Jeremiah 2:4-13

Jeremiah 2:4-13
Ordinary C40


HearI the wordII of the Lord,III

Notes on verse 4a

I “hear” = shama. This is to hear, call, consent, or consider. It implies listening intelligently, giving attention, and, because of these two factors, obedience and action are often implied.
II “word” = dabar. From dabar (to speak, declare, discuss). This is speech, a word, a matter, an affair, charge, command, message, promise, purpose, report, request. It is a word, which implies things that are spoken of in a wide sense.
III “Lord” = YHVH. From havah (to be, become) or hayah (to come to pass, become, be). This is the name of the God of Israel, the self-existent and eternal one, the tetragrammaton. This pronunciation has been lost to time so “Lord” is generally used in its place.

O houseIV of Jacob,V and allVI the familiesVII of the house of Israel.VIII 

Notes on verse 4b

IV “house” = bayit. Probably from banah (to build, make, set up, obtain children; to build literally or figuratively). This is house, court, family, palace, temple.
V “Jacob” = Yaaqob. From the same as aqeb (heel, hind part, hoof, rear guard of an army, one who lies in wait, usurper). This is Isaac’s son and his descendants. The name means heel-catcher or supplanter.
VI “all” = kol. From kalal (to complete). This is all or every.
VII “families” = mishpachah. From the same as shiphcah (maid, maidservant); root means to spread out. This is one’s circle of relatives – clan, family, kindred.
VIII “Israel” = Yisrael. From sarah (to persist, exert oneself, contend, persevere, wrestle, prevail) + el (God or god). This is Israel, meaning God strives or one who strives with God; new name for Jacob and for his offspring. This refers to the people and to the land.

Thus says the Lord:

What wrongIX did your ancestorsX findXI in me
    that they went farXII from me

Notes on verse 5a

IX “wrong” = evel. Perhaps from aval (to deal unjustly, act in a wrongful way, a wrongdoer). This is injustice, wrong, moral evil, acts of violence, or unrighteousness.
X “ancestors” = ab. This is father, chief, or ancestor. It is father in a literal or figurative sense.
XI “find” = matsa. This is to find, catch or acquire. It can also mean to come forth or appear. Figuratively, this can mean to meet or be together with.
XII “went far” = rachaq. This is to widen, become distant, cast, or remove. It can be in a literal or figurative sense.

and wentXIII after worthless thingsXIV and became worthlessXV themselves?

Notes on verse 5b

XIII “went” = halak. This is go, come, walk. It is walk literally and figuratively and includes people and animals. It can be used figuratively for one’s moral life – how we walk according to God’s way or against it. It can also refer to the walk of life as in the course one’s life takes, the choices we make, etc.
XIV “worthless things” = hebel. Perhaps from habal (to be vain, behave in an empty way, lea astray, behave foolishly). This is emptiness, vapor, breath. It can refer to something that is fleeting or futile, worthless or a delusion. Something that is passing and so does not satisfy. This is related to the root for the name “Abel.”
XV “became worthless” = habal. Related to “worthless things” in v5. 5x in OT. See note XIV above.

They did not say, “Where is the Lord,
    who brought us upXVI from the landXVII of Egypt,XVIII
who ledXIX us in the wilderness,XX

Notes on verse 6a

XVI “brought…up” = alah. This is to go up, approach, ascend, be high, be a priority; to arise in a literal or figurative sense.
XVII “land” = erets. Root may mean to be firm. This is earth, ground, field land, or country.
XVIII “Egypt” = Mitsrayim. Perhaps from matsor (besieged or fortified place, bulwark, entrenchment; something hemmed in; a siege or distress or fastness); from tsur (to confine, besiege, to cramp). This is Egypt.
XIX “led” = halak. Same as “went” in v5. See note XIII above.
XX “wilderness” = midbar. Related to “word” in v4. From dabar (see note II above). This is mouth or speech. It can also be desert or wilderness. Additionally, it can be used for a pasture to which one drives cattle.

    in a land of desertsXXI and pits,XXII
in a land of droughtXXIII and deep darkness,XXIV

