Commentary on the Bible, by Adam Clarke, , at sacred-texts.com
The prophet proclaims the tenor of God's covenant with the Jews of old, Jer 11:1-5; and then reproves them for their hereditary disobedience, Jer 11:6-19. In consequence of this the Almighty is introduced, declaring he will show them no pity, Jer 11:11-13; forbidding Jeremiah to intercede, Jer 11:14; rejecting their sacrifices, Jer 11:15; and in a word, condemning this fair but unfruitful tree to the fire, Jer 11:16, Jer 11:17. In what remains of the chapter the prophet predicts evil to his neighbors of Anathoth, who had conspired against him, Jer 11:18-23. "Let us," said they, "destroy this tree, with the fruit thereof," etc., alluding to what Jeremiah had said in the sixteenth verse.
The word that came to Jeremiah - This discourse is supposed to have been delivered in the first year of the reign of Zedekiah. See Dahler.
Hear ye the words of this covenant - It is possible that the prophet caused the words of the covenant made with their fathers in the desert (Exo 24:4-8) to be read to them on this occasion; or, at least, the blessings and the cursings which Moses caused to be pronounced to the people as soon as they had set foot in Canaan, Deuteronomy 27, 28.
Cursed be the man that obeyeth not - After the reading, the prophet appears to sum up the things contained in what was read to them; as if he had said, "Ye hear what the Lord saith unto you: remember, the sum of it is this: The man is cursed who obeyeth not; and he is blessed who obeys. From these declarations God will not depart."
So be it, O Lord - Let thy promises be fulfilled; and let the incorrigible beware of thy threatenings!
Proclaim all these words - Let the same covenant, with the blessings and cursings, be read in every city of Judah, and in all the streets of Jerusalem, that all the people may know their duty, their privileges, and their danger.
A conspiracy is found - They were all fratres conjurati, sworn brothers, determined to cast off the Divine yoke, and no longer to have God to reign over them.
They are turned back to the iniquities of their forefathers - A great reformation had taken place under the reign of Josiah, and the public worship of idols had been abolished, and most of the high places destroyed; but under the reign of his son and his successors, they had turned back again to idolatry, and were become worse than ever. It required a captivity to cure them of this propensity: and God sent one: after that, there was no idolatry among the Jews.
Go, and cry unto the gods - See Jer 2:28.
Therefore pray not thou for this people - I am determined to give them up into the hands of their enemies; I will neither hear thy intercession, nor regard their prayers. Their measure is full.
What hath my beloved to do in mine house - This has been supposed to refer to Abraham, Moses, or such eminent servants of God, whose intercession was very powerful. Were even they to appear as intercessors, their prayer should not be regarded. Others think that this is an endearing expression which properly belonged to the Israelites. When God took them into covenant with himself, they were espoused to him, and therefore his beloved; but now that they have forsaken him, and joined themselves to another, what have they to do with his house or its ordinances, which they wish now to frequent with vows and sacrifices, when they see the evil fast coming upon them? This is probably the sense of this very obscure passage. Dr. Blayney translates, "What hath my beloved to do in my house whilst she practiseth wickedness? Shall vows and holy flesh (sacrifices) be allowed to come from thee? When thou art malignant, shalt thou rejoice?"
The Lord called thy name, A green olive tree - That is, he made thee like a green olive - fair, flourishing, and fruitful; but thou art degenerated, and God hath given the Chaldeans permission to burn thee up.
The Lord hath given me knowledge of it - The men of Anathoth had conspired against his life, because he reproved them for their sins, and denounced the judgments of God against them. Of this God had given him a secret warning, that he might be on his guard.
I was like a lamb or an ox - Dahler translates, "I was like a fattened lamb that is led to the slaughter." Blayney, "I was like a tame lamb that is led to slaughter." The word אלוף alluph, which we translate ox, is taken by both as an adjective, qualifying the noun כבש kebes, a lamb. It may probably signify a lamb brought up in the house-fed at home, (אלוף alluph), instructed or nourished at home; perfectly innocent and unsuspecting, while leading to the slaughter. This meaning the word will bear in Arabic, for alaf signifies accustomed, familiar, (to or with any person or thing); a companion, a comrade, an intimate friend. I therefore think that ככבש אלוף kechebes alluph signifies, like the familiar lamb - the lamb bred up in the house, in a state of friendship with the family. The people of Anathoth were Jeremiah's townsmen; he was born and bred among them; they were his familiar friends; and now they lay wait for his life! All the Versions understood אלוף alluph as an epithet of כבש kebes, a chosen, simple, innocent lamb.
Let us destroy the tree with the fruit - Let us slay the prophet, and his prophecies will come to an end. The Targum has, Let us put mortal poison in his food; and all the Versions understand it something in the same way.
Let me see thy vengeance on them - Rather, I shall see (אראה ereh) thy punishment indicted on them.
Behold, I will punish them - And the punishment is, Their young men shall die by the sword of the Chaldeans; and their sons and daughters shall die by the famine that shall come on the land through the desolations occasioned by the Chaldean army.
The year of their visitation - This punishment shall come in that year in which I shall visit their iniquities upon them.