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Sins of Jerusalem and Judah (5:1-19)
A search of Jerusalem reveals that the city is wholly corrupt. Injustice and selfishness abound. People claim they belong to God and they swear oaths by his name, but they remain untouched by the lessons he is trying to teach them (5:1-3). There may be some excuse for the poor and uneducated if they know nothing of God’s law, but the upper classes are just as ignorant. This indicates that the problem lies not with people’s social background or material well-being, but with their hardened hearts. All alike reject the authority of God’s law and refuse to be bound by his standards (4-5).
Jerusalem is ripe for judgment. The invading armies are likened to wild beasts ready to pounce and kill (6). In addition to being idolatrous, the people are so morally degraded they are little better than animals. There can be no forgiveness, only punishment, for a nation such as this (7-9).
As a vineyard is stripped, so Judah will be destroyed, though the destruction will not be total (10-11). The people have deceived themselves. They have refused to believe the words of God’s prophets, and keep telling themselves that God will not destroy his own people. God will therefore act against them decisively, according to the judgments he announces by his prophet Jeremiah (12-14).
Through Jeremiah, God tells the people of Judah that a foreign nation will invade their country, and neither Judah’s armed forces nor its defence fortifications will prevent widespread slaughter and ruin (15-17). But the nation will not be completely wiped out. Those who survive the attack will be taken captive to a foreign land, which will be a fitting punishment for their disloyalty in serving foreign gods in their own land (18-19).
A corrupt society (5:20-31)
The people of Judah do not fear God for his mighty power (20-21), nor do they give him thanks for the benefits he gives them through nature (22-24). They think they can go their own way regardless of God, but in so doing they miss out on his blessings (25).
By cruelty, cunning and bribery, the wealthy increase their power, but the poor cannot obtain justice in even the smallest affairs. Administrators and judges alike are corrupt (26-28). God sees all this, and will not allow it to go unpunished (29). He sees also that priests and prophets cooperate in the wrongdoing, while the people in general, instead of rebuking them, encourage them. Judah is a nation of corrupt and greedy people who are concerned only for their immediate prosperity. They cannot see that they are heading for a dreadful end (30-31).
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Flemming, Donald C. "Commentary on Jeremiah 5". "Fleming's Bridgeway Bible Commentary". https://studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 21 / Ordinary 26