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Jeremiah 23:16-17

Context

23:16 The Lord who rules over all 1  says to the people of Jerusalem: 2 

“Do not listen to what

those prophets are saying to you.

They are filling you with false hopes.

They are reporting visions of their own imaginations,

not something the Lord has given them to say. 3 

23:17 They continually say 4  to those who reject what the Lord has said, 5 

‘Things will go well for you!’ 6 

They say to all those who follow the stubborn inclinations of their own hearts,

‘Nothing bad will happen to you!’

Jeremiah 23:25-32

Context

23:25 The Lord says, 7  “I have heard what those prophets who are prophesying lies in my name are saying. They are saying, ‘I have had a dream! I have had a dream!’ 8  23:26 Those prophets are just prophesying lies. They are prophesying the delusions of their own minds. 9  23:27 How long will they go on plotting 10  to make my people forget who I am 11  through the dreams they tell one another? That is just as bad as what their ancestors 12  did when they forgot who I am by worshiping the god Baal. 13  23:28 Let the prophet who has had a dream go ahead and tell his dream. Let the person who has received my message report that message faithfully. What is like straw cannot compare to what is like grain! 14  I, the Lord, affirm it! 15  23:29 My message is like a fire that purges dross! 16  It is like a hammer that breaks a rock in pieces! 17  I, the Lord, so affirm it! 18  23:30 So I, the Lord, affirm 19  that I am opposed to those prophets who steal messages from one another that they claim are from me. 20  23:31 I, the Lord, affirm 21  that I am opposed to those prophets who are using their own tongues to declare, ‘The Lord declares….’ 22  23:32 I, the Lord, affirm 23  that I am opposed to those prophets who dream up lies and report them. They are misleading my people with their reckless lies. 24  I did not send them. I did not commission them. They are not helping these people at all. 25  I, the Lord, affirm it!” 26 

1 tn Heb “Yahweh of armies.”

sn See the study note on 2:19 for explanation of this title.

2 tn The words “to the people of Jerusalem” are not in the Hebrew text but are supplied in the translation to reflect the masculine plural form of the imperative and the second masculine plural form of the pronoun. These words have been supplied in the translation for clarity.

3 tn Heb “They tell of a vision of their own heart [= mind] not from the mouth of the Lord.”

4 tn The translation reflects an emphatic construction where the infinitive absolute follows a participle (cf. GKC 343 §113.r).

5 tc The translation follows the Greek version. The Hebrew text reads, “who reject me, ‘The Lord has spoken, “Things…”’” The Greek version is to be preferred here because of (1) the parallelism of the lines “reject what the Lord has said” // “follow the stubborn inclinations of their own hearts;” (2) the preceding context which speaks of “visions of their own imaginations not of what the Lord has given them;” (3) the following context which denies that they have ever had access to the Lord’s secrets; (4) the general contexts earlier regarding false prophecy where rejection of the Lord’s word is in view (6:14 [see there v. 10]; 8:11 [see there v. 9]); (5) the meter of the poetic lines (the Hebrew meter is 3/5/4/3; the meter presupposed by the translation is 5/3/4/3 with the 3’s being their words). The difference is one of vocalization of the same consonants. The vocalization of the MT is יְהוָה מְנַאֲצַי דִּבֶּר [mÿnaatsay dibber yÿhvah]; the Hebrew Vorlage behind the Greek would be vocalized as מְנַאֲצֵי דְּבַר יְהוָה (mÿnaatsey dÿvar yÿhvah).

6 tn Heb “You will have peace.” But see the note on 14:13. See also 6:14 and 8:11.

7 tn The words, “The Lord says” are not in the text. They are supplied in the translation for clarity to show that the Lord continues speaking.

8 sn To have had a dream was not an illegitimate means of receiving divine revelation. God had revealed himself in the past to his servants through dreams (e.g., Jacob [Gen 31:10-11] and Joseph [Gen 37:6, 7, 9]) and God promised to reveal himself through dreams (Num 12:6; Joel 2:28 [3:1 HT]). What was illegitimate was to use the dream to lead people away from the Lord (Deut 13:1-5 [13:2-6 HT]). That was what the prophets were doing through their dreams which were “lies” and “the delusions of their own minds.” Through them they were making people forget who the Lord really was which was just like what their ancestors had done through worshiping Baal.

9 sn See the parallel passage in Jer 14:13-15.

