Jeremiah 11 – “Sins of Old; An Imprecation for Anathoth”

lamb baby sheep cuteHebrew-English Text

I. Summary

Yahweh condemns the people for committing idolatry, the sin of their ancestors. Jeremiah asks Yahweh to wipe out the people of Anathoth and he agrees.

II. Photo

Jeremiah was duped by the people of Anathoth: “I was like a gentle lamb led to the slaughter, I did not know it was against me that they devised schemes.” (v. 19)

III. Select Verses

3-5: Cursed be anyone who does not heed the words of this covenant,  which I commanded your ancestors when I brought them out of the land of Egypt, from the iron-smelter, saying, Listen to my voice, and do all that I command you. So shall you be my people, and I will be your God,  that I may perform the oath that I swore to your ancestors, to give them a land flowing with milk and honey, as at this day.

7-8: For I solemnly warned your ancestors when I brought them up out of the land of Egypt, warning them persistently, even to this day, saying, Obey my voice.  Yet they did not obey or incline their ear, but everyone walked in the stubbornness of an evil will. So I brought upon them all the words of this covenant, which I commanded them to do, but they did not.

12-13: Then the cities of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem will go and cry out to the gods to whom they make offerings, but they will never save them in the time of their trouble. For your gods have become as many as your towns, O Judah; and as many as the streets of Jerusalem are the altars you have set up to shame, altars to make offerings to Baal.

21-23: Therefore thus says the LORD concerning the people of Anathoth, who seek your life, and say, “You shall not prophesy in the name of the LORD, or you will die by our hand”— therefore thus says the LORD of hosts: I am going to punish them; the young men shall die by the sword; their sons and their daughters shall die by famine; and not even a remnant shall be left of them. For I will bring disaster upon the people of Anathoth, the year of their punishment.

IV. Outline

1-14. Oracle

    1-3a. Introduction and call to proclaim

    3b-5a. Curse for not keeping the ancient covenant

    5b. Jeremiah avers

    6-8. Warning: the ancestors were punished

    9-10. Israel and Judah have sinned like their ancestors

    11. Punishment is coming

    12-13. Jerusalem’s gods will not save

    14. Jeremiah must not pray on behalf of the people

15-17. Jeremiah’s message

    15. Sacrifice will not help

    16-17. Yahweh will burn the tree he planted

18-20. Jeremiah’s petition

    18-19. Yahweh revealed the enemy

    20a. Imprecation of enemies

    20b. Affirmation of confidence

    21-23. Oracle: Yahweh will wipe out the people of Anathoth


V. Comment

In verse 18 we encounter a new type of text, Jeremiah’s first psalm-like lament. Peter C. Craigie writes, “Beginning at 11:18, the Book of Jeremiah records a series of personal complaints. These complaints, which resemble the personal lament in form, have often been called Jeremiah’s confessions. Students of these laments have not reached complete agree ment about the extent of the laments, but six passages are normally included: 11:18–12:6; 15:10–21; 17:12–18; 18:18–23; 20:7–13; and 20:14–18. Some of the complaints have matching responses by Yahweh. The uniqueness of these laments has occasioned much debate about their nature and purpose. Agreement does not even exist about what they should be called since neutral terminology does not exist; calling them “confessions,” “complaints,” or “laments” presupposes a different understanding about their nature and purpose. Even though they will be designated confessions in the following discussion, this is only for convenience and is not intended to convey any particular understanding about these passages.” (172-173)

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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