Devotional Commentary on Jeremiah 6

Jeremiah is asked by the Lord to say to the faithful remnant that calamity is coming from the north (verse 1).


The faithful sons of Benjamin from the center of Jerusalem should be gathered, and the watchman should sound a shofar of warning south of Jerusalem, between Hebron and Jerusalem on Mount Tekoa. A standard of signal should be raised over Beth-hakerem which is south of Jerusalem perhaps closer to Jerusalem than Tekoa since modern archaeologists are not yet sure where Beth-hakerem is and two sites are listed (Ramat Rahel [closer to the Dead Sea] or En Kerem [closer to the central mountain range]).


The Lord will destroy the delicate ones of the daughter of Zion [wayward remnant or daughter that is supposed to represent the heavenly Zion] (verse 2). The result will be that the shepherds and their flocks shall pitch a tent around her since she is destroyed (verse 3).


The Lord announces the punishment against the wayward remnant “her” (verse 4a). The enemy to come will say: “Arise and let us go up at noontime” to fight them (verse 4b). The wayward remnant will say: “woe is to us” (verse 4c). The enemy will then say: “Arise and let us go up at night and let us destroy her palaces” (verse 5a).


They have their instruction from the Lord for destruction: “For thus says the Lord” (verse 6a). The Lord ask them to cut trees and build a siege mound on Jerusalem and their problem is “the city whose sins have been visited upon her” and then the Lord listed their sins: oppression (verse 6d); let her evil flow (verse 7a); violence and spoil is heard before the Lord “continually” = tamid (verse 7b); terror/panic [Egyptian word used by Jeremiah ryt = terror, dread, fear, panic. Egyptian does not have an /l/ in their alphabet so they used an /r/. Another option is to use the Assyrian word alû meaning grief. The root is used commonly in the Old Testament in the context of sickness as it was also used in Assyrian. People do not cause sickness so another root-meaning is necessary here to balance the synonymous parallelism of the two colons in Jeremiah’s writing. Jeremiah is listing sins] and neglect [Egyptian word used by Jeremiah with Hebrew consonants mk = neglect, to turn the back on, to turn away from. This is a better option that using late Arabic root meanings for this rare Hebrew form of Jeremiah as the Rabbis Rashi and Redak as well as the Targum Jonathan did using ‘wounds’ as meaning] (verse 7c).


The character of God is then presented by Jeremiah as one that asks people to convert to solve the problem. The father of modern gospel songs, Thomas A. Dorsey said in a lecture in Chicago before he died, “If you do not sing for God, you will have to start all over again”. That is what God says here to the wayward remnant: “Be corrected” (verse 8). God has to part from sin and will part from them and the land.


We know it is the remnant since verse 9 says so. “They [enemy] shall thoroughly glean like a vine the remnant sherith of Israel” (verse 9). God is in distress over His remnant in verse 10: “To whom shall I speak and warn that they shall listen?”


This is the Laodicea problem with the remnant before their time of trouble came: “their ear is clogged up and they cannot listen” (verse 10a-b). What it means is that the Word of God was a disgrace to them and their hearts did not desire it (verse 10c-d). The difference with the church condition of the period of Laodicea in Revelation is that in our day the people are blind but not deaf. “If anyone hear…” (Revelation 3:20).


The Middle Age Rabbi Rashi said that since they do not desire to hear the Word of God therefore they disgrace it. This is their problem.

The Hell wrath of God is in micro-form against the wayward remnant in Jeremiah’s day: “With the fury of the Lord I am full” says the literal Hebrew. Christ is full of wrath when they reject the promptings of the Spirit to the utter limits continuously and lives unchanged lives (verse 11).


All people will suffer when that enemy comes in 586 BCE. They will lose their property (verse 12a). Their wives and the fields will be given to others (verse 12b). Again the Lord listed their problems: “all commit robbery” (verse 13); “prophet and priest they all deal falsely” (verse 13); they heal the breach of the wayward remnant easily = neqallah (verse 14). The word is rendered by Rabbi Rashi as “easily”; by Rabbi Redak as “lightly”; by Mezudath David as “disgraceful speech” and by Targum Jonathan to the Prophets as “with their false words”. Consider the translation: “My people over whom it is called to say: ‘Peace’” (verse 14). But there is no peace.


At Lachish scholars found in 1935 at the gate a letter called Lachish Letter III which was written on a potsherd and the writer Hoshiyahu wrote a peace message in the face of the coming of the Babylonians saying: “May Yahweh let my lord hear tidings of peace” (lines 4-5). It is one of the most revolutionary letters found by archaeologists since it proves that Jewish history in the Old Testament is not a concoction or late fabrication to support their property rights of the land of Israel. It is realism what Jeremiah wrote.


Their problem is also that they have caused an abomination and are not ashamed of it. The solution to wrongs in live is to be ashamed of it and to feel disgrace (verse 15). With such a person the Lord can renovate and fix the problem. When the Holy Spirit is cut out of their lives persistently the Lord will cut them off. Again the solution is presented by the Lord in the last minutes of the coming disaster: “Stand on the roads and see and ask of the paths of old which is the good way and go on it and find rest for your soul”. This is the secret of salvation and conversion. A dictionary found at Niniveh by archaeologists dating to 650 BCE defines “Sabbath” as “rest of the heart”. The rest used by Jeremiah is the word noah not Sabbath.


The wayward remnant responded: we will not go (verse 16). The Lord put lookouts over you to warn them in advance and said: “Listen to the sound of the shofar” but they said “we will not listen” (verse 17). The obstinency of the wayward remnant brings problems to nations, the congregation of the remnant, and to the whole earth: “I [Lord] will bring evil to this people the fruit of their thoughts” (verse 19a). Their problems are listed by the Lord: they do not listen to My Words; they rejected My instructions (verse 19c-d).


The Lord does not need specialized incense and many offerings to be presented, they are not pleasant to Him (verse 20). It is a message that has a long history through Moses in Exodus 30:23; Psalm 50, Psalm 40, Isaiah 1 and 66; Micah 6, Amos 5. The Lord is going to bring stumblingblocks for them to stumble upon (verse 21).


The Lord announces the people that will come from the north (verse 22) and that they will come with the military and have no compassion (verse 23).


The faithful remnant then answered: “We have heard His report, our hands have become feeble, trouble has grasped us, and pain, as a woman in travail” (verse 24). They then warn each other: “Go not forth into the field, and on the road do not go, for the enemy has a sword, there is fear all around” (verse 25).


The wayward remnant are asked to convert to God by putting on sackcloth, roll in ashes and mourn for a plunderer shadad has come over them (verse 26).


This word shadad is used for Satan in Isaiah 33:1 since it says that this plunderer is not plundered himself. At least until Hell time he will not be affected. This is the theology here: when the Lord and the Spirit of God leaves, Satan takes over and he is a plunderer.


Of Christ the Messiah the Lord says: “I have made You the Strong One and the Fortress of My people, and You shall know and test their way (verse 27). They all are perverse, and destructive (verse 28). “The bellows is heated from the fire, the lead is consumed; in vain does the Founder refine and the wicked ones have not separated” (verse 29). That is why they are called refuse silver for the Lord has rejected them (verse 30). When people are refuse silver and the remnant do not separate from them, they also become part of this problem and may suffer the same consequences. Jeremiah did and was released and sent back. Daniel was not and taken in captivity.

Dear God

You keep pleading with the wayward remnant to convert and come back. They did not want and was obstinate. Guard our souls to walk on the paths of Thy salvation. Amen.