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Jeremiah 7

PARAGRAPH DIVISIONS OF MODERN TRANSLATIONS

(The parentheses represent poetic literary units)

NASB NKJV NRSV TEV NJB
Message At the Temple Gate Trusting in Lying Words The Temple Sermon Jeremiah Preaches In the Temple Against The Temple
7:1-7 7:1-7 7:1-4 7:1-4 7:1-11
    7:5-7 7:5-7  
7:8-11 7:8-11 7:8-15 7:8-15  
7:12-15 7:12-15     7:12-15
    Abuses in Worship The People's Disobedience Alien Gods
7:16-20 7:16-20 7:16-20 7:16-20 7:16-20
        Worship Without Sincerity
7:21-26 7:21-27 7:21-26 7:21-26 7:21-28
7:27-31 Judgment on Obscene Religion 7:27-29
(29)
7:27-28  
  7:28-31   Sinful Deeds In Hinnom Valley More About Idolatrous Worship: A Threat of Exile
      7:29
(29)
7:29
(29)
    7:30-34 7:30-34 7:30-8:3
7:32-34 7:32-34      

 

READING CYCLE THREE (see introductory section)

FOLLOWING THE ORIGINAL AUTHOR'S INTENT AT PARAGRAPH LEVEL

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.

 

BRIEF HISTORY

A. Judah alone is left as God's covenant people. The Northern Ten Tribes have been in exile since 722 b.c. (i.e., Fall of Samaria to Assyria).

 

B. Assyrian power has been completelybroken by Babylon (605 b.c.; the battle of Carchemish). The remnant of the Assyrian army attempted to join forces with the Egyptian army. Josiah, Judah's godly king, tried to intervene and was killed by Egypt's army at Meggido. His son, Jehoahaz, reigned only three months before Pharaoh Necho II of Egypt placed his brother, Jehoiakim (609-597 b.c.), on the throne of Judah as his vassal.

 

C. Chapters 7:1-15 and 26 ("in the beginning of Jehoiakim's" reign) recount the same sermon and its effect.

 

D. This is one of the most powerful sermons in the OT. Jeremiah attacks faithless ritual and liturgy (cf. v. 16; 8:3; Isa. 29:13). Religion without personal faith in YHWH is a disaster!

 

E. The NASB Study Bible (p. 1065) asserts that 7:1-10:25 is a series of temple sermons over several years.

 

WORD AND PHRASE STUDY

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 7:1-7
1The word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord, saying, 2"Stand in the gate of the Lord's house and proclaim there this word and say, 'Hear the word of the Lord, all you of Judah, who enter by these gates to worship the Lord!'" 3Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, "Amend your ways and your deeds, and I will let you dwell in this place. 4Do not trust in deceptive words, saying, 'This is the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord.' 5For if you truly amend your ways and your deeds, if you truly practice justice between a man and his neighbor, 6if you do not oppress the alien, the orphan, or the widow, and do not shed innocent blood in this place, nor walk after other gods to your own ruin, 7then I will let you dwell in this place, in the land that I gave to your fathers forever and ever."

7:1 Notice the titles for God (see Special Topic at 1:2).

1. "the Lord" (YHWH), vv. 1,2,13,19,29,30

2. "the Lord of hosts," vv. 3,21

3. "the God (Elohim) of Israel," vv. 3,21 (LXX, v. 1)

4. "the Lord (Adon) God (YHWH)," v. 20

5. "I will be your God (Elohim), v. 23 (note the covenant language)

6. "the Lord their God," v. 28

The tragedy of this sermon is that it is directed to the covenant people who had YHWH's revelation (promises, covenants, cultus, prophets, cf. Rom. 9:4-5), but were not loyal to Him.

Notice how specific YHWH's message is to Jeremiah. These are not Jeremiah's thoughts and opinions. These are God's words, directed to His people, about their cavalier treatment of His name and worship!

7:2 "Stand in the gate. . .gates" This is a Qal imperative (BDB 763, KB 840). Kimchi (Jewish commentator of the Middle Ages) says Jeremiah preached this sermon seven times (singular vs. plural), once at each gate of the temple. The gates were the focal point of temple traffic. The temple itself was the place of the people's legalistic, liturgical, sacramental religion.

▣ "Hear the word of the Lord" This is another Qal imperative (BDB 1033, KB 1570), which means "to hear so as to do" (cf. Deut. 4:1; 5:1; 6:3,4; 9:1; 20:3; 27:10; 33:7).

