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Bible Commentaries
Jeremiah 14

Utley's You Can Understand the BibleUtley Commentary


Jeremiah 14:0


(The parentheses represent poetic literary units)

Drought and A Prayer for MercySword, Famine and PestilenceThe Great Drought(Jeremiah 14:1-4)The Terrible DroughtLament Over Catastrophic Drought and the Coming Military Defeat of Jerusalem(Jeremiah 14:1-9)
Jeremiah 14:1Jeremiah 14:1Jeremiah 14:1-6(vv. Jeremiah 14:1-6)Jeremiah 14:1-9(vv. Jeremiah 14:1-9)Jeremiah 14:1-6(vv. Jeremiah 14:1-6)
Jeremiah 14:2-9(vv. Jeremiah 14:2-9)Jeremiah 14:2-6(vv. Jeremiah 14:2-6)
Jeremiah 14:7-9(vv. Jeremiah 14:7-9)Jeremiah 14:7-9(vv. Jeremiah 14:7-9)Jeremiah 14:7-9(vv. Jeremiah 14:7-9)
Jeremiah 14:10-12Jeremiah 14:10(vv. Jeremiah 14:10)Jeremiah 14:10Jeremiah 14:10Jeremiah 14:10(vv. Jeremiah 14:10)
False ProphetsJeremiah 14:11-16Jeremiah 14:11-12Jeremiah 14:11-12Jeremiah 14:11-12
Jeremiah 14:13-18Jeremiah 14:13Jeremiah 14:13Jeremiah 14:13-16
Jeremiah 14:14-16Jeremiah 14:14-16
(vv. Jeremiah 14:17-18)Jeremiah 14:17-18(vv. Jeremiah 14:17-18)Jeremiah 14:17-18(vv. Jeremiah 14:17-18)Jeremiah 14:17-18(vv. Jeremiah 14:17-18)Jeremiah 14:17-18(vv. Jeremiah 14:17-18)
The People Plead For MercyThe People Plead with the LORD
Jeremiah 14:19-22(vv. Jeremiah 14:19-22)Jeremiah 14:19-22(vv. Jeremiah 14:19-22)Jeremiah 14:19-22(vv. Jeremiah 14:19-22)Jeremiah 14:19-22(vv. Jeremiah 14:19-22)Jeremiah 14:19-9(vv. Jeremiah 14:19-22)

READING CYCLE THREE (see “Guide to Good Bible Reading”)


This is a study guide commentary, which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

Read the chapter in one sitting. Identify the subjects (reading cycle #3). Compare your subject divisions with the five translations above. Paragraphing is not inspired, but it is the key to following the original author's intent, which is the heart of interpretation. Every paragraph has one and only one subject.

1. First paragraph

2. Second paragraph

3. Third paragraph

4. Etc.


A. Jeremiah 14:0 and 15 are a literary unit concerning a drought that is coming to the land of Israel/Judah.

B. Jeremiah 14:1 may be an introduction to the entire literary unit.

C. Again the method of arrangement of the strophe and prose sections seems to be sound plays. Jeremiah, like Isaiah, is an anthology and is not structured chronologically.

D. The UBS Handbook For Translators outlines the unit as follows (pp. 344-345).

Jeremiah 14:1. Jeremiah 14:2-6 - Jeremiah bemoans the drought

Jeremiah 14:2. Jeremiah 14:7-9 - the people of Judah confess their sin and ask for help

Jeremiah 14:3. Jeremiah 14:10-12 - YHWH replies with a threat instead of mercy

Jeremiah 14:4. Jeremiah 14:13 - Jeremiah blames the situation on the false prophets

Jeremiah 14:5. Jeremiah 14:14-16 - YHWH will judge both the fake prophets and those who hear and believe them

6. Jeremiah 14:17-18 - Jeremiah's vision of the coming destruction

7. Jeremiah 14:19-22 - the people pray as they did in Jeremiah 14:7-9 but with more intensity

8. Jeremiah 15:1-9 - YHWH responds to their prayer. No intercessor can remove the guilt which began with King Manasseh. Slaughter will come.

