. God’s Spirit was not in the false *prophets. Their words would blow away like the wind. The false *prophets would die in war or they would starve (Jeremiah 14:13-15). But Jeremiah’s words were from the *LORD. Those words would be like fire that burns up wood. His words would destroy the false *prophets. And they would destroy the people who believed them.
Verses 15-17 The enemy was an old nation that would continue for a long time. They spoke a language that Judah did not understand. Their arrows would cause many deaths. All their soldiers were powerful. They would destroy everyone and everything in the country. They would kill Judah’s children and their animals. The enemy would destroy Judah’s food. They would destroy the plants and the trees that provided wine and food. *Vines provide *grapes. *Figs are small, sweet fruits with many seeds inside them. Usually cities with walls are safe places. But the enemy would break down the walls and kill the people.
Verses 18-19 The *LORD repeated his promise that he would not destroy the nation completely (Jeremiah 4:27). But the people had left the *LORD and they served foreign false gods instead. So the people would have to serve foreign people in a foreign country. That happened when the enemy took the people from Judah into Babylon.
Verses 20-21 The *descendants of Jacob are the people who lived in Israel. Jeremiah had to tell the people from Israel and Judah to listen. They were foolish. They had eyes, but they understood nothing. They had ears, but they did not listen to the *LORD (Isaiah 6:9-10). They respected false gods, but they did not respect the *LORD.
Verses 22-23 The people should remember that the *LORD controls the sea. When he created dry land, the *LORD put a limit on the water (Genesis 1:6-10). That was a rule that the sea cannot change. The waves may make a lot of noise. But the waves have no power to cross beyond the sand. The people in Israel were afraid of the sea. But they should not be afraid, because the *LORD controlls the sea. The sea recognised its master. But Israel refused to obey the *LORD, who was their master. The *LORD had given the people limits in the 10 *commandments. But the people had not obeyed those laws. They had done what they wanted to do.
Verse 24 The people followed *Baal. And they thought that he controlled nature. They thought that *Baal sent the rain at the right time. They thought that *Baal sent the harvest. But it was the *LORD who sent the rain in the autumn and the spring. The weeks of harvest were the seven weeks after the *religious event called Passover. The priest gave to the *LORD some of the first barley (grain) as a gift (Leviticus 23:10). Seven weeks later, the priest gave wheat from the new crop (Leviticus 23:17).
Verse 25 Amos said that the lack of rain was a warning from the *LORD. The *LORD was warning his people to return to him (Amos 4:6-8). Jeremiah believed that the lack of rain warned about the *LORD’s punishment. The people *sinned. Because of their *sins, the *LORD could not send his gifts to them.
Verses 26-28 Jeremiah uses the example of a hunter. The hunter sets a trap to catch birds. And he fills cages with the birds that he has caught. Some of the people were like that. They used wicked ways to obtain goods. Their houses were full of the things that they had taken. Both Amos and Micah had spoken against those kinds of people. Those people had cheated and they had robbed other people (Amos 2:6-7, Micah 6:10-12). But the wicked people in Judah continued to become rich. They continued to behave badly towards the poor people. To be fat showed that people were wealthy. Moses had said that people must not behave badly towards the widows. And people must not behave badly towards the children whose parents had died (Exodus 22:22). Isaiah had urged his people to be fair. They should protect the widows and the children who had no parents (Isaiah 1:17). Jeremiah said that about the poor people. They went to court to ask for their rights. But nobody helped them.
Verse 29 repeats Jeremiah 5:9. The *LORD had to punish those people. They had failed to obey him. They did not look after those people who needed help.
Verses 30-31 The *prophets told lies. They told the people that there would be peace. The *prophets said that nobody would attack the people. The *prophets said that the *LORD would not punish the people. So the *prophets encouraged bad behaviour. It is not clear whether ‘their authority’ refers to the authority of the priests. It may mean that the priests worked with the authority of the *prophets. Together they allowed the people not to obey the *LORD’s laws. Sometimes they insulted Jeremiah. And they tried to stop him so that he did not *prophesy (Jeremiah 18:18; 20:7-8). The priests and the *prophets allowed the easy way to live. And the people in Judah were very happy to accept that.
When the time for punishment came, the *prophets and the priests would realise their mistake. But it would be too late to change their behaviour. They would not know what to do.
Verse 1 Jeremiah warns his own *tribe called Benjamin. He warns them to run away from Jerusalem. Soon the enemy would surround them. The enemy would make the people give in to them. Tekoa was the village where Amos lived (Amos 1:1). It was about 5 miles (8 kilometres) south of Bethlehem. The *Hebrew word ‘Tekoa’ has the same letters as the word for ‘blow’. Probably the people would be safer in the area to the south of Jerusalem than in the city. Beth-Hakkerem was a city close to Jerusalem.
