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Jeremiah 3:21-22

Context

3:21 “A noise is heard on the hilltops.

It is the sound of the people of Israel crying and pleading to their gods.

Indeed they have followed sinful ways; 1 

they have forgotten to be true to the Lord their God. 2 

3:22 Come back to me, you wayward people.

I want to cure your waywardness. 3 

Say, 4  ‘Here we are. We come to you

because you are the Lord our God.

1 tn Heb “A sound is heard on the hilltops, the weeping of the supplication of the children of Israel because [or indeed] they have perverted their way.” At issue here is whether the supplication is made to Yahweh in repentance because of what they have done or whether it is supplication to the pagan gods which is evidence of their perverted ways. The reference in this verse to the hilltops where idolatry was practiced according to 3:2 and the reference to Israel’s unfaithfulness in the preceding verse make the latter more likely. For the asseverative use of the Hebrew particle (here rendered “indeed”) where the particle retains some of the explicative nuance; cf. BDB 472-73 s.v. כִּי 1.e and 3.c.

2 tn Heb “have forgotten the Lord their God,” but in the view of the parallelism and the context, the word “forget” (like “know” and “remember”) involves more than mere intellectual activity.

3 tn Or “I will forgive your apostasies.” Heb “I will [or want to] heal your apostasies.” For the use of the verb “heal” (רָפָא, rafa’) to refer to spiritual healing and forgiveness see Hos 14:4.

4 tn Or “They say.” There is an obvious ellipsis of a verb of saying here since the preceding words are those of the Lord and the following are those of the people. However, there is debate about whether these are the response of the people to the Lord’s invitation, a response which is said to be inadequate according to the continuation in 4:1-4, or whether these are the Lord’s model for Israel’s confession of repentance to which he adds further instructions about the proper heart attitude that should accompany it in 4:1-4. The former implies a dialogue with an unmarked twofold shift in speaker between 3:22b-25 and 4:1-4:4 while the latter assumes the same main speaker throughout with an unmarked instruction only in 3:22b-25. This disrupts the flow of the passage less and appears more likely.



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