Old Testament Essays
On-line version ISSN 2312-3621
Print version ISSN 1010-9919
WESSELS, Wilhelm J.. I've had it with you: Jeremiah 23:33-40 as culmination of YHWH's frustration. Old testam. essays [online]. 2012, vol.25, n.3, pp.761-776. ISSN 2312-3621.
Jeremiah 23:9-40 is a collection of oracles that negatively reflect on the actions of prophets in Judah. This cycle on the prophets consists of the following oracles: 23:9-15; 16-22; 23-24; 25-32 and 33-40. The section of interest for this article is 23:33-40, the final oracle in the cycle. The key issue in this passage is the expression massä' Yhwh which occurs no less than seven times. Of significance are the different translations English versions of the Bible offer, namely "the burden of YHWH" and "the message of YHWH. " It is the aim of this article to investigate the meaning of this expression in terms of the wordplay implied in its use, but also in terms of its inclusion in the collection of oracles concerning the prophets which contributes to the interpretation of this expression. Besides paying attention to the structure of the passage, the noticeable use of negative verbs and nouns will also be a point of discussion. Within the literary context created by this collection of oracles on the prophets composed in the Jeremiah tradition, this final passage (23:33-40) seems to express the culmination of frustration with the prophets and the people of Judah. The cycle commences by condemning the adulterous conduct of the prophets, followed by criticism of their flawed theology. Further criticism comprised the fact that they acted as prophets without divine sanction, as well as their dubious modes of receiving their messages (dreams). In the final passage the criticism climaxes in the rejection of the prophets in particular for disobeying a direct order from YHWH not to say massä' Yhwh. The prophets have gravely overstepped their boundaries by doing so, with dire consequences for them, the city and the people of Judah.