▣ "all you of Judah" Every male above the age of thirteen assembled regularly at the Temple.

7:3 "Lord of hosts" This refers to (1) the captain of the army of heaven or (2) the leader of the heavenly council (see Special Topic at 1:2).

7:3,5,6 "Amend" The verb "amend" (BDB 405, KB 408, Hiphil imperative) is normally translated "do good" (cf. 10:5). In this context it denotes changing from evil to good (cf. v. 5), another literary way to call for repentance (cf. 4;1). This verb in the Hiphil denotes ethical behavior in Gen. 4:7; Lev. 5:4; Isa. 1:17; Jer. 4:22; 13:22. The covenant is both conditional ("if," vv. 5,6) and unconditional (YHWH's character and promises) to every generation.

▣ "let you dwell in this place" The verb (BDB 1014, KB 1490) is a Piel cohortative. The Vulgate and Aquilla's version have "I will dwell with you" (cf. I Kgs. 6:12-13; NJB). This involves only a revocalization of the Masoretic Text (cf. v. 7). The UBS Text Project gives the first option a C rating (considerable doubt). The second option is theologically attractive because biblical faith is a trusting relationship with YHWH before it is a land promise! The greatest blessing is YHWH's personal presence (i.e., Immanuel).

7:4 "Do not trust in deceptive words" The verb "trust" (BDB 105, KB 120, Qal imperfect used in a jussive sense) is an important theological concept, repeated in v. 8 (Qal participle). See Special Topic at 3:12.  The words of the priests and prophets (cf. v. 13) who served in Jerusalem in the temple were false (cf. 6:14; 8:11). They probably used II Sam. 7:11-14; I Kgs. 8:13; and Isaiah's message (i.e., Isaiah 36-39) as proof texts to back up their false optimism. They had forgotten the conditional nature of the covenant (cf. v. 5).

"This is the temple of the Lord" This phrase possibly refers to a chorus the temple choir regularly sang. In Hebrew a three form repetition expresses a superlative degree (cf. Isa. 6:3, e.g., Holy, Holy, Holy = the most holy). They were trusting in the place of worship not the person to be worshiped! Form without faith (cf. Isa. 29:13; II Tim. 3:5)!

7:5 "if" The "if" (conditional element) of this context is crucial (note the four "if" clauses).

7:6 Notice the observable conditional activities which reveal a true faith lifestyle.

1. practice justice between a man and his neighbor, v. 5

2. do not oppress, v. 6

a. the alien (foreigner living in Judah)

b. the orphan

c. the widow

3. do not shed innocent blood in this place, v. 6

4. do not walk after other gods to your own sin, v. 6

 

"alien, the orphan, or the widow" God loves and protects the helpless and weak. This is a recurrent theme of Deuteronomy (cf. 10:18; 14:29; 16:11,14; 24:17,19,20,21; 26:12,13; 27:19).

"walk after other gods" This is a Hebraic expression of lifestyle idolatry (cf. 13:10; Deut. 6:14-15; 8:19; 11:28; I Kgs. 8:25).

7:7 "forever and ever" This Hebrew phrase must be interpreted in the context of the conditional and unconditional covenant. To prooftext this phrase as a promise to depend on is a false message!

SPECIAL TOPIC: FOREVER ('OLAM)

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 7:8-11
8"Behold, you are trusting in deceptive words to no avail. 9Will you steal, murder, and commit adultery and swear falsely, and offer sacrifices to Baal and walk after other gods that you have not known, 10then come and stand before Me in this house, which is called by My name, and say, 'We are delivered!'-that you may do all these abominations? 11Has this house, which is called by My name, become a den of robbers in your sight? Behold, I, even I, have seen it," declares the Lord.

7:8 See note at 7:4.

7:9 This is a summary of the Sinai revelation (i.e., Ten Commantments)

1. steal - BDB 170, KB 198, Qal infinitive absolute

2. murder - BDB 953, KB 1283, Qal infinitive absolute

3. commit adultery - BDB 610, KB 658, Qal infinitive absolute

4. swear falsely - BDB 989, KB 1396, Niphal infinitive absolute

5. offer sacrifices to Ba'al - BDB 882, KB 1094, Piel infinitive absolute

6. walk after other gods - BDB 229, IB 246, Qal infinitive absolute

 

SPECIAL TOPIC: NOTES ON EXODUS 20

7:10 "then come and stand before Me in this house" Both verbs are Qal perfects (settled condition). This shows the hypocrisy of formal religion apart from personal lifestyle faith and obedience (cf. I Kgs. 8:23; Ezek. 23:36-45; Luke 6:46).

