Jer 10.1-25 is a chapter that contrasts the greatness of God over idolatry, much like Isaiah does in Isa 40 through 46. He talks about not learning the ways of the non-Jews and Yehovah’s greatness over idols. He tells the to prepare for the Babylonian exile and it includes a prayer by Jeremiah. He ends with a warning about false shepherds who have scattered Judah and a humble prayer to Yehovah to show mercy to Judah even though he is the one who sent Babylon to correct them.
v 1…Hear the word of which the Lord speaks to you, O house of Israel (all twelve tribes),
v 2…Thus says the Lord (Yehovah), “Do not learn the ways of the nations (don’t worship God in the ways of idolatry-Deut 12.1-4, 29-32; Exo 34.11-16; Lev 20.23; Deut 4.15-19, 7.26; Lev 18.3; Isa 2.6, 30.22, 40.18; Exo 9.6, 23.1; Psa 106.35-36, Col 2.8; Gen 35.2; Judges 9.27; Deut 18.9; Josh 23.6-7; Lev 19.26. If we are not to learn the ways of the nations, what “way” are we to learn? The way of Yehovah in the Torah given to Israel. We can’t tell you what was or was allowed by God in total, but what we can tell you is that which was given to the nations is not allowed. is the deciding factor), and do not be terrified by the signs of the heavens (sun, moon, stars and constellations-Gen 1.14), although the nations are terrified by them (like astrology predictions, etc);
v 3…For the customs of the people are vain (empty, no purpose) because it is wood cut from the forest, the work of the hands of a craftsman with a cutting tool (this idol, from a tree, will be a counterfeit of God’s Tree of Life. The biggest problem in the faith today is we have learned the ways of the nations, and merged the worship of the Baalim and the Asherim, gave them names and called it “Christianity.” Yehovah would rather have us total pagans than to flitter between two opinions-Rev 3.16; Zeph 1.12; Luke 18.21; Matt 6.24. Here are some thoughts of this from Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch on this, “We may imitate the nations among whom you live in everything which they have adopted on rational grounds and not on grounds which belong to their religion or are immoral. But we must not imitate anything that is irrational or immoral or derived from their religion. We may not, therefore, join in celebrating their holy days or observe customs which have their basis on their religious views. You must not, however, do anything that would disturb their holy days or mar their festive spirit; and you must not parade your non-participation in their holy days in a manner that might arouse animosity.”
v 4…They decorate it (the idol) with silver and gold (plated); they fasten it with nails and with hammers so that it will not totter (this is not talking about a christmas tree here, it is a tree cut down down to make an idol. The Asherim were groves of trees. There were no christmas trees in America till the Hessians brought them here during the Revolutionary War. By the time of the Civil War they were scarce, mostly in European or German communities. Back then, you were looked at as “weird” if you had one. The “church” christianized it, but you can’t do that-Job 14.4. An Asherah is an image made for that goddess. We are commanded not to use them-Zeph 1.4-5; Isa 57.5; Jer 2.20, 3.6, 17.2; Exo 6.13; Deut 12.12; Isa 65.11; Judges 6.25-30. In the Mishnah there were three types of Asherah. There was a tree-Deut 16.21; a tree trimmed and chopped for idols-2 Kings 23.7; and an image or idol-Exo 20.14. This type of idolatry started in Phoenicia, then to Malta, Sicily, Italy, then through the Roman Empire to Europe and then to the USA. It also spread through Cypress, Corinth and Greece).
v 5…Like a scarecrow in a cucumber field are they, and they cannot speak; they must be carried because they cannot walk. Do not fear them, for they can do no harm, nor can they do any good.
v 6…There is none like thee, O Lord (Yehovah) (they cannot compare to him); thou art great, and great is thy name (Yehovah) in might.
v 7…Who would not fear thee, O king of the nations (Melek Gotim)? Indeed it is thy due (most people believed that an idol only had power over certain geographical areas. Yehovah has power anywhere)! For among all the wise men of the nations, and in all their kingdoms, there is none like thee (so all the world should fear him).
v 8…But they (the people) are all together stupid and foolish. In their discipline (doctrine) of delusion (vanity, no purpose)-their idol is wood!
