Archive for the ‘Jeremiah’ Category

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I found this chiasmus somewhere on the net a while ago, but for some reason I’ve lost the link.  Oh well, eventually I’ll find it and add an update.  🙂

Below is the outline from the ‘mysterious lost link’:

A (5:1-2)    They swear falsely (5:2)

B (5:3-9)    Shall I not punish them for these things? (5:9)

C (5:10-13)    Destroy them not wholly (5:10)

D (5:14-17)    I will bring against you a nation from afar (5:15)

C’ (5:18-19)    I will not wholly destroy you (5:18)

B’ (5:20-29)    Shall I not punish these things? (5:29)

A’ (5:30-31)    The prophets prophesy falsely (5:31)


I’ve changed the chiasmus a little bit.  I’ve expanded D to D E D’:

D    They will be consumed  [Me: Hebrew = “akal”]

E    I will bring against you a nation from afar (5:15)

D’   Everything will be devoured  [Me: Hebrew = “akal”]  / demolished


I think the center is quite strong.  It’s a scary thing to think that ‘a nation might be coming from afar’ to “consume”, “devour”, and “demolish” you.

There are some smaller matches within the chiasmus to perhaps take note of:  e.g., both B and B’ mention wildlife:  In B it’s a lion, wolf and leopard.  In B’ it’s birds;  both C and C’ question the actions of God.

D’ is made up of a couple smaller chiasmi.  In the first chiasmus, a/a’ = ‘plant life’, while b/b’ = ‘animal/human life’ (i.e., breathing life).

So, on to the chiasmus …


A    5:1  “Roam to and fro through the streets of Jerusalem, and look now, and take note. And seek in her open squares, if you can find a man, if there is one who does justice, who seeks truth, then I will pardon her.  2  “And although they say, ‘As the LORD lives,’ Surely they swear falsely.”

B    3  O LORD, do not Thine eyes look for truth? Thou hast smitten them, but they did not weaken; Thou hast consumed them, but they refused to take correction. They have made their faces harder than rock; they have refused to repent.  4  Then I said, “They are only the poor, they are foolish; For they do not know the way of the LORD or the ordinance of their God.  5  “I will go to the great and will speak to them, for they know the way of the LORD, and the ordinance of their God.” But they too, with one accord, have broken the yoke and burst the bonds.  6  Therefore a lion from the forest shall slay them, a wolf of the deserts shall destroy them, a leopard is watching their cities. Everyone who goes out of them shall be torn in pieces, because their transgressions are many, their apostasies are numerous.  7  “Why should I pardon you? Your sons have forsaken Me And sworn by those who are not gods. When I had fed them to the full, they committed adultery and trooped to the harlot’s house.  8  “They were well-fed lusty horses, each one neighing after his neighbor’s wife.  9  “Shall I not punish these people,” declares the LORD, “And on a nation such as this shall I not avenge Myself?

   10  “Go up through her vine rows and destroy, but do not execute a complete destruction; strip away her branches, for they are not the LORD’S.  11  “For the house of Israel and the house of Judah have dealt very treacherously with Me,” declares the LORD.  12  They have lied about the LORD and said, “Not He; misfortune will not come on us; and we will not see sword or famine.  13  “And the prophets are as wind, and the word is not in them. Thus it will be done to them!”

D    14  Therefore, thus says the LORD, the God of hosts, “Because you have spoken this word, behold, I am making My words in your mouth fire and this people wood, and it will consume  / them.

E    15  “Behold, I am bringing a nation against you from afar, O house of Israel,” declares the LORD. “It is an enduring nation, it is an ancient nation, a nation whose language you do not know, nor can you understand what they say.  16  “Their quiver is like an open grave, all of them are mighty men.


a    17  “And they will devour your harvest and your food;

b    They will devour your sons and your daughters;

b’   They will devour your flocks and your herds;

a’   They will devour your vines and your fig trees;

a    They will demolish

b    your fortified cities,

b’   in which you trust,

a’   with the sword.

C’   18  “Yet even in those days,” declares the LORD, “I will not make you a complete destruction.  19  “And it shall come about when they say, ‘Why has the LORD our God done all these things to us?’ then you shall say to them, ‘As you have forsaken Me and served foreign gods in your land, so you shall serve strangers in a land that is not yours.’

