New English Translation
The Lord Recalls Israel’s Earlier Faithfulness
2 The Lord’s message came to me, 2 “Go and declare in the hearing of the people of Jerusalem: ‘This is what the Lord says: “I have fond memories of you,[a] how devoted you were to me in your early years.[b] I remember how you loved me like a new bride; you followed me through the wilderness, through a land that had never been planted. 3 Israel was set apart to the Lord; they were like the firstfruits of a harvest to him.[c] All who tried to devour them were punished; disaster came upon them,” says the Lord.’”
The Lord Reminds Them of the Unfaithfulness of Their Ancestors
4 Now listen to the Lord’s message, you descendants[d] of Jacob,
all you family groups from the nation[e] of Israel.
5 This is what the Lord says:
“What fault could your ancestors[f] have possibly found in me
that they strayed so far from me?[g]
They paid allegiance to[h] worthless idols, and so became worthless to me.[i]
6 They did not ask,
‘Where is the Lord who delivered us out of Egypt,
who brought us through the wilderness,
through a land of valleys and gorges,[j]
through a land of desert and deep darkness,[k]
through a land in which no one travels,
and where no one lives?’[l]
7 I brought you[m] into a fertile land
so you could enjoy[n] its fruits and its rich bounty.
But when you entered my land, you defiled it;[o]
you made the land I call my own[p] loathsome to me.
8 Your priests[q] did not ask, ‘Where is the Lord?’[r]
Those responsible for teaching my law[s] did not really know me.[t]
Your rulers rebelled against me.
Your prophets prophesied in the name of the god Baal.[u]
They all worshiped idols that could not help them.[v]
The Lord Charges Contemporary Israel with Spiritual Adultery
9 “So, once more I will state my case[w] against you,” says the Lord.
“I will also state it against your children and grandchildren.[x]
10 Go west[y] across the sea to the coasts of Cyprus[z] and see.
Send someone east to Kedar[aa] and have them look carefully.
See if such a thing as this has ever happened:
11 Has a nation ever changed its gods
(even though they are not really gods at all)?
But my people have exchanged me, their glorious God,[ab]
for a god that cannot help them at all![ac]
12 Be amazed at this, O heavens.[ad]
Be shocked and utterly dumbfounded,”
says the Lord.
13 “Do so because my people have committed a double wrong:
They have rejected me,
the fountain of life-giving water,[ae]
and they have dug cisterns for themselves,
cracked cisterns that cannot even hold water.
Israel’s Reliance on Foreign Alliances (not on God)
14 “Israel is not a slave, is he?
He was not born into slavery, was he?[af]
If not, why then is he being carried off?
15 Like lions his enemies roar victoriously over him;
they raise their voices in triumph.[ag]
They have laid his land waste;
his cities have been burned down and deserted.[ah]
16 Even the soldiers[ai] from Memphis and Tahpanhes
have cracked your skulls, people of Israel.[aj]
17 You have brought all this on yourself, Israel,[ak]
by deserting the Lord your God when he was leading you along the right path.[al]
18 What good will it do you[am] then[an] to go down to Egypt
to seek help from the Egyptians?[ao]
What good will it do you[ap] to go over to Assyria
to seek help from the Assyrians?[aq]
19 Your own wickedness will bring about your punishment.
Your unfaithful acts will bring down discipline on you.[ar]
Know, then, and realize how utterly harmful[as]
it was for you to reject me, the Lord your God,[at]
to show no respect for me,”[au]
says the Sovereign Lord of Heaven’s Armies.[av]
The Lord Expresses His Exasperation at Judah’s Persistent Idolatry
20 “Indeed,[aw] long ago you threw off my authority
and refused to be subject to me.[ax]
You said, ‘I will not serve you.’[ay]
Instead, you gave yourself to other gods on every high hill
and under every green tree,
like a prostitute sprawls out before her lovers.[az]
21 I planted you in the land
like a special vine of the very best stock.
Why in the world have you turned into something like a wild vine
that produces rotten, foul-smelling grapes?[ba]
22 You can try to wash away your guilt with a strong detergent.
You can use as much soap as you want.
But the stain of your guilt is still there for me to see,”[bb]
says the Sovereign Lord.[bc]
23 “How can you say, ‘I have not made myself unclean.
I have not paid allegiance to[bd] the gods called Baal.’
Just look at the way you have behaved in the Valley of Hinnom![be]
Think about the things you have done there!
You are like a flighty, young female camel
that rushes here and there, crisscrossing its path.[bf]
24 You are like a wild female donkey brought up in the wilderness.
In her lust she sniffs the wind to get the scent of a male.[bg]
No one can hold her back when she is in heat.
None of the males need wear themselves out chasing after her.
At mating time she is easy to find.[bh]
25 Do not chase after other gods until your shoes wear out
and your throats become dry.[bi]
But you say, ‘It is useless for you to try and stop me
because I love those foreign gods[bj] and want to pursue them!’
