Jeremiah 7:22 (KJV)

22 For I spake not unto your fathers, nor commanded them in the day that I brought them out of the land of Egypt, concerning burnt offerings or sacrifices:

But in Exodus the Lord said to Moses:

Exodus 12:26-27 (KJV)

26 And it shall come to pass, when your children shall say unto you, What mean ye by this service?
27 That ye shall say, It is the sacrifice of the Lord's passover, who passed over the houses of the children of Israel in Egypt, when he smote the Egyptians, and delivered our houses.

What is interesting is that God had ordered sacrifices to be offered to him for instance the Passover lamb. So why would the Prophet say that God spoke nothing respecting sacrifices?

  • You may find the more modern NIV translation helpful. Additionally, verse 23 may help clarify. – jpmc26 Mar 8 '17 at 7:44

I hope this is not too simplified. But if I may offer something. Often these types of things require a paradigm shift. What I mean by that is, that reading it and thinking YHWH is saying He's given no commands nor instructions on sacrifices, we think "yes you have".

But that's not what YHWH is saying. Infact just reading to the next verse should shift our paradigm enough to see it

"But this thing commanded I them, saying, Obey my voice, and I will be your God, and ye shall be my people: and walk ye in all the ways that I have commanded you, that it may be well unto you." Verse 23

You see He's not saying I've never said anything about sacrifices and offerings. He's saying the point was not to that end. He's saying my point was not to command them in the ways of offerings and sacrifices, but to obey my voice.

So you simply have YHWH telling Jeremiah, the concern was not burnt offerings or sacrifices, the concern was obeying my voice. That's all He means by it.

  • 1
    I think you hit the nail on the head. This is a use of a dialectical negative and requires the following verse just as you pointed out. This is the same sentiment that can be seen several times throughout the Bible. The first that comes to mind is Hosea 6:4-6 – Micah Gafford Mar 15 '17 at 6:25
  • @n-ish You probably realize by now this isn't a forum, so when posting answers, do just post answers (not personal salutations of various kinds). Note that this is not a "Christian" site. Thanks! – Dɑvïd Mar 15 '17 at 8:47
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    @David what I've realized is that this Q&A site has humans, writing to other humans. I like to acknowledge the person. I'm sorry you were upset by my "personal salutations of various kinds" to persons. Additionally, as a Christian, a website does not need to be a "Christian" site for me to treat it like it is. Nor does it need to be a Christian world for me to act as if I'm a Christian in it. So if I act all Christiany, just know, it's not this site, it's Christ. Thank you David. God bless. – N.Ish Mar 15 '17 at 17:27

Perhaps this indicates a tension between ritual and ethics in the formation of Judaism? The prophets often focus on social justice and emphasize care for the poor and the widows over ritual sacrifices (see Isaiah 1:13-17, 3:15, 10:2, Amos 5:21-24, Micah 6:6-8, Jeremiah 22:16). On the other hand the temple establishment was concerned with ritual sacrifices. Once the temple was destroyed in 586 BC, the religious leaders had to define a new Judaism if you will, without temple and without animal sacrifice. So they began to emphasize the ethical commands of the Torah and the idea that worship of the true God meant obeying his ethical commands.


In Jeremiah 7:21-24, the phrase that God never commanded Israel to perform burnt offerings and sacrifices on the day that Israel left Egypt, clearly does not include the Passover, since that would not only make it to be even as the many offerings which were offered upon the altar(which the Passover was not), but would ignore the construct of the verse itself, which puts the postulation of offerings as occurring after they had left Egypt(Jer 7:22-23,11:6-8), that is, after the Passover. Furthermore, the context of Jeremiah 7 discusses the activities of Shiloh, the location of the Mosaic tabernacle, which implies that the postulated sacrifices pertained to the altar of the place of God(Jer 7:12-14, cmp. Deu 12:5-6;26-27); the book of Jeremiah often refers to these sorts of sacrifices with such phrases(Jer 6:20,14:11-12,17:26,19:5{~},33:18). It is these types of offerings also to which Moses spake, declaring them to be the offerings which would be defined to them after they had left Egypt[Exd 10:24-26], which was later confirmed and detailed on Mt. Sinai(Exd 20:24, Lev 7:35-38), and thus accordingly, would not have included the Passover. Other verses as well distinguish the Passover from those offerings(2 Chr 35:13-16, Num 28:16-25).

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