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Judah’s Sin and Punishment


The sin of Judah is written with an iron pen; with a diamond point it is engraved on the tablet of their hearts, and on the horns of their altars, 2while their children remember their altars and their sacred poles, beside every green tree, and on the high hills, 3on the mountains in the open country. Your wealth and all your treasures I will give for spoil as the price of your sin throughout all your territory. 4By your own act you shall lose the heritage that I gave you, and I will make you serve your enemies in a land that you do not know, for in my anger a fire is kindled that shall burn forever.



Thus says the L ord:

Cursed are those who trust in mere mortals

and make mere flesh their strength,

whose hearts turn away from the L ord.


They shall be like a shrub in the desert,

and shall not see when relief comes.

They shall live in the parched places of the wilderness,

in an uninhabited salt land.



Blessed are those who trust in the L ord,

whose trust is the L ord.


They shall be like a tree planted by water,

sending out its roots by the stream.

It shall not fear when heat comes,

and its leaves shall stay green;

in the year of drought it is not anxious,

and it does not cease to bear fruit.



The heart is devious above all else;

it is perverse—

who can understand it?


I the L ord test the mind

and search the heart,

to give to all according to their ways,

according to the fruit of their doings.



Like the partridge hatching what it did not lay,

so are all who amass wealth unjustly;

in mid-life it will leave them,

and at their end they will prove to be fools.



O glorious throne, exalted from the beginning,

shrine of our sanctuary!


O hope of Israel! O L ord!

All who forsake you shall be put to shame;

those who turn away from you shall be recorded in the underworld,

for they have forsaken the fountain of living water, the L ord.


Jeremiah Prays for Vindication


Heal me, O L ord, and I shall be healed;

save me, and I shall be saved;

for you are my praise.


See how they say to me,

“Where is the word of the L ord?

Let it come!”


But I have not run away from being a shepherd in your service,

nor have I desired the fatal day.

You know what came from my lips;

it was before your face.


Do not become a terror to me;

you are my refuge in the day of disaster;


Let my persecutors be shamed,

but do not let me be shamed;

let them be dismayed,

but do not let me be dismayed;

bring on them the day of disaster;

destroy them with double destruction!


Hallow the Sabbath Day

19 Thus said the L ord to me: Go and stand in the People’s Gate, by which the kings of Judah enter and by which they go out, and in all the gates of Jerusalem, 20and say to them: Hear the word of the L ord, you kings of Judah, and all Judah, and all the inhabitants of Jerusalem, who enter by these gates. 21Thus says the L ord: For the sake of your lives, take care that you do not bear a burden on the sabbath day or bring it in by the gates of Jerusalem. 22And do not carry a burden out of your houses on the sabbath or do any work, but keep the sabbath day holy, as I commanded your ancestors. 23Yet they did not listen or incline their ear; they stiffened their necks and would not hear or receive instruction.

24 But if you listen to me, says the L ord, and bring in no burden by the gates of this city on the sabbath day, but keep the sabbath day holy and do no work on it, 25then there shall enter by the gates of this city kings who sit on the throne of David, riding in chariots and on horses, they and their officials, the people of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem; and this city shall be inhabited forever. 26And people shall come from the towns of Judah and the places around Jerusalem, from the land of Benjamin, from the Shephelah, from the hill country, and from the Negeb, bringing burnt offerings and sacrifices, grain offerings and frankincense, and bringing thank offerings to the house of the L ord. 27But if you do not listen to me, to keep the sabbath day holy, and to carry in no burden through the gates of Jerusalem on the sabbath day, then I will kindle a fire in its gates; it shall devour the palaces of Jerusalem and shall not be quenched.


He bids them to attend, or to beware in their souls. Some render the words, “As your souls are precious to you.” But I take souls, not for their lives, but for the affections of their hearts; as though he had said, “Take heed carefully of yourselves, that this may be laid up in your inmost heart.” The word נפש nuphesh, means often the heart, the seat of the affections. It is said in Deuteronomy 4:15,

“Take heed to yourselves, לנפשותיכם lanupheshuticam,
to your souls.”

here it is, בנפשותיכם, benupheshuticam, “in your souls;” but there, “to” or “for your souls,” as also in Joshua 23:11. But the same thing is meant, and that is, that they were to take great heed, to take every care, to exert every effort, and, in short, every faculty of their souls. Take heed then carefully, 187187     “Guard ye your souls” is the version of the Septuagint, Vulgate, and the Targum; but that of the Syriac is, “Take heed to yourselves;” which is no doubt the meaning, as the word soul, נפש, is often used for one’s self. — Ed. he says, take heed with every thought and faculty of your soul, that ye carry no burden on the Sabbath-day, and that ye bring it not through the gates of Jerusalem. It was a thing not difficult to be observed; and further, it was a most shameless transgression of the law; for, as I have said, by this slight matter they shewed that they despised the law of God, while yet the observance of the Sabbath was a thing of great importance: it was important in itself, but to observe it was easy. Hence appeared the twofold impiety of the people, — because they despised God’s singular favor, of which the seventh day was an evidence; and, because they were unwilling to take rest on that day, and in so easy a matter, they hesitated not, as it were, to insult God, as it has been before said.

