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Bible Commentaries

Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible
Jeremiah 11

 

 

Introduction

Jeremiah 11:1 to Jeremiah 12:6. The relation of the prophet to the (Deuteronomic) Covenant (Jeremiah 11:1-8); its subsequent abandonment, and the Divine punishment (Jeremiah 11:9-17); the plot at Anathoth (Jeremiah 11:18-23); the prophet's problem (Jeremiah 12:1-6). On the difficulties raised by this section, see Introduction, 2; it seems likely that, as Duhm and Cornill have argued, Jeremiah 11:1-14 is an unhistorical inference as to what the prophet might be expected to do at the time of the Deuteronomic Reformation in 621. If its historicity be accepted, then Jeremiah's initial approval must subsequently have passed into disapproval, in view of the religious externalism and false confidence which followed upon the Reformation. (See on Jeremiah 7:1-15, Jeremiah 8:8.)


Verses 1-8

Jeremiah 11:1-8. The Proclamation of the Covenant.—Jeremiah is commissioned to enforce solemnly (cf. Deuteronomy 27:26; Deuteronomy 29:9) on Judah and Jerusalem the covenant which Yahweh made at the time of the national deliverance from Egypt, as the condition of blessing. He solemnly accepts this commission, and is sent to the smaller cities, as well as to the streets of the capital, to declare the penalty of disobedience to this covenant, as shown by past history.

Jeremiah 11:2. The verbs, "hear ye", and "speak" should be emended to the singular, in view of Jeremiah 11:3.

Jeremiah 11:4. the iron furnace means one for smelting iron, here a figure for severe trial; cf. Deuteronomy 4:20, 1 Kings 8:51.

Jeremiah 11:5. Amen, i.e. "truly", implies the confirmation of the curse; (cf. Deuteronomy 27:15 ff.).

Jeremiah 11:9-17. The Failure of the Reformation.—The first part (Jeremiah 11:9-14) of this passage implies the failure of the Deuteronomic movement ("They are turned back", Jeremiah 11:10), and is, therefore, often referred to the reaction under Jehoiakim, after Josiah's death in 608, on the assumption of Jeremianic authorship; but see prefatory note to Jeremiah 11:1 ff. Judah is leagued to renew the disobedience of the past; Yahweh will punish, and will refuse to answer, whilst the false gods cannot, the outcry for help (Jeremiah 11:13 a, as Jeremiah 2:28 b). The prophet is forbidden to intercede (Jeremiah 11:14 as mg.). The corrupt Jeremiah 11:15 is emended by Driver (cf. mg.) into "What hath my beloved (to do) in mine house, (seeing) she bringeth evil devices to pass? Will vows and holy flesh remove thine evil from off thee? then mightest thou rejoice!" i.e. Judah's lavish ritual is really useless. She is compared with a luxuriant (not simply "green") olive, suddenly struck by lightning (Jeremiah 11:16); evil will come upon her, corresponding to the evil of her Baal-cult (Jeremiah 11:17, perhaps an expansion). The want of connexion between Jeremiah 11:1-14 and Jeremiah 11:15 ff. supports the view that the former has been prefixed by a writer wishing to connect Jeremiah with the Deuteronomic Reformation. As a matter of fact, Jeremiah 11:15 stands in marked contrast with the Deuteronomic emphasis on Temple and ritual (Cornill).


Verses 18-23

Jeremiah 11:18-23. The Anathoth Plot.—The abrupt introduction of this account of the plot of the men of Anathoth against the life of the prophet might be explained by the supposition that his advocacy of the Deuteronomic Reformation (Jeremiah 11:1 ff.) would seem treachery to his kinsmen. For, as stated in the Introduction, they may have traced their descent from Abiathar, a priestly line now perpetually set aside in favour of the Zadokite priests of Jerusalem. If, however, Jeremiah's advocacy of Deuteronomy be not accepted as historic, then the Anathoth persecution will be a special instance of the general unpopularity of Jeremiah. Whether it was provoked by some particular utterance like that of Jesus in the synagogue of Nazareth we do not know. Jeremiah says that he was as unconscious of this plot as is a tame ("gentle") lamb (cf. 2 Samuel 12:3) of the purpose to kill it. He appeals to the just Judge, who knows his inmost feelings and thoughts, against the injustice of this plot. Yahweh answers the prophet's appeal with a threat of vengeance on the men of Anathoth (see on Jeremiah 1:1).

Jeremiah 11:19. fruit: a slight emendation gives the preferable meaning "sap".

Jeremiah 11:20. In Hebrew psychology, the reins or kidneys are the seat of strong emotions, e.g. desires, and the heart is the general centre of psychical activity, including thought. Duhm points out that this is the earliest declaration of Yahweh's knowledge of the inner life. Cornill suggests with considerable plausibility that the following section, Jeremiah 12:1-6, originally preceded Jeremiah 11:18-23.

 


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Bibliography Information
Peake, Arthur. "Commentary on Jeremiah 11:4". "Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible ". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/pfc/jeremiah-11.html. 1919.

Lectionary Calendar
Sunday, October 13th, 2019
the Week of Proper 23 / Ordinary 28
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