Notes on the Bible, by Albert Barnes, , at sacred-texts.com
The prophecy contained in Jer. 11-12 seems to belong to an early period of Jeremiah's life. The covenant Jer 11:2 was that renewed by Josiah in his 18th year, after the discovery of the Book of the Law in the temple Kg2 23:3; while Jer 11:13 apparently refers to the public establishment of idolatry by Manasseh Jer 21:3. The people took no hearty part in Josiah's reformation, and the prophet therefore sets before them the consequences that will inevitably fellow upon their disloyalty to their covenant-God. The prophecy was probably called forth by the conspiracy of the men of Judah and of his own relatives of Anathoth to murder Jeremiah Jer 11:18-23; Jer 12:1-6, for such deeds, which but too well represented the nation's whole course, punishment must come, if unrepented of.
The words of this covenant - The phrase used Kg2 23:3 to describe the contents of the Book of the Law.
From the iron furnace - Rather, out of "the iron furnace," Egypt (see Deu 4:20). The constant reference to Deuteronomy shows how great had been the effect upon Jeremiah's mind of the public recitation of the "Book of the covenant" found in the temple.
As it is this day - God had kept the terms of the covenant. Whether the promised land would permanently remain the property of the Jews would depend upon their observance of their part of the covenant.
So be it, O Lord - Or, "Amen, Yahweh." The prophet was literally obeying the command given in Deu 27:14-26, and the same word should be kept in both places.
Proclaim ... - Probably Jeremiah accompanied Josiah in his progress Kg2 23:15-20, and everywhere read to the people the words of the newly-found book.
I will bring - Rather, I have brought. The breach of the covenant upon their part had always brought temporal calamity. The last examples were the deportation of the ten tribes by Salmanezer, and the leading of Manasseh prisoner to Babylon in chains (Ch2 33:11).
A conspiracy - The defection from the covenant was as general as if it had been the result of preconcerted arrangement. The decided course taken by Josiah may, however, have led the opposite party to secret combinations against him.
Their forefathers - literally, "their fathers, the first ones:" in allusion to the idolatries committed in the wilderness, and by the generations whose history is given in the Book of Judges.
And they went after - Rather, yea! they have walked "after other gods to serve them." The "they" refers to the men of Jeremiah's day.
I will bring - Or, am bringing.
That shameful thing - i. e., Baal; public establishment of idolatry, such as actually took place in the reign of Manasseh (Ch2 33:3. Contrast Kg2 18:4).
A parenthesis. As in Jer 7:16, all intercession is forbidden, and for this reason. Prayer for others for the forgiveness of their sins avails only when they also pray. The cry of the people now was that of the guilty smarting under punishment, not of the penitent mourning over sin.
This passage, like Isa 1:12, rebukes the inconsistency of Judah's public worship of Yahweh with their private immorality and preference for idolatry. Translate it: "What hath My beloved in My house to practice guile there? The great men and the holy flesh (i. e., the sacrifices) shall pass away from thee."
The "goodly" or "shapely fruit," signifies the righteousness and faith which ought to have been the result of Israel's possession of extraordinary privileges. The tree did not bear this fruit, and God now destroys it by a thunderstorm.
Rather, "gave me knowledge of it, and I knew it." Jeremiah shows Jer 11:18-23, that the general conspiracy of the people against Yahweh and the special plot against himself was revealed to him by God.
Like a lamb or an ox - Rather, "like a tame lamb." Jeremiah had lived at Anathoth as one of the family, never suspecting that, like a tame lamb, the time would come for him to be killed.
The tree with the fruit thereof - The words are those of a proverb or dark saying. All the Churches agree in understanding that under the person of Jeremiah these things are said by Christ.
The young men - i. e., those of the legal age for military service.
No remnant - 128 men of Anathoth returned from exile Ezr 2:23; Neh 7:27. Jeremiah's denunciation was limited to those who had sought his life. The year of their visitation would be the year of the siege of Jerusalem, when Anathoth being in its immediate vicinity would have its share of the horrors of war.