Bible Query from
Q: In Jer, what is the importance of this book?
A: The Jewish people themselves thought Jeremiah was the most important prophetic book after Isaiah. In Jeremiah's time there were a number of false prophets and corrupt priests. Jeremiah 8:11 says of the prophets and priests, "They dress the wound of my people as though it were not serious. 'Peace, peace,' they say, when there is no peace." In the time of many successful and self-appointed excusers of God, one man was called by God to give an unpopular message nobody wanted to hear. It was a negative message of disaster for the ungodly people of the time; yet future believers would see within that message consolation and promises of hope. Strangely, despite all of the false prophets of God, Hananiah, Pashur, etc. who did not receive any revelations from God, the voice of one man, who was serious about God, rings clear over 1600 years later.
A danger today is that the gospel message can be told in such a watered down fashion that its seriousness and urgency are lost, which dress the wounds of sin as though they were not serious. We can be so distracted by pop psychology, trends, and other things that we lose sight of the seriousness of counting the cost for Christ and we stop communicating the urgency of the Gospel.
The land of Judah was all that was left after the Assyrians devastated the kingdom of Israel and carried off its inhabitants in 722 B.C. Jerusalem was miraculously saved, but would God save again against the Babylonians. The people needed an answer and God provided it through Jeremiah: NO WAY. For those who have forsaken God and followed after their own creations, do not trust on where you go to church or what religion you belong to save you. God will allow formerly godly organizations, churches, and even His temples to be destroyed before ceasing to take rebellion seriously.
Q: In Jer, what is an outline of this book?
A: While Ezekiel is based purely on chronological order, Jeremiah is not arranged chronologically. Here is an outline based on the date of writing, taken loosely from The Bible Knowledge Commentary : Old Testament p.1126.
1-6 626/625 B.C.
7-10 perhaps 606 B.C.
11-12 perhaps 620 B.C.
13 perhaps 598 B.C.
14-20 perhaps 605 B.C.
21 589 B.C. (based on Jer 21:1-2)
22:1-19 607 B.C. (based on Jer 22:11)
22:20-30 598 B.C. (based on Jer 22:24)
23-24 597 B.C. (based on Jer 24:1)
25 604 B.C. (based on Jer 25:1)
26 607 B.C. (based on Jer 26:1)
27-28 593 B.C. (based on Jer 27:1; 28:1)
29-31 596 B.C. (based on Jer 29:1-2)
32-34 587/586 B.C. (based on Jer 32:1-2)
35 604 B.C. (based on Jer 25:1)
36:1-8 603 B.C. (based on Jer 36:1)
36:9-32 602 B.C. (based on Jer 36:9)
37 587/586 B.C. (based on Jer 37:1)
38-44 585 B.C. (based on Jer 39:1; 41:1)
45:1-49:33 perhaps 604 B.C. (based on Jer 45:1)
49:34-39 595 B.C. (based on Jer 49:34)
50-51 perhaps 590 B.C.
52 561 B.C. Fulfillment of Jerusalem's Destruction
Here is an outline I used when teaching this book.
God Watches and Warns : 1-10
...When God Gets Serious - With You : 1
...Reasons for Wrath : 2
...Plea for the Faithless & Unfaithful : 3-4:4
...Disaster Descends : 4:5-31
...The Absence of the Upright : 5
...The Attack of Terror : 6
...The Temple Gate Sermon : 7-9
...Explanations and Lessons : 10
Broken Covenant, Ruined People : 11-19
...God's Judgment : 14-17
...Religion Gone to Pot : 18-19
Reactions of Man and God : 20-29
...Different Kinds of Evil : 20-22
...The Righteous Branch & Bad Prophets : 23
...When the People Do Not Give a Fig : 24
...70 Years in Babylon & Bad Prophets:25-29
The Book of Consolation : 30-33
...The Future Promise : 30-31
...The Field of Dreams : 32
...Promise of Restoration : 33
The Book of Personal Memoirs : 34-45
...The False Freedom of Sin : 34
...The Recabite Response : 35
...The scroll cast in the fire : 36
...Jeremiah Imprisoned : 37
...Jeremiah cast in a cistern 38
...The 587 Fall of Jerusalem : 39-43
...The Queen of Heaven : 44
...Message for Faithful Baruch : 45
The Book of Foreign Oracles (News for Nine Nations) : 46-51
...About Egypt : 46
...About the Philistines : 47
...About Moab : 48
...About Five Other Nations : 49
...About Babylon : 50-51
Review of the Destruction 587 B.C. : 52
Q: In Jer, what are some of the main themes?
A: Here are a number of them.
Disaster from the north: 6:1,22; 10:22
Water 2:13,18; 6:7; (poisoned)9:15
Kill and oppress the poor Jer 2:34; 5:26-28
Forgot God 2:6,8,32; 3:21
No shame Jer 3:3; 6:15
No awe or fear of God. Jer 2:19; 5:22,24; 3:8
Justified themselves 2:23
Death during labor 4:31
sword, famine, and plague Jer 5:12,17; 44:12,27
injury and sickness: Jer 10:19
Chapter 2 itself has a number of images.
...Prey: 2:15, 2:30, 4:7; 5:6; 20:25
...Vine 2:21; 5:10; 6:9
...Dirty hands and heart 2:22; 4:14
...She-camel/donkey, stallions 2:23-25; 5:8
...Loose woman 2:20,21,22; 3:1-13; 4:30
...Wood consumed by fire. Jer 5:14;
Q: In Jer, what were the idols the people worshipped?
A: Here are some of them.
Queen of Heaven (Ashtarte) Jer 7:18, 44:17-19,25
Heavenly bodies Jer 8:2
Wood idols Jer 2:27; 10:3-9
Stones Jer 2:27
As many gods as towns. Jer 11:13
Q: In Jer, what is a timeline of this book?
A: Here are some of the events.
641 B.C. The bad king Amon of Judah succeeds Manasseh, who was exiled to Babylon
640 B.C. The good king Josiah (8 years old) began to reign over Judah
627 B.C. Jeremiah called to be a prophet in Jeremiah 1
626 B.C. Babylonians gain independence from Assyria
622 B.C. The Temple was repaired under King Josiah and the law was discovered
612 B.C. Medes and Babylonians destroy Nineveh
609 B.C. Josiah killed in a senseless battle against the Egyptians
609 B.C. Jehoahaz (23 years old) rules for three months. Taken captive to Egypt
609 B.C. Jehoiakim (25 years old) rules 11 years. Drought in Jer 14. Taken captive to Babylon
605 B.C. Nebuchadnezzar becomes king of Babylon.
601 B.C. Jehoiakim rebels against Nebuchadnezzar (bad move)
598 B.C. Jehoiachin (18 years old) succeeds Jehoiakim for three months then exiled to Babylon
598 B.C. Zedekiah (21 years old) king of Judah for 11 years until he rebels. 1 1/2 year siege
3/16/597 B.C. Jerusalem captured.
587 B.C. Jerusalem destroyed. Part of Jews exiled. Gedaliah becomes governor
587 B.C. Ishmael assassinates Gedaliah, Johanan son of Kereah takes Jews to Egypt
> 587 B.C. Tradition says Jeremiah delivered one more message than the Jews could stand, and he was martyred.
582 B.C. More Jews exiled to Babylon
561 B.C. Jehoiachin (now 55 years old) released from Babylonian imprisonment
568-567 B.C. Babylonians and Apries conquer Egypt
539 B.C. Persians capture Babylon and add the Babylonian empire to their own
538 B.C. As Jeremiah prophesied, the Jewish exiles are allowed to return home
Q: In Jer, what was the world like during this time?
A: Jeremiah lived during troubled times. Here are some of the events.
|653 B.C.||Scythians dominate Medes and kill Khshathrita the Mede|
|653 B.C.||Coup in Elam. Assyria and Elam were friendly before this.|
|653 B.C.||Assyria defeats Elam. Egypt free from Assyria|
|653 B.C.||Cimmerians defeat Lydia|
|652-643 B.C.||Civil War in Assyria, Shamash-shum-ukin revels against his brother Ashurbanipal|
|c.650 B.C.||Messenians revolt against Spartans|
|650 B.C.||Scythians and Cimmerians raid Palestine|
|648 B.C.||Assyrians sack Babylon|
|646 B.C.||Ashurbanipal the Assyrian exiles Elamites|
|642-639 B.C.||Assyrians attack Elam, sack Susa, and behead King Teumann|
|638 B.C.||At the Hong River, Chu defeat Duke Xiang of Song|
|633 B.C.||Assyrians sack Thebes in Egypt|
|632 B.C.||Kylon tries to take Athens from Megakles|
|c.631/627 B.C.||Medes under Kyaxares besiege Nineveh.|
|628-571 B.C.||Lydians fight Cimmerians|
|626/625 B.C.||Babylonians gain independence from Assyria|
|625 B.C.||Kyaxares the Mede throws off Scythians|
|615 B.C.||Arrapkha in Assyria captured|
|614 B.C.||Asshur in Assyria captured|
|614 B.C.||Medes try to take Nineveh, Assyrian capital|
|c.613-7-8/612||Medes sack Nineveh (Babylonians too late)|
|612 B.C.||Medes conquer Armenia|
|612-609 B.C.||Last of Assyrians destroyed|
|611-604 B.C.||Lydian Alyattes fights Thrasybulus of Miletus in Asia Minor|
|611-12/604 B.C.||Babylonians sack Ashkelon in Philistia|
|610-605 B.C.||Egyptian Pharaoh Necho II fights in Syria|
|609 B.C.||Medes capture Tuspa, Urartian capital|
|609-606 B.C.||Babylonians raid Northern Israel|
|609/608 B.C.||Egyptians destroy Megiddo and attack Gaza|
|606-605 B.C.||The Di people attack north China, as done in 630,623,620|
|May/June 604 B.C.||At Carchemish in Syria, Babylon defeats Egypt|
|5-6/604 B.C.||At Carchemish Babylonians defeat the Egyptians|
|11-12/605/604 B.C.||Babylonians sack Ashkelon in Phoenicia|
|603 B.C.||Babylonians sack Ekron in Philistia|
|601 B.C.||Babylon and Egypt tie with heavy losses|
|599-598 B.C.||Babylonians fight Arabs|
|3/16/597 B.C.||Babylonians capture Jerusalem but do not destroy it|
|596 B.C.||Babylonian Nebuchadnezzar II fights Elamites|
|595-594 B.C.||Nebuchadnezzar II puts down revolt|
|593 B.C.||Egyptian Psamtik II + Greek, Phoenician, and Jewish mercenaries defeat Cushites in Sudan|
|591 B.C.||Egypt invades Nubia in Sudan|
|589-587 B.C.||Jews rebel against Babylonians. Jerusalem suffers a 30-month siege. Jews exiled.|
|586/5-573 B.C.||Babylonians besiege king Ethbaal II of Tyre|
|585 B.C.||War ends between Medes and Alyattes of Lydia (eclipse 5/28/585 B.C.)|
|584-584||Nebuchadnezzar II besieges Tyre in Lebanon|
|581 B.C.||Babylonians deport more from Judah|
|570 B.C.||Greeks in Cyrene defeat Apries of Egypt|
|568-567 B.C.||Babylonians and Apries try to invade Egypt|
Q: In Jer, what verses relate to Jesus?
A: According to Jay P. Green's Literal Translation p.976, the following verses of Jeremiah are quoted or alluded to in the New Testament relating to Jesus.
Jer 6:21 1.c) Mk 8:18
Jer 7:11 Mt 21:13; Mk 11:17; Lk 10:46
Jer 17:10 Rev 2:23
Jer 32:17 Mt 19:26
Q: In Jer 1:1, was Jeremiah's father Hilkiah the high priest, who found the book of the law in 2 Ki 22:?
A: Probably not, because Jeremiah came from Anathoth, not Jerusalem. The Believer's Bible Commentary p.995 also mentions that Jeremiah was born of a priest in Anathoth. The Bible Knowledge Commentary : Old Testament p.1129 and the skeptical Asimov's Guide to the Bible p.555-557 agree that this was probably not the high priest Hilkiah.
Q: In Jer 1:2-3, what is significant about the time Jeremiah prophesied?
A: Spiritually, Jeremiah lived in varied times. He started his prophetic career when the good King Josiah reigned. After that, the kings were bad, though in differing degrees.
Militarily, Jeremiah saw the Babylonians besiege Jerusalem for 30 months and exile the Jews.
Jeremiah was a man with a message. His timeless message was as much for the Jews in exile and those who later returned as it was for the people of his own time.
Q: In Jer 1:5, did Jeremiah exist before he was conceived?
A: No, but God had a plan for Jeremiah's life before Jeremiah existed. See the discussion on Galatians 1:15-16 for the answer.
Q: In Jer 1:5, does this teach that Jeremiah was reincarnated?
A: No. Rather, God knows every day of a person's life before that person even lived those days, as Psalm 139:16 says. See When Critics Ask p.275 for a different but complementary answer.
Q: Does Jer 1:5 show that Jeremiah was made a prophet before his birth? (The Muslim Ahmad Deedat brings this up.)
A: It does not say Jeremiah was "made" a prophet. Rather, God appointed that Jeremiah would be a prophet, not only before his birth, but even before he was formed in the womb. Actually God ordained who prophets would be before the world we even created.
Q: In Jer 1:5, does this show that Jeremiah was a person between conception and birth?
A: No. While it is tempting to say yes, actually the last half of Jeremiah 1:5 does not show that Jeremiah was a person then any more than the first half of Jeremiah 1:5 shows that Jeremiah existed as a person prior to conception.
Q: In Jer 1:6, how can telling God you cannot do something be good?
A: Jeremiah was actually correct here. On his own power, Jeremiah was not capable of doing this, and it is good to recognize our own human limitations.
Q: In Jer 1:6, how can telling God you cannot do something be bad?
A: It is only bad if you say that you cannot do it on your own ability, therefore you cannot do it at all. This assumes God is unwilling or unable to empower you to do His will.
Q: In Jer 1:8 and Jer 1:19, what was both comforting and disturbing about God promising to always be there to rescue him?
A: It is comforting to know that God will always be there. However, it might make Jeremiah pause to know that God's intervention would be necessary to rescue him.
Today, if it appears to us that everything we can do for God is easy to do within our own power, then our vision is too shortsighted.
Q: In Jer 1:9 and Isa 6:6-8, why did God need to have these prophets' mouths touched?
A: There are at least four possible reasons.
Cleansing: Their mouths would need to be cleansed of unhelpful, proud, or self-promoting speech.
God's message: God put His words in them for them to speak.
God's inerrant message: Combining the first two reasons, God not only gave them His message, but God ensured that when they were speaking as prophets, they would not say anything was from God that was not really from God.
Passion: God not only gave them the content to say, but God gave them His heart in determining how to say it.
Q: In Jer 1:9, Isa 6:6-8, and Jms 3:5-12, how do believers today sometimes need their mouths touched?
A: Like Jeremiah, we should not think that on our own, we will say the right things, not mix God's truth with error, and saying the truth the proper way in love.
Q: In Jer 1:9-10, how did this define Jeremiah's ministry?
A: God appointed Jeremiah such that God's words spoken through Jeremiah would destroy many kingdoms and also build up God's people. Jeremiah was given some powerful words!
Q: In Jer 1:11-12, what is the connection here?
A: The words for almond and watching are shaqed and shaqad. In other words, this is a pun. Many times in the Bible God uses puns, such as in Micah 1:10-15. However, these are not used for humor but to drive home a point and make it easier to remember.
Q: In Jer 2:2-3, why did God remember the Israelites in the Wilderness as devoted and loving Him, since most of them rebelled?
A: God was remembering those who were devoted. Jeremiah 2:2-3 does not mention coming out of Egypt. God likely meant the desert-born Israelites who did not rebel after the report of the ten spies.
Q: In Jer 2:5; 8:19; 10:3, and Jon 2:8, can worshipping idols be an imperfect way to worship the True God?
A: Not at all!
1. Idols are acknowledged as created (Romans 1:20-26)
2. It disobeys two of God's ten commandments (Exodus 20:3-4, Deuteronomy 5:6-7)
3. Idols were distressing to Paul (Acts 17:16), and
4. 1 Corinthians 10:20 says that sacrifices to idols are actually sacrifices to demons
Q: In Jer 2:11,19,21, why does a predominantly godly/Christian nation turn away from God?
A: Remember, nations do not go to Heaven, people do. Often the issue is not individuals turning away from God en masse, but parents losing the next generation, due to other enticements, their own shortcomings, or other factors. Of course, no one comes to God without God's grace, but as God desires that all come to Him, the responsibility of some one not coming to God is his or her own.
Q: In Jer 2:13, in this metaphor, what exactly is wrong with having your own cistern (well)?
A: A cistern is a pit or container than can hold a large amount of rainwater. However, if the cistern develops a crack or a hole, or if part of the cistern is material water can drain through, then the cistern is useless, not matter how large it is. They gave up the fresh spring for the stale cistern water, and the cistern was not usable at that.
Likewise the reason many people turn away from God is that they think the dry well they have found is a better alternative.
See 735 Baffling Bible Questions Answered p.174 for more info.
Q: How does Jer 2:13 summarize the charges against God's people back then?
A: Like many people today, they only did two things wrong. In their words, actions, and hearts, They turned away from God and what was right, and they turned to their own substitutes and things that were wrong.
Q: In Jer 2:16, where were Noph and Tahpanes?
A: These were two prominent Egyptian cities; Tahpanes was the city the Greeks called Daphnai/Daphne. The NIV Study Bible p.1122 and the skeptical Asimov's Guide to the Bible p.559 say that the ruins of Taphenes are under the mound called Tel Defneh/ Defenneh just south of Lake Menzaleh in the eastern Nile Delta region.
Q: In Jer 2:16, since this was during the time of Josiah, are these rebukes of apostasy out of place, as the skeptical Asimov's Guide to the Bible p.559 claims?
A: No. Many Jews returned to God under Josiah, and perhaps Jeremiah had a part in this great revival. However, this does not negate the fact that many others did not return to God, and Jeremiah still rebuked them. Also, the evidence that everyone did not turn to God under Josiah was that as soon as Josiah died, the revival immediately appeared to be over.
