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Jeremiah 17:15-18

Context

17:15 Listen to what they are saying to me. 1 

They are saying, “Where are the things the Lord threatens us with?

Come on! Let’s see them happen!” 2 

17:16 But I have not pestered you to bring disaster. 3 

I have not desired the time of irreparable devastation. 4 

You know that.

You are fully aware of every word that I have spoken. 5 

17:17 Do not cause me dismay! 6 

You are my source of safety in times of trouble.

17:18 May those who persecute me be disgraced.

Do not let me be disgraced.

May they be dismayed.

Do not let me be dismayed.

Bring days of disaster on them.

Bring on them the destruction they deserve.” 7 

1 tn Heb “Behold, they are saying to me.”

2 tn Heb “Where is the word of the Lord. Let it come [or come to pass] please.”

3 tc Heb “I have not run after you for the sake of disaster.” The translation follows the suggestion of some ancient versions. The Hebrew text reads “I have not run from being a shepherd after you.” The translation follows two Greek versions (Aquila and Symmachus) and the Syriac in reading the word “evil” or “disaster” here in place of the word “shepherd” in the Hebrew text. The issue is mainly one of vocalization. The versions mentioned are reading a form מֵרָעָה (meraah) instead of מֵרֹעֶה (meroeh). There does not appear to be any clear case of a prophet being called a shepherd, especially in Jeremiah where it is invariably used of the wicked leaders/rulers of Judah, the leaders/rulers of the enemy that he brings to punish them, or the righteous ruler that he will bring in the future. Moreover, there are no cases where the preposition “after” is used with the verb “shepherd.” Parallelism also argues for the appropriateness of this reading; “disaster” parallels the “incurable day.” The thought also parallels the argument thus far. Other than 11:20; 12:3; 15:15 where he has prayed for vindication by the Lord punishing his persecutors as they deserve, he has invariably responded to the Lord’s word of disaster with laments and prayers for his people (see 4:19-21; 6:24; 8:18; 10:19-25; 14:7-9, 19-22).

4 tn Heb “the incurable day.” For the use of this word see the note on 17:9.

5 tn Heb “that which goes out of my lip is right in front of your face.”

6 tn Heb “do not be a source of dismay for me.” For this nuance of מְחִתָּה (mÿkhittah) rather than “terror” as many of the English versions have it see BDB 370 s.v. מְחִתָּה 1.b and the usage in Prov 21:15. Compare also the usage of the related verb which occurs in the next verse (see also BDB 369 s.v. חָתַת Qal.2).

7 tn Or “complete destruction.” See the translator’s note on 16:18.

sn Jeremiah now does what he says he has not wanted to do or been hasty to do. He is, however, seeking his own vindication and that of God whose threats they have belittled.



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