Jeremiah 11 – Skeptic's Annotated Bible answered

A response and reply to the notes on Jeremiah 11 in the Skeptic's Annotated Bible (SAB).

King James Version

SAB comment

My comment

1 The word that came to Jeremiah from the LORD, saying,

2 Hear ye the words of this covenant, and speak unto the men of Judah, and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem;

3 And say thou unto them, Thus saith the LORD God of Israel; Cursed be the man that obeyeth not the words of this covenant,

Those who don't follow the Old Testament laws are cursed by God.
Jeremiah speaks this to Israel, remembering them of the covenant between them and God and the curse that would come upon those that would not obey the law perfectly, see Deut. 27:26.
But although the ceremonial and civil laws in the Old Testament were specific for Israel, Jeremiah also speaks this to us if we do not obey the moral law, the Ten Commandments, which is valid for all times.

4 Which I commanded your fathers in the day that I brought them forth out of the land of Egypt, from the iron furnace, saying, Obey my voice, and do them, according to all which I command you: so shall ye be my people, and I will be your God:

5 That I may perform the oath which I have sworn unto your fathers, to give them a land flowing with milk and honey, as it is this day. Then answered I, and said, So be it, O LORD.

6 Then the LORD said unto me, Proclaim all these words in the cities of Judah, and in the streets of Jerusalem, saying, Hear ye the words of this covenant, and do them.

7 For I earnestly protested unto your fathers in the day that I brought them up out of the land of Egypt, even unto this day, rising early and protesting, saying, Obey my voice.

8 Yet they obeyed not, nor inclined their ear, but walked every one in the imagination of their evil heart: therefore I will bring upon them all the words of this covenant, which I commanded them to do; but they did them not.

9 And the LORD said unto me, A conspiracy is found among the men of Judah, and among the inhabitants of Jerusalem.

10 They are turned back to the iniquities of their forefathers, which refused to hear my words; and they went after other gods to serve them: the house of Israel and the house of Judah have broken my covenant which I made with their fathers.

11 Therefore thus saith the LORD, Behold, I will bring evil upon them, which they shall not be able to escape; and though they shall cry unto me, I will not hearken unto them.

God "will bring evil upon" people from which they will not be able to escape. And if they cry out to him for help, he will not help them.
See the word “therefore”? This happened to them because they broke the covenant, and therefore the curses of the covenant came upon them.

12 Then shall the cities of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem go, and cry unto the gods unto whom they offer incense: but they shall not save them at all in the time of their trouble.

13 For according to the number of thy cities were thy gods, O Judah; and according to the number of the streets of Jerusalem have ye set up altars to that shameful thing, even altars to burn incense unto Baal.

14 Therefore pray not thou for this people, neither lift up a cry or prayer for them: for I will not hear them in the time that they cry unto me for their trouble.

God forbids others from praying for his victims. Such prayers would go unanswered anyway, he says, because he "will not hear them in their time of trouble."
See the word “therefore”? This is not a general clause, but specific for those who have finished sinning until their time is up. And they served other gods, let them help them.
It is unclear to me why the author of the SAB finds it unjust and cruel if God does not hear those, who chose not serve him. They did not want to serve him in life, why should he deliver them in death? Why is God required to help them? Because he can?

15 What hath my beloved to do in mine house, seeing she hath wrought lewdness with many, and the holy flesh is passed from thee? when thou doest evil, then thou rejoicest.

16 The LORD called thy name, A green olive tree, fair, and of goodly fruit: with the noise of a great tumult he hath kindled fire upon it, and the branches of it are broken.

17 For the LORD of hosts, that planted thee, hath pronounced evil against thee, for the evil of the house of Israel and of the house of Judah, which they have done against themselves to provoke me to anger in offering incense unto Baal.

"For the Lord of hosts ... hath pronounced evil against thee."
That evil was the punishment for the evil they had done such as burning their sons and daughters to the gods they chose to serve, see chapter 7:31.

18 And the LORD hath given me knowledge of it, and I know it: then thou shewedst me their doings.

19 But I was like a lamb or an ox that is brought to the slaughter; and I knew not that they had devised devices against me, saying, Let us destroy the tree with the fruit thereof, and let us cut him off from the land of the living, that his name may be no more remembered.

20 But, O LORD of hosts, that judgest righteously, that triest the reins and the heart, let me see thy vengeance on them: for unto thee have I revealed my cause.

"Let me see thy vengeance."
Jeremiah prays for vengeance upon his enemies.
"O LORD of hosts ... that triest the reins and the heart"
Jesus will search your kidneys
Every honest citizen requires vengeance upon evil doers, or does the author of the SAB not like to see criminals punished? As John Gill comments:

This is the prophet's appeal to God, as the Judge of the whole earth, who will do right; he found there was no justice to be done him among men; he therefore has recourse to a righteous God, who he knew judged righteous judgment

On how the word kidney is used in Biblical poetry, see Ps. 7:9.

21 Therefore thus saith the LORD of the men of Anathoth, that seek thy life, saying, Prophesy not in the name of the LORD, that thou die not by our hand:

22 Therefore thus saith the LORD of hosts, Behold, I will punish them: the young men shall die by the sword; their sons and their daughters shall die by famine:

God will punish the people by killing their young men in war and starving their children to death.
No. God withdrew his protection, and let the enemies conquer Israel. Israel called this punishment upon themselves. By doing evil, they called punishment upon themselves. And the effects were not just limited to the parents: of course when they died, their children suffered. If parents abnegate the responsibility they have to their children, their children suffer. Is that God's fault?

23 And there shall be no remnant of them: for I will bring evil upon the men of Anathoth, even the year of their visitation.