Jeremiah said (I used KJV translation but the translations are about the same)

How do ye say, We are wise, and the law of the LORD is with us? Lo, certainly in vain made he it; the pen of the scribes is in vain.

I am questioning the meaning of the bold phrase

Does it mean Torah or laws of God in general. What does Jeremiah mean by "the law"


That URL above says that Jeremiah complain about torah being corrupted.

That is not the most common interpretation.

What did Jeremiah complain about? Was Torah corrupted during Jeremiah era? Was the statement on that URL true? Why bible translation translate "torah" into "law" instead of "torah"

You can check the hebrew here.


Somehow wa tawrat becomes "law of god". Even though the english have a word for tawrat, that is, torah. Did Jeremiah refer to torah or some other "law of God" in Jeremiah 8:8?

Basically I am asking

  1. What does wa tawrat means on that verse
  2. Does Yimeryahu actually complain that the scribes are corrupting/miscopying the 5 books of Moses, say by adding priestly sources, like the URL I said claim?
  • 1
    It would help if you could quote the claim about corruption -- though note that from the URL alone your source is already highly suspect. It would also help if you could quote the text in Jeremiah that you're asking about; "tawrat" is not a transliteration I recognize, so I can't quite tell what you're asking about. (Do you mean "torat", which would be the first part of a two-word phrase?) Oct 19, 2014 at 1:25
  • Jeremiah's claim was that self anointed "wise men" were claiming that the torah/law was with them even though they were backsliding and sinning so the version of law which they espoused, and which condoned their improper behavior is what was a lie, not the "torah" itself.
    – rosends
    Oct 19, 2014 at 1:38
  • The URL I quoted is NOT a christian source. It's a gnostic source with out of the box interpretation. Their idea is that Jesus is an even greater god than hashem, which some sects used to believe in early Christianity. I do not come here to evangelize. Just to keep things straight. I am agnostic my self.
    – user4951
    Oct 24, 2014 at 5:54
  • 1
    Thanks for clarifying your question. I didn't actually say the source was christian, just that it's highly suspect. Anybody ascribing divine status to a man is "highly suspect" from Judaism's point of view; the exact flavor of that claim (christian, gnostic, whatever) doesn't matter too much. Oct 24, 2014 at 13:05
  • @JimThio I see some of the confusion before. "Tawrat" is not being translated as "law of God" as you suggest in your question; the phrase וְתוֹרַת יְהֹוָה is. The first word ("tawrat" is in a grammatical form that requires another noun (YHVH, in this case) to follow. It does not stand alone, and you have to treat the phrase as one concept. Oct 24, 2014 at 14:25

1 Answer 1


Yirmiyahu - Jeremiah - Chapter 8

  1. How do you say, "We are wise, and the Law of the Lord is with us"? Verily, behold it is in vain, he made a false scribes' pen.

    ח. אֵיכָה תֹאמְרוּ חֲכָמִים אֲנַחְנוּ וְתוֹרַת יְהֹוָה אִתָּנוּ אָכֵן הִנֵּה לַשֶּׁקֶר עָשָׂה עֵט שֶׁקֶר סֹפְרִים:

(Rashi translation) Verily, behold it is in vain: Behold your wisdom is in vain within you to heal you lightly.

he made a false scribes’ pen: i.e., your prophet.

Judaica Press: Rashi explains that the people claim to be wise and to possess Hashem's Torah. To this, the prophet retorts that the wisdom is of no use; it but heals their wounds lightly and that the Torah they claim to possess is forged by their prophet.

Radak explains that the prophet (Yirmiyahu) retorts: Verily, behold in vain he made a pen, also the scribes are in vain. You claim to have the Torah. The truth is that the one who made the pen did so in vain. Also the scribes who wrote the Torah did so in vain. Since you do not keep the Torah, it is as though it was not written and its writing is of no use.

Kara explains that hte entire verse is the statement of the people. How do you say "We are wise and the instruction of the Lord is with us. Verily, behold he dealt falsely, the pen ofd the scribes is false"? The people claim that they are wise and keep the Torah. THey claim that every prophet who wrote reproof against them dealt falsely, and that the pen of the scribes that wrote against them is false. The prophet questions how they can make such a statement.

  • Let me understand. Do you mean that wTawrat there means the torah? The 5 books of Moses. However, you didn't mean that it is corrupted. You simply mean that they're not following it and hence are in vain?
    – user4951
    Oct 24, 2014 at 5:56
  • @JimThio The basic meaning is the Oral as well as the written Torah. These are the five books of Moses as well as all the laws and practices. The scribes wrote the written Torah but since they did not keep the laws (the oralTorah) it was in vain. Oct 24, 2014 at 17:23

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