They cut down a tree in the forest,
and a craftsman makes it into an idol with his tools. 2
10:4 He decorates it with overlays of silver and gold.
He uses hammer and nails to fasten it 3 together
so that it will not fall over.
10:5 Such idols are like scarecrows in a cucumber field.
They cannot talk.
They must be carried
because they cannot walk.
Do not be afraid of them
because they cannot hurt you.
And they do not have any power to help you.” 4
Instruction from a wooden idol is worthless! 6
They are the handiwork of carpenters and goldsmiths. 10
They are clothed in blue and purple clothes. 11
They are all made by skillful workers. 12
Every goldsmith will be disgraced by the idol he made.
For the image he forges is merely a sham. 14
There is no breath in any of those idols. 15
When the time comes to punish them, they will be destroyed.
He is the one who created everything.
And the people of Israel are those he claims as his own. 19
He is known as the Lord who rules over all.” 20
1 tn Heb “statutes.” According to BDB 350 s.v. חֻקָּה 2.b it refers to the firmly established customs or practices of the pagan nations. Compare the usage in Lev 20:23; 2 Kgs 17:8. Here it is essentially equivalent to דֶּרֶךְ (derekh) in v. 1, which has already been translated “religious practices.”
2 sn This passage is dripping with sarcasm. It begins by talking about the “statutes” of the pagan peoples as a “vapor” using a singular copula and singular predicate. Then it suppresses the subject, the idol, as though it were too horrible to mention, using only the predications about it. The last two lines read literally: “[it is] a tree which one cuts down from the forest; the work of the hands of a craftsman with his chisel.”
3 tn The pronoun is plural in Hebrew, referring to the parts.
4 tn Heb “And it is not in them to do good either.”
5 tn Or “Those wise people and kings are…” It is unclear whether the subject is the “they” of the nations in the preceding verse, or the wise people and kings referred to. The text merely has “they.”
6 tn Heb “The instruction of vanities [worthless idols] is wood.” The meaning of this line is a little uncertain. Various proposals have been made to make sense, most of which involve radical emendation of the text. For some examples see J. A. Thompson, Jeremiah (NICOT), 323-24, fn 6. However, this is probably a case of the bold predication that discussed in GKC 452 §141.d, some examples of which may be seen in Ps 109:4 “I am prayer,” and Ps 120:7 “I am peace.”
7 tc Two Qumran scrolls of Jeremiah (4QJera and 4QJerb) reflect a Hebrew text that is very different than the traditional MT from which modern Bibles have been translated. The Hebrew text in these two manuscripts is similar to that from which LXX was translated. This is true both in small details and in major aspects where the LXX differs from MT. Most notably, 4QJera, 4QJerb and LXX present a version of Jeremiah about 13% shorter than the longer version found in MT. One example of this shorter text is Jer 10:3-11 in which MT and 4QJera both have all nine verses, while LXX and 4QJerb both lack vv. 6-8 and 10, which extol the greatness of God. In addition, the latter part of v. 9 is arranged differently in LXX and 4QJerb. The translation here follows MT which is supported by 4QJera.
8 tn This is a place of unknown location. It is mentioned again in Dan 10:5. Many emend the word to “Ophir” following the Syriac version and the Aramaic Targum. Ophir was famous for its gold (cf. 1 Kgs 9:28; Job 28:16).
9 tn The words “to cover those idols” are not in the text but are implicit from the context. They are supplied in the translation for clarity.
10 tn The words “They are” are not in the text. The text reads merely, “the work of the carpenter and of the hands of the goldsmith.” The words are supplied in the translation for clarity.
11 tn Heb “Blue and purple their clothing.”
12 sn There is an ironic pun in this last line. The Hebrew word translated “skillful workers” is the same word that is translated “wise people” in v. 7. The artisans do their work skillfully but they are not “wise.”
13 tn Heb “Every man.” But in the context this is not a reference to all people without exception but to all idolaters. The referent is made explicit for the sake of clarity.
14 tn Or “nothing but a phony god”; Heb “a lie/falsehood.”
15 tn Heb “There is no breath in them.” The referent is made explicit so that no one will mistakenly take it to refer to the idolaters or goldsmiths.
16 tn Or “objects of mockery.”
17 tn The words “The
sn The phrase the portion of Jacob’s descendants, which is applied to God here, has its background in the division of the land where each tribe received a portion of the land of Palestine except the tribe of Levi whose “portion” was the
18 tn Heb “The Portion of Jacob.” “Descendants” is implied, and is supplied in the translation for clarity.
19 tn Heb “And Israel is the tribe of his possession.”
20 tn Heb “Yahweh of armies is his name.”
sn For this rendering of the name for God and its significance see 2:19 and the study note there.