“These people are like soldiers who have readied their bows.
Their tongues are always ready to shoot out lies. 2
They have become powerful in the land,
but they have not done so by honest means. 3
Indeed, they do one evil thing after another 4
and do not pay attention to me. 5
9:4 Everyone must be on his guard around his friends.
He must not even trust any of his relatives. 6
For every one of them will find some way to cheat him. 7
And all of his friends will tell lies about him.
9:5 One friend deceives another
and no one tells the truth.
These people have trained themselves 8 to tell lies.
They do wrong and are unable to repent.
They are always telling lies. 10
Friendly words for their neighbors come from their mouths.
But their minds are thinking up ways to trap them. 11
1 tn The words “The
2 tn Heb “They have readied [or strung] their tongue as their bow for lies.”
3 tn Heb “but not through honesty.”
4 tn Heb “they go from evil to evil.”
5 tn Or “do not acknowledge me”; Heb “do not know me.” But “knowing” in Hebrew thought often involves more than intellectual knowledge; it involves emotional and volitional commitment as well. For יָדַע meaning “acknowledge” see 1 Chr 28:9; Isa 29:21; Hos 2:20; Prov 3:6. This word is also found in ancient Near Eastern treaty contexts where it has the idea of a vassal king acknowledging the sovereignty of a greater king (cf. H. Huffmon, “The Treaty Background of Hebrew yada,” BASOR 181 : 31-37).
6 tn Heb “Be on your guard…Do not trust.” The verbs are second masculine plural of direct address and there seems no way to translate literally and not give the mistaken impression that Jeremiah is being addressed. This is another example of the tendency in Hebrew style to turn from description to direct address (a figure of speech called apostrophe).
7 tn Heb “cheating, each of them will cheat.”
sn There is perhaps an intentional pun and allusion here to Gen 27:36 and the wordplay on the name Jacob there. The text here reads עָקוֹב יַעְקֹב (’aqob ya’qob).
8 tn Heb “their tongues.” However, this is probably not a natural idiom in contemporary English and the tongue may stand as a part for the whole anyway.
9 tc This reading follows the Masoretic consonants (the Kethib, a Qal active participle from שָׁחַט, shakhat). The Masoretes preferred to read “a sharpened arrow” (the Qere, a Qal passive participle from the same root or a homonym, meaning “hammered, beaten”). See HALOT 1354 s.v. II שָׁחַט for discussion. The exact meaning of the word makes little difference to the meaning of the metaphor itself.
10 tn Heb “They speak deceit.”
11 tn Heb “With his mouth a person speaks peace to his neighbor, but in his heart he sets an ambush for him.”