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Jeremiah 13:22-25

Context

13:22 You will probably ask yourself, 1 

‘Why have these things happened to me?

Why have I been treated like a disgraced adulteress

whose skirt has been torn off and her limbs exposed?’ 2 

It is because you have sinned so much. 3 

13:23 But there is little hope for you ever doing good,

you who are so accustomed to doing evil.

Can an Ethiopian 4  change the color of his skin?

Can a leopard remove its spots? 5 

13:24 “The Lord says, 6 

‘That is why I will scatter your people 7  like chaff

that is blown away by a desert wind. 8 

13:25 This is your fate,

the destiny to which I have appointed you,

because you have forgotten me

and have trusted in false gods.

1 tn Heb “say in your heart.”

2 tn Heb “Your skirt has been uncovered and your heels have been treated with violence.” This is the generally accepted interpretation of these phrases. See, e.g., BDB 784 s.v. עָקֵב a and HALOT 329 s.v. I חָמַס Nif. The significance of the actions here are part of the metaphor (i.e., personification) of Jerusalem as an adulteress having left her husband and have been explained in the translation for the sake of readers unfamiliar with the metaphor.

sn The actions here were part of the treatment of an adulteress by her husband, intended to shame her. See Hos 2:3, 10 (2:5, 12 HT); Isa 47:4.

3 tn The translation has been restructured to break up a long sentence involving a conditional clause and an elliptical consequential clause. It has also been restructured to define more clearly what “these things” are. The Hebrew text reads: “And if you say, ‘Why have these things happened to me?’ Because of the greatness of your iniquity your skirts [= what your skirt covers] have been uncovered and your heels have been treated with violence.”

4 tn This is a common proverb in English coming from this biblical passage. For cultures where it is not proverbial perhaps it would be better to translate “Can black people change the color of their skin?” Strictly speaking these are “Cushites” inhabitants of a region along the upper Nile south of Egypt. The Greek text is responsible for the identification with Ethiopia. The term in Greek is actually a epithet = “burnt face.”

5 tn Heb “Can the Ethiopian change his skin or the leopard his spots? [Then] you also will be able to do good who are accustomed to do evil.” The English sentence has been restructured and rephrased in an attempt to produce some of the same rhetorical force the Hebrew original has in this context.

6 tn The words, “The Lord says” are not in the text at this point. The words “an oracle of the Lord” does, however, occur in the middle of the next verse and it is obvious the Lord is the speaker. The words have been moved up from the next verse to enhance clarity.

7 tn Heb “them.” This is another example of the rapid shift in pronouns seen several times in the book of Jeremiah. The pronouns in the preceding and the following are second feminine singular. It might be argued that “them” goes back to the “flock”/“sheep” in v. 20, but the next verse refers the fate described here to “you” (feminine singular). This may be another example of the kind of metaphoric shifts in referents discussed in the notes on 13:20 above. Besides, it would sound a little odd in the translation to speak of scattering one person like chaff.

8 sn Compare the threat using the same metaphor in Jer 4:11-12.



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