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Jeremiah 32:17-19

32:17 ‘Oh, Lord God, 1  you did indeed 2  make heaven and earth by your mighty power and great strength. 3  Nothing is too hard for you! 32:18 You show unfailing love to thousands. 4  But you also punish children for the sins of their parents. 5  You are the great and powerful God who is known as the Lord who rules over all. 6  32:19 You plan great things and you do mighty deeds. 7  You see everything people do. 8  You reward each of them for the way they live and for the things they do. 9 

1 tn Heb “Lord Yahweh.” For an explanation of the rendering here see the study note on 1:6.

sn The parallel usage of this introduction in Jer 1:6; 4:10; 14:13 shows that though this prayer has a lengthy introductory section of praise vv. 17-22, this prayer is really one of complaint or lament.

2 tn This is an attempt to render the Hebrew particle normally translated “behold.” See the translator’s note on 1:6 for the usage of this particle.

3 tn Heb “by your great power and your outstretched arm.” See 21:5; 27:5 and the marginal note on 27:5 for this idiom.

4 tn Or “to thousands of generations.” The contrast of showing steadfast love to “thousands” to the limitation of punishing the third and fourth generation of children for their parents’ sins in Exod 20:5-6; Deut 5:9-10; Exod 34:7 has suggested to many commentators and translators (cf., e.g., NRSV, TEV, NJPS) that reference here is to “thousands of generations.” The statement is, of course, rhetorical emphasizing God’s great desire to bless as opposed to the reluctant necessity to punish. It is part of the attributes of God spelled out in Exod 34:6-7.

5 tn Heb “pays back into the bosom of their children the sin of their parents.”

6 tn Heb “Nothing is too hard for you who show…and who punishes…the great [and] powerful God whose name is Yahweh of armies, [you who are] great in counsel…whose eyes are open…who did signs…” Jer 32:18-22 is a long series of relative clauses introduced by participles or relative pronouns in vv. 18-20a followed by second person vav consecutive imperfects carrying on the last of these relative clauses in vv. 20b-22. This is typical of hymnic introductions to hymns of praise (cf., e.g., Ps 136) but it is hard to sustain the relative subordination which all goes back to the suffix on “hard for you.” The sentences have been broken up but the connection with the end of v. 17 has been sacrificed for conformity to contemporary English style.

7 tn Heb “[you are] great in counsel and mighty in deed.”

8 tn Heb “your eyes are open to the ways of the sons of men.”

9 tn Heb “giving to each according to his way [= behavior/conduct] and according to the fruit of his deeds.”

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