Jeremiah 10:1-4 KJV

Hear the word that the Lord speaks to you, O house of Israel. Thus says the Lord:

“Learn not the way of the nations, nor be dismayed at the signs of the heavens because the nations are dismayed at them, for the customs of the peoples are vanity. A tree from the forest is cut down and worked with an axe by the hands of a craftsman. They decorate it with silver and gold; they fasten it with hammer and nails so that it cannot move.

Is Jeremiah talking about a Yule Tree here?


It would appear that this is not the case, when the entire passage is read according to the webpage article Jeremiah 10 and the “Pagan” Christmas Tree (Bucher, 2000), the next verses detail that

the "decorated tree" that Jeremiah was talking about in 10:3-4, was a tree that was cut down and made into an idol, a very common custom in the ancient world.

and importantly, according to the article Jeremiah 10 and Christmas Trees it is concluded that Jeremiah is not condemning Christmas trees (a practice started in Europe in the 16th century AD), but is condemning idolatry.


No. The next sentence goes on to talk about how they will not walk on their own. Yule trees do not receive such anthropomorphic language. Passage 11 clarifies that this is talking about carving/fashioning gods (idols), not a pagan tree custom.

Also, while some do argue for an early veneration of evergreen trees that may be precursor to Yule tree in later Germany, this is not seen in Semitic cultures of this period making this question an almost laughable anachronism.

  • It may not have been seen in Semitic cultures, but the practice would have been seen from the Romans. The passage warns against "Learn not the way of the nations", obviously we're not talking about just Semitic cultures here. – The Freemason Dec 30 '13 at 3:58
  • So you presume the ancient Jews had contact with the Romans in the 6th century BC? I have something to sell you :) – user1985 Jan 2 '14 at 0:14
  • I may be off by 600 years or so. Maybe The Roman link isn't the best. But my point is that the text suggests something outside of the Semitic cultures. – The Freemason Jan 2 '14 at 1:11
  • I think the text suggests a practice outside of Jewish culture, but to say more than that is an assumption. Who's to say they even had much contact with non-Semitic cultures at that time? I don't know answer I just ask – user1985 Jan 3 '14 at 21:43
  • I appear to be repeating myself. "Learn not the way of the nations" would appear to suggest that there was some contact with non-Semitic cultures - else why warn against them? – The Freemason Mar 17 '15 at 13:01

One only needs to google ancient tree worship and view the images. There were many false religions decorating trees that resemble xmas trees as part of their pagan worship practices. In my opinion, if Jeremiah 10 were only about making idols from wood, why even mention the tree part. It's also important to realize that verse in Jeremiah is not the only place worshiping trees is condemned in the bible. Quite frankly, it's a little scary how close these things resemble xmas trees.

  • Hi Ryan! Welcome to Hermeneutics.SE. You might take the tour if you have not already to get an idea of what constitutes a thorough answer. – colboynik Oct 23 '18 at 3:13

Jeremiah is operating in the capacity of The Lord's mouthpiece to the house of Israel. In 10:2 The Lord sends a warning to them saying: "Learn not the ways of the (ungodly)nations." By learning their ways the house of Israel could start practicing them. In 10:3 He states that their customs or ways are vanity (false). The Lord then gives them an example that they were probably familiar with, which was the decorating of the tree. Once the tree was decorated they would worship it as if it were a God. Deuteronomy 5:7-10 explains how The Lord feels about this practice, and the consequences that will incur.

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