The Old Testament Lesson for this Sunday, the Eighth Sunday after Pentecost in Series B, is from the book of the prophet Jeremiah. The text is Jeremiah 23:1-6 and contains the very familiar Messianic reference of “The Righteous Branch” and the title, “The LORD is our Righteousness.” However, the pericope begins with a common prophetic condemnation of false and evil shepherds who have been charged with caring for the LORD’s sheep. Like Ezekiel 34, the shepherds have neglected the sheep for their own needs. In some cases, they are guilty of abusing the flock, causing them to scatter and run away. Thus, the LORD promises He Himself will gather up the remnants and they will prosper under His shepherding. At that time He will appoint new shepherds—obviously shepherds who are “undershepherds” to Him and who will properly care for and provide for His flock.

Then Jeremiah prophesies of the raising up of a Righteous Branch for David. This should bring to mind the prophecy of Isaiah 11:1 where he speaks of a sprout from the stump of Jesse. Therefore, “for” David may be taken to mean a “new David,” not another in the line of David. Remember, the stump is Jesse’s, the father of David. The old Davidic line of kings has ended and a new David, the Messiah, will come forth—the Righteous Branch!

The old Davidic line of kings has ended and a new David, the Messiah, will come forth—the Righteous Branch!

23:1 הוֹי (Ho) “woe; alas; ah!”

וּמְפִצִים (u-me-fi-Tzim) root: פוץ (poots) Hiphil: “to disperse; scatter” The Hiphil denotes that the shepherds are the cause of the scattering.

מַרְעִיתִי (mar-i-Ti) from: מַרְעִית (meer-eeth) “pasturing; shepherding” “My pasturing/my shepherding” It is not just the location (pasture) but also the work of the LORD (pasturing/shepherding).

23:2 עַל־הָרֹעִים הָרֹעִים (al ha-ro-Im ha-ro-Im) “concerning the shepherds shepherding,” or “concerning the shepherds, the ones who shepherd/care...”

וַתַּדִּחוּם (vat-tad-di-Chum) root: נדה (naw-dakh) Hiphil: “to drive away; cause to be scattered; banish”

רֹעַ (Ro-a) “Corruption; vice; evil”

מעַלְלֵיכֶם (ma-al-lei-Chem) “Deed; practice; doings”

*Note the twist: You have not attended to them, behold, I will attend to you...”

23:3 אֲקַבֵּץ (a-kab-Betz) root: קבץ (kaw-bats) Piel: “to gather”

שְׁאֵרִית (she-e-Rit) “remnant”

הִדַּחְתִּי (hid-Dach-ti) root: נדח (naw-dakh) Hiphil: “to cause to be driven away; cause to scattered from one another”

נְוֵהֶן (ne-ve-Hen) “dwelling place; abode; grazing place”

וּפָרוּ (u-fa-Ru) root: פרה (paw-raw) Qal: “to be fruitful”

*Pay attention to the remnant language used. This is a frequent designation for those who have remained faithful in spite of situations which make it difficult, even unpopular. This is the promised, preserved faithful from which the Righteous Branch will come forth. The context speaks to the scattering of the peoples in exile, to both Assyria and Babylon. Jeremiah is living in the midst of the Babylonian exiles.

23:4 וַהֲקִמֹתִי (va-ha-ki-mo-Ti) root: קום (koom) Hophal: “I will cause (shepherds) to be set...,” or “I will set/place...,” or “I will cause to be raised up...” See also verse five and the Righteous Branch.

יֵחַתּוּ (ye-Chat-tu) root: חתת (khaw-thath) Niphal geminate verb: “to be dismayed”

23:5 צֶ֣מַח צַדִּ֑יק (Tze-mach tzad-Dik) “a Righteous Branch; a Righteous Sprout/Shoot”

וְהִשְֹכִּיל (ve-his-Kil) root: שֹכל (saw-kal) Hiphil: “to achieve success; cause to prosper”

23:6 תִּוָּשַׁע (tiv-va-Sha) root: ישׁע (yaw-shah) Niphal: “to be saved” Note this is the same root as the names of Joshua, Hosea, Hoshea, Yeshua, and JESUS.

לָבֶטַח (la-Ve-tach) “security”

יְהוָה צִדְקֵנוּ (Yah-weh tzid-Ke-nu) “The LORD is our Righteousness,” or “The LORD our Righteousness”

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Additional Resources:

Concordia Theology-Various helps from Concordia Seminary in St. Louis, MO to assist you in preaching Jeremiah 23:1-6.

Text Week-Text Week-A treasury of resources from various traditions to help you preach Jeremiah 23:1-6.

Lectionary Podcast- Dr. Walter Maier