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Jeremiah 8:4--9:26

Context
Willful Disregard of God Will Lead to Destruction

8:4 The Lord said to me, 1 

“Tell them, ‘The Lord says,

Do people not get back up when they fall down?

Do they not turn around when they go the wrong way? 2 

8:5 Why, then, do these people of Jerusalem 3 

continually turn away from me in apostasy?

They hold fast to their deception. 4 

They refuse to turn back to me. 5 

8:6 I have listened to them very carefully, 6 

but they do not speak honestly.

None of them regrets the evil he has done.

None of them says, “I have done wrong!” 7 

All of them persist in their own wayward course 8 

like a horse charging recklessly into battle.

8:7 Even the stork knows

when it is time to move on. 9 

The turtledove, swallow, and crane 10 

recognize 11  the normal times for their migration.

But my people pay no attention

to 12  what I, the Lord, require of them. 13 

8:8 How can you say, “We are wise!

We have the law of the Lord”?

The truth is, 14  those who teach it 15  have used their writings

to make it say what it does not really mean. 16 

8:9 Your wise men will be put to shame.

They will be dumbfounded and be brought to judgment. 17 

Since they have rejected the word of the Lord,

what wisdom do they really have?

8:10 18 So I will give their wives to other men

and their fields to new owners.

For from the least important to the most important of them,

all of them are greedy for dishonest gain.

Prophets and priests alike,

all practice deceit.

8:11 They offer only superficial help

for the hurt my dear people 19  have suffered. 20 

They say, “Everything will be all right!”

But everything is not all right! 21 

8:12 Are they ashamed because they have done such disgusting things?

No, they are not at all ashamed!

They do not even know how to blush!

So they will die just like others have died. 22 

They will be brought to ruin when I punish them,

says the Lord.

8:13 I will take away their harvests, 23  says the Lord.

There will be no grapes on their vines.

There will be no figs on their fig trees.

Even the leaves on their trees will wither.

The crops that I gave them will be taken away.’” 24 

Jeremiah Laments over the Coming Destruction

8:14 The people say, 25 

“Why are we just sitting here?

Let us gather together inside the fortified cities. 26 

Let us at least die there fighting, 27 

since the Lord our God has condemned us to die.

He has condemned us to drink the poison waters of judgment 28 

because we have sinned against him. 29 

8:15 We hoped for good fortune, but nothing good has come of it.

We hoped for a time of relief, but instead we experience terror. 30 

8:16 The snorting of the enemy’s horses

is already being heard in the city of Dan.

The sound of the neighing of their stallions 31 

causes the whole land to tremble with fear.

They are coming to destroy the land and everything in it!

They are coming to destroy 32  the cities and everyone who lives in them!”

8:17 The Lord says, 33 

“Yes indeed, 34  I am sending an enemy against you

that will be like poisonous snakes which cannot be charmed away. 35 

And they will inflict fatal wounds on you.” 36 

8:18 Then I said, 37 

“There is no cure 38  for my grief!

I am sick at heart!

8:19 I hear my dear people 39  crying out 40 

throughout the length and breadth of the land. 41 

They are crying, ‘Is the Lord no longer in Zion?

Is her divine King 42  no longer there?’”

The Lord answers, 43 

“Why then do they provoke me to anger with their images,

with their worthless foreign idols?” 44 

8:20 “They cry, 45  ‘Harvest time has come and gone, and the summer is over, 46 

and still we have not been delivered.’

8:21 My heart is crushed because my dear people 47  are being crushed. 48 

I go about crying and grieving. I am overwhelmed with dismay. 49 

8:22 There is still medicinal ointment 50  available in Gilead!

There is still a physician there! 51 

Why then have my dear people 52 

not been restored to health? 53 

9:1 (8:23) 54  I wish that my head were a well full of water 55 

and my eyes were a fountain full of tears!

If they were, I could cry day and night

for those of my dear people 56  who have been killed.

9:2 (9:1) I wish I had a lodging place in the desert

where I could spend some time like a weary traveler. 57 

Then I would desert my people

and walk away from them

because they are all unfaithful to God,

a congregation 58  of people that has been disloyal to him. 59 

The Lord Laments That He Has No Choice But to Judge Them

9:3 The Lord says, 60 

“These people are like soldiers who have readied their bows.

Their tongues are always ready to shoot out lies. 61 

They have become powerful in the land,

but they have not done so by honest means. 62 

Indeed, they do one evil thing after another 63 

and do not pay attention to me. 64 

9:4 Everyone must be on his guard around his friends.

He must not even trust any of his relatives. 65 

For every one of them will find some way to cheat him. 66 

And all of his friends will tell lies about him.

