Jeremiah 18


הַדָּבָר אֲשֶׁר הָיָה אֶל־יִרְמְיָהוּ מֵאֵת יְהוָה לֵאמֹר׃   18:1

Jere. 18:1   The word that occurred to Jeremiah from the Lord saying,

קוּם וְיָרַדְתָּ בֵּית הַיֹּוצֵר וְשָׁמָּה אַשְׁמִיעֲךָ אֶת־דְּבָרָי׃   18:2

Jere. 18:2   “Arise and you will go down to the house of the potter, and there I will have you hear My words.”

וָאֵרֵד בֵּית הַיֹּוצֵר (וְהִנֵּהוּ) [וְהִנֵּה]־[הוּא] עֹשֶׂה מְלָאכָה עַל־הָאָבְנָיִם׃   18:3

Jere. 18:3   So I would go down to the house of the potter, and behold, he would be fashioning a work on the wheels.

As the verbs in this verse and most of those in the next are imperfect, I imagine that Jeremiah is relating a dream or a vision here, not an actual event.

We also have an assumed error in this verse.  The word in parentheses is thought to be two words as shown in the brackets.  However, I’m not at all sure that this is indeed an error.  I suspect it could be a contraction of the words behold, he, just as we have occasionally encountered a contraction of the words behold, I, which in the Hebrew is ynIn>h.  This Hebrew contraction appears, in fact, in Jere.1:15 as well as in many other verses throughout the bible, including vss. 19:3 and 19:15 in the next chapter.

וְנִשְׁחַת הַכְּלִי אֲשֶׁר הוּא עֹשֶׂה בַּחֹמֶר בְּיַד הַיֹּוצֵר וְשָׁב וַיַּעֲשֵׂהוּ כְּלִי אַחֵר כַּאֲשֶׁר יָשַׁר בְּעֵינֵי   18:4        הַיֹּוצֵר לַעֲשֹׂות׃

Jere. 18:4   When the vessel that he might be fashioning with clay was ruined in the hand of the potter, then he would go back, then would make of it another vessel so that it was right in the eyes of the potter to fashion.

וַיְהִי דְבַר־יְהוָה אֵלַי לֵאמֹור׃   18:5

Jere. 18:5   And the word of the Lord occurred to me saying,

הֲכַיֹּוצֵר הַזֶּה לֹא־אוּכַל לַעֲשֹׂות לָכֶם בֵּית יִשְׂרָאֵל נְאֻם־יְהוָה הִנֵּה כַחֹמֶר בְּיַד הַיֹּוצֵר כֵּן־אַתֶּם   18:6     בְּיָדִי בֵּית יִשְׂרָאֵל׃

Jere. 18:6   “Would I not be able to do to you, O house of Israel, as this potter?” declares the Lord.  “Behold, as is the clay in the hand of the potter, the same are you in My hand, O house of Israel.”

The two second-person pronouns in this verse, both of which refer to the house of Israel, provide support for my theory that plurals refer to each individual and singulars refer to the body of individuals.  They are both plural, therefore they could not be referring to the whole house, but to the individuals of the house.  If the pronouns were specifically directed to the house of Israel, they would have to be singular to be correct.

רֶגַע אֲדַבֵּר עַל־גֹּוי וְעַל־מַמְלָכָה לִנְתֹושׁ וְלִנְתֹוץ וּלְהַאֲבִיד׃   18:7

Jere. 18:7   “For the moment I may speak about a nation or about a kingdom to pluck up or to break down or to destroy,

וְשָׁב הַגֹּוי הַהוּא מֵרָעָתֹו אֲשֶׁר דִּבַּרְתִּי עָלָיו וְנִחַמְתִּי עַל־הָרָעָה אֲשֶׁר חָשַׁבְתִּי לַעֲשֹׂות לֹו׃   18:8

Jere. 18:8   but should that nation turn from its evil when I speak against it, then I would repent concerning the evil that I had thought to do to it.”                      [Return to Psal. 11:7]

וְרֶגַע אֲדַבֵּר עַל־גֹּוי וְעַל־מַמְלָכָה לִבְנֹת וְלִנְטֹעַ׃   18:9

Jere. 18:9   “Or for the moment I may speak about a nation or about a kingdom to build or to establish,

וְעָשָׂה (הָרָעָה) [הָרַע] בְּעֵינַי לְבִלְתִּי שְׁמֹעַ בְּקֹולִי וְנִחַמְתִּי עַל־הַטֹּובָה אֲשֶׁר אָמַרְתִּי לְהֵיטִיב   18:10    אֹותֹו׃

Jere. 18:10   but should it do evil in My eyes, to not listen to My voice, then I would repent concerning the good by which I had thought to reward it.”

