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Jeremiah 23:9

Context
Oracles Against the False Prophets 1 

23:9 Here is what the Lord says concerning the false prophets: 2 

My heart and my mind are deeply disturbed.

I tremble all over. 3 

I am like a drunk person,

like a person who has had too much wine, 4 

because of the way the Lord

and his holy word are being mistreated. 5 

Jeremiah 23:14-15

Context

23:14 But I see the prophets of Jerusalem 6 

doing something just as shocking.

They are unfaithful to me

and continually prophesy lies. 7 

So they give encouragement to people who are doing evil,

with the result that they do not stop their evildoing. 8 

I consider all of them as bad as the people of Sodom,

and the citizens of Jerusalem as bad as the people of Gomorrah. 9 

23:15 So then I, the Lord who rules over all, 10 

have something to say concerning the prophets of Jerusalem: 11 

‘I will make these prophets eat the bitter food of suffering

and drink the poison water of judgment. 12 

For the prophets of Jerusalem are the reason 13 

that ungodliness 14  has spread throughout the land.’”

Jeremiah 23:25-27

Context

23:25 The Lord says, 15  “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!’ 16  23:26 Those prophets are just prophesying lies. They are prophesying the delusions of their own minds. 17  23:27 How long will they go on plotting 18  to make my people forget who I am 19  through the dreams they tell one another? That is just as bad as what their ancestors 20  did when they forgot who I am by worshiping the god Baal. 21 

1 sn Jeremiah has already had a good deal to say about the false prophets and their fate. See 2:8, 26; 5:13, 31; 14:13-15. Here he parallels the condemnation of the wicked prophets and their fate (23:9-40) with that of the wicked kings (21:11-22:30).

2 tn The word “false” is not in the text, but it is clear from the context that these are whom the sayings are directed against. The words “Here is what the Lord says” are also not in the text. But comparison with 46:2; 48:1; 49:1, 7, 23, 28; and 21:11 will show that this is a heading. The words are supplied in the translation for clarity.

3 tn Heb “My heart is crushed within me. My bones tremble.” It has already been noted several times that the “heart” in ancient Hebrew psychology was the intellectual and volitional center of the person, the kidneys were the emotional center, and the bones the locus of strength and also the subject of joy, distress, and sorrow. Here Jeremiah is speaking of his distress of heart and mind in modern psychology, a distress that leads him to trembling of body which he compares to that of a drunken person staggering around under the influence of wine.

4 tn Heb “wine has passed over him.”

5 tn Heb “wine because of the Lord and because of his holy word.” The words that are supplied in the translation are implicit from the context and are added for clarity.

sn The way the Lord and his word are being treated is clarified in the verses that follow.

6 map For location see Map5 B1; Map6 F3; Map7 E2; Map8 F2; Map10 B3; JP1 F4; JP2 F4; JP3 F4; JP4 F4.

7 tn Or “they commit adultery and deal falsely.” The word “shocking” only occurs here and in 5:30 where it is found in the context of prophesying lies. This almost assures that the reference to “walking in lies” (Heb “in the lie”) is referring to false prophesy. Moreover the references to the prophets in 5:13 and in 14:13-15 are all in the context of false prophesy as are the following references in this chapter in 23:24, 26, 32 and in 28:15. This appears to be the theme of this section. This also makes it likely that the reference to adultery is not literal adultery, though two of the false prophets in Babylon were guilty of this (29:23). The reference to “encouraging those who do evil” that follows also makes more sense if they were preaching messages of comfort rather than messages of doom. The verbs here are infinitive absolutes in place of the finite verb, probably used to place greater emphasis on the action (cf. Hos 4:2 in a comparable judgment speech.)

8 tn Heb “So they strengthen the hands of those doing evil so that they do not turn back from their evil.” For the use of the figure “strengthen the hands” meaning “encourage” see Judg 9:24; Ezek 13:22 (and cf. BDB 304 s.v. חָזַק Piel.2). The vav consecutive on the front of the form gives the logical consequence equivalent to “so” in the translation.

9 tn Heb “All of them are to me like Sodom and its [Jerusalem’s] inhabitants like Gomorrah.”

sn The rhetoric of this passage is very forceful. Like Amos who focuses attention on the sins of the surrounding nations to bring out more forcefully the heinousness of Israel’s sin, God focuses attention on the sins of the prophets of Samaria to bring out the even worse sin of the prophets of Jerusalem. (The oracle is directed at them, not at the prophets of Samaria. See the announcement of judgment that follows.) The Lord has already followed that tack with Judah in Jeremiah 2 (cf. 2:11). Moreover, he here compares the prophets and the evil-doing citizens of Jerusalem, whom they were encouraging through their false prophesy, to the people of Sodom and Gomorrah who were proverbial for their wickedness (Deut 32:32; Isa 1:10).

10 tn Heb “Yahweh of armies.”

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

11 tn Heb “Therefore, thus says the Lord…concerning the prophets.” The person is shifted to better conform with English style and the word “of Jerusalem” is supplied in the translation to avoid the possible misunderstanding that the judgment applies to the prophets of Samaria who had already been judged long before.

12 tn Heb “I will feed this people wormwood and make them drink poison water.” For these same words of judgment on another group see 9:15 (9:14 HT). “Wormwood” and “poison water” are not to be understood literally here but are symbolic of judgment and suffering. See, e.g., BDB 542 s.v. לַעֲנָה.

13 tn The compound preposition מֵאֵת (meet) expresses source or origin (see BDB 86 s.v. אֵת 4.c). Context shows that the origin is in their false prophesying which encourages people in their evil behavior.

14 sn A word that derives from this same Hebrew word is used in v. 11 at the beginning of the Lord’s criticism of the prophet and priest. This is a common rhetorical device for bracketing material that belongs together. The criticism has, however, focused on the false prophets and the judgment due them.

15 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.

16 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.

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

18 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.

19 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.

20 tn Heb “fathers” (also in v. 39).

21 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.”



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