9:5 One friend deceives another

and no one tells the truth.

These people have trained themselves 67  to tell lies.

They do wrong and are unable to repent.

9:6 They do one act of violence after another,

and one deceitful thing after another. 68 

They refuse to pay attention to me,” 69 

says the Lord.

9:7 Therefore the Lord who rules over all says, 70 

“I will now purify them in the fires of affliction 71  and test them.

The wickedness of my dear people 72  has left me no choice.

What else can I do? 73 

9:8 Their tongues are like deadly arrows. 74 

They are always telling lies. 75 

Friendly words for their neighbors come from their mouths.

But their minds are thinking up ways to trap them. 76 

9:9 I will certainly punish them for doing such things!” says the Lord.

“I will certainly bring retribution on such a nation as this!” 77 

The Coming Destruction Calls For Mourning

9:10 I said, 78 

“I will weep and mourn 79  for the grasslands on the mountains, 80 

I will sing a mournful song for the pastures in the wilderness

because they are so scorched no one travels through them.

The sound of livestock is no longer heard there.

Even the birds in the sky and the wild animals in the fields

have fled and are gone.”

9:11 The Lord said, 81 

“I will make Jerusalem 82  a heap of ruins.

Jackals will make their home there. 83 

I will destroy the towns of Judah

so that no one will be able to live in them.”

9:12 I said, 84 

“Who is wise enough to understand why this has happened? 85 

Who has a word from the Lord that can explain it? 86 

Why does the land lie in ruins?

Why is it as scorched as a desert through which no one travels?”

9:13 The Lord answered, “This has happened because these people have rejected my laws which I gave them. They have not obeyed me or followed those laws. 87  9:14 Instead they have followed the stubborn inclinations of their own hearts. They have paid allegiance to 88  the gods called Baal, 89  as their fathers 90  taught them to do. 9:15 So then, listen to what I, the Lord God of Israel who rules over all, 91  say. 92  ‘I will make these people eat the bitter food of suffering and drink the poison water of judgment. 93  9:16 I will scatter them among nations that neither they nor their ancestors 94  have known anything about. I will send people chasing after them with swords 95  until I have destroyed them.’” 96 

9:17 The Lord who rules over all 97  told me to say to this people, 98 

“Take note of what I say. 99 

Call for the women who mourn for the dead!

Summon those who are the most skilled at it!” 100 

9:18 I said, “Indeed, 101  let them come quickly and sing a song of mourning for us.

Let them wail loudly until tears stream from our own eyes

and our eyelids overflow with water.

9:19 For the sound of wailing is soon to be heard in Zion.

They will wail, 102  ‘We are utterly ruined! 103  We are completely disgraced!

For our houses have been torn down

and we must leave our land.’” 104 

9:20 I said, 105 

“So now, 106  you wailing women, hear what the Lord says. 107 

Open your ears to the words from his mouth.

Teach your daughters this mournful song,

and each of you teach your neighbor 108  this lament.

9:21 ‘Death has climbed in 109  through our windows.

It has entered into our fortified houses.

It has taken away our children who play in the streets.

It has taken away our young men who gather in the city squares.’

9:22 Tell your daughters and neighbors, ‘The Lord says,

“The dead bodies of people will lie scattered everywhere

like manure scattered on a field.

They will lie scattered on the ground

like grain that has been cut down but has not been gathered.”’” 110 

9:23 111 The Lord says,

“Wise people should not boast that they are wise.

Powerful people should not boast that they are powerful. 112 

Rich people should not boast that they are rich. 113 

9:24 If people want to boast, they should boast about this:

They should boast that they understand and know me.

They should boast that they know and understand

that I, the Lord, act out of faithfulness, fairness, and justice in the earth

and that I desire people to do these things,” 114 

says the Lord.

9:25 The Lord says, “Watch out! 115  The time is soon coming when I will punish all those who are circumcised only in the flesh. 116  9:26 That is, I will punish the Egyptians, the Judeans, the Edomites, the Ammonites, the Moabites, and all the desert people who cut their hair short at the temples. 117  I will do so because none of the people of those nations are really circumcised in the Lord’s sight. 118  Moreover, none of the people of Israel 119  are circumcised when it comes to their hearts.” 120 

1 tn The words “the Lord said to me” are not in the text but are implicit from the context. They are supplied in the translation to make clear who is speaking and who is being addressed.

2 sn There is a play on two different nuances of the same Hebrew word that means “turn” and “return,” “turn away” and “turn back.”

