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Jeremiah Chapter 11

Verses 1-9: This is an extended dialogue between Jeremiah and the LORD about the people of God and their failure to once again keep the covenant their ancestors had accepted during their Exodus from Egypt. That agreement had bound both God and Israel with certain promises and consequences. What was about to befall the nation was because Israel did not uphold its part of the covenant.

Jeremiah 11:1 "The word that came to Jeremiah from the LORD, saying,"

Jeremiah’s messages (in chapters 11-13) reveal Judah’s false loyalties. They have been unfaithful to the covenant of the LORD (11:1-17), and accordingly, must suffer the consequences of their infidelity (11:18 - 12:17). Judah’s corruption (13:1-11) had led them to an inordinate pride that resulted in their suffering humiliation (13:12-27).

Jeremiah 11:2 "Hear ye the words of this covenant, and speak unto the men of Judah, and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem;"

“This covenant”: The reference is to God’s covenant, summarized in verses 3-5, which promises curses for disobeying and blessings for obeying (compare Deut. 27:26 – 28:68).

To read a more detailed account of this covenant, read all of (2 Kings Chapter 23). This also goes into detail about the sins of the people. Verse 2 is spoken to Jeremiah. Jeremiah is to first hear from God and then speak to the men of Jerusalem. This was not to be spoken to just those who held high positions but to all the inhabitants.

Jeremiah 11:3 "And say thou unto them, Thus saith the LORD God of Israel; Cursed [be] the man that obeyeth not the words of this covenant,"

This shows that the command of publishing the law or covenant was principally given to Jeremiah.

"Thus saith the LORD God of Israel": That made them, and brought them out of Egypt, and made a covenant with them. And had taken care of them; and had bestowed many favors upon them.

"Cursed be the man that obeyeth not the words of this covenant": Which the prophet, it may be, had in his hands, even the book of the law; and held it forth unto them, while he was speaking. The language of which is: cursed is everyone that does not constantly and perfectly perform what is contained in it (Deut. 27:26).

God had promised the land of milk and honey to those who kept covenant with Him. He also promised that those who broke the covenant would be cursed. One of the most important things about the covenant was to keep the Passover. This was not optional, it was a requirement.

Jeremiah 11:4 "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:"

“The iron furnace”: A metaphor for the hardship of Egyptian bondage hundreds of years earlier (compare Exodus 1:8-14).

The Passover was something they were to keep, as long as they were alive. The Passover celebrated the night when death passed over the Hebrew houses that had the blood of the Lamb over the door. It was the very thing that caused Pharaoh to release them. They had been slaves in Egypt. Egypt kept them under hard (iron) bondage. This was the birth of the Israelite nation. God promised to be their God if they kept His commandments.

Jeremiah 11:5 "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."

“Your fathers”: Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

"To give them a land flowing with milk and honey": That is, abounding with plenty of all kinds of provisions (see Exodus 3:8).

"As it is this day": The land of Canaan continued to be, in those times, a very fruitful country. It was as it was promised it would be, and there was no doubt about it; Their eyes saw it, and the day bore witness to it.

"Then answered I, and said": That is, the Prophet Jeremiah, to whom the above order was given.

"So be it, O LORD": Or, "Amen, LORD ": Either agreeing to publish what the LORD commanded him; or as wishing that the land of Canaan might continue to be the same fruitful land it was. And the Jewish people in it keeping the words of this covenant. Or else, as assenting that the curse might fall upon the men that did not observe them, alluding to Deut. 27:15.

God still wanted them to have the land of milk and honey, but they must keep their part of the bargain. “So be it” and “Amen” express the same thing. Jeremiah agrees with everything God has said.

Jeremiah 11:6 "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."

Again; this is a repetition of the above order.

"Proclaim all these words in the cities of Judah, and in the streets of Jerusalem": With a loud voice, and openly, that all may hear.

"Saying, hear ye the words of this covenant, and do them": Which their forefathers promised when the covenant was made with them (Exodus 24:7), but did not perform. Hearing without doing is of little avail. Not the hearers, but the doers of the law are justified; wherefore men should not be content with hearing only (Rom. 2:13).

It appears from this that Jeremiah was to read the covenant again to the people of Judah and in Jerusalem. It is the last warning for them to keep their covenant with God.

Jeremiah 11:7 "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."

Or "witnessing, witnessed"; testified His great affection for them. Persistently solicited their observation of His precepts for their good. And strictly cautioned them against neglect and disobedience.

"The day that I brought them up out of the land of Egypt": See Jer. 11:4.

