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Jeremiah 11:16-17

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 

11:17 For though I, the Lord who rules over all, 5  planted you in the land, 6 

I now decree that disaster will come on you 7 

because the nations of Israel and Judah have done evil

and have made me angry by offering sacrifices to the god Baal.” 8 

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 “Yahweh of armies.”

sn For the significance of the term see the notes at 2:19 and 7:3.

6 tn The words “in the land” are not in the text but are supplied in the translation to clarify the meaning of the metaphor.

7 tn Heb “For Yahweh of armies who planted you speaks disaster upon you.” Because of the way the term Lord of armies has been rendered this sentence has been restructured to avoid confusion in English style.

8 tn Heb “pronounced disaster…on account of the evil of the house of Israel and the house of Judah which they have done to make me angry [or thus making me angry] by sacrificing to Baal.” The lines have been broken up in conformity with contemporary English style.



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