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Jeremiah 17:9-11 New English Translation (NET Bible)

The human mind is more deceitful than anything else.
It is incurably bad.[a] Who can understand it?
10 I, the Lord, probe into people’s minds.
I examine people’s hearts.[b]
I deal with each person according to how he has behaved.
I give them what they deserve based on what they have done.
11 The person who gathers wealth by unjust means
is like the partridge that broods over eggs but does not hatch them.[c]
Before his life is half over he will lose his ill-gotten gains.[d]
At the end of his life it will be clear he was a fool.”[e]


  1. Jeremiah 17:9 tn Or “incurably deceitful”; Heb “It is incurable.” For the word “deceitful” compare the usage of the verb in Gen 27:36 and a related noun in 2 Kgs 10:19. For the adjective “incurable” compare the usage in Jer 15:18. It is most commonly used with reference to wounds or of pain. In Jer 17:16 it is used metaphorically for a “woeful day” (i.e., day of irreparable devastation).sn The background for this verse is Deut 29:18-19 (29:17-18 HT) and Deut 30:17.
  2. Jeremiah 17:10 tn The term rendered “mind” here and in the previous verse is actually the Hebrew word for “heart.” However, in combination with the word rendered “heart” in the next line, which is the Hebrew for “kidneys,” it is best rendered “mind” because the “heart” was considered the center of intellect, conscience, and will, and the “kidneys,” the center of emotions.sn For an earlier reference to this motif see Jer 11:20. For a later reference see Jer 20:12. See also Ps 17:2-3.
  3. Jeremiah 17:11 tn The meaning of this line is somewhat uncertain. The word translated “broods over” occurs only here and Isa 34:15. It is often defined on the basis of an Aramaic cognate that means “to gather,” with an extended meaning of “to gather together under her to hatch.” Many commentators go back to a rabbinic explanation that the partridge steals the eggs of other birds and hatches them out only to see the birds depart when they recognize that she is not the mother. Modern studies question the validity of this zoologically. Moreover, W. L. Holladay contests the validity on the basis of the wording “and she does not hatch them” (Heb “bring them to birth”). See W. L. Holladay, Jeremiah (Hermeneia), 1:498, and see also P. C. Craigie, P. H. Kelley, J. F. Drinkard, Jeremiah 1-25 (WBC), 229. The point of the comparison is that the rich gather their wealth but they do not get to see the fruits of it.
  4. Jeremiah 17:11 tn The Hebrew text merely says “it.” But the antecedent might be ambiguous in English, so the reference to wealth gained by unjust means is here reiterated for clarity.
  5. Jeremiah 17:11 tn Heb “he will be [= prove to be] a fool.”
New English Translation (NET)

NET Bible® copyright ©1996-2017 by Biblical Studies Press, L.L.C. http://netbible.com All rights reserved.


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