B’   20  “Declare this in the house of Jacob and proclaim it in Judah, saying,  21  ‘Hear this, O foolish and senseless people, who have eyes, but see not; who have ears, but hear not.  22  ‘Do you not fear Me?’ declares the LORD. ‘Do you not tremble in My presence? For I have placed the sand as a boundary for the sea, an eternal decree, so it cannot cross over it. Though the waves toss, yet they cannot prevail; though they roar, yet they cannot cross over it.  23  ‘But this people has a stubborn and rebellious heart; they have turned aside and departed.  24  ‘They do not say in their heart, “Let us now fear the LORD our God, who gives rain in its season, both the autumn rain and the spring rain, who keeps for us the appointed weeks of the harvest.”  25  ‘Your iniquities have turned these away, and your sins have withheld good from you.  26  ‘For wicked men are found among My people, they watch like fowlers lying in wait; they set a trap, they catch men.  27  ‘Like a cage full of birds, so their houses are full of deceit; therefore they have become great and rich.  28  ‘They are fat, they are sleek, they also excel in deeds of wickedness; they do not plead the cause, the cause of the orphan, that they may prosper; and they do not defend the rights of the poor.  29  ‘Shall I not punish these people?’ declares the LORD, ‘On a nation such as this shall I not avenge Myself?’

A’   30     “An appalling and horrible thing Has happened in the land:  31  the prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests rule on their own authority; and My people love it so! But what will you do at the end of it?


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1  Hear the word which the LORD speaks to you, O house of Israel:

A    Thus says the LORD:  “Do not learn the way of the nations,

B    And do not be terrified by the signs of the heavens, although the nations are terrified by them;

C    a    3  For the customs of the peoples are delusion; Because it is wood cut from the forest, The work of the hands of a craftsman with a cutting tool.

       b    4  “They decorate it with silver and with gold; They fasten it with nails and with hammers So that it will not totter.

       c    5  “Like a scarecrow [who is dressed up?] in a cucumber field are they, And they cannot speak; They must be carried, Because they cannot walk!

           > C last line:    d    Do not fear them, For they can do no harm, Nor can they do any good.

D    a    6  There is none like Thee, O LORD;

b    Thou art great, and great is Thy name in might.

        c    7  Who would not fear Thee,

        d    O King of the nations?

        c’   Indeed it is Thy due!

b’   For among all the wise men of the nations, And in all their kingdoms,

        a’   There is none like Thee.

C’   a’   8  But they are altogether stupid and foolish In their discipline of delusion— their idol is wood!

       b’   9  Beaten silver is brought from Tarshish, And gold from Uphaz, The work of a craftsman and of the hands of a goldsmith;

       c’   Violet and purple are their clothing; They are all the work of skilled men.

            –> C’ last line:    d’    But the LORD is the true God; He is the living God and the everlasting King. 

B’   At His wrath the earth quakes, And the nations cannot endure His indignation. 

A’    11  Thus you shall say to them, “The gods [note: ‘The gods’ from other nations] that did not make

a    the heavens and

b    the earth,

c    shall perish

b’   from the earth

a’   and from under the heavens.”

12  It is He who made the earth by His power, Who established the world by His wisdom; And by His understanding He has stretched out the heavens.  13  When He utters His voice, there is a tumult of waters in the heavens, And He causes the clouds to ascend from the end of the earth; He makes lightning for the rain, And brings out the wind from His storehouses.  14  Every man is stupid, devoid of knowledge; Every goldsmith is put to shame by his idols; For his molten images are deceitful, And there is no breath in them.  15  They are worthless, a work of mockery; In the time of their punishment they will perish.  16  The portion of Jacob is not like these; For the Maker of all is He, And Israel is the tribe of His inheritance; The LORD of hosts is His name.

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Some excellent examples of chiasmi in Jeremiah – both short and longer – can be found in chapter 3 of Jack R. Lundbom’s 1997 book, “Jeremiah: a Study in Ancient Hebrew Rhetoric”.


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