The Anti-Yahweh Label laššāw’ in Jeremiah (PART 2)


Term laššāw’

How to Cite

Retief, C. W. (2022). The Anti-Yahweh Label laššāw’ in Jeremiah (PART 2). Old Testament Essays, 35(1), 128–139. Retrieved from


The traditional stance is that לשׁוא in Jeremiah (2:30; 4:30; 6:29; 18:15 and 46:11) denotes futility, mostly translated as “in vain.” This study, the second of a sequel, scrutinises the last two texts (Jer 18:15 and 46:11) in an effort to substantiate and modify a recent hypothesis that the term is instead a reference to the god Baal, “The Vain/Worthless One.” Jeremiah 18:15 has an interpretative tradition that acknowledges לשׁוא as a referent to the (worthless) idols. The present study offers a basis for this interpretation. As Egypt (in Jer 46) can hardly be connected to Baal worship, 46:11 modifies the notion that לשׁוא functions as an identifier of the god Baal per se and confirms the wisdom of ancient translators of Jer 18:15 who labelled לשׁוא as unspecified deities. The traditional stance that לשׁוא denotes futility, could only be refuted in 46:11 by a search for intertextual clues, alertness to connecting metaphors and accompanying gender switches. These are the very same rhetorical devices illustrated in Mary Shields’ study of Jer 3:1–4:4. The title of her work harbours the insight that לשׁוא in 46:11, and by implication in all MT Jeremiah texts, serves as a dense metaphor circumscribing the prostitute-in-covenant-relationship with her (collective or individual) overlord/s (ba‘al/be‘alîm).


Authors who publish with this journal agree to the following terms:

  1. Authors retain copyright and grant the journal right of first publication with the work simultaneously licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution License that allows others to share the work with an acknowledgement of the work's authorship and initial publication in this journal.
  2. Authors are able to enter into separate, additional contractual arrangements for the non-exclusive distribution of the journal's published version of the work (e.g., post it to an institutional repository or publish it in a book), with an acknowledgement of its initial publication in this journal.
  3. Authors are permitted and encouraged to post their work online (e.g., in institutional repositories or on their website) prior to and during the submission process, as it can lead to productive exchanges, as well as earlier and greater citation of published work (See The Effect of Open Access).