Jer 23.1-40 contains accusations against the kings, priests, false teachers and prophets, and rulers who have scattered the flock of Yehovah. As they have scattered the flock, Yehovah will hold them accountable. He will replace these false shepherds with good shepherds who will feed them. There is also a well-known promise of the Messiah here. Israel will be regathered in the Second, or Messianic, Redemption back to the land. The people are not to listen to these false prophets and teachers because he has not sent them and Yehovah is against them.
v 1…”Woe (cursed, or empowered to fail) to the shepherds (false teachers, kings, priests and rulers, in particular Shallum, Yehoikim, Yeconiah, Zedekiah, etc) who are destroying and scattering the sheep of my pasture!” declares the Lord.
v 2…Therefore thus says the Lord God of Israel concerning the shepherds who are tending (shepherding) my people: “You have scattered my flock and driven them away and have not attended to them (with true teaching); behold (take note), I am about to attend to you for the evil of your deeds,” declares the Lord (Yehovah).
v 3…Then I myself shall gather the remnant of my flock out of all the countries (this is plural so it has future implications-Isa 66.20) where I have driven them, and shall bring them back to their pasture; and they will be fruitful and multiply (grow numerous).
v 4…I shall also raise up shepherds over them (like Ezra, Nehemiah, Zerubbabel, Yeshua, the Talmidim, Paul, and future shepherds) and they will tend (teach, feed) them; and they will not be afraid any longer, nor be terrified, nor will any be missing (John 10.28),” declares the Lord.
v 5…”Behold (see for yourself), the days are coming (in the Second Redemption; when Messiah comes; this idiom is the same as “B’yamim” or “in those days”),” declares the Lord, “when I will raise up for David (as his successor) a righteous branch (a “tzemach”-Isa 4.2; Zech 6.9-14; Jer 33.15, 50.4, and this alludes to the Messiah becoming flesh and blood) and he will reign as king and act wisely (the branch will be a king) and do justice and righteousness (as defined by the Torah) in the land (in the Messianic Kingdom).
v 6…In his days (Messiah’s) Judah (southern tribes) will be saved, and Israel (northern tribes) will dwell securely (Rom 11.26; Hos 2.18; Isa 4.2; Matt 6.10); and this is his name by which he (you will notice in Jer 33.15-16 that it will say “she” and that is because there has been a marriage) will be called, “The Lord our righteousness (Yehovah tzedkaynu).”
v 7…”Therefore, behold, the days are coming (when Messiah comes),” declares the Lord, “when they will no longer say, ‘As the Lord (Yehovah) lives (this is in the form of an oath), who brought up the sons of Israel from the land of Egypt (the Exodus from Egypt was a foreshadowing of future events),
v 8…but, ‘As the Lord lives who brought up and led back the descendants of the household of Israel from the north land (Babylon at the time but this refers to the future after Yeshua comes) and from all the countries where I had driven them.’ Then they will live on their own soil.”
v 9…As for the prophets (the false ones): my heart is broken within me (Jeremiah was in horror), all my bones tremble (because of what is coming because of their false doctrines and prophecie); I (Jeremiah) have become like a drunken man, even like a man overcome with wine (who can’t talk or stand up), because of the Lord and because of his holy (has a kedusha) words.
v 10…For the land is full of adulteries (literal and spiritual); for the land mourns because of the curse (Deut 28.15-68). The pastures of the wilderness have dried up (no rain). Their course (the prophets and the people) is also evil and their might is not right (their power is in doing evil).
v 11…For both prophet and priest are polluted; even in my house (Temple) I have found their wickedness (not truly consecrated to the Lord or the Torah),” declares the Lord.
v 12…”Therefore their way (of evil) will be like slippery paths to them, they will be driven away into the gloom and fall down in it (pushed and fell in their sins); for I shall bring calamity (evil) upon them, the year of their punishment (the appointed time for it),” declares the Lord.
v 13…Moreover (and), among the prophets (false) of Samaria I saw an offensive thing (their perversity and evil doctrines): they prophesied by Baal and led my people Israel astray (1 Kings 18.19).
v 14…Also among the prophets of Jerusalem (the acts of the false prophets of Judah will be worse) I have seen a horrible thing: the committing of adultery and walking in falsehood; and they strengthen the hands of the evildoers (instead of confronting them); so that no one has turned his back from his wickedness. All of them have become to me like Sodom, and her inhabitants like Gomorrah.
v 15…Therefore (as a result), thus says the Lord of hosts (or “armies”-he is coming from a military position of power) concerning the prophets (the false ones), ‘Behold (see), I am going to feed them wormwood (bitterness-Deut 29.18; Rev 8.11, meaning the curse) and make them drink poisonous water (alluding to the Law of the Sotah or Jealous Husband in Num 5.11-31), for from the prophets of Jerusalem pollution has gone forth into all the land.”
v 16…Thus says the Lord of hosts, ” Do not listen to the words of the prophets who are prophesying to you. They are leading you into futility (making a fool out of you with their empty words); they speak a vision of their own imagination (heart), not from the mouth of the Lord (Yehovah).
