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“I, the Lord, say:[a] ‘This shows how[b] I will ruin the highly exalted position[c] in which Judah and Jerusalem take pride. 10 These wicked people refuse to obey what I have said.[d] They follow the stubborn inclinations of their own hearts and pay allegiance[e] to other gods by worshiping and serving them. So[f] they will become just like these linen shorts that are good for nothing. 11 For,’ I say,[g] ‘just as shorts cling tightly to a person’s body, so I bound the whole nation of Israel and the whole nation of Judah[h] tightly[i] to me.’ I intended for them to be my special people and to bring me fame, honor, and praise.[j] But they would not obey me.

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  1. Jeremiah 13:9 tn Heb “Thus says the Lord.”
  2. Jeremiah 13:9 tn In a sense this phrase, which is literally “according to thus” or simply “thus,” points both backward and forward: backward to the acted-out parable and forward to the explanation which follows.
  3. Jeremiah 13:9 tn Many of the English versions have erred in rendering this word “pride” or “arrogance,” with the resultant implication that the Lord is going to destroy Israel’s pride, i.e., humble them through the punishment of exile. However, BDB 144-45 s.v. גָּאוֹן 1 is more probably correct when they classify this passage among those that deal with the “‘majesty, excellence’ of nations, their wealth, power, magnificence of buildings….” The closest parallels to the usage here are in Zech 10:11 (parallel to scepter of Egypt); Ps 47:4 (47:5 HT; parallel to “our heritage” = “our land”); Isa 14:11; and Amos 8:7. The term is further defined in v. 11, where it refers to their special relationship and calling. To translate it “pride” or “arrogance” also ruins the wordplay on “ruin” (נִשְׁחַת [nishkhat] in v. 7 and אַשְׁחִית [ʾashkhit] in v. 9).sn Scholars ancient and modern are divided over the significance of the statement I will ruin the highly exalted position in which Judah and Jerusalem take pride (Heb “I will ruin the pride of Judah and Jerusalem”). Some feel that it refers to the corrupting influence of Assyria and Babylon, and others feel that it refers to the threat of Babylonian exile. However, F. B. Huey (Jeremiah, Lamentations [NAC], 144) is correct in observing that the Babylonian exile did not lead to the rottenness of Judah; the corrupting influence of the foreign nations did. In Jeremiah’s day this came through the age-old influences of the Canaanite worship of Baal, but also through the astral worship introduced by Ahaz and Manasseh. For an example of the corrupting influence of Assyria on Judah through Ahaz’s political alliances, see 2 Kgs 16 and also compare the allegory in Ezek 23:14-21. It was while the “linen shorts” were off Jeremiah’s body and buried in the rocks that the linen shorts were ruined. So the Lord “ruined” the privileged status that resulted from Israel’s close relationship to him (cf. v. 11). For the “problem” created by the Lord ruining Israel through corrupting influence, compare the notes on Jer 4:10 and also passages like Isa 63:17 and Isa 6:10. If the parable simply emphasized ruin, though, the exile could be in view.
  4. Jeremiah 13:10 tn Heb “to listen to my words.”
  5. Jeremiah 13:10 tn Heb “and [they follow] after.” See the translator’s note at 2:5 for the idiom.
  6. Jeremiah 13:10 tn The structure of this verse is a little unusual. It consists of a subject, “this wicked people,” qualified by several “which” clauses preceding a conjunction and a form which would normally be taken as a third person imperative (a Hebrew jussive; וִיהִי, vihi). This construction, called casus pendens by Hebrew grammarians, lays focus on the subject, here calling attention to the nature of Israel’s corruption that makes it rotten and useless to God. See GKC 458 §143.d for other examples of this construction.
  7. Jeremiah 13:11 tn The words “I say” are “Oracle of the Lord” in Hebrew, and are located at the end of this statement in the Hebrew text rather than the beginning. However, they are rendered in the first person and placed at the beginning for smoother English style.
  8. Jeremiah 13:11 tn Heb “all the house of Israel and all the house of Judah.”
  9. Jeremiah 13:11 tn It would be somewhat unnatural in English to render the play on the word translated here “cling tightly” and “bound tightly” in a literal way. They are from the same root word in Hebrew (דָּבַק, davaq), a word that emphasizes the closest of personal relationships and the loyalty connected with them. It is used, for example, of the relationship of a husband and a wife and the loyalty expected of them (cf. Gen 2:24; for other similar uses see Ruth 1:14; 2 Sam 20:2; Deut 11:22).
  10. Jeremiah 13:11 tn Heb “I bound them…in order that they might be to me for a people and for a name and for praise and for honor.” The sentence has been separated from the preceding and an equivalent idea expressed that is more in keeping with contemporary English style.

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