▣ "in this house, which is called by My name" This is a recurrent title for Solomon's temple in Jerusalem (cf. I Kgs. 8:43; II Chr. 6:33; 20:9; Jer. 7:10,11,14,30; 25:29; 32:34; 34:15). It is thus titled because YHWH, symbolically dwells there between the wings of the Cherubim over the Ark of the Covenant.

▣ "We are delivered" This is a Niphal perfect (BDB 664, KB 717). They thought that religious acts in a religious place would bring deliverance (i.e., no defeat and exile by Babylon, cf. 39:17).

▣ "that you may do all these abominations" The covenant people turned their faith into a license to sin! Ritual replaced lifestyle faithfulness! Our life reveals our true self (cf. Matthew 7).

7:11 "den of robbers" What a shocking phrase to describe Solomon's temple in light of I Kings 8. Jesus uses this same phrase in Matt. 21:13; Mark 11:17; Luke 19:46 to describe the temple procedures of His day.

NASB, NKJV "I, even I, have seen it"
NRSV"I, at any rate, can see straight"
TEV"I have seen what you are doing"
NJB"You know, I too am watching"
LXX"And I, behold, I have seen it"
JPSOA"As for Me, I have been watching"
REB"I warn you, I myself have seen all this"

The Hebrew is ambiguous but the sense is clear.

 

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 7:12-15
12"But go now to My place which was in Shiloh, where I made My name dwell at the first, and see what I did to it because of the wickedness of My people Israel. 13And now, because you have done all these things," declares the Lord, "and I spoke to you, rising up early and speaking, but you did not hear, and I called you but you did not answer, 14therefore, I will do to the house which is called by My name, in which you trust, and to the place which I gave you and your fathers, as I did to Shiloh. 15I will cast you out of My sight, as I have cast out all your brothers, all the offspring of Ephraim.

7:12 "Shiloh" "Go" (BDB 229, KB 246) and "see" (BDB 906, KB 1157) are both Qal imperatives. Shiloh was the first sanctuary in the Promised Land where the tabernacle and the Ark dwelt. It was destroyed by the Philistines and the Ark captured in 1050 b.c. (the event is not recorded in the OT but alluded to in 26:6; Ps. 78:60). This should have shown the covenant people their theology of God's protection without conditions was not correct.

7:13 "I spoke to you" This refers to the prophets (cf. v. 25).

▣ "rising up early" This is a metaphor for the often and repeated attempts by YHWH to address His people through the prophets (cf. v. 25; 11:7; 25:3-4; 26:5; 29:19; 32:33; 35:14-15; 44:4)!

7:14 "the house. . .in which you trust" There are no special places or things to those who truly know God (cf. 26:6; John 4:23-24). All places, things, and especially people are holy and sacred because of God's presence and creation. They turned faith into a place and ritual instead of a daily, godly faith relationship (cf. I Kgs. 6:12-13). This is also true of the church building and Sunday services in modern western countries!

7:15 "all the offspring of Ephraim" This is a reference to the exile of the Northern Ten Tribes in 722 b.c. by Assyria. What happened to them should have been a warning to Judah but it was not (cf. 3:11; Ezek. 16:51-52; 23:11). Judah also will be "cast out" (two Hiphil perfects, BDB 1020, KB 1527).

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 7:16-20
16"As for you, do not pray for this people, and do not lift up cry or prayer for them, and do not intercede with Me; for I do not hear you. 17Do you not see what they are doing in the cities of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem? 18The children gather wood, and the fathers kindle the fire, and the women knead dough to make cakes for the queen of heaven; and they pour out drink offerings to other gods in order to spite Me. 19Do they spite Me?" declares the Lord. "Is it not themselves they spite, to their own shame?" 20Therefore thus says the Lord God, "Behold, My anger and My wrath will be poured out on this place, on man and on beast and on the trees of the field and on the fruit of the ground; and it will burn and not be quenched."

7:16 Because of Judah's reluctance to repent, YHWH tells Jeremiah not to

1. pray for them - BDB 813, KB 933, Hiphil imperfect used in a jussive sense

2. lift up cry or prayer for them - BDB 669, KB 724, Qal imperfect used in a jussive sense

3. intercede - BDB 803, KB 910, Qal imperfect used in a jussive sense

This is repeated in 11:14! He will not hear (cf. 11:11; Ps. 66:18; Pro. 1:28; Isa. 1:15; Hos. 5:6). There are consequences to repeated, hardened unrepentant people!