The word in parentheses is misspelled.  It has an extra heh suffix.  The correct spelling is in the brackets.

וְעַתָּה אֱמָר־נָא אֶל־אִישׁ־יְהוּדָה וְעַל־יֹושְׁבֵי יְרוּשָׁלִַם לֵאמֹר כֹּה אָמַר יְהוָה הִנֵּה אָנֹכִי יֹוצֵר   18:11     עֲלֵיכֶם רָעָה וְחֹשֵׁב עֲלֵיכֶם מַחֲשָׁבָה שׁוּבוּ נָא אִישׁ מִדַּרְכֹּו הָרָעָה וְהֵיטִיבוּ דַרְכֵיכֶם וּמַעַלְלֵיכֶם׃

Jere. 18:11   “So now please speak to each one of Judah and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, saying, ‘Thus says the Lord:  ‘Behold, I am fashioning evil against you and am planning a device against you.  Return now each from his way of evil and correct your paths and your practices!”

The four second-person pronouns in this verse, all of which address the individuals of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, provide even stronger support for my theory that plurals refer to individuals and singulars refer to the body of individuals.  If Jeremiah had been directed to speak to one individual or to the whole of Judah, he would then have been instructed to use singular pronouns, but he is told to speak to all of them individually.  Thus plural pronouns are more appropriate.

וְאָמְרוּ נֹואָשׁ כִּי־אַחֲרֵי מַחְשְׁבֹותֵינוּ נֵלֵךְ וְאִישׁ שְׁרִרוּת לִבֹּו־הָרָע נַעֲשֶׂה׃   18:12

Jere. 18:12   “But they will say, ‘It is hopeless!  So we will go after our own devices, and of each the hardness of his heart of evil we will do.’”

לָכֵן כֹּה אָמַר יְהוָה שַׁאֲלוּ־נָא בַּגֹּויִם מִי שָׁמַע כָּאֵלֶּה שַׁעֲרֻרִת עָשְׂתָה מְאֹד בְּתוּלַת יִשְׂרָאֵל׃   18:13

Jere. 18:13   Therefore thus says the Lord:

                        “Inquire now among the nations.

                                Who has heard of such things?

                        The virgin Israel has done

                                 a horrible thing in abundance.”

הֲיַעֲזֹב מִצּוּר שָׂדַי שֶׁלֶג לְבָנֹון אִם־יִנָּתְשׁוּ מַיִם זָרִים קָרִים נֹוזְלִים׃   18:14

Jere. 18:14   “Can the snow of Lebanon

                                 depart from the rock of the field?

                       Or can strange cold flowing waters

                                 be plucked upwards?”

כִּי־שְׁכֵחֻנִי עַמִּי לַשָּׁוְא יְקַטֵּרוּ וַיַּכְשִׁלוּם בְּדַרְכֵיהֶם שְׁבִילֵי עֹולָם לָלֶכֶת נְתִיבֹות דֶּרֶךְ לֹא סְלוּלָה׃   18:15

Jere. 18:15   “Yet My people have forgotten Me;

                                  they'd rather burn incense to vanity,

                        and be enfeebled in their ways,

                                  the paths of antiquity,

                         traversing by-paths, a way not esteemed,

לָשׂוּם אַרְצָם לְשַׁמָּה (שְׁרוּקַת) [שְׁרִיקֹות] עֹולָם כֹּל עֹובֵר עָלֶיהָ יִשֹּׁם וְיָנִיד בְּרֹאשֹׁו׃   18:16

Jere. 18:16   making their land

                                 for a perpetual howling waste.

                        Everyone passing by it

                                 shall be stunned and shake his head.”

The word in parentheses is misspelled.  But I suspect that the correction in the brackets is also misspelled.  The word is an adjective that I translate as howling and it modifies the noun waste.  Now the word for waste is singular, but the correction for the adjective is plural.  I believe it should be correctly spelled without the vav between the kaph and the tav, as tqyrIv.

כְּרוּחַ־קָדִים אֲפִיצֵם לִפְנֵי אֹויֵב עֹרֶף וְלֹא־פָנִים אֶרְאֵם בְּיֹום אֵידָם׃   18:17

Jere. 18:17   “Like an east wind I shall scatter them

                                 before an enemy.

