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Jeremiah 13:19-20

Context

13:19 The gates of the towns in southern Judah will be shut tight. 1 

No one will be able to go in or out of them. 2 

All Judah will be carried off into exile.

They will be completely carried off into exile.’” 3 

13:20 Then I said, 4 

“Look up, Jerusalem, 5  and see

the enemy 6  that is coming from the north.

Where now is the flock of people that were entrusted to your care? 7 

Where now are the ‘sheep’ that you take such pride in? 8 

1 tn Heb “The towns of the Negev will be shut.”

2 tn Heb “There is no one to open them.” The translation is based on the parallel in Josh 6:1 where the very expression in the translation is used. Opening the city would have permitted entrance (of relief forces) as well as exit (of fugitives).

3 sn The statements are poetic exaggerations (hyperbole), as most commentaries note. Even in the exile of 587 b.c. not “all” of the people of Jerusalem or of Judah were exiled. Cf. the context of 2 Kgs 24:14-16 again.

4 tn The words “Then I said” are not in the text. They are supplied in the translation to show the shift in speaker from vv. 18-19 where the Lord is speaking to Jeremiah.

5 tn The word “Jerusalem” is not in the Hebrew text. It is added in the Greek text and is generally considered to be the object of address because of the second feminine singular verbs here and throughout the following verses. The translation follows the consonantal text (Kethib) and the Greek text in reading the second feminine singular here. The verbs and pronouns in vv. 20-22 are all second feminine singular with the exception of the suffix on the word “eyes” which is not reflected in the translation here (“Look up” = “Lift up your eyes”) and the verb and pronoun in v. 23. The text may reflect the same kind of alternation between singular and plural that takes place in Isa 7 where the pronouns refer to Ahaz as an individual and his entourage, the contemporary ruling class (cf., e.g., Isa 7:4-5 [singular], 9 [plural], 11 [singular], 13-14 [plural]). Here the connection with the preceding may suggest that it is initially the ruling house (the king and the queen mother), then Jerusalem personified as a woman in her role as a shepherdess (i.e., leader). However, from elsewhere in the book the leadership has included the kings, the priests, the prophets, and the citizens as well (cf., e.g., 13:13). In v. 27 Jerusalem is explicitly addressed. It may be asking too much of some readers who are not familiar with biblical metaphors to understand an extended metaphor like this. If it is helpful to them, they may substitute plural referents for “I” and “me.”

6 tn The word “enemy” is not in the text but is implicit. It supplied in the translation for clarity.

sn On the phrase the enemy that is coming from the north see Jer 1:14-15; 4:6; 6:1, 22; 10:22.

7 tn Heb “the flock that was given to you.”

8 tn Heb “the sheep of your pride.” The word “of your people” and the quotes around “sheep” are intended to carry over the metaphor in such a way that readers unfamiliar with the metaphor will understand it.



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