11:1 The Lord said to Jeremiah: 1 11:2 “Hear 2 the terms of the covenant 3 I made with Israel 4 and pass them on 5 to the people of Judah and the citizens of Jerusalem. 6 11:3 Tell them that the Lord, the God of Israel, says, ‘Anyone who does not keep the terms of the covenant will be under a curse. 7 11:4 Those are the terms that I charged your ancestors 8 to keep 9 when I brought them out of Egypt, that place which was like an iron-smelting furnace. 10 I said at that time, 11 “Obey me and carry out the terms of the agreement 12 exactly as I commanded you. If you do, 13 you will be my people and I will be your God. 14 11:5 Then I will keep the promise I swore on oath to your ancestors to give them a land flowing with milk and honey.” 15 That is the very land that you still live in today.’” 16 And I responded, “Amen! Let it be so, 17 Lord!”
11:6 The Lord said to me, “Announce all the following words in the towns of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem: ‘Listen to the terms of my covenant with you 18 and carry them out! 11:7 For I solemnly warned your ancestors to obey me. 19 I warned them again and again, 20 ever since I delivered them out of Egypt until this very day. 11:8 But they did not listen to me or pay any attention to me! Each one of them followed the stubborn inclinations of his own wicked heart. So I brought on them all the punishments threatened in the covenant because they did not carry out its terms as I commanded them to do.’” 21
11:9 The Lord said to me, “The people of Judah and the citizens of Jerusalem have plotted rebellion against me! 22 11:10 They have gone back to the evil ways 23 of their ancestors of old who refused to obey what I told them. They, too, have paid allegiance to 24 other gods and worshiped them. Both the nation of Israel and the nation of Judah 25 have violated the covenant I made with their ancestors. 11:11 So I, the Lord, say this: 26 ‘I will soon bring disaster on them which they will not be able to escape! When they cry out to me for help, I will not listen to them. 11:12 Then those living in the towns of Judah and in Jerusalem will 27 go and cry out for help to the gods to whom they have been sacrificing. However, those gods will by no means 28 be able to save them when disaster strikes them. 11:13 This is in spite of the fact that 29 the people of Judah have as many gods as they have towns 30 and the citizens of Jerusalem have set up as many altars to sacrifice to that disgusting god, Baal, as they have streets in the city!’ 31 11:14 So, Jeremiah, 32 do not pray for these people. Do not cry out to me or petition me on their behalf. Do not plead with me to save them. 33 For I will not listen to them when they call out to me for help when disaster strikes them.” 34
“What right do you have to be in my temple, my beloved people? 36
Many of you have done wicked things. 37
Can your acts of treachery be so easily canceled by sacred offerings 38
that you take joy in doing evil even while you make them? 39
one that produced beautiful fruit.
But I will set you 41 on fire,
fire that will blaze with a mighty roar. 42
Then all your branches will be good for nothing. 43
I now decree that disaster will come on you 46
because the nations of Israel and Judah have done evil
and have made me angry by offering sacrifices to the god Baal.” 47
2 tn The form is a second masculine plural which is followed in the MT of vv. 2-3 by second masculine singulars. This plus the fact that the whole clause “listen to the terms of this covenant” is nearly repeated at the end of v. 3 has led many modern scholars to delete the whole clause (cf., e.g. W. McKane, Jeremiah [ICC], 1:236-37). However, this only leads to further adjustments in the rest of the verse which are difficult to justify. The form has also led to a good deal of speculation about who these others were that are initially addressed here. The juxtaposition of second plural and singular forms has a precedent in Deuteronomy, where the nation is sometimes addressed with the plural and at other times with a collective singular.