3 tc The text is quite commonly emended, changing שׁוֹבְבָה הָעָם (shovÿvah haam) to שׁוֹבָב הָעָם (shovav haam) and omitting יְרוּשָׁלַםִ (yÿrushalaim); this is due to the anomaly of a feminine singular verb with a masculine singular subject and the fact that the word “Jerusalem” is absent from one Hebrew ms and the LXX. However, it is possible that this is a case where the noun “Jerusalem” is a defining apposition to the word “these people,” an apposition which GKC 425 §131.k calls “permutation.” In this case the verb could be attracted to the appositional noun and there would be no reason to emend the text. The MT is undoubtedly the harder reading and is for that reason to be preferred.

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

4 tn Or “to their allegiance to false gods,” or “to their false professions of loyalty”; Heb “to deceit.” Either “to their mistaken beliefs” or “to their allegiance to false gods” would fit the preceding context. The former is more comprehensive than the latter and was chosen for that reason.

5 sn There is a continuing play on the same root word used in the preceding verse. Here the words “turn away from me,” “apostasy,” and “turn back to me” are all forms from the root that was translated “go the wrong way” and “turn around” in v. 4. The intended effect is to contrast Judah’s recalcitrant apostasy with the usual tendency to try and correct one’s mistakes.

6 tn Heb “I have paid attention and I have listened.” This is another case of two concepts being joined by “and” where one expresses the main idea and the other acts as an adverbial or adjectival modifier (a figure called hendiadys).

7 tn Heb “What have I done?” The addition of the word “wrong” is implicit in the context and is supplied in the translation for clarity. The rhetorical question does not function as a denial of wrongdoing, but rather as contrite shock at one’s own wrongdoing. It is translated as a declaration for the sake of clarity.

8 tn Heb “each one of them turns aside into their own running course.”

sn The wordplay begun in v. 4 is continued here. The word translated “turns aside” in the literal translation and “wayward” in the translation is from the same root as “go the wrong way,” “turn around,” “turn away from me,” “apostasy,” “turn back to me.” What God hoped for were confessions of repentance and change of behavior; what he got was denial of wrongdoing and continued turning away from him.

9 tn Heb “its appointed time.” The translation is contextually motivated to avoid lack of clarity.

10 tn There is debate in the commentaries and lexicons about the identification of some of these birds, particularly regarding the identification of the “swallow” which is more likely the “swift” and the “crane” which some identify with the “thrush.” For a discussion see the Bible encyclopedias and the UBS handbook Fauna and Flora of the Bible. The identity of the individual birds makes little difference to the point being made and “swallow” is more easily identifiable to the average reader than the “swift.”

11 tn Heb “keep.” Ironically birds, which do not think, obey the laws of nature, but Israel does not obey the laws of God.

12 tn Heb “do not know.” But here as elsewhere the word “know” is more than an intellectual matter. It is intended here to summarize both “know” and “follow” (Heb “observe”) in the preceding lines.

13 tn Heb “the ordinance/requirement of the Lord.”

14 tn Heb “Surely, behold!”

15 tn Heb “the scribes.”

16 tn Heb “The lying pen of the scribes have made [it] into a lie.” The translation is an attempt to make the most common interpretation of this passage understandable for the average reader. This is, however, a difficult passage whose interpretation is greatly debated and whose syntax is capable of other interpretations. The interpretation of the NJPS, “Assuredly, for naught has the pen labored, for naught the scribes,” surely deserves consideration within the context; i.e. it hasn’t done any good for the scribes to produce a reliable copy of the law, which the people have refused to follow. That interpretation has the advantage of explaining the absence of an object for the verb “make” or “labored” but creates a very unbalanced poetic couplet.

17 tn Heb “be trapped.” However, the word “trapped” generally carries with it the connotation of divine judgment. See BDB 540 s.v. לָכַד Niph.2, and compare usage in Jer 6:11 for support. The verbs in the first two lines are again the form of the Hebrew verb that emphasizes that the action is as good as done (Hebrew prophetic perfects).

18 sn See Jer 6:12-15 for parallels to 8:10-12. The words of Jeremiah to the people may have been repeated on more than one occasion or have been found appropriate to more than one of his collection of messages in written and edited form. See Jer 36:4 and Jer 36:28 for reference to at least two of these collections.

19 tn Heb “daughter of my people.” For the translation given here see 4:11 and the note on the phrase “dear people” there.

20 tn Heb “They heal the wound of my people lightly.”

21 tn Heb “They say, ‘Peace! Peace!’ and there is no peace!”

22 tn Heb “They will fall among the fallen.”

