10:2 The Lord says,
“Do not start following pagan religious practices. 2
Do not be in awe of signs that occur 3 in the sky
even though the nations hold them in awe.
They cut down a tree in the forest,
and a craftsman makes it into an idol with his tools. 5
10:4 He decorates it with overlays of silver and gold.
He uses hammer and nails to fasten it 6 together
so that it will not fall over.
10:5 Such idols are like scarecrows in a cucumber field.
They cannot talk.
They must be carried
because they cannot walk.
Do not be afraid of them
because they cannot hurt you.
And they do not have any power to help you.” 7
“There is no one like you, Lord. 9
You are great.
And you are renowned for your power. 10
because you deserve to be revered. 12
For there is no one like you
among any of the wise people of the nations nor among any of their kings. 13
Instruction from a wooden idol is worthless! 15
They are the handiwork of carpenters and goldsmiths. 19
They are clothed in blue and purple clothes. 20
They are all made by skillful workers. 21
10:10 The Lord is the only true God.
He is the living God and the everlasting King.
When he shows his anger the earth shakes.
None of the nations can stand up to his fury.
10:11 You people of Israel should tell those nations this:
‘These gods did not make heaven and earth.
He is the one who by his wisdom established the world.
And by his understanding he spread out the skies.
He makes the clouds rise from the far-off horizons. 26
He makes the lightning flash out in the midst of the rain.
He unleashes the wind from the places where he stores it. 27
Every goldsmith will be disgraced by the idol he made.
For the image he forges is merely a sham. 29
There is no breath in any of those idols. 30
When the time comes to punish them, they will be destroyed.
He is the one who created everything.
And the people of Israel are those he claims as his own. 34
He is known as the Lord who rules over all.” 35
10:17 Gather your belongings together and prepare to leave the land,
10:18 For the Lord says, “I will now throw out
those who live in this land.
I will bring so much trouble on them
that they will actually feel it.” 38
Our wound is severe!
We once thought, ‘This is only an illness.
And we will be able to bear it!’ 41
10:20 But our tents have been destroyed.
The ropes that held them in place have been ripped apart. 42
Our children are gone and are not coming back. 43
There is no survivor to put our tents back up,
no one left to hang their tent curtains in place.
They have not sought the Lord’s advice. 45
So they do not act wisely,
and the people they are responsible for 46 have all been scattered.
It is coming to turn the towns of Judah into rubble,
places where only jackals live.
It is not in their power to determine what will happen to them. 51
Do not punish us in anger or you will reduce us to nothing. 53
For they have destroyed the people of Jacob. 57
They have completely destroyed them 58
and left their homeland in utter ruin.
1 tn Heb “house of Israel.”
3 tn Heb “signs.” The words “that occur” are supplied in the translation for clarity.
sn The Hebrew word translated here “things that go on in the sky” (אֹתוֹת, ’otot) refers both to unusual disturbances such as eclipses, comets, meteors, etc., but also to such things as the changes in the position of the sun, moon, and stars in conjunction with the changes in seasons (cf. Gen 1:14). The people of Assyria and Babylonia worshiped the sun, moon, and stars, thinking that these heavenly bodies had some hold over them.
4 tn Heb “statutes.” According to BDB 350 s.v. חֻקָּה 2.b it refers to the firmly established customs or practices of the pagan nations. Compare the usage in Lev 20:23; 2 Kgs 17:8. Here it is essentially equivalent to דֶּרֶךְ (derekh) in v. 1, which has already been translated “religious practices.”
5 sn This passage is dripping with sarcasm. It begins by talking about the “statutes” of the pagan peoples as a “vapor” using a singular copula and singular predicate. Then it suppresses the subject, the idol, as though it were too horrible to mention, using only the predications about it. The last two lines read literally: “[it is] a tree which one cuts down from the forest; the work of the hands of a craftsman with his chisel.”
6 tn The pronoun is plural in Hebrew, referring to the parts.
7 tn Heb “And it is not in them to do good either.”
8 tn The words “I said” are not in the Hebrew text, but there appears to be a shift in speaker. Someone is now addressing the
9 tn The form that introduces this line has raised debate. The form מֵאֵין (me’en) normally means “without” and introduces a qualification of a term expressing desolation or “so that not” and introduces a negative result (cf. BDB 35 s.v. II אַיִן 6.b). Neither of these nuances fit either this verse or the occurrence in v. 7. BDB 35 s.v. II אַיִן 6.b.γ notes that some have explained this as a strengthened form of אַיִן (’ayin) which occurs in a similar phrase five other times (cf., e.g., 1 Kgs 8:23). Though many including BDB question the validity of this solution it is probably better than the suggestion that BDB gives of repointing to מֵאַיִן (me’ayin, “whence”), which scarcely fits the context of v. 7, or the solution of HALOT 41 s.v. I אַיִן, which suggests that the מ (mem) is a double writing (dittograph) of the final consonant from the preceding word. That would assume that the scribe made the same error twice or was influenced the second time by the first erroneous writing.
10 tn Heb “Great is your name in power.”