26 Just as a thief has to suffer dishonor when he is caught,
so the people of Israel[bk] will suffer dishonor for what they have done.[bl]
So will their kings and officials,
their priests and their prophets.
27 They say to a wooden idol,[bm] ‘You are my father.’
They say to a stone image, ‘You gave birth to me.’[bn]
Yes, they have turned away from me instead of turning to me.[bo]
Yet when they are in trouble, they say, ‘Come and save us!’
28 But where are the gods you made for yourselves?
Let them save you when you are in trouble.
The sad fact is that[bp] you have as many gods
as you have towns, Judah.
29 Why do you try to refute me?[bq]
All of you have rebelled against me,”
says the Lord.
30 “It did no good for me to punish your people.
They did not respond to such correction.
You slaughtered your prophets
like a voracious lion.[br]
31 You people of this generation,
listen to the Lord’s message:
“Have I been like a wilderness to you, Israel?
Have I been like a dark and dangerous land to you?[bs]
Why then do you[bt] say, ‘We are free to wander.[bu]
We will not come to you anymore?’
32 Does a young woman forget to put on her jewels?
Does a bride forget to put on her bridal attire?
But my people have forgotten me
for more days than can even be counted.
33 “My, how good you have become
at chasing after your lovers![bv]
Why, you could even teach prostitutes a thing or two![bw]
34 Even your clothes are stained with
the lifeblood of the poor who had not done anything wrong;
you did not catch them breaking into your homes.[bx]
Yet, in spite of all these things you have done,[by]
35 you say, ‘I have not done anything wrong,
so the Lord cannot really be angry with me any more.’
But, watch out![bz] I will bring down judgment on you
because you say, ‘I have not committed any sin.’
36 Why do you constantly go about[ca]
changing your political allegiances?[cb]
You will get no help from Egypt
just as you got no help from Assyria.[cc]
37 Moreover, you will come away from Egypt
with your hands covering your faces in sorrow and shame[cd]
because the Lord will not allow your reliance on them to be successful
and you will not gain any help from them.[ce]
3 “If a man divorces his wife
and she leaves him and becomes another man’s wife,
he may not take her back again.[cf]
Doing that would utterly defile the land.[cg]
But you, Israel, have given yourself as a prostitute to many gods.[ch]
So what makes you think you can return to me?”[ci]
says the Lord.
2 “Look up at the hilltops and consider this.[cj]
Where have you not been ravished?[ck]
You waited for those gods like a thief lying in wait in the wilderness.[cl]
You defiled the land by your wicked prostitution to other gods.[cm]
3 That is why the rains have been withheld
and the spring rains have not come.
Yet in spite of this you are obstinate as a prostitute.[cn]
You refuse to be ashamed of what you have done.
4 Even now you say to me, ‘You are my father![co]
You have been my faithful companion ever since I was young.
5 You will not always be angry with me, will you?
You will not be mad at me forever, will you?’[cp]
That is what you say,
but you continually do all the evil that you can.”[cq]
6 When Josiah was king of Judah, the Lord said to me, “Jeremiah, you have no doubt seen what wayward Israel has done.[cr] You have seen how she went up to every high hill and under every green tree to give herself like a prostitute to other gods.[cs] 7 Yet even after she had done all that, I thought that she might come back to me.[ct] But she did not. Her sister, unfaithful Judah, saw what she did.[cu] 8 She also saw[cv] that, because of wayward Israel’s adulterous worship of other gods,[cw] I sent her away and gave her divorce papers. But still her unfaithful sister Judah was not afraid, and she too went and gave herself like a prostitute to other gods.[cx] 9 Because she took her prostitution so lightly, she defiled the land[cy] through her adulterous worship of gods made of wood and stone.[cz] 10 In spite of all this,[da] Israel’s sister, unfaithful Judah, has not turned back to me with any sincerity; she has only pretended to do so,”[db] says the Lord. 11 Then the Lord said to me, “Under the circumstances, wayward Israel could even be considered less guilty than unfaithful Judah.[dc]
The Lord Calls on Israel and Judah to Repent
12 “Go and shout this message to my people in the countries in the north.[dd] Tell them:
‘Come back to me, wayward Israel,’ says the Lord.
‘I will not continue to look on you with displeasure.[de]
For I am merciful,’ says the Lord.
‘I will not be angry with you forever.
13 However, you must confess that you have done wrong[df]
and that you have rebelled against the Lord your God.
You must confess[dg] that you have given yourself to[dh] foreign gods under every green tree
and have not obeyed my commands,’ says the Lord.
14 “Come back to me, my wayward sons,” says the Lord, “for I am your true master.[di] If you do,[dj] I will take one of you from each town and two of you from each family group, and I will bring you back to Zion. 15 I will give you leaders[dk] who will be faithful to me.[dl] They will lead you with knowledge and insight. 16 In those days, your population will greatly increase[dm] in the land. At that time,” says the Lord, “people will no longer talk about having the ark[dn] that contains the Lord’s covenant with us.[do] They will not call it to mind, remember it, or miss it. No, that will not be done anymore![dp] 17 At that time the city of Jerusalem will be called the Lord’s throne. All nations will gather there in Jerusalem to honor the Lord’s name.[dq] They will no longer follow the stubborn inclinations of their own evil hearts.[dr] 18 At that time[ds] the nation of Judah and the nation of Israel will be reunited.[dt] Together they will come back from a land in the north to the land that I gave to your ancestors as a permanent possession.