23 tn Or “I will completely destroy them.” The translation which is adopted is based on the revocalization of the MT which appears to mean literally “gathering I will sweep them away,” a rather improbable grammatical combination. It follows the suggestion found in HALOT 705 s.v. סוּף (Hiph) of reading אֹסֵף אֲסִיפָם (’ose, a first singular Qal imperfect of אָסַף [’asaf] followed by a noun אָסִיף [’asif] with possessive suffix) instead of the MT’s אָסֹף אֲסִיפֵם (’aspfasifem, a Qal infinitive absolute of אָסַף [’asaf] followed by the Hiphil imperfect of סוּף [suf] plus suffix). For parallel usage of the verb אָסַף (asaf) see BDB 62 s.v. אָסַף Qal.4, and for a similar form of the verb see Mic 4:6. The alternate translation follows the suggestion in BDB 692 s.v. סוּף Hiph: אָסֹף (’asof) is to be interpreted as a form of the Hiphil infinitive absolute (הָסֵף [hasef] would be expected) chosen for assonance with the following form. This suggestion would gain more credence if the MT is to be retained in Zeph 1:2 where parallel forms are found. However, that text too has been questioned on lexical and grammatical grounds. The translation adopted fits the following context better than the alternate one and is based on less questionable lexical and grammatical parallels. The Greek translation which reads “they shall gather their fruits” supports the translation chosen.

24 tn The meaning of this line is very uncertain. A possible alternate translation is: “They have broken the laws that I gave them.” The line reads rather literally “And I gave them they passed over them.” The translation adopted treats the first expression as a noun clause (cf. GKC 488-89 §155.n) which is the subject of the following verb, i.e., “the things I gave them [contextually, the grapes, etc.] passed over from them.” The alternate translation treats the expression as a dangling object (a Hebrew casus pendens) resumed by the pronoun “them” and understands “the things that I gave them” to be the law or some related entity which is often the object of this verb (see BDB 717 s.v. עָבַר Qal.1.i). Neither of these translations is without its weakness. The weakness of the translation which has been adopted is the unusual use it assigns to the object suffix of the verb translated “pass over.” The weakness of the alternate translation is the rather abrupt and opaque introduction of a new topic of reference (i.e., the laws) into the context. On the whole the latter weakness would appear to outweigh the former. This line is missing from the Greek version and J. Bright (Jeremiah [AB]) and J. A. Thompson (Jeremiah [NICOT]) despair of giving a translation. For other possible suggestions see, W. L. Holladay, Jeremiah (Hermeneia), 1:285-86.

25 tn The words “The people say” are not in the text but are implicit in the shift of speakers between vv. 4-13 and vv. 14-16. They are supplied in the translation for clarity.

26 tn Heb “Gather together and let us enter into the fortified cities.”

27 tn Heb “Let us die there.” The words “at least” and “fighting” are intended to bring out the contrast of passive surrender to death in the open country and active resistance to the death implicit in the context.

28 tn The words “of judgment” are not in the text but are intended to show that “poison water” is not literal but figurative of judgment at the hands of God through the agency of the enemy mentioned in v. 16.

29 tn Heb “against the Lord.” The switch is for the sake of smoothness in English.

30 tn Heb “[We hoped] for a time of healing but behold terror.”

31 tn Heb “his stallions.”

32 tn The words “They are coming to destroy” are not in the text. They are inserted to break up a long sentence in conformity with contemporary English style.

33 tn These words which are at the end of the Hebrew verse are brought forward to show at the outset the shift in speaker.

34 tn Heb “Indeed [or For] behold!” The translation is intended to convey some of the connection that is suggested by the Hebrew particle כִּי (ki) at the beginning of the verse.

35 tn Heb “I am sending against you snakes, poisonous ones which cannot be charmed.” In the light of the context literal snakes are scarcely meant. So the metaphor is turned into a simile to prevent possible confusion. For a similar metaphorical use of animals for enemies see 5:6.

36 tn Heb “they will bite you.” There does not appear to be any way to avoid the possible confusion that literal snakes are meant here except to paraphrase. Possibly one could say “And they will attack you and ‘bite’ you,” but the enclosing of the word “bite” in quotations might lead to even further confusion.

37 tn The words, “Then I said” are not in the text but there is a general consensus that the words of vv. 18-19a are the words of Jeremiah. These words are supplied in the translation for clarity.

38 tn The meaning of this word is uncertain. The translation is based on the redivision and repointing of a word that occurs only here in the MT and whose pattern of formation is unparalleled in the Hebrew Bible. The MT reads מַבְלִיגִיתִי (mavligiti) which BDB provisionally derives from a verb root meaning “to gleam” or “to shine.” However, BDB notes that the text is dubious (cf. BDB 114 s.v. מַבְלִיגִית). The text is commonly emended to מִבְּלִי גְּהֹת (mibbÿli gÿhot) which is a Qal infinitive from a verb meaning “to heal” preceded by a compound negative “for lack of, to be at a loss for” (cf., e.g., HALOT 514 s.v. מַבְלִיגִית and 174 s.v. גּהה). This reading is supported by the Greek text which has an adjective meaning “incurable,” which is, however, connected with the preceding verse, i.e., “they will bite you incurably.”

