Jeremiah 16:1-21

Submitted by admin on Mon, 2016-11-14 15:24.

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The “word [or message] of YHWH” came to Jeremiah, telling him (16:1; see the Notes section) not to marry and not to father “sons and daughters in this place.” Based on verse 3, “this place” apparently means the “land” or the realm of the kingdom of Judah. (16:2) As to the sons and daughters born “in this place” or land and their mothers and fathers (16:3), YHWH revealed that they would die of “deadly diseases.” The dead would not be lamented nor buried, but their corpses would be like manure that is spread as fertilizer on the ground (an “example on the surface of the earth” or land). “By sword and by famine,” they would come to an end. Their dead bodies would be food for carrion-eating birds and scavenger wild animals. (16:4; see the Notes section.)

To indicate just what would befall the wayward people, YHWH commanded Jeremiah not to enter a house that was the place for a “mourning feast,” apparently because there would be no such mourning feasts after the military invasion that would devastate the land and slay many of the inhabitants. Jeremiah was not to lament the dead nor was he to sympathize with the bereaved. This was because YHWH had taken away his peace (or the protection that would assure well-being and security) from the disobedient people. He had also withdrawn his kindness, compassionate concern, or steadfast love, and his mercies. (16:5; see the Notes section.)

No one would be spared the horrors of war. Both the “great” or prominent and the “small” or insignificant ones would die in the “land” (the realm of the kingdom of Judah) as victims of the military invasion. The dead would not be buried, and people would not beat their breasts in grief. Contrary to God’s law, the wayward people had adopted the mourning practices of other nations, including making cuts or incisions in their flesh and shaving their heads for the dead. (Leviticus 19:28; Deuteronomy 14:l) At the time many of them would be slain or die from lack of food or infectious disease during the triumphant advance of the invading military forces, no survivors would engage in these mourning rites. (16:6; see the Notes section.)

No one of the survivors would break bread for mourners to comfort them for those lost to them in death. Even in the case of the death of a father or mother, no survivor would offer the bereaved ones a “cup of consolation” or a cup of wine to console them. (16:7)

Jeremiah was divinely commanded not to enter a “house of feasting” and there to “sit down” to eat and drink with the ones present. (16:8) This was because “YHWH of hosts” (the God with hosts of angels in his service), the “God of Israel,” declared that he would stop all rejoicing for the people then living. “Look, I am causing to cease from this place before your eyes and in your days a voice of rejoicing and a voice of gladness, a voice of a bridegroom and a voice of a bride.” The place is either Jerusalem or the realm of the kingdom of Judah, where even the joys associated with a wedding day would end. (16:9)

At the time Jeremiah proclaimed the message of coming punitive judgment, the people would ask why YHWH had purposed to bring the great calamity (literally, “all this great evil”) upon them. They would incredulously raise the question, “What is our guilt [injustice (LXX)], and what is our sin that we have sinned against YHWH our God?” This response indicated that the people did not recognize that they had sinned seriously but imagined that their offerings at YHWH’s temple were pleasing to him. (16:10)

In response to the questioning people, Jeremiah was to tell them that their “fathers” or forefathers had left YHWH and gone after other gods, serving them and bowing down to them in worship, and they did not observe his law. (16:11) The people then living had acted worse than their forefathers, walking or conducting themselves according to the “stubbornness” of their evil hearts (or their corrupt inner selves and thoughts). They defiantly refused to listen to or to obey YHWH. (16:12)

YHWH determined to throw his disobedient people out of their land and to have them taken as captives into a land neither they nor their forefathers knew. In that land, the exiles would have to serve others gods continually (“day and night”), for YHWH would not extend any favor to them. The inhabitants of the land in which the people would be living in exile worshiped other gods and attributed their military triumphs to these gods. Therefore, as subjects to the native population and having to labor for them, the exiles served their deities. (16:13; see the Notes section.)

