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Jeremiah 6


(The parentheses represent poetic literary units)

Destruction of Jerusalem Impending Impending Destruction From the North The Corruptions for Which Judgment Is Coming


Jerusalem Is Surrounded By Enemies More About Invasion
6:1-5 6:1-15
      Rebellious Israel  
Israel Rejects God's Way  
  6:16a 6:16-21
The Enemy From the North (21)   Invasion From the North  
6:22-23 6:22-26


READING CYCLE THREE (see introductory section)


This is a study guide commentary,which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

Read the chapter in one sitting. Identify the subjects (reading cycle #3). Compare your subject divisions with the five translations above. Paragraphing is not inspired, but it is the key to following the original author's intent, which is the heart of interpretation. Every paragraph has one and only one subject.

1. First paragraph

2. Second paragraph

3. Third paragraph

4. Etc.



A. This continues the condemnation of Judah's sins. She had a witness in

1. Scripture

2. the prophets

3. the fall of Israel

but she would not repent.


B. This chapter has many commands.

1. vv. 1-8 - YHWH sends an invader from the north

a. flee for safety, v. 1 - BDB 731, KB 797, Hiphil imperative

b. blow a trumpet, v. 1 - BDB 1075, KB 1785, Qal imperative

c. raise a signal, v. 1 - BDB 669, KB 724, Qal imperative

d. prepare war (lit. "sanctify"), v. 4 - BDB 872, KB 1073, Piel imperative

e. arise, v. 4 - BDB 877, KB 1086, Qal imperative

f. let us attack, v. 4 - BDB 748, KB 828, Qal imperfect used in a cohortative sense

g. arise, v. 5 - same as e

h. let us attack, v. 5 - same as f

i. destroy, v. 5 - BDB 1007, KB 1469, Hiphil cohortative

j. cut down, v. 6 - BDB 503, KB 500, Qal imperative

k. cast up (lit. "pour out,"), v. 6 - BDB 1049, KB 1629, Qal imperative

l. be warned, v. 8 - BDB 415, KB 418, Niphal imperative

2. vv. 9-15 - YHWH's wrath burst forth

a. pass your hand, v. 9 - BDB 996, KB 1427, Hiphil imperative

b. speak, v. 10 - BDB 180, KB 210, Piel cohortative

c. give warning, v. 10 - BDB 729, KB 795, Hiphil cohortative

d. hear, v. 10 - BDB 1033, KB 1570, Qal imperfect used in a jussive sense

e. pour, v. 11 - BDB 1049, KB 1629, Qal imperative

3. vv. 16-21 - possibly one of Jeremiah's sermons

a. stand by, v. 16 - BDB 763, KB 840, Qal imperative

b. see, v. 16 - BDB 906, KB 1157, Qal imperative

c. ask, v. 16 - BDB 981, KB 1371, Qal imperative

d. walk, v. 16 - BDB 229, KB 246, Qal imperative

e. find, v. 16 - BDB 592, KB 619, Qal imperative

f. listen, v. 17 - BDB 904, KB 1151, Hiphil imperative

g. hear, v. 18 - BDB 1033, KB 1570, Qal imperative

h. know, v. 18 - BDB 393, KB 390, Qal imperative

i. hear, v. 18 - same as g

4. vv. 22-26 - The invader comes!

a. go out (negated), v. 25 - BDB 422, KB 425, Qal imperfect used in a jussive sense

b. walk (negated), v. 25 - BDB 229, KB 246, Qal imperfect used in a jussive sense

