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Behold, the sound of the cry of the daughter of my people
from a far away land:
is not Yahweh in Zion?
Is not her King in her?
Why do they anger me
with their carved images
and with foreign idols? Bible other translations

“from a far away land.” The meaning of the Hebrew text is not certain. It is possible that the text means a far away land, which in this case would refer to Babylon. However, the text may also refer to the furthest parts of the land of Israel (cp. ESV, NAB, NJB, NLT). However, the cry and question about why the Judeans would have idols is universal.

“idols.” The Hebrew is hard to bring into English, because the Hebrew word is the same is as translated “pointless” in Ecclesiastes 1:2 (“vanity” in the KJV). A very literal translation of the Hebrew might be “pointlessnesses,” but that would not mean much in English. One could say “vapors,” or “vanities,” but again, that would not communicate well. One could also say “worthless things,” but that would not necessarily mean “idols” to the average reader. The best solution seems to be to just say “idols,” as many modern versions do, and then explain the meaning in the commentary. Idols cannot save. They are worthless, pointless, futile, a temporary vapor, and God calls them just that.


Commentary for: Jeremiah 8:19