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Jeremiah 2:11-13

Context

2:11 Has a nation ever changed its gods

(even though they are not really gods at all)?

But my people have exchanged me, their glorious God, 1 

for a god that cannot help them at all! 2 

2:12 Be amazed at this, O heavens! 3 

Be shocked and utterly dumbfounded,”

says the Lord.

2:13 “Do so because my people have committed a double wrong:

they have rejected me,

the fountain of life-giving water, 4 

and they have dug cisterns for themselves,

cracked cisterns which cannot even hold water.”

1 tn Heb “have exchanged their glory [i.e., the God in whom they glory].” This is a case of a figure of speech where the attribute of a person or thing is put for the person or thing. Compare the common phrase in Isaiah, the Holy One of Israel, obviously referring to the Lord, the God of Israel.

2 tn Heb “what cannot profit.” The verb is singular and the allusion is likely to Baal. See the translator’s note on 2:8 for the likely pun or wordplay.

3 sn In earlier literature the heavens (and the earth) were called on to witness Israel’s commitment to the covenant (Deut 30:12) and were called to serve as witnesses to Israel’s fidelity or infidelity to it (Isa 1:2; Mic 6:1).

4 tn It is difficult to decide whether to translate “fresh, running water” which the Hebrew term for “living water” often refers to (e.g., Gen 26:19; Lev 14:5), or “life-giving water” which the idiom “fountain of life” as source of life and vitality often refers to (e.g., Ps 36:9; Prov 13:14; 14:27). The contrast with cisterns, which collected and held rain water, suggests “fresh, running water,” but the reality underlying the metaphor contrasts the Lord, the source of life, health, and vitality, with useless idols that cannot do anything.



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