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Jeremiah 7:21-24

Context

7:21 The Lord said to the people of Judah, 1  “The Lord God of Israel who rules over all 2  says: ‘You might as well go ahead and add the meat of your burnt offerings to that of the other sacrifices and eat it, too! 3  7:22 Consider this: 4  When I spoke to your ancestors after I brought them out of Egypt, I did not merely give them commands about burnt offerings and sacrifices. 7:23 I also explicitly commanded them: 5  “Obey me. If you do, I 6  will be your God and you will be my people. Live exactly the way I tell you 7  and things will go well with you.” 7:24 But they did not listen to me or pay any attention to me. They followed the stubborn inclinations of their own wicked hearts. They acted worse and worse instead of better. 8 

1 tn The words “The Lord said to the people of Judah” are not in the text but are implicit in the shift in addressee between vv. 16-20 and vv. 21-26.

2 tn Heb “Yahweh of armies, the God of Israel.”

sn See the study notes on 2:19 and 7:3.

3 tn Heb “Add your burnt offerings to your [other] sacrifices and eat the meat!” See the following sn for explanation. This is an example of the rhetorical use of the imperative for a sarcastic challenge. Cf. GKC 324 §110.a; cf. Amos 4:4, “Go to Bethel and sin!”

sn All of the burnt offering, including the meat, was to be consumed on the altar (e.g., Lev 1:6-9). The meat of the other sacrifices could be eaten by the priest who offered the sacrifice and the person who brought it (e.g., Lev 7:16-18, 32). Since, however, the people of Judah were making a mockery of the sacrificial system by offering sacrifices while disobeying the law, the Lord rejected the sacrifices (cf. 6:20). Since they were violating the moral law they might as well go ahead and violate the cultic law by eating the meat dedicated to God because he rejected it anyway.

4 tn Heb “For” but this introduces a long explanation about the relative importance of sacrifice and obedience.

5 tn Verses 22-23a read in Hebrew, “I did not speak with your ancestors and I did not command them when I brought them out of Egypt about words/matters concerning burnt offering and sacrifice, but I commanded them this word:” Some modern commentators have explained this passage as an evidence for the lateness of the Pentateuchal instruction regarding sacrifice or a denial that sacrifice was practiced during the period of the wilderness wandering. However, it is better explained as an example of what R. de Vaux calls a dialectical negative, i.e., “not so much this as that” or “not this without that” (Ancient Israel, 454-56). For other examples of this same argument see Isa 1:10-17; Hos 6:4-6; Amos 5:21-25.

6 tn Heb “Obey me and I will be.” The translation is equivalent syntactically but brings out the emphasis in the command.

7 tn Heb “Walk in all the way that I command you.”

8 tn Or “They went backward and not forward”; Heb “They were to the backward and not to the forward.” The two phrases used here appear nowhere else in the Bible and the latter preposition plus adverb elsewhere is used temporally meaning “formerly” or “previously.” The translation follows the proposal of J. Bright, Jeremiah (AB), 57. Another option is “they turned their backs to me, not their faces,” understanding the line as a variant of a line in 2:27.



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