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Jeremiah 7:18

7:18 Children are gathering firewood, fathers are building fires with it, and women are mixing dough to bake cakes to offer to the goddess they call the Queen of Heaven. 1  They are also pouring out drink offerings to other gods. They seem to do all this just 2  to trouble me.

Jeremiah 44:17-19

44:17 Instead we will do everything we vowed we would do. 3  We will sacrifice and pour out drink offerings to the goddess called the Queen of Heaven 4  just as we and our ancestors, our kings, and our leaders previously did in the towns of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem. For then we had plenty of food, were well-off, and had no troubles. 5  44:18 But ever since we stopped sacrificing and pouring out drink offerings to the Queen of Heaven, we have been in great need. Our people have died in wars or of starvation.” 6  44:19 The women added, 7  “We did indeed sacrifice and pour out drink offerings to the Queen of Heaven. But it was with the full knowledge and approval of our husbands that we made cakes in her image and poured out drink offerings to her.” 8 

Jeremiah 44:25

44:25 The Lord God of Israel who rules over all says, ‘You women 9  have confirmed by your actions what you vowed with your lips! You said, “We will certainly carry out our vows to sacrifice and pour out drink offerings to the Queen of Heaven.” Well, then fulfill your vows! Carry them out!’ 10 

1 tn The form for “queen” is unusual. It is pointed (מְלֶכֶת [mÿlekhet] instead of מַלְכַּת [malkat]) as though the Masoretes wanted to read the word for “work” (מְלֶאכֶת [mÿlekhet]), i.e., the “hosts of,” a word that several Hebrew mss read and an understanding the LXX reflects. The other ancient and modern versions generally, however, accept it as a biform for the word “queen.”

sn The Queen of Heaven is probably a reference to the goddess known as Ishtar in Mesopotamia, Anat in Canaan, Ashtoreth in Israel. She was the goddess of love and fertility. For further discussion, see G. L. Keown, P. J. Scalise, T. G. Smothers, Jeremiah 26-52 (WBC), 266-68.

2 tn Heb “to provoke me.” There is debate among grammarians and lexicographers about the nuance of the Hebrew particle לְמַעַן (lÿmaan). Some say it always denotes purpose, while others say it may denote either purpose or result, depending on the context. For example, BDB 775 s.v. לְמַעַן note 1 says that it always denotes purpose, never result, but that sometimes what is really a result is represented ironically as though it were a purpose. That explanation fits nicely here in the light of the context of the next verse. The translation is intended to reflect some of that ironic sarcasm.

3 tn Heb “that went out of our mouth.” I.e., everything we said, promised, or vowed.

4 tn Heb “sacrifice to the Queen of Heaven and pour out drink offerings to her.” The expressions have been combined to simplify and shorten the sentence. The same combination also occurs in vv. 18, 19.

sn See the translator’s note and the study note on 7:18 for the problem of translation and identification of the term translated here “the goddess called the Queen of Heaven.”

5 tn Heb “saw [or experienced] no disaster/trouble/harm.”

6 tn Heb “we have been consumed/destroyed by sword or by starvation.” The “we” cannot be taken literally here since they are still alive.

sn What is being contrasted here is the relative peace and prosperity under the reign of Manasseh, who promoted all kinds of pagan cults including the worship of astral deities (2 Kgs 21:2-9), and the disasters that befell Judah after the reforms of Josiah, which included the removal of all the cult images and altars from Jerusalem and Judah (2 Kgs 23:4-15). The disasters included the death of Josiah himself at the battle of Megiddo, the deportation of his son Jehoahaz to Egypt, the death of Jehoiakim, the deportation of Jehoiachin (Jeconiah) and many other Judeans in 597 b.c., the death by war, starvation, and disease of many Judeans during the siege of Jerusalem in 588-86 b.c., and the captivity of many of those who survived. Instead of seeing these as punishments for their disobedience to the Lord as Jeremiah had preached to them, they saw these as consequences of their failure to continue the worship of the foreign gods.

