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Jeremiah 3:12-19

The Lord Calls on Israel and Judah to Repent

3:12 “Go and shout this message to my people in the countries in the north. 1  Tell them,

‘Come back to me, wayward Israel,’ says the Lord.

‘I will not continue to look on you with displeasure. 2 

For I am merciful,’ says the Lord.

‘I will not be angry with you forever.

3:13 However, you must confess that you have done wrong, 3 

and that you have rebelled against the Lord your God.

You must confess 4  that you have given yourself to 5  foreign gods under every green tree,

and have not obeyed my commands,’ says the Lord.

3:14 “Come back to me, my wayward sons,” says the Lord, “for I am your true master. 6  If you do, 7  I will take one of you from each town and two of you from each family group, and I will bring you back to Zion. 3:15 I will give you leaders 8  who will be faithful to me. 9  They will lead you with knowledge and insight. 3:16 In those days, your population will greatly increase 10  in the land. At that time,” says the Lord, “people will no longer talk about having the ark 11  that contains the Lord’s covenant with us. 12  They will not call it to mind, remember it, or miss it. No, that will not be done any more! 13  3:17 At that time the city of Jerusalem 14  will be called the Lord’s throne. All nations will gather there in Jerusalem to honor the Lord’s name. 15  They will no longer follow the stubborn inclinations of their own evil hearts. 16  3:18 At that time 17  the nation of Judah and the nation of Israel will be reunited. 18  Together they will come back from a land in the north to the land that I gave to your ancestors as a permanent possession. ” 19 

3:19 “I thought to myself, 20 

‘Oh what a joy it would be for me to treat you like a son! 21 

What a joy it would be for me to give 22  you a pleasant land,

the most beautiful piece of property there is in all the world!’ 23 

I thought you would call me, ‘Father’ 24 

and would never cease being loyal to me. 25 

1 tn Heb “Go and proclaim these words to the north.” The translation assumes that the message is directed toward the exiles of northern Israel who have been scattered in the provinces of Assyria to the north.

2 tn Heb “I will not cause my face to fall on you.”

3 tn Heb “Only acknowledge your iniquity.”

4 tn The words “You must confess” are repeated to convey the connection. The Hebrew text has an introductory “that” in front of the second line and a coordinative “and” in front of the next two lines.

5 tc MT reads דְּרָכַיִךְ (dÿrakhayikh, “your ways”), but the BHS editors suggest דּוֹדַיִךְ (dodayikh, “your breasts”) as an example of orthographic confusion. While the proposal makes sense, it remains a conjectural emendation since it is not supported by any actual manuscripts or ancient versions.

tn Heb “scattered your ways with foreign [gods]” or “spread out your breasts to strangers.”

6 tn Or “I am your true husband.”

sn There is a wordplay between the term “true master” and the name of the pagan god Baal. The pronoun “I” is emphatic, creating a contrast between the Lord as Israel’s true master/husband versus Baal as Israel’s illegitimate lover/master. See 2:23-25.

7 tn The words, “If you do” are not in the text but are implicit in the connection of the Hebrew verb with the preceding.

8 tn Heb “shepherds.”

9 tn Heb “after/according to my [own] heart.”

10 tn Heb “you will become numerous and fruitful.”

11 tn Or “chest.”

12 tn Heb “the ark of the covenant.” It is called this because it contained the tables of the law which in abbreviated form constituted their covenant obligations to the Lord, cf. Exod 31:18; 32:15; 34:29.

13 tn Or “Nor will another one be made”; Heb “one will not do/make [it?] again.”

14 map For location see Map5 B1; Map6 F3; Map7 E2; Map8 F2; Map10 B3; JP1 F4; JP2 F4; JP3 F4; JP4 F4.

15 tn Heb “will gather to the name of the Lord.”

16 tn Heb “the stubbornness of their evil hearts.”

17 tn Heb “In those days.”

18 tn Heb “the house of Judah will walk together with the house of Israel.”

19 tn Heb “the land that I gave your [fore]fathers as an inheritance.”

20 tn Heb “I, myself, said.” See note on “I thought that she might come back to me” in 3:7.

21 tn Heb “How I would place you among the sons.” Israel appears to be addressed here contextually as the Lord’s wife (see the next verse). The pronouns of address in the first two lines are second feminine singular as are the readings of the two verbs preferred by the Masoretes (the Qere readings) in the third and fourth lines. The verbs that are written in the text in the third and fourth lines (the Kethib readings) are second masculine plural as is the verb describing Israel’s treachery in the next verse.

sn The imagery here appears to be that of treating the wife as an equal heir with the sons and of giving her the best piece of property.

22 tn The words “What a joy it would be for me to” are not in the Hebrew text but are implied in the parallel structure.

23 tn Heb “the most beautiful heritage among the nations.”

24 tn Heb “my father.”

25 tn Heb “turn back from [following] after me.”

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