Armies used to light fires on high places to send messages. They also used to write messages on pieces of pot. Recently, people found a very old piece of pot in a place called Lachish. And it referred to a signal that people had sent by means of a fire.
Verses 2-3 Zion is another name for Jerusalem. It was a beautiful city. One translation says that Jerusalem was like a place with much grass round it. Animals fed there. The *shepherds refer to the rulers of the enemy. The sheep refer to their soldiers. They would put up their tents like *shepherds who were waiting to feed their sheep. Each soldier would decide where his place should be.
Verses 4-6 The *Babylonians told their armies to ‘prepare for battle. To ‘prepare’ meant that their *pagan priests gave *offerings to their false gods. They decided the right time to attack. Usually battles began in the morning when everything was ready. They continued until the evening. It was not usual to attack at night. So the enemy were eager to control Judah’s cities.
To destroy Jerusalem, the enemy would wait outside the walls. Then the people would not be able to leave the city to get help from outside. They could not obtain food. They would become so hungry that they would starve to death. The enemy built slopes of wood and earth against the walls. Then they could reach the weaker parts of the walls. They would use equipment to break down the walls. Then they would climb over the walls and go inside the city. The enemy would kill everyone and they would destroy everything. (The same thing happened to Jerusalem when the army from Rome attacked the city in *AD 70.) The *LORD would punish the city because the people in the city had behaved badly towards each other.
Verses 7-8 Water fills up a well all the time. The people in Judah continued to *sin all the time. They quarrelled and they caused trouble. The *LORD saw only disease and injury in their spirit. Jerusalem had to learn its lesson and had to change its behaviour. If it did not change, the *LORD will turn away from Jerusalem. He would make its country into a desert where nobody could live.
Verse 9 The enemy was like someone who was gathering *grapes. He made sure that none remained on the *vine. The *vine is the nation called Judah. That means that the enemy would try to destroy everyone. The *LORD promised in 4:27 that he would not destroy the country completely. Jeremiah must try to save the last few people.
Verse 10 It was very difficult for Jeremiah to warn the people. They did not want to listen to his message. They were not happy about what the *LORD was saying to them. Instead, his words annoyed them.
Verses 11-12 Wicked behaviour affected the whole society. So the *LORD was angry with everyone. He was angry with the men and the women, the young people and the old people. The children, who were playing in the streets, would have troubles. And the young people who liked to meet together would have troubles. The married adults and the old people would have troubles too. The people in Judah would not be able to keep all their property. Other people would take it. And they would lose their wives and their children.
Verses 13-15 Jeremiah 8:10-12 repeats these verses. Everyone wanted to become rich, so everyone was guilty. Their money was the most important thing for them. The *prophets and the priests were bad too. They cheated the people. And they told the people that they should not worry. The *prophets and the priests were like people who failed to give proper care to a serious injury. They should have told the people to turn back to the *LORD. But they encouraged the people to believe that the *LORD would not punish them. The *prophets and the priests had become so wicked that they did not feel any shame. They did not show on their faces any evidence that they felt guilty. So when the *LORD punished the nation, the *prophets and the priests would also have troubles. And they would die.
Verses 16-17 ‘The old paths’ were the laws that Moses had given to the *LORD’s people. The people had to walk along a good path. That meant that they had to obey the *LORD’s law. Then, the people could feel safe. It would give them a sense of peace. ‘The people who love your law have great peace’ (Psalm 119:165). Jesus told the people to walk with him. Then he would give rest (peace) to them (Matthew 11:29).
A *trumpet warned that danger was very near. Some men were responsible to warn people. The *LORD would punish the people for their *sins very soon (Ezekiel 3:16-21).
Verses 18-19 The *LORD wanted the nations and the earth to witness his punishment. He would punish the people who did not obey him. They did not listen to the *prophets. They refused to change their wicked behaviour.
Verse 20 The people had their *religious ceremonies. They thought that they pleased the *LORD in that way. Sheba was a country in South West Arabia. (Now it is called Yemen.) *Incense is a substance that the people burn in *religious ceremonies. It may have come from India. Priests priests burned it. Also they used it to make the holy oil (Exodus 30:23-25). The *Hebrew words suggest that its smoke was sweet. It showed that people’s prayers went up to the *LORD (Psalm 141:2, Revelation 5:8).
*Burnt offerings meant that the priests *sacrificed the whole animal. *Sacrifices meant that they gave only the best part of the animal. *Worshippers received the rest of the animal to eat. Those expensive ceremonies happened in the *Temple in Jerusalem. But *religious ceremonies alone have no value. The people could not have those ceremonies instead of correct behaviour. They had to obey the *LORD. Only right behaviour gives honour to the *LORD. Other *prophets said that also. It is better to obey the *LORD than to give *sacrifices (1 Samuel 15:22). Samuel told that to Saul. Isaiah said that the *LORD hated all Judah’s *sacrifices. The *LORD would not listen to their prayers because they were wicked people. And they did not help the poor people (Isaiah 1:10-17). Amos and Micah also emphasised what the *LORD wanted (Amos 5:21-24, Micah 6:6-8).
