New English Translation
10 The Lord is the only true God.
He is the living God and the everlasting King.
When he shows his anger the earth shakes.
None of the nations can stand up to his fury.
11 You people of Israel should tell those nations this:
‘These gods did not make heaven and earth.
They will disappear[a] from the earth and from under the heavens.’[b]
12 The Lord is the one who[c] by his power made the earth.
He is the one who by his wisdom established the world.
And by his understanding he spread out the skies.
- Jeremiah 10:11 tn Aram “The gods who did not make…earth will disappear…” In conformity with contemporary English style, the sentence is broken up in the translation to avoid a long, complex English sentence.
- Jeremiah 10:11 tn This verse is in Aramaic. It is the only Aramaic sentence in Jeremiah. Scholars debate the appropriateness of this verse to this context. Many see it as a gloss added by a postexilic scribe that was later incorporated into the text. Both R. E. Clendenen (“Discourse Strategies in Jeremiah 10, ” JBL 106 : 401-8) and W. L. Holladay (Jeremiah [Hermeneia], 1:324-25, 334-35) have given detailed arguments that the passage is not only original but the climax and center of the contrast between the Lord and idols in vv. 2-16. God gives Israel a message for the nations in the lingua franca of the time. Holladay shows that the passage is a very carefully constructed chiasm (see accompanying study note). This fact argues that “these” at the end is the subject of the verb “will disappear,” not an attributive adjective modifying heaven. He also makes a very good case that the verse is poetry and not the prose that it is rendered in the majority of modern English versions.sn This passage is carefully structured and placed to contrast the Lord, who is living and eternal (v. 10) and made the heavens and earth (v. 12), with the idols, who did not and will disappear. It also has a very careful, concentric structure in the original text where “the gods” is balanced by “these,” “heavens” by “from under the heavens,” and “the earth” by “from the earth.” In the very center, “did not make” is balanced and contrasted by “will disappear.” The structure is further reinforced by the sound play/wordplay between “did not make” (Aram לָא עֲבַדוּ [laʾ ʿavadu]) and “will disappear” (Aram יֵאבַדוּ [yeʾvadu]). This is the rhetorical climax of Jeremiah’s sarcastic attack on the folly of idolatry.
- Jeremiah 10:12 tn The words “The Lord is” are not in the text. They are implicit from the context. They are supplied in the translation here because of possible confusion about who the subject is due to the parenthetical address to the people of Israel in v. 11. The first two verbs are participles and should not merely be translated as the narrative past. They are predicate nominatives of an implied copula intending to contrast the Lord, as the one who made the earth, with the idols, which did not.