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Jeremiah 5:26-28

Context

5:26 “Indeed, there are wicked scoundrels among my people.

They lie in wait like bird catchers hiding in ambush. 1 

They set deadly traps 2  to catch people.

5:27 Like a cage filled with the birds that have been caught, 3 

their houses are filled with the gains of their fraud and deceit. 4 

That is how they have gotten so rich and powerful. 5 

5:28 That is how 6  they have grown fat and sleek. 7 

There is no limit to the evil things they do. 8 

They do not plead the cause of the fatherless in such a way as to win it.

They do not defend the rights of the poor.

1 tn The meaning of the last three words is uncertain. The pointing and meaning of the Hebrew word rendered “hiding in ambush” is debated. BDB relates the form (כְּשַׁךְ, kÿshakh) to a root שָׁכַךְ (shakhakh), which elsewhere means “decrease, abate” (cf. BDB 1013 s.v. שָׁכַךְ), and notes that this is usually understood as “like the crouching of fowlers,” but they say this meaning is dubious. HALOT 1345 s.v. I שׁוֹר questions the validity of the text and offers three proposals; the second appears to create the least textual modification, i.e., reading כְּשַׂךְ (kesakh, “as in the hiding place of (bird catchers)”; for the word שַׂךְ (sakh) see HALOT 1236 s.v. שׂךְ 4 and compare Lam 2:6 for usage. The versions do not help. The Greek does not translate the first two words of the line. The proposal given in HALOT is accepted with some hesitancy.

2 tn Heb “a destroying thing.”

3 tn The words, “that have been caught” are not in the text but are implicit in the comparison.

4 tn Heb “are filled with deceit.” The translation assumes a figure of speech of cause for effect (metonymy). Compare the same word in the same figure in Zeph 1:9.

5 tn Heb “therefore they have gotten great and rich.”

6 tn These words are not in the text but are supplied in the translation to show that this line is parallel with the preceding.

7 tn The meaning of this word is uncertain. This verb occurs only here. The lexicons generally relate it to the word translated “plate” in Song 5:14 and understand it to mean “smooth, shiny” (so BDB 799 s.v. I עֶשֶׁת) or “fat” (so HALOT 850 s.v. II עֶשֶׁת). The word in Song 5:14 more likely means “smooth” than “plate” (so TEV). So “sleek” is most likely here.

8 tn Heb “they cross over/transgress with respect to matters of evil.”

sn There is a wordplay in the use of this word which has twice been applied in v. 22 to the sea not crossing the boundary set for it by God.



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