3 sn The covenant I made with Israel. Apart from the legal profession and Jewish and Christian tradition the term “covenant” may not be too familiar. There were essentially three kinds of “covenants” that were referred to under the Hebrew term used here: (1) “Parity treaties” or “covenants” between equals in which each party pledged itself to certain agreed upon stipulations and took an oath to it in the name of their god or gods (cf. Gen 31:44-54); (2) “Suzerain-vassal treaties” or “covenants” in which a great king pledged himself to protect the vassal’s realm and his right to rule over his own domain in exchange for sovereignty over the vassal, including the rendering of absolute loyalty and submission to the great king’s demands spelled out in detailed stipulations; (3) “Covenants of grant” in which a great king granted to a loyal servant or vassal king permanent title to a piece of land or dominion over a specified realm in recognition of past service. It is generally recognized that the Mosaic covenant which is being referred to here is of the second type and that it resembles in kind the ancient Near Eastern suzerain-vassal treaties. These treaties typically contained the following elements: (1) a preamble identifying the great king (cf. Exod 20:2a; Deut 1:1-4); (2) a historical prologue summarizing the great king’s past benefactions as motivation for future loyalty (cf. Exod 20:2b; Deut 1:5–4:43); (3) the primary stipulation of absolute and unconditional loyalty (cf. Exod 20:3-8; Deut 5:1–11:32); (4) specific stipulations governing future relations between the vassal and the great king and the vassal’s relation to other vassals (cf. Exod 20:22–23:33; Deut 12:1–26:15); (5) the invoking of curses on the vassal for disloyalty and the pronouncing of blessing on him for loyalty (cf. Lev 26; Deut 27-28); (6) the invoking of witnesses to the covenant, often the great king’s and the vassal’s gods (cf. Deut 30:19; 31:28 where the reference is to the “heavens and the earth” as enduring witnesses). It is also generally agreed that the majority of the threats of punishment by the prophets refer to the invocation of these covenant curses for disloyalty to the basic stipulation, that of absolute loyalty.
4 tn Heb “this covenant.” The referent of “this” is left dangling until it is further defined in vv. 3-4. Leaving it undefined in the translation may lead to confusion hence the anticipatory nature of the demonstrative is spelled out explicitly in the translation.
5 tn Heb “and speak/tell them.” However, the translation chosen is more appropriate to modern idiom.
6 tn Or “those living in Jerusalem”; Heb “inhabitants of.”
7 tn Heb “Cursed is the person who does not listen to the terms of this covenant.” “This covenant” is further qualified in the following verse by a relative clause. The form of the sentence and the qualification “my” before covenant were chosen for better English idiom and to break up a long sentence which really extends to the middle of v. 5.
9 tn Heb “does not listen…this covenant which I commanded your fathers.” The sentence is broken up this way in conformity with contemporary English style.
10 tn Heb “out of the land of Egypt, out of the iron-smelting furnace.”
11 tn In place of the words “I said at that time” the Hebrew text has “saying.” The sentence is again being restructured in English to avoid the long, confusing style of the Hebrew original.
12 tn Heb “Obey me and carry them out.” The “them” refers back to the terms of the covenant which they were charged to keep according to the preceding. The referent is made specific to avoid ambiguity.
13 tn The words, “If you do” are not in the text. They have been supplied in the translation to break up a long sentence consisting of an imperative followed by a consequential sentence.
14 sn Obey me and carry out the terms of the agreement…and I will be your God. This refers to the Mosaic law which was instituted at Sinai and renewed on the Plains of Moab before Israel entered into the land. The words “the terms of the covenant” are explicitly used for the Ten Commandments in Exod 34:28 and for the additional legislation given in Deut 28:69; 29:8. The formulation here is reminiscent of Deut 29:9-14 (29:10-15 HT). The book of Deuteronomy is similar in its structure and function to an ancient Near Eastern treaty. In these the great king reminded his vassal of past benefits that he had given to him, charged him with obligations (the terms or stipulations of the covenant) chief among which was absolute loyalty and sole allegiance, promised him future benefits for obeying the stipulations (the blessings), and placed him under a curse for disobeying them. Any disobedience was met with stern warnings of punishment in the form of destruction and exile. Those who had witnessed the covenant were called in to confirm the continuing goodness of the great king and the disloyalty of the vassal. The vassal was then charged with a list of particular infringements of the stipulations and warned to change his actions or suffer the consequences. This is the background for Jer 11:1-9. Jeremiah is here functioning as a messenger from the
15 tn The phrase “a land flowing with milk and honey” is very familiar to readers in the Jewish and Christian traditions as a proverbial description of the agricultural and pastoral abundance of the land of Israel. However, it may not mean too much to readers outside those traditions; an equivalent expression would be “a land of fertile fields and fine pastures.” E. W. Bullinger (Figures of Speech, 626) identifies this as a figure of speech called synecdoche where the species is put for the genus, “a region…abounding with pasture and fruits of all kinds.”
