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Jeremiah 6:27-30

Context

6:27 The Lord said to me, 1 

“I have made you like a metal assayer

to test my people like ore. 2 

You are to observe them

and evaluate how they behave.” 3 

6:28 I reported, 4 

“All of them are the most stubborn of rebels! 5 

They are as hard as bronze or iron.

They go about telling lies.

They all deal corruptly.

6:29 The fiery bellows of judgment burn fiercely.

But there is too much dross to be removed. 6 

The process of refining them has proved useless. 7 

The wicked have not been purged.

6:30 They are regarded as ‘rejected silver’ 8 

because the Lord rejects them.”

1 tn These words are not in the text but are supplied in the translation for clarity. Note “I have appointed you.” Compare Jer 1:18.

2 tn Heb “I have made you an assayer of my people, a tester [?].” The meaning of the words translated “assayer” (בָּחוֹן, bakhon) and “tester” (מִבְצָר, mivtsar) is uncertain. The word בָּחוֹן (bakhon) can mean “tower” (cf. BDB 103 s.v. בָּחוֹן; cf. Isa 23:13 for the only other use) or “assayer” (cf. BDB 103 s.v. בָּחוֹן). The latter would be the more expected nuance because of the other uses of nouns and verbs from this root. The word מִבְצָר (mivtsar) normally means “fortress” (cf. BDB 131 s.v. מִבְצָר), but most modern commentaries and lexicons deem that nuance inappropriate here. HALOT follows a proposal that the word is to be repointed to מְבַצֵּר (mÿvatser) and derived from a root בָּצַר (batsar) meaning “to test” (cf. HALOT 143 s.v. IV בָּצַר). That proposal makes the most sense in the context, but the root appears nowhere else in the OT.

3 tn Heb “test their way.”

4 tn These words are not in the text but are supplied in the translation for clarity. Some takes these words to be the continuation of the Lord’s commission of Jeremiah to the task of testing them. However, since this is the evaluation, the task appears to be complete. The words are better to be taken as Jeremiah’s report after he has completed the task.

5 tn Or “arch rebels,” or “hardened rebels.” Literally “rebels of rebels.”

6 tn Heb “The bellows blow fiercely; the lead is consumed by the fire.” The translation tries to clarify a metaphor involving ancient metallurgy. In the ancient refining process lead was added as a flux to remove impurities from silver ore in the process of oxidizing the lead. Jeremiah says that the lead has been used up and the impurities have not been removed. The translation is based on the recognition of an otherwise unused verb root meaning “blow” (נָחַר [nakhar]; cf. BDB 1123 s.v. I חָרַר and HALOT 651 s.v. נָחַר) and the Masoretes’ suggestion that the consonants מאשׁתם be read מֵאֵשׁ תַּם (meesh tam) rather than as מֵאֶשָּׁתָם (meeshatam, “from their fire”) from an otherwise unattested noun אֶשָּׁה (’eshah).

7 tn Heb “The refiner refines them in vain.”

8 tn This translation is intended to reflect the wordplay in the Hebrew text where the same root word is repeated in the two lines.



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