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Jeremiah 51:15-19

Context

51:15 He is the one who 1  by his power made the earth.

He is the one who by his wisdom fixed the world in place,

by his understanding he spread out the heavens.

51:16 When his voice thunders, the waters in the heavens roar.

He makes the clouds rise from the far-off horizons.

He makes the lightning flash out in the midst of the rain.

He unleashes the wind from the places where he stores it.

51:17 All idolaters will prove to be stupid and ignorant.

Every goldsmith will be disgraced by the idol he made.

For the image he forges is merely a sham.

There is no breath in any of those idols.

51:18 They are worthless, objects to be ridiculed.

When the time comes to punish them, they will be destroyed.

51:19 The Lord, who is the portion of the descendants of Jacob, is not like them.

For he is the one who created everything,

including the people of Israel whom he claims as his own. 2 

He is known as the Lord who rules over all. 3 

1 tn The participle here is intended to be connected with “Lord who rules over all” in the preceding verse. The passage is functioning to underline the Lord’s power to carry out what he has sworn in contrast to the impotence of their idols who will be put to shame and be dismayed (50:2).

2 tn Heb “For he is the former of all [things] and the tribe of his inheritance.” This is the major exception to the verbatim repetition of 10:12-16 in 51:15-19. The word “Israel” appears before “the tribe of his inheritance” in 10:16. It is also found in a number of Hebrew mss, in the Lucianic recension of the LXX (the Greek version), the Aramaic Targums, and the Latin Vulgate. Most English versions and many commentaries assume it here. However, it is easier to explain why the word is added in a few of the versions and some Hebrew than to explain why it was left out. It is probable that the word is not original here because the addressees are different and the function of this hymnic piece is slightly different (see the study note on the next line for details). Here it makes good sense to understand that the Lord is being called the creator of the special tribe of people he claims as his own property (see the study note on the first line of 10:16).

3 sn With the major exception discussed in the translator’s note on the preceding line vv. 15-19 are a verbatim repetition of 10:12-16 with a few minor variations in spelling. There the passage was at the end of a section in which the Lord was addressing the Judeans and trying to convince them that the worship of idols was vain – the idols were impotent but he is all powerful. Here the passage follows a solemn oath by the Lord who rules over all and is apparently directed to the Babylonians, emphasizing the power of the Lord to carry out his oath.



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