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Jeremiah 18:10-17

Context
18:10 But if that nation does what displeases me and does not obey me, then I will cancel the good I promised to do to it. 18:11 So now, tell the people of Judah and the citizens of Jerusalem 1  this: The Lord says, ‘I am preparing to bring disaster on you! I am making plans to punish you. 2  So, every one of you, stop the evil things you have been doing. 3  Correct the way you have been living and do what is right.’ 4  18:12 But they just keep saying, ‘We do not care what you say! 5  We will do whatever we want to do! We will continue to behave wickedly and stubbornly!’” 6 

18:13 Therefore, the Lord says,

“Ask the people of other nations

whether they have heard of anything like this.

Israel should have been like a virgin.

But she has done something utterly revolting!

18:14 Does the snow ever completely vanish from the rocky slopes of Lebanon?

Do the cool waters from those distant mountains ever cease to flow? 7 

18:15 Yet my people have forgotten me

and offered sacrifices to worthless idols!

This makes them stumble along in the way they live

and leave the old reliable path of their fathers. 8 

They have left them to walk in bypaths,

in roads that are not smooth and level. 9 

18:16 So their land will become an object of horror. 10 

People will forever hiss out their scorn over it.

All who pass that way will be filled with horror

and will shake their heads in derision. 11 

18:17 I will scatter them before their enemies

like dust blowing in front of a burning east wind.

I will turn my back on them and not look favorably on them 12 

when disaster strikes them.”

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

2 sn Heb “I am forming disaster and making plans against you.” The word translated “forming” is the same as that for “potter,” so there is a wordplay taking the reader back to v. 5. They are in his hands like the clay in the hands of the potter. Since they have not been pliable he forms new plans. He still offers them opportunity to repent; but their response is predictable.

3 tn Heb “Turn, each one from his wicked way.” See v. 8.

4 tn Or “Make good your ways and your actions.” See the same expression in 7:3, 5.

5 tn Heb “It is useless!” See the same expression in a similar context in Jer 2:25.

6 tn Heb “We will follow our own plans and do each one according to the stubbornness of his own wicked heart.”

sn This has been the consistent pattern of their behavior. See 7:24; 9:13; 13:10; 16:12.

7 tn The precise translation of this verse is somewhat uncertain. Two phrases in this verse are the primary cause of discussion and the source of numerous emendations, none of which has gained consensus. The phrase which is rendered here “rocky slopes” is in Hebrew צוּר שָׂדַי (tsur saday), which would normally mean something like “rocky crag of the field” (see BDB 961 s.v. שָׂדַי 1.g). Numerous emendations have been proposed, most of which are listed in the footnotes of J. A. Thompson, Jeremiah (NICOT), 436. The present translation has chosen to follow the proposal of several scholars that the word here is related to the Akkadian word shadu meaning mountain. The other difficulty is the word translated “cease” which in the MT is literally “be uprooted” (יִנָּתְשׁוּ, yinnatshu). The word is usually emended to read יִנָּשְׁתוּ (yinnashtu, “are dried up”) as a case of transposed letters (cf., e.g., BDB 684 s.v. נָתַשׁ Niph). This is probably a case of an error in hearing and the word נָטַשׁ (natash) which is often parallel to עָזַב (’azav), translated here “vanish,” should be read in the sense that it has in 1 Sam 10:2. Whether one reads “are plucked up” and understands it figuratively of ceasing (“are dried” or “cease”), the sense is the same. For the sense of “distant” for the word זָרִים (zarim) see 2 Kgs 19:24.

sn Israel’s actions are contrary to nature. See the same kind of argumentation in Jer 2:11; 8:7.

8 sn Heb “the ancient path.” This has already been referred to in Jer 6:16. There is another “old way” but it is the path trod by the wicked (cf. Job 22:15).

9 sn Heb “ways that are not built up.” This refers to the built-up highways. See Isa 40:4 for the figure. The terms “way,” “by-paths,” “roads” are, of course, being used here in the sense of moral behavior or action.

10 tn There may be a deliberate double meaning involved here. The word translated here “an object of horror” refers both to destruction (cf. 2:15; 4:17) and the horror or dismay that accompanies it (cf. 5:30; 8:21). The fact that there is no conjunction or preposition in front of the noun “hissing” that follows this suggests that the reaction is in view here, not the cause.

11 tn Heb “an object of lasting hissing. All who pass that way will be appalled and shake their head.”

sn The actions of “shaking of the head” and “hissing” were obviously gestures of scorn and derision. See Lam 2:15-16.

12 tc Heb “I will show them [my] back and not [my] face.” This reading follows the suggestion of some of the versions and some of the Masoretes. The MT reads “I will look on their back and not on their faces.”

sn To “turn the back” is universally recognized as a symbol of rejection. The turning of the face toward one is the subject of the beautiful Aaronic blessing in Num 6:24-26.



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