Q: In Jer 3:1-2, how can God's people prostitute themselves with many lovers, both then and today?
A: They were comfortable being called God's people, but they were also comfortable worshipping other gods, and engaging in wicked practices. A man would not be impressed with a potential wife who insisted that she had to still see other men after marriage. In some respects, being God's people is similar to being spiritually married to God.
Q: In Jer 3:6-14, what is the difference between being faithless and unfaithful?
A: See the discussion on Jeremiah 3:11 for the answer.
Q: In Jer 3:11, why was Israel more righteous than Judah?
A: While Israel was worse, in the sense of completely turning away from God, at least they were honest about it, and did not follow God in pretense, as Judah did. As Jeremiah 3:13, Israel was faithless, similar to a woman leaving her husband. Judah was unfaithful, like a woman cheating on her husband.
Q: In Jer 3:12-14 and Hos 14:1-4, can someone who showed belief and Christ, and later leaves the faith, ever come back?
A: Yes, I have known a number of cases where a person was an evangelical Christians, left and became a ______, and later repented and came back to Christ.
I have personally seen "blank" filled in with Mormon, Muslim, and skeptic.
Jeremiah 3:12-14 and Hosea 14:1-4 are not pleas to those who have no knowledge of God. As pleas to those who know about God, they are not so much pleas to come to God as pleas to come back to God. See 1001 Bible Questions Answered p.436-437 for more info.
Q: In Jer 3:15-17, why would the ark not be missed?
A: There are two reasons.
1. Those who turned away from God would not miss anything related to the worship of God.
2. In New Testament times, believers have the Holy Spirit inside of them. They do not need the ark of God's presence, as one could think of us having the ark of God's presence inside our hearts.
Q: In Jer 3:15-17, how can Christian symbols today have a positive use?
A: They can be a reminder to pray and to continue practicing the presence of God. It can be an encouragement to see others that are believers, too.
Q: In Jer 3:15-17, how can Christian symbols today have a negative use?
A: They can have a bad use if:
1. People think they contain any magic
2. People think using a symbol will make God more pleased with them.
3. They pray to it, or worship or venerate the symbol instead of God.
Q: In Jer 3:16, what happened to the Ark of the Covenant?
A: First two observations, and then two possible answers.
The Babylonians took all the gold and furnishings they found in Solomon's Temple.
The ark appeared in Heaven in John's vision in Revelation 11:19.
Answers: Either there was only one ark, and God carried it up to Heaven (perhaps as God's glory left the Temple in Ezekiel 10), or the earthly ark was a copy of the Heavenly one, as many items in earthly worship were copies of Heavenly things according to Hebrews 8:5.
Q: In Jer 3:22, how does God cure people of backsliding?
A: In extreme cases, God cures backsliding by death, as He did for Ananias and Sapphira in Acts 5:1-11. In most cases, it appears God gives us all a responsibility to examine ourselves (2 Corinthians 13:5) persevere (Hebrews 10:23,26) and to watch and test others, especially leaders (Revelation 2:2,20; Matthew 7:15-20; 2 Corinthians 11:2-6,13-5).
Q: In Jer 4:4, why did God tell them to wash the evil from their heart, since washing would not help in Jer 2:22?
A: Jeremiah 2:22 says they would use soda, but they needed to clean up their actions in Jeremiah 2:23-28 They were not clean on the inside, and they had the responsibility to "circumcise their hearts" and ask God to change them. See When Critics Ask p.275 for more info.
Q: In Jer 4:4, what does the Bible say about God's wrath?
A: Here is some of what the Bible says.
Slow to anger. Ex 34:6; Num 14:18; Neh 9:17; Ps 86:15; Ps 103:8; Ps 145:8; Joel 2:13; Jonah 4:2; Nahum 1:3; 2 Peter 3:9
Not be slow to repay those who hate him. Dt 7:10
Fierce wrath/anger. Jer 6:4; 1 Sam 28:18; Lam 1:12
Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath. Mt 3:7; Lk 3:7
All without Jesus remain as objects of God's wrath. Rom 2:5-6;John 3:36; 5:9; 9:22; Eph 2:3;1Th1:10; Jn 3:36
Lord's wrath remains upon him. Jn 3:36
Rom 2:5 storing up wrath
God bears with patience objects of His wrath. Rom 9:22
We are by nature objects of wrath. Eph 2:3
Rescues us from the coming wrath. 1 Th 1:10
God did not appoint us to suffer wrath. 1 Th 5:9
Save us from the wrath of the Lamb! Rev 6:16
The winepress of God's wrath. Rev 14:19-20; 19:15; Isa 63:1-4; Lam 1:15; Joel 3:13
He has poured out His wrath like fire. Lam 2:4; Ps 50:3-6; Dt 29:20; 2 Sam 6:8
For the Son's wrath can flare up in a moment. Ps 2:12
Stiff-necked after many rebukes will be destroyed suddenly. Prov 29:1
Drinking the wine of wrath. Job 21:20; Rev 16:19; 14:10; Jer 25:15; 51:7;
God setting aside His wrath and fierce anger. Ps 85:3
"For my own sake I delay my wrath" Isa 48:9
Even God's wrath brings Him praise. Ps 76:10; Ex 9:16;~10:1-2;14-15; Jdg 5; Rom 9:17~Ex10:1-2
God does not delight in the death of the wicked, but rather desires that they turn from their wickedness and live. Ezek 18:23,32;33:11; 2 Pet 3:9; 1 Tim2:5; Mt 18:14
God is not slow in keeping His promises, but patient, not wanting any to perish. 2 Pet 3:9
Q: In Jer 4:6 and Jer 11:11, how does God bring evil?
A: God causes evil in the sense of the "physical evil" of catastrophes, but He does not do moral evil. However, this does not completely answer all the issues this verse raises.
Even knowing how evil the Babylonians were, God deliberately planned that they would come to power and conquer Judah. The Bible shows both that God never does evil Himself, but God even uses evil people and demons as He wishes, as a part of His ultimate plan. See the discussion on Habakkuk 1:13 for more on God not only permitting, but also using the moral evil of others.
Q: In Jer 4:6-8, what is the difference between God allowing Judah to be laid waste and God causing it?
A: A major point in Jeremiah is not that God merely permitted this destruction to happen, but God specifically planned and caused this punishment to occur.
Q: In Jer 4:15 and Jer 8:16, what is the significance of armies from the region of Dan?
A: Dan was the northernmost tribe, and an invasion from the north would pass through Dan first.
In addition, dispensationalists see this as implying the Antichrist will be a Jew descended from the tribe of Dan. However, the only other support for this is that Dan is not mentioned as one of the 12 tribes the 144,000 comes from in Revelation 7:5-8. This interpretation of Jeremiah 4:15; 8:16 goes all the way back to Irenaeus (wrote 182-188 A.D.) in Against Heresies book 3 chapter 30.
Q: In Jer 4:22, 8:16 (KJV), what does "sottish children" mean?
A: This means kids without any sense. The NIV translates this as "senseless children".
Q: Do Jer 4:23-27, Isa 24:1, and Isa 45:18 imply there were people on the earth before it was formless and empty in Genesis 1:2?
A: No. Jeremiah 4:27; 4:28 and Isaiah 24:1 show this is future tense, not past tense. In the future the heavens will grow dark, and the fruitful land will become a desert. Isaiah 45:18 says the earth was not formed for the purpose of being empty, without specifying any catastrophe. 1001 Bible Questions Answered p.369 has a different answer.
Q: In Jer 5:1, how does this "divine scavenger hunt" compare to Abraham's pleading for Sodom and Gomorrah in Gen 18:20-33?
A: God did not see even ten righteous people among the pagan towns of Sodom and Gomorrah. It is sad that in this time, Jeremiah could not find even one righteous man walking the streets of this city of the Lord.
Q: In Jer 5:1 and Gen 18:26-33, do these passages relate to Jer 15:1 and Ezek 14:14?
A: No. Jeremiah 15:1 and Ezekiel 14:14 says that not even men as righteous as Moses, Samuel, Noah, Daniel, and Job would be righteous enough to save another.
In Jeremiah 5:1, Jeremiah is not looking for some one to give righteousness to another, but rather seeing if he can find enough honest people so that God would not destroy everyone in the city. Similarly, in Genesis 18:26-33 Abraham pleads with God to spare Sodom if he can find ten to fifty righteous people.
Thus, God would avert or postpone the destruction if he found enough godly people, but a godly person cannot save another, because none of us are God, and none of us are sinlessly perfect.
Q: In Jer 5:6, what is backsliding?
A: This is an individual or a group of people who believe in God and obey Him, but later fall into sin and be unfaithful, or else leave God and be faithless.
Q: In Jer 5:14, how were Jeremiah's words like fire and the people like wood?
A: God would fulfill the words of judgment He spoke through Jeremiah. This would lead to the destruction of the Israelites, such that only a remnant would be left.
Q: In Jer 5:21, how do people have eyes that see not and ears that hear not?
A: Physically, blind and deaf people still have eyes and ears. people with vision have both the ability to see and the responsibility not to bump into others and use their sight wisely. Likewise, the people had both the ability and responsibility to choose right over wrong and follow God.
Q: In Jer 5:25, how do people's sins keep good things from them?
A: God does not give them the blessings or the good things they would otherwise receive, for at least four of reasons.
Discipline for a believer
Example for others
Punishment and just consequences for a reprobate unbeliever.
Protection from the sins they would commit is hey had the resources of more material blessings.
Q: In Jer 5:27, how are their houses full of deceit as a cage is full of birds?
A: In verse 26, the birds represent those caught by deceit. A cage holds a bird-catchers work, livelihood, and in what he takes pride. Are there any "trophies" or things you take pride in that are not good?
Q: In Jer 6:10, why is it wrong that they did not delight in the word of the Lord?
A: Psalm 119 shows the attitude and feeling they (and we) are supposed to have toward God's word. For many, God's word is either offensive, because it tells them not to do things they want to do, and it reminds them of their guilt and future punishment. For others, God's knowledge and commands are irrelevant to people who do not want to know God or obey him. See also the discussion on Jeremiah 6:27 for more info.
Isaiah 61:10-11 shows one reason we can delight in the Lord is because of our hope in God's promise of what He is going to do.
Q: In Jer 6:13, what is so wrong with covetousness?
A: Besides the fact that it is displeasing and disobedient to God (Exodus 20:17 and Deuteronomy 6:21), it is harmful to us, too. Jealousy of others can eat away at a person's happiness. Discontent at what they do not have can rob people of the simple joys of what they do have.
Q: In Jer 6:14 (KJV) (NKJV), how did they hurt the people slightly?
A: This means the treated a serious wound as though it were not serious, but superficial.
Q: In Jer 6:14, Ezek 13:10, in what ways can people today say "peace, peace when there is no peace"?
A: I'm OK You're OK is the title of a well-known pop psychology book. In response, one T-shirt a Christian wore showed Christ suffering on the cross and the words, "If I'm OK and you're OK, who did this?" If you want to say that people are OK without God, just realize that your teaching is diametrically opposed to God's Word.
Q: In Jer 6:17 and Ezek 33:1-20, what is a watchman?
A: A watchman would stand guard on the city wall and warn when an enemy was approaching. Jeremiah and Ezekiel served as watchmen for spiritual dangers attacking God's people.
Q: In Jer 6:20, 7:22-23, why did God not like their sacrifices here?
A: Wicked people who sacrifice to God, but deliberately still choose to continue in their wickedness should not think God is pleased with their sacrifice. See the discussion on Isaiah 1:11-17 for more info.
Q: In Jer 6:27, how does God sometimes use Christians to test other people?
A: As we share the Gospel, people will respond, one way or another. 2 Corinthians 2:14-16 says that to some we smell of life, and to others we smell of death. 2 Peter 2:20-22 says that it would have been better for a person not to have known the way of truth, then to know it and turn their back to it.
Q: In Jer 6:30 (KJV), how were some like reprobate silver?
A: This refers to the waste that is left after silver is refined. It still has small quantities of silver in it, but it is not available. This valuable metal, diluted in this form, is worthless.
Q: In Jer 7, when was this temple sermon given?
A: The skeptical Asimov's Guide to the Bible p.561-562 says that it can be dated shortly after Josiah died in battle in 608 B.C., based on Jeremiah 26:1-2. The NIV Study Bible p.1132 says that it may be dated at that time based on Jeremiah 26:2-6,12-15. On the other hand, it adds that Jeremiah might have spoken on several occasions during his long ministry.
Q: In Jer 7:4,8,10, what are some religious things people trust in today?
A: Some trust in idols or sacred books of false religions. However, within some Christian churches, people devote their lives to venerating icons, or Mary and other saints.
Within the false religion of Islam, some groups devote themselves to tombs of Shiite "saints" and other sacred objects, so they combine both errors.
Within Christianity, some even trust in God's word, yet do not follow God, as the Pharisees in John 5:39-40.
Q: In Jer 7:16, Jer 11:14, and Jer 14:4, when should we not pray for something or some one?
A: Normally we should pray for everyone, including other Christians (Philippians 1:4,19; Acts 9:40), the lost (Acts 7:60; Romans 10:1; Acts 25:29), and even our enemies (Luke 6:27-28; Matthew 5:43-44). However, God specifically told Jeremiah not to pray for these people, because they would not turn and their wound was incurable. In New Testament times, we are not told to pray for those committing a sin that leads unto death (1 John 5:16-17), which is interpreted to be blasphemy of the Holy Spirit (Matthew 12:31-32).
Q: In Jer 7:22-23 is a day here just 24 hours?
A: No, the Hebrew word for "day" here, yom, can mean a space of time as well as a 24-hour day, according to Strong's Concordance. The context of Jeremiah means the time period when they came out of Egypt, which certainly would include Mt. Sinai.
Q: In Jer 7:22-24, how did God not command them concerning burnt offerings?
A: Everyone understood that sacrifices were a part of the Mosaic Law. However, the people seemed to forget that God did not speak to them only about offerings, but about more fundamentally obeying Him. If you are performing a ritual that God said to do, but you are not doing it out of obedience to Him, it should be no surprise that God does not want us to do that until we want to obey Him.
Even today, God does not want our meaningless offerings, only our sincere ones. Furthermore, Jesus gave the example in Matthew 5:23-24 that if someone is about to offer a gift, but they remember that their brother has something against them, leave the gift, reconcile with the brother, and then offer the gift.
Q: In Jer 7:25 (KJV), how did God daily send them visions?
A: This means that day after day, God sent them prophets with his message.
Q: In Jer 7:30-31, what as so bad about Topheth?
A: Topheth was a nice, grassy area where Canaanites and ungodly Israelites practiced child sacrifice by burning little kids to death. Phoenicians and Carthaginians also practiced this. This cruel, ugly practice close by the temple at Jerusalem is not much different from today, where abortion clinics and churches are in the same city. See 735 Baffling Bible Questions Answered p.175 for more info.
Q: In Jer 7:30-31, why did God command human sacrifice at Topheth? (An atheist mentioned this)
A: It is an error to think that God commanded this. A reading of Jeremiah 7, that is not careless, shows God is rebuking Israel because they followed the idolatrous Canaanite practice of infant sacrifice.
Q: Even Jer 8:8 says that lying scribes [allegedly] corrupted the scriptures, so how can you trust the Bible?
A: Jeremiah 8:8 does not say all our Bibles are corrupted. It only says that some lying scribes handled the law of the LORD falsely. If somebody made a few changed or corrupt copies of a book, and people recognized it, that does that mean that the true text of the book is lost. Muslims sometimes try to use Jeremiah 8:l8 to claim that all Bibles were corrupted, but false scribes corrupting a few scribes does not mean all copies were corrupted. If that were true, then what would that say about the Qur'an? Here are three examples of changes in the Qur'an.
Ibn Shanabudh was a Muslim scribe who wrote a copy of the Qu'ran that had variants. "It is said that he [Ibn Shanabudh] confessed all of this [variation]. Then he was moved to repentance and used his handwriting in contrition, so that he wrote: 'Thus saith Muhammed ibn Ahmad ibn Ayyub [Ibn Shanabudh]: I used to read expressions differing from the version of 'Uthman ibn 'Affan..." [Since 'Uthman threatened those who had different versions, this confession likely had an element of coercion in it.] The Fihrist p.72. Now a Muslim might argue that since his changes were recognized right away, and they did not become an official part of the Qur'an, his attempts did nothing to corrupt the Qur'an, - and the Muslim would be correct. That is exactly the same point with the lying scribes caught by Jeremiah.
On the other hand, a Muslim might argue that people today are not sure of the correct exact words for many Bible manuscript variants. However, we are sure of the meaning, and the situation is the same with the Qur'an.
Suras 1, 113, and 114 were absent in Ibn Mas'ud version (The Fihrist p.57). Ibn Mas'ud was a personal secretary of Mohammed's. Mohammed told other people to learn the Qur'an from Ibn Mas'ud and three others. (Bukhari vol.6 book 60 no.521 p.486-487) The omission was not accidental. It is reported that Ibn Mas'ud said, "The two charm-Suras [113, 114] are not of the Book of God!" [www.Answering-islam.org/Quran/Text/distortion.html]
'Ubai bin Ka'b, one of Mohammed's secretaries, has extra suras, and omits about 12 suras in the Qur'an today. (The Fihrist p.61 footnotes 43-48) Abu Musa, of Basra, also had a text that was the same as 'Ubai's. (Suyuti, Itqan I, p. 65; Ibn Abi Dawud, Masahif, pp. 180-181, also Noeldeke, Geschichte des Qur'an's, pp. 33-38.)
God promised His people that His words would not depart from their mouths in Isaiah 59:21. But it is not the vowels and consonants, mindlessly recited that are important, but rather the meaning that God communicated.
Q: In Jer 8:13, what is the significance of no grapes on the vine?
A: Grapes are fruit, and this image represents no godly fruit. Fruit can be a legacy of children, personal character, or leading other people to God. Regardless, God was seeing very little fruit among the people of Judah.
Q: In Jer 8:13 and Hab 3:17, what is the significance of no figs on the fig tree?
