14:2 “The people of Judah are in mourning.
The people in her cities are pining away.
They lie on the ground expressing their sorrow. 4
14:3 The leading men of the cities send their servants for water.
They go to the cisterns, 7 but they do not find any water there.
They return with their containers 8 empty.
Disappointed and dismayed, they bury their faces in their hands. 9
because there has been no rain in the land.
The farmers, too, are dismayed
and bury their faces in their hands.
because there is no grass.
14:6 Wild donkeys stand on the hilltops
and pant for breath like jackals.
Their eyes are strained looking for food,
because there is none to be found.” 12
“O Lord, intervene for the honor of your name 14
even though our sins speak out against us. 15
Indeed, 16 we have turned away from you many times.
We have sinned against you.
14:8 You have been the object of Israel’s hopes.
You have saved them when they were in trouble.
Why have you become like a resident foreigner 17 in the land?
Why have you become like a traveler who only stops in to spend the night?
like a champion 19 who cannot save anyone?
You are indeed with us, 20
and we belong to you. 21
Do not abandon us!”
“They truly 23 love to go astray.
They cannot keep from running away from me. 24
So I am not pleased with them.
and punish them for their sins.”
14:11 Then the Lord said to me, “Do not pray for good to come to these people! 27 14:12 Even if they fast, I will not hear their cries for help. Even if they offer burnt offerings and grain offerings, I will not accept them. 28 Instead, I will kill them through wars, famines, and plagues.” 29
14:13 Then I said, “Oh, Lord God, 30 look! 31 The prophets are telling them that you said, 32 ‘You will not experience war or suffer famine. 33 I will give you lasting peace and prosperity in this land.’” 34
14:14 Then the Lord said to me, “Those prophets are prophesying lies while claiming my authority! 35 I did not send them. I did not commission them. 36 I did not speak to them. They are prophesying to these people false visions, worthless predictions, 37 and the delusions of their own mind. 14:15 I did not send those prophets, though they claim to be prophesying in my name. They may be saying, ‘No war or famine will happen in this land.’ But I, the Lord, say this about 38 them: ‘War and starvation will kill those prophets.’ 39 14:16 The people to whom they are prophesying will die through war and famine. Their bodies will be thrown out into the streets of Jerusalem 40 and there will be no one to bury them. This will happen to the men and their wives, their sons, and their daughters. 41 For I will pour out on them the destruction they deserve.” 42
‘My eyes overflow with tears
day and night without ceasing. 44
For my people, my dear children, 45 have suffered a crushing blow.
They have suffered a serious wound. 46
14:18 If I go out into the countryside,
I see those who have been killed in battle.
If I go into the city,
I see those who are sick because of starvation. 47
For both prophet and priest go about their own business
in the land without having any real understanding.’” 48
1 sn The form of Jer 14:1–15:9 is very striking rhetorically. It consists essentially of laments and responses to them. However, what makes it so striking is its deviation from normal form (cf. 2 Chr 20:5-17 for what would normally be expected). The descriptions of the lamentable situation come from the mouth of God not the people (cf.14:1-6, 17-18). The prophet utters the petitions with statements of trust (14:7-9, 19-22) and the
2 tn Heb “That which came [as] the word of the
4 tn Heb “Judah mourns, its gates pine away, they are in mourning on the ground.” There are several figures of speech involved here. The basic figure is that of personification where Judah and it cities are said to be in mourning. However, in the third line the figure is a little hard to sustain because “they” are in mourning on the ground. That presses the imagination of most moderns a little too far. Hence the personification has been interpreted “people of” throughout. The term “gates” here is used as part for whole for the “cities” themselves as in several other passages in the OT (cf. BDB 1045 s.v. שַׁעַר 2.b, c and see, e.g., Isa 14:31).
5 tn The words “to me” are not in the text. They are implicit from the fact that the
7 tn Though the concept of “cisterns” is probably not familiar to some readers, it would be a mistake to translate this word as “well.” Wells have continual sources of water. Cisterns were pits dug in the ground and lined with plaster to hold rain water. The drought had exhausted all the water in the cisterns.
8 tn The word “containers” is a generic word in Hebrew = “vessels.” It would probably in this case involve water “jars” or “jugs.” But since in contemporary English one would normally associate those terms with smaller vessels, “containers” may be safer.
9 tn Heb “they cover their heads.” Some of the English versions have gone wrong here because of the “normal” use of the words translated here “disappointed” and “dismayed.” They are regularly translated “ashamed” and “disgraced, humiliated, dismayed” elsewhere (see e.g., Jer 22:22); they are somewhat synonymous terms which are often parallel or combined. The key here, however, is the expression “they cover their heads” which is used in 2 Sam 15:30 for the expression of grief. Moreover, the word translated here “disappointed” (בּוֹשׁ, bosh) is used that way several times. See for example Jer 12:13 and consult examples in BDB 101 s.v. בּוֹשׁ Qal.2. A very similar context with the same figure is found in Jer 2:36-37.
