My heart and my mind are deeply disturbed.
I tremble all over. 3
I am like a drunk person,
like a person who has had too much wine, 4
because of the way the Lord
and his holy word are being mistreated. 5
They live wicked lives and they misuse their power. 7
The pastures in the wilderness are withered.
“Both the prophets and priests are godless.
I have even found them doing evil in my temple!
23:12 So the paths they follow will be dark and slippery.
They will stumble and fall headlong.
For I will bring disaster on them.
A day of reckoning is coming for them.” 12
The Lord affirms it! 13
doing something that was disgusting. 16
They prophesied in the name of the god Baal
and led my people Israel astray. 17
doing something just as shocking.
They are unfaithful to me
and continually prophesy lies. 19
So they give encouragement to people who are doing evil,
with the result that they do not stop their evildoing. 20
I consider all of them as bad as the people of Sodom,
and the citizens of Jerusalem as bad as the people of Gomorrah. 21
have something to say concerning the prophets of Jerusalem: 23
‘I will make these prophets eat the bitter food of suffering
and drink the poison water of judgment. 24
For the prophets of Jerusalem are the reason 25
that ungodliness 26 has spread throughout the land.’”
“Do not listen to what
those prophets are saying to you.
They are filling you with false hopes.
They are reporting visions of their own imaginations,
not something the Lord has given them to say. 29
‘Things will go well for you!’ 32
They say to all those who follow the stubborn inclinations of their own hearts,
‘Nothing bad will happen to you!’
Which of them have ever paid attention or listened to what he has said?
will come like a storm! 37
Like a raging storm it will rage down 38
on the heads of those who are wicked.
23:20 The anger of the Lord will not turn back
until he has fully carried out his intended purposes. 39
In days to come 40
you people will come to understand this clearly. 41
23:21 I did not send those prophets.
Yet they were in a hurry to give their message. 42
I did not tell them anything.
Yet they prophesied anyway.
they would have proclaimed my message to my people.
They would have caused my people to turn from their wicked ways
and stop doing the evil things they are doing.
23:24 “Do you really think anyone can hide himself
where I cannot see him?” the Lord asks. 47
“Do you not know that I am everywhere?” 48
the Lord asks. 49
23:25 The Lord says, 50 “I have heard what those prophets who are prophesying lies in my name are saying. They are saying, ‘I have had a dream! I have had a dream!’ 51 23:26 Those prophets are just prophesying lies. They are prophesying the delusions of their own minds. 52 23:27 How long will they go on plotting 53 to make my people forget who I am 54 through the dreams they tell one another? That is just as bad as what their ancestors 55 did when they forgot who I am by worshiping the god Baal. 56 23:28 Let the prophet who has had a dream go ahead and tell his dream. Let the person who has received my message report that message faithfully. What is like straw cannot compare to what is like grain! 57 I, the Lord, affirm it! 58 23:29 My message is like a fire that purges dross! 59 It is like a hammer that breaks a rock in pieces! 60 I, the Lord, so affirm it! 61 23:30 So I, the Lord, affirm 62 that I am opposed to those prophets who steal messages from one another that they claim are from me. 63 23:31 I, the Lord, affirm 64 that I am opposed to those prophets who are using their own tongues to declare, ‘The Lord declares….’ 65 23:32 I, the Lord, affirm 66 that I am opposed to those prophets who dream up lies and report them. They are misleading my people with their reckless lies. 67 I did not send them. I did not commission them. They are not helping these people at all. 68 I, the Lord, affirm it!” 69
23:33 The Lord said to me, “Jeremiah, 70 when one of these people, or a prophet, or a priest asks you, ‘What burdensome message 71 do you have from the Lord?’ Tell them, ‘You are the burden, 72 and I will cast you away. 73 I, the Lord, affirm it! 74 23:34 I will punish any prophet, priest, or other person who says “The Lord’s message is burdensome.” 75 I will punish both that person and his whole family.’” 76
23:35 So I, Jeremiah, tell you, 77 “Each of you people should say to his friend or his relative, ‘How did the Lord answer? Or what did the Lord say?’ 78 23:36 You must no longer say that the Lord’s message is burdensome. 79 For what is ‘burdensome’ 80 really pertains to what a person himself says. 81 You are misrepresenting 82 the words of our God, the living God, the Lord who rules over all. 83 23:37 Each of you should merely ask the prophet, ‘What answer did the Lord give you? Or what did the Lord say?’ 84 23:38 But just suppose you continue to say, ‘The message of the Lord is burdensome.’ Here is what the Lord says will happen: ‘I sent word to you that you must not say, “The Lord’s message is burdensome.” But you used the words “The Lord’s message is burdensome” anyway. 23:39 So 85 I will carry you far off 86 and throw you away. I will send both you and the city I gave to you and to your ancestors out of my sight. 87 23:40 I will bring on you lasting shame and lasting disgrace which will never be forgotten!’”
