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Jeremiah 2:17-19

Context

2:17 You have brought all this on yourself, Israel, 1 

by deserting the Lord your God when he was leading you along the right path. 2 

2:18 What good will it do you 3  then 4  to go down to Egypt

to seek help from the Egyptians? 5 

What good will it do you 6  to go over to Assyria

to seek help from the Assyrians? 7 

2:19 Your own wickedness will bring about your punishment.

Your unfaithful acts will bring down discipline on you. 8 

Know, then, and realize how utterly harmful 9 

it was for you to reject me, the Lord your God, 10 

to show no respect for me,” 11 

says the Lord God who rules over all. 12 

1 tn Heb “Are you not bringing this on yourself.” The question is rhetorical and expects a positive answer.

2 tn Heb “at the time of leading you in the way.”

3 tn Heb “What to you to the way.”

4 tn The introductory particle וְעַתָּה (vÿattah, “and now”) carries a logical, not temporal, connotation here (cf. BDB 274 s.v. עַתָּה 2.b).

5 tn Heb “to drink water from the Shihor [a branch of the Nile].” The reference is to seeking help through political alliance with Egypt as opposed to trusting in God for help. This is an extension of the figure in 2:13.

6 tn Heb “What to you to the way.”

7 tn Heb “to drink water from the River [a common designation in biblical Hebrew for the Euphrates River].” This refers to seeking help through political alliance. See the preceding note.

8 tn Or “teach you a lesson”; Heb “rebuke/chide you.”

9 tn Heb “how evil and bitter.” The reference is to the consequences of their acts. This is a figure of speech (hendiadys) where two nouns or adjectives joined by “and” introduce a main concept modified by the other noun or adjective.

10 tn Heb “to leave the Lord your God.” The change in person is intended to ease the problem of the rapid transition, which is common in Hebrew style but not in English, from third to first person between this line and the next.

11 tn Heb “and no fear of me was on you.”

12 tn Heb “the Lord Yahweh, [the God of] hosts.” For the title Lord God see the study note on 1:6. For the title “who rules over all” see the following study note. The title “the Lord who rules over all” is a way of rendering the title “Yahweh of armies.” It is an abbreviation of a longer title “Yahweh the God of armies” which occurs five times in Jeremiah (see, e.g., 44:7). The abbreviated title occurs seventy-seven times in the book of Jeremiah. On thirty-two occasions it is further qualified by the title “the God of Israel,” showing his special relation to Israel. On six occasions it is preceded by the title “Lord” (see, e.g., 46:10) and twice it is preceded by the title “the King” (see, e.g., 51:17). Both titles emphasize his sovereignty. Twice it is said that he is the maker of all things (10:16; 51:19), and once it is said that he made the earth and the people and animals on it and gives them into the control of whomever he wishes (27:4-5). On two occasions it is emphasized that he also made the heavenly elements and controls the natural elements of wind, rain, thunder, and hail (31:35; 51:14-16). All this is consistent with usage elsewhere where the “armies” over which he has charge are identified as (1) the angels which surround his throne (Isa 6:3, 5; 1 Kgs 22:19) and which he sends to protect his servants (2 Kgs 6:17), (2) the natural forces of thunder, rain, and hail (Isa 29:6; Josh 10:11; Judg 5:4, 5) through which he sends the enemy into panic and “gums” up their chariot wheels, (3) the armies of Israel (1 Sam 17:45) which he leads into battle (Num 10:34-35; Josh 5:14, 15) and for whom he fights as a mighty warrior (Exod 15:3; Isa 42:13; Ps 24:8), and even (4) the armies of the nations which he musters against his disobedient people (Isa 13:14). This title is most commonly found in the messenger formula “Thus says…” introducing both oracles of judgment (on Israel [e.g., 9:7, 15] and on the nations [e.g. 46:19; 50:18]; and see in general 25:29-32). It emphasizes his sovereignty as the king and creator, the lord of creation and of history, and the just judge who sees and knows all (11:20; 20:12) and judges each person and nation according to their actions (Jer 32:18-19). In the first instance (in the most dominant usage) this will involve the punishment of his own people through the agency of the Babylonians (cf., e.g., 25:8-9). But it will also include the punishment of all nations, including Babylon itself (cf. Jer 25:17-26, 32-38), and will ultimately result in the restoration of his people and a new relation with them (30:8; 31:35-37).



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