19 “I thought to myself,[du]
‘Oh what a joy it would be for me to treat you like a son![dv]
What a joy it would be for me to give[dw] you a pleasant land,
the most beautiful piece of property there is in all the world!’[dx]
I thought you would call me ‘Father’[dy]
and would never cease being loyal to me.[dz]
20 But, you have been unfaithful to me, nation of Israel,[ea]
like an unfaithful wife who has left her husband,”[eb]
says the Lord.
21 “A noise is heard on the hilltops.
It is the sound of the people of Israel crying and pleading to their gods.
Indeed they have followed sinful ways;[ec]
they have forgotten to be true to the Lord their God.[ed]
22 Come back to me, you wayward people.
I want to cure your waywardness.[ee]
Say,[ef] ‘Here we are. We come to you
because you are the Lord our God.
23 We know our noisy worship of false gods
on the hills and mountains did not help us.[eg]
We know that the Lord our God
is the only one who can deliver Israel.[eh]
24 From earliest times our worship of that shameful god, Baal,
has taken away[ei] all that our ancestors[ej] worked for.
It has taken away our flocks and our herds
and even our sons and daughters.
25 Let us acknowledge[ek] our shame.
Let us bear the disgrace that we deserve.[el]
For we have sinned against the Lord our God,
both we and our ancestors.
From earliest times to this very day
we have not obeyed the Lord our God.’
- Jeremiah 2:2 tn Heb “I remember to/for you.”
- Jeremiah 2:2 tn Heb “the loyal love of your youth.”sn The Hebrew word translated “how devoted you were” (חֶסֶד, khesed) refers metaphorically to the devotion of a new bride to her husband. In typical Hebraic fashion, contemporary Israel is identified with early Israel after she first entered into covenant with (= married) the Lord. The reference to her earlier devotion is not absolute but relative. Compared to her unfaithfulness in worshiping other gods after she got into the land, the murmuring and complaining in the wilderness are ignored.
- Jeremiah 2:3 sn Heb “the firstfruits of his harvest.” Many commentators see the figure here as having theological significance for the calling of the Gentiles. It is likely, however, that in this context the metaphor—here rendered as a simile—is intended to bring out the special relationship and inviolability that Israel had with God. As the firstfruits were the special possession of the Lord, to be eaten only by the priests and off limits to the common people, so Israel was God’s special possession and was not to be “eaten” by the nations.
- Jeremiah 2:4 tn Heb “house.”
- Jeremiah 2:4 tn Heb “house.”
- Jeremiah 2:5 tn Heb “fathers.”
- Jeremiah 2:5 tn Or “I did not wrong your ancestors in any way. Yet they went far astray from me.” Both translations are an attempt to render the rhetorical question which demands a negative answer.
- Jeremiah 2:5 tn Heb “They went/followed after.” This idiom is found most often in Deuteronomy or covenant contexts. It refers to loyalty to God and to his covenant or his commandments (e.g., 1 Kgs 14:8; 2 Chr 34:31) with the metaphor of a path or way underlying it (e.g., Deut 11:28; 28:14). To “follow other gods” was to abandon this way and this loyalty (i.e., to “abandon” or “forget” God, Judg 2:12; Hos 2:13) and to follow the customs or religious traditions of the pagan nations (e.g., 2 Kgs 17:15). The classic text on “following” God or another god is 1 Kgs 18:18, 21, where Elijah taunts the people with “halting between two opinions,” whether the Lord was the true God or Baal was. The idiom is often found followed by “to serve and to worship” or “they served and worshiped” such and such a god or entity (see, e.g., Jer 8:2; 11:10; 13:10; 16:11; 25:6; 35:15).
- Jeremiah 2:5 tn The words “to me” are not in the Hebrew text but are implicit from the context: Heb “they followed after the worthless thing/things and became worthless.” There is an obvious wordplay on the verb “became worthless” and the noun “worthless thing,” which is probably to be understood collectively and to refer to idols, as it does in Jer 8:19; 10:8; 14:22; Jonah 2:8.
- Jeremiah 2:6 tn Heb “a land of the rift valley and gorges.” Geographically, the עֲרָבָה (ʿaravah) is the rift valley that extends from Galilee to the Gulf of Aqaba. Biblical references are usually to sections of the rift valley, such as the Jordan Valley, the region of the Dead Sea, or the portion south of the Dead Sea. The term שׁוּחָה (shukhah) can refer to a trapper’s pit, a gorge, or a precipice (HALOT 1439 s.v.). The point here seems to be the terrain; cf. REB “a barren and broken country.”
