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New American Bible

2002 11 11
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Chapter 23


1 Woe to the shepherds who mislead and scatter the flock of my pasture, says the LORD.


Therefore, thus says the LORD, the God of Israel, against the shepherds who shepherd my people: You have scattered my sheep and driven them away. You have not cared for them, but I will take care to punish your evil deeds.


I myself will gather the remnant of my flock from all the lands to which I have driven them and bring them back to their meadow; there they shall increase and multiply.


I will appoint shepherds for them who will shepherd them so that they need no longer fear and tremble; and none shall be missing, says the LORD.


Behold, the days are coming, says the LORD, when I will raise up a righteous shoot to David; As king he shall reign and govern wisely, he shall do what is just and right in the land.


In his days Judah shall be saved, Israel shall dwell in security. This is the name they give him: "The LORD our justice."


Therefore, the days will come, says the LORD, when they shall no longer say, "As the LORD lives, who brought the Israelites out of the land of Egypt";


but rather, "As the LORD lives, who brought the descendants of the house of Israel up from the land of the north" - and from all the lands to which I banished them; they shall again live on their own land.


2 Concerning the prophets: My heart within me is broken, my bones all tremble; I am like a man who is drunk, overcome by wine, Because of the LORD, because of his holy words.


With adulterers the land is filled; on their account the land mourns, the pasture ranges are seared. Theirs is an evil course, theirs is unjust power.


Both prophet and priest are godless! In my very house I find their wickedness, says the LORD.


Hence their way shall become for them slippery ground. In the darkness they shall lose their footing, and fall headlong; Evil I will bring upon them: the year of their punishment, says the LORD.


Among Samaria's prophets I saw unseemly deeds: They prophesied by Baal and led my people Israel astray.


But among Jerusalem's prophets I saw deeds still more shocking: Adultery, living in lies, siding with the wicked, so that no one turns from evil; To me they are all like Sodom, its citizens like Gomorrah.


Therefore, thus says the LORD of hosts against the prophets: Behold, I will give them wormwood to eat, and poison to drink; For from Jerusalem's prophets ungodliness has gone forth into the whole land.


Thus says the LORD of hosts: Listen not to the words of your prophets, who fill you with emptiness; Visions of their own fancy they speak, not from the mouth of the LORD.


3 They say to those who despise the word of the LORD, "Peace shall be yours"; And to everyone who walks in hardness of heart, "No evil shall overtake you."


Now, who has stood in the council of the LORD, to see him and to hear his word? Who has heeded his word, so as to announce it?


See, the storm of the LORD! His wrath breaks forth In a whirling storm that bursts upon the heads of the wicked.


The anger of the LORD shall not abate until he has done and fulfilled what he has determined in his heart. When the time comes, you shall fully understand.


I did not send these prophets, yet they ran; I did not speak to them, yet they prophesied.


Had they stood in my council, and did they but proclaim to my people my words, They would have brought them back from evil ways and from their wicked deeds.


4 Am I a God near at hand only, says the LORD, and not a God far off?


Can a man hide in secret without my seeing him? says the LORD. Do I not fill both heaven and earth? says the LORD.


I have heard the prophets who prophesy lies in my name say, "I had a dream! I had a dream!"


How long will this continue? Is my name in the hearts of the prophets who prophesy lies and their own deceitful fancies?


By their dreams which they recount to each other, they think to make my people forget my name, just as their fathers forgot my name for Baal.


5 Let the prophet who has a dream recount his dream; let him who has my word speak my word truthfully! What has straw to do with the wheat? says the LORD.


Is not my word like fire, says the LORD, like a hammer shattering rocks?


Therefore I am against the prophets, says the LORD, who steal my words from each other.


Yes, I am against the prophets, says the LORD, who borrow speeches to pronounce oracles.


Yes, I am against the prophets who prophesy lying dreams, says the LORD, and who lead my people astray by recounting their lies and by their empty boasting. From me they have no mission or command, and they do this people no good at all, says the LORD.


6 And when this people, or a prophet or a priest asks you, "What is the burden of the LORD?" you shall answer, "You are the burden, and I cast you off, says the LORD."


If a prophet or a priest or anyone else mentions "the burden of the LORD," I will punish that man and his house.


Thus you shall ask, when speaking to one another, "What answer did the LORD give?" or, "What did the LORD say?"


But the burden of the LORD you shall mention no more. For each man his own word becomes the burden so that you pervert the words of the living God, the LORD of hosts, our God.


Thus shall you ask the prophet, "What answer did the LORD give?" or, "What did the LORD say?"


But if you ask about "the burden of the LORD," then thus says the LORD: Because you use this phrase, "the burden of the LORD," though I forbade you to use it,


therefore I will lift you on high and cast you from my presence, you and the city which I gave to you and your fathers.


And I will bring upon you eternal reproach, eternal, unforgettable shame.



1 [1-8] With the false rulers who have governed his people the Lord contrasts himself, the good shepherd, who will in the times of restoration appoint worthy rulers ( Jeremiah 23:1-4). A messianic King will arise from the line of David who will rule over Judah and Israel with the justice of the Lord, fulfilling all the kingly ideals ( Jeremiah 23:5, 6). "The Lord our justice" is probably an ironic wordplay on the name of the weak King Zedekiah ("The Lord is justice"); the messianic King will be in reality what Zedekiah's name falsely proclaims him. The final verses, Jeremiah 23:7-8 were probably added during the exile.

2 [9-40] After the collection of oracles against the kings, the editor of the book placed this collection of oracles against the false prophets. With them are associated the priests, for both have betrayed their trust as instructors in the religion of the Lord; cf Jeremiah 2:8; 4:9; 6:13-14.

3 [17-20] Not only are the false prophets personally immoral, but they encourage immorality by prophesying good of those who do evil. The true prophet, on the other hand, sees the inevitable consequences of sin.

4 [23] Near at hand only . . . far off: God knows not merely the present but also the future.

5 [28-29] Straw . . . wheat: such is the contrast between false and true prophecy. True prophecy is like fire (cf Jeremiah 5:14; 20:9), producing violent results ( Jeremiah 23:29); Jeremiah's own life is a testimony of this.

6 [33-40] A wordplay on massa', which means both oracle (usually of woe) and burden. In Jeremiah 23:34-36 it appears that the word massa' itself is forbidden the people in the meaning of a divine oracle. Doubtless this was because of some association unknown to us. In Hosea 2:18 it is forbidden to call God "Baal" ("master"), because of the association of this title with the Canaanite god.

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