34:18 I will punish those people who have violated their covenant with me. I will make them like the calf they cut in two and passed between its pieces. 1 I will do so because they did not keep the terms of the covenant they made in my presence. 2 34:19 I will punish the leaders of Judah and Jerusalem, the court officials, 3 the priests, and all the other people of the land who passed between the pieces of the calf. 4
2 tn There is a little confusion in the syntax of this section because the noun “the calf” does not have any formal conjunction or preposition with it showing how it relates to the rest of the sentence. KJV treats it and the following words as though they were a temporal clause modifying “covenant which they made.” The majority of modern English versions and commentaries, however, understand it as a second accusative after the verb + object “I will make the men.” This fits under the category of what GKC 375 §118.r calls an accusative of comparison (compare usage in Isa 21:8; Zech 2:8). Stated baldly, “I will make the people…the calf,” it is, however, more forceful than the formal use of the noun + preposition כְּ just as metaphors are generally more forceful than similes. The whole verse is one long, complex sentence in Hebrew: “I will make the men who broke my covenant [referring to the Mosaic covenant containing the stipulation to free slaves after six years] [and] who did not keep the terms of the covenant which they made before me [referring to their agreement to free their slaves] [like] the calf which they cut in two and passed between its pieces.” The sentence has been broken down into shorter sentences in conformity with contemporary English style.
4 tn This verse is not actually a sentence in the Hebrew original but is a prepositioned object to the verb in v. 20, “I will hand them over.” This construction is called casus pendens in the older grammars and is used to call attention to a subject or object (cf. GKC 458 §143.d and compare the usage in 33:24). The same nondescript “I will punish” which was used to resolve the complex sentence in the previous verse has been chosen to introduce the objects here before the more specific “I will hand them over” in the next verse.