on their stone-hard 2 hearts.
It is inscribed with a diamond 3 point
on the horns of their altars. 4
and their sacred poles dedicated to the goddess Asherah, 7
set up beside the green trees on the high hills
I will give your wealth and all your treasures away as plunder.
I will give it away as the price 9 for the sins you have committed throughout your land.
which I gave to you as a permanent possession.
I will make you serve your enemies in a land that you know nothing about.
For you have made my anger burn like a fire that will never be put out.” 11
17:5 The Lord says,
“I will put a curse on people
who trust in mere human beings,
who depend on mere flesh and blood for their strength, 13
and whose hearts 14 have turned away from the Lord.
They will not experience good things even when they happen.
It will be as though they were growing in the desert,
in a salt land where no one can live.
17:7 My blessing is on those people who trust in me,
who put their confidence in me. 16
17:8 They will be like a tree planted near a stream
whose roots spread out toward the water.
It has nothing to fear when the heat comes.
Its leaves are always green.
It has no need to be concerned in a year of drought.
It does not stop bearing fruit.
17:9 The human mind is more deceitful than anything else.
It is incurably bad. 17 Who can understand it?
17:10 I, the Lord, probe into people’s minds.
I examine people’s hearts. 18
I deal with each person according to how he has behaved.
I give them what they deserve based on what they have done.
17:11 The person who gathers wealth by unjust means
is like the partridge that broods over eggs but does not hatch them. 19
Before his life is half over he will lose his ill-gotten gains. 20
At the end of his life it will be clear he was a fool.” 21
“Lord, from the very beginning
you have been seated on your glorious throne on high.
You are the place where we can find refuge.
All who leave you will suffer shame.
For they have rejected you, the Lord, the fountain of life. 26
17:14 Lord, grant me relief from my suffering
so that I may have some relief.
Rescue me from those who persecute me
so that I may be rescued. 27
They are saying, “Where are the things the Lord threatens us with?
Come on! Let’s see them happen!” 29
I have not desired the time of irreparable devastation. 31
You know that.
You are fully aware of every word that I have spoken. 32
You are my source of safety in times of trouble.
17:18 May those who persecute me be disgraced.
Do not let me be disgraced.
May they be dismayed.
Do not let me be dismayed.
Bring days of disaster on them.
Bring on them the destruction they deserve.” 34
17:19 The Lord told me, “Go and stand in the People’s Gate 36 through which the kings of Judah enter and leave the city. Then go and stand in all the other gates of the city of Jerusalem. 37 17:20 As you stand in those places 38 announce, ‘Listen, all you people who pass through these gates. Listen, all you kings of Judah, all you people of Judah and all you citizens of Jerusalem. Listen to what the Lord says. 39 17:21 The Lord says, ‘Be very careful if you value your lives! 40 Do not carry any loads 41 in through 42 the gates of Jerusalem on the Sabbath day. 17:22 Do not carry any loads out of your houses or do any work on the Sabbath day. 43 But observe the Sabbath day as a day set apart to the Lord, 44 as I commanded your ancestors. 45 17:23 Your ancestors, 46 however, did not listen to me or pay any attention to me. They stubbornly refused 47 to pay attention or to respond to any discipline.’ 17:24 The Lord says, 48 ‘You must make sure to obey me. You must not bring any loads through the gates of this city on the Sabbath day. You must set the Sabbath day apart to me. You must not do any work on that day. 17:25 If you do this, 49 then the kings and princes who follow in David’s succession 50 and ride in chariots or on horses will continue to enter through these gates, as well as their officials and the people of Judah and the citizens of Jerusalem. 51 This city will always be filled with people. 52 17:26 Then people will come here from the towns in Judah, from the villages surrounding Jerusalem, from the territory of Benjamin, from the western foothills, from the southern hill country, and from the southern part of Judah. They will come bringing offerings to the temple of the Lord: burnt offerings, sacrifices, grain offerings, and incense along with their thank offerings. 53 17:27 But you must obey me and set the Sabbath day apart to me. You must not carry any loads in through 54 the gates of Jerusalem on the Sabbath day. If you disobey, I will set the gates of Jerusalem on fire. It will burn down all the fortified dwellings in Jerusalem and no one will be able to put it out.’”
1 tn The chapter division which was not a part of the original text but was added in the middle ages obscures the fact that there is no new speech here. The division may have resulted from the faulty identification of the “them” in the preceding verse. See the translator’s note on that verse.
3 tn Heb “adamant.” The word “diamond” is an accommodation to modern times. There is no evidence that diamond was known in ancient times. This hard stone (perhaps emery) became metaphorical for hardness; see Ezek 3:9 and Zech 7:12. For discussion see W. E. Staples, “Adamant,” IDB 1:45.
