O Yahweh, the hope of Israel,
all who forsake you
will be put to shame.
Those who depart from you
will be written in the dirt,
because they have forsaken Yahweh,
the spring of living water, Bible other translations

“written in the dirt.” Anything written in the dirt or dust of the earth in Israel soon disappears. The righteous are written in the Book of Life and will live forever (cp. Exod. 32:32; Dan. 12:1; Ps. 69:28; Phil. 4:3; Rev. 3:5; 13:8; 17:8; 20:12, 15; 21:27; 22:19). Those people who are not saved will die a second death in the lake of fire (Rev. 20:11-15). The unsaved do not burn forever, as is taught by some Christian denominations, but are burned up and die a second death. Jeremiah 17:13 is just one more piece of evidence revealing that fact. The saved are written in the Book of Life, but the unsaved are written in the dust, and like their names in the dust, which are written down but soon disappear, the wicked die in the lake of fire and are gone forever; annihilated.

The Hebrew can be translated such that “dirt” refers to the land, making the sense become “all in the land who depart from you.” The NASB goes that way: “Those who turn away on earth will be written down, Because they have forsaken the fountain of living water.” However, the Bible says that people’s deeds are written down anyway, so that translation, while grammatically justifiable, does not seem to fit with the rest of Scripture (Exod. 32:32-33; Mal. 3:16-17; Rev. 20:12). On the other hand, that the wicked will disappear from history and memory is written many places in Scripture.

[For more on the annihilation of the wicked, see Appendix 5, “Annihilation in the Lake of Fire”].

“living water.” “Living water” was water that was used for ritual cleansing from sin and impurity. Living water came from God, and thus included rain water, well water, and water from a flowing river or stream. Water that sat in a cistern was not living water. [For more on living water, see commentary on Num. 19:17].

Commentary for: Jeremiah 17:13