1 sn Jeremiah has already had a good deal to say about the false prophets and their fate. See 2:8, 26; 5:13, 31; 14:13-15. Here he parallels the condemnation of the wicked prophets and their fate (23:9-40) with that of the wicked kings (21:11-22:30).
2 tn The word “false” is not in the text, but it is clear from the context that these are whom the sayings are directed against. The words “Here is what the
3 tn Heb “My heart is crushed within me. My bones tremble.” It has already been noted several times that the “heart” in ancient Hebrew psychology was the intellectual and volitional center of the person, the kidneys were the emotional center, and the bones the locus of strength and also the subject of joy, distress, and sorrow. Here Jeremiah is speaking of his distress of heart and mind in modern psychology, a distress that leads him to trembling of body which he compares to that of a drunken person staggering around under the influence of wine.
4 tn Heb “wine has passed over him.”
5 tn Heb “wine because of the
sn The way the
7 tn For the word translated “They live…lives” see usage in Jer 8:6. For the idea of “misusing” their power (Heb “their power is not right” i.e., used in the wrong way) see 2 Kgs 7:9; 17:9. In the original text this line (really two lines in the Hebrew poetry) are at the end of the verse. However, this places the antecedent too far away and could lead to confusion. The lines have been rearranged to avoid such confusion.
9 tc The translation follows the majority of Hebrew
sn The curse is, of course, the covenant curse. See Deut 29:20-21 (29:19-20 HT) and for the specific curse see Deut 28:23-24. The curse is appropriate since their “adultery” lay in attributing their fertility to the god Baal (see Hos 2:9-13 (2:11-15 HT) and violating the covenant (see Hos 4:1-3).
10 tn The particle כִּי (ki) which begins this verse is parallel to the one at the beginning of the preceding verse. However, the connection is too distant to render it “for.” “Moreover” is intended to draw the parallel. The words “the
11 tn Heb “Oracle of the
13 tn Heb “Oracle of the
14 tn The words “The
17 tn Heb “by Baal.”
sn Prophesying in the name of the god Baal was a clear violation of Mosaic law and punishable by death (see Deut 13:1-5). For an example of the apostasy encouraged by prophets of Baal in the northern kingdom of Israel see 1 Kgs 18:16-40.
19 tn Or “they commit adultery and deal falsely.” The word “shocking” only occurs here and in 5:30 where it is found in the context of prophesying lies. This almost assures that the reference to “walking in lies” (Heb “in the lie”) is referring to false prophesy. Moreover the references to the prophets in 5:13 and in 14:13-15 are all in the context of false prophesy as are the following references in this chapter in 23:24, 26, 32 and in 28:15. This appears to be the theme of this section. This also makes it likely that the reference to adultery is not literal adultery, though two of the false prophets in Babylon were guilty of this (29:23). The reference to “encouraging those who do evil” that follows also makes more sense if they were preaching messages of comfort rather than messages of doom. The verbs here are infinitive absolutes in place of the finite verb, probably used to place greater emphasis on the action (cf. Hos 4:2 in a comparable judgment speech.)
20 tn Heb “So they strengthen the hands of those doing evil so that they do not turn back from their evil.” For the use of the figure “strengthen the hands” meaning “encourage” see Judg 9:24; Ezek 13:22 (and cf. BDB 304 s.v. חָזַק Piel.2). The vav consecutive on the front of the form gives the logical consequence equivalent to “so” in the translation.
21 tn Heb “All of them are to me like Sodom and its [Jerusalem’s] inhabitants like Gomorrah.”
sn The rhetoric of this passage is very forceful. Like Amos who focuses attention on the sins of the surrounding nations to bring out more forcefully the heinousness of Israel’s sin, God focuses attention on the sins of the prophets of Samaria to bring out the even worse sin of the prophets of Jerusalem. (The oracle is directed at them, not at the prophets of Samaria. See the announcement of judgment that follows.) The
22 tn Heb “Yahweh of armies.”
sn See the study note on 2:19 for explanation of this title.