A: Many people see the fig tree as representing the Jewish nation, and this means that they were not bearing fruit for God. This also explains the significance of Jesus cursing the fig tree in Matthew 21:19-21 and Mark 11:13-14,20-21.
Q: In Jer 8:17 (KJV), what is a cockatrice?
A: The Hebrew here meant a poisonous snake.
Q: In Jer 8:22, what is the significance of no balm in Gilead?
A: The town of Gilead was known for a healing balm. However, the balm good for healing infected wounds was inadequate for healing a wicked people.
Q: In Jer 9:1 and Jer 13:17, what are some of the reasons for Jeremiah's weeping?
A: Jeremiah cried for his people. He wept both because of their hardness toward God, and what would happen to them as a result. See also the discussion on Jeremiah 14:17.
Q: In Jer 9:1-11, what is unusual about this passage?
A: This is done in the style of a Hebrew chiasm, where each passage has symmetry with another passage.
9:1-2 Weeping for the people
- - 9:3-6 Oracle about the sin
- - 9:7-9 Oracle about punishment for their sin
9:10-11 Weeping for the people
Q: Is Jer 9:6 speaking to godly people or ungodly people living in the midst of deception?
A: The Hebrew for "you" is singular, so this refers to Jeremiah, as the NIV footnote says. Jeremiah 9:4-6 tells godly people how to be cautious when they live in the midst of deceit, falsehood, and betrayal. A Christian might naively think that if they have nothing to hide or be ashamed of, they don't need to use caution in saying anything. God's Word in Jeremiah 9:4-6 teaches us otherwise though.
Q: In Jer 9:7, why do the options of God Almighty seem limited here?
A: "Almighty" correctly describes what God is capable of doing, but God Almighty can choose to refrain from acting. In delegating a part of His sovereignty, by giving them a measure of free will, God gave them the choice of deciding their destiny.
Q: In Jer 9:11, Jer 14:6, and Jer 49:33 (KJV), what are dragons?
A: The Hebrew word here referred to a Mideastern desert creature that made a fearsome howling sound in the night. Today we call that creature a jackal. See the discussion on Micah 1:8 for more info.
Q: In Jer 9:15 and Jer 23:5, what is the significance of wormwood?
A: Wormwood was a very bitter, awful-tasting herb that is good to swallow to get rid of intestinal parasites.
Q: In Jer 9:15 and Jer 2:13, what is like poisoned water today?
A: Poisoned water is a bad and deadly thing that masquerades as something pleasant, good, and essential to life. Any teaching of a cult, false religion, or secular humanism, that promises salvation or health, but does not lead to God, is poisoned water.
Q: In Jer 9:23, why should people not glory in their own wisdom, power or strength?
A: We think it strange if a small child boasts of how much he knew, how strong he was, or how much money he had. God, angels, and demons might view mankind's foolish boasting the same way.
Q: Since Jer 10:2-5 condemned wood cut from the forest, handled by a craftsman, and decorated with gold and silver, are Christmas trees OK?
A: Yes, they are fine, despite what Jehovah's Witnesses might think, because Jeremiah 10:5 is talking about idols. Jeremiah 10:5 shows that not only trees, but anything is not to be used as an idol or object of worship. Remember, the Israelites themselves cut wood to make booths to celebrate the feast of booths, as God commanded.
The Christmas tree originated in Christian Germany about two thousand years after Jeremiah denounced wooden idols. The Christmas tree came from two Christian symbols found in homes at Christmas time. The first was a "Paradise tree," an evergreen which was hung with apples which represented the tree of life in the Garden of Eden. The second symbol was a "Christmas pyramid." This was a triangular shelf holding Christmas figurines and decorated with a star. By about the 16th century these two symbols had been combined into the Christian Christmas tree.
So the Christmas tree is a Christian symbol, and it is fine to have one in your home. On the other hand, the Christmas tree is not essential to Christmas, and Christians may, of course, do without it if they choose to. If you see a Christmas tree in the home of a non-Christian friend or a relative, you might take the opportunity to point to it as the symbol of the fact that Jesus Christ was born in Bethlehem so that they might have eternal life.
See the Christian Research Institute web page http://www.equip.org/free/CP9003.htm for more info.
Q: In Jer 10:5, how is an idol like an ineffective scarecrow?
A: A scarecrow might look fearsome, but if the birds discover it is not real, it only gives a farmer a false sense of security. Many times idols are made to look scary, either to make people fearful of them, or to give people comfort that they are strong and fearful to other demons. Idols do have power, but it is the power of deception.
Q: In Jer 10:8,14,21 (KJV), what does "brutish" mean?
A: This means animal-thinking. It is translated as "senseless" in the NIV, "dull-hearted" in the NKJV, and "stupid" in the NRSV.
Q: In Jer 10:11, why is this verse in Aramaic?
A: While Scripture does not give the exact reason, having this verse in a different, yet closely related language, sets off this saying as special. Perhaps this was a saying people were already saying in Aramaic, and Jeremiah was quoting it exactly as the common people were saying it. Also, Ezra 4:8-6:18, Ezra 7:12-26, and Daniel 2:4b-7:28 were written in Aramaic.
Q: In Jer 10:17, what does it mean, allegorically, to "live under siege"?
A: They were restricted in going out, they had to watch not only their own movements, but the movements of the enemy. They were in constant uncertainty, in fear of when an attack would come. Today, some live in similar situations.
Q: In Jer 10:22 (KJV), what is a "bruit"?
A: This King James version means a "brute", or an animal. The meaning of this verse is that the shepherds are very foolish. However, the Hebrew word does not mean just animal, but specifically a jackal, as the NIV, NKJV, and NRSV translate.
Q: In Jer 11:1-4, what is the covenant to which Jeremiah is referring?
A: This is the covenant God gave through Moses. The blessings and curses of this covenant are specifically mentioned in Deuteronomy 28.
Q: In Jer 11:21-23, were the men of Anathoth not wanting Jeremiah to stay there because Jeremiah's unpopularity might spread to Anathoth, as the skeptical Asimov's Guide to the Bible p.563 says?
A: Perhaps. Asimov's point is that they did not like Jeremiah either, and if Jeremiah stayed in Anathoth, other Jews might dislike Anathoth because they would mistakenly think the people of Anathoth supported Jeremiah.
However, regardless of their political considerations, they could simply not want Jeremiah around for the same reason the leaders of Jerusalem did not want Jeremiah around. From their perspective, Jeremiah was negative, an unpredictable influence, and did not fit in with their plans.
Q: In Jer 12:1, do the wicked prosper, or does evil pursue and kill the wicked as Prov 13:21 and Ps 34:21 show?
A: Both occur. Some of the wicked are partially punished in this life; many are not. All will be punished appropriately at the judgment. See When Critics Ask p.276 for more info.
Q: In Jer 12:1-6, do Jeremiah's times of depression show him to be unspiritual?
A: Not at all. As a matter of fact, a believers we are typically more sensitive to evil and sin, and more likely to lament that than an unaware non-believer. Believers are not to always strive to be cheerful; rather believers should strive to share God's heart and concerns. See 735 Baffling Bible Questions Answered p.176 for a complementary answer.
Q: In Jer 13, what was the point of the "role-play" of the linen belt?
A: The linen belt was something that was good, clean, and useful. After it was buried in idolatry in a foreign land, the belt was ruined, rotten, and useless. Nevertheless, a few good threads remained.
Q: In Jer 13:10, how do people walk in imagination after their heart?
A: The first part of the verse provides the answer. The people refused to hear God's words. They substituted their own false views of security for security in God.
Q: In Jer 13:11, why would God fill them with darkness?
A: There is a judicial hardening, which is a stubbornness to follow what is right. There also is a judicial darkening, which is being unable or unwilling to see what is right. See the discussion on Romans 9:18 for more info.
Q: In Jer 13:12-14, why would Jeremiah say every wine jar should be filled with wine?
A: Just as inanimate jars are filled with what they were made to be filled, people are filled with what they want to be filled. For people who habitually get drunk, they basically have chosen to be no different than the wine jars they are using. Paul also speaks of us as vessels in 2 Timothy 2:20-21.
Q: In Jer 14:1 (KJV), what is a "dearth"?
A: This means a shortage of something important. The NIV translates this as "drought".
Q: In Jer 14:4 (KJV), what does "chapt" mean?
A: This means "parched", "thirsty", "dry", or "arid". The NASB, NIV, and NKJV translate this as the ground was cracked.
Q: In Jer 14:8 (KJV), what is a "wayfaring man"?
A: This refers to a person who is traveling, or a stranger in a strange land.
Q: In Jer 14:10, why do some people greatly love to wander, while others do not?
A: Contentment is a gift for which we should be thankful. While God does foreknow who will wander and people are predestined; it is wrong to use that to excuse people of their responsibility to choose not to wander.
People can choose to wander for one or both of these reasons:
Discontent with what God has provided: Some are not happy with what God has given to them.
Enticement of following another path: Some are happy with what God has, but they yield to a temptation to try to get more.
Also, the main motivation to start some one wandering is not necessarily the motivation that keeps them wandering. For example, a smoker might remain a smoker because of an addiction to nicotine. However, nobody takes the first puff because of an addition to nicotine.
Q: In Jer 14:11, when should we not pray for something or some one?
A: In general, we should always pray for people. However, in this case, the people had already made their choice, they were not going to change, and God told Jeremiah there was no point in praying for these people. Jeremiah's message to them primarily was not for their sake, but for the sake of the Jews who remained faithful to God during the exile.
Q: In Jer 14:14 and Jer 28:9, why did God permit false prophets to prophesy lies in God's name?
A: God permits people to affect others, good or bad, spiritually as well as physically. However, people generally can find the deception if they choose to look, and so they often have a choice on how much a bad influence affects them. When they do not have any opportunity to avoid deception, God is just. God does not punish sin where there is no law (Romans 4:15; 5:12). On the other hand, if people reject the truth they already had, God is under no obligation to give them an opportunity for further truth.
Q: In Jer 14:17, why did Jeremiah cry so much?
A: Jeremiah did not just deliver God's message, he also shared God's heart. Some see Jeremiah as the supreme patriot, because of his deep love for his people. Even though telling the Jews to surrender to the Babylonians does not look very patriotic on the surface, Jeremiah did not care how things looked, he only cared for God and his people.
Q: In Jer 14:19 (KJV), what does "lothed" mean?
A: This is an older spelling of "loathed", which means to greatly despise.
Q: In Jer 15:1, since Moses and Samuel could not persuade God to relent, why did God look for some one to stand in the gap in Ezek 13:5 and Ezek 22:31?
A: These are two different situations. Perhaps an analogy will help here. In battle, if there is a narrow pass or a gap in the wall, defenders take their stand there to protect others. On the other hand, nobody needs to defend that spot if the attackers have already conquered the city. Unlike the naïve, undecided, and children, many of the people Jeremiah spoke to had already decided, in effect, to be the enemy.
There are three points we can conclude.
1. In all situations, people stand before God for their own sins. God could forgive their sin through Jesus' death on the cross, but no sinful man can take our sins upon himself.
2. In most situations we should stand in the gap, pray for others, and be a witness to lead people to God.
3. In a few situations, such as Jeremiah faced, there was no longer any point in praying for these individuals. Jeremiah was still a witness, but a witness of judgment, and his message would be heeded by future generations.
Q: In Jer 15:4, why would God punish Judah for the actions of Manasseh, since Manasseh was already dead, and before he died he also repented in 2 Chr 33:12-20?
A: Manasseh committed some horrendous sins, as 2 Kings 21:9-11 and 2 Chronicles 33:9 show. While Manasseh repented, most of the people did not. Since they choose to continue in Manasseh's sin and idolatry, God would punish them for their actions.
There is a lesson to learn here. If some one turns away from the true God, and leads others with him, even if he repents, the ones who followed him are still in sin, unless they repent too. For example, I know an ex-Mormon missionary who after he became a Christian wanted to contact all the people he had previously converted to Mormonism and tell them about the real Jesus instead.
Q: In Jer 15:6, does God repent?
A: In one sense no, and in another sense yes. While God foreknew all, and never needs to change His plan, His revealed will and actions to some one can change when their heart changes. God is greater than time, outside of time, and God's plan is changeless. However, God also operates inside of time, and God is responsive to people. See also When Critics Ask p.276 and the discussion on Genesis 20:3-6; Exodus 33:5-6; Dt 20:17; Jonah 3-4; Jonah 3:10; and Jonah 4:1-2 for more info.
Q: In Jer 15:6 how can God get weary, since Isa 40:28 says He does not get weary?
A: In Hebrew the words for weary in Jeremiah 15:6 and Isaiah 40:28 are very different. In Jeremiah 15:6 (la'ah Strong's 3811) means to tire or be (or make) disgusted - faint, grieve, loathe, etc. The words for faint and weary in Isaiah 40:42 are ye'aph (Strong's 3287) for fatigued, exhausted, and (yagor Strong's 3025) which means to fear, but is related to words for exhaustion or being tired. However, it actually is not necessary to know they are different Hebrew words to answer the question.
God always wants people to sincerely call to Him, and God never gets weary. Being Almighty, He never gets physically sick or tired. However, metaphorically God does get sick and tired of people insincerely sacrificing or praying to Him. God is love, but if we think we can ignore the rest of God's Word after learning that phrase, we miss out on knowing the character of God. It might be a surprise to many that there are "limits".
People can heap up sins up to the limit in 1 Thessalonians 2:16. Jeremiah 15:6 also refers to God no longer forgiving them or showing compassion. Here are various ways God says we can "weary" Him?
The sins and offenses of people who sacrifice to God burden Him according to Isaiah 43:24.
Hypocritical people's religious festivals are a burden to God, which He hates according to Isaiah 1:14.
The unbelief of Ahaz in particular and the ruling House of David in general, tried the patience of God in Isaiah 7:14.
When people say good is evil and evil is good, or where is the God of justice, they just weary God with their words in Malachi 2:17.
Honoring God with the lips but their heart being far from Him wearies God in Isaiah 29:13 and Matthew 15:8-9.
Q: In Jer 15:10, how should you respond when others curse and revile you for your speaking about your faith?
A: Three points to consider in the answer.
1. Carefully notice that they did not persecute Jeremiah because of his faith; they persecuted him because he spoke up about his faith.
2. Jeremiah did not go out of his way to make enemies, but Jeremiah did not alter in the least bit his message for God to placate his enemies, and Jeremiah's enemies came to him.
3. Jesus said in Luke that we are to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us.
Q: In Jer 16:5, why does God take away His peace from some people?
A: When people do not desire peace with God, God is under no obligation to give them peace. Indeed, sometimes God uses external strife and intense unrest to bring people to Him.
Q: In Jer 16:6, how did men make themselves bald in mourning?
A: This simply means they shaved their heads to express their sorrow.
Q: In Jer 16:10, what is important about this verse?
A: Since the people chose not to listen to Jeremiah, this became the most important part of his ministry. Rather than God's people not understanding why the Babylonians destroyed God's Holy Temple and almost wiped out the entire Israelite culture, God made sure that they understood both that 1 ) God deliberately planned this, and 2) why God carried this out.
Q: In Jer 16:12 (KJV), what is the "imagination of the heart"?
A: This means the false reasoning of an evil heart. The NIV translates this as "stubbornness", the NRSV "stubborn evil will", and the NKJV "evil heart".
Q: In Jer 16:18, why would God pay them back double for their sin?
A: If they persisted in their sin, hurt others, and lead others astray, God would give them more severe punishment that if they simply sinned once.
Q: In Jer 17:1, how was their sin written with a diamond-tipped iron pen?
A: In contrast to future believers having the law in their hearts in Jeremiah 31:33, these people had sin in their hearts. A diamond-tipped pen would be sharp, and the impression of the writing would remain, even if the ink was removed. Diamond-tipped pens without ink also were used to inscribe clay tablets. We still can read the writing on some clay tablets written before Abraham was born.
Q: In Jer 17:5, how do some trust in people, instead of in God?
A: They trust in people in at least three ways.
Own self: Some trusted in themselves. For example, the Babylonians had their own strength as their god in Habakkuk 1:11.
Trust in others: Some trusted in the counsel of others, even what it went against what God said.
Trust in humanity in general: The core of the philosophy of humanism is that people are basically good and on the whole can be trusted.
Q: Why is Jer 17:5-8 almost the opposite of Ps 1?
A: Since Jeremiah undoubtedly studied Psalm 1, this contrast might have been intentional on Jeremiah's part. Regardless, there ultimately are only two ways. God's law will cause you to flourish in the waters of life, and all other ways will cause you to perish in the drought. Choose life.
Q: In Jer 17:6-7 (KJV), what is "heath in the desert"?
A: This was a type of bush that lived in the arid desert.
Q: In Jer 17:9, how is the human heart deceitful above all things?
A: Not only do people have the capacity to deceive others, people have a great capacity to completely fool themselves. Your source of will and desire can be compared to a spring. One should keep others from polluting your spring. However, if the spring water washes away the soil over an alkali deposit, the spring can be thought of as self-polluting.
Sometimes movies and society tell us to "follow our heart". The Bible says otherwise, for emotions are a thermometer, not a thermostat.
In English there is a word "rationalization" to describe one process of trying to justify, to yourself, others, and even God, acts, words, and desires that have no legitimate justification.
Q: In Jer 17:10, will God hear a person's thoughts if the thoughts are never spoken out loud?
A: Yes. Psalm 139:4 says God knows our words even before we speak them. Romans 8:27 says that the spirit intercedes with feelings too deep for words.
Q: In Jer 18:1-12, what were the main lessons God was teaching here?
A: Before answering the question, first we have to understand something about pottery. In ancient times, pottery not only served the function of our dishes and bowls and pots and pans today, but it served as containers for cosmetic oils, perfumes, grain storage, wine and water storage, and as chamber pots for going to the bathroom. In ancient times, pots were everywhere we would have containers and toilets today. Being compared to a pot could either be a great compliment or an insult, all depending on the type of pot. Besides clay, perhaps no other illustration could show such a wide difference of destiny. But even for believers, being a pot for noble purposes does not mean you will have an easy time. Pots could be heated in kilns up to 2300 degrees F for 8-12 hours.
