17:5 The Lord says,
“I will put a curse on people
who trust in mere human beings,
who depend on mere flesh and blood for their strength, 2
and whose hearts 3 have turned away from the Lord.
They will not experience good things even when they happen.
It will be as though they were growing in the desert,
in a salt land where no one can live.
1 sn Verses 5-11 are a collection of wisdom-like sayings (cf. Ps 1) which set forth the theme of the two ways and their consequences. It has as its background the blessings and the curses of Deut 28 and the challenge to faith in Deut 29-30 which climaxes in Deut 30:15-20. The nation is sinful and God is weary of showing them patience. However, there is hope for individuals within the nation if they will trust in him.
2 tn Heb “who make flesh their arm.” The “arm” is the symbol of strength and the flesh is the symbol of mortal man in relation to the omnipotent God. The translation “mere flesh and blood” reflects this.
3 sn In the psychology of ancient Hebrew thought the heart was the center not only of the emotions but of the thoughts and motivations. It was also the seat of moral conduct (cf. its placement in the middle of the discussion of moral conduct in Prov 4:20-27, i.e., in v. 23).
4 tn This word occurs only here and in Jer 48:6. It has been identified as a kind of juniper, which is a short shrub with minute leaves that look like scales. For a picture and more discussion see Fauna and Flora of the Bible, 131.