Verse 21 The *Hebrew words say that the *LORD put things in their way. People would trip over those things. This may refer to the soldiers of the enemy. Families and friends would die when the *LORD punished his people.
Verses 22-23 Jeremiah does not name the enemy from the north. But it may be the *Babylonians. Their army was efficient. They rode horses that made a noise as they rushed along. It was as loud as the noise of a stormy sea. They had more than one piece of equipment with which to fight. A bow was a piece of equipment that fired arrows. The sticks with sharp points were called spears. They were wooden poles with sharp metal points at the end. The enemy threw those spears as they rode along. Verse 25 mentions swords. Men used swords to cut and to kill people. The enemy was very cruel, and they pitied nobody.
These verses appear again in Jeremiah 50:42. But in that verse it is Babylon that would have troubles.
Verses 24-25 The people in Judah were very frightened. The reports about the enemy frightened them. The people in Judah felt that they had no power. They were suffering mental pain. It was as strong as the physical pain of a woman who was having a baby. There was nobody to protect them. Previously they had felt that it would be safer outside Jerusalem. Now it would be dangerous if they were outside the towns. And it would be dangerous on the roads. ‘Terror everywhere’ is a phrase that Jeremiah uses several times. He gave the name ‘Terror everywhere’ to Pashhur the priest. That priest tried to stop Jeremiah so that he did not *prophesy (Jeremiah 20:3). The words are also in Jeremiah 20:10; 46:5 and 49:29.
Verse 26 All the people in Judah wore rough cloth. That showed that they were sad. They also put ashes over themselves. People cried bitterly as if an only son died (Amos 8:10). They would have nobody to continue their family name. Many families would have no *descendants. The enemy would kill them. The enemy might end the whole nation.
Verses 27-29 People obtain metals or other valuable substances from a solid material called ore. To obtain pure metal they put the ore into a very hot fire. Lead (a metal) helps to remove dirt and other substances that have no value. Jeremiah’s work was like that of a refiner. A refiner is someone who tries to get a precious metal like silver out from the ore (Malachi 3:2-3). Jeremiah’s *prophecies were like the fire. They should have removed wrong things from the people. But the people were like types of metals called *bronze and iron. These metals are not precious like silver. Bronze, iron and lead were waste materials. Jeremiah tried to remove the wicked actions from the people. But he had no result. He could not make them like pure silver.
Verse 30 The people were like the rubbish that Jeremiah’s *prophecies had failed to remove. So the *LORD thought that they were like rubbish. He would have to punish them.
Jeremiah’s message came during the time when Jehoiakim was king. Jeremiah chapter 26 repeats this message. So Jeremiah may have given it on more than one occasion. Or maybe chapter 26 refers to the same event, but it shows the result of Jeremiah’s words.
Verses 1-4 Jeremiah stood in a place where a large number of people could hear him. It might have been at a special time when people came to *worship. It might have been at one of the three great *religious events in the year. These were called Unleavened Bread, First Fruits and Ingathering. Today we call these events Passover, Pentecost and Tabernacles (Exodus 23:14-16, Leviticus 23:4-21; 33-43).
The *Hebrew words in verse 3 may mean, ‘I will allow you to live in this place’. If so, it may refer to the country that the *LORD had given to his people. Also it may refer to Jerusalem and the *Temple. Three times the people repeated, ‘This is the *Temple of the *LORD’. It emphasised what they believed. They had the *Temple. So they thought that no enemy could defeat them. The *LORD had chosen Jerusalem as his home on earth (Psalm 132:13-14). He had promised to David a *kingdom for always (2 Samuel 7:12-13). The *LORD had protected Jerusalem from the *Assyrians when Hezekiah was king (Isaiah 37:33-37). But the words ‘the *Temple of the *LORD’ had no meaning if the people did not obey the *LORD. Some people may have thought that the words would protect them. But the words were not magic. The people had to change the way that they lived. Then the *LORD would *bless them.
Verses 5-11 These verses describe the laws that the people in Judah had not obeyed. And 5 of the laws are from the *LORD’s 10 *commandments (Exodus chapter 20). The people thought that they would be safe in the *Temple. But they were not safe there. They were using the *Temple like ‘a cave from which the people go out to steal’. Jesus remembered these words. He was angry that the people used the *Temple in the wrong way (Matthew 21:13).
Verses 12-15 The people from Judah should have learned from their history. Shiloh was a town north of Jerusalem. When the people arrived in the country, they put the special tent in the town called Shiloh (Joshua 18:1). The tent contained the box of the *covenant. The people went to *worship at Shiloh when Eli was the priest (1 Samuel 1:3). The *Philistines destroyed Shiloh in about 1050 *BC. The people who dig up ancient places have found the evidence for this. The *LORD could do the same things to Jerusalem that he had done to Shiloh. He had warned his people many times about their wicked behaviour. But they had refused to listen. So the *LORD could send them away from their own country. Already he had sent the people from the northern *kingdom of Israel into Assyria in 721 *BC. Ephraim was another name for Israel. Shiloh was in the territory of Israel.