9. Jeremiah 15:10-21 - Jeremiah honestly speaks to YHWH about his life

a. Jeremiah, Jeremiah 14:10-12

b. YHWH, Jeremiah 14:13-14

c. Jeremiah, Jeremiah 14:15-18

d. YHWH, Jeremiah 14:19-21

Verse 1

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Jeremiah 14:1 1That which came as the word of the LORD to Jeremiah in regard to the drought:

Jeremiah 14:1 “That which came as the word of the LORD to Jeremiah” This is a rather unusual phrase found in Jeremiah 46:1; Jeremiah 47:1; Jeremiah 49:34. It is an assertion of revelation.

“drought” This is literally “droughts” (cf. NKJV, JPSOA). We learn from Leviticus 26:19-20; Deuteronomy 11:17; Deuteronomy 28:23-24 (the opposite of Jeremiah 28:12) that drought was one of the covenant curses if the people of God did not fulfill their obligations. Throughout the OT drought is used as a way to force the people of God to depend on Him. The problem here was they thought Ba'al worship was insuring the rains (cf. Jeremiah 5:24).

Verses 2-9

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Jeremiah 14:2-9 2”Judah mourns And her gates languish; They sit on the ground in mourning, And the cry of Jerusalem has ascended. 3Their nobles have sent their servants for water; They have come to the cisterns and found no water. They have returned with their vessels empty; They have been put to shame and humiliated, And they cover their heads. 4Because the ground is cracked, For there has been no rain on the land; The farmers have been put to shame, They have covered their heads. 5For even the doe in the field has given birth only to abandon her young, Because there is no grass. 6The wild donkeys stand on the bare heights; They pant for air like jackals, Their eyes fail For there is no vegetation. 7Although our iniquities testify against us, O LORD, act for Your name's sake! Truly our apostasies have been many, We have sinned against You. 8O Hope of Israel, Its Savior in time of distress, Why are You like a stranger in the land Or like a traveler who has pitched his tent for the night? 9Why are You like a man dismayed, Like a mighty man who cannot save? Yet You are in our midst, O LORD, And we are called by Your name; Do not forsake us!”

Jeremiah 14:2 This verse contains a series of mourning VERBS.

1. Judah mourns - BDB 5, KB 6, Qal PERFECT

2. her gates languish - BDB 51, KB 63 Pulal PERFECT, cf. Jeremiah 15:9)

3. they sit on the ground in mourning (lit. “in black”) - BDB 871, KB 1072, Qal PERFECT, cf. Jeremiah 8:21; Job 5:11; Job 30:28

4. the cry of Jerusalem has ascended - BDB 748, KB 828, Qal PERFECT

The drought has caused the Judeans to pray (cf. Jeremiah 14:7-9). See Special Topic: Grieving Rites at Jeremiah 2:37.

“her gates” This is the place where the life of the city was centralized. It was a place of social and civic justice (i.e., Deuteronomy 16:18; Ruth 4:0).

“the cry of Jerusalem has ascended” The prayers of these unrepentant idolaters will not be heard (cf. Jeremiah 11:11).

Jeremiah 14:3 This verse describes the wealthy seeking water.

1. sent their servants (lit. “little ones,” cf. Jeremiah 48:4)

2. came to the cisterns (cf. Jeremiah 2:13)

3. returned with vessels empty

Therefore, the wealthy

1. have been put to shame (BDB 101, KB 116, Qal PERFECT)

2. have been humiliated (BDB 483, KB 480, Hophal PERFECT)

3. cover their heads (BDB 341, KB 339, Qal PERFECT)

As Jeremiah 14:3 describes the wealthy, Jeremiah 14:4 describes the farmer's problem (i.e., no water).

