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Jeremiah 12:1-3

Context

12:1 Lord, you have always been fair

whenever I have complained to you. 1 

However, I would like to speak with you about the disposition of justice. 2 

Why are wicked people successful? 3 

Why do all dishonest people have such easy lives?

12:2 You plant them like trees and they put down their roots. 4 

They grow prosperous and are very fruitful. 5 

They always talk about you,

but they really care nothing about you. 6 

12:3 But you, Lord, know all about me.

You watch me and test my devotion to you. 7 

Drag these wicked men away like sheep to be slaughtered!

Appoint a time when they will be killed! 8 

1 tn Or “Lord, you are fair when I present my case before you.”

2 tn Heb “judgments” or “matters of justice.” For the nuance of “complain to,” “fair,” “disposition of justice” assumed here, see BDB 936 s.v. רִיב Qal.4 (cf. Judg 21:22); BDB 843 s.v. צַדִּיק 1.d (cf. Ps 7:12; 11:7); BDB 1049 s.v. מִשְׁפָּט 1.f (cf. Isa 26:8; Ps 10:5; Ezek 7:27).

3 tn Heb “Why does the way [= course of life] of the wicked prosper?”

4 tn Heb “You planted them and they took root.”

5 tn Heb “they grow and produce fruit.” For the nuance “grow” for the verb which normally means “go, walk,” see BDB 232 s.v. חָלַךְ Qal.I.3 and compare Hos 14:7.

6 tn Heb “You are near in their mouths, but far from their kidneys.” The figure of substitution is being used here, “mouth” for “words” and “kidneys” for passions and affections. A contemporary equivalent might be, “your name is always on their lips, but their hearts are far from you.”

7 tn Heb “You, Lord, know me. You watch me and you test my heart toward you.”

sn Jeremiah appears to be complaining like Job that God cares nothing about the prosperity of the wicked, but watches his every move. The reverse ought to be true. Jeremiah shouldn’t be suffering the onslaughts of his fellow countrymen as he is. The wicked who are prospering should be experiencing punishment.

8 tn Heb “set aside for them a day of killing.”



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