Verses 16-20 The *LORD told Jeremiah not to pray for his people. They had continued to *worship false gods. They were unlikely to change so Jeremiah’s prayers would be a waste of time. ‘The Queen of Heaven’ was probably the moon, a star, or the female false god called Ishtar or Astarte. The *Jews continued to *worship her in Egypt after the army from Babylon had destroyed Jerusalem (Jeremiah chapter 44). Whole families involved themselves in that religion. The children looked for wood. The fathers made the fire. The women made the cakes to give to the female false god. The cakes were in the shape of a star, moon or female false god. Or they had the image of a star, moon or female false god on them. King Josiah had tried to stop the people so that they did not *worship the Queen of Heaven (2 Kings 23:4-6). But they never stopped.
The people’s *sin would cause their troubles. The *LORD was so angry that he would destroy the whole nation. The people and the animals would die. His anger would affect the trees and the crops.
Verses 21-23 For a burnt *offering, the priests burnt the whole animal. For *sacrifices they gave only the best part of the animal. And the people who brought the animal received back the rest of it. Then they could eat it (compare Jeremiah 6:20). But the *LORD said that they should eat the *burnt offerings too. The people had not changed their behaviour. So, none of their *offerings had any value. After their *ancestors left Egypt, the *LORD gave laws to them. He told them how to behave. Moses put up a ‘Meeting Tent’. Then the *LORD told the people how they should give their *sacrifices. But he would *bless them only if they behaved in the right way.
Verses 24-28 The people had no excuse for their behaviour. From the time that they left Egypt, the *LORD continued to warn them. The *prophets had told them regularly what the *LORD wanted. But the people refused to listen. Their behaviour was worse than the behaviour of their *ancestors.
The *LORD warned Jeremiah that his work would be difficult. The people had not listened to the *LORD’s servants before Jeremiah came. And the people did not listen to the *LORD’s servants after Jeremiah. But it was his task to warn the people. They were not loyal to the *LORD. Their *ancestors had said, ‘We will do all that the *LORD has said’ (Exodus 19:8). But the people in Judah did not carry out that promise.
Verse 29 The people in Judah ought to behave like sad people. People cut off their hair to show that they were sad. They did that when someone had died (Job 1:20). The people called Nazirites let their hair grow long. It showed that they had given their lives to the *LORD. They cut their hair if they did not continue to serve him. The people from Judah did not want to serve the *LORD. They had to sing a sad song, like a funeral song. It would be the ‘funeral’ of their nation. The bare hills were the places where they had *worshipped false gods.
Verses 30-31 During the time that Manasseh was king, people put full size images of their false gods in the *Temple (2 Kings 21:5). That meant that the *Temple was not holy. It insulted the *LORD. It suggested that he was not the King of Israel. ‘Topheth’ probably means ‘fire place’. When Manasseh was king, some people burnt their children there as a *sacrifice. And they gave the *sacrifice to the false god called Molech (2 Kings 23:10). The law forbade the *sacrifice of a child (Leviticus 18:21). Ben Hinnom was probably the name of a former owner of the valley. It became the place where people of Jerusalem threw their rubbish. Its name appears in the *New Testament as ‘Gehenna’. It became the name for hell, the place for punishment.
Verses 32-33 When the enemy attacked Jerusalem, very many people would die. There would not be room to bury all the dead bodies in Topheth. The people thought that it was terrible to leave a body without a grave. (It is still true today. People want to bury a human body properly. This is true even when nobody knows the name of the dead person.) There would not be enough people who remained alive, to bury all the bodies. The birds and the animals would eat the bodies.
Verse 34 All sounds of normal, happy life would disappear. Even the happiness of a wedding would not exist. The land would become a desert.
Verses 1-3 The enemy would open all the graves and take out the bones. Maybe the enemy hoped to find something valuable that people had buried with the bodies. But perhaps they would do it as an insult to the people that they had defeated. The enemy would leave the bones lying on the ground. The bones would be there in the day and at night. But the star, the moon and the sun gods had no power. They were false gods. They did not help the people who had *worshipped them. The bones would lie on the ground like animal rubbish. (People used animal rubbish to make crops grow.) There, nobody would bury the bones again.
Verse 3 It would be a terrible time. Nobody would want to remain alive.
Verses 4-7 People usually learn from their mistakes. But the people in Judah were on the way to punishment. A horse goes fast when it charges straight into a battle. That emphasises how the people in Judah refused to change their behaviour. Judah continued to *sin and they did not stop. Jeremiah uses the words ‘turn’ and ‘return’ many times. Storks, doves, swifts and thrushes are all birds that know where to go during the winter. They know when to fly to another country where it is warmer. They obey the natural desire that the *LORD has given to them. But the people in Judah do not obey the laws that the *LORD gave to guide them.
