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Jeremiah 20:4-7

Context
20:4 For the Lord says, ‘I will make both you and your friends terrified of what will happen to you. 1  You will see all of them die by the swords of their enemies. 2  I will hand all the people of Judah over to the king of Babylon. He will carry some of them away into exile in Babylon and he will kill others of them with the sword. 20:5 I will hand over all the wealth of this city to their enemies. I will hand over to them all the fruits of the labor of the people of this city and all their prized possessions, as well as all the treasures of the kings of Judah. Their enemies will seize it all as plunder 3  and carry it off to Babylon. 20:6 You, Pashhur, and all your household 4  will go into exile in Babylon. You will die there and you will be buried there. The same thing will happen to all your friends to whom you have prophesied lies.’” 5 

Jeremiah Complains about the Reaction to His Ministry

20:7 Lord, you coerced me into being a prophet,

and I allowed you to do it.

You overcame my resistance and prevailed over me. 6 

Now I have become a constant laughingstock.

Everyone ridicules me.

1 tn Heb “I will make you an object of terror to both you and your friends.”

2 tn Heb “And they will fall by the sword of their enemies and [with] your eyes seeing [it].”

3 tn Heb “Take them [the goods, etc.] as plunder and seize them.”

4 tn Heb “all who live in your house.” This included his family and his servants.

5 sn As a member of the priesthood and the protector of order in the temple, Pashhur was undoubtedly one of those who promulgated the deceptive belief that the Lord’s presence in the temple was a guarantee of Judah’s safety (cf. 7:4, 8). Judging from the fact that two other men held the same office after the leading men in the city were carried into exile in 597 b.c. (see Jer 29:25-26 and compare 29:1-2 for the date and 2 Kgs 24:12-16 for the facts), this prophecy was probably fulfilled in 597. For a similar kind of oracle of judgment see Amos 7:10-17.

6 tn The translation is admittedly interpretive but so is every other translation that tries to capture the nuance of the verb rendered here “coerced.” Here the Hebrew text reads: “You [ – ]ed me and I let myself be [ – ]ed. You overpowered me and prevailed.” The value one assigns to [ – ] is in every case interpretive based on what one thinks the context is referring to. The word is rendered “deceived” or “tricked” by several English versions (see, e.g., KJV, NASB, TEV, ICV) as though God had misled him. It is rendered “enticed” by some (see, e.g., NRSV, NJPS) as though God had tempted him with false hopes. Some go so far as to accuse Jeremiah of accusing God of metaphorically “raping” him. It is true that the word is used of “seducing” a virgin in Exod 22:15 and that it is used in several places to refer to “deceiving” someone with false words (Prov 24:28; Ps 78:36). It is also true that it is used of “coaxing” someone to reveal something he does not want to (Judg 14:15; 16:5) and of “enticing” someone to do something on the basis of false hopes (1 Kgs 22:20-22; Prov 1:10). However, it does not always have negative connotations or associations. In Hos 2:14 (2:16 HT) God “charms” or “woos” Israel, his estranged ‘wife,’ into the wilderness where he hopes to win her back to himself. What Jeremiah is alluding to here is crucial for translating and interpreting the word. There is no indication in this passage that Jeremiah is accusing God of misleading him or raising false hopes; God informed him at the outset that he would encounter opposition (1:17-19). Rather, he is alluding to his call to be a prophet, a call which he initially resisted but was persuaded to undertake because of God’s persistence (Jer 1:7-10). The best single word to translate ‘…’ with is thus “persuaded” or “coerced.” The translation spells out the allusion explicitly so the reader is not left wondering about what is being alluded to when Jeremiah speaks of being “coerced.” The translation “I let you do it” is a way of rendering the Niphal of the same verb which must be tolerative rather than passive since the normal passive for the Piel would be the Pual (See IBHS 389-90 §23.4g for discussion and examples.). The translation “you overcame my resistance” is based on allusion to the same context (1:7-10) and the parallel use of חָזַק (khazaq) as a transitive verb with a direct object in 1 Kgs 16:22.



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