16 tn Heb “‘a land flowing with milk and honey,’ as at this day.” However, the literal reading is too elliptical and would lead to confusion.
17 tn The words “Let it be so” are not in the text; they are an explanation of the significance of the term “Amen” for those who may not be part of the Christian or Jewish tradition.
sn The word amen is found at the end of each of the curses in Deut 27 where the people express their agreement with the appropriateness of the curse for the offense mentioned.
18 tn Heb “the terms of this covenant.” However, this was a separate message and the ambiguity of “this” could still cause some confusion.
19 tn Heb “warned them…saying, ‘Obey me.’” However, it allows the long sentence to be broken up easier if the indirect quote is used.
21 tn Heb “So I brought on them all the terms of this covenant which I commanded to do and they did not do.” There is an interesting polarity that is being exploited by two different nuances implicit in the use of the word “terms” (דִּבְרֵי [divre], literally “words”), i.e., what the
22 tn Heb “Conspiracy [a plot to rebel] is found [or exists] among the men of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem.”
23 tn Or “They have repeated the evil actions of….”
25 tn Heb “house of Israel and house of Judah.”
26 tn Heb “Therefore, thus, says the
27 tn Heb “Then the towns of Judah and those living in Jerusalem will…”
28 tn The Hebrew construction is emphatic involving the use of an infinitive of the verb before the verb itself (Heb “saving they will not save”). For this construction to give emphasis to an antithesis, cf. GKC 343 §113.p.
29 tn This is again an attempt to render the Hebrew particle כִּי (ki) contextually. The nuance is a little hard to establish due to the nature of the rhetoric of the passage which utilizes the figure of apostrophe where the
31 tn Heb “For [or Indeed] the number of your [sing.] cities are your [sing.] gods, Judah, and the number of the streets of Jerusalem [or perhaps (your) streets, Jerusalem] you [plur.] have set up altars to the shameful thing, altars to sacrifice to Baal.” This passage involves a figure of speech where the speaker turns from describing something about someone to addressing him/her directly (a figure called apostrophe). This figure is not common in contemporary English literature or conversation and translating literally would lead to confusion on the part of some readers. Hence, the translation retains the third person in keeping with the rest of the context. The shift from singular “your cities” to plural “you have set up” is interpreted contextually to refer to a shift in addressing Judah to addressing the citizens of Jerusalem whose streets are being talked about. The appositional clause, “altars to sacrifice to Baal” has been collapsed with the preceding clause to better identify what the shameful thing is and to eliminate a complex construction. The length of this sentence runs contrary to the usual practice of breaking up long complex sentences in Hebrew into shorter equivalent ones in English. However, breaking up this sentence and possibly losing the connecting link with the preceding used to introduce it might lead to misunderstanding.
32 tn Heb “you.”
33 tn The words “to save them” are not in the text but are implicit from the context. They are supplied in the translation for clarity.
sn Cf. Jer 7:16 where this same command is addressed to Jeremiah.
34 tc The rendering “when disaster strikes them” is based on reading “at the time of” (בְּעֵת, bÿ’et) with a number of Hebrew
35 tn The words “The
36 tn Heb “What to my beloved [being] in my house?” The text has been restructured to avoid possible confusion by the shift from third person in the first two lines to second person in the last two lines and the lines of the following verse. The reference to Judah as his “beloved” is certainly ironic and perhaps even sarcastic.
