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Jeremiah 2:20-22

Context
The Lord Expresses His Exasperation at Judah’s Persistent Idolatry

2:20 “Indeed, 1  long ago you threw off my authority

and refused to be subject to me. 2 

You said, ‘I will not serve you.’ 3 

Instead, you gave yourself to other gods on every high hill

and under every green tree,

like a prostitute sprawls out before her lovers. 4 

2:21 I planted you in the land

like a special vine of the very best stock.

Why in the world have you turned into something like a wild vine

that produces rotten, foul-smelling grapes? 5 

2:22 You can try to wash away your guilt with a strong detergent.

You can use as much soap as you want.

But the stain of your guilt is still there for me to see,” 6 

says the Lord God. 7 

1 tn Or “For.” The Hebrew particle (כִּי, ki) here introduces the evidence that they had no respect for him.

2 tn Heb “you broke your yoke…tore off your yoke ropes.” The metaphor is that of a recalcitrant ox or heifer which has broken free from its master.

3 tc The MT of this verse has two examples of the old second feminine singular perfect, שָׁבַרְתִּי (shavarti) and נִתַּקְתִּי (nittaqti), which the Masoretes mistook for first singulars leading to the proposal to read אֶעֱבוֹר (’eevor, “I will not transgress”) for אֶעֱבֹד (’eevod, “I will not serve”). The latter understanding of the forms is accepted in KJV but rejected by almost all modern English versions as being less appropriate to the context than the reading accepted in the translation given here.

4 tn Heb “you sprawled as a prostitute on….” The translation reflects the meaning of the metaphor.

5 tc Heb “I planted you as a choice vine, all of it true seed. How then have you turned into a putrid thing to me, a strange [or wild] vine.” The question expresses surprise and consternation. The translation is based on a redivision of the Hebrew words סוּרֵי הַגֶּפֶן (sure haggefen) into סוֹרִיָּה גֶּפֶן (soriyyah gefen) and the recognition of a hapax legomenon סוֹרִיָּה (soriyyah) meaning “putrid, stinking thing.” See HALOT 707 s.v. סוֹרִי.

6 tn Heb “Even if you wash with natron/lye, and use much soap, your sin is a stain before me.”

7 tn Heb “Lord Yahweh.” For an explanation of this title see the study notes on 1:6.



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