There are a number of points God is making about both Himself and us.
The potter has a purpose for the clay.
Like a potter, God has the power and the right to shape and reshape clay as He wishes. He has complete authority.
The clay is for the potter, not the potter for the clay.
Marred clay originally for one use can instead be used for something else.
God can pronounce destruction, but if they repent, He can reshape the pot.
God can announce good, but if they turn to evil, He can reconsider the good He intended to do.
Their destruction will be their own fault because of their stubbornness.
In summary, God is not a frozen stone, but God is reactive to us. (Of course God being reactive at times does not restrict God from being proactive too.)
At this time, God was announcing that Jerusalem was to be destroyed. They were neither to ignore this, nor fatalistically accept this as inevitable, but use this warning as an incentive to change, so that God would relent and the disaster would not occur.
People were formed by God, deformed by sin, and believers are reformed by grace. There are a number of other verses that show how people are metaphorically like clay or pots. They include Job 10:9; 33:6; Isaiah 29:16; 45:9; 64:8; Jeremiah 18:1-11; Romans 9:20-21; 2 Corinthians 4:7. Some of this is from a May 7, 2010 sermon by Mark Jones.
Q: In Jer 18:6, how were God's people like soft clay?
A: The correct answer is given plainly in Jeremiah 18:7-12. If God announces disaster, and the people repent, God will make the disaster not come. If God announces good things, and the people turn away from God, God will bring disaster. So they should not be stubborn, but at once turn from their evil ways, because it is still not too late.
Q: In Jer 18:6, since God's people were like soft clay, why was their wound incurable in Jer 30:12,15?
A: Their incurability was not due to some lack of ability on God's part, but rather it was their own responsibility that they chose to be incurable, and God respected the decisions they explicitly and implicitly made. No matter how many times you mold soft clay into the desired shape, until it is hardened, under pressure it just will not stay.
Q: In Jer 19, what was the point of Jeremiah smashing the pot?
A: This visual illustration takes a good thing, useful for holding good liquid, and smashes it. As the Israelites had smashed the lives of infants who could have grown up as God's people, God will smash them and their nations.
Q: In Jer 19:5, Jer 7:31; and Jer 32:35, what does it mean about the infant sacrifices not entering God's mind?
A: Some things God both permits and uses, but does not desire. God permitted infant sacrifice to Baal in Jeremiah 19:5, even though "this never entered God's mind." God allowed people to be killed who should not have been, in Ezekiel 13:19, and God permits people to encourage the wicked not to turn from evil and be saved in Ezekiel 13:22.
It cannot mean God never knew these happened; otherwise, God would not have spoken these verses. Rather, God is saying that this wicked religious idea both did not originate in God's mind, and God never once desired for this to happen.
Some Christians, especially some (but not all) Calvinists, mistakenly think God is the ultimate cause of everything because God expressly decreed everything that happens. These verses are good to instruct us that while God decrees to permit all that happens, that does not mean God expressly decrees everything that happens. God has a secret counsel or will, but God does not have a secret will in such a way that He wanted these infant sacrifices to happen.
Q: In Jer 20:7, did God "deceive" Jeremiah?
A: No. According to When Critics Ask p.277, the Hebrew word can mean "induced" or "persuaded" as well as deceived. God guided Jeremiah into his ministry without telling Jeremiah everything he would be doing.
Q: In Jer 20:9, why was Jeremiah unable to not prophesy?
A: 1 Corinthians 14:32 says that the spirit of the prophets is under the control of the prophets. Nevertheless, while Jeremiah was not out of control, he had a compelling desire to speak God's word. Given what God had revealed to Him, and given that God touched Jeremiah's mouth to anoint him, it might have been more difficult for Jeremiah to disobey God and not prophesy than to obey God and speak out, regardless of the cost.
A personal opinion is that Jeremiah was not motivated primarily by a sense of duty, and he certainly was not motivated to speak out by any type of earthly reward or punishment for keeping silent. Rather, he was motivated by concern for God's people, concern for God's glory, and above all, Jeremiah spoke because of who God made him to be.
When you are motivated to do something, whether bad or good, examine your motives. When you know you ought to do something, but you just do not have the motivation, examine your motives then too.
Q: In Jer 20:14, was Jeremiah wrong to curse his mother here?
A: While Jeremiah was cursing his birth more than his mother, he was still wrong. Jeremiah's whole attitude in Jeremiah 20:14-18 was one of self-pity. This section is not telling us what God said, but is accurately and candidly reflecting Jeremiah's prayer to God in one of his weaker moments. These verses show us that it is good to pray what is on our heart to God, and God will deal with our hearts as is best.
Similarly, 1 Kings 19:4 shows a second example. An exhausted Elijah prayed a prayer that was not good, and 1 Kings 19:5-18 shows how God graciously dealt with Elijah where he was at.
Q: In Jer 20:14-18, what is unusual about this passage?
A: This is written as a chiasm, a common literary device in Old Testament poetry.
20:14 a curse on the day he was born
- - 20:15-16 A curse on the announcer of his birth
- - 20:17 Anger at the announcer, and at God
20:18 A curse on the day he was born
Q: In Jer 21:1-4, were they wrong to ask Jeremiah to enquire of God for them?
A: Obedient believers are never wrong to ask God for guidance. However, it was wrong for them to ask for guidance, since they were not going to follow it anyway. Many times people want guidance to confirm what they have already chosen to do.
Q: In Jer 22:11, who was King Shallum?
A: This was a nickname for King Jehoahaz. Jeremiah often used nicknames for kings, such as Coniah for Jeconiah.
Q: In Jer 22:15, which righteous king is this?
A: The righteous king is Josiah, according to Jeremiah 22:11.
Q: In Jer 22:24, who was Coniah?
A: This was a nickname for Jehoiachin, who was also called Jeconiah.
Q: In Jer 22:30 (NEB), should this say "childless" or "without honor"?
A: The Hebrew word here means "childless" or less commonly, "solitary". The New English Bible (NEB) paraphrased this as "without honor" apparently because the king would not have the honor of having any of his descendants sit on the throne.
The Septuagint translates "outcast" instead of "childless" and "...for there shall none of his seed at all grow up to sit on the throne of David, [or as] a prince yet in Juda."
Q: In Jer 22:30, should this be translated as "childless" or "as if childless"?
A: The Hebrew meaning is often determined by context. The Hebrew word means "childless" or "solitary"; "as/as if" is not present in the Hebrew. Nevertheless, it is accurate to translate "as/as if" because Jeremiah 22:30 affirms that Jehoiachin would have male descendants, but it also says that he is "as childless" because none of his seed will prosper or rule.
As/as if childless is the translation of the NKJV, NIV, and NRSV. (The NASB and KJV do not have "as/as if".)
Q: In Jer 22:30, how was Coniah (Jehoiachin) as if childless, since he had a son named Shealtiel in Mt 1:12?
A: This must have been a surprising prophesy to Jehoiachin, since Jehoiachin already had seven sons, which one would think would be sufficient for at least one male son or descendant to become king. Nevertheless, Jeremiah prophesied that not a single descendant would become king, and here is what happened.
1. Jehoiachin (=Jeconiah) became king when he was 18 years old, succeeding his father Jehoiakim. Jehoiachin had seven sons, according to 1 Chronicles 3:17-18.
2. Jehoiachin only reigned 3 months (2 Kings 24:8), before he was taken to Babylon (2 Kings 24:15). His successor was not a son, but rather his uncle Zedekiah.
3. Shealtiel had a son, named Zerubbabel, who later became governor (not king) under the Persians.
4. Hard Sayings of the Bible p.310 and 735 Baffling Bible Questions Answered p.176 mention a Babylonian tablet found at the Ishtar gate recording that Jehoiachin had seven sons, who all were made eunuchs. It apparently does not say when they were made eunuchs.
5. Hard Sayings of the Bible p.310 shows that Jehoiachin might have adopted one or more sons. Since the genealogy of Joseph in Matthew 1:11-12, being concerned with "legal" descent, says Shealtiel was the son of Jeconiah (Jehoiachin). Luke 3:27 says Shealtiel was the son of Neri.
See also When Critics Ask p.277 for more info.
Q: In Jer 23:1-2, why does God allow bad shepherds for His people?
A: Just as people have free agency to choose to serve God or not, pastors have the freedom to sever God or not. People themselves have the freedom to follow those pastors or follow good ones. The people were supposed to stone leaders who had them follow other gods. They did not do so, and they suffered the consequences.
Today, when a church organization does not purge itself of ungodly consequences, it suffers the consequences, too.
Q: In Jer 23:5 and Jer 33:15, who is the righteous branch?
A: This is the Messiah, Jesus Christ, who was descended from David.
Q: In Jer 23:9, how was Jeremiah similar to a drunken man?
A: The Bible never says Jeremiah was drunk. Rather, he staggered, as a drunken man staggers, because of the grievous message he was carrying.
Q: In Jer 23:24, how does God fill heaven and earth?
A: God is present everywhere, and God sees everything. However, the error called pantheism is wrong, because the Creator is not the same as His Creations, as Romans 1:25 shows.
Q: In Jer 23:28, is it OK to give our own opinions on religious matters?
A: The Bible does not speak against giving your opinion, as long as you do not call your opinion God's word, or place man's opinion and tradition on the same authority as the Bible (1 Corinthians 4:6; Proverbs 30:5,6). Jeremiah 23:28 is not against speaking dreams, but called those dreams prophecies from God. Jeremiah 23:27 is also against dreams, regardless of whether they are called prophecies or not, that lead people away from God.
Q: In Jer 23:31 what was the message of the false prophets?
A: These are counterfeits, who falsely claimed to have been given a message by God. In Jeremiah's time, as in ours, false prophets prophesy peace and prosperity when God is not bringing that, and they preach compromise instead of sacrificial obedience to God. See 735 Baffling Bible Questions Answered p.177 for more info on false prophets then and now.
Q: In Jer 23:34, why does God have a special punishment for false prophets?
A: Not only are they not following God, but they encourage others to not follow God.
Q: In Jer 24, why were the ones who were exiled for their sin the good figs, and the ones who were not exiled the bad figs?
A: They all did evil. Those who were exiled took the discipline for their evil, while those who stayed avoided it. In subsequent times, a remnant of the exiled Israelites returned as the Jews. Those who stayed intermarried with others and the mixed people were called the Samaritans.
Q: In Jer 24, was Jeremiah a bad fig, since he chose not to go into exile in Jeremiah 40:4-6?
A: No. God's command was not a moral law for all time (Otherwise everyone should move to Babylon). Rather, it was a specific directive at that time. Now God's command here applied to the people at that time, not necessarily including Jeremiah.
Q: In Jer 25:9, how could a cruel idol-worshipper like Nebuchadnezzar be God's servant?
A: Nebuchadnezzar was not one who obeyed God. Nevertheless, consciously or not, He carried out God's plan. God can use people as instruments to carry out His will, regardless of whether they are willing or unwilling. A second example of this is King Cyrus in Isaiah 45:1,4.
Likewise, one interesting description of Satan is the unwilling servant of the most high God.
Q: In Jer 25:11, when was this 70-year period fulfilled?
A: Daniel asked when it would be fulfilled in Daniel 9:1-2. The 70 prophetic (360-day) years occurred from about 607 B.C. to 538 B.C. when Cyrus I of Persia allowed the Jews to return home.
The Babylonians invaded Palestine starting in 609 B.C.
Note that the Babylonians did not destroy Jerusalem and exile the Jews until 587 B.C., and 587 - 538 is much less than 70 years. However, Jeremiah 25:11 does NOT specify how long the exile would be. Rather, it only specifies that the Jews would serve the King of Babylon 70 years and that is what happened.
Q: In Jer 25:26 and Jer 51:41, who was the king of Sheshach?
A: Since Jeremiah encouraged support of the Babylonians, this prophecy of the destruction of the king of Babylon was in code. Sheshach was a code name for Babylon, similar to "abcd" being "zyxw" by exchanging with the opposite letter in the alphabet. The Expositor's Bible Commentary volume 6 p.535 says this was a type of cipher known as Atbash, and it was also used in Jeremiah 25:12; 51:1 for the Chaldeans "Leb Kamai". The New International Bible Commentary p.780, The Bible Knowledge Commentary : Old Testament p.1162, The New Geneva Study Bible p.1194, the NIV, the NRSV p.687, and the non-Christian Asimov's Guide to the Bible p.565-566 all agree this was a cryptogram for Babylon.
Q: In Jer 25:27-29, why will God bring a sword upon all of the earth?
A: God will judge and make war in Revelation 19, and God will bring a sword (or fire) on all the armies of the earth that are surrounding Jerusalem at the end of the Millennium, when the wicked dead are raised in Revelation 20:7-9. However, even in the past God has brought a sword to punish various peoples such as the Assyrians, Babylonians, and even the peoples of Judah and Israel. The word of wicked people is one means God uses to punish others and bring down nations. See 1001 Bible Questions Answered p.21 for more info.
Q: In Jer 25:30 and Isa 42:13, is it ill-befitting that God should "roar", as the Muslim Ahmad Deedat claims?
A: No, who are we to tell God what He can and cannot do? The "roar" in both verses is a battle cry. When Jesus returns in glory He will defeat God's enemies.
Q: In Jer 26:3, why did God say, "perhaps they might repent", since God knows all?
A: While God knows all, God still gives people genuine opportunities, even though He knows they will turn down His grace. There is a fundamental point to learn here on God's sovereignty. God does know everything that happens. Specifically, scripture says that God not only knows the end from the beginning (Isaiah 43), but every single day of a person's life before the person has existed (Ps 139:16). God would know beforehand on any day of these people's lives if they would repent or not. Hypothetically, God could have said "I know they will not repent, so I am not even going to give them any opportunity. God did not do this, as He gave them the opportunity, responsibility, and a time period to repent.
Q: In Jer 26:13, would Jeremiah's prophecy have been false if they had repented?
A: In this case, God knew they would not repent. However, there are other cases, such as Jonah and the Ninevites, and Abraham and Abimelech in Genesis 20:1-13. In these examples, when God declares He will destroy someone because of their sin, and he or she repents, God does not bring on the destruction He threatened.
Q: In Jer 26:20-23, why did God let evil men kill the godly prophet Urijah, yet spare Jeremiah?
A: Scriptures do not say, but in general, we observe that God sometimes miraculously saves some of His servants, but others die as martyrs.
We do not know God's purpose behind everything that happens, but God has permitted our prayers to affect the outcome. Also, in this case there was another person, Ahikam, who protected the prophet in Jeremiah 26:24.
Q: In Jer 27:1-11, was the king here Jehoiakim, or Zedekiah?
A: Many Hebrew Masoretic texts say "Jehoiakim". However, a few other Hebrew Masoretic texts, Syriac, and Arabic say "Zedekiah". The Septuagint bypasses this problem by omitting this verse.
The correct answer is "Zedekiah", as that is the one referred to in Jeremiah 27:3,12; 28:1. Also, this time fits Zedekiah, not Jehoiakim, as Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties p.273 says. It and When Critics Ask p.277-278 conjecture that the scribal error came about because Jeremiah 26:1 was copied when Jeremiah 27:1 should have been copied. The NET Bible says that the majority of Hebrew manuscripts have an obviously corrupt reading because the date formula is contradictory with the passage.
Q: In Jer 27:21-22, when was this prophecy of God visiting these vessels fulfilled?
A: God said in Jeremiah that these temple vessels would be stored (not used) in Babylon until the day God visited them. Then they will be returned to Jerusalem. This came true in Daniel 5:1-5. Belshazzar used the vessels for a feast, and in the middle of the feast God caused a hand to write on the wall.
Q: In Jer 29:10, when exactly did this 70-year exile occur?
A: One must differentiate between the exile of the people and the destruction of Jerusalem.
The people of Judah were exiled in 605/604 B.C. They did not return until 538/537 B.C. You might notice that 605 to 538 B.C. is only 67 of our years, not 70. The length of year used in prophecies in the Bible was the religious year of 360 days. 605 to 538 B.C. is 70 religious years.
The Temple and the city of Jerusalem were not destroyed until March 16, 597 B.C. The Temple was rebuilt about 515 B.C. (The New International Dictionary of the Bible p.994.)
Since Zedekiah was taken to Babylon in 587 B.C, and 587-515 = 72 of our years, someone can mistakenly think this was what was meant. However, Jeremiah 29:10 is specifically speaking only of the exile of the people.
Q: In Jer 29:11 (KJV), what is an expected end?
A: Other translations say "a future with hope" (NRSV), "a future and a hope" (NASB, NKJV), or "hope and a future" (NIV).
Q: In Jer 29:13, do people ever seek God, or does no one seek God, as Rom 3:11 says?
A: Romans 3:11 shows that no one genuinely seeks God. However this quote is from David, and David said that he sought God, so this only refers to that fact that it is a part of God's grace that empowers people to even seek God. God enables people to seek Him. Even so, many still do not seek God.
Q: In Jer 29:30, why did God's people tolerate a leader that taught rebellion against God?
A: Sometimes teaching rebelliousness can be very subtle, but that was not the case here. It was obvious they were not following God, but the people had to choose between following their religious leaders and following God, and they chose their religious leaders.
A more difficult question is, why do some Christians today tolerate as leaders people who obviously pay no attention to obeying God?
Q: In Jer 30:7, when God gave the Jews trouble, why did He neither bless them here nor destroy them completely?
A: Perhaps an analogy is useful here. Sometimes when a tree you value is diseased, you want to destroy the diseased part by chopping it off, and you diligently try to save the rest of the tree.
Also, Jeremiah 30:11 says that God disciplined Israel. When some Israelites were taken captive, the others might have been more inclined to reconsider their ways.
Q: In Jer 30:12, why was their spiritual wound incurable, and why did Almighty God choose not to cure it?
A: God can do anything, but God does not always choose to do anything. The Israelites chose a life that led them farther and farther from Him, and God chose not to coerce them or override their free agency.
Q: In Jer 30:21, how do people devote themselves to be close to God?
A: There are five aspects of devotion to God.
