This chapter continues from Jeremiah 2, where the prophet addressed Jerusalem for the entire chapter.
לֵאמֹר הֵן יְשַׁלַּח אִישׁ אֶת־אִשְׁתֹּו וְהָלְכָה מֵאִתֹּו וְהָיְתָה לְאִישׁ־אַחֵר הֲיָשׁוּב אֵלֶיהָ עֹוד הֲלֹוא חָנֹוף 3:1
תֶּחֱנַף הָאָרֶץ הַהִיא וְאַתְּ זָנִית רֵעִים רַבִּים וְשֹׁוב אֵלַי נְאֻם־יְהֹוָה׃
Jere. 3:1 saying, “If a man should send his wife away
and she would go from him
and become another man's,
might he go back to her again?
Would not that land be greatly polluted?
Now, you were a harlot of many lovers,
then are returning to Me,”
declares the Lord.
The analogy used here by Jeremiah seems only somewhat appropriate. Yet I consider it possibly clever. I understand the man represents the Lord and the wife is Israel. So I believe Jeremiah is posing a question that would work for a man and his wife. But it would seem to be poorer for the Lord and Israel. Jeremiah knows that the Lord would, and will, return to Israel. So I wonder, is this a kind of Greek approach to discourse? Posing a question that instigates an objection to emphasize its ridiculousness? That expository technique did not show up in literature until a few hundred years later. Maybe Jeremiah initiated it.
שְׂאִי־עֵינַיִךְ עַל־שְׁפָיִם וּרְאִי אֵיפֹה לֹא (שֻׁגַּלְתְּ) [שֻׁכַּבְּתְּ] עַל־דְּרָכִים יָשַׁבְתְּ לָהֶם כַּעֲרָבִי בַּמִּדְבָּר 3:2 וַתַּחֲנִיפִי אֶרֶץ בִּזְנוּתַיִךְ וּבְרָעָתֵךְ׃
Jere. 3:2 Raise your eyes up to the high places and behold!
Where have you not lain?
On the ways you have abided for them
like an Arabian in the wilderness.
So you have polluted the land with your infidelities
and with your wickedness.
There’s an interesting error in this verse (in the parentheses). The word has a meaning that may not be very consistent with the context. It usually implies a man ravishing a woman. The word chosen by the sages to replace it, translated by me as have you [not] lain, is in the brackets. This seems to suggest that perhaps Jeremiah was not completely fluent in Hebrew. Yet I’m not sure of this; the same word is used elsewhere to mean lying down (with a woman), so the correction is not altogether justified.
וַיִּמָּנְעוּ רְבִבִים וּמַלְקֹושׁ לֹוא הָיָה וּמֵצַח אִשָּׁה זֹונָה הָיָה לָךְ מֵאַנְתְּ הִכָּלֵם׃ 3:3
Jere. 3:3 So the rains have been withheld
and the latter rain has not come.
But yours is the impudence
of a whorish woman;
you refuse to be ashamed.
הֲלֹוא מֵעַתָּה (קָרָאתִי) [קָרָאת] לִי אָבִי אַלּוּף נְעֻרַי אָתָּה׃ 3:4
Jere. 3:4 “Did you not recently cry out to Me,
‘My Father, You were the friend of my youth?’”
The word in parentheses has an extra yad suffix and an inappropriate vowel point under the tav. The correct spelling is in the brackets.
הֲיִנְטֹר לְעֹולָם אִם־יִשְׁמֹר לָנֶצַח הִנֵּה (דִבַּרְתִּי) [דִבַּרְתְּ] וַתַּעֲשִׂי הָרָעֹות וַתּוּכָל׃ 3:5
Jere. 3:5 “’Shall He bear a grudge forever?
Will He always look narrowly?’
Behold, you have promised,
yet you have done the evil things
that you could.”
A similar error to the one in the preceding verse appears here in the parentheses, an extra yad suffix and incorrect vowel point under the tav. The correction is in the brackets.