23 tn Heb “Therefore, thus says the
24 tn Heb “I will feed this people wormwood and make them drink poison water.” For these same words of judgment on another group see 9:15 (9:14 HT). “Wormwood” and “poison water” are not to be understood literally here but are symbolic of judgment and suffering. See, e.g., BDB 542 s.v. לַעֲנָה.
25 tn The compound preposition מֵאֵת (me’et) expresses source or origin (see BDB 86 s.v. אֵת 4.c). Context shows that the origin is in their false prophesying which encourages people in their evil behavior.
26 sn A word that derives from this same Hebrew word is used in v. 11 at the beginning of the
27 tn Heb “Yahweh of armies.”
sn See the study note on 2:19 for explanation of this title.
28 tn The words “to the people of Jerusalem” are not in the Hebrew text but are supplied in the translation to reflect the masculine plural form of the imperative and the second masculine plural form of the pronoun. These words have been supplied in the translation for clarity.
29 tn Heb “They tell of a vision of their own heart [= mind] not from the mouth of the
30 tn The translation reflects an emphatic construction where the infinitive absolute follows a participle (cf. GKC 343 §113.r).
31 tc The translation follows the Greek version. The Hebrew text reads, “who reject me, ‘The
33 tn Or “has been the
34 tn The form here is a jussive with a vav of subordination introducing a purpose after a question (cf. GKC 322 §109.f).
35 tc Heb “his word.” In the second instance (“what he has said” at the end of the verse) the translation follows the suggestion of the Masoretes (Qere) and many Hebrew
36 tn Heb “Behold!”
37 tn The syntax of this line has generally been misunderstood, sometimes to the point that some want to delete the word wrath. Both here and in 30:23 where these same words occur the word “anger” stands not as an accusative of attendant circumstance but an apposition, giving the intended referent to the figure. Comparison should be made with Jer 25:15 where “this wrath” is appositional to “the cup of wine” (cf. GKC 425 §131.k).
38 tn The translation is deliberate, intending to reflect the repetition of the Hebrew root which is “swirl/swirling.”
39 tn Heb “until he has done and until he has carried out the purposes of his heart.”
40 tn Heb “in the latter days.” However, as BDB 31 s.v. אַחֲרִית b suggests, the meaning of this idiom must be determined from the context. Sometimes it has remote, even eschatological, reference and other times it has more immediate reference as it does here and in Jer 30:23 where it refers to the coming days of Babylonian conquest and exile.
41 tn The translation is intended to reflect a Hebrew construction where a noun functions as the object of a verb from the same root word (the Hebrew cognate accusative).
42 tn Heb “Yet they ran.”
sn The image is that of a messenger bearing news from the king. See 2 Sam 18:19-24; Jer 51:31; Isa 40:9; 52:7; Hab 2:2 (the tablet/scroll bore the message the runner was to read to the intended recipients of his message). Their message has been given in v. 17 (see notes there for cross references).
44 tn The words “Do you people think” at the beginning of this verse and “Do you really think” at the beginning of the next verse are not in the text but are a way of trying to convey the nature of the rhetorical questions which expect a negative answer. They are also a way of trying to show that the verses are still connected with the preceding discussion addressed to the people (cf. 23:16, 20).
45 tn Heb “Am I a god nearby and not a god far off?” The question is sometimes translated as though there is an alternative being given in v. 23, one that covers both the ideas of immanence and transcendence (i.e., “Am I only a god nearby and not also a god far off?”). However, the hey interrogative (הַ) at the beginning of this verse and the particle (אִם, ’im) at the beginning of the next show that the linkage is between the question in v. 23 and that in v. 24a. According to BDB 210 s.v. הֲ 1.d both questions in this case expect a negative answer.
sn The thought that is expressed here must be viewed against the background of ancient Near Eastern thought where gods were connected with different realms, e.g., Baal, the god of wind, rain, and fertility, Mot, the god of drought, infertility, and death, Yam, the god of the sea and of chaos. Moreover, Baal was worshiped in local manifestations as the Baal of Peor, Baal of Gad, etc. Hence, Baal is sometimes spoken of in the singular and sometimes in the plural. The
46 tn Heb “Oracle of the
47 tn Heb “Oracle of the
48 tn The words “Don’t you know” are not in the text. They are a way of conveying the idea that the question which reads literally “Do I not fill heaven and earth?” expects a positive answer. They follow the pattern used at the beginning of the previous two questions and continue that thought. The words are supplied in the translation for clarity.