1. It should be on God's terms, not ours.
2. Obedient service to our Lord. Service means work and sacrifice.
3. It should be to God, and not to anyone else, as Paul mentions in 2 Corinthians 11:3
4. Not just a duty to God, but love for God.
5. It includes spending time with God, and wanting our heart to be like God's heart.
Q: In Jer 31, what is this new covenant here?
A: This is a future and different covenant God would make with His people. The New Covenant came when Christ rose from the dead. The Apostle Peter announced this to everyone in Acts 2:17-39. See 735 Baffling Bible Questions Answered p.178-179 for more info.
Q: In Jer 31:3, how did God have an everlasting love?
A: God has an everlasting love in many ways.
1. God's love for His children never ends.
2. It neither diminishes or fades.
3. Even before time began, God loved us before we existed.
But God does not have the same love for demons that He has for us, and Romans 9 shows He did not have the same love for Esau that He had for Jacob.
Q: In Jer 31:8, how would the Israelites return from the north country?
A: Because of the desert, a people returning to Canaan from the east could come through Syria, which was directly north of Palestine.
Q: In Jer 31:9, how was Ephraim considered the firstborn?
A: Four points to consider in the answer.
1. Biologically Ephraim was a grandson, not a direct son of Jacob. However, Jacob blessed both sons in Genesis 48:5-6, and declaring that the two sons would be reckoned as his.
2. Manasseh was Jacob's firstborn. However, Jacob took away the right of the firstborn from his biologically firstborn, Reuben, as Genesis 49:3-4 shows.
3. Ephraim was not even Joseph's biologically firstborn son. However, in Genesis 48:13-19, Jacob deliberately gave the blessing of the firstborn to Ephraim, not Manasseh.
4. A lesson we can learn here is that the "right of the firstborn" did not always go with the biologically firstborn.
Q: In Jer 31:9, how can God have two firstborns, since Israel/Jacob was God's firstborn in Ex 4:22? (The Muslim Ahmad Deedat brought this up.)
A: God does not have any children in a sexual sense. God is making a point with a metaphor here. Jacob, later renamed Israel, was actually the second born son of Jacob and Rebecca. It was Reuben, not Ephraim who was the firstborn of Isaac, but Reuben after illicit sex lost that right. The right was given to Jacob's son Joseph, and Joseph had twin sons, Ephraim and Manassah. Manasseh was the first born in time, but at the time of birth Ephraim was given the right of the firstborn. Every Jew would know this, and know the point that was being made. Deedat missed this.
Q: In Jer 31:14,25 and Jer 46:10, what does "satiate" mean?
A: This is both an older and a modern word meaning to completely satisfy.
Q: In Jer 31:14, how were the priests satiated with fatness?
A: The priests were so far from being hungry, they were fat.
Q: In Jer 31:15, how did Rachel weep for her children?
A: This poetic cry is an example of a prophecy with a dual fulfillment. Rachel died in this area while giving birth to Benjamin in Genesis 35:16-19. Rachel metaphorically was weeping as the Jewish exiles passed her grave during the Babylonian captivity. Matthew 2:18 also uses this allegory for Herod killing the baby boys of Bethlehem, which is where Rachel was heading when she died.
Q: In Jer 31:15 (KJV), who was "Rahel"?
A: This was a mistranslation of "Rachel".
Q: In Jer 31:15, was Rachel buried near Bethlehem (Gen 35:19), or on the border of Benjamin at Zelzah (1 Sam 10:2)?
A: As the skeptical Asimov's Guide to the Bible p.560-561 points out, Zelzah was probably an alternate name for Ramah in Benjamin. Rama is 5 miles (8 kilometers) north of Jerusalem.
According to Genesis 35:16-19, Rachel died "on the road" from Bethel to Bethlehem. Bethel is 12 miles (20 kilometers) north of Jerusalem, and Bethlehem is 5 miles (8 kilometers) southwest of Jerusalem. Also, Ephrathah was another name for Bethlehem in Judah, according to Genesis 35:19; 48:7.
Q: In Jer 31:20, how did God consider Ephraim a pleasant child?
A: This is what God chose to remember. God especially remembered all the godly Ephraimites down through the ages. God is angry with sinners, but ultimately God remembers the godly and allegorically forgets the wicked.
Q: In Jer 31:21 (KJV), what is a waymarker?
A: This is a signpost.
Q: In Jer 31:22, what does it mean that a woman will encompass a man?
A: This prophecy must have been a puzzle for the Jews until the time of Christ. Today we understand it referring to the virgin birth of Jesus Christ, that is, a mother bringing a son into the world without the contribution of a man.
Q: In Jer 31:29-30, how does everyone die for his own iniquity?
A: Then and now, people often suffer the consequences of others' sins. However, each person lives or dies eternally for his own sin. While there can be collective guilt for what groups of people choose to do wrong, we do not share guilt for things for which we are innocent.
735 Baffling Bible Questions Answered p.179-180 points out that the false proverb Jeremiah spoke against could has been used by people as a denial of personal responsibility.
Q: In Jer 31:31-34, what new covenant was this?
A: This was the new covenant, which Jesus Christ brought. See Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties p.273-275 for more info.
Q: In Jer 31:34, in future times, how was every one of God's people to know the Lord?
A: This would occur in New Testament times, after Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit would dwell in the heart of every believer. This is important to show that the idea of the Old Covenant passing away and a New Covenant superseding it is not novel in the New Testament, but was actually prophesied at least as far back as Jeremiah.
See Bible Difficulties and Seeming Contradictions p.230-231,234 for more info.
Q: In Jer 31:37, does this say that every Israelite will go to Heaven?
A: No. Four points to consider in the answer.
God promised He will not cast off all the seed of 1. Israel. Paul emphasizes this in Romans 11:1-5.
2. Even Jews who reject Jesus will die apart from God. Jesus told the Pharisees that if they did not believe in Him, they would indeed die in their sins. (John 8:21,24, also Acts 3:23; Acts 13:45-46,48; Romans 9:1-2; 10:1; 11:23)
3. Even non-Jews can be grafted into Israel (Romans 11:22-24).
4. During the end times, many Jews will come to Christ (Romans 11:24-30; Zechariah 12:10-14).
See the discussion on Romans 9:8-9,27 and Romans 11:13-17,26 for more info.
Q: In Jer 31:38-40, what does this say about the expansion of Jerusalem?
A: Jerusalem was prophesied that in the future it would be much larger than it was at that time. Therefore, this prophecy implies that Jerusalem would not be destroyed forever.
Q: In Jer 32:3, why did Zedekiah imprison Jeremiah?
A: Jeremiah 32:3-5 indicates that Zedekiah did not want Jeremiah spreading the message that the resistance to the Babylonians was futile. However, regardless of Zedekiah's views, many leaders wanted Jeremiah imprisoned, and Zedekiah was not in a strong enough position to oppose them.
It is poetic justice that Zedekiah imprisoned Jeremiah, yet Zedekiah protected his life. When the Babylonians came, they imprisoned Zedekiah, but they did not execute him. Many times, the measure you give is the measure you receive.
Q: In Jer 32:7-16, why did God command Jeremiah to buy the field?
A: The answer is given in Jeremiah 32:15. This was a sign that the Israelites would return after 70 years. If the prophet Jeremiah was buying a field, then perhaps they should not abandon hope of their descendants returning, as Jeremiah prophesied in Jeremiah 32:37-44.
Q: In Jer 32:17,27, since nothing is too hard for God, how come God cannot lie (Heb 6:18; Num 23:19), be tempted by evil (Jms 1:23) or deny Himself (2 Tim 2:13)?
A: A fourth thing God cannot do is swear by anyone greater than Himself (Hebrews 6:13). No "thing" is too hard for God. A logical contradiction, such as making something both completely blue and completely non-blue is not a thing. These things are logical contradictions. Since God's Word becomes reality, it is a logical contradiction that God's Word would be a lie. Since God is good, and the source of all goodness, God could not be tempted by evil. God cannot deny Himself for similar reasons.
See the discussion on Hebrews 6:18 for more info.
Q: In Jer 32:18, why does God visit the sin of the fathers upon the children?
A: God visits the consequences of sin upon children. Sometimes children are more prone to the same sin, as children often want to follow in the footsteps of their fathers. It does not say that God gives the guilt of the parents to the children; Ezekiel 18 shows the opposite.
Q: In Jer 32:19 and Ezek 18:30, how does God give to everyone according to his ways?
A: Some could think this means God will give to everyone according to whatever standard they personally believe. However, this really means that God will give to everyone according to the way they have chosen. Those who especially chose evil will receive the just reward for their way. Those who tried to earn they way to Heaven, and think they want what they deserve, will also get what they deserve. However, nobody is good enough to deserve the perfection of Heaven, so they too fall short. Those who choose God's way of grace, will reach their "way", for Jesus is the way to eternal life.
At judgment day, everything will be clear, everyone will see what the standard is, and thus the first interpretation, in a manner of speaking will be correct then, too.
Q: In Jer 32:31, did Jerusalem provoke God, or did it delight God as Ps 87:2; 132:13-14 says?
A: At various times the city was full of godly people, and at other times full of ungodly people. Even at a particular time, there could be a mixture of godly and ungodly people there. In particular, under David Jerusalem delighted God, and in Jeremiah's time it provoked God to wrath. See When Critics Ask p.278 for more info.
Q: In Jer 32:35, Jer 7:31, and Jer 19:5, how did the evil sacrifices of infants not even enter God's mind, since God knows everything in advance?
A: See the discussion on Jeremiah 19:5 for the answer.
Q: In Jer 32:39-41, how would God give them one heart, put the fear of God in them, and make an everlasting covenant with them?
A: This happened starting at Pentecost, when God sent the Holy Spirit to believers.
Q: In Jer 33:3, to what extent are we to look for great new things we do not know?
A: The godly Jews here could look forward to truly great new things they did not know. Jesus the Messiah would atone for the sins of the whole world, and the Holy Spirit would dwell in every believer. Today, we can look back to Calvary and Pentecost, and see that Jesus not only saved us, He saved us completely. Thus, we are looking forward to the consummation of our salvation, but we are not looking forward to another savior or another salvation.
Q: In Jer 33:3, what is the extent of this promise?
A: God tells us great truths while are still on earth. However, in Heaven we will see and learn even greater things (1 Corinthians 2:8-9; 13:9-10). Nevertheless, even in Heaven we will not be all-knowing.
Q: In Jer 33:16, why would Jerusalem be called the Lord our righteousness?
A: Two points to consider in the answer.
1. The Hebrew word can be "he" as well as it. If it is "he", then it refers to our Lord.
2. Even if the pronoun is referring to Jerusalem, the New Jerusalem us where our Lord Jesus will dwell, according to Revelation 21:22-23 and 22:3-4.
Q: In Jer 33:17, how would David never fail to have a man to sit on the throne?
A: This prophecy says that forever and ever there would be a descendent of David that would sit upon a throne. Of course, biologically Jesus Christ was born of Mary, who was a descended of David. From a legal perspective, Joseph, Jesus' stepfather, was descended from David too.
Q: In Jer 33:18, how would the Levites never fail to have a man to offer burnt offerings?
A: First what is not the answer and then the answer.
While Christ is our high priest (Hebrews 6:20), Jeremiah 33:18 does not refer to Jesus, because He was not from Levi as Hebrews 7:11-14 says, and He already completed His sacrifice according to Hebrews 7:28.
Rather, this says that Levites would be offering sacrifices forever. This "detail" is reflected in Ezekiel 40:38-43, where the priests (from Levi) are offering sacrifices. See the discussion on Ezekiel 40:38,42 for more info.
The Jewish surname "Cohen" represents some of the descendents of Levi. Of course, God knows all who are descended from Levi, even if they themselves do not know.
Q: In Jer 34:1, is there any extra-Biblical evidence of Nebuchadnezzar capturing Jerusalem?
A: Yes. A Babylonian cuneiform table tells of events in the reign of Nabopolassar and Nebuchadnezzar II, including the capture of Jerusalem. A photograph of it is in the New International Dictionary of the Bible p.696.
Q: In Jer 34:3, how did King Zedekiah see the King of Babylon and go to Babylon, since 2 Ki 25:7 and Ezek 12:13 say Zedekiah would not see Babylon?
A: This answer is a repeat of 2 Kings 25:7.
While these two statements might sound almost impossible to reconcile, Jeremiah 52:11 answers this quite simply. The king of Babylon had Zedekiah's eyes put out before taking him to Babylon. See When Critics Ask p.278-279 for more info.
Q: Why did Jer 34:5 prophesy Zedekiah would die in peace, since he died in prison? (An atheist brought this up)
A: Like any other phrase in the Bible, "die in peace" should not be given any arbitrary meaning, but it should be understood with the meaning the writers in the Bible used the phrase and intended for it to be understood. Two points to consider in the answer.
No violent death: People can die in prison of old age, or other peaceful means, and there is no evidence Zedekiah died violently. If the atheist was referring to war, the war with Babylon was already over, and there was peace.
Hebrew usage: Other places where the phrase "die in peace" occurs are Genesis 15:15 (Abraham), 2 Kings 22:20, 2 Chronicles 34:28 (Josiah was buried in peace, not died in peace), Job 21:13 (go down to the grave in peace).
Since the Hebrew phrase means not to die in battle or not die violently, and Zedekiah did neither, he died in peace. As a matter of fact, the Jews were not fighting anybody anywhere at this time, since the Babylonians had already concluded the war with them.
Q: In Jer 34:5, how did the Jews "burn" for Zedekiah?
A: This refers to their practice of building a bonfire in their kings' honor at the king's funeral. 2 Chronicles 16:4 mentions that this was done at King Asa's death too.
Q: In Jer 34:8-11, what was so evil about the people of Jerusalem freeing their slaves and then enslaving them again?
A: They should have freed them every seven years according to God's law. Unlawfully holding them, freeing them, and then enslaving them again, is similar to kidnapping them twice.
Q: In Jer 34:18-19, what does passing between the parts of the calf mean and when did they do that?
A: This refers to slaughtering a calf, splitting the carcass in two, and passing between the two pieces. This was done as a solemn ceremony to confirm a covenant. God did this in Genesis 15:10-17. Breaking a covenant is worse than not making a covenant in the first place.
Q: In Jer 35:2, who was Recab, the ancestor of the Recabites?
A: There were a number of people named Racab (2 Samuel 4:2-6), but The NIV Study Bible p.1183 says these were non-Israelites who possibly were related to the Kenites.
Q: In Jer 35:2,5-10, why did Jeremiah tempt the Recabites to break their traditions?
A: Jeremiah did not try very hard to tempt them, because having them break their human traditions was not his intention. Rather, he used their obedience to their forefathers to shame the Israelites, who would not follow God's law.
Q: In Jer 35:2,5-10, when should we break traditions that are not from God, and when should we not?
A: Jesus seemed to make a point of breaking the human traditions of the Pharisees, yet the Recabites were commended here. The difference is that the Pharisees put their traditions on the same level as God's word. In Jeremiah 35, the Recabites were obeying their parents and ancestors, but they never claimed this was God's word, and they never claimed everyone else was wrong if they did not follow the Recabite traditions.
Q: In Jer 35:6-10, why did Jonathan their forefather command them not to drink wine?
A: Scripture does not say. Perhaps this was to avoid drunkenness.
Q: In Jer 35:6-10 we are to honor and obey our parents, so to what extent are we to honor and obey our grandparents, and more distant ancestors?
A: While we should rise in the presence of the aged (Leviticus 19:32), there is no Biblical command to obey grandparents or other ancestors. However, if your parents are alive, and they say to obey your grandparents or a tradition, you should do so as long as it goes not go against God's law or a government law.
Q: In Jer 35:17; 36:3-40:2, how does God announce evil against some people?
A: When people do evil, God announces calamity as either
Punishment for unbelievers, so that they might turn to Him
Discipline for believers, so that they might return to Him,
Uprooting to keep the evil from spreading anymore
In Hebrew, the word "evil" has two meanings: harm (or physical evil), and moral evil. God pronounces that they will come to harm. God does not commit moral evil, but God also can decree that moral evil will happen to some one.
Q: In Jer 35:19, how are the Recabites standing before God today?
A: In at least two ways.
On earth, there are most likely descendants of Recabites today, though the genealogy has been lost.
In Heaven, the Recabites are standing there forever.
Q: In Jer 36:5, why was Jeremiah unable to go into the Temple, since he did before?
A: Apparently after Jeremiah invited the Recabites into the Temple and gave the previous message, King Jehoiakim did not permit Jeremiah to go into the Temple any more.
Q: In Jer 36:9, why were they fasting, and who proclaimed the fast?
A: Apparently the king and/or priests called the fast to entreat God to rescue them, as Jerusalem was rescued from the Assyrians in King Hezekiah's time. This is an interesting picture. Here were people who were in deep trouble, and knew it, believed God enough to fast for His help, but still were unwilling to completely obey God. If you want to obey God, you have to obey God on His terms, in your way, and not partially and in your own way.
Q: In Jer 36:19, did Baruch and Jeremiah go and hide themselves, or did the Lord hide them as Jer 36:26 says?
A: Both are correct. This is a simple example of the theological concept of concurrence. Baruch and Jeremiah freely chose to hide, and performed that action. Concurrently, God ensured they would not be found.
Other, more complex examples of concurrence are Jeremiah 38:18-23, Joseph and his brothers in Genesis 50, and God hardening Pharaoh's heart in Exodus.
Q: In Jer 36:26; 38:6 (KJV), should it say "son of Hammelech" or "son of the king" as the NKJV, NIV, NASB, Updated NASB, and NRSV say?
A: The Wycliffe Bible Dictionary p.747 says the word is better translated as the ordinary Hebrew word for "king".
Q: In Jer 36:28, how could our copy of Jeremiah be inerrant, if only the original was inerrant, and the original was burned?
A: Inerrancy does not merely mean what was on the original manuscript is without error; it is the text and not the paper that is important. In other words, a copy of an original manuscript, if it is perfectly copied, would also be without error. See When Critics Ask p.279 for more info.
Q: In Jer 36:30, how was it fulfilled that Jehoiakim would not have any descendants to sit on the throne?
