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Jeremiah 23:14-16 New English Translation (NET Bible)

14 But I see the prophets of Jerusalem
doing something just as shocking.
They are unfaithful to me
and continually prophesy lies.[a]
So they give encouragement to people who are doing evil,
with the result that they do not stop their evildoing.[b]
I consider all of them as bad as the people of Sodom,
and the citizens of Jerusalem as bad as the people of Gomorrah.[c]
15 So then I, the Lord of Heaven’s Armies,[d]
have something to say concerning the prophets of Jerusalem:[e]
‘I will make these prophets eat the bitter food of suffering
and drink the poison water of judgment.[f]
For the prophets of Jerusalem are the reason[g]
that ungodliness[h] has spread throughout the land.’”

16 The Lord of Heaven’s Armies[i] says to the people of Jerusalem:[j]

“Do not listen to what
those prophets are saying to you.
They are filling you with false hopes.
They are reporting visions of their own imaginations,
not something the Lord has given them to say.[k]


  1. Jeremiah 23:14 tn Or “they commit adultery and deal falsely.” The word “shocking” only occurs here and in 5:30, where it is found in the context of prophesying lies. This almost assures that the reference to “walking in lies” (Heb “in the lie”) is referring to false prophesy. Moreover, the references to the prophets in 5:13 and in 14:13-15 are all in the context of false prophesy, as are the following references in this chapter (23:24, 26, 32) and in 28:15. False prophets seem to be the theme of this section. This fact also makes it likely that the reference to adultery is not literal adultery, though two of the false prophets in Babylon were guilty of this (29:23). The encouragement of those who did evil also makes more sense if the prophets were preaching messages of comfort rather than doom. The verbs here are infinitive absolutes in place of the finite verb, probably to place greater emphasis on the action (cf. Hos 4:2 in a comparable judgment speech.)
  2. Jeremiah 23:14 tn Heb “So they strengthen the hands of those doing evil so that they do not turn back from their evil.” For the use of the figure “strengthen the hands,” meaning “encourage,” see Judg 9:24 and Ezek 13:22 (and cf. BDB 304 s.v. חָזַק Piel.2). The vav consecutive on the front of the form gives the logical consequence equivalent to “so” in the translation.
  3. Jeremiah 23:14 tn Heb “All of them are to me like Sodom and its [Jerusalem’s] inhabitants like Gomorrah.”sn The rhetoric of this passage is very forceful. Like Amos who focuses attention on the sins of the surrounding nations to bring out more forcefully the heinousness of Israel’s sin, God focuses attention on the sins of the prophets of Samaria to bring out the even worse sin of the prophets of Jerusalem. (The oracle is directed at them, not at the prophets of Samaria. See the announcement of judgment that follows.) The Lord has already followed that tack with Judah in Jeremiah 2 (cf. 2:11). Moreover, he here compares the prophets and the evil-doing citizens of Jerusalem, whom they were encouraging through their false prophesy, to the people of Sodom and Gomorrah, who were proverbial for their wickedness (Deut 32:32; Isa 1:10).
  4. Jeremiah 23:15 tn Heb “Yahweh of Armies.”sn See the study note on 2:19 for explanation of this title.
  5. Jeremiah 23:15 tn Heb “Therefore, thus says the Lord…concerning the prophets.” The person is shifted to better conform with English style, and the phrase “of Jerusalem” is supplied in the translation to avoid the possible misunderstanding that the judgment applies to the prophets of Samaria, who had already been judged long before.
  6. Jeremiah 23:15 tn Heb “I will feed this people wormwood and make them drink poison water.” For these same words of judgment on another group see 9:15 (9:14 HT). “Wormwood” and “poison water” are not to be understood literally here but are symbolic of judgment and suffering. See, e.g., BDB 542 s.v. לַעֲנָה.
  7. Jeremiah 23:15 tn The compound preposition מֵאֵת (meʾet) expresses source or origin (see BDB 86 s.v. אֵת 4.c). Context shows that the origin is in their false prophesying, which encourages people in their evil behavior.
  8. Jeremiah 23:15 sn A word that derives from this same Hebrew word is used in v. 11 at the beginning of the Lord’s criticism of the prophet and priest. This is a common rhetorical device for bracketing material that belongs together. The criticism has, however, focused on the false prophets and the judgment due them.
  9. Jeremiah 23:16 tn Heb “Yahweh of Armies.”sn See the study note on 2:19 for explanation of this title.
  10. Jeremiah 23:16 tn The words “to the people of Jerusalem” are not in the Hebrew text but are supplied in the translation to reflect the masculine plural form of the imperative and the second masculine plural form of the pronoun. These words have been supplied in the translation for clarity.
  11. Jeremiah 23:16 tn Heb “They tell of a vision of their own heart [= mind] not from the mouth of the Lord.”
New English Translation (NET)

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