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Jeremiah 12:14-16

Context

12:14 “I, the Lord, also have something to say concerning 1  the wicked nations who surround my land 2  and have attacked and plundered 3  the land that I gave to my people as a permanent possession. 4  I say: ‘I will uproot the people of those nations from their lands and I will free the people of Judah who have been taken there. 5  12:15 But after I have uprooted the people of those nations, I will relent 6  and have pity on them. I will restore the people of each of those nations to their own lands 7  and to their own country. 12:16 But they must make sure you learn to follow the religious practices of my people. 8  Once they taught my people to swear their oaths using the name of the god Baal. 9  But then, they must swear oaths using my name, saying, “As surely as the Lord lives, I swear.” 10  If they do these things, 11  then they will be included among the people I call my own. 12 

1 tn Heb “Thus says the Lord concerning….” This structure has been adopted to prevent a long dangling introduction to what the Lord has to say that does not begin until the middle of the verse in Hebrew. The first person address was adopted because the speaker is still the Lord as in vv. 7-13.

2 tn Heb “my wicked neighbors.”

3 tn Heb “touched.” For the nuance of this verb here see BDB 619 s.v. נָגַע Qal.3 and compare the usage in 1 Chr 16:22 where it is parallel to “do harm to” and Zech 2:8 where it is parallel to “plundered.”

4 tn Heb “the inheritance which I caused my people Israel to inherit.” Compare 3:18.

5 tn Heb “I will uproot the house of Judah from their midst.”

sn There appears to be an interesting play on the Hebrew word translated “uproot” in this verse. In the first instance it refers to “uprooting the nations from upon their lands,” i.e., to exiling them. In the second instance it refers to “uprooting the Judeans from the midst of them,” i.e., to rescue them.

6 tn For the use of the verb “turn” (שׁוּב, shuv) in this sense, see BDB s.v. שׁוּב Qal.6.g and compare the usage in Pss 90:13; 6:4; Joel 2:14. It does not simply mean “again” as several of the English versions render it.

7 sn The Lord is sovereign over the nations and has allotted each of them their lands. See Deut 2:5 (Edom), Deut 2:9 (Moab), Deut 2:19 (Ammon). He promised to restore not only his own people Israel to their land (Jer 32:37) but also Moab (Jer 48:47) and Ammon (Jer 49:6).

8 tn Heb “the ways of my people.” For this nuance of the word “ways” compare 10:2 and the notes there.

9 tn Heb “taught my people to swear by Baal.”

10 tn The words “I swear” are not in the text but are implicit to the oath formula. They are supplied in the translation for clarity.

11 tn The words “If they do this” are not in the text. They are part of an attempt to break up a Hebrew sentence which is long and complex into equivalent shorter sentences consistent with contemporary English style. Verse 16 in Hebrew is all one sentence with a long complex conditional clause followed by a short consequence: “If they carefully learn the ways of my people to swear by name, ‘By the life of the Lord,’ as they taught my people to swear by Baal, then they will be built up in the midst of my people.” The translation strives to create the same contingencies and modifications by breaking up the sentence into shorter sentences in accord with contemporary English style.

12 tn Heb “they will be built up among my people.” The expression “be built up among” is without parallel. However, what is involved here is conceptually parallel to the ideas expressed in Isa 19:23-25 and Zech 14:16-19. That is, these people will be allowed to live on their own land, to worship the Lord there, and to come to Jerusalem to celebrate the feasts. To translate literally would be meaningless or misleading for many readers.



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