4 tn This verse has been restructured for the sake of the English poetry: Heb “The sin of Judah is engraved [or written] with an iron pen, inscribed with a point of a diamond [or adamant] upon the tablet of their hearts and on the horns of their altars.”
sn There is biting sarcasm involved in the use of the figures here. The law was inscribed on the tablets of stone by the “finger” of God (Exod 31:18; 32:16). Later under the new covenant it would be written on their hearts (Jer 31:33). Blood was to be applied to the horns of the altar in offering the sin offering (cf., e.g., Lev 4:7, 18, 25, 20) and on the bronze altar to cleanse it from sin on the Day of Atonement (Lev 16:18). Here their sins are engraved (permanently written, cf. Job 19:24) on their hearts (i.e., control their thoughts and actions) and on their altars (permanently polluting them).
5 tn It is difficult to convey in good English style the connection between this verse and the preceding. The text does not have a finite verb but a temporal preposition with an infinitive: Heb “while their children remember their altars…” It is also difficult to translate the verb “literally.” (i.e., what does “remember” their altars mean?). Hence it has been rendered “always think about.” Another possibility would be “have their altars…on their minds.”
sn There is possibly a sarcastic irony involved here as well. The Israelites were to remember the
6 tc This reading follows many Hebrew
7 sn Sacred poles dedicated to…Asherah. A leading deity of the Canaanite pantheon was Asherah, wife/sister of El and goddess of fertility. She was commonly worshiped at shrines in or near groves of evergreen trees, or, failing that, at places marked by wooden poles (Hebrew אֲשֵׁרִים [’asherim], plural). They were to be burned or cut down (Deut 7:5; 12:3; 16:21; Judg 6:25, 28, 30; 2 Kgs 18:4).
8 tc This reading follows some of the ancient versions. The MT reads, “hills. My mountain in the open field [alluding to Jerusalem] and your wealth…I will give.” The vocalization of the noun plus pronoun and the unusual form of the expression to allude to Jerusalem calls into question the originality of the MT. The MT reads הֲרָרִי (harari) which combines the suffix for a singular noun with a pointing of the noun in the plural, a form which would be without parallel (compare the forms in Ps 30:8 for the singular noun with suffix and Deut 8:9 for the plural noun with suffix). Likewise, Jerusalem was not “in the open field.” For a similar expression compare Jer 13:27.
9 tc Or “I will give away your wealth, all your treasures, and your places of worship…” The translation follows the emendation suggested in the footnote in BHS, reading בִּמְחִיר (bimkhir) in place of בָּמֹתֶיךָ (bamotekha). The forms are graphically very close and one could explain the origin of either from the other. The parallel in 15:13-14 reads לֹא בִּמְחִיר (lo’ bimkhir). The text here may be a deliberate play on that one. The emended text makes decidedly better sense contextually than the MT unless some sardonic reference to their idolatry is intended.
10 tc Or “Through your own fault you will lose the land…” As W. McKane (Jeremiah [ICC], 1:386) notes the ancient versions do not appear to be reading וּבְךָ (uvÿkha) as in the MT but possibly לְבַדְּךָ (lÿvaddÿkha; see BHS fn). The translation follows the suggestion in BHS fn that יָדְךָ (yadÿkha, literally “your hand”) be read for MT וּבְךָ. This has the advantage of fitting the idiom of this verb with “hand” in Deut 15:2 (see also v. 3 there). The Hebrew text thus reads “You will release your hand from your heritage.”
11 tc A few Hebrew
tn Heb “you have started a fire in my anger which will burn forever.”
12 sn Verses 5-11 are a collection of wisdom-like sayings (cf. Ps 1) which set forth the theme of the two ways and their consequences. It has as its background the blessings and the curses of Deut 28 and the challenge to faith in Deut 29-30 which climaxes in Deut 30:15-20. The nation is sinful and God is weary of showing them patience. However, there is hope for individuals within the nation if they will trust in him.
13 tn Heb “who make flesh their arm.” The “arm” is the symbol of strength and the flesh is the symbol of mortal man in relation to the omnipotent God. The translation “mere flesh and blood” reflects this.
14 sn In the psychology of ancient Hebrew thought the heart was the center not only of the emotions but of the thoughts and motivations. It was also the seat of moral conduct (cf. its placement in the middle of the discussion of moral conduct in Prov 4:20-27, i.e., in v. 23).
15 tn This word occurs only here and in Jer 48:6. It has been identified as a kind of juniper, which is a short shrub with minute leaves that look like scales. For a picture and more discussion see Fauna and Flora of the Bible, 131.
