Vv 1-8: God wanted to renew His Covenant with Israel . The "Covenant" refers to the conditions of the Covenant as written in the Torah in Deut. Ch 28, see v 69 there, specifying the blessings for obeying the Torah and the curses for disobeying. These were the detailed conditions of the Covenant that Moses had struck between God and Israel at Horeb (Sinai), as recounted in Exodus 24:7 (see RaDaK on Jer. 11:1-2).

V 5: Israel 's ability to live in the "land flowing with milk and honey" that God has given them is conditional on their observance of this Covenant.

Vv 9-10: However, Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem are in a conspiracy to repeat the sins of the first fathers and not to listen to the Torah: they have breached the Covenant.

V 11ff: Under the conditions of the Covenant itself, they must therefore be punished with the curses it entails for disobedience, for instead of unifying God's name they have followed a multitude of idols.

V 14: Once again, God tells Jeremiah not to pray on behalf of the people.

V 15: "What has My beloved to do in My house.? Israel is God's treasured nation, but now that they have violated the Covenant, what business do they have to enter His Temple? "They have caused the hallowed flesh to pass from upon you" - "they have even ceased to practice circumcision (the sign of the Covenant) on their flesh, whereby they were sanctified to Me" (Rashi).

V 16: Israel is compared to a beautiful olive tree because the leaves of the olive tree are moist throughout the year (RaDaK). Having compared Israel to the olive tree, the continuation of the verse uses corresponding images of the coming destruction.

V 18 opens a new section (PARSHAH PETHUHAH): The prophet says that God has informed him of the coming evil, and this is why he knows about it, and that He then informed him of their evil deeds which were the cause of this decree. As we see from the continuation, these were specifically the evil deeds of the people of Anathoth, who were conspiring against Jeremiah.

V 19: "But I am like a docile lamb that is led to the slaughter." As God's prophet Jeremiah had no choice but to warn the people of the coming calamity. Since they did not want to hear, they wanted to kill him like a lamb being led to the slaughter. "Let us destroy the tree with its fruit (BE-LACHMO)" Targum and Rashi state that they wanted to put poison in his food - BE-LACHMO, "in his bread".

V 21: From this verse and also from and indications in the next chapter (v 5 as explained by the commentators), it appears that at this point it was primarily the men of Jeremiah's own town of Anathoth who were conspiring against him, indicating that he was mainly centered there in this part of his career, (although in ch 7 v 2 we did find that God told him to stand in the gates of the Temple in Jerusalem and prophesy). RaDaK asks why in verse 18 Jeremiah said "God informed me" (of the evil of the men of Anathoth) while from v 21 it appears that the men of Anathoth openly told Jeremiah they would kill him if he did not stop prophesying. RaDaK suggests that Jeremiah heard their threats yet did not believe they would actually carry them out, but God knew that they were quite serious.

Vv 22f: As a result of their evil, the people of Anathoth were destined not to go into exile but to be put to the sword.


V 1: Now the raises a question about how God runs the world. "Why does the way of the wicked prosper?" This can be understood as referring specifically to the great success of Nebuchadnezzar, whom God would enable to destroy His Temple, or alternatively to the apparent great success of the men of Anathoth (Rashi).

V 2: "You are near in their mouth but far from their kidneys!" We should all take this verse to heart. We pray and offer lip-service to God regularly, but do we know and feel Him inside us as we sift and sort out which way we will go at each moment every day just as the kidneys constantly filter impurities from the blood?

V 3: The prophet asks God to help him against his enemies in Anathoth.

V 4: God's reply to Jeremiah: The afflictions that the land will suffer are on account of the evil of its inhabitants, who say "He does not see our end" - i.e. "it is not revealed to Him how we will end up" (Rashi). The people denied prophecy and denied God's providence over creation.

V 5: "If you have run with footmen and they have wearied you, how can you contend with horses.?" The "footmen" are Jeremiah's relatives, priests like himself, and the men of his own city, who are coming to kill him (v 6). The "horses" are the mighty leaders of Judah in Jerusalem . The "land of peace" is Anathoth while the "thickets of the Jordan " are the high places near the river, the haunt of lions - the leaders of Judah in Jerusalem . God is asking Jeremiah, "If your own relatives the priests are coming to kill you, all the more will the leaders of Judah rise to kill you" (Rashi). Metzudas David explains that Jeremiah did not yet know in practice the full extent of the evil of the leaders of Judah and Jerusalem , and therefore God explained it to him through the metaphor of the footmen and the horses, thereby indicating just how great was their evil. This could only be requited by bringing Nebuchadnezzar against them.

V 7: It is because of the people's evil that God has given "the dearly beloved of My soul" - Israel - into the hands of her enemies.

V 9: "Is My inheritance like a speckled bird of prey?" - "Are they like a bird of prey that is filthy with blood, around which the other birds gather? Another explanation: There is a certain bird that is colored, and all the other birds gather against it to eat it because they hate it" (Rashi).

Vv 10-12 continue God's lament over the coming calamity that will afflict His beloved people. It is noteworthy how expressions of love and affection for Israel are mingled with the prophecies of the coming calamities. God chastises out of love.

Vv 14-17: Having prophesied about the calamity that would befall Jerusalem, Jeremiah now prophesies against Israel's neighbors - these are Egypt, Ammon, Moab, Edom, Tyre and Sidon: all of them were smitten around the time of the destruction of the Temple, and all were later restored (Rashi on vv 14-15).

V 16: If members of these nations would convert, they would be built up together with Israel (Rashi).




By Rabbi Avraham Yehoshua Greenbaum
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