7 tc The words “And the women added” are not in the Hebrew text. They are, however, implicit in what is said. They are found in the Syriac version and in one recension of the Greek version. W. L. Holladay (Jeremiah [Hermeneia], 2:279, n. 19a) suggests that these words are missing from the Hebrew text because of haplography, i.e., that the scribe left out וַהַנָּשִׁים אָמְרוּ כִי (vahannashimomru khi) because his eye jumped from the ו at the beginning to the כִּי (ki) that introduced the temporal clause and left out everything in between. It is, however, just as likely, given the fact that there are several other examples of quotes which have not been formally introduced in the book of Jeremiah, that the words were not there and are supplied by these two ancient versions as a translator’s clarification.

8 tn Or “When we sacrificed and poured out drink offering to the Queen of Heaven and made cakes in her image, wasn’t it with the knowledge and approval of our husbands?” Heb “When we sacrificed to the Queen of Heaven and poured out drink offerings [for the use of לְ (lamed) + the infinitive construct to carry on the tense of the preceding verb see BDB 518 s.v. לְ 7.b(h)] to her, did we make cakes to make an image of her and pour out drink offerings apart from [i.e., “without the knowledge and consent of,” so BDB 116 s.v. בִּלְעֲדֵי b(a)] our husbands?” The question expects a positive answer and has been rendered as an affirmation in the translation. The long, complex Hebrew sentence has again been broken in two and restructured to better conform with contemporary English style.

sn According to Jer 7:18-19 it was not only with the full knowledge and approval of their husbands but also with their active participation. Most of the commentaries call attention to the fact that what is being alluded to here is that a woman’s vow had to have her husband’s conscious approval to have any validity (cf. Num 30:7-16 and see the reference to the vow in v. 17).

9 tn Or “You and your wives.” The text and referent here is uncertain because of the confusing picture that the alternation of pronouns presents in this verse. Three of the main verbs are second feminine plurals and one of them is second masculine plural. All the pronominal suffixes on the nouns are second masculine plurals. The Hebrew text reads: “You [masc. pl.] and your [masc. pl.] wives have spoken [2nd fem. pl.; תְּדַבֵּרְנָה, tÿdabberÿnah] with your [masc. pl.] mouth and you have fulfilled [masc. pl.; מִלֵּאתֶם, milletem] with your [masc. pl.] hands, saying, ‘We [common gender] will certainly carry out….’ Indeed fulfill [2nd fem. pl.; תָּקִימְנָה, taqimnah] your [masc. pl.] vows and indeed carry out [2nd fem. pl.; תַעֲשֶׂינָה, taasenah] your [masc. pl.] vows.” Older commentaries, such as K&D 22:165, explain the feminine verbs as a matter of the women being the principle subject. Most all modern commentaries (e.g., J. A. Thompson, J. Bright, W. L. Holladay, and G. L. Keown, P. J. Scalise, T. G. Smothers) follow the reading of the Greek version which reads “you women” (= אַתֵּנָה הַנָּשִּׁים, [’attenah hannashim]) in place of “you and your wives” (אַתֶּם וּנְשֵׁיכֶם, ’attem unÿshekhem) in the Hebrew. None of them, however, explain the use of the 2nd masc. plurals here. This is possibly a case where the masculine forms are used in the place of the feminine due to the dislike of Hebrew to use the feminine plural forms (cf. GKC 459 §144.a and 466 §145.t). This seems all the more probable when 2nd fem. pl. verbs are qualified by nouns with 2nd masc. pl. suffixes. The translation here follows this interpretation of the masc. pl. forms and reads “you women” with the Greek version in place of “you and your wives” and sees the referents throughout as the women.

10 tn Heb “Carry out your vows!”

sn The commands here are, of course, sarcastic and not meant to be taken literally.

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