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Message at the Temple Gate

The word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord, saying, “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.’” Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, “Change your ways and your behavior, and I will let you live in this place. Do not trust in the deceptive and lying words [of the false prophets who claim that Jerusalem will be protected by God because of the temple], saying, ‘This is the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord.’ For if you thoroughly change your ways and your behavior, if you thoroughly and honestly practice justice between a man and his neighbor, if you do not oppress the transient and the foreigner, the orphan, or the widow, and do not shed innocent blood [by oppression and by unjust judicial murders] in Jerusalem, nor follow after other gods to your own ruin, then I will let you live in this place, in the land that I gave to your fathers [to live in] forever and ever.

“Behold, you are trusting in deceptive and useless words that bring no benefit. Will you steal, murder, commit adultery, swear [oaths] falsely, offer sacrifices or burn incense to Baal, and follow after other gods that you have not known, 10 and [then dare to] come and stand before Me in this house, which is called by My [a]Name, and say, ‘We are protected and set free [by this act of religious ritual]!’—only to go on with this wickedness and these disgusting and loathsome things? 11 Has this house, which is called by My Name, become a den of robbers in your eyes [a place of retreat for you between acts of violence]? Behold, I Myself have seen it,” says the Lord.

12 “But go now to My place which was in Shiloh [in Ephraim], where I first set My Name, and see what I did to it because of the wickedness of My people Israel.(A) 13 And now, because you have done all these things,” says the Lord, “and I spoke [persistently] to you, even rising up early and speaking, but you did not listen, and I called you but you did not answer, 14 therefore, I will do to this house (the temple) which is called by My Name, in which you trust, and to the place which I gave you and your fathers, just as I did to Shiloh. 15 I will cast you out of My sight, as I have cast out all your brothers (relatives through Jacob), all the descendants of Ephraim.

16 “Therefore, do not pray for this people [of Judah] or lift up a cry or entreaty for them or make intercession to Me, for I do not hear you. 17 Do you not see what they are doing in the cities of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem? 18 The children gather wood, the fathers kindle the fire, and the women knead the dough to make cakes for the [b]queen of heaven; and they pour out drink offerings to other gods that they may offend and provoke Me to anger. 19 Do they offend and provoke Me to anger?” says the Lord. “Is it not themselves [they offend], to their own shame?” 20 Therefore thus says the Lord God, “Behold, My anger and My wrath will be poured out on this place, on man and beast, on the trees of the field and the fruit of the ground; and it will burn and [the fire will] not be quenched.”

21 Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, “Add your burnt offerings to your sacrifices and eat the meat. 22 For in the day that I brought them out of the land of Egypt, I did not speak to your fathers or command them concerning burnt offerings or sacrifices. 23 But this thing I did command them: ‘Listen to and obey My voice, and I will be your God, and you shall be My people; and you will walk in all the way which I command you, so that it may be well with you.’ 24 But they did not obey Me or bend their ear [to hear Me], but followed the counsels and the stubbornness of their [own] evil heart (mind), and [they turned and] went backward instead of forward. 25 Since the day that your fathers came out of the land of Egypt until this day, I have [persistently] sent you all My servants the prophets, sending them daily, early [and late]. 26 Yet they did not listen to Me and obey Me or bend their ear [to hear Me], but stiffened their neck; they did more evil and behaved worse than their fathers.

27 “You shall speak all these words to them, but they will not listen to you; and you shall [also] call to them, but they will not answer you. 28 You shall say to them, ‘This is the nation that did not obey the voice of the Lord their God or accept correction and warning; truth and faithfulness have perished and have completely vanished from their mouths.

29 
‘Cut off your hair [your crown, O Jerusalem] and throw it away,
And take up a mournful cry on the barren heights,
For the Lord has rejected and abandoned
The generation of His wrath.’

30 For the children of Judah have done evil in My sight,” says the Lord; “they have set their disgusting and shamefully vile things in the house which is called by My Name, to defile it. 31 They have built the high places of Topheth, which is in the Valley of Ben-hinnom (son of Hinnom), to burn their sons and their daughters in the fire [to honor Molech, the fire god]—which I did not command, nor did it come into My heart (mind).(B)

32 “Therefore, behold, the days are coming,” declares the Lord, “when it will no longer be called Topheth or the Valley of Ben-hinnom, but the Valley of the Slaughter, for [in bloody warfare] they will bury [the dead] in Topheth until there is no more room.(C) 33 And the dead bodies of this people will be food for the birds of the air and for the beasts of the earth and no one will frighten them away. 34 Then I will cause the voices of joy and gladness, and the voices of the bridegroom and the bride to vanish from the cities of Judah and from the streets of Jerusalem; for the land will become a ruin—a wasteland.