c. put on, v. 26 - BDB 291, KB 291, Qal imperative

d. roll, v. 26 - BDB 814, KB 935, Hithpael imperative

e. mourn, v. 26 - BDB 793, KB 889, Qal imperative

5. vv. 27-30 - YHWH's message to Jeremiah (much like 1:18) has no imperatives


C. Notice the different titles for the covenant people (esp. Jerusalem).

1. "sons of Benjamin," v. 1

2. "the daughter of Zion," vv. 2, 23

3. "Jerusalem" vv. 6,8

4. "the remnant of Israel," v. 9

5. "My people," vv. 14, 27

6. "O daughter of my people," v. 26


D. Notice the names for YHWH.

1. "the Lord of hosts," vv. 6,9

2. "the Lord," vv. 10, 11, 12, 15, 16, 21, 22, 30




1"Flee for safety, O sons of Benjamin,
From the midst of Jerusalem!
Now blow a trumpet in Tekoa
And raise a signal over Beth-haccerem;
For evil looks down from the north,
And a great destruction.
2The comely and dainty one, the daughter of Zion, I will cut off.
3Shepherds and their flocks will come to her,
They will pitch their tents around her,
They will pasture each in his place.
4Prepare war against her;
Arise, and let us attack at noon.
Woe to us, for the day declines,
For the shadows of the evening lengthen!
5Arise, and let us attack by night
And destroy her palaces!"
6For thus says the Lord of hosts,
"Cut down her trees
And cast up a siege against Jerusalem.
This is the city to be punished,
In whose midst there is only oppression.
7As a well keeps its waters fresh,
So she keeps fresh her wickedness.
Violence and destruction are heard in her;
Sickness and wounds are ever before Me.
8Be warned, O Jerusalem,
Or I shall be alienated from you,
And make you a desolation,
A land not inhabited."

6:1 "Flee for safety" Usually the ancients fled to their fortified cities for protection (cf. 4:6, same verb, same form). But here they are told to flee the walled city of Jerusalem.

▣ "sons of Benjamin" This was Jeremiah's tribe. Jerusalem was very close to the territory of Benjamin, or in it (cf. Josh. 15:8, 63; 18:16; Jdgs. 1:21). Therefore, this is a literary way of addressing all the inhabitants of Jerusalem.

"blow. . .Tekoa" This is a play on the Hebrew words (blow, - ועקת, cf. 4:5; Tekoa - עוקת) which have the same consonants (also note עקת, "alienated" is from the same root). Tekoa was a city south of Jerusalem.

"raise a signal" This refers to a fire signal (cf. Lachish Ostraca, cf. Jdgs. 20:38, 40), as the line above refers to an audible signal.

 "Beth-haccerem" This means "house of a vineyard" (BDB 108 construct 501, cf. Neh. 3:14). This city was southwest of Jerusalem.

 "evil looks down from the north" Invaders from Mesopotamia had to follow the Euphrates to its head waters and then go south because of the desert east of Palestine. Here the invading army is personified as "evil looks."


NASB"The comely and dainty one, the daughter of Zion, I will cut off"
NKJV"I have likened the daughter of Zion to a lovely and delicate woman"
NRSV"Beautiful, delicate as she is, I shall destroy the daughter of Zion"
NJB"I have likened the daughter of Zion to the loveliest pasture"
LXX"Your loftiness, O daughter of Zion, shall be removed"
JPSOA"Fair Zion, the lovely and delicate, I will destroy"

There are three descriptive terms.

1. comely - BDB 610

a. adjective - Song of Songs 1:5; 2:14; 6:4

b. verb (Piel) - Isa. 52:7; Song of Songs 1:10

2. delicately bred - BDB 772, KB 851, Pual participle (only here)

3. daughter of Zion - common descriptive family phrase

See a good note on this difficult phrase in UBS Handbook, p. 180. The Tyndale commentary by R. K. Harrison takes the phrase as a question, "Have I compared you to a pleasant pasture?" (p. 80), like NJB.

6:2 "Shepherds" This is a title used of God (i.e., Psalm 23) and the leaders of God's people (cf. 2:8; 3:15). Here it is a metaphor of the invaders who

1. surround the city

2. take over the surrounding lands


6:4-5 These are

1. the words of the invaders! They will attack again and again because of the command of YHWH (cf. v. 6).

2. the words of the leaders of Jerusalem and Judah (which does not fit v. 5, line 2).


6:4 "Woe to us, for the day declines" This expresses the desire of the invaders to attack by daylight, but even if it is night, they will continue the attack!

"at noon. . .at night" The enemy is so fierce that they attack even at unusual times.

6:5 "palaces" This is "fortified towers" or "citadels" (BDB 74, cf. 17:27; 49:27).

6:6 "cut down her trees" In Deut. 20:19-20, trees were used to build siege instruments, ramps, firewood, etc., for invading armies. Also the destruction of all of the fruit trees is an idiom of total, complete desolation!

▣ "This is the city to be punished" The UBS Text Project suggests a meaning to this Hebrew phrase, "this is the city which has been investigated" (p. 191). The verb דקפ (BDB 823) in Hophal (BDB 824, #1) means "to visit" for either blessing or cursing. Here it is visitation by YHWH for the just destruction of an evil, idolatrous, unrepentant capital city (i.e., Jerusalem).