וַיֹּאמֶר יְהוָה אֵלַי בִּימֵי יֹאשִׁיָּהוּ הַמֶּלֶךְ הֲרָאִיתָ אֲשֶׁר עָשְׂתָה מְשֻׁבָה יִשְׂרָאֵל הֹלְכָה הִיא עַל־כָּל־הַרַּ 3:6 גָּבֹה וְאֶל־תַּחַת כָּל־עֵץ רַעֲנָן וַתִּזְנִי־שָׁם׃
Jere. 3:6 And the Lord said to me in the days of Josiah the king, “Do you see that Israel had been doing backsliding? She had gone upon every high mountain and to the bottom of every green tree and been a harlot there.”
Notice the following:. The days of Josiah extended from about 640 to 609 BCE. He was king of Judah. Jeremiah probably wrote this chapter in about the year 627 BCE. Now Israel (the Northern Kingdom) was conquered by Assyria in about 722 BCE. So Jeremiah is speaking of a nation that had not existed for almost 100 years at the time. So what is this about? What is Jeremiah getting at? Was he trying to convince Judah that they were facing the same fate as Israel? Maybe so, but he doesn’t seem to be too direct about it.
וָאֹמַר אַחֲרֵי עֲשֹׂותָהּ אֶת־כָּל־אֵלֶּה אֵלַי תָּשׁוּב וְלֹא־שָׁבָה (וַתֵּרֶאה) [וַתֵּרֶא] בָּגֹודָה אֲחֹותָהּ יְהוּדָה׃ 3:7
Jere. 3:7 “And I said, ‘After she does all these things, she will return to Me,’ but she did not return. And her treacherous sister, Judah, saw it.”
The error in this verse is thought to be an extra heh suffix in the word in parentheses, with the correction being in the brackets. However, I believe the word can be considered correct, if it is translated as I have, as saw it. The heh suffix is then the object it of the verb saw. Oddly, in many bibles the word is translated the same as I have, but the error is still indicated.
וָאֵרֶא כִּי עַל־כָּל־אֹדֹות אֲשֶׁר נִאֲפָה מְשֻׁבָה יִשְׂרָאֵל שִׁלַּחְתִּיהָ וָאֶתֵּן אֶת־סֵפֶר כְּרִיתֻתֶיהָ אֵלֶיהָ וְלֹא 3:8 יָרְאָה בֹּגֵדָה יְהוּדָה אֲחֹותָהּ וַתֵּלֶךְ וַתִּזֶן גַּם־הִיא׃
Jere. 3:8 And I could see, when, because of all the times that backsliding Israel committed adultery, I sent her away and gave a bill of her divorce to her, that treacherous Judah, her sister, was not afraid and went and she also was a harlot,
וְהָיָה מִקֹּל זְנוּתָהּ וַתֶּחֱנַף אֶת־הָאָרֶץ וַתִּנְאַף אֶת־הָאֶבֶן וְאֶת־הָעֵץ׃ 3:9
Jere. 3:9 and it was because of the frivolity of her harlotry that she polluted the land, and committed adultery with stone and with stick.”
וְגַם־בְּכָל־זֹאת לֹא־שָׁבָה אֵלַי בָּגֹודָה אֲחֹותָהּ יְהוּדָה בְּכָל־לִבָּהּ כִּי אִם־בְּשֶׁקֶר נְאֻם־יְהוָה׃ 3:10
Jere. 3:10 “And also, with all this, her treacherous sister, Judah, did not return to Me with all her heart, but only falsely,” declared the Lord.
וַיֹּאמֶר יְהוָה אֵלַי צִדְּקָה נַפְשָׁהּ מְשֻׁבָה יִשְׂרָאֵל מִבֹּגֵדָה יְהוּדָה׃ 3:11
Jere. 3:11 Then the Lord said to me, “Backsliding Israel is more righteous of soul than treacherous Judah.”
הָלֹךְ וְקָרָאתָ אֶת־הַדְּבָרִים הָאֵלֶּה צָפֹונָה וְאָמַרְתָּ שׁוּבָה מְשֻׁבָה יִשְׂרָאֵל נְאֻם־יְהוָה לֹוא־אַפִּיל פָּנַי 3:12
בָּכֶם כִּי־חָסִיד אֲנִי נְאֻם־יְהוָה לֹא אֶטֹּור לְעֹולָם׃
Jere. 3:12 “Go and you will proclaim these words northward that you will say,
‘Return, backsliding Israel, says the Lord.’