The Sin and Treachery of Judah

“At that time,” says the Lord, “they [the Babylonian army] will bring out from their graves the [c]bones of the kings of Judah, the bones of its princes, the bones of the priests, the bones of the prophets, and the bones of the inhabitants of Jerusalem. They will [carelessly scatter and] spread them out before the sun and the moon and all the host of heaven, which the dead have loved and which they have served, and which they have walked after and which they have sought, and which they have worshiped. They will not be gathered or be buried; they will be like [d]dung on the face of the earth. And death will be chosen rather than life by all the remnant of those who remain of this evil family (nation), who remain in all the places to which I have driven them,” says the Lord of hosts. “Moreover [Jeremiah], you shall say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord,

“Do men fall and not rise up again?
Does one turn away [from God] and not repent and return [to Him]?

“Why then has this people of Jerusalem
Turned away with a perpetual turning away [from Me]?
They hold tightly to [e]deceit (idolatry);
They refuse to repent and return [to God].

“I have listened and heard,
But they have spoken what is not right;
No man repented of his wickedness,
Saying, ‘What have I done?’
Everyone turns to his [individual] course,
As the horse rushes like a torrent into battle.

“Even the stork in the sky
Knows her seasons [of migration],
And the turtledove, the swallow and the crane
Observe the time of their return.
But My people do not know
The law of the Lord.


“How can you say, ‘We are wise,
And the law of the Lord is with us [and we are learned in its language and teachings]’?
Behold, [the truth is that] the lying pen of the scribes
Has made the law into a lie [a mere code of ceremonial observances].(D)

“The wise men are shamed,
They are dismayed and caught.
Behold, they have [manipulated and] rejected the [truth in the] word of the Lord,
And what kind of wisdom and insight do they have?
10 
“Therefore I will give their wives to others
And their fields to new owners;
Because from the least even to the greatest
Everyone is greedy for [unjust] gain;
From the prophet even to the priest
Everyone practices deceit and deals in corruption.
11 
“For they have treated the brokenness of the daughter of My people superficially,
Saying, ‘Peace, peace,’
When there is no peace.
12 
“Were they ashamed because of the extremely disgusting and shamefully vile things they had done?
They were not at all ashamed,
And they did not know how to blush.
Therefore, they shall fall among those who fall;
At the time of their punishment they shall be overthrown,”
Says the Lord.(E)

13 
“I will gather and snatch them away [utterly consuming them],” says the Lord.
“There will be no grapes on the vine,
Nor figs on the fig tree,
And even the leaf will wither;
And the things that I have given them will pass away [by the hand of those whom I have appointed].”’”(F)
14 
Why are we sitting still [the people wonder]?
Assemble yourselves, and let us enter the fortified cities
And let us die there,
For the Lord our God has decreed our ruin
And given us bitter and poisonous water to drink,
Because we have sinned against the Lord.
15 
We waited for peace and salvation, but no good came,
And for a time of healing, but behold, terror!
16 
The snorting of [Nebuchadnezzar’s] horses is heard from Dan [on Palestine’s northern border].
At the sound of the neighing of his strong stallions
The whole land quakes;
For they come and devour the land and all that is in it,
The city and those who live in it.
17 
“For behold, I am sending serpents among you,
Vipers which cannot be charmed,
And they will bite you,” says the Lord.

18 
Oh, that I (Jeremiah) could find comfort from my sorrow [for my grief is beyond healing],
My heart is sick and faint within me!
19 
Behold, [hear the sound of] the cry of the daughter of my people from the distant land [of Babylon]:
“Is not the Lord in Zion? Is not her King within her?”
[But the Lord answers] “Why have they provoked Me to anger with their carved images and with foreign idols?”
20 
“The harvest is past, the summer has ended and the gathering of fruit is over,
But we are not saved,” [comes the voice of the people again].
21 
For the brokenness of the daughter of my people I (Jeremiah) am broken;
I mourn, anxiety has gripped me.
22 
Is there no balm in [f]Gilead?
Is there no physician there?
Why then has not the [spiritual] health of the daughter of my people been restored?

A Lament over Zion

Oh that my head were waters
And my eyes a fountain of tears,
That I might weep day and night
For the slain of the daughter of my people!

Oh that I had in the wilderness
A lodging place (a mere shelter) for wayfaring men,
That I might leave my people
And go away from them!
For they are all adulterers [worshiping idols instead of the Lord],
[They are] an assembly of treacherous men [of weak character, men without integrity].

“They bend their tongue like their bow;
[Their] lies and not truth prevail and grow strong in the land;
For they proceed from evil to evil,
And they do not know and understand and acknowledge Me,” says the Lord.