16 tn Heb “Blessed is the person who trusts in the
17 tn Or “incurably deceitful”; Heb “It is incurable.” For the word “deceitful” compare the usage of the verb in Gen 27:36 and a related noun in 2 Kgs 10:19. For the adjective “incurable” compare the usage in Jer 15:18. It is most commonly used with reference to wounds or of pain. In Jer 17:16 it is used metaphorically for a “woeful day” (i.e., day of irreparable devastation).
18 tn The term rendered “mind” here and in the previous verse is actually the Hebrew word for “heart.” However, in combination with the word rendered “heart” in the next line, which is the Hebrew for “kidneys,” it is best rendered “mind” because the “heart” was considered the center of intellect, conscience, and will and the “kidneys” the center of emotions.
19 tn The meaning of this line is somewhat uncertain. The word translated “broods over” occurs only here and Isa 34:15. It is often defined on the basis of an Aramaic cognate which means “to gather” with an extended meaning of “to gather together under her to hatch.” Many commentators go back to a Rabbinic explanation that the partridge steals the eggs of other birds and hatches them out only to see the birds depart when they recognize that she is not the mother. Modern studies question the validity of this zoologically. Moreover, W. L. Holladay contests the validity on the basis of the wording “and she does hatch them” (Heb “bring them to birth”). See W. L. Holladay, Jeremiah (Hermeneia), 1:498, and see also P. C. Craigie, P. H. Kelley, J. F. Drinkard, Jeremiah 1-25 (WBC), 229. The point of the comparison is that the rich gather their wealth but they do not get to see the fruits of it.
20 tn The Hebrew text merely says “it.” But the antecedent might be ambiguous in English so the reference to wealth gained by unjust means is here reiterated for clarity.
21 tn Heb “he will be [= prove to be] a fool.”
22 tn The words, “Then I said” are not in the text. They are supplied in the translation for clarity to show the shift in speaker.
23 tn Heb “O glorious throne, O high place from the beginning, O hope of Israel, O
sn As King and Judge seated on his heavenly throne on high the
24 tc The translation is based on an emendation suggested in W. L. Holladay, Jeremiah (Hermeneia), 1:500, n. b-b. The emendation involves following the reading preferred by the Masoretes (the Qere) and understanding the preposition with the following word as a corruption of the suffix on it. Thus the present translation reads וּסוּרֶיךָ אֶרֶץ (usurekha ’erets) instead of וּסוּרַי בָּאֶרֶץ (usuray ba’erets, “and those who leave me will be written in the earth”), a reading which is highly improbable since all the other pronouns are second singular.
25 tn Or “to the world of the dead.” An alternative interpretation is: “will be as though their names were written in the dust”; Heb “will be written in the dust.” The translation follows the nuance of “earth” listed in HALOT 88 s.v. אֶרֶץ 4 and found in Jonah 2:6 (2:7 HT); Job 10:21-22. For the nuance of “enrolling, registering among the number” for the verb translated here “consign” see BDB 507 s.v. כָּתַב Qal.3 and 508 s.v. Niph.2 and compare usage in Ezek 13:9 and Ps 69:28 (69:29 HT).
26 tn Heb “The fountain of living water.” For an earlier use of this metaphor and the explanation of it see Jer 2:13 and the notes there. There does not appear to be any way to retain this metaphor in the text without explaining it. In the earlier text the context would show that literal water was not involved. Here it might still be assumed that the
27 tn The translation fills in the details of the metaphor from a preceding context (15:18) and from the following context (17:18). The literal translation “Heal me and I will be healed. Rescue me and I will be rescued.” does not make much sense if these details are not filled in. The metaphor is filled in for clarity for the average reader.
28 tn Heb “Behold, they are saying to me.”
29 tn Heb “Where is the word of the
30 tc Heb “I have not run after you for the sake of disaster.” The translation follows the suggestion of some ancient versions. The Hebrew text reads “I have not run from being a shepherd after you.” The translation follows two Greek versions (Aquila and Symmachus) and the Syriac in reading the word “evil” or “disaster” here in place of the word “shepherd” in the Hebrew text. The issue is mainly one of vocalization. The versions mentioned are reading a form מֵרָעָה (mera’ah) instead of מֵרֹעֶה (mero’eh). There does not appear to be any clear case of a prophet being called a shepherd, especially in Jeremiah where it is invariably used of the wicked leaders/rulers of Judah, the leaders/rulers of the enemy that he brings to punish them, or the righteous ruler that he will bring in the future. Moreover, there are no cases where the preposition “after” is used with the verb “shepherd.” Parallelism also argues for the appropriateness of this reading; “disaster” parallels the “incurable day.” The thought also parallels the argument thus far. Other than 11:20; 12:3; 15:15 where he has prayed for vindication by the
32 tn Heb “that which goes out of my lip is right in front of your face.”