1. the ground is cracked

2. there has been no rain

Therefore, the farmers

1. have been put to shame (BDB 101, KB 116, Qal PERFECT)

2. have covered their heads (BDB 341, KB 339, Qal PERFECT)

Jeremiah 14:5-6 The results of the drought on the wildlife is described.

1. v. 5, the doe abandons her young

2. v. 6, the donkeys pant for air like jackals (i.e., stress caused by high temperatures)

All creation is affected by human sin (cf. Genesis 3:0; Romans 8:18-23), note Jeremiah 12:4, Jeremiah 12:11! YHWH's covenant was targeted to agricultural blessings of the ANE. Its violation resulted in agricultural failures (cf. Leviticus 26:0; Deuteronomy 27-28).

Jeremiah 14:7 Verse Jeremiah 14:7 should begin a new paragraph (cf. NKJV, NRSV, NJB). Notice the thrust of the verse is a corporate intercession (“our,” “we”). Jeremiah basically confesses the following sins of the people.

1. our iniquities

2. our apostasies have been many

3. we have sinned against You

Here Jeremiah collectively confesses the sins of Israel, like Abraham, Moses (see note at Jeremiah 15:1), the high priest (i.e., Leviticus 16:0), or like the father of a family (i.e., Job). See Special Topic: Intercessory Prayer.

It is also possible that Jeremiah 14:7-9 were temple liturgy, said on specific feast or fast days.

“O LORD, act for Your name's sake” Jeremiah does not plead for God's forgiveness based on the people's worthiness, but on God's character (cf. Ezekiel 20:9, Ezekiel 20:14, Ezekiel 20:22, Ezekiel 20:24; Ezekiel 36:22, Ezekiel 36:23). He is the God who acts (BDB 793, KB 889, Qal IMPERATIVE). The hope of Israel is in the character of God. See Special Topic: Characteristics of Israel's God.

Notice how Judah is described.

1. apostasies have been many (cf. Jeremiah 5:6; Jeremiah 7:24; Jeremiah 8:5)

2. we have sinned against You (all sin is against YHWH)

Jeremiah 14:8 YHWH (specified in the LXX of Jeremiah 14:8) is described by two covenant titles.

1. O Hope of Israel - this refers to YHWH as the God of the Patriarchs (cf. Jeremiah 17:13; Jeremiah 50:7)

2. Savior - this is a common characterization or title in Isaiah (cf. Isaiah 19:20; Isaiah 43:3, Isaiah 43:11; Isaiah 45:15, Isaiah 45:21; Isaiah 49:26; Isaiah 60:16; Isaiah 63:8)

“Why are You like a stranger in the land

Or like a traveler who has pitched his tent for the night” This is very similar to Jeremiah 9:2. Verses 8c-9e are the people's response to Jeremiah's message. They suggest a shocking picture of YHWH as someone who is incapable and doesn't care, when in reality, He cared deeply as we have seen in Jeremiah 8:18-16. It was not YHWH's weakness but the people's sin that forced Him to act. The problem was not YHWH but idolatry (cf. Leviticus 26:0; Deuteronomy 27-28).

Jeremiah 14:9

NASB“dismayed” NKJV“astonished” NRSV“bemused” TEV“taken by surprise” NJB“confused” JPSOA“who is stunned” REB“suddenly overcome” LXX“asleep” NET Bible“helpless”

This is the only time this word appears in the OT. The Hebrew term (BDB 187, KB 214, Niphal PARTICIPLE), according to BDB, means “astonish,” but KB alludes to a seventh century inscription where it contextually means “helpless.” Hapax Legomenon (words used only once) are so hard to translate. The proper procedure is to look at

1. the basic meaning of root

2. the root in cognate languages

3. the context (strophe)

4. the parallelism (lines)

5. possible parallel passages in Scripture

6. usage outside Scripture

The LXX's meaning comes from a one consonant change in the MT.