37 tc The meaning of this line is uncertain. The text reads somewhat literally either “her doing the wicked thing the many” or “doing it, the wicked thing, the many.” The text, relationship between words, and meaning of this whole verse have been greatly debated. Wholesale emendation based on the ancient versions is common in both the commentaries and the modern English versions. Many follow the lead of the Greek version which in many cases offers a smoother reading but for that very reason may not be original. The notes that follow will explain some of these emendations but will also attempt to explain the most likely meaning of the MT which is the more difficult and probably the more original text. Since it is presumed to be the original the text will be dealt with in the notes line for line in the MT even though the emendations often relate to more than one line. For example the Greek of the first two lines reads: “Why has the beloved done abomination in my house?” This ignores the preposition before “my beloved” (לִידִידִי, lididi) and treats the form “her doing” (עֲשׂוֹתָהּ [’asotah], Qal infinitive plus suffix) as a finite verb (עָשְׂתָה [’astah], Qal perfect third feminine). The forms are similar but the Greek is smoother. Moreover, it is difficult to explain the presence of “to” in the MT if the Greek is the original. The Greek text likewise does not have the difficulty that is exhibited in the MT by the word “the many” (הָרַבִּים, harabbim). It reads a word for “vows/votive offerings” (εὐχαί [eucai] regularly = נְדָרִים [gÿdarim]) in place of the word “many” (הָרַבִּים, harabbim) and takes it as part of a compound subject of the verb in the following line meaning “take away.” However, this word is far removed graphically from that in the MT and it would be difficult to explain how the MT arose from it. The Old Latin apparently reads a word for “fat” (adipes = חֲלָבִים, khalavim) which is closer in script to the MT and would be more likely original than the Greek. However, both of these resolutions look like attempts to smooth out a difficult text. Because there is no solid support for any single reading, it is probably best to retain the MT’s “the many.” Many do retain it and take it as a second accusative of “doing it” and read “she does the wicked thing with many [i.e., many false gods],” a use of the accusative which is hard to justify. Another alternative, taking the adjective “the many” to modify the noun “the wicked thing” is sometimes suggested but is not possible because the adjective is masculine plural and the noun is feminine singular which is contrary to Hebrew style. Hence one cannot read “she has done many wicked things.” The present translation follows the suggestion in D. Barthélemy, ed., Preliminary and Interim Report on the Hebrew Old Testament Text Project, 4:209, that it is the subject of the infinitive construct with an object suffix which is anticipatory of the noun “wickedness” that follows (cf. GKC 425 §131.m), i.e., “the many do it, namely the wickedness” (for the meaning of the noun see BDB 273 s.v. מְזִמָּה 3.b).
38 tn The meaning of this line is also uncertain. The Hebrew text reads somewhat literally, “holy meat they pass over from upon you.” The question of the subject of the verb is the main problem here. The verb is masculine plural and the only subject available is “holy meat” which is singular, a “they” which goes back to “the many,” or a noun from the end of the preceding line which is combined with “holy meat.” The latter is the solution of the Greek version which reads “Will votive offerings [or pieces of fat (following the Old Latin)] and holy meats take away from you your wickedness?” However, that resolution has been rejected in the preceding note as smoothing out the difficulties of the first two lines. It also leaves out the כִּי (ki) at the beginning of the following line and takes the noun “your wickedness” as the object of the verb. That certainly would make for an easier reading of both this line and the next and the assumption that כִּי may not be in the text is possible because it could be explained as a double writing of the pronoun on the end of the preceding phrase “from upon you” (מֵעָלָיִךְ, me’alayikh). However, besides being the smoother reading it leaves the last line too short poetically. The solution of the UBS, Preliminary Report, 4:209 is that “they” (referring back to “the many”?) is the subject. They read: “so that they carry away from you even sacrificial flesh.” But who are “they” and “you?” Is the “they” the priests and the “you” the people? (See 1 Sam 2:10-17 for a possible parallel.) This, however, introduces too many unknowns into the text. The translation adopted is based on a revocalization of the form “from upon you” (מֵעָלָיִךְ, me’alayikh) to “your treacherous acts” (מַעֲלָיִךְ, ma’alayikh; for this noun cf. BDB 591 s.v. I מַעַל 2), a solution which is also proposed in the margin of the NJPS which reads: “Can your treacheries be canceled by sacral flesh?” For the nuance of the verb presupposed here (= be removed, cease to exist) see BDB 718 s.v. עָבַר Qal.6.c and compare usage in Job 30:15. While this solution does preserve the consonantal text and is accepted here, it should be acknowledged that there is no ancient support for it and the reading of the noun “treacheries” in place of the compound preposition “from upon” is purely speculative.
