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Jeremiah 15:14-20

Context

15:14 I will make you serve your enemies 1  in a land that you know nothing about.

For my anger is like a fire that will burn against you.”

15:15 I said, 2 

Lord, you know how I suffer. 3 

Take thought of me and care for me.

Pay back for me those who have been persecuting me.

Do not be so patient with them that you allow them to kill me.

Be mindful of how I have put up with their insults for your sake.

15:16 As your words came to me I drank them in, 4 

and they filled my heart with joy and happiness

because I belong to you. 5 

15:17 I did not spend my time in the company of other people,

laughing and having a good time.

I stayed to myself because I felt obligated to you 6 

and because I was filled with anger at what they had done.

15:18 Why must I continually suffer such painful anguish?

Why must I endure the sting of their insults like an incurable wound?

Will you let me down when I need you

like a brook one goes to for water, but that cannot be relied on?” 7 

15:19 Because of this, the Lord said, 8 

“You must repent of such words and thoughts!

If you do, I will restore you to the privilege of serving me. 9 

If you say what is worthwhile instead of what is worthless,

I will again allow you to be my spokesman. 10 

They must become as you have been.

You must not become like them. 11 

15:20 I will make you as strong as a wall to these people,

a fortified wall of bronze.

They will attack you,

but they will not be able to overcome you.

For I will be with you to rescue you and deliver you,” 12 

says the Lord.

1 tc This reading follows the Greek and Syriac versions and several Hebrew mss. Other Hebrew mss read “I will cause the enemy to pass through a land.” The difference in the reading is between one Hebrew letter, a dalet (ד) and a resh (ר).

2 tn The words “I said” are not in the text. They are supplied in the translation for clarity to mark the shift from the Lord speaking to Jerusalem, to Jeremiah speaking to God.

3 tn The words “how I suffer” are not in the text but are implicit from the continuation. They are supplied in the translation for clarity. Jeremiah is not saying “you are all knowing.”

4 sn Heb “Your words were found and I ate them.” This along with Ezek 2:83:3 is a poetic picture of inspiration. The prophet accepted them, assimilated them, and made them such a part of himself that he spoke with complete assurance what he knew were God’s words.

5 tn Heb “Your name is called upon me.”

sn See Jer 14:9 where this idiom is applied to Israel as a whole and Jer 7:10 where it is applied to the temple. For discussion cf. notes on 7:10.

6 tn Heb “because of your hand.”

7 tn Heb “Will you be to me like a deceptive (brook), like waters which do not last [or are not reliable].”

sn Jeremiah is speaking of the stream beds or wadis which fill with water after the spring rains but often dry up in the summer time. A fuller picture is painted in Job 6:14-21. This contrasts with the earlier metaphor that God had used of himself in Jer 2:13.

8 tn Heb “So the Lord said thus.”

9 tn Heb “If you return [ = repent], I will restore [more literally, ‘cause you to return’] that you may stand before me.” For the idiom of “standing before” in the sense of serving see BDB 764 s.v. עָמַד Qal.1.e and compare the usage in 1 Kgs 10:8; 12:8; 17:1; Deut 10:8.

10 tn Heb “you shall be as my mouth.”

sn For the classic statement of the prophet as God’s “mouth/mouthpiece,” = “spokesman,” see Exod 4:15-16; 7:1-2.

11 tn Heb “They must turn/return to you and you must not turn/return to them.”

sn Once again the root “return” (שׁוּב, shuv) is being played on as in 3:1–4:4. See the threefold call to repentance in 3:12, 14, 22. The verb is used here four times “repent,” “restore,” and “become” twice. He is to serve as a model of repentance, not an imitator of their apostasy. In accusing God of being unreliable he was coming dangerously close to their kind of behavior.

12 sn See 1:18. The Lord renews his promise of protection and reiterates his call to Jeremiah.



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