- Jeremiah 2:6 tn This word is erroneously rendered “shadow of death” in most older English versions; that translation is based on a faulty etymology. Contextual studies and comparative Semitic linguistics have demonstrated that the word is merely another word for darkness. It is confined to poetic texts and often carries connotations of danger and distress. It is associated in poetic texts with the darkness of a prison (Ps 107:10, 14), a mine (Job 28:3), and a ravine (Ps 23:4). Here it is associated with the darkness of the wasteland and ravines of the Sinai desert.
- Jeremiah 2:6 sn The context suggests that the question is related to a lament where the people turn to God in their troubles, asking him for help and reminding him of his past benefactions. See for example Isa 63:11-19 and Ps 44. It is an implicit prayer for his intervention; compare 2 Kgs 2:14.
- Jeremiah 2:7 sn Note how contemporary Israel is again identified with her early ancestors. See the study note on 2:2.
- Jeremiah 2:7 tn Heb “eat.”
- Jeremiah 2:7 sn I.e., made it ceremonially unclean. See Lev 18:19-30; Num 35:34; Deut 21:23.
- Jeremiah 2:7 tn Heb “my inheritance.” Or “the land [i.e., inheritance] I gave you,” reading the pronoun as indicating source rather than possession. The parallelism and the common use in Jeremiah of the term to refer to the land or people as the Lord’s (e.g., 12:7, 8, 9; 16:18; 50:11) make the possessive use more likely here.sn The land belonged to the Lord; it was given to the Israelites in trust (or usufruct) as their heritage. See Lev 25:23.
- Jeremiah 2:8 tn Heb “The priests…the ones who grasp my law…the shepherds…the prophets…they…”
- Jeremiah 2:8 sn See the study note on 2:6.
- Jeremiah 2:8 tn Heb “those who handle my law.”sn The reference is likely to the priests and Levites who were responsible for teaching the law (so Jer 18:18; cf. Deut 33:10). According to Jer 8:8 it could possibly refer to the scribes who copied the law.
- Jeremiah 2:8 tn Or “were not committed to me.” The Hebrew verb rendered “know” refers to more than mere intellectual knowledge. It carries also the ideas of emotional and volitional commitment as well intimacy. See, for example, its use in contexts like Hos 4:1 and 6:6.
- Jeremiah 2:8 tn Heb “by Baal.”
- Jeremiah 2:8 tn Heb “and they followed after those things [the word is plural] which do not profit.” The poetic structure of the verse, four lines in which a distinct subject appears at the beginning followed by a fifth line beginning with a prepositional phrase and no distinct subject, argues that this line is climactic and refers to all four classes enumerated in the preceding lines. See W. L. Holladay, Jeremiah (Hermeneia), 1:88-89. There may be a play or pun in the Hebrew text on the name for the god Baal (בַּעַל, baʿal) and the verb “cannot help you” (Heb “do not profit”) which is spelled יַעַל (yaʿal).
- Jeremiah 2:9 tn Or “bring charges against you.”sn The language used here is that of the law court. In international political contexts it was the language of a great king charging his subject with breach of covenant. See for examples in earlier prophets, Isa 1:2-20 and Mic 6:1-8.
- Jeremiah 2:9 tn The words “your children and” are supplied in the translation to bring out the idea of corporate solidarity implicit in the passage.sn The passage reflects the Hebrew concept of corporate solidarity: The actions of parents had consequences for their children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren. Compare the usage in the ten commandments (Deut 5:10) and note the execution of the children of Dathan and Abiram (Deut 11:6) and of Achan (Josh 7:24-25).
- Jeremiah 2:10 tn Heb “For go west.”
- Jeremiah 2:10 tn Heb “pass over to the coasts of Kittim.” The words “west across the sea” in this line and “east of” in the next are implicit in the text and are supplied in the translation to give geographical orientation.sn The Hebrew term translated Cyprus (“Kittim”) originally referred to the island of Cyprus but later was used for the lands in the west, including Macedonia (1 Macc 1:1; 8:5) and Rome (Dan 11:30). It is used here as part of a figure called merism to denote the lands in the west as opposed to Kedar, which was in the east. The figure includes polar opposites to indicate totality, i.e., everywhere from west to east.
- Jeremiah 2:10 sn Kedar is the home of the bedouin tribes in the Syro-Arabian desert. See Gen 25:18 and Jer 49:38. See also the previous note for the significance of the reference here.
- Jeremiah 2:11 tn Heb “have exchanged their glory [i.e., the God in whom they glory].” This is a case of a figure of speech where the attribute of a person or thing is put for the person or thing. Compare the common phrase in Isaiah, the Holy One of Israel, obviously referring to the Lord, the God of Israel.
- Jeremiah 2:11 tn Heb “what cannot profit.” The verb is singular and the allusion is likely to Baal. See the translator’s note on 2:8 for the likely pun or wordplay.
- Jeremiah 2:12 sn In earlier literature the heavens (and the earth) were called on to witness Israel’s commitment to the covenant (Deut 30:12) and were called to serve as witnesses to Israel’s fidelity or infidelity to it (Isa 1:2; Mic 6:1).