v 17…They keep saying to those who despise me, ‘The Lord has said, ‘You will have peace’; and as for every one who walks in the stubbornness of their own heart, they say, ‘Calamity (evil) will not come upon you’ (they tell them what they want to hear).
v 18…But who has stood in the council (Hebrew “sowd” meaning close to him to know what he says-Ezek 13.8; Amos 3.7) of the Lord that he should see and hear his word? Who has given heed to his word and listened (marked it and obeyed it)?
v 19…Behold, the storm of the Lord has gone forth in wrath, even a whirling tempest; it will swirl down on the head of the wicked (rashim or the false prophets and whoever listens to them. A “whirlwind” can refer to a coming time of trouble, Yehovah, or the Messiah and his coming).
v 20…The anger of the Lord will not turn back (without accomplishing its commission) until he has performed and carried out the purposes of his heart; in the last days (“acharit yamim” and a term that alludes to the time Messiah comes) you will clearly understand it (once you see everything happening and fulfilled just as God said it would).
v 21…I did not send these prophets, but they ran (they had no commission from the Lord, but they went anyway). I did not speak to them, but they prophesied (no calling).
v 22…But if they had stood in my council (“sowd”), then they would have announced my words to my people, and would have turned them back from their evil way and from the evil of their deeds (and none of this would even be happening).
v 23…Am I a God who is near,” declares the Lord, “and not a God afar off (he sees and hears everything and nothing escapes his notice)?
v 24…Can a man hide himself in hiding places, so I do not see him?” declares the Lord (let not the false prophets think for one second that their evil devices are unknown to the Lord). Do I not fill the heavens and the earth (so that every person is seen and known by Yehovah)?” declares the Lord.
v 25…I have heard what the prophets (false ones) have said who prophesy falsely in my name, saying, ‘I had a dream, I had a dream (a divine dream, imitating the true prophets who do have dreams from Yehovah-Num 12.6-it’s the same today).
v 26…How long (you ask will God permit this to go on)? Is there anything in the hearts of the prophets who prophesy falsehood, even these prophets of the deception of their own heart,
v 27…who intend to make my people forget my name by their dreams which they relate to one another (that contradicts what was truly prophesied in his name) just as their fathers forgot my name because of Baal?
v 28…The prophet who has a dream may relate his dream (but don’t say it is a revelation from Yehovah, it was just a dream), but let him who has my word speak my word in truth (a true word of prophecy and not the word of mere men). What does straw have in common with grain (wheat, as in Matt 13.24-31 where the tares and the wheat grow together but later separated; true and false prophets will co-exist).
v 29…Is it not my word (Torah) like fire (it consumes the straw and chaff, false prophets and their prophecies)?” declares the Lord, “and like a hammer which shatters a rock (a true prophecy will shatter false ones)?
v 30…Therefore behold, I am against the prophets,” declares the Lord, ” who steal my words, each one from his neighbor (imitate the true prophets by using their terms and misapplying them to their own devices).”
v 31…”Behold, I am against the prophets,” declares the Lord, “who use their tongues and declare (with no inspiration from Yehovah).”
v 32…”Behold, I am against those who have prophesied false dreams,” declares the Lord, “and related them, and led my people astray by their falsehoods (insisting their own thoughts were to be accepted as the words of Yehovah) and reckless boasting (false glorying); yet I did not send them or command them, nor do they furnish this people the slightest benefit (its just the opposite, they were doing a lot of harm),” declares the Lord.
v 33…”Now when this people or the prophet or a priest asks you (Jeremiah) saying, ‘What is the oracle (word) of the Lord (in a sneering manner)?’ then you shall say to them, “What oracle (I will not burden myself with you)?’ The Lord declares, ‘I shall abandon you (to answer their sneering question).’
v 34…Then as for the prophet or the priest or the people who say, ‘The oracle (word) of the Lord,’ I shall bring punishment upon that man and his household (in other words, every person who uses “oracle” in a sneering way will be avenged and punished by Yehovah).
v 35…Thus shall each of you say to his neighbor and to his brother, ‘What has the Lord answered?’ or, “What has the Lord spoken (in respect to Jeremiah)?”
v 36…For you will no longer remember the oracle of the Lord (use this expression in mockery), because every man’s own word will become the oracle (if used in a mocking manner, it will bring him to the ground), and you have perverted the words of the living God, the Lord of hosts, our God.”
v 37…”Thus you shall say to that prophet, ‘What has the Lord answered you?’ and, ‘What has the Lord spoken (this is the approved way to address Jeremiah or any true prophet)?’
v 38…For if you say, ‘The oracle of the Lord (insisting on ignoring this prohibition in a scoffing manner)!’ surely thus says the Lord, ‘Because you said this word, “The oracle of the Lord (and continue to use it)!” I have also sent to you, saying, “You shall not say, ‘The oracle of the Lord!’
v 39…Therefore behold, I shall surely forget you and cast you away from my presence, along with the city (Jerusalem) which I gave you and your fathers.
v 40…And I will put an everlasting reproach on you and an everlasting humiliation which will not be forgotten.”