                         I will see the back of them

                                 and not the face

                         in the time of their calamity.”

וַיֹּאמְרוּ לְכוּ וְנַחְשְׁבָה עַל־יִרְמְיָהוּ מַחֲשָׁבֹות כִּי לֹא־תֹאבַד תֹּורָה מִכֹּהֵן וְעֵצָה מֵחָכָם וְדָבָר מִנָּבִיאּ   18:18  לְכו וְנַכֵּהוּ בַלָּשֹׁון וְאַל־נַקְשִׁיבָה אֶל־כָּל־דְּבָרָיו׃

Jere. 18:18   Now they say,

                                  “Come and let us

                        devise schemes against Jeremiah,

                                  that instruction will not be taken away

                        from the priesthood,

                                  or counsel from the wise,

                        or the word from the prophets.

                                  Come and let us attack him vocally,

                        and not pay attention to any of his words.”

Once more Jeremiah interrupts the Lord’s flow of words to plead his case against the men of Anathoth.  He continues to the end of the chapter.

הַקְשִׁיבָה יְהוָה אֵלָי וּשְׁמַע לְקֹול יְרִיבָי׃   18:19

Jere. 18:19   Hearken, O Lord, to me,

                                 and listen to the voice of my adversaries!

הַיְשֻׁלַּם תַּחַת־טֹובָה רָעָה כִּי־כָרוּ שׁוּחָה לְנַפְשִׁי זְכֹר עָמְדִי לְפָנֶיךָ לְדַבֵּר עֲלֵיהֶם טֹובָה לְהָשִׁיב   18:20 אֶת־חֲמָתְךָ מֵהֶם׃

Jere. 18:20   Shall good be rewarded for evil?

                                 For they have dug a pit for my soul.

                        Remember my standing before You

                                 to speak good about them,

                         to turn away Your “wrath” from them.

לָכֵן תֵּן אֶת־בְּנֵיהֶם לָרָעָב וְהַגִּרֵם עַל־יְדֵי־חֶרֶב וְתִהְיֶנָה נְשֵׁיהֶם שַׁכֻּלֹות וְאַלְמָנֹות וְאַנְשֵׁיהֶם יִהְיוּ   18:21 הֲרֻגֵי מָוֶת בַּחוּרֵיהֶם מֻכֵּי־חֶרֶב בַּמִּלְחָמָה׃

Jere. 18:21   Therefore deliver their children up to famine,

                                 and pour the power of the sword

                        down upon them,

                                 and let their wives be bereaved

                        of their children, and widows,

                                 and let their men

                        be ruins of death,

                                  their young men

                         the smitten of the sword in battle.

תִּשָּׁמַע זְעָקָה מִבָּתֵּיהֶם כִּי־תָבִיא עֲלֵיהֶם גְּדוּד פִּתְאֹם כִּי־כָרוּ (שִׁיחָה) [שׁוּחָה] לְלָכְדֵנִי וּפַחִים   18:22 טָמְנוּ לְרַגְלָי׃

Jere. 18:22   Let an outcry be heard

                                from their houses

                        when a marauding band

                                is suddenly brought against them.

                        For they have dug a pit

                                to snare me

                        and they have hidden traps

                                for my feet.

The word in parentheses is thought to be in error.  However, I believe the word can be spelled either way -- as shown in the parentheses as well as in the brackets.  So I don’t accept that the original is misspelled.

וְאַתָּה יְהוָה יָדַעְתָּ אֶת־כָּל־עֲצָתָם עָלַי לַמָּוֶת אַל־תְּכַפֵּר עַל־עֲוֹנָם וְחַטָּאתָם מִלְּפָנֶיךָ אַל־תֶּמְחִי    18:23

 וְ הָיוּ) [וְיִהְיוּ] מֻכְשָׁלִים לְפָנֶיךָ בְּעֵת אַפְּךָ עֲשֵׂה בָהֶם׃)

Jere. 18:23   Now You, O Lord, know

                                 their whole purpose

                        against me for death.

                                Do not allow atonement

                        for their iniquity,

                                nor blot out their sins

                        from before You!

                                But make them

                        stumble before You!

                                 In the time of Your “anger,”

                        deal with them!

The word in parentheses in this verse has a blank space after the first vav so is assumed to be missing a letter, presumed to be a yad.  The correction is in the brackets.


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