v 9…Beaten silver is brought from Tarshish (some think that this is Tartessus in Spain; others think it is Tarsus or India), and gold from Uphaz (Ophir-Dan 10.5), the work of a craftsman and of the hands of a goldsmith; violet (techelet) and purple (argamon) are their clothing (dyed to perfection and seen as luxurious); they are all the work of skilled men (cunning, choicest in their chosen art and picked for this work).
v 10…But the Lord (Yehovah) is the true God (not a lifeless idol; Yehovah’s seal is truth or “emet” which is the first, close to the middle, and last letter of the Hebrew alphabet. The mem is seen as the letter of transition or the present, aleph (the past) and tav the future); he is the living God (Elohim Chaim) and the everlasting king (v’melek olam). At his wrath the earth quakes, and the nations cannot endure his indignation (a term for the birth-pains too).
v 11…Thus you shall say to them (the Babylonians), “The gods that did not make the heavens and the earth shall perish from the earth and from under the heavens (this verse is in Aramaic so the Jews could reply to the Babylonians with it. It is the only verse that way in Jeremiah).”
v 12…It is he who made the earth by his power (their gods were made from the material God had made), who established the world by his wisdom; and by his understanding he has stretched out the heavens.
v 13…When he utters his voice, there is a tumult of waters in the heavens (as in thunder and lightning and rain follows), and he causes the clouds (vapors) to ascend (to make clouds) from the end of the earth; he makes lightning for the rain (water is two gases, hydrogen and oxygen. The electric spark decomposes them, and they become air, when recomposed they form water), and brings out the wind from his storehouses (treasuries, stores-Psa 135.7).
v 14…Every man is stupid (senseless if he makes idols), devoid of knowledge (of the true God); every goldsmith is put to shame by his idols (graven image); for his molten images are deceitful (a lie); and there is no breath in them (no life-it once was a living tree but not now).
v 15…They are worthless, a work of mockery (empty of life so they won’t save the Babylonians); in the time of their punishment they will perish (when Cyrus comes-Isa 46.1).
v 16…The portion of Jacob (Yehovah the true God belonged to Israel) is not like these; for the maker of all is he and Israel is the tribe (rod) of his inheritance (one tree with grafted in branches-Eph 2.11-22); the Lord of hosts (Yehovah Tzavaot)-when this is used Yehovah is coming from a military position of power) is his name.
v 17…Pick up your bundle (gather your belongings, your bags) from the ground, you who dwell under siege (in Jerusalem)!
v 18…For thus says the Lord (Yehovah), “Behold (see), I am slinging out the inhabitants of this land at this time (a violent ejection), and will cause them distress that they may find me.”
v 19…Woe is me, because of my injury (breaking)! My wound is incurable (Judah realizes it is too late and so does Jeremiah). But I said, “Truly, this is a sickness, and I must bear it (Jeremiah is lamenting the fate of his people).”
v 20…My tent (Jerusalem) is destroyed, and all my ropes are broken (other cities), my sons have gone from me and are no more (gone into exile and not in the land). There is no one to stretch out my tent again or set up my curtains (total destruction, none to rebuild Jerusalem and the cities).
v 21…For the shepherds (the rulers) have become stupid (with no understanding) and have not sought the Lord (Yehovah for counsel and teaching); therefore they have not prospered, and all their flock is scattered (these rulers will not rule anymore and the people have been taken into captivity as a result).
v 22…The sound of the report! Behold, it comes (Babylon is approaching)-a great commotion out of the north-to make the cities of Judah a desolation, a haunt of jackals (desolate).
v 23…I know, O Lord, that a man’s way is not in himself, nor is it in a man who walks to direct his steps (man cannot map out his life, he is directed by God; it is the same with Nebuchadnezzar, it is God who is directing him-Psa 37.23).
v 24…Correct me, O Lord, but with justice (Jeremiah prays for justice in the coming captivity); not with thine anger, lest thou bring me to nothing (he could not stand before God and live).
v 25…Pour out thy wrath on the nations that do not know thee, and on the families that do not call thy name (let your justice come upon Babylon also-Psa 79.6-7); for they have devoured Jacob (Israel); they have devoured him and consumed him, and have laid waste his dwelling place (the land and cities).