I will forsake the people I call my own. 2
I will turn my beloved people 3
over to the power 4 of their enemies.
like a lion 6 in the forest.
They have roared defiantly 7 at me.
So I will treat them as though I hate them. 8
But other birds of prey are all around them. 10
Let all the nations gather together like wild beasts.
Let them come and destroy these people I call my own. 11
16:18 Before I restore them 12 I will punish them in full 13 for their sins and the wrongs they have done. For they have polluted my land with the lifeless statues of their disgusting idols. They have filled the land I have claimed as my own 14 with their detestable idols.” 15
That made you happy and glad.
You frolic about like calves in a pasture. 18
Your joyous sounds are like the neighs of a stallion. 19
1 tn Heb “my house.” Or “I have abandoned my nation.” The word “house” has been used throughout Jeremiah for both the temple (e.g., 7:2, 10), the nation or people of Israel or of Judah (e.g. 3:18, 20), or the descendants of Jacob (i.e., the Israelites, e.g., 2:4). Here the parallelism argues that it refers to the nation of Judah. The translation throughout vv. 5-17 assumes that the verb forms are prophetic perfects, the form that conceives of the action as being as good as done. It is possible that the forms are true perfects and refer to a past destruction of Judah. If so, it may have been connected with the assaults against Judah in 598/7
2 tn Heb “my inheritance.”
3 tn Heb “the beloved of my soul.” Here “soul” stands for the person and is equivalent to “my.”
4 tn Heb “will give…into the hands of.”
5 tn See the note on the previous verse.
6 tn Heb “have become to me like a lion.”
7 tn Heb “have given against me with her voice.”
8 tn Or “so I will reject her.” The word “hate” is sometimes used in a figurative way to refer to being neglected, i.e., treated as though unloved. In these contexts it does not have the same emotive connotations that a typical modern reader would associate with hate. See Gen 29:31, 33 and E. W. Bullinger, Figures of Speech, 556.
9 tn Or “like speckled birds of prey.” The meanings of these words are uncertain. In the Hebrew text sentence is a question: “Is not my inheritance to me a bird of prey [or] a hyena/a speckled bird of prey?” The question expects a positive answer and so is rendered here as an affirmative statement. The meaning of the word “speckled” is debated. It occurs only here. BDB 840 s.v. צָבוּעַ relates it to another word that occurs only once in Judg 5:30 which is translated “dyed stuff.” HALOT 936 s.v. צָבוּעַ relates a word found in the cognates meaning “hyena.” This is more likely and is the interpretation followed by the Greek which reads the first two words as “cave of hyena.” This translation has led some scholars to posit a homonym for the word “bird of prey” meaning “cave” which is based on Arabic parallels. The metaphor would then be of Israel carried off by hyenas and surrounded by birds of prey. The evidence for the meaning “cave” is weak and would involve a wordplay of a rare homonym with another word that is better known. For a discussion of the issues see J. Barr, Comparative Philology and the Text of the Old Testament, 128-29, 153.
10 tn Heb “Are birds of prey around her?” The question is again rhetorical and expects a positive answer. The birds of prey are of course the hostile nations surrounding her. The metaphor involved in these two lines may be interpreted differently. I.e., God considers Israel a proud bird of prey (hence the word for speckled) but one who is surrounded and under attack by other birds of prey. The fact that the sentences are divided into two rhetorical questions speaks somewhat against this.
11 tn Heb “Go, gather all the beasts of the field [= wild beasts]. Bring them to devour.” The verbs are masculine plural imperatives addressed rhetorically to some unidentified group (the heavenly counsel?) Cf. the notes on 5:1 for further discussion. Since translating literally would raise question about who the commands are addressed to, they have been turned into passive third person commands to avoid confusion. The metaphor has likewise been turned into a simile to help the modern reader. By the way, the imperatives here implying future action argue that the passage is future and that it is correct to take the verb forms as prophetic perfects.
12 tn Heb “First.” Many English versions and commentaries delete this word because it is missing from the Greek version and is considered a gloss added by a postexilic editor who is said to be responsible also for vv. 14-16. This is not the place to resolve issues of authorship and date. It is the task of the translator to translate the “original” which in this case is the MT supported by the other versions. The word here refers to order in rank or order of events. Compare Gen 38:28; 1 Kgs 18:25. Here allusion is made to the restoration previously mentioned. First in order of events is the punishment of destruction and exile, then restoration.
13 tn Heb “double.” However, usage in Deut 15:18 and probably Isa 40:2 argues for “full compensation.” This is supported also by usage in a tablet from Alalakh in Syria. See P. C. Craigie, P. H. Kelley, J. F. Drinkard, Jeremiah 1-25 (WBC), 218, for bibliography.
14 tn Heb “my inheritance.”
15 tn Many of the English versions take “lifeless statues of their detestable idols” with “filled” as a compound object. This follows the Masoretic punctuation but violates usage. The verb “fill” never takes an object preceded by the preposition בְּ (bet).
16 tn The words “People of Babylonia” are not in the text but they are implicit in the reference in the next verse to “your mother” which refers to the city and the land as the mother of its people. These words have been supplied in the translation to identify the referent of “you” and have been added for clarity.
18 tc Reading כְּעֶגְלֵי דֶשֶׁא (kÿ’egle deshe’) or כְּעֵגֶל בַּדֶּשֶׁא (kÿ’egel baddeshe’) as presupposed by the Greek and Latin versions (cf. BHS note d-d) in place of the reading in the Hebrew text כְּעֶגְלָה דָשָׁה (kÿ’eglah dashah, “like a heifer treading out the grain”) which does not fit the verb (פּוּשׁ [push] = “spring about” [BDB 807 s.v. I פּוּשׁ] or “paw the ground” [KBL 756 s.v. פּוּשׁ] and compare Mal 3:20 for usage). This variant reading is also accepted by J. Bright, J. A. Thompson, F. B. Huey, and G. L. Keown, P. J. Scalise, T. G. Smothers.
19 tn Heb “Though you rejoice, though you exult, you who have plundered my heritage, though you frolic like calves in a pasture and neigh like stallions, your mother…” The particle כִּי (ki) introduces a concessive protasis according to BDB 473 s.v. כִּי 2.c(a). Many interpret the particle as introducing the grounds for the next verse, i.e., “because…” The translation here will reflect the concessive by beginning the next verse with “But.” The long protasis has been broken up and restructured to better conform with contemporary English style.