39 tn Heb “daughter of my people.” For the translation given here see 4:11 and the note on the phrase “dear people” there.

40 tn Heb “Behold the voice of the crying of the daughter of my people.”

41 tn Heb “Land of distances, i.e., of wide extent.” For parallel usage cf. Isa 33:17.

42 tn Heb “her King” but this might be misunderstood by some to refer to the Davidic ruler even with the capitalization.

43 tn The words, “The Lord would answer” are not in the text but are implicit from the words that follow. They are supplied in the translation for clarity. Another option would be to add “And I can just hear the Lord reply.”

44 sn The people’s cry and the Lord’s interruption reflect the same argument that was set forth in the preceding chapter. They have misguided confidence that the Lord is with them regardless of their actions and he responds that their actions have provoked him to the point of judging them. See especially 7:4 and 7:30.

45 tn The words “They say” are not in the text; they are supplied in the translation to make clear that the lament of the people begun in v. 19b is continued here after the interruption of the Lord’s words in v. 19c.

46 tn Heb “Harvest time has passed, the summer is over.”

sn This appears to be a proverbial statement for “time marches on.” The people appear to be expressing their frustration that the Lord has not gone about his business of rescuing them as they expected. For a similar misguided feeling based on the offering of shallow repentance see Hos 6:1-3 (and note the Lord’s reply in 6:4-6).

47 tn Heb “daughter of my people.” For the translation given here see 4:11 and the note on the phrase “dear people” there.

48 tn Heb “Because of the crushing of the daughter of my people I am crushed.”

49 tn Heb “I go about in black [i.e., mourning clothes]. Dismay has seized me.”

50 tn Heb “balm.” The more familiar “ointment” has been used in the translation, supplemented with the adjective “medicinal.”

sn This medicinal ointment (Heb “balm”) consisted of the gum or resin from a tree that grows in Egypt and Palestine and was thought to have medicinal value (see also Jer 46:11).

51 tn Heb “Is there no balm in Gilead? Is there no physician there?” In this context the questions are rhetorical and expect a positive answer, which is made explicit in the translation.

sn The prophet means by this metaphor that there are still means available for healing the spiritual ills of his people, mainly repentance, obedience to the law, and sole allegiance to God, and still people available who will apply this medicine to them, namely prophets like himself.

52 tn Heb “daughter of my people.” For the translation given here see 4:11 and the note on the phrase “dear people” there.

53 tn Or more clearly, “restored to spiritual health”; Heb “Why then has healing not come to my dear people?”

sn Jeremiah is lamenting that though there is a remedy available for the recovery of his people they have not availed themselves of it.

54 sn Beginning with 9:1, the verse numbers through 9:26 in the English Bible differ from the verse numbers in the Hebrew text (BHS), with 9:1 ET = 8:23 HT, 9:2 ET = 9:1 HT, 9:3 ET = 9:2 HT, etc., through 9:26 ET = 9:25 HT. Beginning with 10:1 the verse numbers in the ET and HT are again the same.

55 tn Heb “I wish that my head were water.”

56 tn Heb “daughter of my people.” For the translation given here see 4:11 and the note on the phrase “dear people” there.

57 tn Heb “I wish I had in the desert a lodging place [inn, or place to spend the night] for travelers.”

58 tn Or “bunch,” but this loses the irony; the word is used for the solemn assemblies at the religious feasts.

59 tn Heb “they are all adulterers, a congregation of unfaithful people.” However, spiritual adultery is, of course, meant, not literal adultery. So the literal translation would be misleading.

60 tn The words “The Lord says” have been moved up from the end of the verse to make clear that a change in speaker has occurred.

61 tn Heb “They have readied [or strung] their tongue as their bow for lies.”

62 tn Heb “but not through honesty.”

63 tn Heb “they go from evil to evil.”

64 tn Or “do not acknowledge me”; Heb “do not know me.” But “knowing” in Hebrew thought often involves more than intellectual knowledge; it involves emotional and volitional commitment as well. For יָדַע meaning “acknowledge” see 1 Chr 28:9; Isa 29:21; Hos 2:20; Prov 3:6. This word is also found in ancient Near Eastern treaty contexts where it has the idea of a vassal king acknowledging the sovereignty of a greater king (cf. H. Huffmon, “The Treaty Background of Hebrew yada,” BASOR 181 [1966]: 31-37).

