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Jeremiah 18:7-10

Context
18:7 There are times, Jeremiah, 1  when I threaten to uproot, tear down, and destroy a nation or kingdom. 2  18:8 But if that nation I threatened stops doing wrong, 3  I will cancel the destruction 4  I intended to do to it. 18:9 And there are times when I promise to build up and establish 5  a nation or kingdom. 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.

Jeremiah 31:27-28

Context
Israel and Judah Will Be Repopulated

31:27 “Indeed, a time is coming,” 6  says the Lord, 7  “when I will cause people and animals to sprout up in the lands of Israel and Judah. 8  31:28 In the past I saw to it that they were uprooted and torn down, that they were destroyed and demolished. But now I will see to it that they are built up and firmly planted. 9  I, the Lord, affirm it!” 10 

1 tn The word “Jeremiah” is not in the text but it is implicit from the introduction in v. 5 that he is being addressed. It is important to see how the rhetoric of this passage is structured. The words of vv. 7-10 lead up to the conclusion “So now” in v. 11 which in turns leads to the conclusion “Therefore” in v. 13. The tense of the verb in v. 12 is very important. It is a vav consecutive perfect indicating the future (cf. GKC 333 §112.p, r); their response is predictable. The words of vv. 7-10 are addressed to Jeremiah (v. 5) in fulfillment of the Lord’s promise to speak to him (v. 2) and furnish the basis for the Lord’s words of conditional threat to a people who show no promise of responding positively (vv. 11-12). Verse six then must be seen as another example of the figure of apostrophe (the turning aside from description about someone to addressing them directly; cf., e.g., Ps 6:8-9 (6:9-10 HT). Earlier examples of this figure have been seen in 6:20; 9:4; 11:13; 12:13; 15:6.

2 tn Heb “One moment I may speak about a nation or kingdom to…” So also in v. 9. The translation is structured this way to avoid an awkward English construction and to reflect the difference in disposition. The constructions are, however, the same.

3 tn Heb “turns from its wickedness.”

4 tn There is a good deal of debate about how the word translated here “revoke” should be translated. There is a good deal of reluctance to translate it “change my mind” because some see that as contradicting Num 23:19 and thus prefer “relent.” However, the English word “relent” suggests the softening of an attitude but not necessarily the change of course. It is clear that in many cases (including here) an actual change of course is in view (see, e.g., Amos 7:3, 6; Jonah 3:9; Jer 26:19; Exod 13:17; 32:14). Several of these passages deal with “conditional” prophecies where a change in behavior of the people or the mediation of a prophet involves the change in course of the threatened punishment (or the promised benefit). “Revoke” or “forgo” may be the best way to render this in contemporary English idiom.

sn There is a wordplay here involving the word “evil” (רָעָה, raah) which refers to both the crime and the punishment. This same play is carried further in Jonah 3:10-4:1 where Jonah becomes very displeased (Heb “it was very evil to Jonah with great evil”) when God forgoes bringing disaster (evil) on Nineveh because they have repented of their wickedness (evil).

5 sn Heb “plant.” The terms “uproot,” “tear down,” “destroy,” “build,” and “plant” are the two sides of the ministry Jeremiah was called to (cf. Jer 1:10).

6 tn Heb “Behold days are coming!” The particle “Behold” is probably used here to emphasize the reality of a fact. See the translator’s note on 1:6.

sn This same expression is found in the introduction to the Book of Consolation (Jer 30:1-3) and in the introduction to the promise of a new covenant (or covenant; 31:31). In all three passages it is emphasized that the conditions apply to both Israel and Judah. The Lord will reverse their fortunes and restore them to their lands (30:3), increase their numbers and build them up (31:27-28), and make a new covenant with them involving forgiveness of sins (31:31-34).

7 tn Heb “Oracle of the Lord.”

8 tn Heb “Behold, the days are coming and [= when] I will sow the house of Israel and the house of Judah with the seed of people and of animals.” For the significance of the metaphor see the study note.

sn The metaphor used here presupposes that drawn in Hos 2:23 (2:25 HT) which is in turn based on the wordplay with Jezreel (meaning “God sows”) in Hos 2:22. The figure is that of plant seed in the ground which produces a crop; here what are sown are the “seeds of people and animals.” For a similar picture of the repopulating of Israel and Judah see Ezek 36:10-11. The promise here reverses the scene of devastation that Jeremiah had depicted apocalyptically and hyperbolically in Jer 4:23-29 as judgment for Judah’s sins.

9 tn Heb “Just as I watched over them to uproot and to tear down, to destroy and demolish, so I will watch over them to build and to plant.” The words here repeat those of 1:10 and 1:12.

10 tn Heb “Oracle of the Lord.”



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