Commentary on the burden of Yahweh (Jer 23:34-23:38)

“As for the prophet,

The priest,

Or one of the people

Who say.

‘The burden of Yahweh.’

I will punish them.

I will punish their households.

Thus shall you say,

To one another,

Among yourselves.

‘What has Yahweh answered?

‘What has Yahweh spoken?’

But ‘the burden of Yahweh’

You shall mention no more.

The burden is

Everyone’s own word.

Thus you pervert

The words of the living God.

Yahweh of hosts!

Our God!

Thus you shall ask the prophet.

‘What has Yahweh answered you?’

‘What has Yahweh spoken?’

But if you say.

‘The burden of Yahweh.’

Thus says Yahweh.

‘Because you have said

These words,

‘The burden of Yahweh,

When I sent to you,

Saying,

‘You shall not say.

‘The burden of Yahweh.’”

This commentary on the “burden of Yahweh” seems to be a later addition trying to explain why you should never say “The burden of Yahweh.” A burden is something that you bare. Perhaps it is the heavy burden that the prophet Jeremiah’s words brought to the people. Yahweh was going to punish people and their households who said that the word of Yahweh was a burden. Rather, it seems like it should be a blessing. The prophet, the priest, or the people all should never mention the “burden of Yahweh.” They should say that Yahweh has spoken or answered them. He has not given them a burden, since this would be a perversion of the word of God. Simply put, stop using the term burden when speaking about God and his words.

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Carefulness (Sir 22:27-22:27)

“Who will set a guard

Over my mouth?

Who will put an effective seal

Upon my lips?

Thus I may not fall

Because of them.

Thus my tongue may not

Destroy me.”

Sirach wants a guard on his mouth and a seal on his lips. He is afraid that he might fall because of what he says. He was afraid that his tongue would destroy him. After all, he did speak and write a lot.

Watch your tongue (Sir 5:13-5:15)

“Honor comes from speaking.

Dishonor also comes from speaking.

The tongue of mortals may be their downfall.

Do not be called double-tongued.

Do not lay traps with your tongue.

Shame comes to the thief.

Severe condemnation comes to the double-tongued.

In great and small matters,

Cause no harm.”

Both honor and dishonor can come from speaking. Be careful when you speak, because your tongue may be your downfall. Do not be double-tongued, saying one thing here and another there. Do not set verbal traps because shame comes to the thief, but especially severe condemnation comes to the double-tongued. Whether in great or small matters, you should cause no harm to anyone.

Words of a fool (Prov 18:4-18: 8)

“The words of the mouth are deep waters.

The fountain of wisdom is a gushing stream.

It is not right

To be partial to the guilty.

It is not right

To subvert the innocent in judgment.

A fool’s lips

Bring strife.

A fool’s mouth

Invites a flogging.

A fool’s mouth

Is their ruin.

A fool’s lips

Are snares to themselves.

The words of a whisperer

Are like delicious morsels.

They go down into the inner parts of the body.”

The words that come out of one’s mouth are like deep waters. Wisdom is like a gushing fountain. You should not favor the guilty or subvert the innocent with bad judgments. The lips of fools bring strife. Their mouths invite a whipping. Precisely the mouth of the fool is the cause of his ruin. Their lips snare themselves. They get caught in their own foolish words. However, the words of the deceptive ones who whisper in your ear are like delicious treats that go down into the inner parts of your body and ruin your body.