Jeremiah 8

1 At that time, says the Lord, the bones of the kings of Judah, the bones of its officials, the bones of the priests, the bones of the prophets, and the bones of the inhabitants of Jerusalem shall be brought out of their tombs;
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 followed, and which they have inquired of and worshiped; and they shall not be gathered or buried; they shall be like 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, says the Lord of hosts.
4 You shall say to them, Thus says the Lord: When people fall, do they not get up again? If they go astray, do they not turn back?
5 Why then has this people turned away in perpetual backsliding? They have held fast to deceit, they have refused to return.
6 I have given heed and listened, but they do not speak honestly; no one repents of wickedness, saying, "What have I done!" All of them turn to their own course, like a horse plunging headlong into battle.
7 Even the stork in the heavens knows its times; and the turtledove, swallow, and crane observe the time of their coming; but my people do not know the ordinance of the Lord.
8 How can you say, "We are wise, and the law of the Lord is with us," when, in fact, the false pen of the scribes has made it into a lie?
9 The wise shall be put to shame, they shall be dismayed and taken; since they have rejected the word of the Lord, 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 treated the wound of my people carelessly, saying, "Peace, peace," when there is no peace.
12 They acted shamefully, they committed abomination; yet they were not at all ashamed, they did not know how to blush. Therefore they shall fall among those who fall; at the time when I punish them, they shall be overthrown, says the Lord.
13 When I wanted to gather them, says 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 look for peace, but find no good, for a time of healing, but there is terror instead.
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 live in it.
17 See, I am letting snakes loose among you, adders that cannot be charmed, and they shall bite you, says the Lord.
18 My joy is gone, grief is upon me, my heart is sick.
19 Hark, the cry of my poor people from far and wide in the land: "Is the Lord not in Zion? Is her King not in her?" ("Why have they provoked me to anger with their images, with their foreign idols?")
20 "The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved."
21 For the hurt of my poor people I am hurt, I mourn, and dismay has taken hold of me.
22 Is there no balm in Gilead? Is there no physician there? Why then has the health of my poor people not been restored?

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 4

  • [a]. One Ms Gk: MT [this people, Jerusalem,]
  • [b]. Meaning of Heb uncertain
  • [c]. Or [I will make an end of them, says the Lord. There are]
  • [d]. Meaning of Heb uncertain

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