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Jeremiah 2:5

Context

2:5 This is what the Lord says:

“What fault could your ancestors 1  have possibly found in me

that they strayed so far from me? 2 

They paid allegiance to 3  worthless idols, and so became worthless to me. 4 

Jeremiah 2:31

Context

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? 5 

Why then do you 6  say, ‘We are free to wander. 7 

We will not come to you any more?’

1 tn Heb “fathers.”

2 tn Or “I did not wrong your ancestors in any way. Yet they went far astray from me.” Both translations are an attempt to render the rhetorical question which demands a negative answer.

3 tn Heb “They went/followed after.” This idiom is found most often in Deuteronomy or covenant contexts. It refers to loyalty to God and to his covenant or his commandments (e.g., 1 Kgs 14:8; 2 Chr 34:31) with the metaphor of a path or way underlying it (e.g., Deut 11:28; 28:14). To “follow other gods” was to abandon this way and this loyalty (i.e., to “abandon” or “forget” God, Judg 2:12; Hos 2:13) and to follow the customs or religious traditions of the pagan nations (e.g., 2 Kgs 17:15). The classic text on “following” God or another god is 1 Kgs 18:18, 21 where Elijah taunts the people with “halting between two opinions” whether the Lord was the true God or Baal was. The idiom is often found followed by “to serve and to worship” or “they served and worshiped” such and such a god or entity (see, e.g., Jer 8:2; 11:10; 13:10; 16:11; 25:6; 35:15).

4 tn The words “to me” are not in the Hebrew text but are implicit from the context: Heb “they followed after the worthless thing/things and became worthless.” There is an obvious wordplay on the verb “became worthless” and the noun “worthless thing,” which is probably to be understood collectively and to refer to idols as it does in Jer 8:19; 10:8; 14:22; Jonah 2:8.

5 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.

6 tn Heb “my people.”

7 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.



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