‘I will not cease My presence among you,
for I am merciful, declares the Lord.’
’I will not bear a grudge forever.’
אַךְ דְּעִי עֲוֹנֵךְ כִּי בַּיהוָה אֱלֹהַיִךְ פָּשָׁעַתְּ וַתְּפַזְּרִי אֶת־דְּרָכַיִךְ לַזָּרִים תַּחַת כָּל־עֵץ רַעֲנָן וּבְקֹולִי 3:13 לֹא־שְׁמַעְתֶּם נְאֻם־יְהֹוָה׃
Jere. 3:13 ’Just acknowledge your iniquity,
that you have transgressed
against the Lord, your God,
and have scattered your customs
to the strangers under every green tree,
and you have not listened to My voice,
declares the Lord.’
שׁוּבוּ בָנִים שֹׁובָבִים נְאֻם־יְהוָה כִּי אָנֹכִי בָּעַלְתִּי בָכֶם וְלָקַחְתִּי אֶתְכֶם אֶחָד מֵעִיר וּשְׁנַיִם מִמִּשְׁפָּחָה 3:14
וְהֵבֵאתִי אֶתְכֶם צִיֹּון׃
Jere. 3:14 ’Return, idolatrous children, declares the Lord, for I am Master with you, and I will take you, one from a city and two from a family, and bring you to Zion.’
וְנָתַתִּי לָכֶם רֹעִים כְּלִבִּי וְרָעוּ אֶתְכֶם דֵּעָה וְהַשְׂכֵּיל׃ 3:15
Jere. 3:15 ’And I will give shepherds to you according to My ‘heart,’ and they shall feed you knowledge and understanding,
וְהָיָה כִּי תִרְבּוּ וּפְרִיתֶם בָּאָרֶץ בַּיָּמִים הָהֵמָּה נְאֻם־יְהוָה לֹא־יֹאמְרוּ עֹוד אֲרֹון בְּרִית־יְהוָה וְלֹא 3:16 יַעֲלֶה עַל־לֵב יִזְכְּרוּ־בֹו וְלֹא יִפְקֹדוּ וְלֹא יֵעָשֶׂה עֹוד׃
Jere. 3:16 and it shall be that you shall multiply and increase in the land. In those days, declares the Lord, they shall no more require the ark of the covenant of the Lord, and it shall not come to mind, and they shall not make mention of it, and they shall not miss it, and it shall not be provided any more.’
בָּעֵת הַהִיא יִקְרְאוּ לִירוּשָׁלִַם כִּסֵּא יְהוָה וְנִקְוּוּ אֵלֶיהָ כָל־הַגֹּויִם לְשֵׁם יְהוָה לִירוּשָׁלִָם וְלֹא־יֵלְכוּ עֹוד 3:17 אַחֲרֵי שְׁרִרוּת לִבָּם הָרָע׃
Jere. 3:17 ’At that time they shall give the name of The Throne of the Lord to Jerusalem, and all the nations shall be gathered to it, to the name of the Lord, to Jerusalem, and they shall no more go after the obstinacy of their heart of evil.’
בַּיָּמִים הָהֵמָּה יֵלְכוּ בֵית־יְהוּדָה עַל־בֵּית יִשְׂרָאֵל וְיָבֹאוּ יַחְדָּו מֵאֶרֶץ צָפֹון עַל־הָאָרֶץ אֲשֶׁר הִנְחַלְתִּי 3:18
Jere. 3:18 ‘In those days the house of Judah shall follow upon the house of Israel, and they shall come together out of a northward land upon the land that I had caused your fathers to inherit.’
וְאָנֹכִי אָמַרְתִּי אֵיךְ אֲשִׁיתֵךְ בַּבָּנִים וְאֶתֶּן־לָךְ אֶרֶץ חֶמְדָּה נַחֲלַת צְבִי צִבְאֹות גֹּויִם וָאֹמַר אָבִי 3:19 תִּקְרְאוּ־) [תִּקְרְאִי־]לִי וּמֵאַחֲרַי לֹא (תָשׁוּבוּ) [תָשׁוּבִי]׃)
Jere. 3:19 )But I said,
‘How can I place you with the children
and give a pleasant land to you,
the most glorious heritage of the hosts of nations?’
