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Jeremiah 13:9-11

Context
13:9 “I, the Lord, say: 1  ‘This shows how 2  I will ruin the highly exalted position 3  in which Judah and Jerusalem 4  take pride. 13:10 These wicked people refuse to obey what I have said. 5  They follow the stubborn inclinations of their own hearts and pay allegiance 6  to other gods by worshiping and serving them. So 7  they will become just like these linen shorts which are good for nothing. 13:11 For,’ I say, 8  ‘just as shorts cling tightly to a person’s body, so I bound the whole nation of Israel and the whole nation of Judah 9  tightly 10  to me.’ I intended for them to be my special people and to bring me fame, honor, and praise. 11  But they would not obey me.

1 tn Heb “Thus says the Lord.”

2 tn In a sense this phrase which is literally “according to thus” or simply “thus” points both backward and forward: backward to the acted out parable and forward to the explanation which follows.

3 tn Many of the English versions have erred in rendering this word “pride” or “arrogance” with the resultant implication that the Lord is going to destroy Israel’s pride, i.e., humble them through the punishment of exile. However, BDB 144-45 s.v. גָּאוֹן 1 is more probably correct when they classify this passage among those that deal with the “‘majesty, excellence’ of nations, their wealth, power, magnificence of buildings….” The closest parallels to the usage here are in Zech 10:11 (parallel to scepter of Egypt); Ps 47:4 (47:5 HT; parallel to “our heritage” = “our land”); Isa 14:11; and Amos 8:7. The term is further defined in v. 11 where it refers to their special relationship and calling. To translate it “pride” or “arrogance” also ruins the wordplay on “ruin” (נִשְׁחַת [nishkhat] in v. 7 and אַשְׁחִית [’ashkhit] in v. 9).

sn Scholars ancient and modern are divided over the significance of the statement I will ruin the highly exalted position in which Judah and Jerusalem take pride (Heb “I will ruin the pride of Judah and Jerusalem”). Some feel that it refers to the corrupting influence of Assyria and Babylon and others feel that it refers to the threat of Babylonian exile. However, F. B. Huey (Jeremiah, Lamentations [NAC], 144) is correct in observing that the Babylonian exile did not lead to the rottenness of Judah, the corrupting influence of the foreign nations did. In Jeremiah’s day these came through the age-old influences of the Canaanite worship of Baal but also the astral worship introduced by Ahaz and Manasseh. For an example of the corrupting influence of Assyria on Judah through Ahaz’s political alliances see 2 Kgs 16 and also compare the allegory in Ezek 23:14-21. It was while the “linen shorts” were off Jeremiah’s body and buried in the rocks that the linen shorts were ruined. So the Lord “ruined” the privileged status that resulted from Israel’s close relationship to him (cf. v. 11). For the “problem” created by the Lord ruining Israel through corrupting influence compare the notes on Jer 4:10 and compare also passages like Isa 63:17 and Isa 6:10.

4 map For location see Map5 B1; Map6 F3; Map7 E2; Map8 F2; Map10 B3; JP1 F4; JP2 F4; JP3 F4; JP4 F4.

5 tn Heb “to listen to my words.”

6 tn Heb “and [they follow] after.” See the translator’s note at 2:5 for the idiom.

7 tn The structure of this verse is a little unusual. It consists of a subject, “this wicked people” qualified by several “which” clauses preceding a conjunction and a form which would normally be taken as a third person imperative (a Hebrew jussive; וִיהִי, vihi). This construction, called casus pendens by Hebrew grammarians, lays focus on the subject, here calling attention to the nature of Israel’s corruption which makes it rotten and useless to God. See GKC 458 §143.d for other examples of this construction.

8 tn The words “I say” are “Oracle of the Lord” in Hebrew, and are located at the end of this statement in the Hebrew text rather than the beginning. However, they are rendered in the first person and placed at the beginning for smoother English style.

9 tn Heb “all the house of Israel and all the house of Judah.”

10 tn It would be somewhat unnatural in English to render the play on the word translated here “cling tightly” and “bound tightly” in a literal way. They are from the same root word in Hebrew (דָּבַק, davaq), a word that emphasizes the closest of personal relationships and the loyalty connected with them. It is used, for example, of the relationship of a husband and a wife and the loyalty expected of them (cf. Gen 2:24; for other similar uses see Ruth 1:14; 2 Sam 20:2; Deut 11:22).

11 tn Heb “I bound them…in order that they might be to me for a people and for a name and for praise and for honor.” The sentence has been separated from the preceding and an equivalent idea expressed which is more in keeping with contemporary English style.



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