Hence we ought to notice also what he says in these words, Carry no burden, and bring it not through the gatesof Jerusalem: and this was emphatically added; for it was not lawful even in the fields or in desert places to do anything on the Sabbath; but it was extremely shameful to carry a burden through the gates of Jerusalem; it was as though they wished publicly to reproach and despise God. Jerusalem was a public place; and it was as though one was not content privately to do dishonor to his neighbor or his brother, but must shew his ill-nature openly and in the light of day. Thus the Jews were not only reproachful towards God, but also dared to shew their impiety in his own renowned city, and, in short, in his very sanctuary. The rest we must defer.

We stated in our last lecture why the Prophet so severely reproved the Jews for neglecting an external rite. It seems indeed a thing in itself of small moment to rest on one day; and God by Isaiah clearly declares, (Isaiah 1:13,) that he cares not for that external worship, for hypocrites think they have done all their duty when they rest on the seventh day; but God denies that he approved of such a service, it being like a childish play. We know what Paul says, that the exercises of the body do not profit much. (1 Timothy 4:8.) This was not written when Jeremiah spoke, but it must have been written in the hearts of the godly. It might then, at the first view, appear a strange thing, that the Prophet insisted so much or a thing of no great moment: but the reason I have briefly explained, and that was, — because the gross impiety of the people was thereby plainly detected, for they despised God in a matter that could easily be done. Men often excuse themselves on the ground of difficulty, — “I could wish to do it, but it is too onerous for me.” They could not have alleged this as to the sanctification of the Sabbath; for what can be easier than to rest for one day? Now, when they carried their burdens and did their work on the Sabbath as on other common days, it was, as it were, designedly to shake off the yoke, and to shew openly that they wholly disregarded the authority of the law.

Another reason must also be noticed, which I have not yet, stated: God did not regard the external rite only, but rather the end, of which he speaks in Exodus 31:13, and in Ezekiel 20:12. In both places he reminds us of the reason why he commanded the Jews to keep holy the seventh day, and that was, that it might be to them a symbol of sanctification.

“I have given my Sabbaths,” he says, “to you, that ye might know that I am your God who sanctifies you.”

If then we consider the end designed by the Sabbath-day, we cannot say that it was an unimportant rite: for what could have been of more importance to that ancient people than to acknowledge that they had been separated by God from other nations, to be a holy and a peculiar people to him, nay, to be his inheritance?

And it appears from other places that this command was typical. We learn especially from Paul that the Sabbath-day was enjoined in order that the people might look to Christ; for well known is the passage in Colossians 2:16, where he says that the Sabbath as well as other rites were types of Christ to come, and that he was the substance of them. And the Apostle also, in the Epistle to the Hebrews 4:9, shews that we are to understand spiritually what God had formerly commanded respecting the seventh day, that is, that men should rest from their works, as God rested from his works after he had finished the creation of the world: and Isaiah, in Isaiah 58, teaches us with sufficient clearness what the design of the Sabbath is, even that the people should cease from their own pleasure; for it was to be a day of rest, in which they were truly to worship God, and to leave off pursuing any of the lusts of their own flesh. And God did not simply forbid them to do some things; but he says,

“Thou shalt rest from all thy work.”
(Exodus 20:10; Deuteronomy 5:14)

To come to the Temple, to offer sacrifices, and to circumcise infants, were indeed works; but we cannot say that it was a human work to circumcise infants, for they obeyed God’s command in thus presenting to him their offspring; and it was the same when they came to sing God’s praises and to offer sacrifices.

We now then perceive that the design as to the ancient people was, that they might know that they were to rest from all the works of the flesh; and God, that he might more easily bend them to obedience, set before them his own example; for there is nothing more to be desired than a mutual agreement between us and God. For this reason God says,

“I rested the seventh day from all my works: therefore, rest ye also now from your works.” (Exodus 20:11)

God had no doubt chosen the seventh day, that men might devote themselves wholly to the consideration of his works. However this may be, we see that the principal thing on the seventh day was the worship of God. And even heathen writers, whenever they speak of the Sabbath, mention it as the difference between the Jews and the rest of the world. It was, in short, a general profession of God’s worship, when they rested on the seventh day. When they now regarded it as nothing, by carrying their burdens and violating their sacred rest, it was doubtless nothing less than wantonly to cast away the yoke of God, as though they openly boasted that they despised whatever he had commanded. There was then in the violation of the Sabbath a public defection from the law. As then the Jews had become apostates, Jeremiah with severity justly condemns them; and hence he says that their extreme impiety was sufficiently proved, because they thus disregarded the seventh day.

He says further, Carry not a burden from your houses. Under one thing he includes every worldly business, by which they violated the Sabbath, though he afterwards adds also what is general, And do no work, but sanctify the Sabbath, as I commanded your fathers. To sanctify the Sabbath-day is to make it different from the other days; for sanctification is the same as separation: they ought not then to have done their own concerns on that day as on other days; for it was a day consecrated to God. He then adds, that it was a day which he commanded their fathers to keep holy. He doubtless claims here authority for the law on the ground of time; as though he had said, that he did not introduce the law on that day or on the day before, but that from the time he gathered the people for himself, the precept concerning the observance of the Sabbath had been given, as it was evident; for God at the beginning thus spoke by Moses,

“Remember the seventh day,” etc. (Exodus 20:8.)

As then the whole law of God and the whole of religion fell to the ground through the violation of the Sabbath, the Prophet rightly reminded them here that this day was commanded to be observed by their fathers. We may add further, that they were not ignorant of the memorable punishment by which God had sanctioned the observance of the Sabbath, when by his command he who gathered wood on that day was stoned to death. It now follows —

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