The Agora
Bible Commentary

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Jeremiah 8

Jer 8:1

Jer 8: "The people stood in the outer court facing the court of the priests in which stood the temple in Jerusalem itself. Jeremiah stands facing them as a visible mediator with the temple -- the throne of Yahweh behind him. He does not congratulate them upon their manifest devotions, the generosity of their contributions, the enthusiasm of their service. His message is a shock to their self-esteem, an alarm to their slumbering conscience and confidence, a menace of wrath and destruction upon them and their holy place which they had converted into 'a den of robbers' (Jer 7:11). Thus this incident Jeremiah records anticipated the dramatic entry of the Master into the temple, recorded in Mar 11:17. Jeremiah's austere message continued in Jer 8. [1] Judah has prepared for its own destruction: vv 1-3. [2] The foolishness of Judah's apostasy: vv 4-12. [3] The prophet's despairing lament over the fate of Jerusalem: vv 13-22.

"The people were confident in their own righteousness, declaring 'we are wise and the law of Yahweh is with us' (v 8). It was an empty boast. Their study classes were opportunities for their own aggrandizement; their services elevated their own righteousness; their associations boasted their own works. There was little left for the true worship of Yahweh. Instead the people were like the proud Pharisee in the parable of the Pharisee and the Publican, and they elevated themselves beyond God: 'I thank Thee that I am better than other men.' But it was sheer hypocrisy by the leaders of the ecclesia in Jeremiah's times. In fact, there was 'no balm in Gilled' (v 22). The balm is a very expensive medicinal ointment obtained from the trees and held to be worth twice the weight in silver. But the people rejected the spiritual medicine; ignored the physician -- just as it is possible today to ignore the privilege of our heritage, and the wisdom of the Word. It is an exhortation to faithfulness; a warning against apathy" (GEM).

THE BONES OF THE KINGS AND OFFICIALS... THE PRIESTS AND PROPHETS...: (1) Josiah burned men's bones upon the false altar at Bethel (2Ki 23:15,16), to desecrate it. (2) All classes of Israel had worshiped the host of heaven -- so their enemies left their bones in Tophet (Jer 7:32), to desecrate their idols and themselves -- this, the greatest dishonor to the dead (ie Isa 14:19).

Jer 8:2


Jer 8:3

WILL PREFER DEATH TO LIFE: "During those days men will seek death, but will not find it; they will long to die, but death will elude them" (Rev 9:6).

Jer 8:4

WHEN MEN FALL DOWN, DO THEY NOT GET UP?: Man's natural inclination to return to the path... but not so with Israel here.

Jer 8:5

THEY CLING TO DECEIT; THEY REFUSE TO RETURN: "The rest of mankind that were not killed by these plagues still did not repent of the work of their hands; they did not stop worshiping demons, and idols of gold, silver, bronze, stone and wood -- idols that cannot see or hear or walk. Nor did they repent of their murders, their magic arts, their sexual immorality or their thefts" (Rev 9:20,21).

Jer 8:6

LIKE A HORSE CHARGING INTO BATTLE: Thoughtlessly, eagerly.

Jer 8:7

The migration of the birds, returning each year to the same destination, suggests the men of Israel coming back, year by year, for the feasts at Jerusalem -- three times each year (Exo 23:17). The sadness is... the migratory birds return regularly in the spring -- but Judah never returns -- God's people never return to their senses or to their God.

Jer 8:8

THE LYING PEN OF THE SCRIBES HAS HANDLED IT FALSELY: "Has made it into a lie" (RSV). The scribes use their knowledge to deceive and advise evildoing.

Jer 8:10

GREEDY FOR GAIN: "Greed, which is idolatry" (Col 3:5,6). Covetous Pharisees derided Christ: Luk 16:14.

Jer 8:11

Vv 11-13: The casting off of Israel, as applied by Christ: v 11 = Luk 19:42; v 12 = Luk 19:44; and v 13 = Luk 20:10; Mat 21:19. Cp with Rev 9 -- 5th and 6th trumpets (WRev 125,126).

PEACE, PEACE...: Cp Jer 6:14; Eze 13:10; Jer 28 (prophecy of Hananiah).

Jer 8:12

WHEN THEY ARE PUNISHED: Lit, "in the time of their visitation" (AV). "If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace -- but now it is hidden from your eyes. The days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment against you and encircle you and hem you in on every side. They will dash you to the ground, you and the children within your walls. They will not leave one stone on another, because you did not recognize the time of God's coming to you" (Luk 19:42-44). Cp also Jer 6:6 -- the city is "visited". Also Jer 10:15; 11:23.

The temple was a hypocritical symbol, and the people were robbers and idolaters. As in Christ's day, the temple was incurably infected with the "leprosy" of sin and uncleanness. And, after priestly "visitations" showed no improvement, the LM required that the leprous house be taken down and its stones carried forth (Lev 14:45; cp Joh 2:17n).

Jer 8:13

NO GRAPES ON THE VINE: Israel as a vine (Isa 5; Psa 80), but no fruit of Spirit (Gal 5). Same sym in fig tree also.

THEIR LEAVE WILL WITHER: Leaves for the healing of the nations (Rev 22:2) = the priests, who should have "healed" the people, are cursed by Christ (Mat 21:19).

WHAT I HAVE GIVEN THEM WILL BE TAKEN FROM THEM: Or, poss, "I have appointed to them those who will pass over them" (RV mg), ie Assyria and Babylon and Rome.

Jer 8:14

POISONED WATER: "Wormwood" (Rev 8:11).

Jer 8:15

WE HOPED FOR PEACE: As the false prophets prophesied: Jer 28:3,4.

Jer 8:16

THE SNORTING OF THE ENEMY'S HORSES IS HEARD FROM DAN: The Babylonian invaders coming from the north. "The sound of their wings was like the thundering of many horses and chariots rushing into battle" (Rev 9:9).

Jer 8:17

AND THEY WILL BITE YOU: Cp the venomous serpents in the wilderness (Num 21). But afterward, there was a sacrifice (Num 21:9; Joh 3:14), and then forgiveness. But here, however, there is no prayer (Jer 7:16; 11:14) and thus no escape.

Jer 8:19

MY PEOPLE FROM A LAND FAR AWAY: Prophetic: Babylon = the far country (Isa 39:3). The cry of the exiled Jews, which Jeremiah foresaw.

WHY HAVE THEY PROVOKED ME TO ANGER?: Their sins had separated them from God: Isa 59:1,2.

Jer 8:20

The time of gathering has passed, and still there is no sign of fruit. It is now too late! (Will we say the same at the judgment?)

Jer 8:22

IS THERE NO BALM IN GILLED? IS THERE NO PHYSICIAN THERE?: There was much balm there, and many physicians: Jer 46:11; 51:8; Eze 27:17; Gen 37:25. But we must first realize our own sickness. "It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners" (Mar 2:17; cp Mat 9:13). Christ was the physician: "Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace" (Luk 8:48). But here there is little faith; thus, there can be little healing.

BALM: "Some resinous extract from the forest-trees of Gilled" (LB 467). "A resin or gum of the storax tree, used medicinally" (EBC).

The saints, at Pella (in Gilled), pray for healing for Jerusalem in 70 AD, but cannot save it!

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