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Bible Commentaries
Jeremiah 16

Utley's You Can Understand the BibleUtley Commentary


Jeremiah 16:0


(The parentheses represent poetic literary units)

Distresses ForetoldJeremiah's Lifestyle and MessageThe Prophet's Life Is Itself SymbolicThe LORD's will for Jeremiah's LifeJeremiah's Life
Jeremiah 16:1-4Jeremiah 16:1-4Jeremiah 16:1-4Jeremiah 16:1-4Jeremiah 16:1-4
Jeremiah 16:5-9Jeremiah 16:5-9Jeremiah 16:5-7Jeremiah 16:5-7Jeremiah 16:5-9
Jeremiah 16:8-9Jeremiah 16:8-9Judah's Fate
Jeremiah 16:10-13Jeremiah 16:10-13Jeremiah 16:10-13Jeremiah 16:10-13Jeremiah 16:10-13
God Will Restore ThemGod Will Restore IsraelThe Return of the Scattered IsraelitesThe Return From ExileIsrael's Homecoming
Jeremiah 16:14-15Jeremiah 16:14-15Jeremiah 16:14-15Jeremiah 16:14-15Jeremiah 16:14-15
The Invasion ForetoldThe Coming PunishmentNo Refuge For Judah
Jeremiah 16:16-18Jeremiah 16:16-18Jeremiah 16:16-18Jeremiah 16:16-18Jeremiah 16:16-18
The Conversion of the NationsJeremiah's Prayer of Confidence in the LORDConversion of the Heathen
Jeremiah 16:19-20(vv. Jeremiah 16:19-20)Jeremiah 16:19-20(vv. Jeremiah 16:19-20)Jeremiah 16:19-21(vv. Jeremiah 16:19-21)Jeremiah 16:19-20Jeremiah 16:19-20(vv. Jeremiah 16:19-20)
Jeremiah 16:21(vv. Jeremiah 16:21)Jeremiah 16:21(vv. Jeremiah 16:21)Jeremiah 16:21Jeremiah 16:21

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.

Verses 1-4

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Jeremiah 16:1-4 1The word of the LORD also came to me saying, 2”You shall not take a wife for yourself nor have sons or daughters in this place.” 3For thus says the LORD concerning the sons and daughters born in this place, and concerning their mothers who bear them, and their fathers who beget them in this land: 4”They will die of deadly diseases, they will not be lamented or buried; they will be as dung on the surface of the ground and come to an end by sword and famine, and their carcasses will become food for the birds of the sky and for the beasts of the earth.”

Jeremiah 16:2 Jeremiah is restricted by YHWH from taking a wife (very unusual for a Jewish man) or having children (cf. Leviticus 26:22). The reason given is that families will soon die in YHWH's judgment (cf. Jeremiah 15:2-3) for their idolatry.

1. deadly diseases (cf. Leviticus 26:16)

2. sword (cf. Leviticus 26:25)

3. famine

Their bodies will be unburied (no one left to bury them, cf. Psalms 79:2-3) and will be food for birds and animals (cf. Jeremiah 16:4; Jeremiah 19:7; Jeremiah 34:20).

YHWH surprisingly restricts Jeremiah from all societal comforts. He must be comforted by his service to YHWH, who would be his hope, comfort, and peace (cf. Jeremiah 16:19)!

Jeremiah 16:3 Notice the three uses of the root for having children.

1. born - BDB 409, KB 411, ADJECTIVE

2. bore - BDB 408, KB 411, Qal PARTICIPLE

3. begot - BDB 408, KB 411, Hiphil PARTICIPLE

The next generation, along with the current generation of Judeans, will be destroyed!

Jeremiah 16:4 Notice the IMPERFECT VERBS.

1. “die” - BDB 559, KB 562, Qal IMPERFECT

2. “lamented” - BDB 704, KB 763, Niphal IMPERFECT (negated)

3. “buried” - BDB 868, IB 1064, Niphal IMPERFECT (negated)

4. “will be as dung” - BDB 224, KB 243, Qal IMPERFECT

5. “come to an end” - BDB 477, KB 476, Qal IMPERFECT

Being unmourned, unburied, and devoured by animals was a great fear and curse for ANE people (cf. Jeremiah 7:33; Jeremiah 8:2; Jeremiah 9:22; Jeremiah 15:3; Jeremiah 19:7; Jeremiah 34:20; Deuteronomy 28:26).

