Jeremiah 23

Listen to Jeremiah 23

The Righteous Branch

1 1"Woe to the shepherds who destroy and scatter the sheep of my pasture!" declares the LORD.
2 Therefore thus says the LORD, the God of Israel, concerning 2the shepherds who care for my people: "You have scattered my flock and have driven them away, and you have not attended to them. 3Behold, I will attend to you for your evil deeds, declares the LORD.
3 4Then I will gather the remnant of my flock 5out of all the countries where I have driven them, and I will bring them back to their fold, 6and they shall be fruitful and multiply.
4 7I will set shepherds over them who will care for them, and they shall fear no more, nor be dismayed, neither shall any be missing, declares the LORD
5 8"Behold, the days are coming, declares the LORD, when I will raise up for David a righteous 9Branch, and 10he shall reign as king and deal wisely, and shall execute justice and righteousness in the land.
6 In his days Judah will be saved, and 11Israel will 12dwell securely. And this is the name by which he will be called: 13'The LORD is our righteousness.'
7 14"Therefore, behold, the days are coming, declares the LORD, when they shall no longer say, 'As the LORD lives who brought up the people of Israel out of the land of Egypt,'
8 but 'As the LORD lives who brought up and led the offspring of the house of Israel out of the north country and out of all the countries where he[a] had driven them.' Then they shall dwell in their own land."

Lying Prophets

9 Concerning the prophets: 15My heart is broken within me; 16all my bones shake; I am like a drunken man, like a man overcome by wine, because of the LORD and because of his holy words.
10 17For the land is full of adulterers; 18because of the curse 19the land mourns, and 20the pastures of the wilderness are dried up. 21Their course is evil, and their might is not right.
11 22"Both prophet and priest are ungodly; even 23in my house I have found their evil, declares the LORD.
12 24Therefore their way shall be to them like slippery paths 25in the darkness, into which they shall be driven and fall, for I will bring disaster upon them 26in the year of their punishment, declares the LORD.
13 In the prophets of 27Samaria 28I saw an unsavory thing: 29they prophesied by Baal 30and led my people Israel astray.
14 But in the prophets of Jerusalem I have seen a horrible thing: 31they commit adultery and walk in lies; 32they strengthen the hands of evildoers, so that no one turns from his evil; 33all of them have become like Sodom to me, 34and its inhabitants like Gomorrah."
15 Therefore thus says the LORD of hosts concerning the prophets: 35"Behold, I will feed them with bitter food 36and give them 37poisoned water to drink, for from the prophets of Jerusalem ungodliness has gone out into all the land."
16 Thus says the LORD of hosts: "Do not listen to the words of the prophets who prophesy to you, 38filling you with vain hopes. 39They speak visions of their own minds, not from the mouth of the LORD.
17 They say continually to those who despise the word of the LORD, 40'It shall be well with you'; and to everyone who 41stubbornly follows his own heart, they say, 42'No disaster shall come upon you.'"
18 For 43who among them has stood in the council of the LORD to see and to hear his word, or who has paid attention to his word and listened?
19 44Behold, the storm of the LORD! Wrath has gone forth, 45a whirling tempest; it will burst upon the head of the wicked.
20 46The anger of the LORD will not turn back until he has executed and 47accomplished the intents of his heart. 48In the latter days you will understand it clearly.
21 49"I did not send the prophets, yet they ran; I did not speak to them, yet they prophesied.
22 50But if they had stood in my council, then they would have proclaimed my words to my people, 51and they would have turned them from their evil way, and 52from the evil of their deeds.
23 53"Am I a God at hand, declares the LORD, and not a God far away?
24 54Can a man hide himself in secret places so that I cannot see him? declares the LORD. 55Do I not fill heaven and earth? declares the LORD.
25 I have heard what the prophets have said 56who prophesy lies in my name, saying, 57'I have dreamed, I have dreamed!'
26 How long shall there be lies in the heart of 58the prophets who prophesy lies, and who prophesy the deceit of their own heart,
27 who think to make my people forget my name 59by their dreams that they tell one another, even as their 60fathers forgot my name for Baal?
28 61Let the prophet who has a dream 62tell the dream, but let him who has my word speak my word faithfully. 63What has straw in common with wheat? declares the LORD.
29 64Is not my word like fire, declares the LORD, and 65like a hammer that breaks the rock in pieces?
30 66Therefore, behold, I am against the prophets, declares the LORD, who steal my words from one another.
31 Behold, I am against the prophets, declares the LORD, who use their tongues and declare, 'declares the LORD.'
32 Behold, I am against those who prophesy lying dreams, declares the LORD, and who tell them and 67lead my people astray by their lies and their recklessness, when 68I did not send them or charge them. So they do not profit this people at all, declares the LORD.
33 69"When one of this people, or a prophet or a priest asks you, 'What is the burden of the LORD?' you shall say to them, 'You are the burden,[b] and 70I will cast you off, declares the LORD.'
34 And as for the prophet, priest, or one of the people who says, 'The burden of the LORD,'71I will punish that man and his household.
35 Thus shall you say, every one to his neighbor and every one to his brother, 'What has the LORD answered?' or 'What has the LORD spoken?'
36 But 'the burden of the LORD' you shall mention no more, for the burden is every man's own word, and 72you pervert the words of 73the living God, the LORD of hosts, our God
37 Thus you shall say to the prophet, 'What has the LORD answered you?' or 'What has the LORD spoken?'
38 But if you say, 'The burden of the LORD,' thus says the LORD, 'Because you have said these words, "The burden of the LORD," when I sent to you, saying, "You shall not say, 'The burden of the LORD,'
39 therefore, behold, I will surely lift you up and 74cast you away from my presence, you and the city that I gave to you and your fathers.
40 75And I will bring upon you everlasting reproach and 76perpetual shame, which shall not be forgotten.'"

