Jeremiah 11


Kings of Judah
2 Kings
2 Chronicles
1 Nephi and Jer
(640-609 BC)
2 Kgs. 22:1-2
2 Chron. 34:1-7
Jer. 1-3
2 Chron. 34:8-19
2 Kgs. 22:3-20
Jer. 11
2 Chron. 34:20-33
Jer. 7-8
2 Kgs. 23:21-23
2 Chron. 35:1-19
Jer. 4-6
2 Kgs. 23:24-28
2 Chron. 35:20-27
2 Kgs. 23:29-30
Jer. 9-10
Jehoahaz or Shallum
2 Kgs. 23:31-35
2 Chron. 36:1-4
Jer. 22-23
Jehoiakim or Eliakim
(609-598 BC)
2 Kgs. 23:36-37
Jer. 12-13, 26, 25, 35-36, 45-49
2 Chron. 36:5-8
2 Kgs. 24:1-7
Jer. 15-20
Jehoiachin or Coniah
2 Chron. 36:9-10
2 Kgs. 24:8-16
Jer. 24
(598-587 BC)
2 Kgs. 24:17-20
2 Chron. 36:11-16
1 Ne. 1, Jer.  27-31, 21, 37-38
2 Kgs. 25:1-3
Jer. 32, 14, 33-34
2 Kgs. 25:4-21
2 Chron. 36:17-21
Jer. 39, 52:1-30, 40
2 Kgs. 25:22-26
Jer. 41-44, 50-51
2 Kgs. 25:27-30
Jer. 52:31-34
(Jeremiah chapters 11, 14, and 50-51 are placed based on content rather than chronology in an effort to match current events with Jeremiah’s prophecies. The prophecies may have been given either earlier or later.)
Jeremiah 11  Crazy Chronology
As mentioned earlier, we are going to study the chapters of Jeremiah in the order presented in the table above. Accordingly, we are going to skip chapters 4-10 for a moment. The student is encouraged to read the verses in 2 Kings and 2 Chronicles in order to understand the historical context. In this case, the student should read 2 Chron. 34:8-19 and 2 Kgs. 22:3-20 before Jeremiah 11.
The early years are the hardest to place in chronologic order but the story of Josiah’s dismay, upon finding the book of the law in the temple, that the people were in violation of their covenants is complimentary to the message of Jeremiah 11.
Jeremiah 11  Historical Background
(See 2 Chron. 34:8-19 and 2 Kgs. 22:3-20)  Josiah has ordered a renovation of the temple.  He takes the temple tax, which the people are to bring annually (Lev. 27:1-8), and uses the money to make repairs.  During this process, the high priest Hilkiah finds “the book of the Law of the Lord.”  Now this is a strange thing: the high priest in the temple had no idea where the scriptures were—and they were the only set of scriptures for the whole nation!  Josiah didn’t have his own copy.  When the scriptures were read to him, he realized for the first time that the Jews had broken their covenants with God.  He rent his clothes and asked the prophetess Hulda for advice.
It’s a story of an entire nation forgetting their covenants, forgetting the Lord, and losing their way.  Not everyone had a copy of the scriptures.  Perhaps this event was the impetus for the creation of the brass plates that were in Laban’s library (1 Ne. 3:3).  We take for granted that we can all read the scriptures at our leisure.  Truly, it is a privilege to have such access to the word of the Lord.  The temple was run by tradition not by careful attention to the Law of Moses.  The High Priest had dropped the ball, the priests were not doing their job, and the leaders of the people (elders or pastors) had failed to remind the people of their covenants.  The whole system broke down and Josiah was trying to fix it single-handedly. 
Jeremiah 11:3 Cursed be the man that obeyeth not the words of this covenant
There is a law, irrevocably decreed in heaven before the foundations of this world, upon which all blessings are predicated—
And when we obtain any blessing from God, it is by obedience to that law upon which it is predicated. (D&C 130:20-21)
There is a law, irrevocably decreed in heaven before the foundations of this world, upon which all cursings are predicated—
And when we obtain any cursing from God, it is by disobedience to that law upon which it is predicated.
There are two sides to every coin. There is opposition in all things.  You can’t possibly have blessings for obedience without cursings for disobedience.  In this chapter, Jeremiah explains the consequences of breaking the covenant.
Jeremiah 11:5 That I may perform the oath which I have sworn unto your fathers
An oath is a one-way promise instead of the two-way promise of a covenant.  In a gospel sense, the oath comes from the Lord to the people and not the other way around.  God had sworn to Abraham that he would give the land to his seed (Gen. 12:7).  Other nations had to be destroyed in order for God to fulfill his oath but he did it (see Joshua). 
We are not to make oaths to God because we can’t always be sure we will keep them, “Swear not at all; neither by heaven; for it is God’s throne: Nor by the earth; for it is his footstool: neither by Jerusalem; for it is the city of the great King.  Neither shalt thou swear by thy head, because thou canst not make one hair white or black” (Matt. 5:34-36).