Notes on verse 6b

XXI “deserts” = arabah. From the same as arab (desert plateau, Arabia) OR from arab (to become evening); {from ereb (evening) or from arab (to exchange, give or take on pledge, braid, intermix)}. This is a desert valley or plain, wilderness. Also, the name of a place Arabah.
XXII “pits” = shuchah. 4x in OT. From shuach (to bow or sink down in a literal or figurative sense, humble). This is a pit or a chasm.
XXIII “drought” = tsiyyah. 16x in OT. This is dryness or parched. So, it can also mean drought or dry places. By extension, it can mean a solitary place or a wilderness.
XXIV “deep darkness” = tsalmavet. 18x in OT. From tsel (shade in a literal or figurative sense; shadow, shade, protection, shelter, or defense); {from tsalal (to be or become dark, shade; this is the shade as during twilight or shadow as associated with something opaque)} + mavet (death, deadliness, the dead, or the place where the dead go; figuratively, pestilence or ruin); {from mut (to die in a literal or figurative sense)}. This is a deep shadow, the grave. Figuratively it is a darkness like death or a calamity. This is the “shadow of death” from Psalm 23:4.

    in a land that no oneXXV passes through,XXVI
    where no oneXXVII lives?”XXVIII

Notes on verse 6c

XXV “one” = ish. Perhaps from enosh (human, humankind, mortal); from anash (to be weak, sick, or frail). This is man, husband, another, or humankind.
XXVI “passes through” = abar. This is to pass over or cross over. It is used for transitions, whether literal or figurative. It can also mean to escape, alienate, or fail. This is the root verb from which “Hebrew” is drawn.
XXVII “one” = adam. Perhaps from adam (to be red, make ruddy); related to adamah (ground, dirt, earth). This is man, humankind, also Adam’s name. It refers to a human individual or humanity.
XXVIII “lives” = yashab. This is to sit and so to remain and so to dwell. It is sitting for any reason – as a judge, in order to ambush, or just sitting quietly. Causatively, this can mean settling or marrying. This can also mean continue, endure, or establish.

I broughtXXIX you into a plentifulXXX land
    to eatXXXI its fruitsXXXII and its good things.XXXIII

Notes on verse 7a

XXIX “brought” = bo. This is to enter, come in, advance, fulfill, bring offerings, enter to worship, attack. It can also have a sexual connotation.
XXX “plentiful” = karmel. 15x in OT. From the same as kerem (vineyard, garden, vines, or a vintage). This is a fertile field, garden, new growth, fruit, grain. It can be an orchard or park as well as the produce.
XXXI “eat” = akal. This is to eat, devour, burn up, or otherwise consume. It can be eating in a literal or figurative sense.
XXXII “fruits” = peri. From parah (to bear fruit, grow, be fruitful, increase; bearing fruit in a literal or figurative sense). This is fruit or reward.
XXXIII “good things” = tub. From tob (to be pleasing, to be good). This is goodness, gladness, something that is good. It can also be beauty, welfare, or joy.

But when you enteredXXXIV you defiledXXXV my land
    and madeXXXVI my heritageXXXVII an abomination.XXXVIII

Notes on verse 7b

XXXIV “entered” = bo. Same as “brought” in v7. See note XXIX above.
XXXV “defiled” = tame. This is to defile, be unclean, pollute in a ritual or ethical sense.
XXXVI “made” = sim. This is to put or place in a literal or figurative sense. It can be appoint, care, change, make, and may other things.
XXXVII “heritage” = nachalah. Related to nachal (to inherit, occupy, distribute, take as heritage). This is properly something that was inherited. It can mean occupancy generally or, more particularly, an heirloom or an estate. This can be an inheritance, gift, possession, or portion.
XXXVIII “abomination” = toebah. Perhaps from ta’ab (to abhor or morally detest). This is something that instills one with moral contempt or disgust. It can mean abhorrence and is often in reference to idolatry or idols.

The priestsXXXIX did not say, “Where is the Lord?”
    Those who handleXL the lawXLI did not knowXLII me;

Notes on verse 8a

XXXIX “priests” = kohen. This is literally the one who officiates i.e. the priest. This is where the Jewish last name “Cohen” (and its variants) comes from.
XL “handle” = taphas. This is to catch, seize, wield, capture. It can also mean to use unwarrantably.
XLI “law” = torah. From yarah (to throw, shoot, be stunned; to flow as water so figuratively to instruct or teach). This is law, instruction, teaching, or statute. It can also refer to the first five books of the Bible – the Torah.
XLII “know” = yada. This is to know, acknowledge, advise, answer, be aware, be acquainted with. Properly, this is to figure something out by seeing. It includes ideas of observation, recognition, and care about something. It can be used causatively for instruction, designation, and punishment.

