Jeremiah 8 Study Notes


8:1 At that time links what follows with Jeremiah’s temple gate sermon in chap. 7. The exhuming of bones (here of kings, officials, priests, prophets, and residents) out of their graves will be the ultimate insult to the defeated people. Judah will be unable to guard the remains of their ancestors, much less themselves.


Hebrew pronunciation [sah RAFF]
CSB translation burn, burn up
Uses in Jeremiah 23
Uses in the OT 117
Focus passage Jeremiah 7:31

Saraph describes firing bricks (Gn 11:3) and burning cooking fuel (Is 44:16) but usually implies negative events. One burned up sacrificial refuse (Lv 4:21), leftover meat (Ex 12:10), contaminated fabric (Lv 13:55), and idols (Dt 7:25). People burned down enemy cities (Jos 11:11) and burned criminals (Lv 20:14). Idolaters burned children (Dt 12:31). Saraph suggests set on fire (Jdg 9:52); it indicates people destroyed by fire (Nm 16:39). Saraph concerned funereal burning ceremonies (Jr 34:5), for which a relative was responsible (Am 6:10). Misraphah was this or any burning of people (Jr 34:5; Is 33:12). Serephah (13x) also denotes this fire (2Ch 21:19). It implies burning (Is 9:5), burning debris (Nm 16:37), or a charred mountain (Jr 51:25). With saraph it is ignite or make a fire (Lv 10:6; 2Ch 16:14). The noun saraph (7x) is poisonous snake (Dt 8:15) or seraphim, angels who were fiery (Is 6:6).

8:2 In an ironic demonstration of the futility of false religion, “the bones” (v. 1) will be exposed to the sun, the moon, and all the stars in the sky, which they have loved, served, followed, consulted, and worshiped. The astral deities Judah worshiped will look down, powerless to prevent this desecration.

8:3 Death will be chosen over life—see Dt 28:64-68.

8:4-5 Once again the emphasis is on the word “turn/return” or “repent” (Hb shuv). Jeremiah made a play on the words, saying: If they turn away, do they not return? Why have these people turned away? Normally, those who fall try to get up again. So why was this people acting so contrary to nature? The answer is they have taken hold of deceit.

8:6 The phrase no one regrets [or repents of] his evil (Hb niham) fits with the repeated (Hb) shuv, “turn/return,” as a call for repentance.

8:7 Storks . . . turtledoves, swallows, and cranes are migratory birds. They instinctively obey the laws of nature set by their Creator. This contrasts with God’s rational and intelligent beings who saw the impending signs of disaster but decided to do nothing to correct their path.

8:8-9 The people of Judah thought that mere possession of the law of God was all they needed to be secure and right with God. But they had falsified its words and intentions. Verse 8 literally says, “Verily, behold, it is to a delusion [that] it has been given; the pen of the scribes is deceitful.” In the hands of the scribes, God’s law was twisted into a covering for corruption.

8:10-11 See 6:13-14.

8:12 On they weren’t at all ashamed, see note at 3:3.


Hebrew pronunciation [BOSH]
CSB translation be ashamed
Uses in Jeremiah 35
Uses in the OT 125
Focus passage Jeremiah 8:9,12

Bosh, reflected in several Semitic languages, generally suggests a passive experience of losing dignity and position, often because of some endeavor. Frequently it implies military defeat (Zch 10:5), but the first occurrence concerns feeling sexual shame (Gn 2:25). Bosh indicates objectively being put to shame or subjectively being ashamed (Jr 2:36; 6:15). It regularly occurs with similar verbs such as kalam (“be humiliated,” 17x), chapar (“be disgraced,” 14x), and chatat (“be dismayed,” 10x), and with their derived nouns. Shame and embarrassment go together (Ezr 9:6). Words for becoming pale appear with bosh (Is 29:22). Bosh is translated be dismayed (Is 19:9) or disgraced (Ps 31:1). It can involve being embarrassed (Jdg 3:25). The causative means cause shame (Pr 12:4) or let be disgraced (Ps 44:7), and its participle means disgraceful or disgrace (Pr 10:5; 29:15). A hope can fail (Zch 9:5), and one can frustrate plans (Ps 14:6).

8:13-9:23 This section spells out the doom of Judah and its inhabitants.

8:14-15 God will give Judah poisoned water to drink. This metaphor occurs again in 9:15 and 23:15 as a judgment on the people. The people had hoped for peace and healing, but there was only terror.

8:16 The city of Dan, to the far north and bordering on Phoenicia, marked the route that the enemy from the east would take. The desert to the east was virtually impassable.

8:17 The battle metaphors change from the speed of the horse to the creeping terror of the snake. God will send poisonous snakes among the people. The point is that if death does not come from warriors on horses, it will come by some other means God appoints. There will be no escape.

8:18-21 These verses form a chiasm. Jeremiah speaks in vv. 18,19a, and 21. The people speak through Jeremiah in vv. 19b,20; and the Lord speaks in v. 19c—in the center. Jews were in exile in Babylon at least as early as 605 BC.

8:20 The phrase harvest has passed, summer has ended, but we have not been saved is a proverbial saying meaning that all opportunities have passed and no hope of rescue exists.

8:22 Gilead was a territory in Transjordan, north of Moab, where its northern regions were heavily wooded. It was well known for its medicinal balm, a resin from the balsam tree that was applied to wounds. Neither healing nor healer could cure the hurt of the people.