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Jeremiah 2:18-20 New English Translation (NET Bible)

18 What good will it do you[a] then[b] to go down to Egypt
to seek help from the Egyptians?[c]
What good will it do you[d] to go over to Assyria
to seek help from the Assyrians?[e]
19 Your own wickedness will bring about your punishment.
Your unfaithful acts will bring down discipline on you.[f]
Know, then, and realize how utterly harmful[g]
it was for you to reject me, the Lord your God,[h]
to show no respect for me,”[i]
says the Sovereign Lord of Heaven’s Armies.[j]

The Lord Expresses His Exasperation at Judah’s Persistent Idolatry

20 “Indeed,[k] long ago you threw off my authority
and refused to be subject to me.[l]
You said, ‘I will not serve you.’[m]
Instead, you gave yourself to other gods on every high hill
and under every green tree,
like a prostitute sprawls out before her lovers.[n]


  1. Jeremiah 2:18 tn Heb “What to you to the way.”
  2. Jeremiah 2:18 tn The introductory particle וְעַתָּה (veʿattah, “and now”) carries a logical, not temporal, connotation here (cf. BDB 274 s.v. עַתָּה 2.b).
  3. Jeremiah 2:18 tn Heb “to drink water from the Shihor [a branch of the Nile].” The reference is to seeking help through political alliance with Egypt as opposed to trusting in God for help. This is an extension of the figure in 2:13.
  4. Jeremiah 2:18 tn Heb “What to you to the way.”
  5. Jeremiah 2:18 tn Heb “to drink water from the River [a common designation in biblical Hebrew for the Euphrates River].” This refers to seeking help through political alliance. See the preceding note.
  6. Jeremiah 2:19 tn Or “teach you a lesson”; Heb “rebuke/chide you.”
  7. Jeremiah 2:19 tn Heb “how evil and bitter.” The reference is to the consequences of their acts. This is a figure of speech (hendiadys) where two nouns or adjectives joined by “and” introduce a main concept modified by the other noun or adjective.
  8. Jeremiah 2:19 tn Heb “to leave the Lord your God.” The change in person is intended to ease the problem of the rapid transition, which is common in Hebrew style but not in English, from third to first person between this line and the next.
  9. Jeremiah 2:19 tn Heb “and no fear of me was on you.”
  10. Jeremiah 2:19 tn Heb “the Lord Yahweh, [the God of] Armies.” The title “Yahweh of Armies” is an abbreviation of a longer title “Yahweh, the God of Armies” which occurs 5 times in Jeremiah (5:14; 15:16; 35:17; 38:17; 44:7). The abbreviated title occurs 77 times in the book of Jeremiah. On 32 occasions it is further qualified by the title “the God of Israel,” showing his special relation to Israel. It is preceded on 5 occasions, including here, by the title “my Lord” (אֲדוֹנָי; ʾadonay, 46:10; 49:5; 50:25, 31) and 3 times by the title “the King” (46:18; 48:15; 51:17). While the “host of heaven” is a phrase that can refer to the sun, moon, and stars or to astral gods (e.g. Deut 4:19; 17:13; 2 Kgs 21:3, 5), it also refers to the angels that surround his throne (Isa 6:3, 5; 1 Kgs 22:19) and that he sends to protect his servants (2 Kgs 6:17). As a title, the “Armies” in “Lord [God] of Armies” refer to the heavenly armies of angels and emphasize his sovereignty and power. This title is commonly found in the messenger formula “Thus says…” introducing divine oracles (52 of 80 such cases occur in Jeremiah).
  11. Jeremiah 2:20 tn Or “For.” The Hebrew particle (כִּי, ki) here introduces the evidence that they had no respect for him.
  12. Jeremiah 2:20 tn Heb “you broke your yoke…tore off your yoke ropes.” The metaphor is that of a recalcitrant ox or heifer which has broken free from its master.
  13. Jeremiah 2:20 tc The MT of this verse has two examples of the old second feminine singular perfect, שָׁבַרְתִּי (shavarti) and נִתַּקְתִּי (nittaqti), which the Masoretes mistook for first singulars leading to the proposal to read אֶעֱבוֹר (ʾeʿevor, “I will not transgress”) for אֶעֱבֹד (ʾeʿevod, “I will not serve”). The latter understanding of the forms is accepted in KJV but rejected by almost all modern English versions as being less appropriate to the context than the reading accepted in the translation given here.
  14. Jeremiah 2:20 tn Heb “you sprawled as a prostitute on….” The translation reflects the meaning of the metaphor.
New English Translation (NET)

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Jeremiah 2:18-20 New International Version (NIV)

18 Now why go to Egypt
    to drink water from the Nile[a]?
And why go to Assyria
    to drink water from the Euphrates?
19 Your wickedness will punish you;
    your backsliding will rebuke you.
Consider then and realize
    how evil and bitter it is for you
when you forsake the Lord your God
    and have no awe of me,”
declares the Lord, the Lord Almighty.

20 “Long ago you broke off your yoke
    and tore off your bonds;
    you said, ‘I will not serve you!’
Indeed, on every high hill
    and under every spreading tree
    you lay down as a prostitute.


  1. Jeremiah 2:18 Hebrew Shihor; that is, a branch of the Nile
New International Version (NIV)

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Jeremiah 2:18-20 King James Version (KJV)

18 And now what hast thou to do in the way of Egypt, to drink the waters of Sihor? or what hast thou to do in the way of Assyria, to drink the waters of the river?

19 Thine own wickedness shall correct thee, and thy backslidings shall reprove thee: know therefore and see that it is an evil thing and bitter, that thou hast forsaken the Lord thy God, and that my fear is not in thee, saith the Lord God of hosts.

20 For of old time I have broken thy yoke, and burst thy bands; and thou saidst, I will not transgress; when upon every high hill and under every green tree thou wanderest, playing the harlot.

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