Jeremiah 11:5 So be it
Amen is used also to assert the truthfulness of prophecy (for example, Jer. 11:5 [“So be it” in Hebrew is amen] or 1 Ne. 9:6), and may convey a devout desire that a spoken blessing in fact come to pass (see Rom. 15:33; 1 Kgs. 1:36).” (John W. Welch, “Word Studies from the New Testament,” Ensign, Jan. 1995, 30)
Jeremiah 11:8 therefore I will bring upon them all the words of this covenant
Before Moses departed from the children of Israel, before they crossed Jordan to inherit the land, Moses repeated the law and reinforced the covenant with which the children of Israel had covenanted with the Lord.  Then in very explicit detail, Moses described the blessings and cursings pertaining to the Law.  Jeremiah was commanded to warn the Jews that they would be cursed for disobedience to the covenant as described in Leviticus 26 and Deuteronomy 28:
   But it shall come to pass, if thou wilt not hearken unto the voice of the LORD thy God, to observe to do all his commandments and his statutes which I command thee this day; that all these curses shall come upon thee, and overtake thee:
   Cursed shalt thou be in the city, and cursed shalt thou be in the field.
   Cursed shall be thy basket and thy store.
   Cursed shall be the fruit of thy body, and the fruit of thy land, the increase of thy kine, and the flocks of thy sheep.
   Cursed shalt thou be when thou comest in, and cursed shalt thou be when thou goest out.
   The LORD shall send upon thee cursing, vexation, and rebuke, in all that thou settest thine hand unto for to do, until thou be destroyed, and until thou perish quickly; because of the wickedness of thy doings, whereby thou hast forsaken me…
  The LORD shall cause thee to be smitten before thine enemies…
  The LORD shall smite thee with madness, and blindness, and astonishment of heart…
   And thou shalt become an astonishment, a proverb, and a byword, among all nations whither the LORD shall lead thee…
   Moreover all these curses shall come upon thee, and shall pursue thee, and overtake thee, till thou be destroyed; because thou hearkenedst not unto the voice of the LORD thy God, to keep his commandments and his statutes which he commanded thee:
   And they shall be upon thee for a sign and for a wonder, and upon thy seed for ever.
   Because thou servedst not the LORD thy God with joyfulness, and with gladness of heart, for the abundance of all things;
   Therefore shalt thou serve thine enemies which the LORD shall send against thee, in hunger, and in thirst, and in nakedness, and in want of all things: and he shall put a yoke of iron upon thy neck, until he have destroyed thee.
   The LORD shall bring a nation against thee from far, from the end of the earth, as swift as the eagle flieth; a nation whose tongue thou shalt not understand;
   A nation of fierce countenance, which shall not regard the person of the old, nor shew favour to the young:
   And he shall eat the fruit of thy cattle, and the fruit of thy land, until thou be destroyed: which also shall not leave thee either corn, wine, or oil, or the increase of thy kine, or flocks of thy sheep, until he have destroyed thee.
   And he shall besiege thee in all thy gates, until thy high and fenced walls come down, wherein thou trustedst, throughout all thy land: and he shall besiege thee in all thy gates throughout all thy land, which the LORD thy God hath given thee.
   And the LORD shall scatter thee among all people, from the one end of the earth even unto the other; and there thou shalt serve other gods, which neither thou nor thy fathers have known, even wood and stone.
   And among these nations shalt thou find no ease, neither shall the sole of thy foot have rest: but the LORD shall give thee there a trembling heart, and failing of eyes, and sorrow of mind:
   And thy life shall hang in doubt before thee; and thou shalt fear day and night, and shalt have none assurance of thy life: (Deut. 28:15-68)
Brigham Young
When light comes, if the people reject that light, it will condemn them, and will add to their sorrow and affliction.
If we live our religion we shall prosper, and if we live in the neglect of our duty, and continue to do so, there will be tribulation and anguish here, and the chastening hand of the Almighty will be on this people. (Discourses of Brigham Young, selected and arranged by John A. Widtsoe [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1954], 226)
Jeremiah 11:11 though they shall cry unto me, I will not hearken unto them
Does the Lord always hear our prayers?  We usually say, “yes,” but when you have broken your covenants, the heavens are sealed and the Lord no longer listens to your cries, “your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear” (Isa. 59:2).  On the other hand, if you keep the Sabbath and the Law of the Fast, “Then shalt thou call, and the Lord shall answer; thou shalt cry, and he shall say, Here I am.” (Isa. 58:9).
Jeremiah 11:13 For according to the number of thy cities were thy gods… and according to the number of the streets of Jerusalem have ye set up altars
How bad was the idolatry?  How pervasive was the perversion?  How widespread was the wickedness?  It’s pretty bad when you go from worshipping the one true God to as many gods as there are cities in the land.  It’s pretty bad when there is one altar in Solomon’s temple for true worship, but the streets of Jerusalem are as numerous as the altars of Baalim.