the rulersXLIII transgressedXLIV against me;
    the prophetsXLV prophesiedXLVI by BaalXLVII
    and wentXLVIII after things that do not profit.XLIX

Notes on verse 8b

XLIII “rulers” = ra’ah. This is to tend a flock, pasture, or graze. It can mean to rule or to associate with someone. Figuratively, it can be ruler or teacher.
XLIV “transgressed” = pasha. This is to rebel, offend, quarrel. It is making a break from proper authority so can also refer to an apostate.
XLV “prophets” = nabi. This is prophet, prophecy, speaker, or someone inspired.
XLVI “prophesied” = naba. Related to “prophets” in v8. Related to nabi (see note XLV above). This is to prophesy. It can also refer to an ecstatic state – raving. It is associated with speech, song, teachings, and predictions.
XLVII “Baal” = Baal. From the same as ba’al (lord, owner, ally, or archer); from ba’al (to marry, have dominion, be master). This is Baal, literally “lord,” a Phoenician god.
XLVIII “went” = halak. Same as “went” in v5. See note XIII above.
XLIX “profit” = yaal. This is to ascend. Figuratively, it means to accrue some kind of profet or other gain. It can mean valuable or useful.

ThereforeL once more I accuseLI you,
            saysLII the Lord,
    and I accuse your children’s children.LIII

Notes on verse 9

L “therefore” = ken. Perhaps from kun (properly, in a perpendicular position; literally, to establish, fix, fasten, prepare; figuratively, it is certainty, to be firm, faithfulness, render sure or prosperous). This is to set upright. Generally used figuratively to mean thus, so, afterwards, rightly so.
LI “accuse” = rib. This is properly to toss or grapple. It is used figuratively to mean wrangling and so for arguments, complaints, or disputes. It is used in a legal setting for pleading or defending a case.
LII “says” = neum. From na’am (to speak a prophecy; properly, to whisper, which implies saying an oracle). This is an utterance or speaking an oracle.
LIII “children” = ben. Related to “house” in v4. From banah (see note IV above). This is son, age, child. It is son in a literal or figurative sense.

10 CrossLIV to the coastsLV of CyprusLVI and look;LVII

Notes on verse 10a

LIV “cross” = abar. Same as “passes through” in v6. See note XXVI above.
LV “coasts” = i. Perhaps from avah (to desire, crave, wish for, lust after). This is coastland, island, or region. It is a desirable place to live – dry land, coast.
LVI “Cyprus” = Kitti. 8x in OT. Perhaps from Pre-Greek Kiton (Cyprus). It is Kittim, Chittim, or another name for Cyprus or others who come from Islands. It is the person, their offspring, and their territory. It may mean “bruisers” See &
LVII “look” = raah. This is to see in a literal or figurative sense so stare, advise, think, view.

    sendLVIII to KedarLIX and examineLX with care;LXI

Notes on verse 10b

LVIII “send” = shalach. This is to send out, away, send for, forsake. It can also mean to divorce or set a slave free.
LIX “Kedar” = Qedar. 12x in OT. From qadar (to be dark, grow black; ashy or otherwise having a dark color; can also imply mourning, wearing sackcloth). This is Kedar, perhaps meaning “swarthy,” “dark,” “turbid,” or “dusky.” It referred to Bedouins. Darkness may refer to the tents they lived in or the tone of their skin. See
LX “examine” = bin. This is to discern, consider, attend to. It refers to distinguishing things in one’s mind or, more generally, to understand.
LXI “with care” = meod. Perhaps from the same as uwd (firebrand, a poker). This is very, greatly, exceedingly. It can also mean vehemence, force, abundance.

    seeLXII ifLXIII there has ever beenLXIV such a thing.
11 Has a nationLXV changedLXVI its gods,LXVII
    even though they are no gods?

Notes on verses 10c-11a

LXII “see” = raah. Same as “look” in v10. See note LVII above.
LXIII “if” = hen. This is a remark of surprise or excitement: lo! Behold! It can also mean if or though.
LXIV “been” = hayah. Related to “Lord” in v4. See note III above.
LXV “nation” = goy. From the same root as gevah (the back, person, or body); related to gev (among); related to gaah (to rise up). This is nation or people. Often used to refer to Gentiles or foreign nations. It can also be used figuratively for a group of animals. This is where the Yiddish “goy” comes from.
LXVI “changed” = mur. 15x in OT. This is to change, substitute, stand by, alter, remove.
LXVII “gods” = elohim. Related to “Israel” in v4. See note VIII above.