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Jeremiah 23 Commentary

Chapter 23

The restoration of the Jews to their own land. (1-8) The wickedness of the priests and prophets of Judah, The people exhorted not to listen to false promises. (9-22) The pretenders to inspiration threatened. (23-32) Also the scoffers at true prophecy. (33-40)

Verses 1-8 Woe be to those who are set to feed God's people, but take no concern to do them good! Here is a word of comfort to the neglected sheep. Though only a remnant of God's flock is left, he will find them out, and they shall be brought to their former habitations. Christ is spoken of as a branch from David's family. He is righteous himself, and through him all his people are made righteous. Christ shall break the usurped power of Satan. All the spiritual seed of believing Abraham and praying Jacob shall be protected, and shall be saved from the guilt and dominion of sin. In the days of Christ's government in the soul, the soul dwells at ease. He is here spoken of as "the Lord our Righteousness." He is so our Righteousness as no creature could be. His obedience unto death is the justifying righteousness of believers, and their title to heavenly happiness. And their sanctification, as the source of all their personal obedience is the effect of their union with him, and of the supply of this Spirit. By this name every true believer shall call him, and call upon him. We have nothing to plead but this, Christ has died, yea, rather is risen again; and we have taken him for our Lord. This righteousness which he has wrought out to the satisfaction of law and justice, becomes ours; being a free gift given to us, through the Spirit of God, who puts it upon us, clothes us with it, enables us to lay hold upon it, and claim an interest in it. "The Lord our Righteousness" is a sweet name to a convinced sinner; to one that has felt the guilt of sin in his conscience; seen his need of that righteousness, and the worth of it. This great salvation is far more glorious than all former deliverances of his church. May our souls be gathered to Him, and be found in him.

Verses 9-22 The false prophets of Samaria had deluded the Israelites into idolatries; yet the Lord considered the false prophets of Jerusalem as guilty of more horrible wickedness, by which the people were made bold in sin. These false teachers would be compelled to suffer the most bitter part of the Lord's indignation. They made themselves believe that there was no harm in sin, and practised accordingly; then they made others believe so. Those who are resolved to go on in evil ways, will justly be given up to believe strong delusions. But which of them had received any revelation of God, or understood any thing of his word? There was a time coming when they would reflect on their folly and unbelief with remorse. The teaching and example of the true prophets led men to repentance, faith, and righteousness. The false prophets led men to rest in forms and notions, and to be quiet in their sins. Let us take heed that we do not follow unrighteousness.