SPECIAL TOPIC: INTERCESSORY PRAYER

7:18 The entire family was caught up in and taught idolatry, but especially the wife. Parents do influence and stamp their children with their own lifestyles and priorities (cf. Exod. 20:5-6).

▣ "cakes" This refers to the sacrificial raisin cakes made in Astarte's image. This was family worship, but of idols (cf. 44:19; Hos. 3:1).

▣ "queen of heaven" This was possibly the fertility goddess of Babylon, Ishtar (who is called "the Queen of heaven" and whose worship involved "sweet cakes," cf. 44:19). Other examples of idol worship are 19:13; 32:29; 44:17-19; II Kgs. 23:4-14. The LXX has "host of heaven," which would make it Babylonian astrology. However, it is possible that this was an Assyrian goddess which came into Judah through political alliance ceremonies or even Asherah, the Canaanite goddess.

▣ "they pour out drink offerings to other gods" This was part of the worship (cf. 19:13; 44:18; Ezek. 20:28).

▣ "in order to spite Me" The verb (BDB 494, KB 491, Hiphil infinitive construct, cf. Deut. 31:29) is repeated in v. 19 (Hiphil participle). YHWH is a jealous God! He wants faithful worship. Idolatry is an affront to Him (cf. 11:17; 32:29; Deut. 32:16,21; I Kgs. 14:9; 16:2; Ezek. 8:7).

7:20 YHWH's anger (BDB 60 I) and wrath (BDB 404) "will be poured out" (BDB 677, KB 732, Niphal participle), which is a different word from "poured out" in v. 18 (BDB 659, KB 703). The one in v. 18 is used of a sacrifice, but this one is used of poured out wrath.

Notice how God's judgment affects God's Promised Land. The curses of Deuteronomy 28 are coming to reality.

1. on man

2. on beast

3. on trees of the field (cf. 8:13)

4. on the fruit of the ground

 

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 7:21-26
21Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, "Add your burnt offerings to your sacrifices and eat flesh. 22For I did not speak to your fathers, or command them in the day that I brought them out of the land of Egypt, concerning burnt offerings and sacrifices. 23But this is what I commanded them, saying, 'Obey My voice, and I will be your God, and you will be My people; and you will walk in all the way which I command you, that it may be well with you.' 24Yet they did not obey or incline their ear, but walked in their own counsels and in the stubbornness of their evil heart, and went backward and not forward. 25Since the day that your fathers came out of the land of Egypt until this day, I have sent you all My servants the prophets, daily rising early and sending them. 26Yet they did not listen to Me or incline their ear, but stiffened their neck; they did more evil than their fathers."

7:21 The rejection of sacrifices by YHWH is a recurrent theme (see full note at 6:20 and note 14:12; Isa. 1:11; Amos 5:21). That which was designed to bring sinful mankind back to YHWH (i.e., Leviticus 1-7) had been completely perverted into ritual and liturgy only!

▣ "burnt offerings" These were sacrifices that were totally consumed on the altar (BDB 750).

▣ "sacrifices and eat flesh" In some sacrifices only part was burnt and the rest was eaten by priests or the offerer (BDB 257). The Jews did not eat meat regularly. They were offering sacrifices to God just so they could have the meat to eat!

7:22 "For I did not speak. . .concerning burnt offerings and sacrifices" This is not a total rejection of ritual sacrifices, but an emphasis on the motive behind the sacrifice and the offerer's faith relationship with YHWH (cf. I Sam. 15:22; Ps. 51:16-17; Isa. 1:11-14; Hos. 6:6; Amos 5:21-24; Micah 6:6-8).

It is surprising that in Exodus 9-20, which describes God's teachings revealed at Sinai, no mention of the sacrificial cultus is made.

7:23 "this is what I commanded them" Exodus 19:20 shows that the covenant was primarily ethical living, not ritual acts of devotion. Obedience is crucial (cf. Exod. 19:5-6; Deut. 6:3; Isa. 1:19), but so is attitude (cf. Deut. 30:15-20)!

▣ "I will be your God, and you will be My people" This is covenant language (cf. 11:4; Exod. 6:7; Lev. 26:12; Deut. 26:17-18). Notice the conditional connotation (i.e., obedience [lit. "hear" Qal imperative] to the covenant). For the concept of "covenant" see Special Topic at 3:7.

▣ "that it may be well with you" God wants to give us joy and abundance (cf. Deuteronomy 27-28), but it is conditional (cf. 26:13; 38:20; 42:6).

