The word that came to Jeremiah from the LORD, saying,
The prophecy contained in Jeremiah 11-12 seems to belong to an early period of Jeremiah's life. The covenant Jeremiah 11:2 was that renewed by Josiah in his 18th year, after the discovery of the Book of the Law in the temple 2 Kings 23:3; while Jeremiah 11:13 apparently refers to the public establishment of idolatry by Manasseh Jeremiah 21:3. The people took no hearty part in Josiah's reformation, and the prophet therefore sets before them the consequences that will inevitably fellow upon their disloyalty to their covenant-God. The prophecy was probably called forth by the conspiracy of the men of Judah and of his own relatives of Anathoth to murder Jeremiah Jer 11:18-23; Jeremiah 12:1-6, for such deeds, which but too well represented the nation's whole course, punishment must come, if unrepented of.
Hear ye the words of this covenant, and speak unto the men of Judah, and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem;
The words of this covenant - The phrase used 2 Kings 23:3 to describe the contents of the Book of the Law.
And say thou unto them, Thus saith the LORD God of Israel; Cursed be the man that obeyeth not the words of this covenant,
Which I commanded your fathers in the day that I brought them forth out of the land of Egypt, from the iron furnace, saying, Obey my voice, and do them, according to all which I command you: so shall ye be my people, and I will be your God:
From the iron furnace - Rather, out of "the iron furnace," Egypt (see Deuteronomy 4:20). The constant reference to Deuteronomy shows how great had been the effect upon Jeremiah's mind of the public recitation of the "Book of the covenant" found in the temple.
That I may perform the oath which I have sworn unto your fathers, to give them a land flowing with milk and honey, as it is this day. Then answered I, and said, So be it, O LORD.
As it is this day - God had kept the terms of the covenant. Whether the promised land would permanently remain the property of the Jews would depend upon their observance of their part of the covenant.
So be it, O Lord - Or, "Amen, Yahweh." The prophet was literally obeying the command given in Deuteronomy 27:14-26, and the same word should be kept in both places.
Then the LORD said unto me, Proclaim all these words in the cities of Judah, and in the streets of Jerusalem, saying, Hear ye the words of this covenant, and do them.
Proclaim ... - Probably Jeremiah accompanied Josiah in his progress 2 Kings 23:15-20, and everywhere read to the people the words of the newly-found book.
For I earnestly protested unto your fathers in the day that I brought them up out of the land of Egypt, even unto this day, rising early and protesting, saying, Obey my voice.
Yet they obeyed not, nor inclined their ear, but walked every one in the imagination of their evil heart: therefore I will bring upon them all the words of this covenant, which I commanded them to do; but they did them not.
I will bring - Rather, I have brought. The breach of the covenant upon their part had always brought temporal calamity. The last examples were the deportation of the ten tribes by Salmanezer, and the leading of Manasseh prisoner to Babylon in chains (2 Chronicles 33:11).
And the LORD said unto me, A conspiracy is found among the men of Judah, and among the inhabitants of Jerusalem.
A conspiracy - The defection from the covenant was as general as if it had been the result of preconcerted arrangement. The decided course taken by Josiah may, however, have led the opposite party to secret combinations against him.
They are turned back to the iniquities of their forefathers, which refused to hear my words; and they went after other gods to serve them: the house of Israel and the house of Judah have broken my covenant which I made with their fathers.
Their forefathers - literally, "their fathers, the first ones:" in allusion to the idolatries committed in the wilderness, and by the generations whose history is given in the Book of Judges.
And they went after - Rather, yea! they have walked "after other gods to serve them." The "they" refers to the men of Jeremiah's day.
Therefore thus saith the LORD, Behold, I will bring evil upon them, which they shall not be able to escape; and though they shall cry unto me, I will not hearken unto them.
I will bring - Or, am bringing.
Then shall the cities of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem go, and cry unto the gods unto whom they offer incense: but they shall not save them at all in the time of their trouble.
For according to the number of thy cities were thy gods, O Judah; and according to the number of the streets of Jerusalem have ye set up altars to that shameful thing, even altars to burn incense unto Baal.
That shameful thing - i. e., Baal; public establishment of idolatry, such as actually took place in the reign of Manasseh (2 Chronicles 33:3. Contrast 2 Kings 18:4).
Therefore pray not thou for this people, neither lift up a cry or prayer for them: for I will not hear them in the time that they cry unto me for their trouble.
A parenthesis. As in Jeremiah 7:16, all intercession is forbidden, and for this reason. Prayer for others for the forgiveness of their sins avails only when they also pray. The cry of the people now was that of the guilty smarting under punishment, not of the penitent mourning over sin.
What hath my beloved to do in mine house, seeing she hath wrought lewdness with many, and the holy flesh is passed from thee? when thou doest evil, then thou rejoicest.
This passage, like Isaiah 1:12, rebukes the inconsistency of Judah's public worship of Yahweh with their private immorality and preference for idolatry. Translate it: "What hath My beloved in My house to practice guile there? The great men and the holy flesh (i. e., the sacrifices) shall pass away from thee."
The LORD called thy name, A green olive tree, fair, and of goodly fruit: with the noise of a great tumult he hath kindled fire upon it, and the branches of it are broken.
The "goodly" or "shapely fruit," signifies the righteousness and faith which ought to have been the result of Israel's possession of extraordinary privileges. The tree did not bear this fruit, and God now destroys it by a thunderstorm.
For the LORD of hosts, that planted thee, hath pronounced evil against thee, for the evil of the house of Israel and of the house of Judah, which they have done against themselves to provoke me to anger in offering incense unto Baal.
And the LORD hath given me knowledge of it, and I know it: then thou shewedst me their doings.
Rather, "gave me knowledge of it, and I knew it." Jeremiah shows Jeremiah 11:18-23, that the general conspiracy of the people against Yahweh and the special plot against himself was revealed to him by God.
But I was like a lamb or an ox that is brought to the slaughter; and I knew not that they had devised devices against me, saying, Let us destroy the tree with the fruit thereof, and let us cut him off from the land of the living, that his name may be no more remembered.
Like a lamb or an ox - Rather, "like a tame lamb." Jeremiah had lived at Anathoth as one of the family, never suspecting that, like a tame lamb, the time would come for him to be killed.
The tree with the fruit thereof - The words are those of a proverb or dark saying. All the Churches agree in understanding that under the person of Jeremiah these things are said by Christ.
But, O LORD of hosts, that judgest righteously, that triest the reins and the heart, let me see thy vengeance on them: for unto thee have I revealed my cause.
Therefore thus saith the LORD of the men of Anathoth, that seek thy life, saying, Prophesy not in the name of the LORD, that thou die not by our hand:
Therefore thus saith the LORD of hosts, Behold, I will punish them: the young men shall die by the sword; their sons and their daughters shall die by famine:
The young men - i. e., those of the legal age for military service.
And there shall be no remnant of them: for I will bring evil upon the men of Anathoth, even the year of their visitation.
No remnant - 128 men of Anathoth returned from exile Ezra 2:23; Nehemiah 7:27. Jeremiah's denunciation was limited to those who had sought his life. The year of their visitation would be the year of the siege of Jerusalem, when Anathoth being in its immediate vicinity would have its share of the horrors of war.