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Jeremiah 4:1-4

Context

4:1 “If you, Israel, want to come back,” says the Lord,

“if you want to come back to me 1 

you must get those disgusting idols 2  out of my sight

and must no longer go astray. 3 

4:2 You must be truthful, honest and upright

when you take an oath saying, ‘As surely as the Lord lives!’ 4 

If you do, 5  the nations will pray to be as blessed by him as you are

and will make him the object of their boasting.” 6 

4:3 Yes, 7  the Lord has this to say

to the people of Judah and Jerusalem:

“Like a farmer breaking up hard unplowed ground,

you must break your rebellious will and make a new beginning;

just as a farmer must clear away thorns lest the seed is wasted,

you must get rid of the sin that is ruining your lives. 8 

4:4 Just as ritual circumcision cuts away the foreskin

as an external symbol of dedicated covenant commitment,

you must genuinely dedicate yourselves to the Lord

and get rid of everything that hinders your commitment to me, 9 

people of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem.

If you do not, 10  my anger will blaze up like a flaming fire against you

that no one will be able to extinguish.

That will happen because of the evil you have done.”

1 tn Or “If you, Israel, want to turn [away from your shameful ways (those described in 3:23-25)]…then you must turn back to me.” Or perhaps, “Israel, you must turn back…Yes, you must turn back to me.”

2 tn Heb “disgusting things.”

3 tn Or possibly, “If you get those disgusting idols out of my sight, you will not need to flee.” This is less probable because the normal meaning of the last verb is “to wander,” “ to stray.”

4 tn Heb “If you [= you must, see the translator’s note on the word “do” later in this verse] swear/take an oath, ‘As the Lord lives,’ in truth, justice, and righteousness…”

5 tn 4:1-2a consists of a number of “if” clauses, two of which are formally introduced by the Hebrew particle אִם (’im) while the others are introduced by the conjunction “and,” followed by a conjunction (“and” = “then”) with a perfect in 4:2b which introduces the consequence. The translation “You must…. If you do,” was chosen to avoid a long and complicated sentence.

6 tn Heb “bless themselves in him and make their boasts in him.”

7 tn The Hebrew particle is obviously asseverative here since a causal connection appears to make little sense.

8 tn Heb “Plow up your unplowed ground and do not sow among the thorns.” The translation is an attempt to bring out the force of a metaphor. The idea seems to be that they are to plow over the thorns and make the ground ready for the seeds which will produce a new crop where none had been produced before.

9 tn Heb “Circumcise yourselves to the Lord and remove the foreskin of your heart.” The translation is again an attempt to bring out the meaning of a metaphor. The mention of the “foreskin of the heart” shows that the passage is obviously metaphorical and involves heart attitude, not an external rite.

10 tn Heb “lest.”



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