What are "the old paths" Jeremiah spoke of in Jeremiah 6:16?

Thus saith the Lord, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls. But they said, We will not walk therein (KJV, emphasis added).


7 Answers 7

  • כה אמר יי
    • for so says the LORD
  • עמדו על דרכים
    • !stand! upon paths/ways
  • וראו ושאלו לנתבות עולם
    • and-then !see! and !inquire! of eternal treadings/followings
  • אי זה דרך הטוב
    • (about) which are good paths
  • ולכו בה
    • and-then !proceed! of-them
  • ומצאו מרגוע לנפשכם
    • and !find/discover! calmness of your breaths/souls
  • ויאמרו לא נלך
    • and-then say-them not passive-walked-on
    • = and then they say "not walked".


  1. עולם

    • means infinite expanse for both in time and space.
    • from ancient eternity, to eternal future, over the universe/cosmos

    • e.g. usage of infinitely/eternally past and future:
      ישוע אינו היה מעולם, ואינו הווה, ולא מעולם יהיו המלך היהודים

  2. נתב

    • treadings, trails.
  3. נתבות עולם

    • eternal-universal trails/trailing
  4. שאלו לנתבות עולם

    • ask the eternal-universal question-trailing
  5. וראו ושאלו לנתבות עולם

    • so then look at and inquire the eternal universal question

==== Added 2016/10/23 ====

Let's look at one of the too many occurrences of [עולם] - e.g. Daniel 12:2

  • ורבים מישני אדמת עפר
    • Then many from sleep of soil of ground
  • יקיצו אלה לחיי עולם
    • shall arise those to life eternal
  • ואלה לחרפות לדראון עולם
    • and those to be condemned to eternal contempt-oblivion

If TRULY, that [עולם] = ancient, then does [דראון עולם] of Daniel 12:2 mean "ancient contempt-oblivion"??? When do we willy-nilly decide it means "ancient" and when do we decide it means "eternal". By the doctrinal context? We depend on words to define the doctrinal context, not concoct a doctrinal context to define the words.

==== End of addition ====

The verse simply means,

For so says the LORD, !stand! upon pathways and !see! and !inquire! the eternal universal question-trails "which are good paths?" And-then !proceed! of them to !discover! tranquility for your souls/breaths. And-then shall they admonishingly say "There is no precedence".

In star-trekish, And they say "nope, should not go where no one has gone before."

  • I was a little confused by this one. Can you make this a little more clear?
    – mrhobbeys
    Oct 24, 2016 at 4:17
  • I'm not sure if you changed something but today I have a lot more clarity on the translation and what you are saying. Fine work.
    – mrhobbeys
    Nov 3, 2016 at 5:21

An appeal came again from the Lord to the people through the prophet to seek the ancient paths. With the Promise contained in this verse... Jeremiah based all his appeals on the experience of the past. They refused. The nations of the earth therefore were set against them as witnesses.

— Page 632, Guthrie, D., Motyer, J. A., & Davidson, F. (1970). The new Bible commentary, revised. Grand Rapids, Mich: Eerdmans.

This is about the only specific commentary I could find on this scripture– but by applying its insight along with the general context and direction of Jeremiah, its' presumed that he is calling the people back to the Lord's way of living; The Ancient Paths therefore most likely refer to a time when his people were living righteously by the standards and embracing the practices along with the spirit behind them.

  • Corrected and revised. Oct 20, 2016 at 0:03

First of all I recommend getting a King James 1611 Bible and reading the whole context of these verses. Jeremiah was God's prophet telling God's people to "stand ye in the ways,and see,and ASK FOR THE OLD PATHS,WHERE IS THE GOOD WAY,AND WALK THEREIN,AND YE SHALL FIND REST FOR YOUR SOULS. But they said,WE WILL NOT WALK THEREIN." The whole of the matter is rebellion of God's people to repentance, by the way is people of this day in a nutshell, the first several chapters of Jeremiah is about a turning back to God but Judah and Jerusalem rejected the call and mercies of God. The old path is being rejected today by multitudes of people " not hearing the truth and rejecting God's ways for their ways" Read on past verse 16 and you'll see a reference to watchmen. It is referring to the pastor/preacher sounding the trumpet(preaching in power and demonstration of the Spirit of God) and people refusing to listen. I truly hope this helps you understand. God Bless.


What are “the old paths” Jeremiah spoke of in 6:16?#

God exhorts his rebellious Israelites to pause, examine themselves, and find their way back to "the good way" of their faithful ancestors.

Jeremiah 6:16 NASB

16 This is what the Lord says: “Stand by the ways and see and ask for the ancient paths, Where the good way is, and walk-in it; Then you will find a resting place for your souls. But they said, ‘We will not walk in it.’

The Israelites needed to find the "ancient paths", that is " the good way" which was the way their faithful forefathers walked. But they stubbornly responded,"we will not walk n it"


Actually your answer doesn't clarify a thing. In fact it makes it more confusing. It sounds like you are mixing old and new testament together. Jeremiah was a prophet of God. And his warnings to the people of God was to turn back to the old paths. What are the old paths? It was for them to turn back to the Mosaic law. For the Jews had given themselves over to idolatry, and immorality. They were even burning their children on altars of sacrifice to devils. Jeremiah was pleading with them to return to the laws set up for them by the Lord through Moses and He would bless them again. But they would not listen. The watchmen were simply those who watched, ( the prophets) There was more prophets of God than just Jeremiah. Isaiah, Ezekiel, Jeremiah, these were prophets right before the Jews went into the Babylonian captivity. Now a comparison of then with now is that Israel was never meant to be a divided kingdom. They were suppose to be united together under the laws and precept of God's commandments. The church today was never to be divided by so many denominations. This means there is no unity in the church. Everyone seeking that which is right in his own eyes. Or to forget the Lord's commands of the new birth, and let's just love for the sake of unity and forget all that doctrine. It's time for the church to seek the old paths laid down by the apostles, and to follow the teachings of Peter, and Paul. On the day of the birth of the new testament church, there were about 120 all with one accord and all received the Holy Ghost and began to speak with tongues. When Peter stood up to preach to those who heard and conviction fell on them as he told them they crucified the Messiah, They asked what must we do? Peter told them to Repent, and be immersed in the name of Jesus Christ, and you shall be filled with the Holy Ghost, for the promise is for you and your children and those who are afar off, even as many as the Lord shall call. But the church doesn't want to obey that new birth any more. The church of today wants to make it easy and say Just except Jesus as your personal savior. The church as a whole needs to go back and seek the old ways of the new birth. The ways the apostles did it, that you can read about in the book of Acts of the Apostles. Follow their paths.

  • Welcome to BHSX. Thanks for your answer. Please take the tour to better understand the type of reasoned answers that people want here. Now I ask two favours of you - (1) please edit the answer to show paragraphs, and (2) supply some references and/or argument to support your comments. many thanks for your trouble.
    – Dottard
    Jun 3, 2020 at 22:47

They are already on a bad path and God tells them to get off of it and seek the good and right path as the whole Bible and Spirit tells us to do. It says: go and get on right path (the old one, not the new one you're on, having it your way). But they refused. Plain and simple and backed up by everything of God.


I would render Jeremiah 6:16 this way: enter image description here

The "ancient paths" are clearly ways of the world from times gone by. Paths that the other nations tread, not THE PATH in which God has placed them (inhabitants of Jerusalem) - in the way of rest for their souls.

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