NASB, NRSV, NJB, NIV“deadly diseases” NKJV, JPSOA“gruesome deaths” LXX“a sickly death” REB“a horrible death”

This is a CONSTRUCT of BDB 560 (i.e., “deadly,” cf. Ezekiel 28:8) and BDB 316 (i.e., “diseases,” cf. Jeremiah 14:18; 2 Chronicles 21:19; Psalms 103:3). These were the result of covenant disobedience (cf. Deuteronomy 29:14-21, Deuteronomy 29:22-28, esp. Deuteronomy 16:22).

Verses 5-9

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Jeremiah 16:5-9 5For thus says the LORD, “Do not enter a house of mourning, or go to lament or to console them; for I have withdrawn My peace from this people,” declares the LORD, “My lovingkindness and compassion. 6Both great men and small will die in this land; they will not be buried, they will not be lamented, nor will anyone gash himself or shave his head for them. 7Men will not break bread in mourning for them, to comfort anyone for the dead, nor give them a cup of consolation to drink for anyone's father or mother. 8Moreover you shall not go into a house of feasting to sit with them to eat and drink.” 9For thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: “Behold, I am going to eliminate from this place, before your eyes and in your time, the voice of rejoicing and the voice of gladness, the voice of the groom and the voice of the bride.

Jeremiah 16:5-9 The first strophe (Jeremiah 16:1-4) denotes the death of families with no lamentation or burial (cf. Jeremiah 16:6). This second strophe picks up on

1. “mourning” - BDB 931

2. “lament” - BDB 704

3. “console” - BDB 626

4. “mourner” - BDB 5

5. “consolation” - BDB 637

The book of Jeremiah is structured/edited/compiled by

1. theological themes

2. word plays

3. genre (i.e., laments, court scenes)

Jeremiah 16:5 Notice the commands of Jeremiah 16:5.

1. do not enter a house of mourning - BDB 97, KB 112, Qal IMPERFECT used in a JUSSIVE sense

2. do not lament - BDB 229, KB 240, Qal IMPERFECT used in a JUSSIVE sense

3. do not console them - BDB 626, KB 678, Qal JUSSIVE

“I have withdrawn” (BDB 62, KB 74, Qal PERFECT)

1. My peace, BDB 1022, cf. Jeremiah 12:12; Jeremiah 30:5; see Special Topic: Peace (shalom)

2. My lovingkindness, BDB 338 I, see am example of what happens when lovingkindness is removed at Jeremiah 13:14, see Special Topic: Lovingkindness (Hesed)

3. My compassion, BDB 933, cf. Deuteronomy 13:17; Nehemiah 9:19, Nehemiah 9:27, Nehemiah 9:31; Psalms 25:6; Psalms 40:11; Psalms 77:9; Psalms 79:8; Psalms 103:4; Isaiah 63:7, Isaiah 63:15; Hosea 2:19 (this term is found only here and Jeremiah 42:12 in Jeremiah)

The eternal covenant is negated, broken, cancelled! Shocking! A new covenant must come now (cf. Jeremiah 31:31-34; Ezekiel 36:22-38).

Jeremiah 16:6 As all of the family dies in Jeremiah 16:1-4, in Jeremiah 16:6 all levels of society die (cf. Jeremiah 6:13; Jeremiah 8:10)!

“nor will anyone gash himself or shave his head for them” These are pagan mourning rites (cf. Leviticus 19:28; Leviticus 21:5; Deuteronomy 14:1; 1 Kings 18:28; Jeremiah 41:5; Jeremiah 47:5; Jeremiah 48:37; see Special Topic: Grieving Rites). This shows how far the Judeans had progressed in idolatry!

Jeremiah 16:7 “break bread The LXX revocalized the Hebrew word “for them” to get the translation “bread.” The KJV translates the phrase as “neither shall men tear themselves,” which would relate to Jeremiah 16:6 (i.e., “gash”).

