Jeremiah 11:3
And say you to them, Thus said the LORD God of Israel; Cursed be the man that obeys not the words of this covenant,
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(3) Cursed be the man . . .—The verse is, as it were, a mosaic, so to speak, of phrases, with slight verbal changes, from the recently discovered book of Deuteronomy—the “iron furnace” from Deuteronomy 4:20; 1Kings 8:51, “Hear my voice and do them” from Deuteronomy 28:1, “Ye shall be my people” from Deuteronomy 29:13. The “iron furnace” was, of course, Egypt, the “furnace of affliction,” as in Isaiah 48:10, in which the people had endured sufferings of which that was the only adequate symbol. The word used denoted the “furnace” of the smelter, but the actual form of bondage through which the Israelites had passed, working in the brick-kiln furnaces (Exodus 1:14), had probably given a special force to the phrase.

11:1-10 God never promised to bestow blessings on his rational creatures, while they persist in wilful disobedience. Pardon and acceptance are promised freely to all believers; but no man can be saved who does not obey the command of God to repent, to believe in Christ, to separate from sin and the world, to choose self-denial and newness of life. In general, men will hearken to those who speak of doctrines, promises, and privileges; but when duties are mentioned, they will not bend their ear.The words of this covenant - The phrase used 2 Kings 23:3 to describe the contents of the Book of the Law. 3. (De 27:26; Ga 3:10). In Deu 27:26, it is, Cursed be he that confirmeth not all the words of this law to do them. And all the people shall say, Amen. The people’s saying Amen testified their assent, and made the law a covenant; but they had besides formally and explicitly covenanted with God, Exodus 24:3,7, with religious rites and ceremonies used in stipulations, and afterwards consented that God should punish those that violated that covenant, Deu 27:26. And say thou unto them,.... This shows that the command of publishing the law or covenant was, however, principally given to Jeremiah:

thus saith the Lord, the God of Israel; that made them, and brought them out of Egypt, and made a covenant with them, and had taken care of them, and had bestowed many favours upon them:

cursed be the man that obeyeth not the words of this covenant; which the prophet, it may be, had in his hands, even the book of the law, and held it forth unto them, while he was speaking; the language of which is, cursed is everyone that does not constantly and perfectly perform what is contained in it, Deuteronomy 27:26.

And say thou to them, Thus saith the LORD God of Israel; {a} Cursed be the man that obeyeth not the words of this covenant,

(a) He calls the Jews to the consideration of God's mercy, who freely chose them, made a covenant of eternal happiness with them and how he ever performed it on his behalf and how they ever showed themselves rebellious and ingrate toward him, and broke it on their part, and so are subject to the curse of the law, De 27:26.

3. Cursed be the man that heareth not] Cp. Deuteronomy 27:15-26, especially the last v.

the words of this covenant] Cp. for the expression Deuteronomy 29:1; Deuteronomy 29:9.Verse 3. - Here begins a series of direct references to Deuteronomy, determining the date of the discourse. Cursed be the man, etc.; alluding to Deuteronomy 27:26 (which has, however, not "obeyeth," but "confirmeth," i.e. ratifieth as his own personal rule of conduct. The words of this covenant; rather, the words of this ordinance. The rendering "covenant," however, is not so much erroneous as unsuitable in this context; it is a secondary meaning of the Hebrew b'rith, the original sense being rather "authoritative appointment" (from barah, to cut, hence to decide). Nothing, perhaps, is so injurious to a correct understanding of the Scriptures as persistently rendering a Hebrew or Greek word by the same supposed equivalent. "Covenant" is no doubt appropriate in some passages (e.g. Joshua 9:6; 1 Samuel 18:3), because an "appointment" between men, if equals, involves "giving and taking;" but is inadequate when the parties are not equals, and most of all when the superior party is the Divine Being. In these cases we must clearly recur to the original meaning of" appointment" or "ordinance;" and we have one such case here (see also Hosea 6:7; 2 Kings 11:4; Job 31:1; Psalm 105:10; but not Genesis 17:9). Διαθήκη (1, an arrangement; 2, a will or testament; 3, a covenant) is to some extent parallel (see Cremer's 'Biblico-Theological Lexicon of New Testament Greek,' s.v.). The cause of this calamity is that the shepherds, i.e., the princes and leaders of the people (see on Jeremiah 2:8; Jeremiah 3:15), are become brutish, have not sought Jahveh, i.e., have not sought wisdom and guidance from the Lord. And so they could not deal wisely, i.e., rule the people with wisdom. השׂכּיל is here not merely: have prosperity, but: show wisdom, deal wisely, securing thus the blessed results of wisdom. This is shown both by the contrasted "become brutish" and by the parallel passage, Jeremiah 3:15. מרעיתם, their pasturing, equivalent to "flock of their pasturing," their flock, Jeremiah 23:1.