"Even unto this day rising early and protesting, saying, Obey my voice": That is, from the time of the giving of the law, in all successive ages, to the present time. He had sent His prophets to them, time after time, morning by morning, early and late, to press, exhort, and stir them up to an obedience to His will. And to warn them of the evils that would come by disobedience to it.

The message from God had never changed. He wanted them to obey His commands. Their fathers who were freed from Egypt, wandered in the wilderness 40 years because of their disobedience. It seems these people never learn. God would protect them and provide for all their needs if they would just obey Him.

Jeremiah 11:8 "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."

They had such strong solicitations and fair warnings, which were repeated again and again; adding to an aggravation of their disobedience and stubbornness.

"But walked everyone in the imagination of their evil heart": Which is desperately wicked, and is evil, and that continually; even every imagination of it. Wherefore walking herein must be very gratifying to the flesh and different from walking in the law of the LORD and obeying it (see Jer. 3:17).

"Therefore I will bring upon them all the words of this covenant": That is, all the curses and threats mentioned in it against the disobedient. And so the Targum says, "and I brought upon them vengeance (or punishment), because they received not the words of this covenant:''

"Which I commanded them to do; but they did them not": Because they did not do the commands of the law, therefore the curses of it lighted on them. For the words of the preceding

clause may be rendered, "and I brought upon them". And it is suggested that the like punishment would be inflicted on the present generation as they are imitating and pursuing the iniquities of their fathers.

Since they did not obey, they could expect the curses instead of the blessings. Again, these are spelled out in detail in Deut. 28:15-68; read all of it. I will give just the summation of it in the next verses:

Deuteronomy 28:45-46 "Moreover all these curses shall come upon thee, and shall pursue thee, and overtake thee, till thou be destroyed; because thou hearkenedst not unto the voice of the LORD thy God, to keep his commandments and his statutes which he commanded thee:" "And they shall be upon thee for a sign and for a wonder, and upon thy seed for ever."

Verses 9-10: The people so closely repeated their forefathers’ errors that God called their behavior a “conspiracy”. Every generation has the opportunity to live under the covenant or break it. Meanwhile, God remains true to His character and His word (2 Tim. 2:13).

Jeremiah 11:9 "And the LORD said unto me, A conspiracy is found among the men of Judah, and among the inhabitants of Jerusalem."

“A conspiracy”: This refers to the deliberate resisting of God’s appeals for repentance and an insistence upon trusting their own “peace” message and idols.

The conspiracy was against God. I believe the conspiracy is just speaking of the fact that both Judah and Jerusalem had broken their covenant with God.

Jeremiah 11:10 "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."

According to Kimchi, this prophecy was delivered in the times of Jehoiakim. There had been a reforming during the reign of Josiah, but now they had rebelled against the LORD, and had returned to their former idolatries that had been practiced in the times of Amon, Manasseh, and Ahaz.

"Which refused to hear my words": Sent unto them by the prophets, Isaiah, and others.

"And they went after other gods to serve them": Not their forefathers, though it was true of them; but the then present generation, that were in the conspiracy and rebellion against God. They put their schemes into execution, and worshipped and served the gods of the nations.

"The house of Israel and the house of Judah have broken my covenant which I made with their fathers": By their many transgressions, and especially by their idolatry; the house of Israel, or the ten tribes, had done so, many years ago, and were carried captive. And the house of Judah, or the

two tribes of Benjamin and Judah, committing the same iniquities, might justly expect the like treatment.

The iniquities of their forefathers were their determination to worship and serve false gods. It seems that time had not caused their unfaithfulness to go away. They were committing the same sins their fathers committed. The main thing to remember is that God did not break the covenant He made; Israel and Judah did.

Verses 11-13: Although calamity might make the people “cry unto me”, “God”, they would quickly revert to their pattern and seek other “gods” who “shall not save them at all”. God knows fake faith and false repentance, no matter what it looks or sounds like.

Jeremiah 11:11 "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’s deafness to Judah’s “cry” was ample evidence of their sin. Not only had Judah broken God’s covenant (verses 2-8), but they had gone off into a corrupt lifestyle of paganism (verses 9- 10). Therefore, their fellowship with God was broken and He would not hear their requests (compare Psalm 68:18; John 9:31; James 4:3). Where there is godless living (Isa. 56:11-12), lack of concern for others in their need (Isa. 58:6-9), and carelessness with regard to the clear instructions of the Word of God (35:17), God cannot honor the one who prays. Rather, such a one stands in danger of divine judgment (Zech. 7:8-14). However, where intimacy of communion exists, God answers the call of His own (see Job 13:22; 14:14-15; Psalms 22:24-25; 91:15; 102:1-2; Isa. 58:9; 65:24).