39 tn Heb “for [or when] your wickedness then you rejoice.” The meaning of this line is uncertain. The Greek version, which reads “or will you escape by these things” (presupposing a Hebrew text אִם עַל זוֹת תָּעוּזִי, ’im ’al zot ta’uzi) is far removed from the reading in the MT (אָז תַּעֲלֹזִי [’az ta’alozi]; the rest of the Hebrew line has been left out because the Greek reads it with the preceding line) and again appears to be an attempt to smooth out a difficult text. The translation retains the MT but rewords it so it makes better sense in English. The translation presupposes that the phrase “your wickedness” is the object of the verb “take joy” and the adverb “then” refers back to the offering of sacred flesh, i.e., “even then [or at that time]” as a constructio ad sensum. For a similar use of the adverb (אָז, ’az) compare Gen 13:7. For the use of כִּי (ki) meaning “that” after a question see BDB 472 s.v. כִּי 1.f. A possible alternative would be to read as UBS, Preliminary Report, 4:209 do: “When trouble reaches you, then will you exult?” If the text of the whole verse followed here, the more difficult text, is not the original one, the most likely alternative would be: “What right does my beloved have to be in my house? She has does wicked things [reading עָשְׂתָה מְזִמֹּת, ’ostah mÿzimot]. Can fat pieces [reading הַחֲלָבִים, hakhalavim] and sacred meat take away your wickedness from you [reading יַעֲבִרוּ מֵעָלַיִךְ רָעָתֵכִי, ya’aviru me’alayikh ra’atekhi]? [If it could] then you could rejoice.” It should be emphasized that the text of the verse is uncertain in a number of places and open to more than one interpretation. However, regardless of which text or interpretation of it is followed, the Masoretic as interpreted here, the Greek as given in the notes, or an emended text based on both, the overall meaning is much the same. Judah has done evil and the
sn For the argument of this verse compare the condemnatory questions in Jer 7:9-11.
40 tn Heb “The
41 tn The verb form used here is another example of a verb expressing that the action is as good as done (the Hebrew prophetic perfect).
42 tn Heb “At the sound of a mighty roar he will set fire to it.” For the shift from third person “he” to the first person “I” see the preceding note. The Hebrew use of the pronouns in vv. 16-17 for the olive tree and the people that it represents is likely to cause confusion if retained. In v. 16 the people are “you” and the olive tree is “it.” The people are again “you” in v. 17 but part of the metaphor is carried over, i.e., “he ‘planted’ you.” It creates less confusion in the flow of the passage if the metaphorical identification is carried out throughout by addressing the people/plant as “you.”
43 tn The verb here has most commonly been derived from a root meaning “to be broken” (cf. BDB 949 s.v. II רָעַע) which fits poorly with the metaphor of setting the plant on fire. Another common option is to emend it to a verb meaning “to be burned up” (בָּעַר, ba’ar). However, it is better to follow the lead of the Greek version which translates “be good for nothing” (ἠχρειώθησαν, hcreiwqhsan) and derive the verb from רָעַע (ra’a’) meaning “be bad/evil” (cf. BDB 949 and compare the nuance of the adjective from this verb in BDB 948 s.v. רַע 5).
44 tn Heb “Yahweh of armies.”
sn For the significance of the term see the notes at 2:19 and 7:3.
45 tn The words “in the land” are not in the text but are supplied in the translation to clarify the meaning of the metaphor.
46 tn Heb “For Yahweh of armies who planted you speaks disaster upon you.” Because of the way the term
47 tn Heb “pronounced disaster…on account of the evil of the house of Israel and the house of Judah which they have done to make me angry [or thus making me angry] by sacrificing to Baal.” The lines have been broken up in conformity with contemporary English style.