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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 8:19

Context

8:19 I hear my dear people 5  crying out 6 

throughout the length and breadth of the land. 7 

They are crying, ‘Is the Lord no longer in Zion?

Is her divine King 8  no longer there?’”

The Lord answers, 9 

“Why then do they provoke me to anger with their images,

with their worthless foreign idols?” 10 

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 “daughter of my people.” For the translation given here see 4:11 and the note on the phrase “dear people” there.

6 tn Heb “Behold the voice of the crying of the daughter of my people.”

7 tn Heb “Land of distances, i.e., of wide extent.” For parallel usage cf. Isa 33:17.

8 tn Heb “her King” but this might be misunderstood by some to refer to the Davidic ruler even with the capitalization.

9 tn The words, “The Lord would answer” are not in the text but are implicit from the words that follow. They are supplied in the translation for clarity. Another option would be to add “And I can just hear the Lord reply.”

10 sn The people’s cry and the Lord’s interruption reflect the same argument that was set forth in the preceding chapter. They have misguided confidence that the Lord is with them regardless of their actions and he responds that their actions have provoked him to the point of judging them. See especially 7:4 and 7:30.



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