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Jeremiah 7:31

Context
7:31 They have also built places of worship 1  in a place called Topheth 2  in the Valley of Ben Hinnom so that they can sacrifice their sons and daughters by fire. That is something I never commanded them to do! Indeed, it never even entered my mind to command such a thing! 3 

Jeremiah 19:2-6

Context
19:2 Go out to the part of the Hinnom Valley which is near the entrance of the Potsherd Gate. 4  Announce there what I tell you. 5  19:3 Say, ‘Listen to what the Lord says, you kings of Judah and citizens of Jerusalem! 6  The Lord God of Israel who rules over all 7  says, “I will bring a disaster on this place 8  that will make the ears of everyone who hears about it ring! 9  19:4 I will do so because these people 10  have rejected me and have defiled 11  this place. They have offered sacrifices in it to other gods which neither they nor their ancestors 12  nor the kings of Judah knew anything about. They have filled it with the blood of innocent children. 13  19:5 They have built places here 14  for worship of the god Baal so that they could sacrifice their children as burnt offerings to him in the fire. Such sacrifices 15  are something I never commanded them to make! They are something I never told them to do! Indeed, such a thing never even entered my mind! 19:6 So I, the Lord, say: 16  “The time will soon come that people will no longer call this place Topheth or the Hinnom Valley. But they will call this valley 17  the Valley of Slaughter!

1 tn Heb “high places.”

sn These places of worship were essentially open air shrines often located on hills or wooded heights. They were generally connected with pagan worship and equipped with altars of sacrifice and of incense and cult objects such as wooden poles and stone pillars which were symbols of the god and/or goddess worshiped at the sight. The Israelites were commanded to tear down these Canaanite places of worship (Num 33:52) but they did not do so, often taking over the site for the worship of Yahweh but even then incorporating some of the pagan cult objects and ritual into their worship of Yahweh (1 Kgs 12:31, 32; 14:23). The prophets were especially opposed to these places and to this kind of syncretism (Hos 10:8; Amos 7:9) and to the pagan worship that was often practiced at them (Jer 7:31; 19:5; 32:35).

2 tn Heb “the high places of [or in] Topheth.”

sn The noun Topheth is generally explained as an artificial formation of a word related to the Aramaic word for “cooking stove” combined with the vowels for the word for “shame.” Hence, Jewish piety viewed it as a very shameful act, one that was contrary to the law (see Lev 18:21; 20:2-6). Child sacrifice was practiced during the reigns of the wicked kings Ahaz and Manasseh and apparently during Jeremiah’s day (cf. 2 Kgs 16:3; 21:6; Jer 32:35).

3 tn Heb “It never entered my heart.” The words “to command such a thing” do not appear in the Hebrew but are added for the sake of clarity.

4 sn The exact location of the Potsherd Gate is unknown since it is nowhere else mentioned in the Hebrew Bible. It is sometimes identified with the Dung Gate mentioned in Neh 2:13; 3:13-14; 12:31 on the basis of the Jerusalem Targum. It is probably called “Potsherd Gate” because that is where the potter threw out the broken pieces of pottery which were no longer of use to him. The Valley of Ben Hinnom has already been mentioned in 7:31-32 in connection with the illicit religious practices, including child sacrifice, which took place there. The Valley of Ben Hinnom (or sometimes Valley of Hinnom) runs along the west and south sides of Jerusalem.

5 tn Heb “the words that I will speak to you.”

6 map For location see Map5 B1; Map6 F3; Map7 E2; Map8 F2; Map10 B3; JP1 F4; JP2 F4; JP3 F4; JP4 F4.

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

sn See the study notes on 2:19 and 7:3 for explanation of this title.

8 sn Careful comparison of the use of this term throughout this passage and comparison with 7:31-33 which is parallel to several verses in this passage will show that the reference is to the Valley of Ben Hinnom which will become a Valley of Slaughter (see v. 6 and 7:32).

9 tn Heb “which everyone who hears it [or about it] his ears will ring.” This is proverbial for a tremendous disaster. See 1 Sam 3:11; 2 Kgs 21:12 for similar prophecies.

10 tn The text merely has “they.” But since a reference is made later to “they” and “their ancestors,” the referent must be to the people that the leaders of the people and leaders of the priests represent.

11 sn Heb “have made this city foreign.” The verb here is one that is built off of the noun and adjective which relate to foreign nations. Comparison may be made to Jer 2:21 where the adjective refers to the strange, wild vine as opposed to the choice vine the Lord planted and to 5:19 and 8:19 where the noun is used of worshiping foreign gods. Israel through its false worship has “denationalized” itself in its relation to God.

12 tn Heb “fathers.”

13 tn Heb “the blood of innocent ones.” This must be a reference to child sacrifice as explained in the next verse. Some have seen a reference to the sins of social injustice alluded to in 2 Kgs 21:16 and 24:4 but those are connected with the city itself. Hence the word children is supplied in the translation to make the referent explicit.

14 tn The word “here” is not in the text. However, it is implicit from the rest of the context. It is supplied in the translation for clarity.

15 tn The words “such sacrifices” are not in the text. The text merely says “to burn their children in the fire as burnt offerings to Baal which I did not command.” The command obviously refers not to the qualification “to Baal” but to burning the children in the fire as burnt offerings. The words are supplied in the translation to avoid a possible confusion that the reference is to sacrifices to Baal. Likewise the words should not be translated so literally that they leave the impression that God never said anything about sacrificing their children to other gods. The fact is he did. See Lev 18:21; Deut 12:30; 18:10.

16 tn This phrase (Heb “Oracle of the Lord”) has been handled this way on several occasions when it occurs within first person addresses where the Lord is the speaker. See, e.g., 16:16; 17:24; 18:6.

17 tn Heb “it will no longer be called to this place Topheth or the Valley of Ben Hinnom but the Valley of Slaughter.”

sn See Jer 7:31-32 for an almost word for word repetition of vv. 5-6.



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