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Jeremiah 17:1

Context

17:1 1 The sin of Judah is engraved with an iron chisel

on their stone-hard 2  hearts.

It is inscribed with a diamond 3  point

on the horns of their altars. 4 

1 tn The chapter division which was not a part of the original text but was added in the middle ages obscures the fact that there is no new speech here. The division may have resulted from the faulty identification of the “them” in the preceding verse. See the translator’s note on that verse.

2 tn The adjective “stone-hard” is not in the Hebrew text. It is implicit in the metaphor and is supplied in the translation for clarity. Cf. Ezek 11:19; 36:26; and Job 19:24 for the figure.

3 tn Heb “adamant.” The word “diamond” is an accommodation to modern times. There is no evidence that diamond was known in ancient times. This hard stone (perhaps emery) became metaphorical for hardness; see Ezek 3:9 and Zech 7:12. For discussion see W. E. Staples, “Adamant,” IDB 1:45.

4 tn This verse has been restructured for the sake of the English poetry: Heb “The sin of Judah is engraved [or written] with an iron pen, inscribed with a point of a diamond [or adamant] upon the tablet of their hearts and on the horns of their altars.”

sn There is biting sarcasm involved in the use of the figures here. The law was inscribed on the tablets of stone by the “finger” of God (Exod 31:18; 32:16). Later under the new covenant it would be written on their hearts (Jer 31:33). Blood was to be applied to the horns of the altar in offering the sin offering (cf., e.g., Lev 4:7, 18, 25, 20) and on the bronze altar to cleanse it from sin on the Day of Atonement (Lev 16:18). Here their sins are engraved (permanently written, cf. Job 19:24) on their hearts (i.e., control their thoughts and actions) and on their altars (permanently polluting them).



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