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Jeremiah 2:3

Context
2:3 Israel was set apart to the Lord; they were like the first fruits of a harvest to him. 1  All who tried to devour them were punished; disaster came upon them,” says the Lord.’”

Jeremiah 2:7-8

Context

2:7 I brought you 2  into a fertile land

so you could enjoy 3  its fruits and its rich bounty.

But when you entered my land, you defiled it; 4 

you made the land I call my own 5  loathsome to me.

2:8 Your priests 6  did not ask, ‘Where is the Lord?’ 7 

Those responsible for teaching my law 8  did not really know me. 9 

Your rulers rebelled against me.

Your prophets prophesied in the name of the god Baal. 10 

They all worshiped idols that could not help them. 11 

Jeremiah 2:21-22

Context

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? 12 

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,” 13 

says the Lord God. 14 

1 sn Heb “the first fruits of his harvest.” Many commentators see the figure here as having theological significance for the calling of the Gentiles. It is likely, however, that in this context the metaphor – here rendered as a simile – is intended to bring out the special relationship and inviolability that Israel had with God. As the first fruits were the special possession of the Lord, to be eaten only by the priests and off limits to the common people, so Israel was God’s special possession and was not to be “eaten” by the nations.

2 sn Note how contemporary Israel is again identified with her early ancestors. See the study note on 2:2.

3 tn Heb “eat.”

4 sn I.e., made it ceremonially unclean. See Lev 18:19-30; Num 35:34; Deut 21:23.

5 tn Heb “my inheritance.” Or “the land [i.e., inheritance] I gave you,” reading the pronoun as indicating source rather than possession. The parallelism and the common use in Jeremiah of the term to refer to the land or people as the Lord’s (e.g., 12:7, 8, 9; 16:18; 50:11) make the possessive use more likely here.

sn The land belonged to the Lord; it was given to the Israelites in trust (or usufruct) as their heritage. See Lev 25:23.

6 tn Heb “The priests…the ones who grasp my law…the shepherds…the prophets…they…”

7 sn See the study note on 2:6.

8 tn Heb “those who handle my law.”

sn The reference is likely to the priests and Levites who were responsible for teaching the law (so Jer 18:18; cf. Deut 33:10). According to Jer 8:8 it could possibly refer to the scribes who copied the law.

9 tn Or “were not committed to me.” The Hebrew verb rendered “know” refers to more than mere intellectual knowledge. It carries also the ideas of emotional and volitional commitment as well intimacy. See for example its use in contexts like Hos 4:1; 6:6.

10 tn Heb “by Baal.”

11 tn Heb “and they followed after those things [the word is plural] which do not profit.” The poetic structure of the verse, four lines in which a distinct subject appears at the beginning followed by a fifth line beginning with a prepositional phrase and no distinct subject, argues that this line is climactic and refers to all four classes enumerated in the preceding lines. See W. L. Holladay, Jeremiah (Hermeneia), 1:88-89. There may be a play or pun in the Hebrew text on the name for the god Baal (בַּעַל, baal) and the verb “cannot help you” (Heb “do not profit”) which is spelled יַעַל (yaal).

12 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.

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

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



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