"Therefore" is the key word in this. It connects with the preceding verse, which tells of the breaking of the covenant. The Scripture here is just explaining the results of their broken covenant. Their deliberate unfaithfulness to God will bring evil upon them. The sad thing in all of this is that God will no longer hear their prayers. It is the effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man that availeth much. The best way to get prayers answered is to be in right standing with God.

Jeremiah 11:12 "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."

That is, the inhabitants of the cities of Judah, as well as the inhabitants of the city of Jerusalem; the former being in distress on account of the enemy plundering and destroying their land, after the latter had been besieged and taken captive.

"Go and cry unto the gods unto whom they offer incense": Baal, the queen of heaven, the sun, moon, planets, and all the hosts of heaven, as in Jer. 44:15. These they should cry unto for help and deliverance in vain.

"But they shall not save them at all in the time of their trouble": Not yield them the least relief or comfort in their trouble, so far from saving them entirely from it.

Since God will not listen to their prayers, they go and pray to these false gods (idols). That is the very thing that got them in trouble with God in the first place. The idol has no power at all to help anyone. Their prayers then were futile.

Jeremiah 11:13 "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."

Judah was so filled with idolatry that there were false deities for every city and a polluted altar on every street.

Baal was the name of one of the false gods. It appears they worshipped many false gods. King Manasseh had raised numerous altars to false gods.

Jeremiah 11:14 "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."

“Pray not thou for this people”: (compare 7:16 and see note there). Their own prayers, as long as they rejected God, could not gain the answers they desired (verse 11; Psalm 66:18), and the same was true of another’s prayers for them.

These people have placed their faith in false gods so God tells Jeremiah not to pray to Him for them. He is saying, let their false gods help them. God's anger against their unfaithfulness is great. God will not help them this time.

Verses 15-17: One of God’s nicknames for His people was “Green Olive Tree”, a picture of health and blessing. And yet the people’s sins had dried up the branches and made them as kindling.

Jeremiah 11:15 "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."

“My beloved”: A phrase showing God’s sensitive regard for His relationship to Israel as a nation (compare 2:2; 12:7). It does not carry the assumption, however, that every individual is spiritually saved (compare 5:10a).

“Wrought lewdness with many”: Shameful idolatry that defiled all that befits true temple worship, such as the examples in Ezek. 8:6-13. These were gross violations of the first 3 commandments (compare Exodus 20:2-7).

“Holy flesh”: In some way, they corrupted the animal sacrifices by committing sin which they enjoyed (compare 7:10).

We had mentioned in an earlier lesson, how all of the family of Israel (including Benjamin and Judah) were spoken of as the wife of God. For them to follow after false gods, is the same thing as committing spiritual adultery. They were God's beloved, but they have left Him.

Verses 16-17 “Green olive tree”: Israel was pictured as a grapevine (2:21), then an olive tree meant to bear good fruit. However, they produced fruit that calls only for the fire of judgment (as 5:10).

Jeremiah 11:16 "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."

That is, compared the Jewish church and people to one, and made them as one. Very prosperous and flourishing in the enjoyment of privileges, civil and religious. Being highly favored with the word and ordinances.

“Fair, and of goodly fruit": Which, for a while, brought forth the fruit of good works and was amiable and goodly to look upon; was, as the Syriac version says, "fair with fruit, and beautiful in sight". And whereas it might have been expected she would have so continued and been still as a green olive tree in the house of God, as David says in Psalm 52:8. Now it was otherwise, she was become barren, dry, and fruitless; and therefore it follows:

"With the noise of a great tumult He hath kindled fire upon it": That is, by means of the Chaldean army, which came with a mighty rushing noise. The LORD hath destroyed Judah, and burnt it with fire. What the Chaldeans did is ascribed to God, because it was done according to His will, and by His direction and overruling providence.

"And the branches of it are broken": The high and principal ones, the king, princes, and nobles, their palaces, and the house of God. The apostle seems to have respect to the passage in Romans 11:17. The Targum says, "as an olive tree that is beautiful in form and comely of sight, whose branches overshadow the trees, so the LORD hath magnified thy name among the people. But now that thou hast transgressed the law, the armies of the people who are strong as fire shall come against thee, and others shall be joined to them.''

Some of the olive trees in Israel are thought to have lived thousands of years. They are of a hardy stock. The green olive tree would have many years to produce fruit. The righteous man is, many times, spoken of as the green olive tree. They would have been God's forever, had they not strayed. Now God has broken off the branches and will burn them. They are no more beautiful to God. There will, however, be a remnant left. The stock will spring forth new branches.

