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Jeremiah 18:20-23

Context

18:20 Should good be paid back with evil?

Yet they are virtually digging a pit to kill me. 1 

Just remember how I stood before you

pleading on their behalf 2 

to keep you from venting your anger on them. 3 

18:21 So let their children die of starvation.

Let them be cut down by the sword. 4 

Let their wives lose their husbands and children.

Let the older men die of disease 5 

and the younger men die by the sword in battle.

18:22 Let cries of terror be heard in their houses

when you send bands of raiders unexpectedly to plunder them. 6 

For they have virtually dug a pit to capture me

and have hidden traps for me to step into.

18:23 But you, Lord, know

all their plots to kill me.

Do not pardon their crimes!

Do not ignore their sins as though you had erased them! 7 

Let them be brought down in defeat before you!

Deal with them while you are still angry! 8 

1 tn Or “They are plotting to kill me”; Heb “They have dug a pit for my soul.” This is a common metaphor for plotting against someone. See BDB 500 s.v. כָּרָה Qal and for an example see Pss 7:16 (7:15 HT) in its context.

2 tn Heb “to speak good concerning them” going back to the concept of “good” being paid back with evil.

3 tn Heb “to turn back your anger from them.”

sn See Jer 14:7-9, 19-21 and 15:1-4 for the idea.

4 tn Heb “be poured out to the hand [= power] of the sword.” For this same expression see Ezek 35:5; Ps 63:10 (63:11 HT). Comparison with those two passages show that it involved death by violent means, perhaps death in battle.

5 tn Heb “be slain by death.” The commentaries are generally agreed that this refers to death by disease or plague as in 15:2. Hence, the reference is to the deadly trio of sword, starvation, and disease which were often connected with war. See the notes on 15:2.

6 tn Heb “when you bring marauders in against them.” For the use of the noun translated here “bands of raiders to plunder them” see 1 Sam 30:3, 15, 23 and BDB 151 s.v. גְּדוּד 1.

7 sn Heb “Do not blot out their sins from before you.” For this anthropomorphic figure which looks at God’s actions as though connected with record books, i.e., a book of wrongdoings to be punished, and a book of life for those who are to live, see e.g., Exod 32:32, 33, Ps 51:1 (51:3 HT); 69:28 (69:29 HT).

8 tn Heb “in the time of your anger.”



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