Jeremiah 8

Death over Life

1 "At that time"-[this is] the Lord's declaration-"the bones of the kings of Judah, the bones of her officials, the bones of the priests, the bones of the prophets, and the bones of the residents of Jerusalem will be brought out of their graves.
2 They will be exposed[a] to the sun, the moon, and the whole heavenly host,[b] which they have loved, served, followed, pursued, and worshiped. [Their bones] will not be collected and buried but will become like manure on the surface of the soil.[c]
3 Death will be chosen over life[d] by all the survivors of this evil family, those who remain wherever I have banished them." [This is] the declaration of the Lord of Hosts.
4 You are to say to them: This is what the Lord says: Do [people] fall and not get up again?[e] If they turn away, do they not return?
5 Why have these people turned away? Why is Jerusalem always turning away? They take hold of deceit;[f] they refuse to return.[g]
6 I have paid careful attention. They do not speak what is right. No one regrets his evil, asking: What have I done? Everyone has stayed his course like a horse rushing into battle.
7 Even the stork in the sky knows her seasons. The turtledove, swallow, and crane[h] are aware of their migration, but My people do not know the requirements of the Lord.[i]

Punishment for Judah's Leaders

8 How can you claim: We are wise; the law of the Lord is with us? In fact, the lying pen of scribes[j] has produced falsehood.
9 The wise will be put to shame; they will be dismayed and snared. They have rejected the word of the Lord, so what wisdom do they really have?
10 Therefore, I will give their wives to other men, their fields to new occupants, for from the least to the greatest, everyone is gaining profit unjustly. From prophet to priest, everyone deals falsely.
11 They have treated superficially the brokenness of My dear[k] people, claiming: Peace, peace, when there is no peace.
12 Were they ashamed when they acted so abhorrently? They weren't at all ashamed. They can no longer feel humiliation. Therefore, they will fall among the fallen. When I punish them, they will collapse,[l] says the Lord.[m]
13 I will gather them and bring them to an end.[n][o] [This is]*The bracketed text has been added for clarity. the Lord's declaration. There will be no grapes on the vine, no figs on the fig tree, and even the leaf will wither. Whatever I have given them will be lost to them.

God's People Unrepentant

14 Why are we just sitting here? Gather together; let us enter the fortified cities and there suffer our fate,[p] for the Lord our God has condemned[q] us. He has given us poisoned water to drink,[r] because we have sinned against the Lord.
15 We hoped for peace, but there was nothing good; for a time of healing, but there was only terror.[s]
16 From Dan is heard the snorting of horses. At the sound of the neighing of mighty steeds,[t] the whole land quakes. They come to devour the land and everything in it, the city and all its residents.
17 Indeed, I am about to send snakes among you, poisonous vipers[u] that cannot be charmed.[v] They will bite you. [This is] the Lord's declaration.

Lament over Judah

18 My joy has flown away; grief has settled on me. My heart is sick.
19 Listen-the cry of my dear[w] people from a far away land: Is the Lord no longer in Zion,[x] her King not in her midst? Why have they provoked Me to anger with their graven images, with their worthless foreign idols?[y]
20 Harvest has passed, summer has ended, but we have not been saved.
21 I am broken by the brokenness of my dear[z] people.[aa] I mourn; horror has taken hold of me.
22 Is there no balm[ab] in Gilead? Is there no physician there? So why has the healing of my dear[ac] people not come about?

Jeremiah 8 Commentary

Chapter 8

The remains of the dead exposed. (1-3) The stupidity of the people, compared with the instinct of the brute creation. (4-13) The alarm of the invasion, and lamentation. (14-22)

Verses 1-3 Though no real hurt can be done to a dead body, yet disgrace to the remains of wicked persons may alarm those yet alive; and this reminds us that the Divine justice and punishments extend beyond the grave. Whatever befalls us here, let us humble ourselves before God, and seek his mercy.

Verses 4-13 What brought this ruin? 1. The people would not attend to reason; they would not act in the affairs of their souls with common prudence. Sin is backsliding; it is going back from the way that leads to life, to that which leads to destruction. 2. They would not attend to the warning of conscience. They did not take the first step towards repentance: true repentance begins in serious inquiry as to what we have done, from conviction that we have done amiss. 3. They would not attend to the ways of providence, nor understand the voice of God in them, ver. ( 7 ) . They know not how to improve the seasons of grace, which God affords. Many boast of their religious knowledge, yet, unless taught by the Spirit of God, the instinct of brutes is a more sure guide than their supposed wisdom. 4. They would not attend to the written word. Many enjoy abundance of the means of grace, have Bibles and ministers, but they have them in vain. They will soon be ashamed of their devices. The pretenders to wisdom were the priests and the false prophets. They flattered people in sin, and so flattered them into destruction, silencing their fears and complaints with, All is well. Selfish teachers may promise peace when there is no peace; and thus men encourage each other in committing evil; but in the day of visitation they will have no refuge to flee unto.

Verses 14-22 At length they begin to see the hand of God lifted up. And when God appears against us, every thing that is against us appears formidable. As salvation only can be found in the Lord, so the present moment should be seized. Is there no medicine proper for a sick and dying kingdom? Is there no skilful, faithful hand to apply the medicine? Yes, God is able to help and to heal them. If sinners die of their wounds, their blood is upon their own heads. The blood of Christ is balm in Gilead, his Spirit is the Physician there, all-sufficient; so that the people may be healed, but will not. Thus men die unpardoned and unchanged, for they will not come to Christ to be saved.

Footnotes 29

Chapter Summary

INTRODUCTION TO JEREMIAH 8

In this chapter the prophet goes on to denounce grievous calamities upon the people of the Jews; such as would make death more eligible than life; and that because of their idolatry, Jer 8:1-3 and also because of their heinous backslidings in other respects, and continuance in them, Jer 8:4,5 likewise their impenitence and stupidity, Jer 8:6,7 their vain conceit of themselves and their own wisdom; their false interpretation of Scripture, and their rejection of the word of God, Jer 8:8,9 their covetousness, for which it is said their wives and fields should be given to others, Jer 8:10, their flattery of the people, and their impudence, on account of which, ruin and consumption, and a blast on their vines and fig trees, are threatened, Jer 8:11-13, their consternation is described, by their fleeing to their defenced cities; by their sad disappointment in the expectation of peace and prosperity; and the near approach of their enemies; devouring their land, and all in it; who are compared to serpents and cockatrices that cannot be charmed, Jer 8:14-17 and the chapter is closed with the prophet's expressions of sorrow and concern for his people, because of their distress their idolatry had brought upon them; and because of their hopeless, and seemingly irrecoverable, state and condition, Jer 8:18-22.

Jeremiah 8 Commentaries