49 tn Heb “Oracle of the
50 tn The words, “The
51 sn To have had a dream was not an illegitimate means of receiving divine revelation. God had revealed himself in the past to his servants through dreams (e.g., Jacob [Gen 31:10-11] and Joseph [Gen 37:6, 7, 9]) and God promised to reveal himself through dreams (Num 12:6; Joel 2:28 [3:1 HT]). What was illegitimate was to use the dream to lead people away from the
53 tn The relation of the words to one another in v. 26 and the beginning of v. 27 has created difficulties for translators and commentators. The proper solution is reflected in the NJPS. Verses 26-27 read somewhat literally, “How long is there in the hearts of the prophets who are prophesying the lie and [in the hearts of] the prophets of the delusions of their [own] heart the plotting to cause my people to forget my name…” Most commentaries complain that the text is corrupt, that there is no subject for “is there.” However, the long construct qualification “in the hearts of” has led to the lack of observation that the proper subject is “the plotting to make my people forget.” There are no exact parallels but Jer 14:22; Neh 5:5 follow the same structure. The “How long” precedes the other means of asking a question for the purpose of emphasis (cf. BDB 210 s.v. הֲ 1.b and compare for example the usage in 2 Sam 7:7). There has also been a failure to see that “the prophets of the delusion of…” is a parallel construct noun after “heart of.” Stripping the syntax down to its barest minimum and translating literally, the sentence would read “How long will the plotting…continue in the hearts of the prophets who…and [in hearts of] the prophets of…” The sentence has been restructured in the translation to conform to contemporary English style but attempt has been made to maintain the same subordinations.
54 tn Heb “my name.”
sn In the OT, the “name” reflected the person’s character (cf. Gen 27:36; 1 Sam 25:25) or his reputation (Gen 11:4; 2 Sam 8:13). To speak in someone’s name was to act as his representative or carry his authority (1 Sam 25:9; 1 Kgs 21:8). To call someone’s name over something was to claim it for one’s own (2 Sam 12:28). Hence, here to forget the name is equivalent to forgetting who he was in his essential character (cf. Exod 3:13-15; 6:3; 34:5-7). By preaching lies they had obliterated part of his essential character and caused people to forget who he really was.
56 tn Heb “through Baal.” This is an elliptical expression for the worship of Baal. See 11:17; 12:16; 19:5 for other references to their relation to Baal. There is a deliberate paralleling in the syntax here between “through their dreams” and “through Baal.”
57 tn Heb “What to the straw with [in comparison with] the grain?” This idiom represents an emphatic repudiation or denial of relationship. See, for example, the usage in 2 Sam 16:10 and note BDB 553 s.v. מָה 1.d(c).
58 tn Heb “Oracle of the
59 tn Heb “Is not my message like a fire?” The rhetorical question expects a positive answer that is made explicit in the translation. The words “that purges dross” are not in the text but are implicit to the metaphor. They are supplied in the translation for clarity.
60 tn Heb “Is it not like a hammer that breaks a rock in pieces?” See preceding note.
61 tn Heb “Oracle of the
62 tn Heb “Oracle of the
63 tn Heb “who are stealing my words from one another.” However, context shows that it is their own word which they claim is from the
64 tn Heb “Oracle of the
65 tn The word “The
sn Jer 23:30-33 are filled with biting sarcasm. The verses all begin with “Behold I am against the prophets who…” and go on to describe their reprehensible behavior. They “steal” one another’s messages which the
66 tn Heb “Oracle of the
67 tn Heb “with their lies and their recklessness.” This is an example of hendiadys where two nouns (in this case a concrete and an abstract one) are joined by “and” but one is intended to be the adjectival modifier of the other.
68 sn In the light of what has been said this is a rhetorical understatement; they are not only “not helping,” they are leading them to their doom (cf. vv. 19-22). This figure of speech is known as litotes.