▣ "In whose midst there is only oppression" See 22:17.

6:7 Jerusalem is compared to a constantly flowing well. As UBS Handbook points out, the interpretive issue is, "Does the verb of line 1:

1. fresh - (lit. "cold," cf NET Bible) reflect a moral indifference?

2. gushing/bubbling (JPSOA, "flows") fit the context best (NIV)?

Number 2 fits the context best. Jerusalem is constantly evil!

▣ "Violence and destruction are heard in her" Her violence (BDB 949) and destruction (BDB 994) were constant! YHWH knew this! He describes their sin as "sickness and wounds" (cf. 30:12-13; Isa. 1:5-6).

As sickness is used as a metaphor of sin, so healing is used as a metaphor for forgiveness. Notice the poetic parallelism of Ps. 103:3.

▣ "Sickness and wounds" This could refer to

1. the sin of Jerusalem (i.e., NIV, cf. Isa. 1:4-5)

2. the evil of the leaders against the poor and powerless (cf. v. 13)


▣ "are ever before Me" YHWH knows what is happening, especially with the covenant people who are His instrument of revelation and salvation to a lost, ignorant world (see Special Topic at 1:5). If they do not live out the covenant revealtion of YHWH, then the world does not know Him! The same is now true for the Church.

6:8 "Be warned" This is literally "accept for yourself discipline" (BDB 415, KB 418, Niphal imperative).

"Or I shall be alienated from you" This is literally "torn away" (BDB 429, KB 431, Qal imperfect). It is the worst possible happening. This possibility may be alluded to in v. 4, line 1, "sanctify," which was a "Holy War" term. It was used to address the invaders in v. 6, but here Judah hopes YHWH will be on her side!

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 6:9-15 9Thus says the Lord of hosts,
"They will thoroughly glean as the vine the remnant of Israel;
Pass your hand again like a grape gatherer
Over the branches."
10To whom shall I speak and give warning
That they may hear?
Behold, their ears are closed
And they cannot listen.
Behold, the word of the Lord has become a reproach to them;
They have no delight in it.
11But I am full of the wrath of the Lord;
I am weary with holding it in.
"Pour it out on the children in the street
And on the gathering of young men together;
For both husband and wife shall be taken,
The aged and the very old.
12Their houses shall be turned over to others,
Their fields and their wives together;
For I will stretch out My hand
Against the inhabitants of the land," declares the Lord.
13"For from the least of them even to the greatest of them,
Everyone is greedy for gain,
And from the prophet even to the priest
Everyone deals falsely.
14They have healed the brokenness of My people superficially,
Saying, 'Peace, peace,'
But there is no peace.
15Were they ashamed because of the abomination they have done?
They were not even ashamed at all;
They did not even know how to blush.
Therefore they shall fall among those who fall;
At the time that I punish them,
They shall be cast down," says the Lord.

6:9 YHWH calls on the invaders to "thoroughly glean" (BDB 760, KB 834; this is the infinitive absolute and Poel imperfect verb of the same root, used for intensity). Nothing will be left, everyone will be exiled or killed. This may be hyperbolic because of 4:27; 5:10, 18; 30:11; 46:28.

The TEV takes this phrase to refer to Jeremiah reaching as many as possible with YHWH's message of repentance (i.e., the remnant).

▣ "the remnant of Israel" For the theological concept of "remnant" see the Special Topic at 5:10-13.

For "Israel" (see Special Topic at 2:3) one wonders if it means

1. the northern ten tribes (exiled in 722 b.c.)

2. the collective name for Abraham's seed from Jacob


6:10 "their ears are closed" In v. 10 Jeremiah responds to YHWH's charge to keep proclaiming his message. Israel's ears are "uncircumcised" (BDB 790, cf. 4:4; 9:25-26). They will not/cannot respond (i.e., "listen," BDB 904, KB 1151, Hiphil infinitive construct).

"They have no delight in it" God's word (Scripture or the prophetic word or both) was meant to be a joyous thing (cf. Ps. 19:7-10). They have made it a "reproach" (BDB 357).

6:11 Notice how YHWH is described.

