Jeremiah 10 – “Other Gods are a Delusion”

Jackals DenHebrew-English Text

I. Summary

Yahweh and Jeremiah call other gods a delusion. Yahweh warns of exile and Jeremiah speaks as if it has already come.

II. Photo

Jeremiah warns of destruction: “Hark, a noise! It is coming, a great commotion out of the north, that the towns of Judah may be made a desolation, a haunt of jackals. ” (v. 22)

III. Select Verses

3-5: For the laws of the nations are delusions: For it is the work of a craftsman’s hands. He cuts down a tree in the forest with an ax, He adorns it with silver and gold, He fastens it with nails and hammer, So that it does not totter.  They are like a scarecrow in a cucumber patch, They cannot speak. They have to be carried, For they cannot walk. Be not afraid of them, for they can do no harm; Nor is it in them to do any good.

11:  Thus shall you say to them: Let the gods, who did not make heaven and earth, perish from the earth and from under these heavens.

18: For thus said the LORD: I will fling away the inhabitants of the land this time: I will harass them so that they shall feel it.

IV. Outline

1-5. Oracle: other gods are non-gods

    1-2a. Introduction

    2b-5. Other gods are the work of man

6-16. Jeremiah concurs     

    6-10. Jeremiah concurs and praises Yahweh

    11. (Aramaic) Yahweh curses other gods

    12-13. Hymnic praise: Yahweh created the heavens and the weather

    14-15. Other gods are a delusion

    16. Yahweh is the only real god

17-18. Oracle: exile approaches

    17-18a. Introduction/call to prepare

    18b. Exile approaches

19-25. Jeremiah’s experience of exile

    19. Jeremiah’s pain

    20-22. Future quote reflecting an empty land

    23-25. Petition: Israel should not be wiped out


V. Comment

Verse 11 is the only verse in Jeremiah written in Aramaic (for other Aramaic verses in the Hebrew Bible see Ezra 4:8-6:18; 7:12-26; Dan 2:4-7:28; Gen 31:47). Peter C. Craigie writes in The Word Biblical Commentary vol. 26, Jeremiah 1-25: “The reason for the presence of this Aramaic verse in the midst of the Hebrew has puzzled commentators from the start. Both Rashi and Kimchi accepted the evidence of the Targum as an explanation of the sudden change from Hebrew to Aramaic. The Targum prefaces v 11 with these words: “This is the copy of the letter which the Prophet Jeremiah sent to the leaders of the exile in Babylon: ‘If the Chaldeans say to you, worship our idols, then answer them as follows.’” This suggests that v 11 was a shortened version of a letter sent by Jeremiah to Jehoiachin and the other exiles in Babylon between 598 and 587 BC (compare 29:1–32).” (160)

Also note that the petition in v. 25 is found nearly word for word in Ps. 79:6-7:

Jer 10:25: Pour out Your wrath on the nations who have not heeded You, Upon the clans that have not invoked Your name. For they have devoured Jacob, Have devoured and consumed him, And have laid desolate his homesteads.

Ps. 79:6-7: Pour out Your fury on the nations that do not know You, upon the kingdoms that do not invoke Your name,  for they have devoured Jacob and desolated his home.

VI. Works Used

(see “Commentaries” page)

Peter C. Craigie, Jeremiah 1-25 (The Word Biblical Commentary vol. 26; Dallas: Wordbooks, 1991).

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