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The Lord told me,[a] “Make a yoke[b] out of leather straps and wooden crossbars and put it on your neck. Use it to send messages to the kings of Edom, Moab, Ammon, Tyre, and Sidon.[c] Send them through[d] the envoys who have come to Jerusalem to King Zedekiah of Judah. Charge them to give their masters a message from me. Tell them, ‘The Lord of Heaven’s Armies, the God of Israel,[e] says to give your masters this message:[f]

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  1. Jeremiah 27:2 tn There is some disjunction in the narrative of this chapter. The introduction in v. 1 presents this as a third person narrative. But afterwards the narrative is in first person, with v. 2 reading, “Thus the Lord said to me…” In vv. 12 and 16 the narrative continues in a first person report, never indicating that Jeremiah carried out the command in vv. 2-4 that introduces the Lord’s message. In vv. 12 and 16 Jeremiah tailors the message to Zedekiah, the priests, and all the people. The chapter is thus an “unedited” first person report. This may create some confusion for some readers, but it is best to leave it in first person here because of the continuation in vv. 12 and 16.
  2. Jeremiah 27:2 sn The yoke is a common biblical symbol of political servitude (see, e.g., Deut 28:48; 1 Kgs 12:4, 9, 10). From the context of 1 Kgs 12 it is clear that it applied to taxation and the provision of conscript labor. In international political contexts it involved the payment of heavy tribute, which was often conscripted from the citizens (see, e.g., 2 Kgs 15:19-20; 23:34-35), and the furnishing of military contingents for the sovereign’s armies (see, e.g., 2 Kgs 24:2). Jeremiah’s message here combines both a symbolic action (the wearing of a yoke) and words of explanation, as in Jer 19:1-13. (See Isa 20:1-6 for an example outside of Jeremiah.) The casting off of the yoke has been used earlier in Jer 2:20 and 5:5 to refer to Israel’s failure to remain spiritually “subject,” i.e., faithful, to God.
  3. Jeremiah 27:3 sn The nations of Edom, Moab, and Ammon were east of Judah. They were sometimes allies and sometimes enemies. The nations of Tyre and Sidon were on the sea coast north and west of Judah. They are best known for their maritime trade during the reign of Solomon. They were more commonly allies of Israel and Judah than enemies.
  4. Jeremiah 27:3 tn Heb “send by means of them” [i.e., the straps and crossbars made into a yoke] to…through.” The text is broken up in conformity with contemporary English style. Many English versions ignore the suffix on the end of “send” and find some support for this on the basis of its absence in the Lucianic Greek text. However, it is probably functioning metonymically here for the message that they see symbolized before them and that is now explained clearly to them.
  5. Jeremiah 27:4 tn Heb “Yahweh of Armies, the God of Israel.”sn See study notes on 2:19 and 7:3 for the significance of this title.
  6. Jeremiah 27:4 tn Heb “Give them a charge for their masters, saying, ‘Thus says Yahweh of Armies, the God of Israel, “Thus you shall say unto your masters…”’” The sentence is broken up in conformity with contemporary English style.

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