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15 Recently, however, you yourselves[a] showed a change of heart and did what is pleasing to me. You granted your fellow countrymen their freedom and you made a covenant to that effect in my presence in the house that I have claimed for my own.[b] 16 But then you turned right around[c] and showed that you did not honor me.[d] Each of you took back your male and female slaves, whom you had freed as they desired, and you forced them to be your slaves again.[e] 17 So I, the Lord, say: “You have not really obeyed me and granted freedom to your neighbor and fellow countryman.[f] Therefore, I will grant you freedom, the freedom[g] to die in war, or by starvation, or disease. I, the Lord, affirm it![h] I will make all the kingdoms of the earth horrified at what happens to you.[i]

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  1. Jeremiah 34:15 tn The presence of the independent pronoun in the Hebrew text is intended to contrast their actions with those of their ancestors.
  2. Jeremiah 34:15 sn This refers to the temple. See Jer 7:10, 11, 14, 30 and see the translator’s note on 7:10 and the study note on 10:25 for the explanation of the idiom involved here.
  3. Jeremiah 34:16 sn The verbs at the beginning of v. 15 and v. 16 are the same in the Hebrew. The people had two changes of heart (Heb “you turned”), one that was pleasing to him (Heb “right in his eyes”) and one that showed they did not honor him (Heb “profaned [or belittled] his name”).
  4. Jeremiah 34:16 sn Heb “you profaned my name.” His name had been invoked in the oath confirming the covenant. Breaking the covenant involved taking his name in vain (cf. Exod 20:7; Deut 5:11; Jer 5:2). Hence the one who bore the name was not treated with the special honor and reverence due him (see the study note on 23:27 for the significance of “name” in the OT).
  5. Jeremiah 34:16 tn Heb “and you brought them into subjection to be to you for male and female slaves.” See the translator’s note on v. 11 for the same redundant repetition, which is not carried over into the contemporary English sentence.
  6. Jeremiah 34:17 tn The Hebrew text has a compound object, the two terms of which have been synonyms in vv. 14, 15. G. L. Keown, P. J. Scalise, and T. G. Smothers (Jeremiah 26-52 [WBC], 189) make the interesting observation that these two terms (Heb “brother” and “neighbor”) emphasize the relationships that should have taken precedence over their being viewed as mere slaves.
  7. Jeremiah 34:17 sn This is, of course, a metaphorical and ironical use of the term “to grant freedom to.” It is, however, a typical statement of the concept of talionic justice that is quite often operative in God’s judgments in the OT (cf., e.g., Obad 15).
  8. Jeremiah 34:17 tn Heb “Oracle of the Lord.”
  9. Jeremiah 34:17 sn Cf. Jer 15:4; 24:9; 29:18.