Verses 8-9 Often the people who taught the law are called scribes. They had to explain to the people what the law meant. The teachers came from groups of families (1 Chronicles 2:55). They were present during the time when Josiah was the king (2 Chronicles 34:13). But they were explaining the *LORD’s laws wrongly. They were causing people to *sin. The *LORD would show that the teachers were not very wise. He would punish them. In the *New Testament, Jesus called the scribes (teachers) ‘blind guides’. Often they showed the people the wrong way to behave (Matthew 23:13-24).
Verses 10-12 repeat what Jeremiah had said in Jeremiah 6:12-15. He had blamed the *religious leaders for their lies. And he had described what would happen to them and to the other greedy people.
Verse 13 The *vine and the *fig tree are the signs of the nation of Judah. *Grapes and *figs are fruits. They refer to the good things that the people should be doing (Jeremiah 6:9). But there was no fruit. There were no good deeds at all in Judah. So the *LORD would take away their nation.
Verses 14-16 describe the desperate fear that the people in Judah felt. They were so afraid that they wanted to rush back to the cities with walls. ‘Poisonous water’ describes the difficulties that the people expected. They realised that they had not been loyal to the *LORD. So they did not expect good things to happen. But they were hoping that the enemy would not attack them. They heard the rapid approach of a large army. Horses make a loud noise when they blow hard through their noses. Dan was at the northern end of Israel. But the sound of horses was frightening people in the whole country. The people knew that the enemy would destroy everyone and everything.
Verse 17 The enemy was as dangerous as poisonous snakes. Jeremiah may have remembered the time when the snakes were the evidence of the *LORD’s punishment. It happened to the *Israelites in the *desert (Numbers 21:6-9). But the *LORD made a way to heal those people. Now there was no way that anyone could stop the enemy. The enemy would attack them and kill them.
Verses 8:18-22 These verses show the great mental pain that Jeremiah felt. He saw what had happened. And he knew what was going to happen to his people. He was loyal to the *LORD. But he felt mental pain when his people in Judah had troubles.
Verse 19 Jeremiah imagined the *LORD’s people who were in Babylon. They were wondering why the *LORD had allowed the enemy to destroy their city. The *LORD’s answer was that they had made him angry. They had *worshipped *idols that were of no use.
Verse 20 The wheat harvest was usually from April to June. Then from July to August, the people gathered the harvest of fruits. If both the wheat harvest and the fruit harvest failed, there would be a serious lack of food. These words were probably a popular way to describe a hopeless situation. There was no way to escape from the situation. Nobody would rescue them.
Verse 22 The region called Gilead was to the south of the sea of Galilee. It was famous for its type of medicine called balm. Balm, which came from small trees, was oil. It had a pleasant smell. People used it to ease pain. It also helped to heal injuries. ‘My people’ are the words that both Jeremiah and the *LORD use. Balm could heal a physical injury. But the health of Judah’s spirit would not improve if they did not return to the *LORD.
Verse 1 Jeremiah was very sad about the death of his own people. He wished that he had a well of water in his head. Then he could weep all the time for the people that the enemy had killed.
Verse 2 Jeremiah wept on behalf of his people. But their behaviour disgusted him so much that he wanted to leave them. He wanted to find a lonely place in which to stay. Then he would be away from all the people who were not loyal to the *LORD. They were like women who left their husbands. They had not done what they had promised. The people made a *covenant with the *LORD when they were with him at *Mount Sinai. They had promised to obey him. But they failed to obey him. They started to *worship false gods.
Verses 3-6 These verses describe how all the people were not sincere. Their lies were like arrows. Arrows can destroy the body. But lies destroy friendships between people. Even members of the same family could not trust each other. Verse 4 says that every brother cheats like Jacob. He cheated his brother Esau (Genesis 27:36). Actually, the people had taught themselves to lie. Their *sins were so many that they had made themselves very tired. So it had become difficult to change their behaviour. Verse 3 says that they did not take any notice of the *LORD. Verse 6 shows that the situation was worse. They refused to take any notice of the *LORD.
Verses 7-9 The *LORD said that he would make his people *clean. And he would test them (Jeremiah 6:27-30). Now the *LORD says that he would act like a refiner. A refiner burns the dirty substances away from valuable metals. He then tests to see whether he has the pure metal. This describes how the people in Judah would have difficulties. They were so wicked that the *LORD could do nothing else. The people spoke in a friendly way to their neighbours. However, they made plans to cause trouble to their neighbours. The *LORD had no choice. He had to punish the nation that was not honest.