‘Yet I could say,
‘You shall call Me ‘my Father,’
and you shall not turn away from following Me.’
There are said to be two errors in this verse in the sets of parentheses. The words allegedly in error are both masculine plural, whereas the corrections are feminine singular. I presume the corrections were made to follow the feminine singular pronoun suffixes in the words אֲשִׁיתֵךְ and לָךְ, meaning I shall place you and to you, respectively. But I believe they were intended to be masculine plural within the latter quote, You [plural] shall call,..., and you [plural] shall [not] turn away, the Lord’s description (as Jeremiah interpreted them) of what the children of Israel would be saying to the Lord. As I see it, the feminine suffixes in the earlier words refer to the nation Israel (singular feminine) in both instances. But the two so-called errors refer to the children of Israel (masculine plural), so the corrections are unnecessary.
אָכֵן בָּגְדָה אִשָּׁה מֵרֵעָהּ כֵּן בְּגַדְתֶּם בִּי בֵּית יִשְׂרָאֵל נְאֻם־יְהוָה׃ 3:20
Jere. 3:20 ‘As a treacherous wife departs,
so have you dealt treacherously
with Me, house of Israel,
declares the Lord.’”
There’s some interesting grammar in this verse. The pronoun you (second line) is plural in the Hebrew, yet the Lord is addressing the house of Israel, usually a singular noun. So according to my theory about second-person pronouns, the Lord is saying that each member of the house of Israel is like a treacherous wife departing from Him.
קֹול עַל־שְׁפָיִים נִשְׁמָע בְּכִי תַחֲנוּנֵי בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל כִּי הֶעֱוּוּ אֶת־דַּרְכָּם שָׁכְחוּ אֶת־יְהֹוָה אֱלֹהֵיהֶם׃ 3:21
Jere. 3:21 “A sound upon the high places is heard,
the weeping supplication of the house of Israel,
for they have made their way crooked,
have forgotten the Lord, their God.”
וּבוּ בָּנִים שֹׁובָבִים אֶרְפָּה מְשׁוּבֹתֵיכֶם הִנְנוּ אָתָנוּ לָךְ כִּי אַתָּה יְהֹוָה אֱלֹהֵינוּ׃ 3:22
Jere. 3:22 “Return, backsliding children!
I will cure your backsliding:
‘Behold, we have come to You,
for You are the Lord, our God.’
אָכֵן לַשֶּׁקֶר מִגְּבָעֹות הָמֹון הָרִים אָכֵן בַּיהֹוָה אֱלֹהֵינוּ תְּשׁוּעַת יִשְׂרָאֵל׃ 3:23
Jere. 3:23 ‘Surely the uproar of the mountains
is more deceitful than the hills.
Surely with the Lord, our God,
is the salvation of Israel.’
וְהַבֹּשֶׁת אָכְלָה אֶת־יְגִיעַ אֲבֹותֵינוּ מִנְּעוּרֵינוּ אֶת־צֹאנָם וְאֶת־בְּקָרָם אֶת־בְּנֵיהֶם וְאֶת־בְּנֹותֵיהֶם׃ 3:24
Jere. 3:24 ‘But shame has consumed
the labor of our fathers since our youth,
their flocks and their herds,
their sons and their daughters.’
נִשְׁכְּבָה בְּבָשְׁתֵּנוּ וּתְכַסֵּנוּ כְּלִמָּתֵנוּ כִּי לַיהוָה אֱלֹהֵינוּ חָטָאנוּ אֲנַחְנוּ וַאֲבֹותֵינוּ מִנְּעוּרֵינוּ וְעַד־הַיֹּום 3:25 הַזֶּה וְלֹא שָׁמַעְנוּ בְּקֹול יְהֹוָה אֱלֹהֵינוּ׃
Jere. 3:25 ‘Let us lie down in our shame
and let our disgrace cover us,
for we have sinned against the Lord, our God,
we and our fathers,
since our youth and until this day.
And we have not listened
to the voice of the Lord, our God.’”
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