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Jeremiah 23:36-38

Context
23:36 You must no longer say that the Lord’s message is burdensome. 1  For what is ‘burdensome’ 2  really pertains to what a person himself says. 3  You are misrepresenting 4  the words of our God, the living God, the Lord who rules over all. 5  23:37 Each of you should merely ask the prophet, ‘What answer did the Lord give you? Or what did the Lord say?’ 6  23:38 But just suppose you continue to say, ‘The message of the Lord is burdensome.’ Here is what the Lord says will happen: ‘I sent word to you that you must not say, “The Lord’s message is burdensome.” But you used the words “The Lord’s message is burdensome” anyway.

1 tn Heb “burden of the Lord.”

2 tn Heb “the burden.”

3 tn Heb “The burden is [or will be] to a man his word.” There is a good deal of ambiguity regarding how this line is to be rendered. For the major options and the issues involved W. L. Holladay, Jeremiah (Hermeneia), 1:651-52 should be consulted. Most of them are excluded by the observation that מַשָּׂא probably does not mean “oracle” anywhere in this passage (see note on v. 33 regarding the use of this word). Hence it does not mean “every man’s word becomes his oracle” as in NIV or “for that ‘burden’ [= oracle] is what he entrusts to the man of his word” (W. McKane, Jeremiah [ICC], 1:600-601). The latter is also ruled out by the fact that the antecedent of “his” on “his word” is clearly the word “man” in front of it. This would be the only case where the phrase “man of his word” occurs. There is also no textual reason for repointing the noun with the article as the noun with the interrogative to read “For how can his word become a burden to anyone?” There are, of course, other options but this is sufficient to show that the translation has been chosen after looking at other alternatives.

4 tn Heb “turning.” See BDB 245 s.v. הָפַךְ Qal.1.c and Lev 13:55; Jer 13:33 “changing, altering.”

5 tn Heb “Yahweh of armies.”

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

6 tn See the note on v. 35.

sn As noted in v. 35 the prophet is Jeremiah. The message is directed against the prophet, priest, or common people who have characterized his message as a “burden from the Lord.”



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