Verse 10 Jeremiah was sad as he thought about his country. Judah’s *sin affected everything that lived there. ‘Fields’ refer to all the places where animals can find food. The fields in the *desert provided very little food. But even they had dried up. People would no longer travel through such a lonely place. There would be no animals there. And even the birds had flown away.
Verse 11 ‘I will’. This means that these are the *LORD’s words. All the buildings in Jerusalem would be just piles of stones. Nobody would be able to live in any of the towns in Judah. The small animals are called wild dogs. They eat dead animals. Nothing else would be able to live there.
Verses 12-14 These verses give an explanation for the punishment in verses 10-11. The *LORD’s people had not obeyed the *covenant that they had made at *Mount Sinai. Instead, they thought that the *Baals would give them their crops.
Verses 15-16 These words describe the *LORD’s punishment. The people must ‘eat bitter food’ and ‘drink poisonous water’. Those words mean that they would have great troubles and difficulties. The *LORD would send them into *exile. They would live among people whom they had never met. *Exile was one of the results of *sin. You can read about it in Deuteronomy 28:64-67. Because Judah refused to obey the *LORD, he would send the enemy. Then the enemy would pursue the people from Judah and would kill them in war.
Verses 17-20 When someone died, professional singers arrived. They sang sad songs. They cried loudly and they wept. (In Mark 5:38 Jesus had to make some women like that leave Jairus’s house. They were crying loudly because Jairus’s daughter had died.) Jeremiah says that the women should weep loudly. The enemy had destroyed Judah and Jerusalem. The people would go into *exile. The women should teach those sad songs to their daughters. Perhaps their daughters would have to weep for their mothers. Their mothers might die when the enemy attacked.
Verses 21-22 So many people would die. Death is like a person who can go anywhere. Nothing can stop death when it enters private houses. Death is like a thief that climbs in through a window. A story from the country called Canaan describes death in a similar way. Death can get into cities with strong walls. People of all ages would die. Children, who play in the streets, would die. Young men, who meet each other in the market place, would die. There would be so many bodies that they would be like rubbish on the fields. Death is like a farmer who cuts down his corn at harvest time. There is nobody to pick up the corn. And there would be nobody to pick up the dead bodies. Nobody would bury them.
Verses 23-24 Usually you praise yourself so that other people will admire you. The Pharisee (*religious leader) in Jesus’ story praised himself about the way that he carried out his religion (Luke 18:10-12). Wisdom, strength and wealth may be valuable if people use them in the right way. But you should not praise yourself if you have them. It is far more valuable to know the *LORD. Then you will understand that he is always loyal and kind. He is fair. He always does the right things. Abraham prayed ‘Always the Judge of all the earth will do what is right’ (Genesis 18:25). The *LORD is very pleased with these qualities. He wants all his people to have them as well.
Verse 25 The *LORD never intended that *circumcision should be only a physical act. It should show that the nation gave honour to the *LORD as their King. The *LORD’s people must obey him (Genesis 17:9-14). ‘To *circumcise the heart’ meant to obey the *LORD’s laws (Deuteronomy 10:16-20).
Verse 26 The nations in this verse may have intended to fight against Babylon. They all used *circumcision. But it was only a physical act. Judah did not obey the *LORD so Judah was no better than its *pagan neighbours. The people who lived in the *desert were *tribes of Arabs. They shaved a part of their hair. They did that to give honour to the false god called Bacchus. Or they did it to show that they were not happy. The people in Judah must not copy a *pagan ceremony when they were sad (Deuteronomy 14:1-2). The law forbade that act (Leviticus 19:27).
These verses are very similar to Isaiah 40:18-20 and 44:12-20. Both *prophets showed that the people were foolish. They did not *worship the powerful God who created the world. Instead, the people *worshiped objects that were not alive.
Verses 1-2 Some nations *worshipped the sun, the moon and the stars. So any unusual event in the sky made them afraid. The people in Judah had no reason to be afraid. Jeremiah showed that the images of *pagan false gods gave no help.
Verses 3-4 He describes the hard work to make an *idol. People had to cut down a tree. Then a skilful worker had to use some of the wood. He shaped it with his sharp tool into a figure. Other people made it beautiful. They covered the wood with silver and gold. Then they fastened the *idol to the ground so that it did not fall over.
Verse 5 Jeremiah shows that those *idols are of no use. They cannot speak. They cannot walk. They stand like silent objects in the shape of a person. These objects are called scarecrows. People use scarecrows to scare birds away from their fields. The vegetables are called cucumbers. They are long green fruit that have white juice inside them. *Idols are not alive because they are just pieces of wood. They cannot do anything for people. *Idols cannot hurt people. Neither can they do good things for people. So the people in Judah should not respect *idols.
Verses 6-7 The *LORD is great and powerful. He is the king who rules every nation. So people should respect him. And they should obey him. There is nobody to compare with the *LORD among both the wisest men and their rulers. That contrasts with the *idols who could give no help.
