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. 1
They have left them to walk in bypaths,
in roads that are not smooth and level. 2
18:16 So their land will become an object of horror. 3
People will forever hiss out their scorn over it.
All who pass that way will be filled with horror
and will shake their heads in derision. 4
18:17 I will scatter them before their enemies
like dust blowing in front of a burning east wind.
I will turn my back on them and not look favorably on them 5
when disaster strikes them.”
1 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).
2 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.
3 tn There may be a deliberate double meaning involved here. The word translated here “an object of horror” refers both to destruction (cf. 2:15; 4:17) and the horror or dismay that accompanies it (cf. 5:30; 8:21). The fact that there is no conjunction or preposition in front of the noun “hissing” that follows this suggests that the reaction is in view here, not the cause.
4 tn Heb “an object of lasting hissing. All who pass that way will be appalled and shake their head.”
sn The actions of “shaking of the head” and “hissing” were obviously gestures of scorn and derision. See Lam 2:15-16.
5 tc Heb “I will show them [my] back and not [my] face.” This reading follows the suggestion of some of the versions and some of the Masoretes. The MT reads “I will look on their back and not on their faces.”
sn To “turn the back” is universally recognized as a symbol of rejection. The turning of the face toward one is the subject of the beautiful Aaronic blessing in Num 6:24-26.