But my peopleLXVIII have changed their gloryLXIX
    for something that does notLXX profit.

Notes on verse 11b

LXVIII “people” = am. From amam (to darken, hide, associate; creating shadows by huddling together). This is people or nation. It can be used specifically for a tribe, collectively of troops or armies, or figuratively to refer to a flock of animals.
LXIX “glory” = kabod. From kabad (to be heavy, weighty, burdensome). This is weighty. Figuratively, glorious, abundant, riches, honor, splendor – a reference to one’s reputation or character. This word is often used to describe God and God’s presence.
LXX “not” = belo. 4x in OT – all in Jeremiah. From balah (to grow old, wear out, consume, waste, enjoy, fail, decay). This is something worn through like a rag. It can also mean not.

12 Be appalled,LXXI O heavens,LXXII at this;
    be shocked; be utterly desolate,LXXIII
            saysLXXIV the Lord,

Notes on verse 12

LXXI “appalled” = shamem. This is to amaze or be astonished. It can also mean devastate, stun, become numb, or be appalled.
LXXII “heavens” = shamayim. Root may mean being lofty. This is sky, the air, or heaven. It is in a dual noun form so this might refer to the part of the sky where the clouds move on the one hand and the part beyond that where the sun, moon, and stars are on the other hand.
LXXIII “be shocked; be utterly desolate” = sa’ar + charab + meod. Sa’ar is 8x in OT. This is to storm, scattered by a storm, blow away, rage, be storm tossed. It is to toss in a literal or figurative sense. It can also mean fear. Charab is to dry up because of drought, destroy, or make waste. Meod is the same as “with care” in v10. See note LXI above.
LXXIV “says” = neum. Same as “says” in v9. See note LII above.

13 for my people have committedLXXV twoLXXVI evils:LXXVII
    they have forsakenLXXVIII me,

Notes on verse 13a

LXXV “committed” = asah. This is to make, do, act, appoint, become in many senses.
LXXVI “two” = shenayim. From sheni (double, again, another, second); from shanah (to fold, repeat, double, alter, or disguise). This is two, both, second, couple.
LXXVII “evils” = ra’. From ra’a’ (to be evil, bad, afflict; properly, to spoil – to destroy by breaking into pieces; figuratively, to cause something to be worthless; this is bad in a physical, social, or moral sense; that which displeases, to do harm or mischief, to punish or vex). This is bad, disagreeable, that which causes pain, misery, something having little or no value, something that is ethically bad, wicked, injury, calamity. This refers to anything that is not what it ought to be – a natural disaster, a disfigurement, an injury, a sin.
LXXVIII “forsaken” = azab. To loosen, relinquish, permit, forsake, fail, leave destitute.

the fountainLXXIX of livingLXXX water,LXXXI
    and dug outLXXXII cisternsLXXXIII for themselves,
crackedLXXXIV cisterns
    that can holdLXXXV no water.

Notes on verse 13b

LXXIX “fountain” = maqor. 18x in OT. From qur (to dig, destroy, wall up). This is a spring or fountain. Properly, it is a site that was dug and so it is used for a wellspring. It also refers to natural water sources. It can be used of tears, blood, female genitalia. Figuratively, it can be offspring, posterity, wisdom, or happiness.
LXXX “living” = chay. From chayah (to live or keep alive literally or figuratively). This is alive, living, lifetime. It can also be used to describe someone’s age. It can refer to animals, plants, water, or a company or congregation of people. It is life in a very broad sense.
LXXXI “water” = mayim. This is water, waters, or waterway in a general sense. Figuratively, it can also mean juice, urine, or semen.
LXXXII “dug out” = chatsab. This is to hew or cut material like wood or stone. It can also be to dig, quarry, split, or engrave.
LXXXIII “cisterns” = bor. 4x in OT. From baar (to make plain; to dig; can also mean to engrave or figuratively to explain). This is a cistern or well.
LXXXIV “cracked” = shabar. This is break, collapse, destroy, break in pieces, tear. It is bursting in a literal or figurative sense.
LXXXV “can hold” = kul. This is to hold in. So, it can be to contain, measure, guide, or feed. It can also mean to be able to or sustain.

Image credit: “Calumny” – a Misericord from cathedral Notre-Dame-de-la-Treille in Lille, France. Photo by Jacques CHAZARD, 2013.

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