Jeremiah 14 Commentary

Drought, disease and war (14:1-15:9)

A severe drought had hit Judah. People in all walks of life, from nobles to farmers, were affected by it, and they covered their heads as a sign of their distress. They had difficulty in getting enough water to keep themselves alive, and their animals were beginning to suffer from disease. Some had already died because of the lack of food (14:1-6).

Pleading on behalf of the people, Jeremiah confesses the nation’s sins. He asks God to cease acting as if he were an uninterested traveller passing through a strange land, and instead act to help them. After all, the land is his and so are the people (7-9). In reply God points out that he cannot overlook their sin.

Jeremiah should stop pleading for them, because nothing can now save them from God’s judgment, a judgment that will come through war, famine and disease (10-12).

Jeremiah tells God that prophets have been assuring the people that these calamities will not overtake them (13). God replies that such prophets are false prophets. They will perish in shame and so will all those who believe them. The people have welcomed these prophecies of peace, because by such assurances they feel free to increase their wrongdoing without fear of punishment (14-16). Jeremiah weeps publicly to impress upon people the sorrow he feels as he foresees their terrible suffering (17-18).

Though his past pleas have not been answered, Jeremiah pleads with God yet once more. On behalf of the people he confesses their wrongdoing and asks that God will be merciful to them and give them rain. He prays that God will not forsake his people but will remember his covenant with them. There is no other God they can call upon to help them (19-22).

God replies that though Moses and Samuel had in the past pleaded successfully on behalf of the people (e.g. Exod 32:11-14; Num 14:13-25; 1 Sam. 7:5-9; 12:19-25), the nation has now passed the point where God can extend his mercy further. The false religion promoted by Manasseh still controls the attitudes of the people, and the nation will come to a cruel and humiliating end (15:1-4).

Time and again God has punished his people, with the purpose that they might acknowledge their sin and return to him; but always it has been without result. They do not deserve any further pity (5-6). The final slaughter is too horrible to imagine, but when people refuse to change their ways, such a judgment becomes inevitable (7-9).

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