Question: "What is the Valley of Slaughter in Jeremiah 7:32?"

Answer: In Jeremiah 7 God calls Judah to amend their ways. If they do, He will allow them to dwell in the land (Jeremiah 7:3). He also warns them of “the Valley of Slaughter” (Jeremiah 7:32), where a vast number of rebellious Judeans would die.

God had made unconditional promises to Abraham that his descendants would possess the land (e.g., Genesis 15:18–21). God had allowed Abraham’s descendants to live in part of that land for roughly eight hundred years. But they had been unfaithful to another covenant that God had made with Israel through Moses. The Mosaic Covenant, as it is often called, was conditional. In it, God declared that, if Israel was faithful to obey the covenant, then He would allow that generation to live in the land. If they were disobedient to what God had commanded in that covenant, then He would remove them from the land (Deuteronomy 28–29). As Old Testament history unfolded, it was evident that the nation had broken the covenant and was living in disobedience to God. This why God calls to the people to amend their ways (Jeremiah 7:3). He warns them not to trust in the fact that the temple of God was in Jerusalem (Jeremiah 7:4). They would have nothing to fear if they simply would amend their ways and be obedient to what God had told them (Jeremiah 7:5–7).

The people of Jeremiah’s day were deceiving themselves, thinking that they could commit all kinds of evils and then just enter the temple and be delivered (Jeremiah 7:8–10). God warns them that He would destroy His temple and cast the people out (Jeremiah 7:12–15). God would pour out His anger on that whole place (Jeremiah 7:20) and would introduce them to the Valley of Slaughter (Jeremiah 7:32).

In the stubbornness of their hearts, the people relied on burnt offerings and sacrifices and turned away from the voice of God (Jeremiah 7:21–24). For many years God had spoken to the people through prophets, but the people refused to listen and became even more resolved in doing evil (Jeremiah 7:25–26). The people even put instruments of idolatry in God’s temple (Jeremiah 7:30). They built high places (altars to worship false gods) at Topheth in the Valley of Hinnom for the purpose of offering human sacrifices (Jeremiah 7:31). That location would be an epicenter of God’s wrath. The place would no longer be called Topheth, nor the Valley of the Sons of Hinnom. Instead, it would be called the Valley of Slaughter because there would be so many people to bury there (Jeremiah 7:32). There was irony in this chilling judgment, as the people used that location for idolatrous, ritualized murder, and they would pay—in that very location—with their own lives. God would make the entire land a complete ruin (Jeremiah 7:34).

The Valley of Slaughter reminds us of both the holiness and the grace of God. God had warned the people for centuries, over and over again. He had provided prophets and had urged the people to keep their word and be faithful to the covenant they had made. Instead of amending their ways, however, the people continued in their sin and even worsened it to the point they were committing murder in the name of worshiping their various gods. Despite their sin and the coming judgment, God would allow a remnant to survive, and He would one day restore the nation by making a new covenant with them that would be without conditions. He would fulfill it Himself, and the Valley of Slaughter would one day be a distant reminder of the price of their evil.