A: It did not say he would not have descendants, but rather no descendants to sit on the throne. According to 2 Kings 24:6, during the Babylonian siege, Jehoiakim's son Jehoiachin acted as king for three months in 597 B.C., after his father died. There probably was no coronation ceremony, and the Babylonians hauled Jehoiachin to Babylon after three months.
According to Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties p.275, When Critics Ask p.279-280, and Hard Sayings of the Bible p.331, the Hebrew word for "sit enthroned" means some degree of permanence, not just 90 days. See 735 Baffling Bible Questions Answered p.179-180 for more info.
Q: In Jer 36:31, why did God punish Jehoiakim's descendants?
A: While his son Jehoiachin was evil too, that is beside the point. While the guilt for a sin is not passed down to the children (Ezekiel 18), many times the consequences of a person's sin are passed to the children.
For a simple, physical example of consequences of sin being passed to children, pregnant mothers who drink heavily kill not only some of their own brain cells, but also brain cells of their children.
Q: In Jer 37:12, why did Jeremiah try to leave Jerusalem?
A: In Jeremiah 32:6-15, Jeremiah bought a field in Anathoth from his cousin. Ostensibly, Jeremiah was trying to go out to see the field he purchased. The captain imprisoned Jeremiah either on the excuse that Jeremiah was deserting, or he genuinely believed that Jeremiah deserting.
Jeremiah said he was not deserting to the Babylonians, in Jeremiah 37:13. The Babylonians had withdrawn at this time (Jeremiah 37:5), so if Jeremiah were going to see this field and return to Jerusalem, now would be the time to see it.
Q: In Jer 37:19, why did Jeremiah appear to "rub it in" that the false prophets were liars?
A: Jeremiah apparently thought it part of his ministry to remind the people that the false prophets got them nowhere and gave them a false sense of security. However, given that they still trusted in false idols more than God's words, perhaps the people needed to have been reminded more often.
Q: In Jer 37:21, why did King Zedekiah show some kindness to Jeremiah, and ask for God's message in Jer 37:3,17, since Zedekiah had Jeremiah locked up in Jer 37:15?
A: Zedekiah was a complex man; weak, indecisive, and not committed to any one thing. He was afraid of the others, as Jeremiah 39:5,9-11 shows. Zedekiah was double-minded, against which James 1:7-8 warn us.
Like some today, King Zedekiah wanted to hear God's word and was sympathetic to God's leaders and people. However, like some today, he was unable to dare to trust God, protect God's people, or obey God if it meant relying on someone else beside himself. Like Zedekiah, many people would be more willing to follow God if they could still be king of their own life. However, the Lord does not operate that way.
Q: In Jer 38:18-23, was it really all up to King Zedekiah whether or not Jerusalem would be burned?
A: This question deals with a doctrine called concurrency.
On one hand, the wicked King Zedekiah had the free choice to surrender to the Babylonians. There still would have been an exile, but it might have been less severe and Jerusalem would not have been destroyed.
On the other hand, God foreknew what Zedekiah would choose, and that Jerusalem would be burned.
Q: In Jer 38:24-27, was Jeremiah right to not tell some things because the king commanded him not to tell?
A: Jeremiah would not have been right, if God had told him to tell the people. Since this was a prophecy to Zedekiah however, Jeremiah could obey the king as it did not contradict God's command.
Q: In Jer 38:24-27, did Jeremiah sin in giving a misleading answer?
A: No. There is a difference between being honest and "spilling your guts". Jeremiah honestly told the truth, but he did not tell the whole truth, nor was he obligated to tell these evil men everything. Other examples of one hiding part of the truth without sinning are 1 Samuel 16:2-4 and Genesis 42:23.
Q: In Jer 39:3, apart from the Bible what do we know of Nebo Sarsakim a chief officer/eunuch?
A: The British Museum translated a cuneiform tablet of that time that mentions him. You can see this at http://www.ancient-hebrew.org/21_nebosarsekim.html. His name was in Babylonian was really Nabu-sharrussu-ukin, and the title in the cuneiform tablet is "chief eunuch".
Q: In Jer 39:11-12, how would Nebuchadnezzar have known of Jeremiah?
A: Jeremiah's public preaching, especially in front of the Temple would have made him well-known to the Jews inside of Jerusalem. Many Jews defected to the Babylonians. Either some would have volunteered the information, or the Babylonians could have asked them.
Q: In Jer 40:5 (KJV), what was the "reward" the Babylonians gave Jeremiah?
A: This was not a reward for any prior agreement. It simply was some money they gave Jeremiah to on which to live.
Q: In Jer 40:13-16, why was Gedaliah more trusting of Ishmael than Johanan?
A: It is an interesting study in human nature to see why a person trusts one thing more than another. Many times the answer is not because of clear thinking, but of unthinking familiarity.
Q: In Jer 40:13-16, how should we today decide the degree of trust we give some one?
A: We do not need to give all the truth to everyone, especially the wicked, as 1 Samuel 16:2-4; Genesis 49:23, and Jeremiah 38:24-27 show. Christians are not to bear false witness or lie to each other, but we are not supposed to give the wicked an opportunity to kill or oppress the innocent.
David risked his life to trust Jonathan (1 Samuel 20), and Nehemiah trusted the guards in Nehemiah 4:13. Trusting is a part of love (1 Corinthians 13:7).
We need to be able to trust others, but the Bible, both by precept and example, shows we are not to trust everyone. Just as we are not to trust or believe Satan, we are not to trust or believe his servants. Nehemiah did not trust everyone in Nehemiah 6:2-4, and David did not trust Saul in 1 Samuel 20.
Q: In Jer 41:5-7, why did Ishmael kill the hundred men?
A: It could be for a combination of two reasons. First, Ishmael did not want these men as witnesses to sound the alarm for the army to capture Ishmael. Second, these men, who were mourning for Jerusalem's sin, and accepting of the consequences (Babylonian rule) would be very unlikely to be sympathetic to Ishmael in the future. He probably thought that he might as well get rid of these future enemies while he could.
Q: In Jer 41:17, what was special about this inn?
A: This inn of Kimham might have been the same Kimham who was the son of Barzillai in David's time in 2 Samuel 19:37-40. The New International Dictionary of the Bible p.141-142 says this was the usual starting place for traveling to Egypt, and it is possible this might have been the same inn Mary and Joseph visited. If it were, then this would be no small one or two-room structure, but a large establishment.
Q: In Jer 41:58, were the ten men right to bargain for their lives?
A: This is a complex question. There are four points to consider in the answer.
Desperation: The men were desperate, and the Bible neither affirms or denies that they did the right thing. It seems left to us to figure out. The only passage tells us how these apparently godly men dealt with this situation and bargained for their lives.
No command broken: The did not steal, lie, or break any of the Old Testament Laws here, so at least on the surface, what they did appears acceptable.
Integrity of their lives: Nevertheless, something looks very bad here. Why would they save their own skins, and not others? Food was very hard to come by at this time, and Ishmael apparently valued the food more than whether or not he killed them. Their mourning and fasting do not appear very significant, after they did this.
Today, we should be concerned about more than just obeying laws. We should also ask what Jesus would want us to do, and live a life of obedience and integrity, regardless of the cost.
Q: In Jer 42, why was Johanan so untrusting of Nebuchadnezzar?
A: He correctly saw Nebuchadnezzar as evil, ruthless, and cruel. However, Nebuchadnezzar was evil, he was consistent with his own "law". That is, Nebuchadnezzar did not seek to destroy those who served him. (Unlike Satan, who often destroys those who consciously choose to serve Him.) Johanan probably concluded there was no reasoning with or living under a man like Nebuchadnezzar.
However, whatever Johanan's opinions might have been, God had specifically commanded the Jews to serve Nebuchadnezzar, and God ensured the Babylonians had some degree of kindness toward the exiled Jews.
Q: In Jer 42:1-5, what was wrong with coming to Jeremiah to seek God's will?
A: Plenty was wrong if they were unwilling to follow God's will, as Jeremiah 42:20-22; 43:7 shows. Today, some people appear eager to follow God's will, but actually they will only follow God's will if it agrees with what they already planned to do, or it "falls within the bounds" of what they are willing to do. Jonah always appeared ready to follow God, - unless God sent him to Nineveh.
Q: In Jer 42:10; 44:2, how would God repent of evil?
A: Evil here does not mean moral evil, but rather physical harm and calamity. See the discussion on Jeremiah 4:6 and 11:1 for more info.
Q: In Jer 42:12, God has mercy, but how does God show mercies?
A: God not only has merciful feelings, but mercies are specific visible acts of mercy that people would see if they looked. God gives us specific mercies and acts of grace every day. People often distinguish between grace and mercy, as grace is getting good things you do not deserve, and mercy is not getting bad things you do deserve.
Q: In Jer 42:20 (KJV), what is "dissembled in their hearts"?
A: This means they were not sincere in their hearts. In other words, they asked for God's guidance, in order to look good, but they only intended to follow it if the guidance agreed with what they already had decided to do.
The NIV says "you made a fatal mistake", which is more of a paraphrase. It has a footnote saying, "you erred in your hearts". The NKJV has "you were hypocrites in your hearts".
Q: In Jer 43:2, given Jeremiah's flawless record of predictions, why did the proud people still say Jeremiah spoke falsely?
A: Some people deny something not based on evidence or facts, but on their strong desire that it be false. Notice that they did not even try to give any reason why they claimed Jeremiah was false.
People today are no different, and we too should not put much trust in unsubstantiated assertions.
Q: In Jer 43:3-6, what is strange about their deciding to go to Egypt?
A: They were so afraid of leaving Israel and going into exile, that they left Israel and went into exile. They simply preferred self-imposed exile to Egypt rather than God's command to be exiled to Babylon. Even sadder, if they had simply told Nebuchadnezzar what happened, Nebuchadnezzar might have let them stay.
Q: In Jer 43:6,8; 44:1, was Jeremiah disobedient, since he went to Egypt and the disobedient Jews went to Egypt?
A: No. Jeremiah 43:5-6 says that Johanan and the other commanders took Jeremiah and Baruch, not that they went willingly. Even if they had gone willingly, the warning was for the Jews listening to the prophecy, and not for Jeremiah who was speaking the warning. The NIV Study Bible p.1193 also mentions the first part.
Q: In Jer 43:8-13 and Jer 46:13-20, when did Nebuchadnezzar invade Egypt?
A: This invasion occurred 589/587 B.C. according to Babylonian tablet. In addition, an Egyptian funerary inscription, in telling of a great invasion during this time period by northerners, says they even threatened the Ethiopian border in the south.
See 735 Baffling Bible Questions Answered p.180 and the discussion on Ezekiel 29:11-13; 30:23-36 for more on the answer.
Q: In Jer 43:13, where was Beth-Shemesh, in the land of Egypt?
A: Beth-Shemesh is a Hebrew word: Beth means house, and was a common first part of a name of a city, as in Bethlehem, Bethel, Beth-Horon, etc. Shemesh was the Hebrew word for "sun".
Egypt was famous for a city dedicated to the sun, which the Greeks called "Heliopolis" meaning "city of the sun" and the Egyptians themselves called the city "On".
Q: In Jer 44:9, why did God differentiate between the wickedness of the men and of the women here?
A: Part of the answer is seen from Jeremiah 44:15,17-20. The women were performing a pagan ritual of burning incense to the Queen of Heaven, called Ashtarte or Ishtar. The men knew of this and condoned it. The men did not do this themselves, but they did other wicked things.
Q: In Jer 44:12, what happened to the Jews who went to Egypt?
A: It apparently was intended that these Jews would only live in Egypt until either they knew Nebuchadnezzar was not angry with them, or until there was a new ruler. However, Jeremiah 44:14 said that none would return to Israel except those that escaped.
The Jews never broke free from Babylonian rule. Historically, the Jew who went to Egypt stayed thee and formed a large community, then remained there, even under the later Persians, Greeks, and Romans.
Q: In Jer 44:17-19,25, and Jer 7:18, who is the Queen of Heaven?
A: The Queen of Heaven was an idol know variously as Ashtarte, Ishtar, and Inanna. Her consort was Tammuz, also called Dumuzi.
According to Samuel Noah Kramer in The Sumerians, (University of Chicago Press, 1963) p.153, the Akkadian Ishtar is the same as the Sumerian Inanna. She was the "ambitious, aggressive and demanding goddess of love". The Biblical Tammuz is the Sumerian Dumuzi, was the shepherd-god and her husband. After Inanna visits the underworld, she is only able to return and remain on the earth if she chooses another deity to take her place. After she sees Dumuzi sitting on her chair (throne), she chooses her husband, who "demons" finally carry off to the underworld.
Q: In Jer 44:22, when can God bear to see evil, and when can God no longer bear to see it?
A: Two perspectives on the answer.
In Heaven, God does not tolerate any evil. That is why Satan and his angels were cast down from Heaven.
On earth, God is very patient with evil, but God's patience has its limits. (1 Thessalonians 2:16; Genesis 15:16; Revelation 10:6; Psalm 2:5,12; Romans 2:5) The Bible does not specify all the factors that enter into the limits of God's patience.
Q: In Jer 44:30, who was Pharaoh Hophra, and what happened to him?
A: The Greeks called him Apries, and he ruled the Egyptian Delta from 589/588-570/569 B.C. The Cultural Atlas of the World : Ancient Egypt cautions that we do not know many of the actual pronunciations of the Pharaohs, but suggests Egyptians pronounced his name as Ha'a'ibre') (p.36-37). Ezekiel 17:15,17; 29:1-16; 30:20-26; 31:1-18, 32:1-32 and Jeremiah 37:5-11; 43:9 all mention him, though not by name. Jeremiah 44:30 said Hophra would die at the hand of his enemies. He was killed by his coregent Aahmes (Amasis in Greek), who was subservient to Babylon. The non-Christian Asimov's Guide to the Bible p.580 says that Amasis was just an officer. See the Wycliffe Bible Dictionary p.1325 and The New International Dictionary of the Bible p.778 for more info.
Q: In Jer 45:4, why would God break down and pluck up what God Himself built?
A: God thoroughly destroyed the nations of Israel and Judah because that was the only way to get their descendants to return to Him. In other words, God had to destroy the "people" to save some of the "persons".
Today, God sometimes destroys what previously pleasing to Him if it becomes so foul it is unfit for use.
Q: In Jer 46-51, what is the structure?
A: This section, which can be called, "news for the nations", addresses nine nations: Egypt, Philistia, Moab, Edom, Ammon, Damascus, Kedar and Hazor, Elam, and Babylon. Geographically, the order generally goes from the west to the east, except that Babylon is west of Elam.
Jer 46 Egypt will be conquered
Jer 47 The Philistines: God's enemies will cry out
Jer 48 Moab will be destroyed for defying the Lord
Jer 49:1-6 Ammon: When Others Take What God has Given to His People
Jer 49:7-22 Edom: When Wisdom is Abandoned
Jer 49:23-27 Damascus: Troubled hearts and the Quick Flight from Fame to Fear
Jer 49:28-33 Kedar and Hazor: To the winds! You Cannot Hide from His Judgment
Jer 49:34-39 Elam: Breaking the bow of the strong
Jer 50-51 God's Judgment on Babylon
In the Septuagint, the order is different.
Jer 46 (Egypt) is put after Jer 25
Jer 50-52 (Babylon) is put after Jer 46
Jer 47 (The Philistines) is the after chapter 51 (in the Hebrew)
Jer 49:7-23 (Edom) is next
Jer 49:1-5 (Ammon) is next
Jer 49:28-34 (Kedar and Hazor) is next
Jer 49:23:-28 (Damascus) is next
Jer 49:34-end (Elam) is put as Jer 25:13-end
Jer 48:1-45 (Moab) is next
Q: In Jer 46:2, who was Pharaoh Neco?
A: There were two Pharaohs named Neco, and this was Necho II who reigned from 610/609-595/594 B.C. The Cultural Atlas of the World : Ancient Egypt p.37 suggests that the Egyptians called him Wehemibre'. Herodotus (2.158, 4.42) mentions that he dredged the canal connecting the Mediterranean and Red Seas, and sent ships with Phoenician sailors all the way around Africa. See the Wycliffe Bible Dictionary p.1325 and The New International Dictionary of the Bible p.698 for more info.
Q: In Jer 46:2, does the date contradict Dan 1:1?
A: No, because the dating system used in Judah differed by a year from the dating system used later in Babylon. See the discussion on Daniel 1:1 for the answer.
Q: In Jer 46:11 and Jer 8:22, why does it mention balm and Gilead here?
A: Gilead was a town in Israel famous for its healing balm. A balm is a medicinal cream or liquid placed over a wound. Be careful using this term when teaching imaginative kids, or they might wonder if there were missiles in Gilead too. ;-)
Q: In Jer 46:13-20, when did Nebuchadnezzar strike the land of Egypt?
A: This answer is a duplicate of the discussion on Ezekiel 29:11-13; 30:23-26.
Skeptics used to think that the Babylonians never attacked Egypt, because Greek historians gave no mention of this invasion. This argument from silence does not hold up however. Not only did the Jewish historian Josephus mention this (Antiquities of the Jews 10.9.5-7 c.93-94 A.D.), but When Critics Ask p.280 points out that a fragment of a Babylonian Chronicle from 567 B.C., as well as a inscription on the funerary statue of Nes-hor in south Egypt, corroborate with Josephus and the Bible. Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties p.276278 mentions a Babylonian cuneiform tablet discovered by Pinches, which tells of an invasion 569/568 B.C. (It is unclear if this is the same tablet mentioned in When Critics Ask p.280, or a different tablet.)
How far into Egypt did the Babylonians go? Asimov's Guide to the Bible p.593 (1981), admits that Nebuchadnezzar invaded Egypt, but says "it could not have been the resounding Babylonian success that Ezekiel had confidently predicted." The invasion probably was brief. However, according to Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties p.278, the funerary statue of Nes-hor says that during sometime during the reign of Uah-ib-Ra, an army of northerners went so far south as to threaten the Ethiopian border. Nes-hor was the governor of southern Egypt under Pharaoh Hophra according to When Critics Ask p.280. Note that Ezekiel did not predict how long the Babylonians would remain in Egypt, only that they would invade Egypt to the border of Ethiopia.
Q: In Jer 47:4, where was Caphtor?
