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Jeremiah 17:13

Context

17:13 You are the one in whom Israel may find hope. 1 

All who leave you will suffer shame.

Those who turn away from you 2  will be consigned to the nether world. 3 

For they have rejected you, the Lord, the fountain of life. 4 

1 tn Heb “O glorious throne, O high place from the beginning, O hope of Israel, O Lord.” Commentators and translators generally understand these four lines (which are three in the Hebrew original) as two predications, one eulogizing the temple and the other eulogizing God. However, that does not fit the context very well and does not take into account the nature of Jeremiah’s doxology in Jeremiah 16:19-20 (and compare also 10:6-7). There the doxology is context motivated, focused on God, and calls on relevant attributes in the form of metaphorical epithets. That fits nicely here as well. For the relevant parallel passages see the study note.

sn As King and Judge seated on his heavenly throne on high the Lord metes out justice. For examples of this motif see Jer 25:30; Ps 11:4; 9:4, 7 (9:5, 8 HT). As the place of sanctuary he offers refuge for those who are fleeing for safety. Ezek 11:16 and Isa 18:1-4 are examples of passages using that motif. Finally, the Lord has been referred to earlier as the object of Israel’s hope (Jer 14:8). All of these are relevant to the choices that the Lord has placed before them, trust or turn away, and the threat that as all-knowing Judge he will reward people according to their behavior.

2 tc The translation is based on an emendation suggested in W. L. Holladay, Jeremiah (Hermeneia), 1:500, n. b-b. The emendation involves following the reading preferred by the Masoretes (the Qere) and understanding the preposition with the following word as a corruption of the suffix on it. Thus the present translation reads וּסוּרֶיךָ אֶרֶץ (usurekhaerets) instead of וּסוּרַי בָּאֶרֶץ (usuray baerets, “and those who leave me will be written in the earth”), a reading which is highly improbable since all the other pronouns are second singular.

3 tn Or “to the world of the dead.” An alternative interpretation is: “will be as though their names were written in the dust”; Heb “will be written in the dust.” The translation follows the nuance of “earth” listed in HALOT 88 s.v. אֶרֶץ 4 and found in Jonah 2:6 (2:7 HT); Job 10:21-22. For the nuance of “enrolling, registering among the number” for the verb translated here “consign” see BDB 507 s.v. כָּתַב Qal.3 and 508 s.v. Niph.2 and compare usage in Ezek 13:9 and Ps 69:28 (69:29 HT).

4 tn Heb “The fountain of living water.” For an earlier use of this metaphor and the explanation of it see Jer 2:13 and the notes there. There does not appear to be any way to retain this metaphor in the text without explaining it. In the earlier text the context would show that literal water was not involved. Here it might still be assumed that the Lord merely gives life-giving water.



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