Jeremiah 14:9c-e This is theologically similar to Jeremiah 14:7b. It magnifies YHWH.

1. You are in our midst - this could refer to

a. the temple (cf. Jeremiah 8:19)

b. the promise of His personal presence with His people (i.e., the Cloud, the Ark)

2. we are called by Your name (cf. Jeremiah 15:16; Isaiah 63:19)

Because of these two truths, these lines ask YHWH not to forsake them (BDB 628, KB 679, Hiphil IMPERFECT used in a JUSSIVE sense). This is an unusual meaning for this VERB. It is found only here and Psalms 119:121, in the sense of “abandon.” Its basic meaning is “rest,” but it is used in the sense of “remain” in Jeremiah 27:11.

Verses 10-12

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Jeremiah 14:10-12 10Thus says the LORD to this people, “Even so they have loved to wander; they have not kept their feet in check. Therefore the LORD does not accept them; now He will remember their iniquity and call their sins to account.” 11So the LORD said to me, “Do not pray for the welfare of this people. 12When they fast, I am not going to listen to their cry; and when they offer burnt offering and grain offering, I am not going to accept them. Rather I am going to make an end of them by the sword, famine and pestilence.”

Jeremiah 14:10-12 This is God's response to Jeremiah's intercessory prayer. It is shocking in its harsh statements. He characterizes Judah.

1. they have loved to wander

2. they have not stayed on the clearly marked path of His word

Therefore, YHWH will

1. not accept them

2. remember their iniquity (#2 and #3 are prophetic idioms, cf. Hosea 8:13; Hosea 9:9)

3. call their sins to account

4. instructed Jeremiah:

a. not pray for them (BDB 813, KB 933, Hithpael IMPERFECT used in a JUSSIVE sense, cf. Jeremiah 7:16; Jeremiah 11:14)

b. not listen to their cry (cf. Jeremiah 6:20)

(1) when they fast

(2) when they sacrifice

5. not accept them (cf. Jeremiah 14:10)

6. make an end of them (cf. Leviticus 26:0; Deuteronomy 27-28)

a. sword

b. famine

c. pestilence (cf. Jeremiah 21:7, Jeremiah 21:9; Jeremiah 24:10; Jeremiah 27:8, Jeremiah 27:13; Jeremiah 28:8; Jeremiah 29:17-18; Jeremiah 32:24, Jeremiah 32:36; Jeremiah 34:17; Jeremiah 38:2; Jeremiah 42:17, Jeremiah 42:22; Jeremiah 44:13)

Jeremiah 14:12 “burnt offering and grain offering” These are two of the types of offerings discussed in Leviticus 1-7 (burnt - BDB 750; grain - BDB 585). See Special Topic: Sacrifices in Mesopotamia and Israel and Their Significance.

“sword, famine and pestilence” These three form the triad of the terrible results of invasion (cf. Jeremiah 5:12; Jeremiah 14:15; Jeremiah 27:8; Jeremiah 29:18).

Verses 13-18

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Jeremiah 14:13-18 13But, “Ah, Lord GOD!” I said, “Look, the prophets are telling them, 'You will not see the sword nor will you have famine, but I will give you lasting peace in this place.'“ 14Then the LORD said to me, “The prophets are prophesying falsehood in My name. I have neither sent them nor commanded them nor spoken to them; they are prophesying to you a false vision, divination, futility and the deception of their own minds. 15Therefore thus says the LORD concerning the prophets who are prophesying in My name, although it was not I who sent them-yet they keep saying, 'There will be no sword or famine in this land'-by sword and famine those prophets shall meet their end! 16The people also to whom they are prophesying will be thrown out into the streets of Jerusalem because of the famine and the sword; and there will be no one to bury them-neither them, nor their wives, nor their sons, nor their daughters-for I will pour out their own wickedness on them. 17You will say this word to them, 'Let my eyes flow down with tears night and day, And let them not cease; For the virgin daughter of my people has been crushed with a mighty blow, With a sorely infected wound. 18'If I go out to the country, Behold, those slain with the sword! Or if I enter the city, Behold, diseases of famine! For both prophet and priest Have gone roving about in the land that they do not know.'“

Jeremiah 14:13 This is the prophet's attempt to blame the people's religious apostasy on the religious leaders. Although there is some truth to this, the leaders were certainly far from God, the people were still responsible for their own acts (cf. Ezekiel 18:0). They should have recognized a false teacher (cf. Deuteronomy 13:1-5; Deuteronomy 18:22).