Jeremiah 11:16 The Lord called thy name, a green olive tree, fair, and of goodly fruit
“The olive tree had occupied first place in agriculture throughout Israel's history to the time of Jesus, and it even provided one of the country's designations: a land of olive oil. (See Deut. 8:8.) It thrives well in the hill country and needs no irrigation. It can endure long periods of drought, and little care is needed until the harvest. The upper side of the olive leaf is dark green, while the underside is covered with miniature whitish scales, giving it a silvery sheen. ‘Israel was called an olive tree leafy and fair [see Jer. 11:16] because they [Israel] shed light on all.’
“Olive oil was used anciently for culinary, cosmetic, funerary, medicinal, and ritual purposes. Its most important use, though, was to provide light. It provides the clearest, brightest, and steadiest flame of all the vegetable oils. In one of Jesus' last recorded parables, he described a procession of young women (members of God's kingdom) going out to meet the bridegroom (the Messiah). Lamps were required for brilliancy and beauty. The oil for the lamps was symbolic of spiritual preparation on the part of the members of his kingdom, those who desire to participate in the marriage feast, which symbolizes his coming in glory:
The kingdom of heaven [is] likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom. And five of them were wise, and five were foolish. They that were foolish took their lamps, and took no oil with them: but the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps. . . . [When the bridegroom came,] all those virgins arose, and trimmed [prepared] their lamps. And the foolish said unto the wise, Give us of your oil; for our lamps are gone out. But the wise answered, saying, Not so; lest there be not enough for us and you: but go ye rather to them that sell, and buy for yourselves. And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came; and they that were ready went in with him to the marriage: and the door was shut. (Matt. 25:1-8.)
“In early Israelite history, olive oil was used for sacred functions. Objects and persons set apart for the work of God, such as prophets, priests, and kings, were anointed with consecrated oil. With the Messiah (Hebrew, mashiah, meaning "anointed one"), the roles of prophet, priest, and king come together. Jesus, citing a messianic prophecy in Isaiah (see 61:1), told those attending the synagogue in Nazareth, ‘The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach’ (Luke 4:18).” (D. Kelly Ogden, Where Jesus Walked: The Land and Culture of New Testament Times [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1991], 85)
Jeremiah 11:19 I was like a lamb or an ox that is brought to the slaughter
The words, “lamb to the slaughter,” “remind us of the image of Christ as the Suffering Servant (Isa. 53:7) and that were quoted by the Prophet Joseph Smith as he went to Carthage (D&C 135:4).”  (Kent P. Jackson, ed., Studies in Scripture, Vol. 4: 1 Kings to Malachi [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1993], 230)  Old Testament imagery often uses the prophet as a type for Christ.  For instance, when Isaiah saw a vision of the Lord, he heard the voice of the Lord, “saying, whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Then said I, here am I; send me.” (Isa. 6:8)  Isaiah’s call to be a prophet was a type for Jehovah’s call to be the Redeemer, “And the Lord said: Whom shall I send? And one answered like unto the Son of Man:  Here am I, send me.” (Abr 3:27)
Similarly, Jeremiah is a type for Christ.  As the Sanhedrin plotted the murder of Christ (John 11:47-54), they were just as the men of Anathoth who plotted Jeremiah’s murder, “they had devised devices against me, saying, Let us destroy the tree with the fruit thereof, and let us cut him off from the land of the living, that his name may be no more remembered.”  Jeremiah was like a lamb to the slaughter; Jesus was like a lamb to the slaughter.  The difference is that there was a ram in the thicket for Jeremiah in that he escaped the wrath of his enemies, not so for Jesus or other faithful prophets.
O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killeth the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered [thee]…  behold, your house is left unto you desolate. (Matt. 23:37)
Jeremiah 11:19-21 the men of Anathoth… seek thy life, saying, Prophesy not in the name of the Lord
“The widespread hostility to and rejection of divine messages made it a hard time to be an authentic prophet. Even the priestly men of Anathoth, Jeremiah’s hometown, repeatedly made attempts on Jeremiah’s life, saying, ‘Prophesy not in the name of the Lord, that thou die not by our hand.’ (Jer. 11:21.) The plotters even involved his brothers and the house of his father. (See Jer. 12:6.)
“Jeremiah was horrified at the variety of plots being made against him: ‘I was like a lamb or an ox that is brought to the slaughter; and I knew not that they had devised devices against me, saying, Let us destroy the tree with the fruit thereof, and let us cut him off from the land of the living.’ (Jer. 11:19.)” (Keith H. Meservy, “Jerusalem at the Time of Lehi and Jeremiah,” Ensign, Jan. 1988, 25)