A: Caphtor was known as the home of the Philistines, but archaeologists are not certain where Caphtor was. Three possible locations are Crete, Cyprus, or Asia Minor. If it were Crete, then the Philistines were the remnant of the once mighty Minoan civilization.
Q: In Jer 48:2, why was Madmen cut down?
A: Madmen here does not refer to insane people. Rather, it was the name of a Moabite town.
Q: In Jer 48:4, why would God especially help the little ones of Moab, and the Ammonite children in Jer 49:11?
A: There are two parts to the answer.
Individually, most of the children would be spared when the Babylonians came. Historically, this made sense, as the Babylonian conquerors could use the slaves.
Nationally, while Babylon would destroy these nations, the nations would recover in the next generation or so.
Q: In Jer 49:3, how does Ai relate to the Ammonites?
A: Ai here is not the small Canaanite town destroyed 800 years earlier by Joshua, but rather an Ammonite town.
Q: In Jer 49:12, what is the cup the Ammonites would drink?
A: This was the cup of God's wrath, also mentioned in Jeremiah 39:12 and Lamentations 4:21.
Q: In Jer 49:12 why do some people do not deserve some of the bad things they get in this life?
A: Once a non-Christian, when hearing about a particularly evil person that was killed in a plane crash, remarked "Yes, there is a God!" However, this is naïve thinking, because for every evil person who gets punished in this life, hundreds seem to go unpunished. It is not too difficult to observe that often justice is not done in this life. Even the agnostic former editor Martin Gardiner wrote in The Whys of a Philosophical Scrivener, that if you believe in justice for everyone, you have to believe in an afterlife.
If we realize how complete (and severe) God's ultimate justice is, it can be easier to us to follow God's command not to get revenge.
Q: In Jer 49:13, why would God swear by Himself?
A: When a person made an oath, they swore by something greater than them. In accommodating Himself to the culture of that time, God made oaths, but God could only swear by Himself, as there is nothing greater, as Hebrews 6:13 clearly shows.
Q: In Jer 49:30-33, where was Hazor?
A: This is not the Hazor in Canaan, but an otherwise unknown desert location, probably close to Kedar. See The New International Dictionary of the Bible p.423, The New Geneva Study Bible p.1228, and the Wycliffe Bible Dictionary p.761-762 for more info.
Q: In Jer 49:36, when were the Elamites scattered?
A: First what is not the answer, and then the answer.
Prior to this time, Assyria devastated Elam and deported some of the captives to Samaria after a revolt in 640 B.C. In Jeremiah's time Elam was peacefully serving Babylon.
Alexander of Macedon captured Susa and took all its treasure in 331 B.C. It lost its prominence after Alexander's Empire was split up among his four generals, and this might be to what the four winds in Jeremiah 49:36 refer.
See Persia and the Bible p.292,302 for more info.
Q: In Jer 49:38, how did God "set His throne in Elam"?
A: Setting their throne up in a conquered city was a way a king displayed his total control of it. God's judgment came with finality to Elam in the form of a Macedonian ruler history calls Alexander the Great.
Q: In Jer 50:3,9 why do conquerors of Palestine frequently seem to come from the north?
A: This is due to geography. Unless an invasion came from Egypt, Palestine would be invaded from Syria, which was north. There was no military power south of Babylon once they assimilated Sumeria. The Medes and Scythians were all north of Babylon.
Conquerors came from the south and north at the fall of Nineveh.
Q: In Jer 50:5 (KJV), what does "turning their faces thitherward" mean?
A: It means they turned to that direction.
Q: In Jer 50:6, what were the shepherds doing wrong?
A: It was not so much what the shepherds were doing, as what they were neglecting to do. The shepherds should have been leading the sheep away from danger, towards water, and keeping the sheep together. Instead, the shepherds apparently forgot they were shepherds of God's flock.
Q: In Jer 50:20, at what time would there be no sin found in Israel?
A: While all believers will be sinlessly perfect in Heaven that probably is not what is intended here. Judah was exiled because of her sins. However, in the future the Messiah would come and take away the guilt for our sins, and in the end times many Jews will return to God and believe in the Messiah, as Zechariah 13:1-3 shows.
Q: In Jer 50:21 (KJV), where is the land of Merethaim?
A: The Hebrew word here probably does not refer to the name of a place, but it means "double punishment" as the NASB mentions in a footnote.
Q: In Jer 50:29-32, why is God so much against pride?
A: While Scripture does not explicitly say, we can see at least four reasons.
1. It is an offense against God. Pride often includes saying I can do it on my own, without God.
2. False view of yourself. A proud person typically thinks he is better, more important, or more valuable than others. Let's allow God to be the judge of that.
3. Focus on yourself. Philippians 2:3 shows that we are to consider others as more important or better than ourselves.
4. Not loving toward others. It often is difficult for others to get along with a proud person.
Q: In Jer 50:36 (KJV), what does "they shall dote" mean?
A: The NASB translates this as "they will become fools".
Q: In Jer 50:38 how can a people be mad about their idols?
A: Mad here does not mean angry but rather insane. They were crazy and unreasonable to trust in their idols, after all that had happened to them. Babylon, a very religious city, would be totally destroyed according to Jeremiah 50:44.
Q: In Jer 51:7, how was Babylon a golden cup in the Lord's hand?
A: It was neither honorable nor desirable to be in Babylon's position here. In this metaphor, Babylon made the other nations drunk and insane. The other nations were preoccupied with Babylon and conquered by Babylon. Babylon, vile though it was, was a tool of judgment God used to punish other nations. The "cup" of intoxicating, maddening wine, represented the evil, wrath-producing insanity people had with idolatry. As a side note, western astrology can be traced back to Babylon.
Q: In Jer 51:9, when are some nations healable, and when are they not?
A: See the discussion on incurability on Jeremiah 18:6.
Q: In Jer 51:11,28, why does God emphasize the Medes, plus a few other nations conquering Babylon, yet maintain complete silence about the Persians?
A: Two points to consider in the answer.
1. By the time of the conquest of Babylon, the Medes and Persians were effectively one people, so either name, or both, was sufficient to designate them.
2. In Jeremiah's time, there was no hint that someday the Persians would dominate the Medes rather than the other way around. The Persians did not dominate the Medes until Cyrus in 553-550 B.C., after Jeremiah's time. Apparently God did not want to give away the secret.
Q: In Jer 51:27, who were the Minni?
A: The Minni were the Minneans, who lived just south of Lake Urmia; their yet undiscovered capital was named Izirtu. The Assyrians mention fighting them during the reign of Adad-Nerari III (810-783 B.C.) Though they often fought the Assyrians, they tried to help the Assyrians in 616 B.C., but were defeated by Nabopolassar of Babylon. Excavations of the 60 acre citadel at Hasanlu Tepe date the Minni as far back as 1200 B.C. The came to the aid of the Assyrians in 616 B.C., and were later defeated by Babylon and later the Persians. See the Wycliffe Bible Dictionary p.1133-1134 and Persia and the Bible p.47 for more info.
Josephus writing around 93-94 A.D. in Antiquities of the Jews 1.3.6 says they relate to the Armenian Minyas, but the Wycliffe Bible Dictionary p.1133 indicates Josephus was probably incorrect here.
Q: In Jer 51:56 (KJV), what does "requite" mean?
A: This King James Version word mean that God will require compensation (recompense) for the evil they did.
Q: In Jer 51:57, why does God make people drunk?
A: See the discussion on Isaiah 67:6 for the answer.
Q: In Jer 51:59 (KJV), how was Seriah a "quiet prince"?
A: The NKJV translates this as Seriah was the "quartermaster", or one who doled out the provisions.
Q: In Jer 51:59, was Seriah commanded to read the scroll in Babylon, or was he killed before reaching Babylon as Jer 52:24,27 implies?
A: Three points to consider in the answer.
Start but not finish: Jeremiah 51:59 says that Seriah started on the journey with Zedekiah to Babylon, but did not does say he completed the journey. Jeremiah 52:24,27 says that he and four others were killed in Riblah in Hamath, which is in modern-day Syria.
Obedient or not? Jeremiah 51:59 says that Jeremiah commanded this official to read this words. Nothing says that Seriah was willing to do what Jeremiah said.
Who read the words? Jeremiah 51:59 says that Jeremiah "commanded" Seriah to read these words in Babylon. Scripture is silent on whether these words were never read in Babylon, or whether some one else took up the task after Seriah was executed en route.
Q: In Jer 52:12, did Nebuzaradan enter Jerusalem, burning down the temple and houses in the fifth month on the tenth day, or on the seventh day as 2 Ki 25:8 says?
A: There are two views.
1. This may be a copyist error according to The NIV Study Bible p.1213 and The New Geneva Study Bible p.1239. These two passages say basically the same thing, except for the one word giving the day of the month.
In Hebrew the difference between the two words is the order of one letter and additional strokes on two letters. However, the Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties p.222 says that the scribal rule of spelling out numbers was a later development; prior to that letters represented numbers, and dots and fishhooks represented thousands and decades. Thus the difference in the earlier script would be only one letter.
As a side note, these verses in the Septuagint match the Hebrew, so this copyist error occurred prior to translating the Septuagint.
But why is a scribal error more reasonable than an error in the original? We can use an analogy with the 10,000+ New Testament manuscripts. The New Testament manuscripts show many one, two, and three letter variations due to scribal errors and mispellings. We can show the frequency of scribal errors for the New Testament, and we do not have enough Old Testament manuscripts to show the frequency of scribal errors, but it was probably of similar magnitude as copyist errors in the New Testament.
2. The New International Bible Commentary p.798 gives a very different answer. It says the three days difference was likely the time between when Nebuzaradan entered the city and when the burning happened. Note that the end of Jeremiah 51 says "The words of Jeremiah end here", and Jeremiah 52:1-27 is almost word for word the same as 2 Kings 24:17-25:21, except, as The Expositor's Bible Commentary volume 6 p.689 points out, the list of items is more elaborate in Jeremiah.
The Bible Knowledge Commentary : Old Testament p.1204 mentions both views.
Q: In Jer 52:29 were the captives taken away in Nebuchadnezzar's 18th year, or was Jerusalem taken in Nebuchadnezzar's 19th year as Jer 52:12 says?
A: The two were the same year, understanding how years were counted. The Expositor's Bible Commentary volume 6 p.689 says that Jeremiah 52:12 included the (partial) year of ascension of Nebuchadnezzar, while Jeremiah 52:29 just chronicles complete years.
For example, let's say a hypothetical king reigned the first day of the year 1 A.D. to his death in the middle of 10 A.D. His son ruled from the middle of 10 A.D. to his death on the last day of 30 A.D. So the first king reigned 10 years, the second king reigned 21 years, but their total reign was 30 years, not 31 years. This anomaly in counting is removed when the scribes only counted the start of the reign as the first complete year, with the preceding faction of a year called the year of ascension.
Q: In Jer, what are some of the earliest manuscripts that still exist today?
A: Dead Sea scrolls: (c.1 B.C.) 6 separate copies. The Dead Sea Scrolls Today p.30. However, the Wycliffe Bible Dictionary p.436-438 says there are only 4 separate copies.
4QJer(a) contains Jer 7:1-2,15-19,28-34; 8:1-12,18-19,23; 9:1-2,7-15; 10:9-14,23; 11:3-6,19-20; 12:3-7,13-17; 13:1-7,22? (or 22:3?),27; 14:4-7; 15:1-2; 17:8-26; 18:15-23; 19:1; 20:14-18; 21:1?; 22:3? (or 13:22?),3-16; 26:10?
4QJer(b) contains Jer 9:22-25; 10:1-5a,9,5b,11-21
4QJer(c) contains Jer 8:1-3,21-23; 9:1-5; 10:12-13; 19:8-9; 20:2-5,7-9,13-15; 21:7-1022:4-6,10-28,28-30?; 25:7-8,15-17,24-26; 26:10-13; 27:1-3,3-15; 30:6-9,17-24; 31:1-9,11-14,19-23,25-26; 33:?,16-20
4QJer(d) contains Jer 43:2-10
4QJer(e) contains Jer 50:4-6
Overall, preserved in the Dead Sea Scrolls are the following verses from Jeremiah: Jer 4:5,13-16; 7:1-2,15-19,28-34; 8:1-12,18-19,21-23; 9:1-5,7-15,22-25; 10:1-5a,9-21,23; 10:12-13; 11:3-6,19-20; 12:3-7,13-17; 13:1-7,22? (or 22:3?), 27; 13:22?; 14:4-7; 15:1-2; 17:8-26; 18:15-23; 19:1,8-9; 20:2-5,7-9,13-18; 21:1?,7-10; 22:3-28,28-30?; 25:7-8,15-17,24-26; 26:10-13; 26:10?; 27:1-3,13-15; 30:6-9,17-24; 31:1-9,11-14,19-23,25-26; 32:24-25?; 33:16-20; 42:7-11,14; 43:2-10; 44:1-3,12-14; 46:27-28; 47:1-7,25-39,41-42?,43-45; 49:10?; 50:4-6. See Encyclopedia of the Dead Sea Scrolls vol.2 p.615 and The Meaning of the Dead Sea Scrolls for more info.
Christian Bible manuscripts, from about 350 A.D., contain the Old Testament, including Jeremiah. According to The Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge p.746, the Chester Beatty Papyrii (2nd-4th century A.D.) contain Jeremiah.
Vaticanus (325-350 A.D.) contains all of Jeremiah.
Sinaiticus (340-350 A.D.) contains all of Jeremiah. It starts on the same page that Isaiah ends. It ends on the same page as Lamentations starts.
Alexandrinus (c.450 A.D.) contains all of Jeremiah.
Q: Which early writers referred to Jeremiah?
A: Pre-Nicene writers who referenced or alluded to verses in Jeremiah are:
The Jewish writer Philo of Alexandria (15/20 B.C.-50 A.D.) refers to Jeremiah 2:13; 3:4; 15:10.
Epistle of Barnabas (100-150 A.D.) ch.11 p.144 quotes Jeremiah 2:12,13 as by "the prophet".
2 Clement (c.150 A.D.) ch.14 p.254 unmistakably quotes 1/3 of Jeremiah 7:11 as "Scripture".
Justin Martyr (wrote c.138-165 A.D.) quotes or paraphrases Jer 2:13,19; 4:3; 7:21f (by Jeremiah); 7:24,26; 9:25f,26; 10:3; 11:8,19; 31:15,27,32; 31:32 (by Jeremiah). He quotes Jeremiah 7:21f as by Jeremiah in Dialogue with Trypho the Jew ch.22 p.205 e
The Shepherd of Hermas ch.31 p.53-54 (c.160 A.D.) alludes to Jeremiah 13:20 and Zechariah 11:15-17 about straying shepherds.
Hegesippus (170-180 A.D.) Concerning the Relatives of Our Savior ch.1 vol.8 p.763 refers to "Jeremiah the prophet" and the sons of Recab.
Meleto/Melito of Sardis (170-177/180 A.D.) says Jeremiah is one of the books of the Old Testament in Melito's letter to Onesimus. On Pascha p.72. Preserved in Eusebius' Ecclesiastical History book 4 ch.26. He also quotes Jeremiah 11:19 as "Jeremiah says" in On Pascha Stanza 63 p.53.
Athenagoras (177 A.D.) says, "Moses, Isaiah, Jeremiah" and the other prophets. A Plea for Christians ch.9 p.133
Theophilus of Antioch (168-181/188 A.D.) quotes Jeremiah 6:9 as by Jeremiah in Theophilus to Autolycus book 3 ch.11 p.114
Irenaeus of Lyons (182-188 A.D.) quotes Jeremiah 22:24-25 as by Jeremiah in Irenaeus Against Heresies book 3 ch.21.9 p.453.
Clement of Alexandria (193-217/220 A.D.) quotes Jeremiah 3:3-4 as by Jeremiah in The Instructor book 1 ch.8 p.230
Tertullian (198-220 A.D.) quotes Jeremiah 1:5a as God speaking to Jeremiah in A Treatise on the Soul ch.26 p.207
Hippolytus (222-235/6 A.D.) has a fragment preserved "on Jeremiah and Ezekiel. (fragment 3 p.176)
Origen (225-254 A.D.) wrote commentaries on Romans, Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Joshua, 1 Kings, Jeremiah, and Luke
Anonymous Treatise Against Novatian (250/4-256/7 A.D.) ch.10 p.660 quotes Jeremiah 10:24 as by Jeremiah.
Cyprian of Carthage (c.246-258 A.D.) quotes from "Jeremiah" in Treatise 12 the third book 8,34.
The Bardesene heretic Marinus (c.300 A.D.) in disputing with Adamantius, referred to Jeremiah. Dialogue on the True Faith 5th part ch.21 p.176
Victorinus of Petau (martyred 304 A.D.) quotes Jeremiah 1:5 as in Jeremiah. Commentary on the Apocalypse from the 11th chapter no.5 p.354
Peter of Alexandria (306,285-310/311 A.D.) alludes to Jeremiah 3:23 in Canonical Epistle canon 4 p.270.
Methodius of Olympus and Patara (270-311/312 A.D.) refers to Jeremiah 5:8 as by Jeremiah in The Banquet of the Ten Virgins discourse 1 ch.3 p.312
Lactantius (315-325/326 A.D.) quotes Jeremiah 8:7-9 as by Jeremiah in The Divine Institutes book 4 ch.11 p.110
Athanasius of Alexandria (339 A.D.) mentions Jeremiah with the other books of the Old Testament in his Paschal Letter 39 ch.4 p.552.
Pacian of Barcelona (342-379/392 A.D.) quotes Jeremiah 31:29-30 as by Jeremiah. Letter 3 ch.3.3 p.42
Didymus the blind (398 A.D.) quotes part of Jer 2:8 as by Jeremiah. Commentary on Zechariah 11 p.262-263
Epiphanius of Salamis (360-403 A.D.) mentions the Old Testament books, including Jeremiah.