“Let everyone beware of his neighbor
And do not trust any brother.
For every brother is a supplanter [like Jacob, a deceiver, ready to grab his brother’s heel],
And every neighbor goes around as a slanderer.(G)

“Everyone deceives and mocks his neighbor
And does not speak the truth.
They have taught their tongue to speak lies;
They exhaust themselves with sin and cruelty.

“Your dwelling is in the midst of deceit [oppression upon oppression and deceit upon deceit];
Through deceit they refuse to know (understand) Me,” says the Lord.

Therefore thus says the Lord of hosts,

“Behold, I will refine them [through suffering] and test them;
For how else should I deal with the daughter of My people?

“Their tongue is a murderous arrow;
It speaks deceit;
With his mouth one speaks peace to his neighbor,
But in his heart he lays traps and waits in ambush for him.

“Shall I not punish them for these things?” says the Lord.
“Shall I not avenge Myself
On such a nation as this?

10 
“I will take up a weeping and wailing for the mountains,
And a [funeral] dirge for the pastures of the wilderness,
Because they are burned up and desolated so that no one passes through [them];
Nor can anyone hear the lowing of cattle.
Both the birds of the air and the beasts have fled; they are gone.
11 
“I will make Jerusalem a heap of ruins,
A haunt and dwelling place of jackals;
And I will make the cities of Judah a desolation, without inhabitant.”

12 Who is the wise man who may understand this [without any doubt]? To whom has the mouth of the Lord spoken, so that he may declare it? Why is the land ruined, laid waste like a wilderness, so that no one passes through? 13 The Lord said, “Because they have [g]turned away from My law which I set before them, and have not listened to and obeyed My voice nor walked in accordance with it, 14 but have walked stubbornly after their [own] heart and after the Baals, as their fathers taught them,” 15 therefore thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, “behold, I will feed them, this people, with wormwood and give them bitter and poisonous water to drink. 16 I will [also] scatter them among nations that neither they nor their fathers have known, and I will send the sword after them until I have annihilated them.”

17 Thus says the Lord of hosts,

“Consider and call for the mourning women to come;
Send for the wailing women to come.
18 
“Let them hurry and take up a wailing for us,
That our eyes may shed tears
And our eyelids flow with water.
19 
“For a sound of wailing is heard [coming] from Zion:
‘How we are ruined!
We are greatly perplexed and utterly shamed,
Because we have left the land,
Because they have torn down our dwellings.’”
20 
Now hear the word of the Lord, O you women,
And let your ear hear the word of His mouth;
Teach your daughters a song of mourning,
And each one [teach] her neighbor a dirge.
21 
For death has come up through our windows;
It has entered our palaces,
Cutting off the children from the streets
And the young men from the town squares.
22 
Speak, “Thus says the Lord,
‘The dead bodies of men will fall like dung on the open field,
And like sheaves [of grain] behind the reaper,
And no one will gather them.’”(H)

23 Thus says the Lord, “Let not the one who is wise and skillful boast in his insight; let not the one who is mighty and powerful boast in his strength; let not the one who is rich boast in his [temporal satisfactions and earthly] abundance; 24 but let the one who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows Me [and acknowledges Me and honors Me as God and recognizes without any doubt], that I am the Lord who practices lovingkindness, justice and righteousness on the earth, for in these things I delight,” says the Lord.(I)

25 “Behold, the days are coming,” says the Lord, “when I will punish all who are circumcised [physically] and yet uncircumcised [spiritually]—(J) 26 [h]Egypt and Judah, and Edom and the sons of Ammon, and Moab and all those who live in the desert who clip off the hair on their temples; for all these nations are uncircumcised (sinful, impure), and all the house of Israel are uncircumcised in heart.”

Footnotes

  1. Jeremiah 7:10 The “Name” of God is equivalent to His gracious presence in passages such as this one. The place where God puts His Name is the place where He chooses to dwell.
  2. Jeremiah 7:18 A goddess of fertility, probably the Babylonian title for Ishtar. She is identified with the planet Venus. Offerings to this goddess included cakes made in the shape of a star (44:19).
  3. Jeremiah 8:1 The graves were opened to get any treasure they might contain, but the bones were scattered in order to humiliate and intimidate the Jews.
  4. Jeremiah 8:2 The man-made gods of the stars and the moon and the sun were of no help to their worshipers.
  5. Jeremiah 8:5 Idolatry is deceitful because in their idolatry men and women worship that which is false and worthless. It deludes the worshipers and causes them to believe a lie.
  6. Jeremiah 8:22 A scenic, fertile mountain region east of the Jordan River famous for its medicinal herbs and spices.
  7. Jeremiah 9:13 Lit forsaken.
  8. Jeremiah 9:26 All these nations are related to one another, except Egypt.

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