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Jeremiah 6:16-20

Context

6:16 The Lord said to his people: 1 

“You are standing at the crossroads. So consider your path. 2 

Ask where the old, reliable paths 3  are.

Ask where the path is that leads to blessing 4  and follow it.

If you do, you will find rest for your souls.”

But they said, “We will not follow it!”

6:17 The Lord said, 5 

“I appointed prophets as watchmen to warn you, 6  saying:

‘Pay attention to the warning sound of the trumpet!’” 7 

But they said, “We will not pay attention!”

6:18 So the Lord said, 8 

“Hear, you nations!

Be witnesses and take note of what will happen to these people. 9 

6:19 Hear this, you peoples of the earth: 10 

‘Take note! 11  I am about to bring disaster on these people.

It will come as punishment for their scheming. 12 

For they have paid no attention to what I have said, 13 

and they have rejected my law.

6:20 I take no delight 14  when they offer up to me 15 

frankincense that comes from Sheba

or sweet-smelling cane imported from a faraway land.

I cannot accept the burnt offerings they bring me.

I get no pleasure from the sacrifices they offer to me.’ 16 

1 tn The words, “to his people” are not in the text but are implicit in the interchange of pronouns in the Hebrew of vv. 16-17. They are supplied in the translation here for clarity.

2 tn Heb “Stand at the crossroads and look.”

3 tn Heb “the ancient path,” i.e., the path the Lord set out in ancient times (cf. Deut 32:7).

4 tn Heb “the way of/to the good.”

5 tn These words are not in the text but are implicit in the interchange of pronouns in the Hebrew of vv. 16-17. They are supplied in the translation here for clarity.

6 tn Heb “I appointed watchmen over you.”

7 tn Heb “Pay attention to the sound of the trumpet.” The word “warning” is not in the Hebrew text, but is implied.

8 tn These words are not in the text but are implicit from the flow of the context. They are supplied in the translation for clarity.

9 tn Heb “Know, congregation [or witness], what in [or against] them.” The meaning of this line is somewhat uncertain. The meaning of the noun of address in the second line (“witness,” rendered as an imperative in the translation, “Be witnesses”) is greatly debated. It is often taken as “congregation” but the lexicons and commentaries generally question the validity of reading that word since it is nowhere else applied to the nations. BDB 417 s.v. עֵדָה 3 says that the text is dubious. HALOT 747 s.v. I עֵדָה, 4 emends the text to דֵּעָה (deah). Several modern English versions (e.g., NIV, NCV, God’s Word) take it as the feminine singular noun “witness” (cf. BDB 729 s.v. II עֵדָה) and understand it as a collective. This solution is also proposed by J. A. Thompson (Jeremiah [NICOT], 259, n. 3) and appears to make the best sense in the context. The end of the line is very elliptical but is generally taken as either, “what I will do with/to them,” or “what is coming against them” (= “what will happen to them”) on the basis of the following context.

10 tn Heb “earth.”

11 tn Heb “Behold!”

12 tn Heb “disaster on these people, the fruit of their schemes.”

13 tn Heb “my word.”

14 tn Heb “To what purpose is it to me?” The question is rhetorical and expects a negative answer.

15 tn The words “when they offer up to me” are not in the text but are implicit from the following context. They are supplied in the translation for clarity.

16 tn Heb “Your burnt offerings are not acceptable and your sacrifices are not pleasing to me.” “The shift from “your” to “their” is an example of the figure of speech (apostrophe) where the speaker turns from talking about someone to addressing him/her directly. Though common in Hebrew style, it is not common in English. The shift to the third person in the translation is an accommodation to English style.



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