Jeremiah Forbidden to Marry, to Mourn, or to Feast
1 The Lord said to me, 2 “Do not get married and do not have children here in this land. 3 For I, the Lord, tell you what will happen to#tn Heb “For thus says the Lord concerning…” the children who are born here in this land and to the men and women who are their mothers and fathers.#tn Heb “Thus says the Lord concerning the sons and daughters who are born in the place and concerning their mothers who give them birth and their fathers who fathered them in this land.” 4 They will die of deadly diseases. No one will mourn for them. They will not be buried. Their dead bodies will lie like manure spread on the ground. They will be killed in war or die of starvation. Their corpses will be food for the birds and wild animals.
5 “Moreover I, the Lord, tell you:#tn Heb “For thus says the Lord…” ‘Do not go into a house where they are having a funeral meal. Do not go there to mourn and express your sorrow for them. For I have stopped showing them my good favor,#tn Heb “my peace.” The Hebrew word שְׁלוֹמִי (shÿlomi) can be translated “peace, prosperity” or “well-being” (referring to wholeness or health of body and soul). my love, and my compassion. I, the Lord, so affirm it!#tn Heb “Oracle of the Lord.” 6 Rich and poor alike will die in this land. They will not be buried or mourned. People will not cut their bodies or shave off their hair to show their grief for them.#sn These were apparently pagan customs associated with mourning (Isa 15:2; Jer 47:5) which were forbidden in Israel (Lev 19:8; 21:5) but apparently practiced anyway (Jer 41:5). 7 No one will take any food to those who mourn for the dead to comfort them. No one will give them any wine to drink to console them for the loss of their father or mother.
8 “‘Do not go to a house where people are feasting and sit down to eat and drink with them either. 9 For I, the Lord God of Israel who rules over all, tell you what will happen.#tn Heb “For thus says Yahweh of armies the God of Israel.” The introductory formula which appears three times in vv. 1-9 (vv. 1, 3, 5) has been recast for smoother English style.sn For the title “the Lord God of Israel who rules over all” see 7:3 and the study note on 2:19. I will put an end to the sounds of joy and gladness, to the glad celebration of brides and grooms in this land. You and the rest of the people will live to see this happen.’”#tn Heb “before your eyes and in your days.” The pronouns are plural including others than Jeremiah.
The Lord Promises Exile (But Also Restoration)
10 “When you tell these people about all this,#tn Heb “all these words/things.”sn The actions of the prophet would undoubtedly elicit questions about his behavior and he would have occasion to explain the reason. they will undoubtedly ask you, ‘Why has the Lord threatened us with such great disaster? What wrong have we done? What sin have we done to offend the Lord our God?’ 11 Then tell them that the Lord says,#tn These two sentences have been recast in English to break up a long Hebrew sentence and incorporate the oracular formula “says the Lord (Heb ‘oracle of the Lord’)” which occurs after “Your fathers abandoned me.” In Hebrew the two sentences read: “When you tell them these things and they say, ‘…’, then tell them, ‘Because your ancestors abandoned me,’ oracle of the Lord.” ‘It is because your ancestors#tn Heb “fathers” (also in vv. 12, 13, 15, 19). rejected me and paid allegiance to#tn Heb “followed after.” See the translator’s note at 2:5 for the explanation of the idiom. other gods. They have served them and worshiped them. But they have rejected me and not obeyed my law.#tn Heb “But me they have abandoned and my law they have not kept.” The objects are thrown forward to bring out the contrast which has rhetorical force. However, such a sentence in English would be highly unnatural. 12 And you have acted even more wickedly than your ancestors! Each one of you has followed the stubborn inclinations of your own wicked heart and not obeyed me.#sn For the argumentation here compare Jer 7:23-26. 13 So I will throw you out of this land into a land that neither you nor your ancestors have ever known. There you must worship other gods day and night, for I will show you no mercy.’”
14 Yet#tn The particle translated here “Yet” (לָכֵן, lakhen) is regularly translated “So” or “Therefore” and introduces a consequence. However, in a few cases it introduces a contrasting set of conditions. Compare its use in Judg 11:8; Jer 48:12; 49:2; 51:52; and Hos 2:14 (2:16 HT). I, the Lord, say:#tn Heb “Oracle of the Lord.” The Lord has been speaking; the first person has been utilized in translation to avoid a shift which might create confusion. “A new time will certainly come.#tn Heb “Behold the days are coming.” People now affirm their oaths with ‘I swear as surely as the Lord lives who delivered the people of Israel out of Egypt.’ 15 But in that time they will affirm them with ‘I swear as surely as the Lord lives who delivered the people of Israel from the land of the north and from all the other lands where he had banished them.’ At that time I will bring them back to the land I gave their ancestors.”#tn These two verses which constitute one long sentence with compound, complex subordinations has been broken up for sake of English style. It reads, “Therefore, behold the days are coming, says the Lord [Heb ‘oracle of the Lord’] and it will not be said any longer, ‘By the life of the Lord who…Egypt’ but ‘by the life of the Lord who…’ and I will bring them back….”
