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21 How long must I see the enemy’s battle flags
and hear the military signals of their bugles?”[a]

22 The Lord answered,[b]

“This will happen[c] because my people are foolish.
They do not know me.
They are like children who have no sense.[d]
They have no understanding.
They are skilled at doing evil.
They do not know how to do good.”
23 I looked at the land and saw[e] that it was an empty wasteland.[f]

I looked up at the sky, and its light had vanished.

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  1. Jeremiah 4:21 tn Heb “the sound of ram’s horns.” But the modern equivalent is “bugles” and is more readily understandable.
  2. Jeremiah 4:22 tn These words are not in the text but are supplied in the translation to show clearly the shift in speaker. Jeremiah has been speaking; now the Lord answers, giving the reason for the devastation Jeremiah foresees.
  3. Jeremiah 4:22 tn Heb “For….” This gives the explanation for the destruction envisaged in 4:20 to which Jeremiah responds in 4:19, 21.
  4. Jeremiah 4:22 tn Heb “They are senseless children.”
  5. Jeremiah 4:23 tn Heb “I looked at the land and behold…” This indicates the visionary character of Jeremiah’s description of the future condition of the land of Israel.
  6. Jeremiah 4:23 tn Heb “formless and empty.” This is a case of hendiadys (two nouns joined by “and” both describe the same thing): one noun retains its full nominal force; the other functions as an adjective. The words תֹהוּ וָבֹהוּ (tohu vavohu) allude to Gen 1:2, hyperbolically picturing a reversal of creation and return to the original precreation chaos.

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