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Jeremiah 11:4-5

Context
11:4 Those are the terms that I charged your ancestors 1  to keep 2  when I brought them out of Egypt, that place which was like an iron-smelting furnace. 3  I said at that time, 4  “Obey me and carry out the terms of the agreement 5  exactly as I commanded you. If you do, 6  you will be my people and I will be your God. 7  11:5 Then I will keep the promise I swore on oath to your ancestors to give them a land flowing with milk and honey.” 8  That is the very land that you still live in today.’” 9  And I responded, “Amen! Let it be so, 10  Lord!”

1 tn Heb “fathers” (also in vv. 5, 7, 10).

2 tn Heb “does not listen…this covenant which I commanded your fathers.” The sentence is broken up this way in conformity with contemporary English style.

3 tn Heb “out of the land of Egypt, out of the iron-smelting furnace.”

4 tn In place of the words “I said at that time” the Hebrew text has “saying.” The sentence is again being restructured in English to avoid the long, confusing style of the Hebrew original.

5 tn Heb “Obey me and carry them out.” The “them” refers back to the terms of the covenant which they were charged to keep according to the preceding. The referent is made specific to avoid ambiguity.

6 tn The words, “If you do” are not in the text. They have been supplied in the translation to break up a long sentence consisting of an imperative followed by a consequential sentence.

7 sn Obey me and carry out the terms of the agreement…and I will be your God. This refers to the Mosaic law which was instituted at Sinai and renewed on the Plains of Moab before Israel entered into the land. The words “the terms of the covenant” are explicitly used for the Ten Commandments in Exod 34:28 and for the additional legislation given in Deut 28:69; 29:8. The formulation here is reminiscent of Deut 29:9-14 (29:10-15 HT). The book of Deuteronomy is similar in its structure and function to an ancient Near Eastern treaty. In these the great king reminded his vassal of past benefits that he had given to him, charged him with obligations (the terms or stipulations of the covenant) chief among which was absolute loyalty and sole allegiance, promised him future benefits for obeying the stipulations (the blessings), and placed him under a curse for disobeying them. Any disobedience was met with stern warnings of punishment in the form of destruction and exile. Those who had witnessed the covenant were called in to confirm the continuing goodness of the great king and the disloyalty of the vassal. The vassal was then charged with a list of particular infringements of the stipulations and warned to change his actions or suffer the consequences. This is the background for Jer 11:1-9. Jeremiah is here functioning as a messenger from the Lord, Israel’s great king, and charging both the fathers and the children with breach of covenant.

8 tn The phrase “a land flowing with milk and honey” is very familiar to readers in the Jewish and Christian traditions as a proverbial description of the agricultural and pastoral abundance of the land of Israel. However, it may not mean too much to readers outside those traditions; an equivalent expression would be “a land of fertile fields and fine pastures.” E. W. Bullinger (Figures of Speech, 626) identifies this as a figure of speech called synecdoche where the species is put for the genus, “a region…abounding with pasture and fruits of all kinds.”

9 tn Heb “‘a land flowing with milk and honey,’ as at this day.” However, the literal reading is too elliptical and would lead to confusion.

10 tn The words “Let it be so” are not in the text; they are an explanation of the significance of the term “Amen” for those who may not be part of the Christian or Jewish tradition.

sn The word amen is found at the end of each of the curses in Deut 27 where the people express their agreement with the appropriateness of the curse for the offense mentioned.



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