1. full of wrath

2. weary with holding it in (cf. 15:6)

3. will pour it out (cf. 7:20) on

a. children

b. young men

c. husband and wife

d. the very old

This means YHWH's judgment has arrived and it will affect the whole of society (cf. vv. 13, 21).

6:12 This verse (vv. 12-15 are repeated in 8:10-12) describes the consequences of resisting both the Assyrian and Babylonian armies' exile. They moved conquered people hundreds of miles and relocated others in their homes and on their fields (i.e., Deut. 28:30, 38-40; Amos 5:11; Micah 6:15).

Notice also that it is not the power of the gods of the invaders/exilers, but the judgment of YHWH on His own people for their sin and idolatry.

For "I will stretch out My hand" see SPECIAL TOPIC: HAND at 1:9.

6:13 Every segment of society is sinful (cf. 8:10; 16:6; 31:34; 42:1). All are sinful, all will be judged (cf. v. 11).

▣ "greedy for gain" This phrase is from the noun and verb of the same root (BDB130, KB 147, cf. 8:10; 22:17).

▣ "from the prophet even to the priest" All of Judah's leadership are corrupt. They lie (BDB 1055). There was no one to trust!

6:14 "They have healed the brokenness of My people superficially" The false prophets (cf. 8:10-11; 14:14; 23:10-22) and priests denied the problem and tried to cover up the consequences of invasion and exile (cf. 8:11; Ezek. 13:10; Micah 3:5).

"Peace" This is the Hebrew Shalom (BDB 1022, KB 1532), which means the absence of bad and the presence of good. However, it was a false message!


6:15 God's people were not ashamed (BDB 101, KB 116, cf. 3:3; 8:12). They will be!

▣ "they shall fall among those who fall" There is a word play on

1. Qal imperfect (BDB 656, KB 709)

2. Qal participle (BDB 656, KB 709)

What happened to other rebels will happen to them. This is possibly an allusion to the previous fall of Israel by Assyria in 722 b.c.

16Thus says the Lord,
"Stand by the ways and see and ask for the ancient paths,
Where the good way is, and walk in it;
And you will find rest for your souls.
But they said, 'We will not walk in it.'
17And I set watchmen over you, saying,
'Listen to the sound of the trumpet!'
But they said, 'We will not listen.'
18Therefore hear, O nations,
And know, O congregation, what is among them.
19Hear, O earth: behold, I am bringing disaster on this people,
The fruit of their plans,
Because they have not listened to My words,
And as for My law, they have rejected it also.
20For what purpose does frankincense come to Me from Sheba
And the sweet cane from a distant land?
Your burnt offerings are not acceptable
And your sacrifices are not pleasing to Me."
21Therefore, thus says the Lord,
"Behold, I am laying stumbling blocks before this people.
And they will stumble against them,
Fathers and sons together;
Neighbor and friend will perish."

6:16 YHWH uses five imperatives to call His people back to His covenant with them but they refused.

God's truths and will were pictured as a clearly marked path (cf. 18:15; 31:21; Psalm 119; 105; 139:24; Pro. 6:23). This godly path brought rest and peace but they would not!

Lifestyle faith is characterized by the verb 'walk" (cf. Eph. 2:10; 4:1,17; 5:2,15).

▣ "you will find rest for your souls" Jesus quotes this in Matt. 11:29. His teachings fulfill the "ancient paths" (i.e., Moses, cf. 18:15) and surpasses them (cf. Matt. 5:17-19, 21-48; the book of Hebrews).

6:17 "watchmen" This refers to the prophets (cf. Ezek. 3:16-21; 33:7).

6:18-19 There is a parallelism between

1. O nations (BDB 156)

2. O congregation (BDB 417 II). This line of v. 18 is left untranslated by AB because of its difficulty and uncertainty, the UBS Handbook suggests that "O congregation" be revocalized to an infinitive of "know," thereby intensifying the verb "know" (BDB 393, KB 390), p. 196

3. O earth (BDB 75)

These seem to be metaphorical of witnesses to court testimony and judgment. Each is matched with an imperative.

For "earth" see Special Topic below.


6:19 "The fruit of their plans" They are reaping what they sowed.

▣ "My words. . .My law" God's people were His in name only! They rejected both the Torah/Law of Moses (i.e., the ancient paths), as well as the word of the true prophets (cf. Isa. 1:10; 5:24). Their lack of spiritual discernment is exemplified by their devotion to

1. idolatry

2. false prophets (cf. Isa. 29:13)

3. greed and exploitation of the poor


6:20 This is sacrificial terminology.

