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Jeremiah 3:1

Context

3:1 “If a man divorces his wife

and she leaves him and becomes another man’s wife,

he may not take her back again. 1 

Doing that would utterly defile the land. 2 

But you, Israel, have given yourself as a prostitute to many gods. 3 

So what makes you think you can return to me?” 4 

says the Lord.

Jeremiah 3:6-8

Context

3:6 When Josiah was king of Judah, the Lord said to me, “Jeremiah, you have no doubt seen what wayward Israel has done. 5  You have seen how she went up to every high hill and under every green tree to give herself like a prostitute to other gods. 6  3:7 Yet even after she had done all that, I thought that she might come back to me. 7  But she did not. Her sister, unfaithful Judah, saw what she did. 8  3:8 She also saw 9  that I gave wayward Israel her divorce papers and sent her away because of her adulterous worship of other gods. 10  Even after her unfaithful sister Judah had seen this, 11  she still was not afraid, and she too went and gave herself like a prostitute to other gods. 12 

1 tn Heb “May he go back to her again?” The question is rhetorical and expects a negative answer.

sn For the legal background for the illustration that is used here see Deut 24:1-4.

2 tn Heb “Would the land not be utterly defiled?” The stative is here rendered actively to connect better with the preceding. The question is rhetorical and expects a positive answer.

3 tn Heb “But you have played the prostitute with many lovers.”

4 tn Heb “Returning to me.” The form is the bare infinitive which the KJV and ASV have interpreted as an imperative “Yet, return to me!” However, it is more likely that a question is intended, expressing surprise in the light of the law alluded to and the facts cited. For the use of the infinitive absolute in the place of a finite verb, cf. GKC 346 §113.ee. For the introduction of a question without a question marker, cf. GKC 473 §150.a.

5 tn “Have you seen…” The question is rhetorical and expects a positive answer.

6 tn Heb “she played the prostitute there.” This is a metaphor for Israel’s worship; she gave herself to the worship of other gods like a prostitute gives herself to her lovers. There seems no clear way to completely spell out the metaphor in the translation.

7 tn Or “I said to her, ‘Come back to me!’” The verb אָמַר (’amar) usually means “to say,” but here it means “to think,” of an assumption that turns out to be wrong (so HALOT 66.4 s.v. אמר); cf. Gen 44:28; Jer 3:19; Pss 82:6; 139:11; Job 29:18; Ruth 4:4; Lam 3:18.

sn Open theists suggest that passages such as this indicate God has limited foreknowledge; however, more traditional theologians view this passage as an extended metaphor in which God presents himself as a deserted husband, hoping against hope that his adulterous wife might return to him. The point of the metaphor is not to make an assertion about God’s foreknowledge, but to develop the theme of God’s heartbreak due to Israel’s unrepentance.

8 tn The words “what she did” are not in the text but are implicit from the context and are supplied in the translation for clarification.

9 tc Heb “she [‘her sister, unfaithful Judah’ from the preceding verse] saw” with one Hebrew ms, some Greek mss, and the Syriac version. The MT reads “I saw” which may be a case of attraction to the verb at the beginning of the previous verse.

10 tn Heb “because she committed adultery.” The translation is intended to spell out the significance of the metaphor.

11 tn The words “Even after her unfaithful sister, Judah, had seen this” are not in the Hebrew text but are implicit in the connection and are supplied for clarification.

12 tn Heb “she played the prostitute there.” This is a metaphor for Israel’s worship; she gave herself to the worship of other gods like a prostitute gives herself to her lovers. There seems no clear way to completely spell out the metaphor in the translation.



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