continually turn away from me in apostasy?
They hold fast to their deception. 2
They refuse to turn back to me. 3
but they do not speak honestly.
None of them regrets the evil he has done.
None of them says, “I have done wrong!” 5
All of them persist in their own wayward course 6
like a horse charging recklessly into battle.
8:7 Even the stork knows
when it is time to move on. 7
The turtledove, swallow, and crane 8
recognize 9 the normal times for their migration.
But my people pay no attention
8:8 How can you say, “We are wise!
We have the law of the Lord”?
to make it say what it does not really mean. 14
8:9 Your wise men will be put to shame.
They will be dumbfounded and be brought to judgment. 15
Since they have rejected the word of the Lord,
what wisdom do they really have?
and their fields to new owners.
For from the least important to the most important of them,
all of them are greedy for dishonest gain.
Prophets and priests alike,
all practice deceit.
1 tc The text is quite commonly emended, changing שׁוֹבְבָה הָעָם (shovÿvah ha’am) to שׁוֹבָב הָעָם (shovav ha’am) and omitting יְרוּשָׁלַםִ (yÿrushalaim); this is due to the anomaly of a feminine singular verb with a masculine singular subject and the fact that the word “Jerusalem” is absent from one Hebrew
2 tn Or “to their allegiance to false gods,” or “to their false professions of loyalty”; Heb “to deceit.” Either “to their mistaken beliefs” or “to their allegiance to false gods” would fit the preceding context. The former is more comprehensive than the latter and was chosen for that reason.
3 sn There is a continuing play on the same root word used in the preceding verse. Here the words “turn away from me,” “apostasy,” and “turn back to me” are all forms from the root that was translated “go the wrong way” and “turn around” in v. 4. The intended effect is to contrast Judah’s recalcitrant apostasy with the usual tendency to try and correct one’s mistakes.
4 tn Heb “I have paid attention and I have listened.” This is another case of two concepts being joined by “and” where one expresses the main idea and the other acts as an adverbial or adjectival modifier (a figure called hendiadys).
5 tn Heb “What have I done?” The addition of the word “wrong” is implicit in the context and is supplied in the translation for clarity. The rhetorical question does not function as a denial of wrongdoing, but rather as contrite shock at one’s own wrongdoing. It is translated as a declaration for the sake of clarity.
6 tn Heb “each one of them turns aside into their own running course.”
sn The wordplay begun in v. 4 is continued here. The word translated “turns aside” in the literal translation and “wayward” in the translation is from the same root as “go the wrong way,” “turn around,” “turn away from me,” “apostasy,” “turn back to me.” What God hoped for were confessions of repentance and change of behavior; what he got was denial of wrongdoing and continued turning away from him.
7 tn Heb “its appointed time.” The translation is contextually motivated to avoid lack of clarity.
8 tn There is debate in the commentaries and lexicons about the identification of some of these birds, particularly regarding the identification of the “swallow” which is more likely the “swift” and the “crane” which some identify with the “thrush.” For a discussion see the Bible encyclopedias and the UBS handbook Fauna and Flora of the Bible. The identity of the individual birds makes little difference to the point being made and “swallow” is more easily identifiable to the average reader than the “swift.”
9 tn Heb “keep.” Ironically birds, which do not think, obey the laws of nature, but Israel does not obey the laws of God.
10 tn Heb “do not know.” But here as elsewhere the word “know” is more than an intellectual matter. It is intended here to summarize both “know” and “follow” (Heb “observe”) in the preceding lines.
11 tn Heb “the ordinance/requirement of the
12 tn Heb “Surely, behold!”
13 tn Heb “the scribes.”
14 tn Heb “The lying pen of the scribes have made [it] into a lie.” The translation is an attempt to make the most common interpretation of this passage understandable for the average reader. This is, however, a difficult passage whose interpretation is greatly debated and whose syntax is capable of other interpretations. The interpretation of the NJPS, “Assuredly, for naught has the pen labored, for naught the scribes,” surely deserves consideration within the context; i.e. it hasn’t done any good for the scribes to produce a reliable copy of the law, which the people have refused to follow. That interpretation has the advantage of explaining the absence of an object for the verb “make” or “labored” but creates a very unbalanced poetic couplet.
15 tn Heb “be trapped.” However, the word “trapped” generally carries with it the connotation of divine judgment. See BDB 540 s.v. לָכַד Niph.2, and compare usage in Jer 6:11 for support. The verbs in the first two lines are again the form of the Hebrew verb that emphasizes that the action is as good as done (Hebrew prophetic perfects).
16 sn See Jer 6:12-15 for parallels to 8:10-12. The words of Jeremiah to the people may have been repeated on more than one occasion or have been found appropriate to more than one of his collection of messages in written and edited form. See Jer 36:4 and Jer 36:28 for reference to at least two of these collections.