Jeremiah 11:17 "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."

As a green olive tree, and gave thee all thy freshness, fruitfulness, happiness, and prosperity; when He first put thee into the possession of the good land, and distinguished thee by so many favors and blessings. As He is able to take them away, so He will.

"For He hath pronounced evil against thee": He hath determined it in His mind, and hath declared it by His prophets.

"For the evil of the house of Israel": The ten tribes had committed sin, for which the evil pronounced had been executed on them already, being as they were carried captive some time earlier.

"And of the house of Judah": Who had taken no warning by them, but had followed them in their iniquities, and even exceeded them. And therefore, must expect the like punishment for their sins.

"Which they have done against themselves": For sin is not only against God, His nature, will, and law; but it is against the sinner himself, and is to his hurt and ruin, both temporal and eternal.

"To provoke me to anger in offering incense unto Baal": This particularly was the evil which was so provoking to God. And therefore, He is determined to bring the evil of punishment upon them; and shows the cause and reason of it; and which is a sufficient vindication of His justice.

This is very similar to the fig tree that Jesus cursed, because it did not produce fruit. God planted the olive tree that symbolizes Israel. He also planted the fig tree which symbolizes Israel. Sin cursed them. They had brought the sin upon themselves. When incense was burned to God, it represented the prayers that went up to God. This incense burned to Baal showed they were putting their faith and trust in this false god, Baal.

Verses 18-23: “Thou showedst me”: Jeremiah’s fellow townsmen from Anathoth, one of the 48 cities throughout the land dedicated to the Levites, plotted his death. Their words, “Let us destroy the tree”, indicate their desire to silence Jeremiah by murder.

Here the reader is allowed a glimpse of the recurring hostility that Jeremiah faced. His very life was at stake. The servant of God must be prepared for the possibility of suffering for the LORD’s sake (Matt. 10:36; John 15:18-21; 2 Tim. 3:12; 1 John 3:13). However, he must so live as to be certain that his persecution is for Christ’s sake, not his own doing (compare 1 Peter 2:19- 20; 3:17), and leave the judgment with God (compare 1 Peter 4:12-19).

Jeremiah 11:18 "And the LORD hath given me knowledge [of it], and I know [it]: then thou showedst me their doings."

Either of what he had been declaring as the sins of these people; and of what he had been prophesying concerning punishment for their sins. What he had said was not of himself, and did not arise from any displeasure or resentment in him against them. But it was of God, that knows all things, and had made known these things to him. And he had only faithfully related what he had received; in addition to the malicious designs of the men of Anathoth to take away his life, after mentioned.

"And I know": And am sure of it; having it by divine revelation, and from God who cannot lie, and will not deceive.

"Then thou showedst me their doings": Some versions, as the Septuagint, Syriac and Arabic, take the former words to be a prayer of the prophet's, "O LORD, make me know, or show me, or teach me, that I may know". And these signify that his prayer was answered. The LORD showed him the sins of these people, and what punishments they deserved and would be inflicted on them. Or rather what they were doing in the dark, and what schemes they were contriving and attempting to put in execution against his life. But God was careful of it, and would not suffer them to do him any harm. And therefore, made all known unto him (see Psalm 105:15).

When Jeremiah began to prophecy, we must remember he was just a boy. He had not looked into the sins of these people, until God called him to prophecy against them. God has now shown him all the evil these people have done. God wants Jeremiah to understand why He is punishing them so harshly.

Jeremiah 11:19 "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."

We have no other mention of this conspiracy in holy writ. But it is plain, both from this verse and what follows to the end of this chapter, that the men of Anathoth (which was Jeremiah’s own town), were offended at his prophesying these things against the land of Judah; and had threatened to kill him if he would not leave off that approach and had conspired to that purpose. Some think to mix poison with his meat, others by starving him, others think by beating him; that phrase has been interpreted in various ways.

“Let us destroy the tree with the fruit thereof": Here their scheming is obvious: let us not only put an end to his prophesying, but to his being as well.

"Let us cut him off": Some way or the other.

"That his name may be no more remembered": Of this the prophet saith he was as ignorant as an ox or a lamb that is brought to the slaughter-house, that knoweth nothing of what plot is against its life.

God has shown Jeremiah that these evil men plan to kill him and get rid of him. Jeremiah was helpless to stop them from killing him. He did not have any idea they had planned to kill him.

