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Jeremiah 3:11-22

Context
3:11 Then the Lord said to me, “Under the circumstances, wayward Israel could even be considered less guilty than unfaithful Judah. 1 

The Lord Calls on Israel and Judah to Repent

3:12 “Go and shout this message to my people in the countries in the north. 2  Tell them,

‘Come back to me, wayward Israel,’ says the Lord.

‘I will not continue to look on you with displeasure. 3 

For I am merciful,’ says the Lord.

‘I will not be angry with you forever.

3:13 However, you must confess that you have done wrong, 4 

and that you have rebelled against the Lord your God.

You must confess 5  that you have given yourself to 6  foreign gods under every green tree,

and have not obeyed my commands,’ says the Lord.

3:14 “Come back to me, my wayward sons,” says the Lord, “for I am your true master. 7  If you do, 8  I will take one of you from each town and two of you from each family group, and I will bring you back to Zion. 3:15 I will give you leaders 9  who will be faithful to me. 10  They will lead you with knowledge and insight. 3:16 In those days, your population will greatly increase 11  in the land. At that time,” says the Lord, “people will no longer talk about having the ark 12  that contains the Lord’s covenant with us. 13  They will not call it to mind, remember it, or miss it. No, that will not be done any more! 14  3:17 At that time the city of Jerusalem 15  will be called the Lord’s throne. All nations will gather there in Jerusalem to honor the Lord’s name. 16  They will no longer follow the stubborn inclinations of their own evil hearts. 17  3:18 At that time 18  the nation of Judah and the nation of Israel will be reunited. 19  Together they will come back from a land in the north to the land that I gave to your ancestors as a permanent possession. ” 20 

3:19 “I thought to myself, 21 

‘Oh what a joy it would be for me to treat you like a son! 22 

What a joy it would be for me to give 23  you a pleasant land,

the most beautiful piece of property there is in all the world!’ 24 

I thought you would call me, ‘Father’ 25 

and would never cease being loyal to me. 26 

3:20 But, you have been unfaithful to me, nation of Israel, 27 

like an unfaithful wife who has left her husband,” 28 

says the Lord.

3:21 “A noise is heard on the hilltops.

It is the sound of the people of Israel crying and pleading to their gods.

Indeed they have followed sinful ways; 29 

they have forgotten to be true to the Lord their God. 30 

3:22 Come back to me, you wayward people.

I want to cure your waywardness. 31 

Say, 32  ‘Here we are. We come to you

because you are the Lord our God.

1 tn Heb “Wayward Israel has proven herself to be more righteous than unfaithful Judah.”

sn A comparison is drawn here between the greater culpability of Judah, who has had the advantage of seeing how God disciplined her sister nation for having sinned and yet ignored the warning and committed the same sin, and the culpability of Israel who had no such advantage.

2 tn Heb “Go and proclaim these words to the north.” The translation assumes that the message is directed toward the exiles of northern Israel who have been scattered in the provinces of Assyria to the north.

3 tn Heb “I will not cause my face to fall on you.”

4 tn Heb “Only acknowledge your iniquity.”

5 tn The words “You must confess” are repeated to convey the connection. The Hebrew text has an introductory “that” in front of the second line and a coordinative “and” in front of the next two lines.

6 tc MT reads דְּרָכַיִךְ (dÿrakhayikh, “your ways”), but the BHS editors suggest דּוֹדַיִךְ (dodayikh, “your breasts”) as an example of orthographic confusion. While the proposal makes sense, it remains a conjectural emendation since it is not supported by any actual manuscripts or ancient versions.

tn Heb “scattered your ways with foreign [gods]” or “spread out your breasts to strangers.”

7 tn Or “I am your true husband.”

sn There is a wordplay between the term “true master” and the name of the pagan god Baal. The pronoun “I” is emphatic, creating a contrast between the Lord as Israel’s true master/husband versus Baal as Israel’s illegitimate lover/master. See 2:23-25.

8 tn The words, “If you do” are not in the text but are implicit in the connection of the Hebrew verb with the preceding.

9 tn Heb “shepherds.”

10 tn Heb “after/according to my [own] heart.”

11 tn Heb “you will become numerous and fruitful.”

12 tn Or “chest.”

13 tn Heb “the ark of the covenant.” It is called this because it contained the tables of the law which in abbreviated form constituted their covenant obligations to the Lord, cf. Exod 31:18; 32:15; 34:29.

14 tn Or “Nor will another one be made”; Heb “one will not do/make [it?] again.”

15 map For location see Map5 B1; Map6 F3; Map7 E2; Map8 F2; Map10 B3; JP1 F4; JP2 F4; JP3 F4; JP4 F4.

16 tn Heb “will gather to the name of the Lord.”

17 tn Heb “the stubbornness of their evil hearts.”

18 tn Heb “In those days.”

19 tn Heb “the house of Judah will walk together with the house of Israel.”

20 tn Heb “the land that I gave your [fore]fathers as an inheritance.”

21 tn Heb “I, myself, said.” See note on “I thought that she might come back to me” in 3:7.

22 tn Heb “How I would place you among the sons.” Israel appears to be addressed here contextually as the Lord’s wife (see the next verse). The pronouns of address in the first two lines are second feminine singular as are the readings of the two verbs preferred by the Masoretes (the Qere readings) in the third and fourth lines. The verbs that are written in the text in the third and fourth lines (the Kethib readings) are second masculine plural as is the verb describing Israel’s treachery in the next verse.

sn The imagery here appears to be that of treating the wife as an equal heir with the sons and of giving her the best piece of property.

23 tn The words “What a joy it would be for me to” are not in the Hebrew text but are implied in the parallel structure.

24 tn Heb “the most beautiful heritage among the nations.”

25 tn Heb “my father.”

26 tn Heb “turn back from [following] after me.”

27 tn Heb “house of Israel.”

28 tn Heb “a wife unfaithful from her husband.”

29 tn Heb “A sound is heard on the hilltops, the weeping of the supplication of the children of Israel because [or indeed] they have perverted their way.” At issue here is whether the supplication is made to Yahweh in repentance because of what they have done or whether it is supplication to the pagan gods which is evidence of their perverted ways. The reference in this verse to the hilltops where idolatry was practiced according to 3:2 and the reference to Israel’s unfaithfulness in the preceding verse make the latter more likely. For the asseverative use of the Hebrew particle (here rendered “indeed”) where the particle retains some of the explicative nuance; cf. BDB 472-73 s.v. כִּי 1.e and 3.c.

30 tn Heb “have forgotten the Lord their God,” but in the view of the parallelism and the context, the word “forget” (like “know” and “remember”) involves more than mere intellectual activity.

31 tn Or “I will forgive your apostasies.” Heb “I will [or want to] heal your apostasies.” For the use of the verb “heal” (רָפָא, rafa’) to refer to spiritual healing and forgiveness see Hos 14:4.

32 tn Or “They say.” There is an obvious ellipsis of a verb of saying here since the preceding words are those of the Lord and the following are those of the people. However, there is debate about whether these are the response of the people to the Lord’s invitation, a response which is said to be inadequate according to the continuation in 4:1-4, or whether these are the Lord’s model for Israel’s confession of repentance to which he adds further instructions about the proper heart attitude that should accompany it in 4:1-4. The former implies a dialogue with an unmarked twofold shift in speaker between 3:22b-25 and 4:1-4:4 while the latter assumes the same main speaker throughout with an unmarked instruction only in 3:22b-25. This disrupts the flow of the passage less and appears more likely.



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