- Jeremiah 2:13 tn It is difficult to decide whether to translate “fresh, running water” which the Hebrew term for “living water” often refers to (e.g., Gen 26:19; Lev 14:5), or “life-giving water” which the idiom “fountain of life” as source of life and vitality often refers to (e.g., Ps 36:9; Prov 13:14; 14:27). The contrast with cisterns, which collected and held rain water, suggests “fresh, running water,” but the reality underlying the metaphor contrasts the Lord, the source of life, health, and vitality, with useless idols that cannot do anything.
- Jeremiah 2:14 tn Heb “Is Israel a slave? Or is he a house-born slave?” The questions are rhetorical, expecting a negative answer.sn The Lord is here contrasting Israel’s lofty status as the Lord’s bride and special possession, which he had earlier reminded her of (see 2:2-3), with her current status of servitude to Egypt and Assyria.
- Jeremiah 2:15 tn Heb “Lions shout over him; they give out [raise] their voices.”sn The reference to lions is here a metaphor for the Assyrians (and later the Babylonians; see Jer 50:17). The statement about lions roaring over their prey implies that the prey has been vanquished.
- Jeremiah 2:15 tn Heb “without inhabitant.”
- Jeremiah 2:16 tn Heb “the sons of…”
- Jeremiah 2:16 tc The translation follows the reading of the Syriac version. The Hebrew text reads, “have grazed [= “shaved” ?] your skulls [as a sign of disgracing them].” Note that the reference shifts from third person, “him,” to second person, “you,” which is common in Hebrew style. The words “people of Israel” have been supplied in the translation to help identify the referent and ease the switch. The reading presupposes יְרֹעוּךְ (yeroʿukh) a Qal imperfect from the verb רָעַע (raʿaʿ; see BDB 949 s.v. II רָעַע Qal.1, and compare usage in Jer 15:2; Ps 2:9). The MT reads יִרְעוּךְ (yirʿukh), a Qal imperfect from the root רָעָה (raʿah; see BDB 945 s.v. I רָעָה Qal.2.b, for usage). The use of the verb in the MT is unparalleled in the sense suggested, but the resultant figure, if “graze” can mean “shave,” is paralleled in Jer 47:5; 48:37; Isa 7:20. The reading of the variant is accepted on the basis that it is the rarer root; the scribe would have been more familiar with the root “graze” even though it is unparalleled in the figurative nuance implied here. The noun “head/skull” is functioning as an accusative of further specification (see GKC 372 §117.ll, and compare usage in Gen 3:8), i.e., “they crack you on the skull” or “they shave you on the skull.” The verb is a prefixed form and in this context is either a preterite without vav (ו) consecutive or an iterative imperfect denoting repeated action. Some modern English versions render the verb in the future tense, “they will break [or shave] your skull.”
- Jeremiah 2:17 tn Heb “Are you not bringing this on yourself.” The question is rhetorical and expects a positive answer.
- Jeremiah 2:17 tn Heb “at the time of leading you in the way.”
- Jeremiah 2:18 tn Heb “What to you to the way.”
- 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).
- 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.
- Jeremiah 2:18 tn Heb “What to you to the way.”
- 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.
- Jeremiah 2:19 tn Or “teach you a lesson”; Heb “rebuke/chide you.”
- 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.
- 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.
- Jeremiah 2:19 tn Heb “and no fear of me was on you.”
- 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).
- Jeremiah 2:20 tn Or “For.” The Hebrew particle (כִּי, ki) here introduces the evidence that they had no respect for him.
- 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.
- 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.
- Jeremiah 2:20 tn Heb “you sprawled as a prostitute on….” The translation reflects the meaning of the metaphor.
- Jeremiah 2:21 tc Heb “I planted you as a choice vine, all of it true seed. How then have you turned into a putrid thing to me, a strange [or wild] vine.” The question expresses surprise and consternation. The translation is based on a redivision of the Hebrew words סוּרֵי הַגֶּפֶן (sure haggefen) into סוֹרִיָּה גֶּפֶן (soriyyah gefen) and the recognition of a hapax legomenon סוֹרִיָּה (soriyyah) meaning “putrid, stinking thing.” See HALOT 749 s.v. סוֹרִי.
- Jeremiah 2:22 tn Heb “Even if you wash with natron/lye, and use much soap, your sin is a stain before me.”
- Jeremiah 2:22 tn Heb “Lord Yahweh.” For an explanation of this title see the study notes on 1:6.
- Jeremiah 2:23 tn Heb “I have not gone/followed after.” See the translator’s note on 2:5 for the meaning and usage of this idiom.
- Jeremiah 2:23 tn Heb “Look at your way in the valley.” The valley is an obvious reference to the Valley of Hinnom where Baal and Molech were worshiped and child sacrifice was practiced.
- Jeremiah 2:23 sn The metaphor is intended to depict Israel’s lack of clear direction and purpose without the Lord’s control.
