The Meaning of Jeremiah 2:8 Explained

Jeremiah 2:8

KJV: The priests said not, Where is the LORD? and they that handle the law knew me not: the pastors also transgressed against me, and the prophets prophesied by Baal, and walked after things that do not profit.

YLT: The priests have not said, 'Where is Jehovah?' And those handling the law have not known Me. And the shepherds transgressed against Me, And the prophets have prophesied by Baal, And after those who profit not have gone.

Darby: The priests said not, Where is Jehovah? and they that handled the law knew me not; and the shepherds transgressed against me; and the prophets prophesied by Baal, and walked after things that do not profit.

ASV: The priests said not, Where is Jehovah? and they that handle the law knew me not: the rulers also transgressed against me, and the prophets prophesied by Baal, and walked after things that do not profit.

What does Jeremiah 2:8 Mean?

Verse Meaning

The leaders of the people were no better than the ordinary Israelites. The priests, rulers, and (false) prophets all failed to direct the people to Yahweh and, instead, led them away from Him into unprofitable pursuits. One writer suggested that another wordplay with the name Baal may be lo" yo"ilu, translated "things that did not profit." [1] A similar phrase, belo yo"il, occurs at the end of Jeremiah 2:11 and is translated "that which does not profit."
The priests should have encouraged the people to be faithful to the covenant and should have kept the sacrificial system pure. The governmental rulers (lit. shepherds) should have directed the people to the Lord rather than away from Him. And many professing prophets, instead of bringing messages from the Lord, brought alleged directions from Baal and followed vain pursuits.
"The reference to Baal here and elsewhere in the prophecy is to idols in general." [2]
"Surely this has something to do with the message we must speak to our post-Christian world. We must treat men with love, we must treat them and talk to them humanly. But we must not tone down our message: the religious leaders of our day too are leading people astray." [3]

Context Summary

Jeremiah 2:1-8 - Ungrateful Forgetfulness
God regarded Israel as His bride, who had responded to His love, or as a vineyard and cornfield which were expected to yield their first fruits in response to the careful cultivation of the owner. Why had they failed to respond? For the answer let us question our own hearts. What marvels of perversity and disappointment we are! Who can understand or fathom the reason of our poor response to the yearning love of Christ! The heathen, in their punctilious devotion and lavish sacrifices at their idol-shrines, may well shame us. The root of the evil is disclosed in Jeremiah 2:31. We like to be lords, to assume and hold the mastery of our lives. But God has been anything but a wilderness to us. He has given us ornaments, and we owe to His grace the garments of righteousness which He has put on us. In return we have forgotten Him days without number, Jeremiah 2:32. Let us ask Him to call us back-nay more, to draw us by the chains of love. [source]

Chapter Summary: Jeremiah 2

1  God having shown his former kindness,
5  expostulates with the people on their causeless and unexampled revolt
14  They are the causes of their own calamities
18  The sins and idolatries of Judah
35  Her confidence is rejected

What do the individual words in Jeremiah 2:8 mean?

The priests not did say where [is] Yahweh and those who handle the law not did know Me and the rulers transgressed against Me and the prophets prophesied by Baal and after [things] not [that] do profit walked
הַכֹּהֲנִ֗ים לֹ֤א אָֽמְרוּ֙ אַיֵּ֣ה ؟ יְהוָ֔ה וְתֹפְשֵׂ֤י הַתּוֹרָה֙ לֹ֣א יְדָע֔וּנִי וְהָרֹעִ֖ים פָּ֣שְׁעוּ בִ֑י וְהַנְּבִיאִים֙ נִבְּא֣וּ בַבַּ֔עַל וְאַחֲרֵ֥י לֹֽא־ יוֹעִ֖לוּ הָלָֽכוּ

הַכֹּהֲנִ֗ים  The  priests 
Parse: Article, Noun, masculine plural
Root: כֹּהֵן  
Sense: priest, principal officer or chief ruler.
אָֽמְרוּ֙  did  say 
Parse: Verb, Qal, Perfect, third person common plural
Root: אָמַר 
Sense: to say, speak, utter.
אַיֵּ֣ה  where  [is] 
Parse: Interrogative
Root: אַיֵּה  
Sense: where?.
؟ יְהוָ֔ה  Yahweh 
Parse: Proper Noun, masculine singular
Root: יהוה 
Sense: the proper name of the one true God.
וְתֹפְשֵׂ֤י  and  those  who  handle 
Parse: Conjunctive waw, Verb, Qal, Participle, masculine plural construct
Root: תָּפַשׂ  
Sense: to catch, handle, lay hold, take hold of, seize, wield.
הַתּוֹרָה֙  the  law 
Parse: Article, Noun, feminine singular
Root: תֹּורָה  
Sense: law, direction, instruction.
יְדָע֔וּנִי  did  know  Me 
Parse: Verb, Qal, Perfect, third person common plural, first person common singular
Root: דָּעָה 
Sense: to know.
וְהָרֹעִ֖ים  and  the  rulers 
Parse: Conjunctive waw, Article, Verb, Qal, Participle, masculine plural
Root: רָעָה 
Sense: to pasture, tend, graze, feed.
פָּ֣שְׁעוּ  transgressed 
Parse: Verb, Qal, Perfect, third person common plural
Root: פָּשַׁע  
Sense: to rebel, transgress, revolt.
בִ֑י  against  Me 
Parse: Preposition, first person common singular
וְהַנְּבִיאִים֙  and  the  prophets 
Parse: Conjunctive waw, Article, Noun, masculine plural
Root: נָבִיא  
Sense: spokesman, speaker, prophet.
נִבְּא֣וּ  prophesied 
Parse: Verb, Nifal, Perfect, third person common plural
Root: נָבָא  
Sense: to prophesy.
בַבַּ֔עַל  by  Baal 
Parse: Preposition-b, Article, Proper Noun, masculine singular
Root: בַּעַל  
Sense: supreme male divinity of the Phoenicians or Canaanites.
וְאַחֲרֵ֥י  and  after  [things] 
Parse: Conjunctive waw, Preposition
Root: אַחַר 
Sense: after the following part, behind (of place), hinder, afterwards (of time).
יוֹעִ֖לוּ  [that]  do  profit 
Parse: Verb, Hifil, Imperfect, third person masculine plural
Root: יָעַל  
Sense: (Hiphil) to gain, profit, benefit, avail.
הָלָֽכוּ  walked 
Parse: Verb, Qal, Perfect, third person common plural
Root: הָלַךְ  
Sense: to go, walk, come.