10 tn The relation of the words to one another in v. 26 and the beginning of v. 27 has created difficulties for translators and commentators. The proper solution is reflected in the NJPS. Verses 26-27 read somewhat literally, “How long is there in the hearts of the prophets who are prophesying the lie and [in the hearts of] the prophets of the delusions of their [own] heart the plotting to cause my people to forget my name…” Most commentaries complain that the text is corrupt, that there is no subject for “is there.” However, the long construct qualification “in the hearts of” has led to the lack of observation that the proper subject is “the plotting to make my people forget.” There are no exact parallels but Jer 14:22; Neh 5:5 follow the same structure. The “How long” precedes the other means of asking a question for the purpose of emphasis (cf. BDB 210 s.v. הֲ 1.b and compare for example the usage in 2 Sam 7:7). There has also been a failure to see that “the prophets of the delusion of…” is a parallel construct noun after “heart of.” Stripping the syntax down to its barest minimum and translating literally, the sentence would read “How long will the plotting…continue in the hearts of the prophets who…and [in hearts of] the prophets of…” The sentence has been restructured in the translation to conform to contemporary English style but attempt has been made to maintain the same subordinations.

11 tn Heb “my name.”

sn In the OT, the “name” reflected the person’s character (cf. Gen 27:36; 1 Sam 25:25) or his reputation (Gen 11:4; 2 Sam 8:13). To speak in someone’s name was to act as his representative or carry his authority (1 Sam 25:9; 1 Kgs 21:8). To call someone’s name over something was to claim it for one’s own (2 Sam 12:28). Hence, here to forget the name is equivalent to forgetting who he was in his essential character (cf. Exod 3:13-15; 6:3; 34:5-7). By preaching lies they had obliterated part of his essential character and caused people to forget who he really was.

12 tn Heb “fathers” (also in v. 39).

13 tn Heb “through Baal.” This is an elliptical expression for the worship of Baal. See 11:17; 12:16; 19:5 for other references to their relation to Baal. There is a deliberate paralleling in the syntax here between “through their dreams” and “through Baal.”

14 tn Heb “What to the straw with [in comparison with] the grain?” This idiom represents an emphatic repudiation or denial of relationship. See, for example, the usage in 2 Sam 16:10 and note BDB 553 s.v. מָה 1.d(c).

15 tn Heb “Oracle of the Lord.”

16 tn Heb “Is not my message like a fire?” The rhetorical question expects a positive answer that is made explicit in the translation. The words “that purges dross” are not in the text but are implicit to the metaphor. They are supplied in the translation for clarity.

17 tn Heb “Is it not like a hammer that breaks a rock in pieces?” See preceding note.

18 tn Heb “Oracle of the Lord.”

19 tn Heb “Oracle of the Lord.”

20 tn Heb “who are stealing my words from one another.” However, context shows that it is their own word which they claim is from the Lord (cf. next verse).

21 tn Heb “Oracle of the Lord.”

22 tn The word “The Lord” is not actually in the text but is implicit in the idiom. It is generally supplied in all the English versions.

sn Jer 23:30-33 are filled with biting sarcasm. The verses all begin with “Behold I am against the prophets who…” and go on to describe their reprehensible behavior. They “steal” one another’s messages which the Lord sarcastically calls “my words” (The passage shows that they are not; compare Marc Anthony’s use of “noble” to describe the ignoble men who killed Caesar). Here the use of the idiom translated “to use their own tongue” is really the idiom that refers to taking something in preparation for action, i.e., “they take their tongue” and “declare.” The verb “declare” is only used here and is derived from the idiom “oracle of “ which is almost universally used in the idiom “oracle of the Lord” which occurs 176 times in Jeremiah. I.e., it is their tongue that is “declaring not his mouth (v. 16). Moreover in the report of what they “declare” the Lord has left out the qualifying “of the Lord” to suggest the delusive nature of their message, i.e. they mislead people into believing that their message is from the Lord. Elsewhere in the discussion of the issue of false prophecy the Lord will use the full formula (Ezek 13:6-7). How ironic that their “Oracle of…” is punctuated by the triple “Oracle of the Lord” (vv. 30, 31, 32; translated here “I, the Lord, affirm that…).

23 tn Heb “Oracle of the Lord.”

24 tn Heb “with their lies and their recklessness.” This is an example of hendiadys where two nouns (in this case a concrete and an abstract one) are joined by “and” but one is intended to be the adjectival modifier of the other.

25 sn In the light of what has been said this is a rhetorical understatement; they are not only “not helping,” they are leading them to their doom (cf. vv. 19-22). This figure of speech is known as litotes.

26 tn Heb “Oracle of the Lord.”



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