65 tn Heb “Be on your guard…Do not trust.” The verbs are second masculine plural of direct address and there seems no way to translate literally and not give the mistaken impression that Jeremiah is being addressed. This is another example of the tendency in Hebrew style to turn from description to direct address (a figure of speech called apostrophe).

66 tn Heb “cheating, each of them will cheat.”

sn There is perhaps an intentional pun and allusion here to Gen 27:36 and the wordplay on the name Jacob there. The text here reads עָקוֹב יַעְקֹב (’aqob yaqob).

67 tn Heb “their tongues.” However, this is probably not a natural idiom in contemporary English and the tongue may stand as a part for the whole anyway.

68 tc An alternate reading for vv. 5d-6b is: “They wear themselves out doing wrong. Jeremiah, you live in the midst of deceitful people. They deceitfully refuse to take any thought of/acknowledge me.” The translation which has been adopted is based on a redivision of the lines, a redivision of some of the words, and a revocalization of some of the consonants. The MT reads literally “doing wrong they weary themselves. Your sitting in the midst of deceit; in deceit they refuse to know me” (הַעֲוֵה נִלְאוּ׃ שִׁבְתְּךָ בְּתוֹךְ מִרְמָה בְּמִרְמָה מֵאֲנוּ דַעַת־אוֹתִי). The Greek version reads literally “they do wrong and they do not cease to turn themselves around. Usury upon usury and deceit upon deceit. They do not want to know me.” This suggests that one should read the Hebrew text as שֻׁב׃ תֹּךְ בְּתוֹךְ מִרְ־מָה בְּמִרְ־מָה מֵאֲנוּ דַעַת אוֹתִי הַעֲוֵה נִלְאוּ, which translated literally yields “doing evil [= “they do evil” using the Hiphil infinitive absolute as a finite verb (cf. GKC 346 §113.ff)] they are not able [cf. KBL 468 s.v. לָאָה Niph.3 and see Exod 7:18 for parallel use] to repent. Oppression on oppression [cf. BDB 1067 s.v. תֹּךְ, II תּוֹךְ]; deceit on deceit. They refuse to know me.” This reading has ancient support and avoids the introduction of an unexpected second masculine suffix into the context. It has been adopted here along with a number of modern commentaries (cf., e.g., W. McKane, Jeremiah [ICC], 1:201) and English versions as the more likely reading.

69 tn Or “do not acknowledge me”; Heb “do not know me.” See the note on the phrase “do not take any thought of me” in 9:3.

70 tn Heb “Yahweh of armies.”

sn For the significance of this title see the notes at 2:19 and 7:3.

71 tn Heb “I will refine/purify them.” The words “in the fires of affliction” are supplied in the translation to give clarity to the metaphor.

72 tn Heb “daughter of my people.” For the translation given here see 4:11 and the note on the phrase “dear people” there.

73 tc Heb “For how else shall I deal because of the wickedness of the daughter of my people.” The MT does not have the word “wickedness.” The word, however, is read in the Greek version. This is probably a case of a word dropping out because of its similarities to the consonants preceding or following it (i.e., haplography). The word “wickedness” (רַעַת, raat) has dropped out before the words “my dear people” (בַּת־עַמִּי, bat-ammi). The causal nuance which is normal for מִפְּנֵי (mippÿne) does not make sense without some word like this, and the combination of רַעַת מִפְּנֵי (mippÿne raat) does occur in Jer 7:12 and one very like it occurs in Jer 26:3.

74 tc This reading follows the Masoretic consonants (the Kethib, a Qal active participle from שָׁחַט, shakhat). The Masoretes preferred to read “a sharpened arrow” (the Qere, a Qal passive participle from the same root or a homonym, meaning “hammered, beaten”). See HALOT 1354 s.v. II שָׁחַט for discussion. The exact meaning of the word makes little difference to the meaning of the metaphor itself.

75 tn Heb “They speak deceit.”

76 tn Heb “With his mouth a person speaks peace to his neighbor, but in his heart he sets an ambush for him.”

77 tn Heb “Should I not punish them…? Should I not bring retribution…?” The rhetorical questions function as emphatic declarations.

sn See 5:9, 29. This is somewhat of a refrain at the end of a catalog of Judah’s sins.

78 tn The words “I said” are not in the text, but there is general agreement that Jeremiah is the speaker. Cf. the lament in 8:18-9:1. These words are supplied in the translation for clarity. Some English versions follow the Greek text which reads a plural imperative here. Since this reading would make the transition between 9:10 and 9:11 easier it is probably not original but a translator’s way of smoothing over a difficulty.

79 tn Heb “I will lift up weeping and mourning.”

80 tn Heb “for the mountains.” However, the context makes clear that it is the grasslands or pastures on the mountains that are meant. The words “for the grasslands” are supplied in the translation for clarity.