“but I will give you lasting peace in this place” This was the promise of YHWH that the false prophets kept alluding to. It was surely a covenant promise. Isaiah uses it in encouraging Hezekiah not to surrender to the Assyrians (cf. Isaiah 36-37). But Jeremiah makes it very plain that this promise had conditions, covenant conditions that Judah had hopelessly violated! Invasion and exile were coming!

See D. Brent Sandy, Plowshares and Pruning Hooks, pp. 44-47, “Conditional or Unconditional.”

Jeremiah 14:14-18 This is God's response to the prophet's prayer to forgive the people because of the false teachers (cf. Jeremiah 23:0; Jeremiah 28:0; Deuteronomy 18:9-22). YHWH admits that the leaders had been idolatrous, but also that the people are responsible. The prophets will bear the burden of their sin as will the people (cf. Ezekiel 18:0).

Notice how YHWH characterizes the false prophets (cf. Deuteronomy 13:1-5; Deuteronomy 18:9-22).

1. prophesying falsehood in My name (cf. Jeremiah 5:31; Jeremiah 23:25)

a. I did not send them

b. I did not command them

c. I did not speak to them

2. their message comes from

a. a false vision (cf. Jeremiah 23:25, Jeremiah 23:28, Jeremiah 23:32)

b. divination (cf. Jeremiah 27:9; Jeremiah 29:8)

c. futility (cf. Jeremiah 23:16)

d. the deception of their own minds (cf. Jeremiah 23:26)

3. all of these false prophets will die (cf. Jeremiah 14:15; Jeremiah 28:17; Deuteronomy 13:1-2; Deuteronomy 18:20)

4. those who have heard and believed them will also die in the invasion and siege (cf. Jeremiah 14:16)

Jeremiah 14:17-18 In this poetic strophe we again see, not only the grief of the prophet, but the grief of YHWH (cf. Jeremiah 8:18-9). It is such an important truth that God does not rejoice in judgment but rejoices in blessing. Fallen humans force Him to discipline them because of their flagrant, continuing rebellion and willful idolatry.

Jeremiah 14:17d-e These last two poetic lines describe the covenant people (i.e., the virgin daughter, cf. Jeremiah 8:21; Jeremiah 18:13; Jeremiah 31:4, Jeremiah 31:21; Jeremiah 46:11).

1. has been crushed with a mighty blow (BDB 990, KB 1402, Niphal PERFECT)

2. has a sorely infected wound (BDB 317, KB 316, Niphal PARTICIPLE)

Jeremiah 14:18

NASB“have gone roving about in the land that they do not know” NKJV“go about. . .” NRSV“roam the country at their wit's end” TEV(footnote) “have been dragged away to a land they know nothing about” NJB“ply their trade throughout the land, and have no knowledge” JPSOA“roam the land, they know not where” REB“wander without rest in the land”

The NJB is closest to the MT. The NASB, NKJV, JPSOA follow the LXX. The options are

1. these leaders do not know how to handle the results of the invasion

2. these leaders are exiled (NRSV, TEV footnote; this has no Hebrew or Greek or versional support)

3. the leaders wander about looking for work (i.e., a livelihood) because the temple is destroyed

Verses 19-22

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Jeremiah 14:19-22 19Have You completely rejected Judah? Or have You loathed Zion? Why have You stricken us so that we are beyond healing? We waited for peace, but nothing good came; And for a time of healing, but behold, terror! 20We know our wickedness, O LORD , The iniquity of our fathers, for we have sinned against You. 21Do not despise us, for Your own name's sake; Do not disgrace the throne of Your glory; Remember and do not annul Your covenant with us. 22Are there any among the idols of the nations who give rain? Or can the heavens grant showers? Is it not You, O LORD our God? Therefore we hope in You, For You are the one who has done all these things.