- Jeremiah 2:24 tn The words “to get the scent of a male” are implicit and are supplied in the translation for clarification.
- Jeremiah 2:24 sn The metaphor is intended to depict Israel’s irrepressible desire to worship other gods.
- Jeremiah 2:25 tn Heb “Refrain your feet from being bare and your throat from being dry/thirsty.”
- Jeremiah 2:25 tn Heb “It is useless! No!” For this idiom, see Jer 18:12; NEB “No; I am desperate.”
- Jeremiah 2:26 tn Heb “house of Israel.”
- Jeremiah 2:26 tn The words “for what they have done” are implicit in the comparison and are supplied in the translation for clarification.
- Jeremiah 2:27 tn Heb “wood…stone…”
- Jeremiah 2:27 sn The reference to wood and stone is, of course, a pejorative reference to idols made by human hands. See the next verse where reference is made to “the gods you have made.”
- Jeremiah 2:27 tn Heb “they have turned [their] backs to me, not [their] faces.”
- Jeremiah 2:28 tn This is an attempt to render the Hebrew particle כִּי (ki, “for, indeed”) contextually.
- Jeremiah 2:29 sn This is still part of the Lord’s case against Israel. See 2:9 for the use of the same Hebrew verb. The Lord here denies their counterclaims that they do not deserve to be punished.
- Jeremiah 2:30 tn Heb “Your sword devoured your prophets like a destroying lion.” However, the reference to the sword in this and many similar idioms is merely idiomatic for death by violent means.
- Jeremiah 2:31 tn Heb “a land of the darkness of Yah [= thick or deep darkness].” The idea of danger is an added connotation in this context.
- Jeremiah 2:31 tn Heb “my people.”
- Jeremiah 2:31 tn Or more freely, “free to do as we please.” The meaning of this verb (רוּד, rud) is debated in the few passages where it occurs. The key to its meaning may rest in the emended text (reading וְרַדְתִּי [veradti] for וְיָרַדְתִּי [veyaradti]) in Judg 11:37, where it refers to the roaming of Jephthah’s daughter on the mountains of Israel.
- Jeremiah 2:33 tn Heb “How good you have made your ways to seek love.”
- Jeremiah 2:33 tn Heb “so that even the wicked women you teach your ways.”
- Jeremiah 2:34 tn The words “for example” are implicit and are supplied in the translation for clarification. This is only one example of why their death was not legitimate.sn Killing a thief caught in the act of breaking and entering into a person’s home was pardonable under the law of Moses; cf. Exod 22:2.
- Jeremiah 2:34 tn KJV and ASV read this line with 2:34. The ASV makes little sense, and the KJV again erroneously reads the archaic second person feminine singular perfect as first person common singular. All the modern English versions and commentaries take this line with 2:35.
- Jeremiah 2:35 tn This is an attempt to render the Hebrew particle often translated “behold” (הִנֵּה, hinneh) in a meaningful way in this context. See further the translator’s note on the word “really” in 1:6.
- Jeremiah 2:36 tn “go about.” The translation follows the identification of the Hebrew verb here as a defective writing of a form (תֵּזְלִי [tezeli] instead of תֵּאזְלִי [te’zeli]) from a verb meaning “go/go about” (אָזַל [’azal]; cf. BDB 23 s.v. אָזַל). Most modern English versions, commentaries, and lexicons read it from a root meaning “to treat cheaply [or lightly]” (תָּזֵלִּי [tazelli] from the root זָלַל (zalal); cf. HALOT 261 s.v. זָלַל); hence, “Why do you consider it such a small matter to…”
- Jeremiah 2:36 tn Heb “changing your way.”
- Jeremiah 2:36 tn Heb “You will be ashamed/disappointed by Egypt, just as you were ashamed/ disappointed by Assyria.”
- Jeremiah 2:37 tn Heb “with your hands on your head.” For the picture here see 2 Sam 13:19.
- Jeremiah 2:37 tn Heb “The Lord has rejected those you trust in; you will not prosper by/from them.”
- Jeremiah 3:1 tn Heb “May he go back to her again?” The question is rhetorical and expects a negative answer.sn For the legal background for the illustration that is used here, see Deut 24:1-4.
- Jeremiah 3:1 tn Heb “Would the land not be utterly defiled?” The stative is here rendered actively to connect better with the preceding. The question is rhetorical and expects a positive answer.
- Jeremiah 3:1 tn Heb “But you have played the prostitute with many lovers.”
- Jeremiah 3:1 tn Heb “Returning to me.” The form is the bare infinitive, which the KJV and ASV have interpreted as an imperative: “Yet, return to me!” However, it is more likely that a question is intended, expressing surprise in the light of the law alluded to and the facts cited. For the use of the infinitive absolute in the place of a finite verb, cf. GKC 346 §113.ee. For the introduction of a question without a question marker, cf. GKC 473 §150.a.
- Jeremiah 3:2 tn Heb “and see.”