1. frankincense, BDB 526 I, cf. Exod. 30:34-38, this was used for temple incense

2. sweet cane, BDB 373 II and 889, this was holy anointing oil, possibly from India

3. burnt offerings, BDB 750, these were wholly burnt offerings symbolizing total dedication

4. sacrifices, BDB 257, cf. Lev. 7:15-18; 19:5-8, the offerer retained part for a fellowship meal to eat with friends and YHWH


▣ "your sacrifices are not pleasing to Me" This is a shocking phrase (cf. Isa. 1:11-14; Hos. 6:6; Amos 5:21-23; Micah 6:6-8; and esp. Jer. 7:21-23). It was not the sacrificial system (which God instigated) but the attitude of the worshipers that He rejected!

6:21 The imagery of this verse refers to the "ancient paths" of v. 16. As walking on the path of God (i.e., Scripture, or the prophetic word) was a source of life, peace, and joy, anything that blocked that path (cf. Isa. 8:14-15) caused pain, trouble, and confusion. The path God's people were on was not His path! They refused to listen and repent, so there were societal and individual consequences! YHWH disciplines His people for their ultimate good!

22Thus says the Lord,
"Behold, a people is coming from the north land,
And a great nation will be aroused from the remote parts of the earth.
23They seize bow and spear;
They are cruel and have no mercy;  
Their voice roars like the sea,
And they ride on horses,
Arrayed as a man for the battle
Against you, O daughter of Zion!"
24We have heard the report of it;
Our hands are limp.
Anguish has seized us,
Pain as of a woman in childbirth.
25Do not go out into the field
And do not walk on the road,
For the enemy has a sword,
Terror is on every side.
26O daughter of my people, put on sackcloth
And roll in ashes;
Mourn as for an only son,
A lamentation most bitter.
For suddenly the destroyer
Will come upon us.

6:22-26 This strophe describes the Mesopotamian invaders (cf. 50:41-43).

1. they come from the north

2. they are a great nation

3. they are aroused by God

4. they seize bow and spear (BDB 475 I, "javelin" in I Sam. 17:6 or "sword" in DSS)

5. they are cruel and have no mercy (cf. Isa. 13:18)

6. their voices roar (cf. Isa. 5:30; 17:12)

7. they ride horses (cf. 4:13,19)

It also describes Zion's response.

1. they have heard the report

2. their hands are limp (from fear, cf. Isa. 13:7; Zeph. 3:16)

3. anguish seizes them (like childbirth)

4. they (Qere) are afraid to travel

5. they grieve (see Special Topic at 2:37)

a. put on sackcloth

b. roll in ashes (cf. 25:34)

c. mourn as for a son

d. lament bitterly

The destroyer will come suddenly!

6:25 "Terror is on every side" This is a recurrent phrase in Jeremiah (cf. 20:3,10; 46:5; 49:29).

27"I have made you an assayer and a tester among My people,
That you may know and assay their way."
28All of them are stubbornly rebellious,
Going about as a talebearer.
They are bronze and iron;
They, all of them, are corrupt.
29The bellows blow fiercely,
The lead is consumed by the fire;
In vain the refining goes on,
But the wicked are not separated.
30They call them rejected silver,
Because the Lord has rejected them.

6:27-30 This strophe is directed towards Jeremiah (cf. 1:18). YHWH has made him

1. an assayer (BDB 103)

2. a tester (NASB, LXX, REB)

3. a fortification (BDB 131, NKJV)

4. a refiner (NJB, JPSOA)

These are rare usages of these roots, which usually denote towers and fortifications, but the context of vv. 20-30 demands it.

The strophe continues by YHWH's description of His people.

1. stubborn (BDB 711)

2. rebellious (BDB 710, KB 779, Qal participle)

3. talebearers (BDB 940)

4. bronze and iron (cf. Ezek. 22:18)

5. corrupt (BDB 1007, KB 1469, Hiphil participle)

YHWH tries to purify them as silver but they would not, therefore, He has "rejected them" (BDB 549, KB 540, Qal perfect).


This is a study guide commentary, which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

These discussion questions are provided to help you think through the major issues of this section of the book. They are meant to be thought-provoking, not definitive.

1. Is there any hope?

2. Why is God so upset with Judah?


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