Because of the mention of a cup later in the verse, probably “bread” or “food” (NIV) makes more sense. However, the Jerome Bible Commentary (p. 316) reminds us of food being offered to the dead (cf. Deuteronomy 26:14; Ezekiel 24:17, Ezekiel 24:22; Tobit Jeremiah 4:17), which would make this another idolatrous practice, so perhaps KJV is a valid way of understanding this verse.

Jeremiah 16:8 This may relate to Jeremiah 15:17. Apparently these dinners were connected to burial rites (i.e., breaking the fast of the mourning period. The word “mourning” (BDB 931) can denote a banquet in Aramaic. Also, the phrase “the cup of consolation” is found only here and may refer to a meal after the funeral.

Some commentators relate this verse to a marriage feast (cf. Jeremiah 16:9, UBS, Handbook, p. 382).

Jeremiah 16:9 Beginning in Jeremiah 16:9 several covenant titles for Deity are used in this chapter (see Special Topic: Names for Deity).

1. the LORD of hosts, Jeremiah 16:9

2. the God of Israel, Jeremiah 16:9

3. the LORD our God, Jeremiah 16:10

4. as the LORD lives, Jeremiah 16:14, Jeremiah 16:15 (cf. Jeremiah 4:2)

5. my strength, Jeremiah 16:19

6. my stronghold, Jeremiah 16:19

7. my refuge, Jeremiah 16:19

8. My name is the LORD , Jeremiah 16:21

“I am going to eliminate” The first list is YHWH telling “where,” “who,” and “when.”

1. from this place (i.e., Judah)

2. before your eyes

3. in your time

He will cause all normal social activities to cease.

1. voice of rejoicing

2. voice of gladness

3. voice of the groom

4. voice of the bride

This phrase is repeated in Jeremiah 7:34; Jeremiah 25:10; Jeremiah 33:11. It is surprising that the text jumps from an occasion of grief to an occasion of joy. Possibly this is meant to highlight that all social life and events will cease because all are dead!

Verses 10-13

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Jeremiah 16:10-13 10”Now when you tell this people all these words, they will say to you, 'For what reason has the LORD declared all this great calamity against us? And what is our iniquity, or what is our sin which we have committed against the LORD our God?' 11Then you are to say to them, 'It is because your forefathers have forsaken Me,' declares the LORD, 'and have followed other gods and served them and bowed down to them; but Me they have forsaken and have not kept My law. 12You too have done evil, even more than your forefathers; for behold, you are each one walking according to the stubbornness of his own evil heart, without listening to Me. 13So I will hurl you out of this land into the land which you have not known, neither you nor your fathers; and there you will serve other gods day and night, for I will grant you no favor.'“

Jeremiah 16:10-13 The question “why us, why now” is addressed (cf. Deuteronomy 29:24-26; Jeremiah 5:18-19; Jeremiah 9:12-16).

1. the people's (cf. Jeremiah 16:12)

a. iniquity

b. sin

2. their forefathers

a. had forsaken YHWH

b. had not kept His law

c. followed after other gods

d. served other gods

e. bowed down to other gods

Because of their multi-generational idolatry, YHWH will

1. exile (“cast,” BDB 376, KB 373, Hiphil PERFECT, Jeremiah 16:13; Jeremiah 22:26) them from the Promised Land

2. cause them to serve the pagan gods of that land (cf. Jeremiah 5:19)

3. cause them not to have the favor (BDB 337, this form of the root found only here in the OT) of YHWH

Notice the number of personal PRONOUNS used of YHWH. His special, covenant people have rejected Him. It is personal!

Jeremiah 16:12 The people's lifestyle actions are characterized.

1. walk according to the stubbornness of his own evil heart (cf. Jeremiah 7:24; Jeremiah 9:14; Jeremiah 11:8; Jeremiah 13:10)

2. without listening (Shema, BDB 1033) to YHWH (cf. Jeremiah 11:8)

Verses 14-15

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Jeremiah 16:14-15 14”Therefore behold, days are coming,” declares the LORD, “when it will no longer be said, 'As the LORD lives, who brought up the sons of Israel out of the land of Egypt,' 15but, 'As the LORD lives, who brought up the sons of Israel from the land of the north and from all the countries where He had banished them.' For I will restore them to their own land which I gave to their fathers.”

