Jeremiah 6 Study Notes


6:1 Hebrew has a play on words between Tekoa (teqo‘a) and sound (tiq‘u) the ram’s horn. Tekoa, about five miles south of Bethlehem, was the hometown of the prophet Amos. Beth-haccherem was either ‘Ain Karim, west of Jerusalem, or modern Ramat Rachel (ancient Khirbet Salih), located on the road from Jerusalem to Bethlehem. A smoke signal was sent to warn about the approach of an enemy (Jdg 20:38,40).

6:2 Superficial beauty offered no protection to moral corruption.

6:3 The enemy and his troops are called shepherds and their flocks.

6:4-5 According to Jack Lundbom, attacking at noon or by night means that the battle can occur anytime.

6:6 Cut down the trees; raise a siege ramp refers to military actions that the Assyrians and Babylonians boasted about in their victory memorials. They carried dirt in baskets, pouring it against the city walls until the slope was halfway up the wall. Then they built towers from felled trees to hurl heavy stones and firebrands against the wall (2Sm 20:15; Ezk 29:18).

6:7 Evil was erupting so spontaneously in Judah by now that Jeremiah compared it to a gushing well. The invasion was justified because Judah was guilty of oppression (v. 6), evil . . . violence, and destruction, resulting in a society full of sickness and wounds.

6:8 Note the promise in 32:40 that “I will never turn away from doing good to them.”

6:9 Jeremiah was to pass his hand once more like a grape gatherer to make sure every last grape had been gathered. This ensured that everyone heard the message and had a chance to repent.

6:10 An uncircumcised ear was closed, impervious to God’s Spirit and word.

6:11-12 Jeremiah felt compelled to preach the Lord’s wrath. The Lord tells him to preach it to all: pour it out.

6:14 Soothing words of peace, peace did no good when the stage was already set for calamity.

6:15 On weren’t at all ashamed, see note at 3:3.

6:16 The ancient paths were the ones followed by Noah and the patriarchs, who believed God’s promises and walked with God.

6:17 God appointed watchmen or sentinels (metaphors for true prophets), who would sound the ram’s horn to warn of impending trouble (Ezk 3:16-21; 33:1-9).

6:18-19 The fruit of their own plotting represents destruction growing from the nation’s sin and iniquity; they will harvest what they have sown (Pr 1:31). My words is paralleled by my instruction. The nation had ignored God’s teaching through his prophet and disregarded the law Moses had delivered centuries earlier.

6:20 Frankincense came from southern Arabia. It was an aromatic resin from trees used in perfume and incense. Sheba was a country in southwestern Arabia, the center of incense and spices trade. Incense and burnt offerings were no substitute for obeying God (7:21-24; Is 1:11-15; Am 5:21; Mc 6:6-8).

6:21 The stumbling blocks in this verse are undefined. God will allow events such as the Babylonian invasion because of the failure of his people to heed his calls to repent.

6:22 This begins another oracle regarding a foe from the north. See 4:5-8.

6:23 The word javelin probably refers to a sword.

6:24 A woman in labor is a common image in the OT (4:31; 13:21; 22:23; 30:6; 49:24; 50:43; Ps 84:6; Is 13:8; 21:3; 42:14; Mc 4:9-10).

6:25 The phrase terror is on every side (Hb magor missabib) is a favorite saying of Jeremiah. He used it to warn Pashhur the evil priest (20:3,10). The people turned Jeremiah’s saying around and used it against him, saying that all he saw were terrors coming from every direction.

6:26 The death of an only son (Hb yachid) meant that hope for descendants was gone (Gn 22:2).

6:27 Jeremiah was to act as an assayer among the people (cp. 9:7). An assayer was a metallurgist who tested the quality of ore (in this case, the quality of the people).

6:28 The people are described as stubborn rebels (“rebel of rebels,” or “the most stubborn of rebels”), active in spreading slander.

6:29 To refine silver, lead and silver were heated together so that the oxidized lead would bind impurities (dross), leaving pure silver (Ps 66:10). However, here the ore (the people of Judah) was so impure that the alloys remained. The refining process failed. The evil ones were the dross that could not be separated from the pure silver.