Verses 23-32 Men cannot be hidden from God's all-seeing eye. Will they never see what judgments they prepare for themselves? Let them consider what a vast difference there is between these prophecies and those delivered by the true prophets of the Lord. Let them not call their foolish dreams Divine oracles. The promises of peace these prophets make are no more to be compared to God's promises than chaff to wheat. The unhumbled heart of man is like a rock; if not melted by the word of God as a fire, it will be broken to pieces by it as a hammer. How can they be long safe, or at all easy, who have a God of almighty power against them? The word of God is no smooth, lulling, deceitful message. And by its faithfulness it may certainly be distinguished from false doctrines.

Verses 33-40 Those are miserable indeed who are forsaken and forgotten of God; and men's jesting at God's judgments will not baffle them. God had taken Israel to be a people near to him, but they shall now be cast out of his presence. It is a mark of great and daring impiety for men to jest with the words of God. Every idle and profane word will add to the sinner's burden in the day of judgment, when everlasting shame will be his portion.

Cross References 76

  • 1. Jeremiah 6:3; Jeremiah 10:21; Jeremiah 22:22; Jeremiah 25:34, 36; Isaiah 56:11; Ezekiel 34:2; Zechariah 11:17; [John 10:12, 13]
  • 2. [See ver. 1 above]
  • 3. ver. 22; Jeremiah 4:4
  • 4. Jeremiah 29:14; Jeremiah 32:37; Deuteronomy 30:3; Ezekiel 20:34, 41; Ezekiel 37:21; [Psalms 107:3]; See Ezekiel 34:11-16
  • 5. [Jeremiah 8:3]
  • 6. [Genesis 1:28]
  • 7. Jeremiah 3:15
  • 8. For ver. 5, 6, see Jeremiah 33:14-16
  • 9. Isaiah 4:2; Isaiah 11:1
  • 10. Jeremiah 30:9; Isaiah 32:1; Ezekiel 37:24; Hosea 3:5; Zechariah 9:9; Matthew 2:2; Luke 1:32; Luke 19:38; John 1:49
  • 11. Deuteronomy 33:28; [Zechariah 14:11]
  • 12. Jeremiah 32:37
  • 13. Romans 10:4; 1 Corinthians 1:30
  • 14. For ver. 7, 8, see Jeremiah 16:14, 15
  • 15. Ezekiel 6:9
  • 16. Habakkuk 3:16
  • 17. Jeremiah 5:7, 8; Jeremiah 9:2
  • 18. Psalms 10:7; Psalms 59:12; Hosea 4:2, 3
  • 19. Jeremiah 4:28
  • 20. Jeremiah 9:10; Jeremiah 12:4; Psalms 107:34
  • 21. [Jeremiah 22:17]
  • 22. [ver. 33, 34; Zephaniah 3:4]; See Jeremiah 6:13
  • 23. Jeremiah 7:30; Jeremiah 32:34; Ezekiel 8:16; Ezekiel 23:39
  • 24. Psalms 35:6; Psalms 73:18
  • 25. Proverbs 4:19; [Jeremiah 13:16]
  • 26. Jeremiah 11:23
  • 27. Isaiah 7:9; Ezek. 16:46, 51, 53, 55; Ezekiel 23:4, 33
  • 28. Lamentations 2:14
  • 29. Jeremiah 2:8
  • 30. Isaiah 9:16; Micah 3:5
  • 31. Jeremiah 29:23
  • 32. Psalms 64:5; Ezekiel 13:22
  • 33. Isaiah 1:9, 10; Isaiah 13:19
  • 34. Isaiah 1:9, 10; Isaiah 13:19
  • 35. Jeremiah 9:15; Proverbs 5:4
  • 36. Jeremiah 9:15; Proverbs 5:4
  • 37. Jeremiah 8:14
  • 38. [Psalms 12:2]
  • 39. [ver. 21, 26; Numbers 16:28]
  • 40. [Zechariah 10:2]; See Jeremiah 6:14
  • 41. See Jeremiah 3:17
  • 42. Jeremiah 5:12; Micah 3:11
  • 43. ver. 22; Isaiah 40:14
  • 44. Jeremiah 30:23
  • 45. Jeremiah 25:32
  • 46. Jeremiah 30:24; [Isaiah 55:11]
  • 47. Jeremiah 30:24; [Isaiah 55:11]
  • 48. Jeremiah 30:24
  • 49. See Jeremiah 14:14
  • 50. ver. 18
  • 51. Jeremiah 25:5; [Luke 1:17]
  • 52. ver. 2
  • 53. [Psalms 94:7, 9; Amos 9:2, 3]; See Psalms 139:7-12
  • 54. [See ver. 23 above]
  • 55. Isaiah 66:1; Acts 7:49
  • 56. See Jeremiah 5:31
  • 57. [Zechariah 10:2]
  • 58. [ver. 16, 21; Numbers 16:28]
  • 59. [See ver. 25 above]
  • 60. Judges 3:7; Judges 8:33, 34
  • 61. [Numbers 12:6]
  • 62. ver. 25
  • 63. [Luke 3:17]
  • 64. [See ver. 28 above]
  • 65. [Daniel 2:34, 45]
  • 66. Ezekiel 13:8; [Jeremiah 14:15; Deuteronomy 18:20]
  • 67. ver. 13
  • 68. ver. 21; See Jeremiah 14:14
  • 69. See Ezekiel 14:1-11
  • 70. [Hosea 4:6]
  • 71. [See ver. 33 above]
  • 72. [Matthew 15:6]
  • 73. Psalms 42:2
  • 74. [See ver. 33 above]
  • 75. Jeremiah 20:11
  • 76. Jeremiah 20:11

