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Jeremiah 18:18-20

Context
Jeremiah Petitions the Lord to Punish Those Who Attack Him

18:18 Then some people 1  said, “Come on! Let us consider how to deal with Jeremiah! 2  There will still be priests to instruct us, wise men to give us advice, and prophets to declare God’s word. 3  Come on! Let’s bring charges against him and get rid of him! 4  Then we will not need to pay attention to anything he says.”

18:19 Then I said, 5 

Lord, pay attention to me.

Listen to what my enemies are saying. 6 

18:20 Should good be paid back with evil?

Yet they are virtually digging a pit to kill me. 7 

Just remember how I stood before you

pleading on their behalf 8 

to keep you from venting your anger on them. 9 

1 tn Heb “They.” The referent is unidentified; “some people” has been used in the translation.

2 tn Heb “Let us make plans against Jeremiah.” See 18:18 where this has sinister overtones as it does here.

3 tn Heb “Instruction will not perish from priest, counsel from the wise, word from the prophet.”

sn These are the three channels through whom God spoke to his people in the OT. See Jer 8:8-10 and Ezek 7:26.

4 tn Heb “Let us smite him with our tongues.” It is clear from the context that this involved plots to kill him.

5 tn The words “Then I said” are not in the text. They are supplied in the translation for clarity to show that Jeremiah turns from description of the peoples’ plots to his address to God to deal with the plotters.

6 tn Heb “the voice of my adversaries.”

sn Jeremiah’s prayers against the unjust treatment of his enemies here and elsewhere (see 11:18-20; 12:1-4; 15:15-18; 17:14-18) have many of the elements of the prayers of the innocent in the book of Psalms: an invocation of the Lord as just judge, a lament about unjust attacks, an appeal to innocence, and a cry for vindication which often calls for the Lord to pay back in kind those who unjustly attack the petitioner. See for examples Pss 5, 7, 17, 54 among many others.

7 tn Or “They are plotting to kill me”; Heb “They have dug a pit for my soul.” This is a common metaphor for plotting against someone. See BDB 500 s.v. כָּרָה Qal and for an example see Pss 7:16 (7:15 HT) in its context.

8 tn Heb “to speak good concerning them” going back to the concept of “good” being paid back with evil.

9 tn Heb “to turn back your anger from them.”

sn See Jer 14:7-9, 19-21 and 15:1-4 for the idea.



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