4:2 You must be truthful, honest and upright
when you take an oath saying, ‘As surely as the Lord lives!’ 1
If you do, 2 the nations will pray to be as blessed by him as you are
and will make him the object of their boasting.” 3
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. 5
1 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
2 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.
3 tn Heb “bless themselves in him and make their boasts in him.”
4 tn The Hebrew particle is obviously asseverative here since a causal connection appears to make little sense.
5 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.