7:24 This verse expressed the reality of His covenant people's condition (cf. Ezek. 20:8,13,16,21), as v. 23 expresses the hope.

1. they did not obey

2. they did not incline their ear

3. they walked in their own counsels (or by revocalization, "their disobedience")

4. they walked in the stubbornness of their evil heart

5. they went backward and not forward

 

7:25-26 These verses express the rebellious acts of YHWH's people. From the very beginning they were repeatedly unresponsive to Him (cf. Neh. 9:16-19). He tried and tried (cf. 7:13; 25:3-4; 29:19; 35:14-15; 44:4) to communicate with them, but they would not hear and respond (cf. 17:23; 19:15).

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 7:27-31
27"You shall speak all these words to them, but they will not listen to you; and you shall call to them, but they will not answer you. 28You shall say to them, 'This is the nation that did not obey the voice of the Lord their God or accept correction; truth has perished and has been cut off from their mouth.
29'Cut off your hair and cast it away,
And take up a lamentation on the bare heights;
For theLord has rejected and forsaken
The generation of His wrath.'
30For the sons of Judah have done that which is evil in My sight," declares the Lord, "they have set their detestable things in the house which is called by My name, to defile it. 31They have built the high places of Topheth, which is in the valley of the son of Hinnom, to burn their sons and their daughters in the fire, which I did not command, and it did not come into My mind.

7:27 This verse is theologically parallel to Isa. 6:9-10! However, Jeremiah must speak YHWH's message (cf. 26:2; Ezek. 2:7).

The message is vv. 28-34.

7:28 Notice again (cf. v. 24) how YHWH characterizes His people.

1. they did not obey

2. they did not accept correction

3. they allowed truth to

a. perish

b. be cut off from their mouth

 

7:29 Verse 29 is a poem amidst prose. It has three imperatives.

1. cut off your hair - BDB 159, KB 186, Qal imperative

2. cast it away - BDB 1020, KB 1527, Hiphil imperative

3. take up lamentation - BDB 669, KB 724, Qal imperative

These acts are grieving rites (cf. 41:5; Isa. 22:12). See Special Topic at 2:37.

The reason for the grieving is that YHWH has

1. rejected - BDB 549, KB 540, Qal perfect

2. forsaken - BDB 643, KB 695, Qal imperfect (with waw)

Because of 16:6; 48:37 (Isa. 15:2) it could refer to idolatrous rites (cf. Lev. 21:5; Deut. 14:1).

▣ "lamentation on the bare heights" This possibly refers to the very high places of idolatrous worship.

7:30 This refers to idols in YHWH's temple (cf. 32:34; II Kgs. 21:4-5,7; 23:4-14; II Chr. 33:4,5,7; Ezekiel 8). What a shocking sin. They were probably related to political alliances and Canaanite fertility cults.

7:31 "Topheth" The root of this term (BDB 1075, KB 1781 II) is either from Aramaic, "hearth" or Hebrew, "to speak." This is a reference to the worship of Molech (cf. Lev. 18:21; 20:2-5; see Special Topic at 2:23), the Phoenician fire god to whom children were sacrificed (cf. 19:6,11-12; II Kgs. 21:5; 23:10). This type of worship possibly developed from a misunderstanding of Exod. 13:2.

▣ "the valley of the son of Hinnom" See Gehenna in the Special Topics at 4:4.

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 7:32-34
32"Therefore, behold, days are coming," declares the Lord, "when it will no longer be called Topheth, or the valley of the son of Hinnom, but the valley of the Slaughter; for they will bury in Topheth because there is no other place. 33The dead bodies of this people will be food for the birds of the sky and for the beasts of the earth; and no one will frighten them away. 34Then I will make to cease from the cities of Judah and from the streets of Jerusalem the voice of joy and the voice of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom and the voice of the bride; for the land will become a ruin.

7:32 See Jeremiah 19:6-7! A Terrible judgment is coming!

7:33 "food for the birds of the sky" This is a common metaphor of "the last days" (cf. 12:9; Isa. 18:4; Ezek. 29:5; 32:4; 39:4). This is one of the specific judgments of Deuteronomy 28 (cf. Deut. 28:26).

7:34 YHWH wanted to give peace and joy (cf. v. 13), but because of their idolatrous rebellion He will give judgment (cf. 16:9; 25:10).

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

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. How does this sermon relate to our day?

2. Is ritual or form bad? Can it become evil? What is the difference?

3. Was Jeremiah condemning the sacrificial system?

4. What was Judah's major sin?