- Jeremiah 3:2 sn The rhetorical question expects the answer “nowhere,” which asserts the widespread nature of the nation’s idolatry. The prophets often compare Judah’s religious infidelity, idolatry, to adultery or prostitution. Jeremiah goes a step further in exposing their folly by portraying their willing acts of idolatry as being sexually violated.
- Jeremiah 3:2 tn Heb “You sat for them [the lovers, i.e., the foreign gods] beside the road like an Arab in the desert.”
- Jeremiah 3:2 tn Heb “by your prostitution and your wickedness.” This is probably an example of hendiadys where, when two nouns are joined by “and,” one expresses the main idea and the other qualifies it.
- Jeremiah 3:3 tn Heb “you have the forehead of a prostitute.”
- Jeremiah 3:4 tn Heb “Have you not just now called out to me, ‘[You are] My father!’?” The rhetorical question expects a positive answer.
- Jeremiah 3:5 tn Heb “Will he keep angry forever? Will he maintain [it] to the end?” The questions are rhetorical and expect a negative answer. The change to direct address in the English translation is intended to ease the problem of the rapid transition, common in Hebrew style (but not in English), from second person direct address in the preceding lines to third person indirect address in these two lines. See GKC 462 §144.p.
- Jeremiah 3:5 tn Heb “You do the evil and you are able.” This is an example of hendiadys, meaning, “You do all the evil that you are able to do.”
- Jeremiah 3:6 tn “Have you seen…” The question is rhetorical and expects a positive answer.
- Jeremiah 3:6 tn Heb “she played the prostitute there.” This is a metaphor for Israel’s worship; she gave herself to the worship of other gods like a prostitute gives herself to her lovers. There seems no clear way to completely spell out the metaphor in the translation.
- Jeremiah 3:7 tn Or “I said to her, ‘Come back to me!’” The verb אָמַר (ʾamar) usually means “to say,” but here it means “to think,” of an assumption that turns out to be wrong (so HALOT 66 s.v. אמר 4) (cf. Gen 44:28; Jer 3:19; Pss 82:6; 139:11; Job 29:18; Ruth 4:4; Lam 3:18).sn Open theists suggest that passages such as this indicate God has limited foreknowledge; however, more traditional theologians view this passage as an extended metaphor in which God presents himself as a deserted husband, hoping against hope that his adulterous wife might return to him. The point of the metaphor is not to make an assertion about God’s foreknowledge, but to develop the theme of God’s heartbreak due to Israel’s unrepentance.
- Jeremiah 3:7 tn The words “what she did” are not in the text but are implicit from the context and are supplied in the translation for clarification.
- Jeremiah 3:8 tc Heb “she [‘her sister, unfaithful Judah’ from the preceding verse] saw” with one Hebrew ms, some Greek mss, and the Syriac version. The MT reads, “I saw,” which may be a case of attraction to the verb at the beginning of the previous verse.
- Jeremiah 3:8 tn Heb “because she committed adultery.” The translation is intended to spell out the significance of the metaphor.
- Jeremiah 3:8 tn Heb “she played the prostitute there.” This is a metaphor for Israel’s worship; she gave herself to the worship of other gods like a prostitute gives herself to her lovers. There seems no clear way to completely spell out the metaphor in the translation.
- Jeremiah 3:9 tc The translation reads the form as a causative (Hiphil, תַּהֲנֵף, tahanef) with some of the versions in place of the simple stative (Qal, תֶּחֱנַף, tekhenaf) in the MT.
- Jeremiah 3:9 tn Heb “because of the lightness of her prostitution, she defiled the land and committed adultery with stone and wood.”
- Jeremiah 3:10 tn Heb “And even in all this.”
- Jeremiah 3:10 tn Heb “has not turned back to me with all her heart but only in falsehood.”
- Jeremiah 3:11 tn Heb “Wayward Israel has proven herself to be more righteous than unfaithful Judah.”sn A comparison is drawn here between the greater culpability of Judah, who has had the advantage of seeing how God disciplined her sister nation for having sinned and yet ignored the warning and committed the same sin, and the culpability of Israel, who had no such advantage.
- Jeremiah 3:12 tn Heb “Go and proclaim these words to the north.” The translation assumes that the message is directed toward the exiles of northern Israel who have been scattered in the provinces of Assyria to the north.
- Jeremiah 3:12 tn Heb “I will not cause my face to fall on you.”
- Jeremiah 3:13 tn Heb “Only acknowledge your iniquity.”
- Jeremiah 3:13 tn The words “You must confess” are repeated to convey the connection. The Hebrew text has an introductory “that” in front of the second line and a coordinative “and” in front of the next two lines.
- Jeremiah 3:13 tc MT reads דְּרָכַיִךְ (derakhayikh, “your ways”), but the BHS editors suggest דּוֹדַיִךְ (dodayikh, “your breasts”) as an example of orthographic confusion. While the proposal makes sense, it remains a conjectural emendation since it is not supported by any actual manuscripts or ancient versions.tn Heb “scattered your ways with foreign [gods]” or “spread out your breasts to strangers.”