Jeremiah 14:19-22 These verses contain the prophet's questions and prayers for God's mercy. One wonders if these may also be liturgical pieces quoted regularly at the temple (cf. Jeremiah 14:7-9).

Jeremiah 14:19 There are three questions here which are emphatic in the Hebrew.

1. “Have You completely rejected Judah?” (emphatic by grammatical feature - the use of the INFINITIVE ABSOLUTE and a VERB of the same root [BDB 549, KB 540])

2. “Have You loathed Zion?” (emphatic by word choice [BDB 171, KB 199, Qal PERFECT] cf. Leviticus 26:30, Leviticus 26:43)

3. “Why have You stricken us so that we are beyond healing?”

This third question is the central issue Has the conditional covenant with Abraham been totally abrogated by Israel and Judah's continual disobedience? Well, yes and no!

1. yes - and this sets the stage for the “new covenant” of Jeremiah 31:31-34 (cf. Romans 3:21-31; Galatians 3:0)

2. no - see Leviticus 26:43, YHWH still has a purpose for His OT people (cf. Romans 9-11, see Special Topic: YHWH's Eternal Redemptive Plan)

Jeremiah 14:20-22 The prophet attempts a corporate prayer (see Special Topic: Intercessory Prayer) again.

1. we know our wickedness (cf. Jeremiah 3:25)

2. we know the iniquity of our fathers (cf. Jeremiah 2:5-6; Jeremiah 7:25-26)

3. we know we have sinned against You

In light of these confessions Jeremiah pleads for YHWH to act because of His own character and purposes (cf. Jeremiah 14:7; Ezekiel 36:22-38).

1. do not despise (BDB 610, KB 658, Qal IMPERFECT used in a JUSSIVE sense) for You own name's sake

2. do not disgrace (BDB 614, KB 663, Piel IMPERFECT used in a JUSSIVE sense) the throne of Your glory (i.e., the ark of the covenant in the holy of holies, cf. Jeremiah 3:17; Jeremiah 17:12)

3-4. remember (BDB 269, KB 269, Qal IMPERATIVE) and do not annul (BDB 830, KB 974, Hiphil IMPERFECT used in a JUSSIVE sense) Your covenant with us

5. we know You are the only giver of rain (not Ba'al cf. Jeremiah 5:24)

6. therefore, we hope in You

Jeremiah 14:20 All three Hebrew words for sin are found in this verse, which shows the waywardness of the people of God.

1. wickedness (BDB 957, cf. Jeremiah 5:26; Jeremiah 12:1; Jeremiah 23:19; Jeremiah 25:31; Jeremiah 30:23)

2. iniquity (BDB 730, cf. Jeremiah 2:22; Jeremiah 3:13; Jeremiah 5:25; Jeremiah 11:10; Jeremiah 13:22; Jeremiah 14:7, Jeremiah 14:10, Jeremiah 14:20; Jeremiah 16:10, Jeremiah 16:17, Jeremiah 16:18; Jeremiah 18:23, etc.)

3. sin (BDB 306, cf. Jeremiah 3:25; Jeremiah 5:25; Jeremiah 14:10; Jeremiah 15:13; Jeremiah 16:10, Jeremiah 16:18; Jeremiah 17:1, Jeremiah 17:3; Jeremiah 18:23, etc.)

Bibliographical Information
Utley. Dr. Robert. "Commentary on Jeremiah 14". "Utley's You Can Understand the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ubc/jeremiah-14.html. 2021.
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