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Jeremiah 18:13-15

Context

18:13 Therefore, the Lord says,

“Ask the people of other nations

whether they have heard of anything like this.

Israel should have been like a virgin.

But she has done something utterly revolting!

18:14 Does the snow ever completely vanish from the rocky slopes of Lebanon?

Do the cool waters from those distant mountains ever cease to flow? 1 

18:15 Yet my people have forgotten me

and offered sacrifices to worthless idols!

This makes them stumble along in the way they live

and leave the old reliable path of their fathers. 2 

They have left them to walk in bypaths,

in roads that are not smooth and level. 3 

1 tn The precise translation of this verse is somewhat uncertain. Two phrases in this verse are the primary cause of discussion and the source of numerous emendations, none of which has gained consensus. The phrase which is rendered here “rocky slopes” is in Hebrew צוּר שָׂדַי (tsur saday), which would normally mean something like “rocky crag of the field” (see BDB 961 s.v. שָׂדַי 1.g). Numerous emendations have been proposed, most of which are listed in the footnotes of J. A. Thompson, Jeremiah (NICOT), 436. The present translation has chosen to follow the proposal of several scholars that the word here is related to the Akkadian word shadu meaning mountain. The other difficulty is the word translated “cease” which in the MT is literally “be uprooted” (יִנָּתְשׁוּ, yinnatshu). The word is usually emended to read יִנָּשְׁתוּ (yinnashtu, “are dried up”) as a case of transposed letters (cf., e.g., BDB 684 s.v. נָתַשׁ Niph). This is probably a case of an error in hearing and the word נָטַשׁ (natash) which is often parallel to עָזַב (’azav), translated here “vanish,” should be read in the sense that it has in 1 Sam 10:2. Whether one reads “are plucked up” and understands it figuratively of ceasing (“are dried” or “cease”), the sense is the same. For the sense of “distant” for the word זָרִים (zarim) see 2 Kgs 19:24.

sn Israel’s actions are contrary to nature. See the same kind of argumentation in Jer 2:11; 8:7.

2 sn Heb “the ancient path.” This has already been referred to in Jer 6:16. There is another “old way” but it is the path trod by the wicked (cf. Job 22:15).

3 sn Heb “ways that are not built up.” This refers to the built-up highways. See Isa 40:4 for the figure. The terms “way,” “by-paths,” “roads” are, of course, being used here in the sense of moral behavior or action.



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