Jeremiah was just doing the job God sent him to do. He did not know they would take their anger about the message out on him. They felt Jeremiah was the tree from which these messages sprang from. They hated Jeremiah so much, that they did not want anyone to even remember his name. Their plans were to remove him from among the living.

Jeremiah 11:20 "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 on them”: Jeremiah pleaded for God’s defense on his behalf, actually guaranteed in 1:8, 18-19.

God would no longer hear the prayers of these evil people, but He would hear the prayer of Jeremiah. Jeremiah knew his only hope was for God to take up his defense. Jeremiah knew that God was just and would judge righteously. God would take vengeance on them for him. He would get to see the vengeance, because he was allowed to remain in Jerusalem when Babylon attacked. God knows that Jeremiah is right in his heart. He is just being obedient to God.

Jeremiah 11:21 "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:"

That is, "unto", or "concerning the men of Anathoth"; the townsmen of Jeremiah who had conspired together to destroy him.

“Of Anathoth”: See Jer. 1:1.

"That seek thy life": Or "soul"; that is, to take it away.

"Saying, Prophesy not in the name of the LORD": If he would prophesy only smooth things, they would permit him to go on; otherwise, he should expect to die.

"That thou die not by our hand": Or means; they intimate, that should he persist in this way of prophesying, they would not be patient to carry on a judicial process against him; to bring him and accuse him before a judge or the Sanhedrin, or any court of judicature. But should do as those called zealots in later times did; lay violent hands upon him and slay him themselves at once. Perhaps this they said after they found that the prophet had knowledge of their plans against him.

The men of Anathoth swore by the LORD that if Jeremiah would stop his prophecy, they would not kill him. In other words, if he did not stop his prophecy, they intended to kill him.

Jeremiah 11:22 "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:"

Or, visit them; look into this matter, try this cause, bring it to an issue, and pass sentence on them which is as follows:

"The young men shall die by the sword": By the sword of the Chaldeans, in the field, going out in battle against them; or rather when their town was taken and plundered, since they were the sons of priests.

"Their sons and their daughters shall die by famine": That is, their little ones, male and female. So the famine, it seems, was not only in Jerusalem at the time of its siege, but in other parts also. No mention is made of the parents themselves.

They have sworn by a name they did not even believe in. God would not allow them to use His name anymore. They have also spoken against God's anointed. They have threatened to kill Jeremiah, so this is the punishment for them; those who do not die in battle will starve to death.

Jeremiah 11:23 "And there shall be no remnant of them: for I will bring evil upon the men of Anathoth, [even] the year of their visitation."

And thus, the measure they meted out to the prophet was measured to them. They devised to destroy him root and branch, the tree with its fruit. And now none shall be left of them. Such who escaped the sword, and the famine would be carried captive, as they were. For though there were none left in Anathoth, some were preserved alive, and were taken to Babylon. Since, at the return from thence, the men of Anathoth were a hundred twenty eight (Neh. 7:27).

"For I will bring evil upon the men of Anathoth, even the year of their visitation": Or, "in the year of their visitation"; that is, of the visitation of their sins. As the Targum says, which was the year of the destruction of the city and temple of Jerusalem and was in the nineteenth year of King Nebuchadnezzar (Jer. 52:12). And this did not happen by chance but was fixed and determined by the LORD.

God was going to save a remnant of Israel, Benjamin and Judah. There would not be even a remnant left of Anathoth. The year of their visitation is the year of their punishment.

Jeremiah Chapter 11 Questions

1.Who was Jeremiah to speak to about the covenant?

2.Where can you find a more detailed explanation of the covenant?

3.Who specifically was Jeremiah to speak to?

4.Cursed be the man that __________ ____ the words of this covenant.

5.Who had God promised the land of milk and honey to?

6.What was one of the most important things of the covenant to keep?

7.What did Passover celebrate?

8.God would be their God, if they _______ ____ _________________.

9.Where was Jeremiah to read the covenant?

10.Why had their fathers wandered in the wilderness 40 years?

11.Where, in Deuteronomy, are the curses spelled out in detail?

12.Who was their conspiracy against?

13.They had turned back to the ___________ of their forefathers.

14.What were their iniquities?

15.Who broke the covenant?

16.What is the key word in verse 11?

17.If God will not hear, where do they go for help?

18.How many false gods did they worship?

19.What was the name of one specific false god?

20.What does God call them in verse 15?

21.Who were spoken of as the wife of God?

22.Following false gods was the same as what?

23.What do the olive tree and the fig tree have in common?

24.Why did Jeremiah not have knowledge of all they were doing in the beginning?

25.What did these evil men want to do to Jeremiah?

26.What did God do to them?

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