18:8 But if that nation I threatened stops doing wrong, 1 I will cancel the destruction 2 I intended to do to it. 18:9 And there are times when I promise to build up and establish 3 a nation or kingdom. 18:10 But if that nation does what displeases me and does not obey me, then I will cancel the good I promised to do to it. 18:11 So now, tell the people of Judah and the citizens of Jerusalem 4 this: The Lord says, ‘I am preparing to bring disaster on you! I am making plans to punish you. 5 So, every one of you, stop the evil things you have been doing. 6 Correct the way you have been living and do what is right.’ 7
1 tn Heb “turns from its wickedness.”
2 tn There is a good deal of debate about how the word translated here “revoke” should be translated. There is a good deal of reluctance to translate it “change my mind” because some see that as contradicting Num 23:19 and thus prefer “relent.” However, the English word “relent” suggests the softening of an attitude but not necessarily the change of course. It is clear that in many cases (including here) an actual change of course is in view (see, e.g., Amos 7:3, 6; Jonah 3:9; Jer 26:19; Exod 13:17; 32:14). Several of these passages deal with “conditional” prophecies where a change in behavior of the people or the mediation of a prophet involves the change in course of the threatened punishment (or the promised benefit). “Revoke” or “forgo” may be the best way to render this in contemporary English idiom.
sn There is a wordplay here involving the word “evil” (רָעָה, ra’ah) which refers to both the crime and the punishment. This same play is carried further in Jonah 3:10-4:1 where Jonah becomes very displeased (Heb “it was very evil to Jonah with great evil”) when God forgoes bringing disaster (evil) on Nineveh because they have repented of their wickedness (evil).
5 sn Heb “I am forming disaster and making plans against you.” The word translated “forming” is the same as that for “potter,” so there is a wordplay taking the reader back to v. 5. They are in his hands like the clay in the hands of the potter. Since they have not been pliable he forms new plans. He still offers them opportunity to repent; but their response is predictable.