The calamity over which the people mourns is drawing near, Jeremiah 10:22. Already is heard the tremendous din of a mighty host which approaches from the north to make the cities of Judah a wilderness. קול שׁמוּעה is an exclamation: listen to the rumour, it is coming near. From a grammatical point of view the subject to "comes" is "rumour," but in point of sense it is that of which the rumour gives notice. Graf weakens the sense by gathering the words into one assertory clause: "They hear a rumour come." The "great commotion" is that of an army on the march, the clattering of the weapons, the stamping and neighing of the war-horses; cf. Jeremiah 6:23; Jeremiah 8:16. From the land of midnight, the north, cf. Jeremiah 1:14; Jeremiah 4:6, etc. "To make the cities," etc., cf. Jeremiah 4:7; Jeremiah 9:10. - The rumour of the enemy's approach drives the people to prayer, Jeremiah 10:23-25. The prayer of these verses is uttered in the name of the congregation. It begins with the confession: Not with man is his way, i.e., it is not within man's power to arrange the course of his life, nor in the power of the man who walks to fix his step (וbefore הכין merely marking the connection of the thought: cf. Ew. 348, a). The antithesis to לאדם and לאישׁ is ליהוה, with God; cf. Psalm 37:23; Proverbs 16:9 : Man's heart deviseth his way, but Jahveh establisheth the steps. The thought is not: it is not in man's option to walk in straight or crooked, good or evil ways, but: the directing of man, the way by which he must go, lies not in his own but in God's power. Hitz. justly finds here the wisdom that admits: "Mit unserer Macht ist nichts getan," - man's destiny is ordained not by himself, but by God. Upon this acquiescence in God's dispensation of events follows the petition: Chasten me, for I have deserved punishment, but chasten בּמשׁפּט, acc. to right, not in Thine anger; cf. Psalm 6:2; Psalm 38:2. A chastening in anger is the judgment of wrath that shall fall on obstinate sinners and destroy them. A chastening acc. to right is one such as is demanded by right (judgment), as the issue of God's justice, in order to the reclamation and conversion of the repentant sinner. "Lest Thou make me little," insignificant, puny; not merely, diminish me, make me smaller than I now am. For such a decrease of the people would result even from a gentle chastisement. There is no comparative force in the words. To make small, in other words, reduce to a small, insignificant people. This would be at variance with "right," with God's ordained plan in regard to His people. The expression is not equivalent to: not to make an utter end, Jeremiah 30:11, etc. The people had no call to pray that they might escape being made an utter end of; thus much had been promised by God, Jeremiah 4:27; Jeremiah 5:10. - God is asked to pour forth His fury upon the heathen who know not the Lord nor call upon His name, because they seek to extirpate Jacob (the people of Israel) as the people of God, at this time found in Judah alone. The several words in Jeremiah 10:25 suggest the fury with which the heathen proceed to the destruction of Israel. The present verse is reproduced in Psalm 79:6-7, a psalm written during the exile, or at least after the destruction of Jerusalem by the Chaldeans; but in the reproduction the energetic expansion of the "devoured" is omitted.

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