Verses 8-9 The people who tried to learn from pieces of wood were foolish. Tarshish may be Tartessus in Spain, which sent silver to the town called Tyre (Ezekiel 27:12). Uphaz may refer to a region that we do not know now. However, it may not refer to a place. It may mean that the gold was of the purest quality. The *idol may have been very attractive. But it was only something that a man had made.
Verse 10 The *LORD is the only real God. The *idols are false gods. The *LORD is alive. The false gods are not alive. The *LORD is the King who rules for always. A wooden *idol does not last. When the *LORD is angry, he can make the earth shake. When the *LORD judges the nations, they will not continue.
Verse 11 This verse interrupts the poem that praises the *LORD. The verse is in the Aramaic language. It became the common language for many people in Western Asia. Some teachers think that a scribe (a person who copies books) or an editor added the remark later. It may have been a warning that people knew. It was a warning against many false gods.
Verses 12-16 appear again in Jeremiah 51:15-19
Verses 12-13 The *LORD is powerful and wise. In contrast, *idols are weak and foolish. The *LORD created the earth. And he ‘spread out the heavens like a tent’ (Psalm 104:2). The loud noise that follows the lightning is called thunder. The *prophet describes it as the *LORD’s voice. A storm is the result of the *LORD’s action. He calls up the clouds. He sends the lightning with the rain. He also sends the wind. The storm is the *LORD’s work. *Baal cannot make a storm happen.
Verses 14-15 Some people know the *LORD. This means that they have a relationship with him. Those people who do not have a relationship with the *LORD are foolish. The worker used gold to make an *idol. But the *idol is not real because it is not alive. It is false. Some people may laugh at it. The *idol will bring shame on its maker. At the time of punishment the *LORD would destroy those *worthless *idols.
Verse 16 The *LORD gave Jacob the name ‘Israel’ (Genesis 32:22-32). ‘The God of Jacob’ means ‘the God of Israel’. *Old Testament writers use the names Jacob and Israel to refer to the same nation. An example is, ‘You, Israel, are my servant, Jacob whom I have chosen’ (Isaiah 41:8). The people in Israel are the *LORD’s special people. He loves and protects them. Israel is the *LORD’s servant. The people should love and obey the *LORD. He is the powerful ruler of everything.
Verses 17-18 These verses may refer to the time before the *Babylonian army attacked Jerusalem in 597 *BC. The *LORD would throw the people from Judah out of their own country. The enemy would take them away as prisoners. So they had to pick up the few things that they could carry with them. There are pictures in Assyria that people painted on walls a long time ago. In the pictures, prisoners are carrying bundles on their heads.
Verses 19-21 Jeremiah is sad because of his people. He speaks as if the nation has an injury. And it is an injury that nobody could heal. It is also like a tent. The tent had fallen down because its thick strings had broken. Jeremiah accepts what is happening. But he blamed the nation’s leaders, whom he calls *shepherds. He refers to kings and to other officials. They had been of no use. They had not asked the *LORD for advice. Instead, they had been stupid enough to ask the *Baals to help (Jeremiah 2:8). So the enemy would scatter the people, in the same way that wolves (wild animals) scatter sheep.
Verse 22 The people could hear the noise of the enemy. It was preparing to march from Babylon. Their army would destroy the towns in Judah, so that they would be empty. Only wild animals would live in them.
Verse 23 Jeremiah prays for his nation. But he knows that the *LORD must punish the people. He may mean that only the *LORD decides a person’s fate. People may be proud. They may think that whatever happens is their own decision. Also Jeremiah may mean that people have a moral weakness. They cannot do right things all the time.
Verse 24 There are two ideas about punishment. One idea is that it should be severe. It should punish a crime. Ezekiel 30:14-19 describes how the *LORD destroyed proud Egypt. But the other idea is that punishment should correct someone for their own benefit. ‘The *LORD corrects the people whom he loves’ (Proverbs 3:12). Jeremiah asks the *LORD for punishment that will not be severe. He asks the *LORD to be patient when he punished Judah. Jeremiah knew that the *LORD must punish Judah. But he prayed that the *LORD would not destroy the nation completely. The *LORD had to punish Judah in order to teach the people.
Verse 25 This prayer is in Psalm 79:6-7. The nations who did not obey the *LORD deserved the *LORD’s punishment. That is what people believed. The nations had attacked Israel for many years, and they had destroyed the country. Egypt, Assyria, Edom and Syria were some of those enemies. Sometimes the *LORD used a nation to punish his own people. Assyria had been the *LORD’s tool to show that the *LORD was angry at Israel (Isaiah 7:18-20). But Assyria itself deserved the *LORD’s punishment. It had become so proud and cruel (Isaiah 37:22-29).
Jeremiah knew that Judah had failed to obey the *LORD. So Judah was no better than the other nations, who had never made a *covenant with the *LORD.
AD ~ refers to the years after Christ was born.
ancestors ~ members of your family who lived in the past.