Jeremiah 16:14-15 This is the first of four brief strophes that deal with YHWH's promise of restoration! It is so common in the prophetic literature for “judgment” oracles to be matched with “promise” oracles.

These verses reappear in Jeremiah 23:7-8. The book of Jeremiah is an anthology of his poems!

“days are coming” Usually phrases like this refer to Judgment Day (cf. Jeremiah 7:32, see Special Topic: That Day), but here it refers to restoration (i.e., a new exodus) day. The same “living” God (in contrast to the lifeless idols) who fulfilled His promise to Abraham (cf. Genesis 15:12-21) will do it again, but instead of Egypt, it will be out of Mesopotamia.

The reason for the restoration is not stated. YHWH chooses to act based on His character, will, and actions not His fallen, disabled, covenant people (cf. Jeremiah 16:17-18). A new covenant is present (cf. Jeremiah 31:31-34; Ezekiel 36:22-38).

Verses 16-18

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Jeremiah 16:16-18 16”Behold, I am going to send for many fishermen,” declares the LORD, “and they will fish for them; and afterwards I will send for many hunters, and they will hunt them from every mountain and every hill and from the clefts of the rocks. 17For My eyes are on all their ways; they are not hidden from My face, nor is their iniquity concealed from My eyes. 18I will first doubly repay their iniquity and their sin, because they have polluted My land; they have filled My inheritance with the carcasses of their detestable idols and with their abominations.”

Jeremiah 16:16-18 YHWH (emphatic in Jeremiah 16:16) uses several metaphors to describe the return of all His exiled people.

1.fishermen (opposite of Amos 4:2)

2. hunters (opposite of Isaiah 2:21)

It is surely possible that Jeremiah 16:16-18 refers to judgment, while Jeremiah 16:14-15 and Jeremiah 16:19-20, Jeremiah 16:21 refer to restoration. It seems to me that Jeremiah 16:17 is saying YHWH has not overlooked their sin. He has fairly and proportionally punished them, but now He is bringing them back (i.e., a new exodus)!

Jeremiah 16:18 Before YHWH restores, He punishes them for their sin, especially idolatry. The phrase “doubly repay” is an idiom used in the sense of “fully” (cf. Isaiah 40:2) or complete judgment.

“My inheritance” The NET Bible (p. 1337) has a good note on how this word is used in Jeremiah.

1. the Promised Land (Palestine), Jeremiah 2:7

2. the covenant people themselves, Jeremiah 10:16; Jeremiah 12:8-9

3. the temple in Jerusalem, Jeremiah 12:7

Verses 19-20

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Jeremiah 16:19-20 19O LORD, my strength and my stronghold, And my refuge in the day of distress, To You the nations will come From the ends of the earth and say, “Our fathers have inherited nothing but falsehood, Futility and things of no profit.” 20Can man make gods for himself? Yet they are not gods!

Jeremiah 16:19-20 This is a wonderful universal promise that all humans will come to YHWH (cf. Jeremiah 3:17; Jeremiah 4:2; Jeremiah 12:15, Jeremiah 12:16). These universal, inclusive statements are more common in Isaiah (cf. Isaiah 2:2-4; Isaiah 12:4-5; Isaiah 25:6-9; Isaiah 42:6-12; Isaiah 45:22-23; Isaiah 49:5-6; Isaiah 51:4-5; Isaiah 56:6-8), but surely present in Jeremiah. The hope of Jeremiah 16:5 and 12:3; 22:18 is fulfilled (see Special Topic: YHWH's Eternal Redemptive Plan)!

Jeremiah 16:19 The last two lines and Jeremiah 16:20 are clearly a turning from idols to YHWH, from falsehood to truth!

Verse 21

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Jeremiah 16:21 21”Therefore behold, I am going to make them know This time I will make them know My power and My might; And they shall know that My name is the LORD.”

Jeremiah 16:20 Notice YHWH will make the nations

1. know His power

2. know His might

3. know His name

Bibliographical Information
Utley. Dr. Robert. "Commentary on Jeremiah 16". "Utley's You Can Understand the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ubc/jeremiah-16.html. 2021.
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