The Pelagian heretic Theodore of Mopsuestia (392-423/429 A.D.) quotes Jeremiah 12:1 as by the blessed Jeremiah. Commentary on Habakkuk ch.1 p.268
Augustine of Hippo (338-430 A.D.) mentions Jeremiah in The City of God book 17 ch.33 p.379, and Zephaniah and Jeremiah in The City of God book 18 ch.34 p.380
The historian Suplicius/Sulpitius Severus (363-420 A.D.) refers to Jeremiah in History book 1 ch.54 p.96
John Chrysostom (-407 A.D.) mentions the Old Testament book of Jeremiah Homilies on Hebrews ch.26 (vol.14) p.285
After Nicea there are other writers too.
Q: In Jer, how is the Septuagint translation shorter than the Hebrew?
A: In translating the scriptures to Greek, the person who translated (or rather paraphrased in a condensed fashion) the last half of Jeremiah did perhaps the worst job of any of the translators. Jeremiah 1-23 is OK, but for the last half, perhaps either he got tired, or a different person did the last half. Out of 1364 total verses in the Hebrew, A General Introduction to the Bible p.368 says the Septuagint is 60 verses (4.4%) shorter, but I only found 51 missing verses (3.8%). Here they are:
Jer 7: 1 and 1/2 of verse 2
Jer 14: last 1/3 of verse 3
Jer 17: "thus says the Lord" in verse 5 (1/4)
Jer 22: "a man who shall not succeed in his days" (NRSV) in verse 30 (1/4)
Jer 25: 1/3 of 13 to verse 14
Jer 27:17, half of 18, 19-21, half of 22
Q: In Jer, how is the order of the verses in the Septuagint different than the Hebrew?
A: Most of the differences are in the last half of the book. Here is a rundown.
Chapters 1-22 are the same in both the Hebrew and the Septuagint.
Jer 23:7-8 are put at the end of chapter 23.
Jer 25:15-38 moved to Jer 34
Jer 30:15 is put in the middle of verse 16.
Jer 31:37 is put before Jer 31:35
Jer 46 (Egypt) is put after Jer 25
Jer 50-52 (Babylon) is put after Jer 46
Jer 47 (The Philistines) is the after chapter 51 (in the Hebrew)
Jer 49:7-23 (Edom) is next
Jer 49:1-5 (Ammon) is next
Jer 49:28-34 (Kedar and Hazor) is next
Jer 49:23-28 (Damascus) is next
Jer 49:34-end (Elam) is put as Jer 25:13-end
Jer 48:1-45 (Moab) is next
Jer 25:14-end is next
Jer 26-45 are in order
Q: In Jer, why are there more differences between the Greek Septuagint and the Hebrew, than any other Old Testament book?
A: First some observations, and then three complementary hypotheses.
First half OK: The order of verses in chapters 1-24 are the same, except that Jeremiah 23:7-8 was put at the end of Jeremiah 23. Since only 6 1/3 verses are missing in the Septuagint, out of 588 total verses in the Hebrew, there are only 1% fewer verses in the first half.
Last half more a paraphrase: In the 776 verses in chapters 25-52, there were 45 1/3 missing verses (6%). Many of the missing verses are the introductory verses at the start of a chapter, and verses that give background.
Summary: So the two issues are why the order is so different, and secondarily, why the Septuagint version of the last half has 6% fewer verses. Here are three possibilities.
Misplaced leaves: Remember the Jews who immigrated to Egypt did so in Jeremiah's time. There would be very few copies of the book of Jeremiah when this occurred. If some pages of Jeremiah were out of order, there would not be a number of other copies to compare. Many of Jeremiah's prophecies are not in a particular order, so it would be different than say, if leaves of a manuscript of Genesis were out of order. This would explain why Jeremiah 23:7-8 is shifted, and the different order of the other parts. This does not attempt to explain why the last part has 6% fewer verses.
Periphrastic: While the Septuagint translation of the Torah is rather good, some other books were not translated very well. Since Jeremiah was a long book, it is likely a very professional scribe translated the first half, while the translator of the second half was more interested in a paraphrase. The verses that are missing generally are the introductory parts, so perhaps the second scribe thought he was just eliminating unnecessary background. Furthermore, based on number of words, the Septuagint of Jeremiah is one-eighth shorter, so either
1) The Greek translator was liberal in leaving out words, or
2) Explanatory words were added to the Hebrew.
Two compilations: One theory is that Baruch organized the last part of Jeremiah's prophecies, and added explanatory words. The version that went to Egypt was prior to Baruch's final organizing. Jeremiah's words are preserved as a paraphrase in both, but the first part is organized the same. For reference, here are the dates of the prophecies of different parts of Jeremiah, from oldest to youngest.
1-6 626/625 B.C.
11-12 620 B.C.
22:1-19 607 B.C.
26 607 B.C.
7-10 606 B.C.
14-20 605 B.C.
25 604 B.C.
35 604 B.C.
45:1-49:33 604 B.C.
36:1-8 603 B.C.
36:9-32 602 B.C.
21 589 B.C.
13 598 B.C.
22:20-30 598 B.C.
23-24 597 B.C.
29-31 596 B.C.
49:34-39 595 B.C.
27-28 593 B.C.
50-51 590 B.C.
32-34 587/586 B.C.
37 587/586 B.C.
38-44 585 B.C.
52 561 B.C.
These dates were taken from The Bible Knowledge Commentary : Old Testament p.1126. The doctrine of inerrancy only says that the words were inerrant in the original texts. It does not say they were preserved in a certain order, or necessarily that there is a right or wrong order.
Q: In Jer, what are some of the translation differences between the Hebrew, Greek Septuagint, and other manuscripts?
A: Accounting for difference between the Hebrew and Greek language, A General Introduction to the Bible p.368 says the Septuagint version of Jeremiah is one-eighth (60 verses) shorter, and that the Dead Sea scroll (4Q Jerb) supports some of these omissions. A Survey of Old Testament Introduction p.369 also says the Septuagint version of Jeremiah is one-eighth shorter.
Here are some of the differences, focusing especially on chapter 7. The first is the Masoretic text (MT), and the second is the Septuagint (LXX), unless otherwise noted.
Jer 2:11 "My people have exchanged their glory" (MT) vs. "My people have exchanged My glory" (a Hebrew scribal tradition according to the NIV footnote)
Jer 2:31-32 "word of the LORD" (Dead Sea Scrolls, LXX, Syriac) vs. "word of the LORD. If" (MT)
Jer 3:1 "Saying, if" (MT) vs. "If" (Dead Sea scrolls, Septuagint, Syriac)
Jer 3:8 "I" (MT) vs. "she" (Dead Sea scrolls, Septuagint, Syriac)
Jer 3:23 "Truly from the hills is a delusion" (MT) vs. "Truly the hills are a delusion" (LXX, Syriac, Vulgate)
Jer 7:1-2 "The word that was to Jeremiah from Jehovah, saying, Stand in the gate of the house of Jehovah and call out this word there, and say, Hear" (MT) vs. "Hear" (LXX)
Jer 7:2 "Judah entering at these gates to worship Jehovah." vs. "Judah"
Jer 7:4 "Do not trust yourself to lying words" (MT) vs. "trust not in yourselves with lying words, for they shall not profit you at all" (LXX)
Jer 7:4 It is the temple" vs. "The temple"
Jer 7:8 "trust for yourself on lying words" vs. "trusted in lying words"
Jer 7:9 "steal, murder, and commit adultery" vs. Murder, and commit adultery, and steal"
Jer 7:10 "we are delivered in order to do all those detestable things" vs. "We have refrained from doing all these abominations."
Jer 10:5a followed by verse 9 followed by verse 5b in the Dead Sea Scroll 4QJer(b). (The Meaning of the Dead Sea Scrolls p.417)
Jer 7:11 "Has this house ... den of violent ones" vs. "Is my house... a den of robbers"
Jer 7:13 "and I spoke to you, rising up early and speaking, but you did not hear" vs. "and I spoke to you, but you did not hear"
Jer 7:16 "And you, do not pray for this people; do not lift up cry or prayer for them; do not intercede with Me. For I do not hear you." vs. "Therefore pray not you for this people, and intercede not for them to be pitied, yea, pray not, and approach me not for them: for I will not hearken."
Jer 7:21 "Jehovah of hosts, the God of Israel" vs. "the Lord"
Jer 7:27 "all these words" vs. "this word"
Jer 7:27-28 "but they will not listen to you. And you will call to them, but they will not answer you." vs. (absent)
Jer 7:28 "truth has perished and is cut off from their mouth" vs. "truth has failed from their mouth."
Jer 7:29 "crown" vs. "hair"
Jer 7:29 dirge on the heights" vs. "lamentation on thy lips"
Jer 7:29 "of his wrath" vs. "that has done these things"
Jer 7:30 "in my eyes" vs. "before me"
Jer 7:30 "idols" vs. "abominations"
Jer 7:31 "high places" (MT) vs. "altar/high place" (LXX, Targums)
Jer 7:31 "nor did it come into my heart" vs. "neither did I design it in my heart."
Jer 7:32 "no more be called Tophet" vs. "no more say, 'The altar of Tapheth"
Jer 7:33 "frighten away" vs. "drive away"
Jer 8:2 "sought" vs. "held"
Jer 8:2 "gathered" vs. "mourned"
Jer 8:3 "And death shall be chosen rather than life by all the rest of those who remain of this evil family, who remain there in all the places where I have driven them say Jehovah of hosts" vs. "because they chose death rather than life, even to all the remnant that are left of that family, in every place whither I shall drive them out."
Jer 8:5 "people, Jerusalem" vs. "people" (one Greek manuscript)
Jer 8:5 "never-ending apostasy? They hold fast to deceit; they refuse to return" vs. "shameless revolting, and strengthened themselves in their willfulness, and refused to return?"
Jer 9:5 "they have committed iniquity, they cease not, so as to return." (MT) vs. "they are too weary to repent" (LXX)
Jer 9:10 "I will take up weeping" (MT) vs. "take up weeping" (LXX, Syriac)
Jer 10:9 "Uphaz" vs. "Ophir" (Targums, Syriac)
Jer 10:9 in the Masoretic text and Dead Sea Scroll 4QJer(a) vs. absent in the Septuagint and Dead Sea Scroll 4QJer(b). See The Meaning of the Dead Sa Scrolls p.134 for more info.
Jer 10:16 "like none of these is the portion of Jacob" (MT) vs. "like none of these is the LORD, the portion of Jacob" (LXX)
Jer 11:15 "Can many" (MT) vs. "Can vows" (LXX)
Jer 12:4 "blind to our future" (MT) vs. "blind to our ways" (LXX)
Jer 12:9 "is the hyena, the bird of pray" (MT) vs. "is the hyena" (LXX)
Jer 12:13 "your harvests" (MT) vs. "their harvests" (LXX)
Jer 15:14 "I will cause our enemies to bring you" (most MT) vs. "I will enslave you to your enemies" (some MT, LXX, Syriac according to the NIV footnote)
Jer 15:14 "I will make you cross over with your enemies" (MT, Vulgate) vs. "cause you to serve" (LXX, Syriac, Targums according to the NKJV footnote)
Jer 16:7 "break for them for the mourner" (MT) vs. "break bread for the mourner" (2 Greek manuscripts)
Jer 16:18 "And first I will" (MT) vs. "And I will" (LXX)
Jer 17:13 "spoil your high places for sin" (MT) vs. "spoil as the price for your sin" (LXX)
Jer 17:25 "kings and officials" (MT) vs. "kings" (LXX)
Jer 18:15 "they have stumbled" (MT) vs. "they made them stumble" (LXX, Syriac, Vulgate)
Jer 18:17 "look them in" (MT) vs. "show them the day of their destruction" (LXX according to Brenton) vs. "show them the back and not the face in the day of their destruction" (LXX, Syriac, Targums, Vulgate according to the NKJV footnote)
Jer 19:1 "jug. Some of the elders" (MT) vs. "jug. Take with you some of the elders" (Syriac, Targums) vs. "jug/bottle, the work of the potter, and you shall bring of the elders" (LXX)
Jer 22:23 "will be pitied" (MT) vs. "will groan / groan heavily" (LXX)
Jer 23:1 "my pasture" (Hebrew and Alexandrine text) vs. "their pasture" (LXX)
Jer 23:8 "where I had driven them" (MT) vs. "where He had driven them" (LXX)
Jer 23:33 "what burden/oracle" (MT) vs. "you are the burden/oracle" (LXX, Syriac, Vulgate)
Jer 23:39 "forget you" (MT) vs. "lift you up" (some Hebrew manuscripts, LXX, Targums, Vulgate)
Jer 24:9 "everlasting desolations" (MT) vs. "everlasting disgrace" (LXX), compare Syriac)
Jer 25:38 "because of the anger of the oppressor" (most MT) vs. "because of the sword of the oppressor" (some MT, LXX)
Jer 26:22 "Jehoiakim sent men to Egypt" (MT) vs. "Jehoiakim sent" (LXX)
Jer 27:1 "Zedekiah" (some MT, Syriac, Arabic) vs. "Josiah's Son Jehoiakim" (most MT, Targums, Vulgate) vs. the entire verse is absent in the Septuagint. (NIV, NRSV, Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties) However, Jeremiah 27:3 shows this was Zedekiah. The NET Bible says that "Jehoiakim" is obviously corrupt because the date formula is contradictory.
Jer 27:9 "dreams" (MT) vs. "dreamers" (LXX, Syriac, Vulgate)
Jer 29:19 "you" (MT) vs. "they" (Syriac)
Jer 29:32 "and he shall not see" (MT) vs. "not have anyone living among this people to see" (LXX)
Jer 31:3 "appeared to him" (MT) vs. "appeared to him" (LXX)
Jer 31:8 "ends of the earth/land" (MT) vs. "ends of the earth/land on a feast day" (LXX, Tertullian On Baptism ch.19 p.678)
Jer 31:9 "supplications" (MT) vs. "consolations" (LXX, Targum, compare Vulgate)
Jer 31:22 "The LORD will create a new thing on earth - a woman will surround a man." (Masoretic text) vs. "The Lord created for us for a planting salvation, in which salvation men shall go about" (Septuagint according to Athanasius Statement of Faith ch.3 p.85 c.328 A.D.) vs. "The Lord create a new thing in woman." (Aquila according to Athanasius' Statement of Faith ch.3 p.85 c.328 A.D.
Jer 31:24 "they shall wander" (MT) vs. "those who wander" (Compare Syriac, Vulgate, Targum)
Jer 31:32 "though I was a husband to them" (MT, Targums, Vulgate) vs. "though I turned away from them" (LXX, Syriac)
Jer 33:2 "it" vs. "the earth"
Jer 35:1 "Jehoiakim son of Josiah" vs. "Jehoiakim"
Jer 39:1 In the ninth year of King Zedekiah of Judah, in the tenth month" vs. "And it came to pass in the ninth month"
Jer 41:7 "slaughtered them into a cistern" (MT) vs. "slaughtered them and threw them into a cistern" (Syriac) vs. "he slew them into a pit" (LXX Jer 49:7)
Jer 41:9 "whom he had killed by the hand of Gedaliah" vs. "whom he had struck down"
Jer 42:1 "Jezaniah" (MT) vs. "Azariah" (LXX)
Jer 43:10 "I will set" (MT) vs. "he will set" (LXX, Syriac)
Jer 43:12 "I shall kindle" (MT, Targums) vs. "He shall kindle" (LXX, Syriac, Vulgate)
Jer 44:19 "Indeed" vs. "And the women said, Indeed" (compare Syriac)
Jer 46:15 "Why was it swept away?" (MT) vs. "Why has Apis fled?" (LXX)
Jer 46:16 "and fell one to another and they said" (MT) vs. "and fell, and one said to another" (LXX)
Jer 47:5 "gash yourselves" (MT) vs. "roll about" (Dead Sea scrolls)
Jer 47:5 "their valley" (MT) vs. "their power" (LXX)
Jer 47:7 "how can you" (MT) vs. "how can it" (LXX, Vulgate)
Jer 48:4 "her little ones will cry out" (MT, Targums, Vulgate) vs. "proclaim it to Zoar" (LXX)
Jer 48:6 "like Aroer in the Desert" vs. "like a wild ass in the desert" (LXX and Aquila (126 A.D.))
Jer 48:7 "trusted in your works and your treasures" (MT) vs. "trusted in your strongholds and your treasures" (LXX)
Jer 48:12 "his jars" vs. "their jars" (LXX and Aquila (126 A.D.))
Jer 48:31 "He will mourn" (MT) vs. "I will mourn" (Dead Sea Scrolls, LXX, Vulgate)
Jer 48:32 "as far as Jazer" (MT) vs. "as far as the Sea of Jazer" (two manuscripts and Isaiah 16:8 )
Jer 48:44 "bring upon it" (MT) vs. "bring these things" (LXX, Syriac)
Jer 49:25 "is not forsaken" (MT) vs. "is forsaken" (Vulgate)
Jer 49:25 "the town of my" (MT) vs. "the joyful town" (Syriac, Vulgate, Targum)
Jer 50:5 "Come! They shall join them" (MT) vs. "and they shall come and join themselves" (LXX)
Jer 50:9 "a warrior who makes childless" (most MT, Targums, Vulgate) vs. "an expert warrior" (some MT, LXX, Syriac)
Jer 50:21 "destroy after them" (MT) vs. "destroy the last of them" (Targums)
Jer 50:29 "escape" (MT) vs. "escape to her" (some MT, LXX, Targums)
Jer 50:31 "That time that I will punish you" (MT, Targums) vs. "The time of your punishment" (LXX, Vulgate)
Jer 50:38 "A drought is against her waters" (MT, Targums) vs. "A sword is against her waters" (Syriac) vs. "against her waters" (LXX)
Jer 50:45 "fold" vs. "their fold" (Syriac, Greek, Targum)
Jer 51:58 "and the nations for fire, and they are weary" vs. "and the nations weary themselves only for fire."
Jer 51:64 "on her. And they shall weary themselves" (MT) vs. "on her." (LXX)
Bibliography for this question: the Hebrew translation is from Jay P. Green's Literal Translation and the Septuagint rendering is from Sir Lancelot C.L. Brenton's translation of The Septuagint : Greek and English. The Expositor's Bible Commentary and the footnotes in the NASB, NIV, NKJV, and NRSV Bibles also were used.
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