33 tn Heb “do not be a source of dismay for me.” For this nuance of מְחִתָּה (mÿkhittah) rather than “terror” as many of the English versions have it see BDB 370 s.v. מְחִתָּה 1.b and the usage in Prov 21:15. Compare also the usage of the related verb which occurs in the next verse (see also BDB 369 s.v. חָתַת Qal.2).
sn Jeremiah now does what he says he has not wanted to do or been hasty to do. He is, however, seeking his own vindication and that of God whose threats they have belittled.
35 sn Observance of the Sabbath day (and the Sabbatical year) appears to have been a litmus test of the nation’s spirituality since it is mentioned in a number of passages besides this one (cf., e.g., Isa 56:2, 6; 58:13; Neh 13:15-18). Perhaps this is because the Sabbath day was the sign of the Mosaic covenant (Exod 31:13-17) just as the rainbow was the sign of the Noahic covenant (Gen 9:12, 13, 17) and circumcision was the sign of the Abrahamic covenant (Gen 17:11). This was not the only command they failed to obey, nor was their failure to obey this one the sole determining factor in the
36 sn The identity and location of the People’s Gate is uncertain since it is mentioned nowhere else in the Hebrew Bible. Some identify it with the Benjamin Gate mentioned in Jer 37:13; 38:7 (cf. NAB), but there is no textual support for this in the Hebrew Bible or in any of the ancient versions.
38 tn The words “As you stand there” are not in the text but are implicit in the connection. They are supplied in the translation for clarity.
39 tn Heb “Listen to the word of the
40 tn Heb “Be careful at the risk of your lives.” The expression with the preposition בְּ (bet) is unique. Elsewhere the verb “be careful” is used with the preposition לְ (lamed) in the sense of the reflexive. Hence the word “soul” cannot be simply reflexive here. BDB 1037 s.v. שָׁמַר Niph.1 understands this as a case where the preposition בְּ introduces the cost or price (cf. BDB 90 s.v. בּ III.3.a).
41 sn Comparison with Neh 13:15-18 suggests that these loads were merchandise or agricultural produce which were being brought in for sale. The loads that were carried out of the houses in the next verse were probably goods for barter.
42 tn Heb “carry loads on the Sabbath and bring [them] in through.” The two verbs “carry” and “bring in” are an example of hendiadys (see the note on “Be careful…by carrying”). This is supported by the next line where only “carry out” of the houses is mentioned.
43 tn Heb “Do not carry any loads out of your houses on the Sabbath day and do not do any work.” Translating literally might give the wrong impression that they were not to work at all. The phrase “on the Sabbath day” is, of course, intended to qualify both prohibitions.
44 tn Heb “But sanctify [or set apart as sacred] the Sabbath day.” The idea of setting it apart as something sacred to the
45 tn Heb “fathers.”
46 tn Heb “They.” The antecedent is spelled out to avoid any possible confusion.
47 tn Heb “They hardened [or made stiff] their neck so as not to.”
48 tn Heb “Oracle of the
49 tn Heb “If you will carefully obey me by not bringing…and by sanctifying…by not doing…, then kings will….” The structure of prohibitions and commands followed by a brief “if” clause has been used to break up a long condition and consequence relationship which is contrary to contemporary English style.
50 tn Heb “who sit [or are to sit] on David’s throne.”
51 tn Heb “There will come through the gates of this city the kings and princes…riding in chariots and on horses, they and their officials…” The structure of the original text is broken up here because of the long compound subject which would make the English sentence too long. The term “princes” is often omitted as a supposed double writing of the word that follows it and looks somewhat like it (the Hebrew reads here וְשָׂרִים יֹשְׁבִים, vÿsarim yoshÿvim) or the same word which occurs later in the verse and is translated “officials” (the word can refer to either). It is argued that “princes” are never said to sit on the throne of David (translated here “follow in the succession of David”). However, the word is in all texts and versions and the concept of sitting on the throne of someone is descriptive of both past, present, and future and is even used with the participle in a proleptic sense of “the one who is to sit on the throne” (cf. Exod 11:5; 12:29).
52 tn Heb “will be inhabited forever.”
53 tn Heb “There will come from the cities of Judah and from the environs of Jerusalem and from…those bringing…incense and those bringing thank offerings.” This sentence has been restructured from a long complex original to conform to contemporary English style.