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Jeremiah 7:21-28

Context

7:21 The Lord said to the people of Judah, 1  “The Lord God of Israel who rules over all 2  says: ‘You might as well go ahead and add the meat of your burnt offerings to that of the other sacrifices and eat it, too! 3  7:22 Consider this: 4  When I spoke to your ancestors after I brought them out of Egypt, I did not merely give them commands about burnt offerings and sacrifices. 7:23 I also explicitly commanded them: 5  “Obey me. If you do, I 6  will be your God and you will be my people. Live exactly the way I tell you 7  and things will go well with you.” 7:24 But they did not listen to me or pay any attention to me. They followed the stubborn inclinations of their own wicked hearts. They acted worse and worse instead of better. 8  7:25 From the time your ancestors departed the land of Egypt until now, 9  I sent my servants the prophets to you again and again, 10  day after day. 11  7:26 But your ancestors 12  did not listen to me nor pay attention to me. They became obstinate 13  and were more wicked than even their own forefathers.’”

7:27 Then the Lord said to me, 14  “When you tell them all this, they will not listen to you. When you call out to them, they will not respond to you. 7:28 So tell them: ‘This is a nation that has not obeyed the Lord their God and has not accepted correction. Faithfulness is nowhere to be found in it. These people do not even profess it anymore. 15 

1 tn The words “The Lord said to the people of Judah” are not in the text but are implicit in the shift in addressee between vv. 16-20 and vv. 21-26.

2 tn Heb “Yahweh of armies, the God of Israel.”

sn See the study notes on 2:19 and 7:3.

3 tn Heb “Add your burnt offerings to your [other] sacrifices and eat the meat!” See the following sn for explanation. This is an example of the rhetorical use of the imperative for a sarcastic challenge. Cf. GKC 324 §110.a; cf. Amos 4:4, “Go to Bethel and sin!”

sn All of the burnt offering, including the meat, was to be consumed on the altar (e.g., Lev 1:6-9). The meat of the other sacrifices could be eaten by the priest who offered the sacrifice and the person who brought it (e.g., Lev 7:16-18, 32). Since, however, the people of Judah were making a mockery of the sacrificial system by offering sacrifices while disobeying the law, the Lord rejected the sacrifices (cf. 6:20). Since they were violating the moral law they might as well go ahead and violate the cultic law by eating the meat dedicated to God because he rejected it anyway.

4 tn Heb “For” but this introduces a long explanation about the relative importance of sacrifice and obedience.

5 tn Verses 22-23a read in Hebrew, “I did not speak with your ancestors and I did not command them when I brought them out of Egypt about words/matters concerning burnt offering and sacrifice, but I commanded them this word:” Some modern commentators have explained this passage as an evidence for the lateness of the Pentateuchal instruction regarding sacrifice or a denial that sacrifice was practiced during the period of the wilderness wandering. However, it is better explained as an example of what R. de Vaux calls a dialectical negative, i.e., “not so much this as that” or “not this without that” (Ancient Israel, 454-56). For other examples of this same argument see Isa 1:10-17; Hos 6:4-6; Amos 5:21-25.

6 tn Heb “Obey me and I will be.” The translation is equivalent syntactically but brings out the emphasis in the command.

7 tn Heb “Walk in all the way that I command you.”

8 tn Or “They went backward and not forward”; Heb “They were to the backward and not to the forward.” The two phrases used here appear nowhere else in the Bible and the latter preposition plus adverb elsewhere is used temporally meaning “formerly” or “previously.” The translation follows the proposal of J. Bright, Jeremiah (AB), 57. Another option is “they turned their backs to me, not their faces,” understanding the line as a variant of a line in 2:27.

9 tn Heb “from the day your ancestors…until this very day.” However, “day” here is idiomatic for “the present time.”

10 tn On the Hebrew idiom see the note at 7:13.

11 tc There is some textual debate about the legitimacy of this expression here. The text reads merely “day” (יוֹם, yom). BHS suggests the word is to be deleted as a dittography of the plural ending of the preceding word. The word is in the Greek and Latin, and the Syriac represents the typical idiom “day after day” as though the noun were repeated. Either יוֹם has dropped out by haplography or a ם (mem) has been left out, i.e., reading יוֹמָם (yomam, “daily”).

12 tn Or “But your predecessors…”; Heb “But they….” There is a confusing interchange in the pronouns in vv. 25-26 which has led to some leveling in the ancient versions and the modern English versions. What is involved here are four levels of referents, the “you” of the present generation (vv. 21-22a), the ancestors who were delivered from Egypt (i.e., the “they” of vv. 22b-24), the “you” of v. 25 which involves all the Israelites from the Exodus to the time of speaking, and the “they” of v. 26 which cannot be the ancestors of vv. 22-24 (since they cannot be more wicked than themselves) but must be an indefinite entity which is a part of the “you” of v. 25, i.e., the more immediate ancestors of the present generation. If this is kept in mind, there is no need to level the pronouns to “they” and “them” or to “you” and “your” as some of the ancient versions and modern English versions have done.

13 tn Heb “hardened [or made stiff] their neck.”

14 tn The words, “Then the Lord said to me” are not in the text but are implicit in the shift from the second and third person plural pronouns in vv. 21-26 and the second singular in this verse. The words are supplied in the translation for clarity.

15 tn Heb “Faithfulness has vanished. It is cut off from their lips.”

sn For the need for faithfulness see 5:1, 3.



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