81 tn The words “the Lord said” are not in the text, but it is obvious from the content that he is the speaker. These words are supplied in the translation for clarity.

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

83 tn Heb “a heap of ruins, a haunt for jackals.”

84 tn The words, “I said” are not in the text. It is not clear that a shift in speaker has taken place. However, the words of the verse are very unlikely to be a continuation of the Lord’s threat. It is generally assumed that these are the words of Jeremiah and that a dialogue is going on between him and the Lord in vv. 9-14. That assumption is accepted here.

85 tn Heb “Who is the wise man that he may understand this?”

86 tn Heb “And [who is the man] to whom the mouth of the Lord has spoken that he may explain it?”

87 tn Heb “and they have not walked in it (with “it” referring to “my law”).

88 tn Heb “they have gone/followed after.” See the translator’s note at 2:5 for the idiom.

89 tn Heb “the Baals,” referring either to the pagan gods called “Baals” or the images of Baal (so NLT).

90 tn Or “forefathers,” or “ancestors.” Here the referent could be the immediate parents or, by their example, more distant ancestors.

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

sn See the study notes on 2:9 and 7:3.

92 tn Heb “Therefore, thus says the Lord…” The person is shifted from third to first to better conform with English style.

93 tn Heb “I will feed this people wormwood and make them drink poison water.” “Wormwood” and “poison water” are not to be understood literally here but are symbolic of judgment and suffering. See, e.g., BDB 542 s.v. לַעֲנָה.

94 tn Heb “fathers.”

95 tn Heb “I will send the sword after them.” The sword here is probably not completely literal but refers to death by violent means, including death by the sword.

96 sn He will destroy them but not completely. See Jer 5:18; 30:11; 46:28.

97 tn Heb “Yahweh of armies.”

sn For the significance of this title see the notes at 2:19 and 7:3.

98 tn Heb “Thus says Yahweh of armies.” However, without some addition it is not clear to whom the command is addressed. The words are supplied in the translation for clarity and to help resolve a rather confusing issue of who is speaking throughout vv. 16-21. As has been evident throughout the translation, the speaker is not always indicated. Sometimes it is not even clear who the speaker is. In general the translation and the notes have reflected the general consensus in identifying who it is. Here, however, there is a good deal of confusion about who is speaking in vv. 18, 20-21. The Greek translation has the Lord speaking throughout with second plural pronouns in vv. 18, 21 and the absence of the first line in v. 22. It would be hard to explain how the MT arose if it were the original text. Critical commentators such as J. Bright, W. Holladay, and W. McKane resolve the issue by dropping out the introductory formula in v. 17 and the first line of v. 22 and assigning the whole lament to Jeremiah. It seems obvious from the first plural pronouns and the content of v. 18 (and probably v. 21 as well) and the fact that the Lord is referred to in other than the first person in v. 20 that he is not the speaker of those verses. I have attempted to resolve the issue by having Jeremiah report the Lord’s command in v. 17 and have the rest of the speech be essentially that of Jeremiah. It should be admitted, however, that the issue is far from resolved. Most English versions simply ignore the problem. The GNB (= TEV) is a rare exception.

99 tn Heb “Consider!”

100 tn Heb “Call for the mourning women that they may come and send for the wise/skilled women that they may come.” The verbs here are masculine plural, addressed to the people.

101 tn The words “And I said, ‘Indeed” are not in the text. They have been supplied in the translation to try and help clarify who the speaker is who identifies with the lament of the people.

102 tn The words “They will wail” are not in the text. They are supplied in the translation to make clear that this is the wailing that will be heard.

sn The destruction is still in the future, but it is presented graphically as though it had already taken place.

103 tn Heb “How we are ruined!”

104 tn The order of these two lines has been reversed for English stylistic reasons. The text reads in Hebrew “because we have left our land because they have thrown down our dwellings.” The two clauses offer parallel reasons for the cries “How ruined we are! [How] we are greatly disgraced!” But the first line must contain a prophetic perfect (because the lament comes from Jerusalem) and the second a perfect referring to a destruction that is itself future. This seems the only way to render the verse that would not be misleading.

105 tn The words “I said” are not in the text. The text merely has “Indeed, yes.” The words are supplied in the translation to indicate that the speaker is still Jeremiah though he now is not talking about the mourning woman but is talking to them. See the notes on 9:17-18 for further explanation.

106 tn It is a little difficult to explain how the Hebrew particle כִּי (ki) is functioning here. W. L. Holladay (Jeremiah [Hermeneia], 1:311) may be correct in seeing it as introducing the contents of what those who call for the mourning women are to say. In this case, Jeremiah picks up the task as representative of the people.