11 tn Heb “Who should not revere you…?” The question is rhetorical and expects a negative answer.
12 tn Heb “For it is fitting to you.”
13 tn Heb “their royalty/dominion.” This is a case of substitution of the abstract for the concrete “royalty, royal power” for “kings” who exercise it.
14 tn Or “Those wise people and kings are…” It is unclear whether the subject is the “they” of the nations in the preceding verse, or the wise people and kings referred to. The text merely has “they.”
15 tn Heb “The instruction of vanities [worthless idols] is wood.” The meaning of this line is a little uncertain. Various proposals have been made to make sense, most of which involve radical emendation of the text. For some examples see J. A. Thompson, Jeremiah (NICOT), 323-24, fn 6. However, this is probably a case of the bold predication that discussed in GKC 452 §141.d, some examples of which may be seen in Ps 109:4 “I am prayer,” and Ps 120:7 “I am peace.”
16 tc Two Qumran scrolls of Jeremiah (4QJera and 4QJerb) reflect a Hebrew text that is very different than the traditional MT from which modern Bibles have been translated. The Hebrew text in these two manuscripts is similar to that from which LXX was translated. This is true both in small details and in major aspects where the LXX differs from MT. Most notably, 4QJera, 4QJerb and LXX present a version of Jeremiah about 13% shorter than the longer version found in MT. One example of this shorter text is Jer 10:3-11 in which MT and 4QJera both have all nine verses, while LXX and 4QJerb both lack vv. 6-8 and 10, which extol the greatness of God. In addition, the latter part of v. 9 is arranged differently in LXX and 4QJerb. The translation here follows MT which is supported by 4QJera.
17 tn This is a place of unknown location. It is mentioned again in Dan 10:5. Many emend the word to “Ophir” following the Syriac version and the Aramaic Targum. Ophir was famous for its gold (cf. 1 Kgs 9:28; Job 28:16).
18 tn The words “to cover those idols” are not in the text but are implicit from the context. They are supplied in the translation for clarity.
19 tn The words “They are” are not in the text. The text reads merely, “the work of the carpenter and of the hands of the goldsmith.” The words are supplied in the translation for clarity.
20 tn Heb “Blue and purple their clothing.”
21 sn There is an ironic pun in this last line. The Hebrew word translated “skillful workers” is the same word that is translated “wise people” in v. 7. The artisans do their work skillfully but they are not “wise.”
22 tn Aram “The gods who did not make…earth will disappear…” The sentence is broken up in the translation to avoid a long, complex English sentence in conformity with contemporary English style.
23 tn This verse is in Aramaic. It is the only Aramaic sentence in Jeremiah. Scholars debate the appropriateness of this verse to this context. Many see it as a gloss added by a postexilic scribe which was later incorporated into the text. Both R. E. Clendenen (“Discourse Strategies in Jeremiah 10,” JBL 106 : 401-8) and W. L. Holladay (Jeremiah [Hermeneia], 1:324-25, 334-35) have given detailed arguments that the passage is not only original but the climax and center of the contrast between the
sn This passage is carefully structured and placed to contrast the
24 tn The words “The
25 tn Heb “At the voice of his giving.” The idiom “to give the voice” is often used for thunder (cf. BDB 679 s.v. נָתַן Qal.1.x).
26 tn Heb “from the ends of the earth.”
27 tn Heb “he brings out the winds from his storehouses.”
28 tn Heb “Every man.” But in the context this is not a reference to all people without exception but to all idolaters. The referent is made explicit for the sake of clarity.
29 tn Or “nothing but a phony god”; Heb “a lie/falsehood.”
30 tn Heb “There is no breath in them.” The referent is made explicit so that no one will mistakenly take it to refer to the idolaters or goldsmiths.
31 tn Or “objects of mockery.”
32 tn The words “The
sn The phrase the portion of Jacob’s descendants, which is applied to God here, has its background in the division of the land where each tribe received a portion of the land of Palestine except the tribe of Levi whose “portion” was the
33 tn Heb “The Portion of Jacob.” “Descendants” is implied, and is supplied in the translation for clarity.
34 tn Heb “And Israel is the tribe of his possession.”
35 tn Heb “Yahweh of armies is his name.”
sn For this rendering of the name for God and its significance see 2:19 and the study note there.
37 tn Heb “you who are living in/under siege.” The pronouns in this verse are feminine singular in Hebrew. Jerusalem is being personified as a single woman. This personification carries on down through v. 19 where she speaks in the first person. It is difficult, however, to reflect this in a translation that conveys any meaning without being somewhat paraphrastic like this.
38 tn The meaning of this last line is somewhat uncertain: Heb “I will cause them distress in order that [or with the result that] they will find.” The absence of an object for the verb “find” has led to conjecture that the text is wrong. Some commentators follow the lead of the Greek and Latin versions which read the verb as a passive: “they will be found,” i.e., be caught and captured. Others follow a suggestion by G. R. Driver (“Linguistic and Textual Problems: Jeremiah,” JQR 28 [1937-38]: 107) that the verb be read not as “they will find” (יִמְצָאוּ [yimtsa’u] from מָצָא [matsa’]) but “they will be squeezed/ drained” (יִמְצוּ [yimtsu] from מָצָה [matsah]). The translation adopted assumes that this is an example of the ellipsis of the object supplied from the context (cf. E. W. Bullinger, Figures of Speech, 8-12). For a similar nuance for the verb “find” = “feel/experience” see BDB 592 s.v. מָצָא Qal.1.f and compare the usage in Ps 116:3.
