The Lord has a complaint against the people: They have refused to take correction.
They have made their faces harder than rock.
They have refused to turn back.
In defense, Jeremiah says:
These are only the poor, they have no sense; for they do not know the way of the LORD, the law of their God.
Let me go to the rich, says Jeremiah.
And speak truth to them.
Surely they know the way of the LORD, the law of their God.
But they all alike had broken the yoke, they had burst the bonds.
Jeremiah seeks to defend the hard-hearted and the obtuse by
suggesting to God that they are disadvantaged, they're the poor; they simply haven't the wherewithal to make sound judgments.
Well, for what it's worth, hats off to Jeremiah for trying to find some defense of the people in their social and economic status. In other words, they're disadvantaged.
So, don't blame them, O LORD. Give them a break.
I'll go to the rich instead, says Jeremiah, who have all the advantages of life: status and schooling, learning and leisure, the wherewithal to know what the truth would be and your ways, O God. Surely, they'll know. The burden belongs to them, to those with much advantage in the race of life. Those to whom much is given, much is expected.
But, alas alack. It is not the case, as Jeremiah finds.
The rich, who ought to know to better, don't. They have broken the laws of life and love; they, too, have hardened their hearts against the will of God.
Those who should know better, don't.
And along with the poor, whom the rich have manipulated, the whole of the nation turns from God and, in willfulness and desire, seeks its own way.