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Jeremiah 1:5-8

Context

1:5 “Before I formed you in your mother’s womb 1  I chose you. 2 

Before you were born I set you apart.

I appointed you to be a prophet to the nations.”

1:6 I answered, “Oh, Lord God, 3  I really 4  do not know how to speak well enough for that, 5  for I am too young.” 6  1:7 The Lord said to me, “Do not say, ‘I am too young.’ But go 7  to whomever I send you and say whatever I tell you. 1:8 Do not be afraid of those to whom I send you, 8  for I will be with you to protect 9  you,” says the Lord.

1 tn Heb “the womb.” The words “your mother’s” are implicit and are supplied in the translation for clarity.

2 tn Heb “I knew you.” The parallelism here with “set you apart” and “appointed you” make clear that Jeremiah is speaking of his foreordination to be a prophet. For this same nuance of the Hebrew verb see Gen 18:19; Amos 3:2.

3 tn Heb “Lord Yahweh.”

sn The translation follows the ancient Jewish tradition of substituting the Hebrew word for “God” for the proper name Yahweh in this compound name. See the study note on v. 2 for the substitution of “Lord” in a similar kind of situation.

4 tn Heb “Behold, I do not know how to speak.” The particle הִנֵּה (hinneh, commonly rendered “behold”) often introduces a speech and calls special attention to a specific word or the statement as a whole (see IBHS 675-78 §40.2.1).

5 tn The words “well enough for that” are implicit and are supplied in the translation for clarity. Jeremiah is not claiming an absolute inability to speak.

6 tn Heb “I am a boy/youth.” The Hebrew word can refer to an infant (Exod 2:6), a young boy (1 Sam 2:11), a teenager (Gen 21:12), or a young man (2 Sam 18:5). The translation is deliberately ambiguous since it is unclear how old Jeremiah was when he was called to begin prophesying.

7 tn Or “For you must go and say.” The Hebrew particle כִּי (ki) is likely adversative here after a negative statement (cf. BDB 474 s.v. כִּי 3.e). The Lord is probably not giving a rationale for the denial of Jeremiah’s objection but redirecting his focus, i.e., “do not say…but go…and say.”

8 tn Heb “be afraid of them.” The antecedent is the “whomever” in v. 7.

9 tn Heb “rescue.”



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