Jeremiah 20:13-14 (KJV)

13 Sing unto the LORD, praise ye the LORD: for he hath delivered the soul of the poor from the hand of evildoers.

14 Cursed be the day wherein I was born: let not the day wherein my mother bare me be blessed.

Immediately after blessing the Lord Jeremiah goes on to curse the day of his birth,but its clear from the texts below that God had appointed him from his mother's womb

Jeremiah 1:4-5 (KJV)

4 Then the word of the LORD came unto me, saying, 5 Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations.

Was this a sign of ingratitude on the part of the prophet?

  • Jeremiah witnessed the destruction of Jerusalem. His curse mirrors that of Job, who witnessed the destruction of his family.
    – Lucian
    Commented Mar 4, 2018 at 15:19

3 Answers 3


Remember the superlatives and use of hyperbole by the Eastern poetry, expressing the feelings of the heart in strong imagery. Jeremiah suffered many persecutions, and rejection by the people he was calling to return to God.

In chap. 20, he had just been beaten and put in the stocks (vs. 2), mocked by those he warned (vs. 7), reproached and derided for doing God's will (vs. 8) rejected by his friends (vs. 10).

This was just one among many times that Jeremiah suffered persecution for trying to warn the people of the judgment that was about to come upon them in the Babylonian captivity. No one wanted to hear it. Their constant response was to ridicule and spit upon Jeremiah. They didn't want him to show them their sins, or to disrupt their comfort.

Jeremiah's cry to God that he wished he had never been born was during deepest despair and in an Eastern style of hyperbole. Just as in Jer. 4:19,

"My bowels, my bowels! I am pained [at] the walls of my heart, Make a noise for me doth My heart, I am not silent, For the voice of a trumpet I have heard, O my soul -- a shout of battle!" (YLT)

Or as in Jer. 9:1,

"Who doth make my head waters, And mine eye a fountain of tears? And I weep by day and by night, For the wounded of the daughter of my people." (YLT)

Or as in Jer. 10:19,

"Wo to me for my breaking, Grievious hath been my smiting, And I said, Only, this [is] my sickness, and I bear it." (YLT)

And, again as in Jer. 15:10,

"Woe is me, my mother, That you have borne me, A man of strife and a man of contention to the whole earth! ..." (NKJV)

It was an exclamation of hyperbole in the Eastern manner, a cry from the heart caused by much suffering, and frustration. His calling to the people was a burning fire within him (20:9) that he could not ignore. But, it caused him persecution and suffering all of his life.

  • (+1) Indeed, not ingratitude at all, rather the sincere expression of a very intense emotion and perhaps even state of mind. This is what I find so lovely to discover in many biblical characters: they are just so sincere when talking to God. In this case it is like Jer. saying: yes, I know this is a great job, yet it is so hard that ... Commented Feb 28, 2018 at 17:35

Why did Jeremiah curse an innocent man?

On one occasion Pashhur, a prominent priest, assaulted Jeremiah and had him put in pillory. For hours, he was confined in a wooden frame that may have held his feet, hands, and neck, forcing him into a distorted posture. In addition to the pain, he must have had to endure ridicule heaped on him by opposers. Jeremiah 20:1-4

Given Jeremiah’s situation, it is not surprising that he felt moved to say: "Cursed be the day I was born! May the day my mother bore me never be blessed............... Why did I come out of the womb to see only trouble and sorrow and to end my days in shame? (Jeremiah 20:14-18)

  • Good, simple and concise answer. +1.
    – Dottard
    Commented Nov 26, 2020 at 21:03
  • I think Simon asks for the man that did announce the Jeremiah's father his (prophet's) birth, as the 'innocent' one. If this is the case I see no answer yet to the question made. Commented Nov 27, 2020 at 7:30

Has anyone considered that both Job and Jeremiah cursed their birthdays because it represented, giving Glory to self, when all Glory Belongs to the Almighty? And pagan nations served their gods in this manner, which Israel was forbidden to learn the ways of the nation's that were destroyed before them

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    – Dottard
    Commented Dec 14, 2020 at 0:16

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