Jeremiah 11

Chapter 11

Plea to Observe the Covenant.[a][b] 1 This is the word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord: 2 Listen to the terms of this covenant, and then relate them to the people of Judah and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem. 3 Say to them: Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel: Cursed be anyone who does not observe the terms of this covenant 4 which I enjoined upon your ancestors when I brought them forth from the land of Egypt, from that iron foundry, saying: If you listen to my voice and do everything I command you, then you will be my people, and I will be your God. 5 I will thus fulfill the oath that I swore to your ancestors, when I pledged to give them a land flowing with milk and honey, the land you now possess. Then I answered, “So be it, Lord.”

6 Then the Lord said to me: Proclaim all these words in the cities of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem: Hear the words of this covenant and follow them. 7 When I brought your ancestors up out of the land of Egypt, I solemnly warned them, and continued even to this day to do so persistently, urging them to obey my commands. 8 But they refused to listen and did not pay attention to what I said. Rather, each one followed the inclinations of his stubborn and wicked heart. As a result, I inflicted upon them all the curses I had threatened if they did not obey the covenant in accordance with my commands.

9 Then the Lord said to me: There is clearly a conspiracy that exists among the people of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem. 10 They have reverted back to the sins of their ancestors who refused to heed my words. They are following strange gods and serving them. The house of Israel and the house of Judah have broken the covenant that I made with their ancestors.

11 Therefore, thus says the Lord, I will inflict upon them a disaster that they will not be able to escape. Even should they cry out to me, I will refuse to listen to them. 12 Then the cities of Judah and the citizens of Jerusalem will go forth and cry out for help to the gods to whom they make offerings, but these gods will be of absolutely no help to them when disaster strikes.

13 For you have as many gods
as you have towns, O Judah.
And you have as many altars to offer sacrifice to Baal
as there are streets in Jerusalem.

14 Do not intercede for this people or offer a prayer on their behalf, for I will not listen to their cries for help that they will raise during the time of their misfortune.

The Lord Rebukes Judah

15 What right does my beloved have to be in my house
when she perpetrates such vile deeds?
Can vows and sacrificial meat
turn away the disaster that threatens you
and allow you to exult?
16 The Lord once called you a green olive tree
that was filled with leaves and fruit.
But now, with the roar of a mighty storm,
he will set it ablaze,
and its branches will be consumed.

17 The Lord of hosts who planted you has decreed that misfortune will befall you because of the evil done by the house of Israel and the house of Judah, having provoked me to anger by offering sacrifices to Baal.

Jeremiah’s Persecution[c]

18 I was aware of this, O Lord,
because you had made it known to me
then you revealed to me their evil deeds.
19 I had been like a trusting lamb
that was being led to the slaughter.
And I was not aware about the schemes
that they were plotting against me, saying,
“Let us destroy the tree and its fruit;
let us cut him off from the land of the living
so that his name will no longer be remembered.”
20 O Lord of hosts, you who judge righteously
and test the heart and the mind,
allow me to behold your vengeance on them,
for to you I have committed my cause.

21 Therefore, in regard to the people of Anathoth who are determined to end my life and who say, “Do not prophesy in the name of the Lord or we will kill you,” 22 this is what the Lord has to say, “I am about to punish them. Their young men will die by the sword, and their sons and daughters will perish by famine. 23 Not a single one of them will survive. For in the year of reckoning for them, I will bring disaster upon the people of Anathoth.”

Footnotes

  1. Jeremiah 11:1 In 622 B.C., a “Book of the Law” was discovered in a cupboard in the temple wall during repairs (see 2 Ki 22–23). This codex, which became the nucleus of Deuteronomy (see 2 Chr 34:14f), aided in the national and religious renewal which Josiah promoted after its discovery, for it preached love of God and unity among the Israelites. This renewal meant a genuine restoration of the covenant and would be wholeheartedly pursued by Jeremiah.
  2. Jeremiah 11:1 The editor played an important part in the formulation of these two oracles. The first passage proclaims the discovery of the law (vv. 1-8), but already added to it is a reflection on the failure of this attempt to renew the covenant (vv. 9-14). In fact, the reform was not continued after the death of Josiah.
  3. Jeremiah 11:18 Threatened with death, Jeremiah raises the thorny problem of the just who suffer and the wicked who prosper; this was a scandal to which traditional teaching on retribution had no valid answer. And in fact, it is not possible to rise above the scandal without a very radical act of faith. God himself promises Jeremiah ever harder trials in which he must be bold enough to trust solely in the Lord. Modern readers may perhaps be put off by the vindictive sentiments of the prophet, but these must be seen in the setting of the times. There was still no idea of retribution in a future life or even of a resurrection; therefore, the call for revenge seemed the only way of expressing faith in the justice of God. The image of the lamb led to slaughter (Jer 11:19) will later be applied by Second Isaiah (Isa 53:7) to the suffering Servant and, in the New Testament, to Jesus.

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