107 tn Heb “Listen to the word of the Lord.”

sn In this context the “word of the Lord” that they are to listen for is the word of the lament that they are to teach their daughters and neighbors.

108 tn Heb “Teach…mournful song, and each woman her neighbor lady…”

109 sn Here Death is personified (treated as though it were a person). Some have seen as possible background to this lament an allusion to Mesopotamian mythology where the demon Lamastu climbs in through the windows of houses and over their walls to kill children and babies.

110 tn Or “‘Death has climbed…city squares. And the dead bodies of people lie scattered…They lie scattered…but has not been gathered.’ The Lord has told me to tell you this.” Or “For death will climb…It will enter…It will take away…who gather in the city squares. So tell your daughters and neighbors, ‘The Lord wants you to say, “The dead bodies of people lie scattered…They lie scattered…has not been gathered.”’” The main causes of ambiguity are the particle כִּי (ki) introducing v. 21 and the verb form דַּבֵּר (dabber) at the beginning of v. 22. כִּי may be interpreted as introducing a causal sentence giving Jeremiah’s grounds for the commands of v. 19 in which case the verbs would best be understood as prophetic perfects (as in the second alternate translation). Or it may be interpreted as introducing the content of the lament the women are to teach their daughters and neighbors (as in the translation adopted and in the first alternate translation). The form דַּבֵּר may be interpreted as a Piel masculine singular imperative addressed to Jeremiah (as in the first alternate translation where it is placed at the end for the sake of clarity) or as a Piel infinitive absolute either explaining what the woman are to teach their daughters and neighbors (as in the second alternate translation; cf. GKC 341 §113.h, i for this use of the infinitive absolute) or as equivalent to an imperative addressed to the women telling them to tell their daughters and neighbors the reason for the lament, i.e., the Lord’s promise of widespread death (cf. GKC 346 §113.bb for this use of the infinitive absolute). The translation chosen has opted for v. 21 as the content of the lament and v. 22 as the further explanation that Jeremiah has the women pass on to their neighbors and daughters. This appears to this interpreter to create the least confusion and dislocation in the flow of the passage.

111 sn It is not always clear why verses were placed in their present position in the editorial process of collecting Jeremiah’s sermons and the words the Lord spoke to him (see Jer 36:4, 32 for reference to two of these collections). Here it is probable that vv. 23-26 were added as a further answer to the question raised in v. 12.

112 tn Or “Strong people should not brag that they are strong.”

113 tn Heb “…in their wisdom…in their power…in their riches.”

114 tn Or “fairness and justice, because these things give me pleasure.” Verse 24 reads in Hebrew, “But let the one who brags brag in this: understanding and knowing me that I, the Lord, do faithfulness, justice, and righteousness in the earth for/that I delight in these.” It is uncertain whether the Hebrew particle כִּי (ki) before the clause “I delight in these things” is parallel to the כִּי introducing the clause “that I, the Lord, act…” or causal giving the grounds for the Lord acting the way he does. In the light of the contrasts in the passage and the emphasis that Jeremiah has placed on obedience to the covenant and ethical conduct in conjunction with real allegiance to the Lord not mere lip service, it is probable that the clauses are parallel. For the use of כִּי to introduce clauses of further definition after a direct object as here see GKC 365 §117.h and see BDB 393 s.v. יָדַע Qal.1.a. For parallels to the idea of Yahweh requiring these characteristics in people see Hos 6:6, Mic 6:8.

115 tn Heb “Behold!”

116 tn Heb “punish all who are circumcised in the flesh.” The translation is contextually motivated to better bring out the contrast that follows.

117 tn Heb “all those who are cut off on the side of the head who live in the desert.” KJV and some other English versions (e.g., NIV “who live in the desert in distant places”; NLT “who live in distant places”) have followed the interpretation that this is a biform of an expression meaning “end or remote parts of the [far] corners [of the earth].” This interpretation is generally abandoned by the more recent commentaries and lexicons (see, e.g. BDB 802 s.v. פֵּאָה 1 and HALOT 858 s.v. פֵּאָה 1.β). It occurs also in 25:33; 49:32.

118 tn Heb “For all of these nations are uncircumcised.” The words “I will do so” are supplied in the translation to indicate the connection with the preceding statement.

sn A contrast is drawn here between circumcision as a mere external cutting of the flesh and a sign of commitment to the covenant and the God of the covenant. The people of these nations practiced circumcision but not as a sign of the covenant. The people of Israel engaged in it as a religious practice but without any obedience to the covenant that it was a sign of or any real commitment to the Lord.

119 tn Heb “house of Israel.”

120 tn Heb “And all the house of Israel is uncircumcised of heart.”



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