Assyrian ~ people who live in, or come from, the country called Assyria; anything connected with Assyria.
Baal ~ a local false god. People thought that these false gods made crops grow.
Babylonian ~ people who live in, or come from, the country called Babylon; anything connected with Babylon.
BC ~ refers to the years before Christ was born.
bless ~ to say or to do good things to a person.
blessings ~ the good things that God gives to us or that he does for us.
bronze ~ a brown metal that is a mixture of two metals called copper and tin.
burnt offerings ~ see ‘offerings’
circumcise/ circumcision ~ to cut off the loose skin from the end of the male sex part. For the *Jews it was the evidence of God’s *covenant with them.
clean ~ suitable for God or for God’s people; pure in thought and action. A clean person could go to *worship God. In the Old Testament many things could make a person *unclean. The *Israelites could not eat animals that God called *unclean.
commandments ~ the 10 important commands or rules that God gave to Moses on *Mount Sinai
covenant ~ the special promise that the *LORD made to his people, the *Israelites. The *LORD’s covenant with the *Israelites established a special relationship between him and them. But they had to obey him.
descendants ~ members of your family who live after you live.
desert ~ a wild place where there are small bushes and not much water. It has poor soil and people cannot produce crops there.
exile ~ absence from the country where usually you live. Usually somebody forces a person to go into exile.
fig ~ a small fruit with many seeds inside it; the tree that produces these fruits.
grapes ~ the fruit of a plant called a *vine. People eat grapes. Also they use grapes to make wine.
Hebrew ~ the language in which the authors wrote the *Old Testament. The language that the *Israelites spoke. Another name for a *Jew or for an *Israelite.
idol ~ an image of a false god that people *worship instead of the *LORD.
incense ~ a substance that gives a sweet smell when people burn it.
Israelites ~ people from the nation called Israel; another name for the *Jews.
Jew ~ a *descendant of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
LORD ~ a special name for God. In the *Hebrew Bible it translates the word YHWH. Probably YHWH (Yahweh) means ‘he is always alive’.
mount ~ another name for mountain.
New Testament ~ the last part of the Bible that the writers wrote after the life of Jesus.
offering ~ a gift to please the
*LORD or a false god.
burnt offering ~ the *Israelite priest burnt the whole animal on the *altar
Old Testament ~ the first part of the Bible that the writers wrote before the life of Jesus.
pagan ~ a person who loves a false god or false gods; something that has a connection with a false god.
Philistines ~ a nation that fought against the people in Israel and in Judah.
prophecy/prophecies ~ the words that a *prophet speaks or writes.
prophesy ~ to speak or write about things that will happen in the future; to speak on behalf of God or on behalf of a false god.
prophet ~ a person who declares God's message.
prostitute ~ a person who sells their body for sex.
religious ~ something that has a connection with religion.
sacrifice ~ an *offering to God or to false gods. The *Israelites had to give sacrifices to the *LORD when they asked him to forgive their *sins. Usually the priest had to kill a special animal and burn it on the *altar. Sometimes *pagans killed a child as a sacrifice.
shepherds ~ men who look after sheep. Sometimes leaders in Israel were called shepherds.
sin ~ when a person does or says bad things against God or against other people; the bad things that a person does or says when they do not obey God.
temple ~ a building where people *worship a false god.
Temple ~ the most important building in Jerusalem where the *Jews *worshipped God.
tribe ~ group of people that have the same *ancestor.
trumpet ~ a musical instrument that people blow into to make a sound; men used it to sound an alarm for war.
unclean ~ not *clean; unsuitable for God or for God’s people. When somebody was unclean that person was unable to go and to *worship God.
vine ~ the plant on which *grapes grow.
vineyard ~ the place where *vines grow.
worship ~ to show honour to God or to a false god. People may sing or pray when they worship. Or they may kneel or give a gift to God.
worthless ~ of no value.
yoke ~ a piece of wood that goes across the neck of an animal when it pulls a plough or a cart; a way to describe how a king has control over a nation.
R.K. Harrison ~ Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries: Jeremiah and Lamentations ~ Tyndale Press 1973
Derek Kidner ~ The Bible Speaks Today: The Message of Jeremiah ~ IVP 2003 reprint
Alan Millard ~ Discoveries from Bible Times ~ Lion Publishing 1997
J A Thompson ~ New International Commentary on the *Old Testament: The Book of Jeremiah ~ Eerdmans 1980
Concise Oxford Chambers 21st Century
Thesaurus ~ Geddes and Grosset ~ 1999
New International Version ~1st published 1979
New International Readers Version ~ 1998
New International Version Study Bible ~ 1987
New English Bible ~ 1970
Jerusalem Bible ~ 1974
Today's English Version ~ 1976
© 2014, Wycliffe Associates (UK)
This publication is in EasyEnglish Level B (2800 words).
Visit our website: www.easyenglish.bible