Footnotes 2

  • [a]. Septuagint; Hebrew I
  • [b]. Septuagint, Vulgate; Hebrew What burden?

Chapter Summary


This chapter contains threatenings to the Jewish governors, and to their priests and prophets, on account of their manifold sins; intermixed with gracious promises to the Lord's people, and particularly with a famous promise of the Messiah. The pastors or governors of Israel are charged with scattering and driving away the Lord's flock, for which they are threatened, Jer 23:1,2; and a promise is made of the gathering of the remnant of them, and of setting up other shepherds over them, under whom they should increase, and be comfortable, Jer 23:3,4; particularly the Messiah is promised; as David's righteous Branch; as a prosperous and righteous King; as the author of righteousness to his people, under whom they should have salvation and safety, Jer 23:5,6; so that in comparison of this salvation, the deliverance out of Egypt should not be spoken of, Jer 23:7,8; and then follows a sad complaint of the priests and prophets; of their profaneness, their adultery, swearing, lying, hypocrisy, and deception of the people; for all which they are severely threatened, Jer 23:9-15; wherefore the people are exhorted not to hearken to them, promising them peace and safety; whereas, by attending to the word of God, it might easily be seen that a storm of wrath was gone forth, and was ready to break, and would fall upon the head of the wicked, to the executing of the thoughts and purposes of God's heart, Jer 23:16-20; and the Lord declares he had not sent these prophets, as might be known from their not turning the people from their evil ways, Jer 23:21,22; whose conduct and behaviour could not be hid from the sight of the Lord, nor their prophecies from his ears, which were no other than dreams, and the deceits of their own hearts; and there was as great a difference between them and the word of the Lord, as between chaff and wheat; seeing his word in his hand is of great virtue and efficacy, whereas there was none in theirs, Jer 23:23-29; wherefore the Lord declares himself to be against these prophets, for stealing his word from their neighbour; for making use of his name, when they were not sent by him; and for causing the people to err by their lies, Jer 23:30-32; and both people, priest, and prophet, are severely threatened for jeering and scoffing at the word of the Lord, calling it the burden of the Lord; which phrase they are forbid to use in a sneering way; and should they persist in it, they are told that God would forsake and forget them, and cast them out, and everlastingly punish them, Jer 23:39,40.

Jeremiah 23 Commentaries

The English Standard Version is published with the permission of Good News Publishers.