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Jeremiah 2:14-16 New English Translation (NET Bible)

Israel’s Reliance on Foreign Alliances (not on God)

14 “Israel is not a slave, is he?
He was not born into slavery, was he?[a]
If not, why then is he being carried off?
15 Like lions his enemies roar victoriously over him;
they raise their voices in triumph.[b]
They have laid his land waste;
his cities have been burned down and deserted.[c]
16 Even the soldiers[d] from Memphis and Tahpanhes
have cracked your skulls, people of Israel.[e]


  1. Jeremiah 2:14 tn Heb “Is Israel a slave? Or is he a house-born slave?” The questions are rhetorical, expecting a negative answer.sn The Lord is here contrasting Israel’s lofty status as the Lord’s bride and special possession, which he had earlier reminded her of (see 2:2-3), with her current status of servitude to Egypt and Assyria.
  2. Jeremiah 2:15 tn Heb “Lions shout over him; they give out [raise] their voices.”sn The reference to lions is here a metaphor for the Assyrians (and later the Babylonians; see Jer 50:17). The statement about lions roaring over their prey implies that the prey has been vanquished.
  3. Jeremiah 2:15 tn Heb “without inhabitant.”
  4. Jeremiah 2:16 tn Heb “the sons of…”
  5. Jeremiah 2:16 tc The translation follows the reading of the Syriac version. The Hebrew text reads, “have grazed [= “shaved” ?] your skulls [as a sign of disgracing them].” Note that the reference shifts from third person, “him,” to second person, “you,” which is common in Hebrew style. The words “people of Israel” have been supplied in the translation to help identify the referent and ease the switch. The reading presupposes יְרֹעוּךְ (yeroʿukh) a Qal imperfect from the verb רָעַע (raʿaʿ; see BDB 949 s.v. II רָעַע Qal.1, and compare usage in Jer 15:2; Ps 2:9). The MT reads יִרְעוּךְ (yirʿukh), a Qal imperfect from the root רָעָה (raʿah; see BDB 945 s.v. I רָעָה Qal.2.b, for usage). The use of the verb in the MT is unparalleled in the sense suggested, but the resultant figure, if “graze” can mean “shave,” is paralleled in Jer 47:5; 48:37; Isa 7:20. The reading of the variant is accepted on the basis that it is the rarer root; the scribe would have been more familiar with the root “graze” even though it is unparalleled in the figurative nuance implied here. The noun “head/skull” is functioning as an accusative of further specification (see GKC 372 §117.ll, and compare usage in Gen 3:8), i.e., “they crack you on the skull” or “they shave you on the skull.” The verb is a prefixed form and in this context is either a preterite without vav (ו) consecutive or an iterative imperfect denoting repeated action. Some modern English versions render the verb in the future tense, “they will break [or shave] your skull.”
New English Translation (NET)

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