39 tn The words, “And I cried out” are not in the text. It is not altogether clear who the speaker is in vv. 19-25. The words of vv. 19-20 would best be assigned to a personified Jerusalem who laments the destruction of her city (under the figure of a tent) and the exile of her children (under the figure of children). However, the words of v. 21 which assign responsibility to the rulers do not fit well in the mouth of the people but do fit Jeremiah. The words of v. 22 are very appropriate to Jeremiah being similar to the report in 4:19-20. Likewise the words of v. 23 which appear to express man’s incapacity to control his own destiny and his resignation to the fate which awaits him in the light of v. 24 seem more appropriate to Jeremiah than to the people. There has been no indication elsewhere that the people have shown any indication of being resigned to their fate or willing to accept their punishment. Though the issue is far from resolved a majority of commentators see Jeremiah as the speaker so identifying himself with their fate that he speaks as though he were this personified figure. It is not altogether out of the question, however, that the speaker throughout is personified Jerusalem though I know of no commentator who takes that view. For those who are interested, the most thorough discussion of the issue is probably to be found in W. McKane, Jeremiah (ICC), 1:230-35, especially 233-35. Rendering the pronouns throughout as “we” and “our” alleviates some of the difficulty but some speaker needs to be identified in the introduction to allay any possible confusion. Hence I have opted for what is the majority view.
40 tn Heb “Woe to me on account of my wound.” The words “woe to” in many contexts carry the connotation of hopelessness and of inevitable doom (cf. 1 Sam 4:7, 8; Isa 6:5), hence a “deadly blow.” See also the usage in 4:13, 31; 6:4 and the notes on 4:13. For the rendering of the pronoun as “we” and “our” here and in the verses to follow see the preceding note.
41 tn Some interpret this as a resignation to the punishment inflicted and translate “But I said, ‘This is my punishment and I will just need to bear it.’” This is unlikely given the meaning and usage of the word rendered “sickness” (חֳלִי, khali), the absence of the pronoun “my,” and the likelihood that the particle אַךְ means “only” not “indeed” (cf. BDB s.v. אַךְ 2.b and compare its usage in v. 24).
sn What is being referred to here is the feeling that was encouraged by the false prophets that the ill fortunes of the nation were just temporary setbacks and everything would soon get better (cf. 6:14; 8:11).
42 tn Heb “My tent has been destroyed and my tent cords have been ripped apart.” For a very similar identification of Jeremiah’s plight with the plight of the personified community see 4:20 and the notes there.
43 tn Heb “my children have gone from me and are no more.”
sn What is being referred to is the exile of the people of the land. This passage could refer to the exiles of 605
44 tn Heb “the shepherds.”
45 tn Heb “They have not sought the
sn The idiom translated sought the
46 tn Heb “all their flock (or “pasturage”).”
sn This verse uses the figure of rulers as shepherds and the people they ruled as sheep. It is a common figure in the Bible. See Ezek 34 for an extended development of this metaphor.
47 tn Heb “The sound of a report, behold, it is coming.”
48 tn Heb “ coming, even a great quaking.”
50 tn Heb “Not to the man his way.” For the nuance of “fate, destiny, or the way things turn out” for the Hebrew word “way” see Hag 1:5, Isa 40:27 and probably Ps 49:13 (cf. KBL 218 s.v. דֶּרֶךְ 5). For the idea of “control” or “hold in one’s power” for the preposition “to” see Ps 3:8 (cf. BDB 513 s.v. לְ 5.b[a]).
51 tn Heb “Not to a man the walking and the establishing his step.”
52 tn Heb “with justice.”
53 tn The words, “to almost nothing” are not in the text. They are implicit from the general context and are supplied by almost all English versions.
55 tn Heb “tribes/clans.”
56 tn Heb “who do not call on your name.” The idiom “to call on your name” (directed to God) refers to prayer (mainly) and praise. See 1 Kgs 18:24-26 and Ps 116:13, 17. Here “calling on your name” is parallel to “acknowledging you.” In many locations in the OT “name” is equivalent to the person. In the OT, the “name” reflected the person’s character (cf. Gen 27:36; 1 Sam 25:25) or his reputation (Gen 11:4; 2 Sam 8:13). To speak in a person’s name was to act as his representative or carry his authority (1 Sam 25:9; 1 Kgs 21:8). To call someone’s name over something was to claim it for one’s own (2 Sam 12:28).
57 tn Heb “have devoured Jacob.”
58 tn Or “have almost completely destroyed them”; Heb “they have devoured them and consumed them.” The figure of hyperbole is used here; elsewhere Jeremiah and God refer to the fact that they will not be completely consumed. See for example 4:27; 5:10, 18.