- Jeremiah 3:14 tn Or “I am your true husband.”sn There is a wordplay between the term “true master” and the name of the pagan god Baal. The pronoun “I” is emphatic, creating a contrast between the Lord as Israel’s true master/husband versus Baal as Israel’s illegitimate lover/master. See 2:23-25.
- Jeremiah 3:14 tn The words “If you do” are not in the text but are implicit in the connection of the Hebrew verb with the preceding.
- Jeremiah 3:15 tn Heb “shepherds.”
- Jeremiah 3:15 tn Heb “after/according to my [own] heart.”
- Jeremiah 3:16 tn Heb “you will become numerous and fruitful.”
- Jeremiah 3:16 tn Or “chest.”
- Jeremiah 3:16 tn Heb “the ark of the covenant.” It is called this because it contained the tables of the law, which in abbreviated form constituted their covenant obligations to the Lord (cf. Exod 31:18; 32:15; 34:29).
- Jeremiah 3:16 tn Or “Nor will another one be made”; Heb “one will not do/make [it?] again.”
- Jeremiah 3:17 tn Heb “will gather to the name of the Lord.”
- Jeremiah 3:17 tn Heb “the stubbornness of their evil hearts.”
- Jeremiah 3:18 tn Heb “In those days.”
- Jeremiah 3:18 tn Heb “the house of Judah will walk together with the house of Israel.”
- Jeremiah 3:19 tn Heb “And I myself said.” See note on “I thought that she might come back to me” in 3:7.
- Jeremiah 3:19 tn Heb “How I would place you among the sons.” Israel appears to be addressed here contextually as the Lord’s wife (see the next verse). The pronouns of address in the first two lines are second feminine singular, as are the readings of the two verbs preferred by the Masoretes (the Qere readings) in the third and fourth lines. The verbs that are written in the text in the third and fourth lines (the Kethib readings) are second masculine plural, as is the verb describing Israel’s treachery in the next verse.sn The imagery here appears to be that of treating the wife as an equal heir with the sons and of giving her the best piece of property.
- Jeremiah 3:19 tn The words “What a joy it would be for me to” are not in the Hebrew text but are implied in the parallel structure.
- Jeremiah 3:19 tn Heb “the most beautiful heritage among the nations.”
- Jeremiah 3:19 tn Heb “my father.”
- Jeremiah 3:19 tn Heb “turn back from [following] after me.”
- Jeremiah 3:20 tn Heb “house of Israel.”
- Jeremiah 3:20 tn Heb “a wife unfaithful from her husband.”
- Jeremiah 3:21 tn Heb “A sound is heard on the hilltops, the weeping of the supplication of the children of Israel because [or indeed] they have perverted their way.” At issue here is whether the supplication is made to Yahweh in repentance because of what they have done or whether it is supplication to the pagan gods that is evidence of their perverted ways. The reference in this verse to the hilltops, where idolatry was practiced according to 3:2, and the reference to Israel’s unfaithfulness in the preceding verse make the latter more likely. For the asseverative use of the Hebrew particle (here rendered “indeed”) where the particle retains some of the explicative nuance, see BDB 472-73 s.v. כִּי 1.e and 3.c.
- Jeremiah 3:21 tn Heb “have forgotten the Lord their God.” But in view of the parallelism and the context, the word “forget” (like “know” and “remember”) involves more than mere intellectual activity.
- Jeremiah 3:22 tn Or “I will forgive your apostasies.” Heb “I will [or want to] heal your apostasies.” For the use of the verb “heal” (רָפָא, rafaʾ) to refer to spiritual healing and forgiveness, see Hos 14:4.
- Jeremiah 3:22 tn Or “They say.” There is an obvious ellipsis of a verb of saying here since the preceding words are those of the Lord and the following are those of the people. However, there is debate about whether the people’s words are a response to the Lord’s invitation, a response which is said to be inadequate according to the continuation in 4:1-4, or whether they are the Lord’s model for Israel’s confession of repentance, to which 4:1-4 adds further instructions about the proper heart attitude that should accompany it. The former implies a dialogue with an unmarked, twofold shift in speaker between 3:22b-25 and 4:1-4, while the latter assumes the same main speaker throughout, with an unmarked instruction only in 3:22b-25. The latter disrupts the flow of the passage less and appears more likely.
- Jeremiah 3:23 tn Heb “Truly in vain from the hills the noise/commotion [and from] the mountains.” The syntax of the Hebrew sentence is very elliptical here.
- Jeremiah 3:23 tn Heb “Truly in the Lord our God is deliverance for Israel.”
- Jeremiah 3:24 tn Heb “From our youth the shameful thing has eaten up….” The shameful thing is specifically identified as Baal in Jer 11:13. Compare also the shift in certain names such as Ishbaal (“man of Baal”) to Ishbosheth (“man of shame”).
- Jeremiah 3:24 tn Heb “fathers” (also in v. 25).
- Jeremiah 3:25 tn Heb “Let us lie down in….”
- Jeremiah 3:25 tn Heb “Let us be covered with disgrace.”