16 But for now I, the Lord, say:#tn Heb “Oracle of the Lord.” The Lord has been speaking; the first person has been utilized in translation to avoid a shift which might create confusion. “I will send many enemies who will catch these people like fishermen. After that I will send others who will hunt them out like hunters from all the mountains, all the hills, and the crevices in the rocks.#tn Heb “Behold I am about to send for many fishermen and they will catch them. And after that I will send for many hunters and they will hunt them from every mountain and from every hill and from the cracks in the rocks.”sn The picture of rounding up the population for destruction and exile is also seen in Amos 4:2 and Hab 1:14-17. 17 For I see everything they do. Their wicked ways are not hidden from me. Their sin is not hidden away where I cannot see it.#tn Heb “For my eyes are upon all their ways. They are not hidden from before me. And their sin is not hidden away from before my eyes.” 18 Before I restore them#tn Heb “First.” Many English versions and commentaries delete this word because it is missing from the Greek version and is considered a gloss added by a postexilic editor who is said to be responsible also for vv. 14-16. This is not the place to resolve issues of authorship and date. It is the task of the translator to translate the “original” which in this case is the MT supported by the other versions. The word here refers to order in rank or order of events. Compare Gen 38:28; 1 Kgs 18:25. Here allusion is made to the restoration previously mentioned. First in order of events is the punishment of destruction and exile, then restoration. I will punish them in full#tn Heb “double.” However, usage in Deut 15:18 and probably Isa 40:2 argues for “full compensation.” This is supported also by usage in a tablet from Alalakh in Syria. See P. C. Craigie, P. H. Kelley, J. F. Drinkard, Jeremiah 1-25 (WBC), 218, for bibliography. for their sins and the wrongs they have done. For they have polluted my land with the lifeless statues of their disgusting idols. They have filled the land I have claimed as my own#tn Heb “my inheritance.”sn For earlier references to the term used here see Jer 2:7 where it applies as here to the land, Jer 10:16; 12:8-9 where it applies to the people, and Jer 12:7 where it applies to the temple. with their detestable idols.”#tn Many of the English versions take “lifeless statues of their detestable idols” with “filled” as a compound object. This follows the Masoretic punctuation but violates usage. The verb “fill” never takes an object preceded by the preposition בְּ (bet).
19 Then I said,#tn The words “Then I said” are not in the text. They are supplied in the translation to show the shift from God, who has been speaking to Jeremiah, to Jeremiah, who here addresses God.sn The shift here is consistent with the interruptions that have taken place in chapters 14 and 15 and in Jeremiah’s response to God’s condemnation of the people of Judah’s idolatry in chapter 10 (note especially vv. 6-16).
“Lord, you give me strength and protect me.
You are the one I can run to for safety when I am in trouble.#tn Heb “O Lord, my strength and my fortress, my refuge in the day of trouble. The literal which piles up attributes is of course more forceful than the predications. However, piling up poetic metaphors like this adds to the length of the English sentence and risks lack of understanding on the part of some readers. Some rhetorical force has been sacrificed for the sake of clarity.
Nations from all over the earth
will come to you and say,
‘Our ancestors had nothing but false gods –
worthless idols that could not help them at all.#tn Once again the translation has sacrificed some of the rhetorical force for the sake of clarity and English style: Heb “Only falsehood did our ancestors possess, vanity and [things in which?] there was no one profiting in them.”sn This passage offers some rather forceful contrasts. The Lord is Jeremiah’s source of strength, security, and protection. The idols are false gods, worthless idols, that can offer no help at all.
20 Can people make their own gods?
No, what they make are not gods at all.”#tn Heb “and they are ‘no gods.’” For the construction here compare 2:11 and a similar construction in 2 Kgs 19:18 and see BDB 519 s.v. לֹא 1.b(b).
21 The Lord said,#tn The words “The Lord said” are not in the text. However, it is obvious that he is the speaker. These words are supplied in the translation for clarity.
“So I will now let this wicked people know –
I will let them know my mighty power in judgment.
Then they will know that my name is the Lord.”#tn Or “So I will make known to those nations, I will make known to them at this time my power and my might. Then they will know that my name is the Lord.”tn There is a decided ambiguity in this text about the identity of the pronoun “them.” Is it his wicked people he has been predicting judgment upon or the nations that have come to recognize the folly of idolatry? The nearer antecedent would argue for that. However, usage of “hand” (translated here “power”) in 6:12; 15:6 and later 21:5 and especially the threatening motif of “at this time” (or “now”) in 10:18 suggest that the “So” goes back logically to vv. 16-18, following a grounds of judgment with the threatened consequence as it has in at least 16 out of 18 occurrences thus far. Moreover it makes decidedly more sense that the Jews will know that his name is the Lord as the result of the present (“at this time”) display of his power in judgment than that the idolaters will at some later (cf. Isa 2:2-4 for possible parallel) time. There has been a decided emphasis that the people of Israel do not “know” him (cf. 2:8; 4:22; 9:3, 6). Now they will, but in a way they did not wish to. There is probably an allusion (and an ironic reversal) here to Exod 3:13-15; 34:5-7. They have presumed upon his graciousness and forgotten that his name not only involves being with them to help but being against them to punish sin. Even if the alternate translation is followed the reference is still to God’s mighty power made known in judging the wicked Judeans. The words “power” and “might” are an example of hendiadys in which two nouns joined by “and” in which one modifies the other.