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Jeremiah 8:6-7

Context

8:6 I have listened to them very carefully, 1 

but they do not speak honestly.

None of them regrets the evil he has done.

None of them says, “I have done wrong!” 2 

All of them persist in their own wayward course 3 

like a horse charging recklessly into battle.

8:7 Even the stork knows

when it is time to move on. 4 

The turtledove, swallow, and crane 5 

recognize 6  the normal times for their migration.

But my people pay no attention

to 7  what I, the Lord, require of them. 8 

1 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).

2 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.

3 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.

4 tn Heb “its appointed time.” The translation is contextually motivated to avoid lack of clarity.

5 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.”

6 tn Heb “keep.” Ironically birds, which do not think, obey the laws of nature, but Israel does not obey the laws of God.

7 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.

8 tn Heb “the ordinance/requirement of the Lord.”



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