Jeremiah 8:4-17

Sin and Treachery

4 "You shall say to them, Thus says the LORD: 1When men fall, do they not rise again? If one turns away, does he not return?
5 Why then has this people 2turned away in perpetual 3backsliding? 4They hold fast to deceit; they refuse to return.
6 5I have paid attention and listened, but they have not spoken rightly; no man relents of his evil, saying, 'What have I done?' Everyone turns to his own course, 6like a horse plunging headlong into battle.
7 Even the stork in the heavens knows her times, and 7the turtledove, 8swallow, and crane[a] keep the time of their coming, 9but my people know not the rules[b] of the LORD.
8 10"How can you say, 'We are wise, and the law of the LORD is with us'? But behold, the lying pen of the scribes has made it into a lie.
9 11The wise men shall be put to shame; they shall be dismayed 12and taken; behold, they have rejected the word of the LORD, so what wisdom is in them?
10 13Therefore I will give their wives to others and their fields to conquerors, because from the least to the greatest everyone 14is greedy for unjust gain; from prophet to priest, everyone deals falsely.
11 They have healed 15the wound of my people lightly, saying, 'Peace, peace,' when there is no peace.
12 Were they ashamed when they committed abomination? No, 16they were not at all ashamed; they did not know how to blush. 17Therefore they shall fall among the fallen; when I punish them, they shall be overthrown, says the LORD.
13 When I would gather them, declares the LORD, there are 18no grapes on the vine, 19nor figs on the fig tree; 20even the leaves are withered, and what I gave them has passed away from them."[c]
14 Why do we sit still? 21Gather together; 22let us go into the fortified cities and perish there, for the LORD our God has doomed us to perish and has 23given us 24poisoned water to drink, because we have sinned against the LORD.
15 25We looked for peace, but no good came; for a time of healing, but behold, terror.
16 26"The snorting of their horses is heard 27from Dan; at the sound of the neighing 28of their stallions 29the whole land quakes. They come 30and devour the land and all that fills it, the city and those who dwell in it.
17 For behold, I am sending among you 31serpents, adders 32that cannot be charmed, 33and they shall bite you," declares the LORD.

Jeremiah 8:4-17 Meaning and Commentary

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 8:4-17 In-Context

2 And they shall be spread before the sun and the moon and all the host of heaven, which they have loved and served, which they have gone after, and which they have sought and worshiped. And they shall not be gathered or buried. They shall be as dung on the surface of the ground.
3 Death shall be preferred to life by all the remnant that remains of this evil family in all the places where I have driven them, declares the LORD of hosts.
4 "You shall say to them, Thus says the LORD: When men fall, do they not rise again? If one turns away, does he not return?
5 Why then has this people turned away in perpetual backsliding? They hold fast to deceit; they refuse to return.
6 I have paid attention and listened, but they have not spoken rightly; no man relents of his evil, saying, 'What have I done?' Everyone turns to his own course, like a horse plunging headlong into battle.
7 Even the stork in the heavens knows her times, and the turtledove, swallow, and crane keep the time of their coming, but my people know not the rules of the LORD.
8 "How can you say, 'We are wise, and the law of the LORD is with us'? But behold, the lying pen of the scribes has made it into a lie.
9 The wise men shall be put to shame; they shall be dismayed and taken; behold, they have rejected the word of the LORD, so what wisdom is in them?
10 Therefore I will give their wives to others and their fields to conquerors, because from the least to the greatest everyone is greedy for unjust gain; from prophet to priest, everyone deals falsely.
11 They have healed the wound of my people lightly, saying, 'Peace, peace,' when there is no peace.
12 Were they ashamed when they committed abomination? No, they were not at all ashamed; they did not know how to blush. Therefore they shall fall among the fallen; when I punish them, they shall be overthrown, says the LORD.
13 When I would gather them, declares the LORD, there are no grapes on the vine, nor figs on the fig tree; even the leaves are withered, and what I gave them has passed away from them."
14 Why do we sit still? Gather together; let us go into the fortified cities and perish there, for the LORD our God has doomed us to perish and has given us poisoned water to drink, because we have sinned against the LORD.
15 We looked for peace, but no good came; for a time of healing, but behold, terror.
16 "The snorting of their horses is heard from Dan; at the sound of the neighing of their stallions the whole land quakes. They come and devour the land and all that fills it, the city and those who dwell in it.
17 For behold, I am sending among you serpents, adders that cannot be charmed, and they shall bite you," declares the LORD.
18 My joy is gone; grief is upon me; my heart is sick within me.
19 Behold, the cry of the daughter of my people from the length and breadth of the land: "Is the LORD not in Zion? Is her King not in her?" "Why have they provoked me to anger with their carved images and with their foreign idols?"

Cross References 33

  • 1. [Romans 11:11]
  • 2. See Jeremiah 7:24
  • 3. See Jeremiah 2:19
  • 4. Jeremiah 9:6
  • 5. [2 Peter 3:9]
  • 6. See Job 39:19-25
  • 7. Song of Songs 2:12
  • 8. Isaiah 38:14
  • 9. [Jeremiah 5:4, 5; Isaiah 1:3]
  • 10. [Romans 2:17, 18]
  • 11. [1 Corinthians 1:19, 20]
  • 12. Job 5:13
  • 13. For ver. 10-12, see Jeremiah 6:12-15
  • 14. [Isaiah 56:11]
  • 15. ver. 21
  • 16. See Jeremiah 3:3
  • 17. [Hosea 4:5]
  • 18. Isaiah 5:1, 2; Joel 1:7
  • 19. [Matthew 21:19; Luke 13:6]
  • 20. Isaiah 1:30
  • 21. Jeremiah 4:5
  • 22. Jeremiah 4:5
  • 23. Jeremiah 9:15; Jeremiah 23:15; Lamentations 3:15, 19; Amos 6:12; [Revelation 8:11]
  • 24. Jeremiah 23:15; Deuteronomy 29:18
  • 25. Jeremiah 14:19; Job 30:26
  • 26. Job 39:20
  • 27. Jeremiah 4:15
  • 28. Judges 5:22
  • 29. Jeremiah 49:21; Jeremiah 51:29; Psalms 60:2
  • 30. Jeremiah 10:25; Jeremiah 47:2
  • 31. [Leviticus 26:22]
  • 32. Psalms 58:4, 5; [Ecclesiastes 10:11]
  • 33. Numbers 21:6

Footnotes 3

  • [a]. The meaning of the Hebrew word is uncertain
  • [b]. Or just decrees
  • [c]. The meaning of the Hebrew is uncertain
The English Standard Version is published with the permission of Good News Publishers.