The exile of the Israelites was not to be permanent. According to YHWH’s promise, “days,” or the time, would come when the focus would be on the deliverance from exile. Therefore, the people would then no longer say, “As YHWH lives who brought the sons of Israel up from the land of Egypt.” (16:14) Instead they would say, “As YHWH lives who brought up the sons [the house (LXX) or people] of Israel from the land of the north and from all the lands to which he had scattered them.” The “land of the north” does not designate a land situated to the north of the kingdom of Judah, but the north refers to the direction from which the military invasion came into the realm. In the fulfillment, exiles from Babylon and other areas to which they had been taken returned to their own land. This development was in keeping with YHWH’s promise, “I will bring them back to their land that I gave to their fathers” or forefathers. (16:15)

Fishing and hunting result in the death of what is caught. Therefore, YHWH’s sending many “fishers” to fish for the people and many hunters to hunt for them from every mountain, every hill, and from the clefts or caves in the rocks apparently signifies that the invading military forces would search out survivors wherever they may have taken refuge.(16:16; compare Zephaniah 1:12.) This searching would take place as a punitive judgment because nothing escapes YHWH’s notice. With reference to the people, he is quoted as saying, “For my eyes [are] upon all their ways [or conduct and deeds]. They are not hidden from before me [literally, my face], and their guilt is not concealed from my eyes.” (16:17; see the Notes section.)

The reference to “first” is not included in the Septuagint. In relation to developments, “first” could indicate that the people would first be punished for their unfaithfulness either before their restoration to divine favor and the return to their land (16:15) or before people of other nations would come to YHWH. (16:19) His purpose to repay “double” to the people for their guilt could suggest that the repayment would be to the full amount they deserved. They had filled the land with the “corpses of their detestable things,” and they had filled YHWH’s heritage “with their abominations.” The “corpses” were the lifeless deities. Like dead bodies, they could not do or provide anything. All the practices associated with idolatry were abominable. With abominations, the wayward people had filled the land that was YHWH’s possession and which he had given to them as their inheritance. According to the Septuagint, the people had trespassed against God’s inheritance with their lawless deeds. (16:18)

Either referring to himself or representatively to the repentant people, Jeremiah said regarding YHWH, “My strength and my stronghold and my refuge in the day of distress.” To the one who is his faithful servant, YHWH, as the source of reliable strength, imparts power. He is like a stronghold or fortress (a “help” [LXX]) and a refuge, providing safety and protection in the “day” or the time of trouble. Apparently upon witnessing what YHWH has done for those whom he recognizes as his people, “nations” (people of the nations) would come to him from the “ends of the earth” and acknowledge that their “fathers” or ancestors inherited a “lie,” “vanity,” or valueless “idols” (LXX) that represented nonexistent deities. There was no benefit or profit in these worthless things. They were a falsehood or an unreality. (16:19)

The answer to the rhetorical question would be that a man, a mere earthling, cannot make a real god for himself. All that he could do would be to make nothings, no gods. (16:20)

At a future time, YHWH, by what he does, will cause people of the nations to know what they previously had not known or recognized. He will cause them to know his “hand,” or the power he will be displaying in the carrying out of his purpose, and his mightiness by what he will accomplish. The people of the nations will then know that his name is YHWH, the only living and true God. (16:21)


The rendering of verse 1 in the Septuagint is, “And you should not take a wife, says the Lord the God of Israel.”

In verse 4, the Septuagint rendering expresses the same thoughts as does the Hebrew text, but the arrangement of the last two sentences is different. The Septuagint concludes with the words, “By sword they will fall, and by famine they will come to an end.”

The wording of verse 5 in the Septuagint is briefer than is that of the extant Hebrew text. “Thus says the Lord, Do not enter into their revelry [or mourning feast] and do not go to bewail and do not mourn [for] them, for I have removed my peace from this people.”

For verse 6, there is a shorter reading in the Septuagint than in the extant Hebrew text. It says that the people will not lament for the dead, will not make cuts, and will not be shaved.

According to the Septuagint rendering of verse 13, the “other gods” would not show the people any mercy. This could be understood to indicate that the people would be mistreated, and the gods of the native inhabitants would do nothing to relieve their distress.

The wording of verse 17 in the Septuagint is shorter than that of the extant Hebrew text. “For my eyes [are] upon all their ways, and their injustices were not hidden before my eyes.”