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Jeremiah 7:24-34

Context
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. 1  7:25 From the time your ancestors departed the land of Egypt until now, 2  I sent my servants the prophets to you again and again, 3  day after day. 4  7:26 But your ancestors 5  did not listen to me nor pay attention to me. They became obstinate 6  and were more wicked than even their own forefathers.’”

7:27 Then the Lord said to me, 7  “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. 8  7:29 So, mourn, 9  you people of this nation. 10  Cut off your hair and throw it away. Sing a song of mourning on the hilltops. For the Lord has decided to reject 11  and forsake this generation that has provoked his wrath!’” 12 

7:30 The Lord says, “I have rejected them because 13  the people of Judah have done what I consider evil. 14  They have set up their disgusting idols in the temple 15  which I have claimed for my own 16  and have defiled it. 7:31 They have also built places of worship 17  in a place called Topheth 18  in the Valley of Ben Hinnom so that they can sacrifice their sons and daughters by fire. That is something I never commanded them to do! Indeed, it never even entered my mind to command such a thing! 19  7:32 So, watch out!” 20  says the Lord. “The time will soon come when people will no longer call those places Topheth or the Valley of Ben Hinnom. But they will call that valley 21  the Valley of Slaughter and they will bury so many people in Topheth they will run out of room. 22  7:33 Then the dead bodies of these people will be left on the ground for the birds and wild animals to eat. 23  There will not be any survivors to scare them away. 7:34 I will put an end to the sounds of joy and gladness, or the glad celebration of brides and grooms throughout the towns of Judah and the streets of Jerusalem. For the whole land will become a desolate wasteland.”

Jeremiah 9:12-16

Context

9:12 I said, 24 

“Who is wise enough to understand why this has happened? 25 

Who has a word from the Lord that can explain it? 26 

Why does the land lie in ruins?

Why is it as scorched as a desert through which no one travels?”

9:13 The Lord answered, “This has happened because these people have rejected my laws which I gave them. They have not obeyed me or followed those laws. 27  9:14 Instead they have followed the stubborn inclinations of their own hearts. They have paid allegiance to 28  the gods called Baal, 29  as their fathers 30  taught them to do. 9:15 So then, listen to what I, the Lord God of Israel who rules over all, 31  say. 32  ‘I will make these people eat the bitter food of suffering and drink the poison water of judgment. 33  9:16 I will scatter them among nations that neither they nor their ancestors 34  have known anything about. I will send people chasing after them with swords 35  until I have destroyed them.’” 36 

1 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.

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

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

4 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”).

5 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.

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

7 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.

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

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

9 tn The word “mourn” is not in the text. It is supplied in the translation for clarity to explain the significance of the words “Cut your hair and throw it away.”

sn Cf. Mic 1:16; Job 1:20 for other examples of this practice which was involved in mourning.

10 tn The words, “you people of this nation” are not in the text. Many English versions supply, “Jerusalem.” The address shifts from second masculine singular addressing Jeremiah (vv. 27-28a) to second feminine singular. It causes less disruption in the flow of the context to see the nation as a whole addressed here as a feminine singular entity (as, e.g., in 2:19, 23; 3:2, 3; 6:26) than to introduce a new entity, Jerusalem.

11 tn The verbs here are the Hebrew scheduling perfects. For this use of the perfect see GKC 312 §106.m.

12 tn Heb “the generation of his wrath.”

13 tn The words “I have rejected them” are not in the Hebrew text, which merely says “because.” These words are supplied in the translation to show more clearly the connection to the preceding.

14 tn Heb “have done the evil in my eyes.”

15 sn Compare, e.g., 2 Kgs 21:3, 5, 7; 23:4, 6; Ezek 8:3, 5, 10-12, 16. Manasseh had desecrated the temple by building altars, cult symbols, and idols in it. Josiah had purged the temple of these pagan elements. But it is obvious from both Jeremiah and Ezekiel that they had been replaced shortly after Josiah’s death. They were a primary cause of Judah’s guilt and punishment (see beside this passage, 19:5; 32:34-35).

16 tn Heb “the house which is called by my name.” Cf. 7:10, 11, 14 and see the translator’s note 7:10 for the explanation for this rendering.

17 tn Heb “high places.”

sn These places of worship were essentially open air shrines often located on hills or wooded heights. They were generally connected with pagan worship and equipped with altars of sacrifice and of incense and cult objects such as wooden poles and stone pillars which were symbols of the god and/or goddess worshiped at the sight. The Israelites were commanded to tear down these Canaanite places of worship (Num 33:52) but they did not do so, often taking over the site for the worship of Yahweh but even then incorporating some of the pagan cult objects and ritual into their worship of Yahweh (1 Kgs 12:31, 32; 14:23). The prophets were especially opposed to these places and to this kind of syncretism (Hos 10:8; Amos 7:9) and to the pagan worship that was often practiced at them (Jer 7:31; 19:5; 32:35).

18 tn Heb “the high places of [or in] Topheth.”

sn The noun Topheth is generally explained as an artificial formation of a word related to the Aramaic word for “cooking stove” combined with the vowels for the word for “shame.” Hence, Jewish piety viewed it as a very shameful act, one that was contrary to the law (see Lev 18:21; 20:2-6). Child sacrifice was practiced during the reigns of the wicked kings Ahaz and Manasseh and apparently during Jeremiah’s day (cf. 2 Kgs 16:3; 21:6; Jer 32:35).

19 tn Heb “It never entered my heart.” The words “to command such a thing” do not appear in the Hebrew but are added for the sake of clarity.

20 tn Heb “Therefore, behold!”

21 tn Heb “it will no longer be said ‘Topheth’ or ‘the Valley of Ben Hinnom’ but ‘the valley of slaughter.’

22 tn Heb “And they will bury in Topheth so there is not room.”

23 tn Heb “Their dead bodies will be food for the birds of the air and the beasts of the earth.”

24 tn The words, “I said” are not in the text. It is not clear that a shift in speaker has taken place. However, the words of the verse are very unlikely to be a continuation of the Lord’s threat. It is generally assumed that these are the words of Jeremiah and that a dialogue is going on between him and the Lord in vv. 9-14. That assumption is accepted here.

25 tn Heb “Who is the wise man that he may understand this?”

26 tn Heb “And [who is the man] to whom the mouth of the Lord has spoken that he may explain it?”

27 tn Heb “and they have not walked in it (with “it” referring to “my law”).

28 tn Heb “they have gone/followed after.” See the translator’s note at 2:5 for the idiom.

29 tn Heb “the Baals,” referring either to the pagan gods called “Baals” or the images of Baal (so NLT).

30 tn Or “forefathers,” or “ancestors.” Here the referent could be the immediate parents or, by their example, more distant ancestors.

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

sn See the study notes on 2:9 and 7:3.

32 tn Heb “Therefore, thus says the Lord…” The person is shifted from third to first to better conform with English style.

33 tn Heb “I will feed this people wormwood and make them drink poison water.” “Wormwood” and “poison water” are not to be understood literally here but are symbolic of judgment and suffering. See, e.g., BDB 542 s.v. לַעֲנָה.

34 tn Heb “fathers.”

35 tn Heb “I will send the sword after them.” The sword here is probably not completely literal but refers to death by violent means, including death by the sword.

36 sn He will destroy them but not completely. See Jer 5:18; 30:11; 46:28.



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