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Jeremiah 11:16

Context

11:16 I, the Lord, once called 1  you a thriving olive tree,

one that produced beautiful fruit.

But I will set you 2  on fire,

fire that will blaze with a mighty roar. 3 

Then all your branches will be good for nothing. 4 

Jeremiah 11:19

Context

11:19 Before this I had been like a docile lamb ready to be led to the slaughter.

I did not know they were making plans to kill me. 5 

I did not know they were saying, 6 

“Let’s destroy the tree along with its fruit! 7 

Let’s remove Jeremiah 8  from the world of the living

so people will not even be reminded of him any more.” 9 

1 tn Heb “The Lord once called you….” This is another example of the rapid shift in person that is common to Hebrew style which is not common in English and could lead to confusion for some readers. Here and in the verses that follow the person has been shifted to first person for consistency in English.

2 tn The verb form used here is another example of a verb expressing that the action is as good as done (the Hebrew prophetic perfect).

3 tn Heb “At the sound of a mighty roar he will set fire to it.” For the shift from third person “he” to the first person “I” see the preceding note. The Hebrew use of the pronouns in vv. 16-17 for the olive tree and the people that it represents is likely to cause confusion if retained. In v. 16 the people are “you” and the olive tree is “it.” The people are again “you” in v. 17 but part of the metaphor is carried over, i.e., “he ‘planted’ you.” It creates less confusion in the flow of the passage if the metaphorical identification is carried out throughout by addressing the people/plant as “you.”

4 tn The verb here has most commonly been derived from a root meaning “to be broken” (cf. BDB 949 s.v. II רָעַע) which fits poorly with the metaphor of setting the plant on fire. Another common option is to emend it to a verb meaning “to be burned up” (בָּעַר, baar). However, it is better to follow the lead of the Greek version which translates “be good for nothing” (ἠχρειώθησαν, hcreiwqhsan) and derive the verb from רָעַע (raa’) meaning “be bad/evil” (cf. BDB 949 and compare the nuance of the adjective from this verb in BDB 948 s.v. רַע 5).

5 tn Heb “against me.” The words “to kill me” are implicit from the context and are supplied in the translation for clarity.

6 tn The words “I did not know that they were saying” are not in the text. The quote is without formal introduction in the original. These words are supplied in the translation for clarity.

7 tn This word and its pronoun (לַחְמוֹ, lakhmo, “its bread”) is often emended to read “in/with its sap” = “in its prime” (either לֵחוֹ [lekho] or לֵחְמוֹ [lekhÿmo]); the latter would be more likely and the מוֹ (mo) could be explained as a rare use of the old poetic third plural suffix for the third singular; cf. GKC 258 §91.l for general use and Ps 11:7 and Job 27:23 for third singular use. Though this fits the context nicely the emendation is probably unnecessary since the word “bread” is sometimes used of other foodstuff than grain or its products (cf. BDB 537 s.v. לֶחֶם 2.a).

sn The word fruit refers contextually here to the prophecies that Jeremiah was giving, not (as some suppose) his progeny. Jeremiah was not married and had no children.

8 tn Heb “cut it [or him] off.” The metaphor of the tree may be continued, though the verb “cut off” is used also of killing people. The rendering clarifies the meaning of the metaphor.

9 tn Heb “so that his name will not be remembered any more.”



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