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Bible Commentaries

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

Jeremiah 11



Verse 1


1. The word that came to Jeremiah — This form of title is such as Jeremiah prefixes to his larger sections, and hence may properly be taken as extending over this and the two following chapters.

Verse 2

2. The words of this covenant — In 2 Chronicles 34:14, we are told that “when they brought out the money that was brought into the house of the Lord, Hilkiah the priest found a book of the law of the Lord by the hand of Moses.” In 2 Kings 23:3, where this same newly-found book of the law is mentioned, the phrase, “the words of this covenant,” is used as in this verse. Numerous other references in 2 Kings 22, 23, and in the corresponding passages in Chronicles, place it beyond reasonable doubt that, the allusion here is specially to this book of the law. See Deuteronomy 29:8; 2 Kings 23:3; 2 Chronicles 34:30, and Jeremiah 34:18.

Verse 3

3. Cursed, etc. — An exact quotation from Deuteronomy 27:26, except that here obeyeth is put for confirmeth; this word having been used originally with reference to the formal ratification of the people. The word here used, however, is the common and the vital word.

Verse 4

4. Iron furnace — A phrase first used with the same reference in Deuteronomy 4:20. Primarily it suggests the sufferings there of the Israelites; also, the purpose of that affliction: for the one purpose of all suffering to God’s people is purification — the separation of the gold from the dross, the precious from the base.

Verse 5

5. Land flowing with milk and honey — Who has not felt the difficulty of this description as applied to Palestine? Three considerations tend to relieve it: 1) Its contrast with Egypt, which the Israelites of that day would set up as a standard, it being the only land with which they were acquainted when this language was at first used. Now Egypt is literally the creation of the Nile. In the immediate vicinity of that river the country is exceedingly fertile, but elsewhere a sterile desert. Palestine, with its hills and valleys, its plains and its forests, its watercourses and its seacoasts, was indeed, especially to a pastoral people, a rich land in comparison. 2) Its contrast with the Sinaitic peninsula. Forty years of experience in Arabia Petrea would prepare the people fora very keen appreciation of such a land as Palestine, which was, as compared with this, almost as “the garden of the Lord.” 3) Its contrast with itself at the present time. Twenty centuries of neglect and abuse have doubtless materially changed the face of this land.

It is not doubtful that the Canaan of the Old Testament was a very different country from the Palestine of to-day. And putting with all the rest the character of Oriental speech, which delights in pictorial phrases, we shall not find it difficult to understand the expressions which seem to many so exaggerated.

Then answered I — As though the old scene so graphically described in Deuteronomy 27:14-26, was being re-enacted. The answer of the prophet is the same as the people then made, and should be translated, as there, Amen, Jehovah.

Verse 6

6. In the cities of Judah — Comp. 2 Kings 23:15-20. Henderson suggests that Jeremiah accompanied Josiah in visits to the different cities to carry forward his work of reformation. Certainly the work of these two reformers was mutually helpful, and each has an illustrative bearing upon that of the other.

Verse 9


9. Conspiracy — Such unanimity as would be brought about by formal preconcertment.

Verse 10

10. Iniquities of their forefathers — The original is more definite, and makes the allusion specific as to the idolatries of the wilderness.

Have broken my covenant — These words, when placed by the side of that passage which sets forth the solemn and formal covenant of the people, given in Deuteronomy 27, have something of the awfulness of the judgment day itself.

Verse 13

13. Shameful thing — See Jeremiah 3:24.

Verse 14


14. Pray not… for this people — Because they had reached that climax of guilt in which intercessory prayer may no longer avail.

Verse 15

15. What hath my beloved, etc. — The language here is characterized by such difficulty as has led many conservative and evangelical commentators to conjecture a corruption of the text. This conjecture is supported by the fact that the ancient Versions do not agree with the Hebrew — though neither do they agree among themselves. The Septuagint renders the last part, shall vows and holy flesh turn away thine evil from thee? The Syriac and Vulgate agree in treating the words rendered lewdness and many as in opposition, so that the middle clause would read, to work the enormity, the manifold, alluding to the many-shaped sin of idolatry. But if we reject all suggestions of change in the text, perhaps the most probable rendering of the original as it now stands would be, What hath my beloved in my house? To do wickedness? The chiefs and the holy flesh shall pass away from thee. When thy iniquity is, then thou rejoicest. This term of endearment sounds strangely in the midst of these charges against the nation, and yet it is thoroughly in harmony with the spirit of this book and of the Old Testament. Unworthy and corrupt as this people had become, they were still the “beloved” of the Lord.

Verse 16

16. Green olive tree — As in Psalms 52:8; Psalms 128:3; Hosea 14:6.

Tumult — Used besides only in Ezekiel 1:24. CONSPIRACY OF THE MEN OF ANATHOTH, 18-23.

Verse 19

19. Like a lamb or an ox — Rather, as a tame lamb. Such as is frequently found in Arab tents. The comparison is most felicitous, as suggesting innocence and harmlessness.

Tree with the fruit — Literally, tree in its bread.

Verse 23

23. No remnant — They shall be utterly destroyed. But this language is not to be pressed to the extreme of mathematical nicety. It is not contradicted by the fact that a hundred and twenty-eight men of Anathoth returned from the exile. Ezra 2:23; Nehemiah 7:27.


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Bibliography Information
Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Jeremiah 11:4". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". 1874-1909.

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