Jer 7:1-20 God tells Jeremiah to stand at the gate of the Temple in Jerusalem and declare this message:
“Change your lives and do what is right! Then I will let you live in this place... Be fair to each other. You must not oppress strangers, orphans and widows. Don't kill innocent people in this place! If you do these things, I will let you live in this land that I gave your ancestors to keep for ever.” (Jeremiah 7:3-7)
Jerusalem - Model of Herod's Temple (Berthold Werner)
Jer 7:21-28 God declares that obedience to his commandments is more important than offering sacrifices:
"When I brought your ancestors out of Egypt, I did not speak to them and give them commands only about burnt offerings and sacrifices. I also gave them this command: obey me, and I will be your God and you will be my people... But your ancestors did not listen or pay attention to me. They were stubborn and did whatever their evil hearts wanted." (Jeremiah 7:22-24)
Jer 7:29-34 God decries the abhorrent practice of child sacrifice practiced in Jerusalem:
"The people of Judah have done what I said was evil, says the LORD... The people of Judah have built places of worship at Topheth in the Valley of Ben Hinnom. There they burned their own sons and daughters as sacrifices, something I never commanded. It never even entered my mind." (Jeremiah 7:30-31)
The Valley of Hinnom, Jerusalem (RonAlmog)
The Valley of Hinnom
The Valley of Hinnom (or Ben Hinnom) lay immediately south of the old city of Jerusalem (see Map 61). It was a notorious place of child sacrifice, just outside the city walls, where children were killed and offered as sacrifices to the god Molech in Jeremiah’s day (see the feature on Foreign gods).
Later, the Valley of Hinnom served as the rubbish dump for the city of Jerusalem, and the continuously smouldering fires of rubbish reminded people of ‘hell’ – where it was thought that the wicked would spend eternity tormented by the flames of everlasting fires.
Over time, the predominent language spoken in Jerusalem changed, and the valley became known as The Valley of Gehenna. In the New Testament, this later Aramaic name for the valley, 'Gehenna', became a common Jewish name for ‘hell’ (see, for example, Mark 9:47, where the image conjured up by the Valley of Gehenna is used to describe ‘hell’).
Jer 8-10 The LORD condemns the people of Judah for their wickedness:
"They do not feel sorry about their wicked ways, saying, 'What have I done?' Each person goes his own way, like a horse charging into battle." (Jeremiah 8:6) "They should be ashamed of the terrible way they act, but they are not ashamed at all." (Jeremiah 8:12)
"They use their tongues like a bow, shooting lies from their mouths like arrows." (Jeremiah 9:3) "They have not obeyed me or done what I told them to do. Instead, they were stubborn and followed the Baals, as their ancestors taught them to do." (Jeremiah 9:13-14)
"Their teachings come from worthless wooden idols. Hammered silver is brought from Tarshish and gold from Uphaz, so the idols are made by craftsmen and goldsmiths." (Jeremiah 10:8-9)
Jer 11:1-17 Jeremiah tells the people of Judah that they've broken their covenant with God: “The LORD said to me, ‘Announce this message in the towns of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem. 'Listen to the words of this agreement and obey them. I warned your ancestors to obey me when I brought them out of Egypt... But your ancestors did not listen to me.” (Jeremiah 11: 6-8)