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Jeremiah 18:18-23

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 

18:21 So let their children die of starvation.

Let them be cut down by the sword. 10 

Let their wives lose their husbands and children.

Let the older men die of disease 11 

and the younger men die by the sword in battle.

18:22 Let cries of terror be heard in their houses

when you send bands of raiders unexpectedly to plunder them. 12 

For they have virtually dug a pit to capture me

and have hidden traps for me to step into.

18:23 But you, Lord, know

all their plots to kill me.

Do not pardon their crimes!

Do not ignore their sins as though you had erased them! 13 

Let them be brought down in defeat before you!

Deal with them while you are still angry! 14 

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.

10 tn Heb “be poured out to the hand [= power] of the sword.” For this same expression see Ezek 35:5; Ps 63:10 (63:11 HT). Comparison with those two passages show that it involved death by violent means, perhaps death in battle.

11 tn Heb “be slain by death.” The commentaries are generally agreed that this refers to death by disease or plague as in 15:2. Hence, the reference is to the deadly trio of sword, starvation, and disease which were often connected with war. See the notes on 15:2.

12 tn Heb “when you bring marauders in against them.” For the use of the noun translated here “bands of raiders to plunder them” see 1 Sam 30:3, 15, 23 and BDB 151 s.v. גְּדוּד 1.

13 sn Heb “Do not blot out their sins from before you.” For this anthropomorphic figure which looks at God’s actions as though connected with record books, i.e., a book of wrongdoings to be punished, and a book of life for those who are to live, see e.g., Exod 32:32, 33, Ps 51:1 (51:3 HT); 69:28 (69:29 HT).

14 tn Heb “in the time of your anger.”



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