69 tn Heb “Oracle of the
70 tn The words “The
71 tn The meaning of vv. 33-40 is debated. The translation given here follows the general direction of NRSV and REB rather than that of NIV and the related direction taken by NCV and God’s Word. The meaning of vv. 33-40 are debated because of (1) the ambiguity involved in the word מָשָּׂא (masa’), which can mean either “burden” (as something carried or weighing heavily on a person; see, e.g., Exod 23:5; Num 4:27; 2 Sam 15:33; Ps 38:4) or “oracle” (of doom; see, e. g., Isa 13:1; Nah 1:1); (the translation is debated due to etymological concerns), (2) the ambiguity of the line in v. 36 which has been rendered “For what is ‘burdensome’ really pertains rather to what a person himself says” (Heb “the burden is to the man his word”), and (3) the text in v. 33 of “you are the burden.” Many commentaries see a wordplay on the two words “burden” and “oracle” which are homonyms. However, from the contrasts that are drawn in the passage, it is doubtful whether the nuance of “oracle” ever is in view. The word is always used in the prophets of an oracle of doom or judgment; it is not merely revelation of God which one of the common people would have been uttering (contra NIV). Jeremiah never uses the word in that sense nor does anyone else in the book of Jeremiah.
sn What is in view here is the idea that the people consider Jeremiah’s views of loyalty to God and obedience to the covenant “burdensome.” I.e., what burdensome demands is the
72 tc The translation follows the Latin and Greek versions. The Hebrew text reads “What burden [i.e., burdensome message]?” The syntax of “what message?” is not in itself objectionable; the interrogative can function as an adjective (cf. BDB 552 s.v. מָה 1.a[a]). What is objectionable to virtually all the commentaries and lexicons is the unparalleled use of the accusative particle in front of the interrogative and the noun (see, e.g., BDB 672 s.v. III מָשָּׂא and GKC 365-66 §117.m, n. 3). The emendation only involves the redivision and revocalization of the same consonants: אֶת־מַה־מַשָּׂא (’et-mah-masa’) becomes אַתֶּם הַמָּשָּׂא (’atem hammasa’). This also makes a much more natural connection for the vav consecutive perfect that follows (cf. GKC 334 §112.x and compare Isa 6:7; Judg 13:3).
73 tn The meaning “cast you away” is questioned by some because the word is regularly used of “forsaking” or “abandoning” (see, e.g., Jer 7:29; 12:7; 15:6). However, it is clearly use of “casting down” or “throwing away” in Ezek 29:5; 32:4 and that meaning is virtually assured in v. 39 where the verb is combined with the phrase “from my presence” which is elsewhere used in rejection contexts with verbs like “send away,” “throw out,” or “remove” (see BDB 819 s.v. פָּנֶה II.8.a). This is another example of the bracketing effect of a key word and should be rendered the same in the two passages. Moreover, it fits in nicely with the play on “burden” here.
74 tn Heb “Oracle of the
75 tn Heb “burden of the
76 tn Heb “And the prophet or the priest or the people [common person] who says, ‘The burden of the
77 tn The words “So, I, Jeremiah tell you” are not in the text. They are supplied in the translation for clarity to show that it is he who is addressing the people, not the
78 tn This line is sometimes rendered as a description of what the people are doing (cf. NIV). However, repetition with some slight modification referring to the prophet in v. 37 followed by the same kind of prohibition that follows here shows that what is being contrasted is two views toward the
79 tn Heb “burden of the
80 tn Heb “the burden.”
81 tn Heb “The burden is [or will be] to a man his word.” There is a good deal of ambiguity regarding how this line is to be rendered. For the major options and the issues involved W. L. Holladay, Jeremiah (Hermeneia), 1:651-52 should be consulted. Most of them are excluded by the observation that מַשָּׂא probably does not mean “oracle” anywhere in this passage (see note on v. 33 regarding the use of this word). Hence it does not mean “every man’s word becomes his oracle” as in NIV or “for that ‘burden’ [= oracle] is what he entrusts to the man of his word” (W. McKane, Jeremiah [ICC], 1:600-601). The latter is also ruled out by the fact that the antecedent of “his” on “his word” is clearly the word “man” in front of it. This would be the only case where the phrase “man of his word” occurs. There is also no textual reason for repointing the noun with the article as the noun with the interrogative to read “For how can his word become a burden to anyone?” There are, of course, other options but this is sufficient to show that the translation has been chosen after looking at other alternatives.
83 tn Heb “Yahweh of armies.”
sn See the study note on 2:19 for the explanation of the significance of this title.
sn As noted in v. 35 the prophet is Jeremiah. The message is directed against the prophet, priest, or common people who have characterized his message as a “burden from the
85 tn The translation of v. 38 and the first part of v. 39 represents the restructuring of a long and complex Hebrew sentence: Heb “But if you say, ‘The burden of the
86 tc The translation follows a few Hebrew
87 tn Heb “throw you and the city that I gave you and your fathers out of my presence.” The English sentences have been broken down to conform to contemporary English style.