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Jeremiah 2:17-23

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 

The Lord Expresses His Exasperation at Judah’s Persistent Idolatry

2:20 “Indeed, 13  long ago you threw off my authority

and refused to be subject to me. 14 

You said, ‘I will not serve you.’ 15 

Instead, you gave yourself to other gods on every high hill

and under every green tree,

like a prostitute sprawls out before her lovers. 16 

2:21 I planted you in the land

like a special vine of the very best stock.

Why in the world have you turned into something like a wild vine

that produces rotten, foul-smelling grapes? 17 

2:22 You can try to wash away your guilt with a strong detergent.

You can use as much soap as you want.

But the stain of your guilt is still there for me to see,” 18 

says the Lord God. 19 

2:23 “How can you say, ‘I have not made myself unclean.

I have not paid allegiance to 20  the gods called Baal.’

Just look at the way you have behaved in the Valley of Hinnom! 21 

Think about the things you have done there!

You are like a flighty, young female camel

that rushes here and there, crisscrossing its path. 22 

Jeremiah 2:29-37

Context

2:29 “Why do you try to refute me? 23 

All of you have rebelled against me,”

says the Lord.

2:30 “It did no good for me to punish your people.

They did not respond to such correction.

You slaughtered your prophets

like a voracious lion.” 24 

2:31 You people of this generation,

listen to what the Lord says.

“Have I been like a wilderness to you, Israel?

Have I been like a dark and dangerous land to you? 25 

Why then do you 26  say, ‘We are free to wander. 27 

We will not come to you any more?’

2:32 Does a young woman forget to put on her jewels?

Does a bride forget to put on her bridal attire?

But my people have forgotten me

for more days than can even be counted.

2:33 “My, how good you have become

at chasing after your lovers! 28 

Why, you could even teach prostitutes a thing or two! 29 

2:34 Even your clothes are stained with

the lifeblood of the poor who had not done anything wrong;

you did not catch them breaking into your homes. 30 

Yet, in spite of all these things you have done, 31 

2:35 you say, ‘I have not done anything wrong,

so the Lord cannot really be angry with me any more.’

But, watch out! 32  I will bring down judgment on you

because you say, ‘I have not committed any sin.’

2:36 Why do you constantly go about

changing your political allegiances? 33 

You will get no help from Egypt

just as you got no help from Assyria. 34 

2:37 Moreover, you will come away from Egypt

with your hands covering your faces in sorrow and shame 35 

because the Lord will not allow your reliance on them to be successful

and you will not gain any help from them. 36 

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).

13 tn Or “For.” The Hebrew particle (כִּי, ki) here introduces the evidence that they had no respect for him.

14 tn Heb “you broke your yoke…tore off your yoke ropes.” The metaphor is that of a recalcitrant ox or heifer which has broken free from its master.

15 tc The MT of this verse has two examples of the old second feminine singular perfect, שָׁבַרְתִּי (shavarti) and נִתַּקְתִּי (nittaqti), which the Masoretes mistook for first singulars leading to the proposal to read אֶעֱבוֹר (’eevor, “I will not transgress”) for אֶעֱבֹד (’eevod, “I will not serve”). The latter understanding of the forms is accepted in KJV but rejected by almost all modern English versions as being less appropriate to the context than the reading accepted in the translation given here.

16 tn Heb “you sprawled as a prostitute on….” The translation reflects the meaning of the metaphor.

17 tc Heb “I planted you as a choice vine, all of it true seed. How then have you turned into a putrid thing to me, a strange [or wild] vine.” The question expresses surprise and consternation. The translation is based on a redivision of the Hebrew words סוּרֵי הַגֶּפֶן (sure haggefen) into סוֹרִיָּה גֶּפֶן (soriyyah gefen) and the recognition of a hapax legomenon סוֹרִיָּה (soriyyah) meaning “putrid, stinking thing.” See HALOT 707 s.v. סוֹרִי.

18 tn Heb “Even if you wash with natron/lye, and use much soap, your sin is a stain before me.”

19 tn Heb “Lord Yahweh.” For an explanation of this title see the study notes on 1:6.

20 tn Heb “I have not gone/followed after.” See the translator’s note on 2:5 for the meaning and usage of this idiom.

21 tn Heb “Look at your way in the valley.” The valley is an obvious reference to the Valley of Hinnom where Baal and Molech were worshiped and child sacrifice was practiced.

22 sn The metaphor is intended to depict Israel’s lack of clear direction and purpose without the Lord’s control.

23 sn This is still part of the Lord’s case against Israel. See 2:9 for the use of the same Hebrew verb. The Lord here denies their counter claims that they do not deserve to be punished.

24 tn Heb “Your sword devoured your prophets like a destroying lion.” However, the reference to the sword in this and many similar idioms is merely idiomatic for death by violent means.

25 tn Heb “a land of the darkness of Yah [= thick or deep darkness].” The idea of danger is an added connotation of the word in this context.

26 tn Heb “my people.”

27 tn Or more freely, “free to do as we please.” There is some debate about the meaning of this verb (רוּד, rud) because its usage is rare and its meaning is debated in the few passages where it does occur. The key to its meaning may rest in the emended text (reading וְרַדְתִּי [vÿradti] for וְיָרַדְתִּי [vÿyaradti]) in Judg 11:37 where it refers to the roaming of Jephthah’s daughter on the mountains of Israel.

28 tn Heb “How good you have made your ways to seek love.”

29 tn Heb “so that even the wicked women you teach your ways.”

30 tn The words “for example” are implicit and are supplied in the translation for clarification. This is only one example of why their death was not legitimate.

sn Killing a thief caught in the act of breaking and entering into a person’s home was pardonable under the law of Moses, cf. Exod 22:2.

31 tn KJV and ASV read this line with 2:34. The ASV makes little sense and the KJV again erroneously reads the archaic second person feminine singular perfect as first person common singular. All the modern English versions and commentaries take this line with 2:35.

32 tn This is an attempt to render the Hebrew particle often translated “behold” (הִנֵּה, hinneh) in a meaningful way in this context. See further the translator’s note on the word “really” in 1:6.

33 tn Heb “changing your way.” The translation follows the identification of the Hebrew verb here as a defective writing of a form (תֵּזְלִי [tezÿli] instead of תֵּאזְלִי [tezÿli]) from a verb meaning “go/go about” (אָזַל [’azal]; cf. BDB 23 s.v. אָזַל). Most modern English versions, commentaries, and lexicons read it from a root meaning “to treat cheaply [or lightly]” (תָּזֵלִּי [tazelli] from the root זָלַל (zalal); cf. HALOT 261 s.v. זָלַל); hence, “Why do you consider it such a small matter to…”

34 tn Heb “You will be ashamed/disappointed by Egypt, just as you were ashamed/ disappointed by Assyria.”

35 tn Heb “with your hands on your head.” For the picture here see 2 Sam 13:19.

36 tn Heb “The Lord has rejected those you trust in; you will not prosper by/from them.”



TIP #08: Use the Strong Number links to learn about the original Hebrew and Greek text. [ALL]
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