10 tn For the use of the verb “is cracked” here see BDB 369 s.v. חָתַת Qal.1 and compare the usage in Jer 51:56 where it refers to broken bows. The form is a relative clause without relative pronoun (cf., GKC 486-87 §155.f). The sentence as a whole is related to the preceding through a particle meaning “because of” or “on account of.” Hence the subject and verb have been repeated to make the connection.
11 tn Heb “she gives birth and abandons.”
12 tn Heb “their eyes are strained because there is no verdure.”
13 tn The words “Then I said” are not in the text. However, it cannot be a continuation of the
14 tn Heb “Act for the sake of your name.” The usage of “act” in this absolute, unqualified sense cf. BDB 794 s.v. עָוֹשָׂה Qal.I.r and compare the usage, e.g., in 1 Kgs 8:32 and 39. For the nuance of “for the sake of your name” compare the usage in Isa 48:9 and Ezek 20:9, 14.
15 tn Or “bear witness against us,” or “can be used as evidence against us,” to keep the legal metaphor. Heb “testify against.”
16 tn The Hebrew particle כִּי (ki) can scarcely be causal here; it is either intensive (BDB 472 s.v. כִּי 1.e) or concessive (BDB 473 s.v. כִּי 2.c). The parallel usage in Gen 18:20 argues for the intensive force as does the fact that the concessive has already been expressed by אִם (’im).
17 tn It would be a mistake to translate this word as “stranger.” This word (גֵּר, ger) refers to a resident alien or resident foreigner who stays in a country not his own. He is accorded the privilege of protection through the common rights of hospitality but he does not have the rights of the native born or citizen. The simile here is particularly effective. The land was the
18 tn This is the only time this word occurs in the Hebrew Bible. The lexicons generally take it to mean “confused” or “surprised” (cf., e.g., BDB 187 s.v. דָּהַם). However, the word has been found in a letter from the seventh century in a passage where it must mean something like “be helpless”; see W. L. Holladay, Jeremiah (Hermeneia), 1:433, for discussion and bibliography of an article where this letter is dealt with.
20 tn Heb “in our midst.”
22 tn Heb “Thus said the
23 tn It is difficult to be certain how the particle כֵּן (ken, usually used for “thus, so”) is to be rendered here. BDB 485 s.v. כֵּן 1.b says that the force sometimes has to be elicited from the general context and points back to the line of v. 9. IHBS 666 §39.3.4e states that when there is no specific comparative clause preceding a general comparison is intended. They point to Judg 5:31 as a parallel. Ps 127:2 may also be an example if כִּי (ki) is not to be read (cf. BHS fn). “Truly” seemed the best way to render this idea in contemporary English.
24 tn Heb “They do not restrain their feet.” The idea of “away from me” is implicit in the context and is supplied in the translation for clarity.
25 tn Heb “remember.”
26 tn Heb “their iniquities.”
27 tn Heb “on behalf of these people for benefit.”
29 tn Heb “through sword, starvation, and plague.”
sn These were penalties (curses) that were to be imposed on Israel for failure to keep her covenant with God (cf. Lev 26:23-26). These three occur together fourteen other times in the book of Jeremiah.
30 tn Heb “Lord Yahweh.” The translation follows the ancient Jewish tradition of substituting the Hebrew word for God for the proper name Yahweh.
32 tn The words “that you said” are not in the text but are implicit from the first person in the affirmation that follows. They are supplied in the translation for clarity.
33 tn Heb “You will not see sword and you will not have starvation [or hunger].”
34 tn Heb “I will give you unfailing peace in this place.” The translation opts for “peace and prosperity” here for the word שָׁלוֹם (shalom) because in the context it refers both to peace from war and security from famine and plague. The word translated “lasting” (אֱמֶת, ’emet) is a difficult to render here because it has broad uses: “truth, reliability, stability, steadfastness,” etc. “Guaranteed” or “lasting” seem to fit the context the best.
35 tn Heb “Falsehood those prophets are prophesying in my name.” In the OT, the “name” reflected the person’s character (cf. Gen 27:36; 1 Sam 25:25) or his reputation (Gen 11:4; 2 Sam 8:13). To speak in someone’s name was to act as his representative or carry his authority (1 Sam 25:9; 1 Kgs 21:8).
37 tn Heb “divination and worthlessness.” The noun “worthlessness” stands as a qualifying “of” phrase (= to an adjective; an attributive genitive in Hebrew) after a noun in Zech 11:17; Job 13:4. This is an example of hendiadys where two nouns are joined by “and” with one serving as the qualifier of the other.
sn The word translated “predictions” here is really the word “divination.” Divination was prohibited in Israel (cf. Deut 18:10, 14). The practice of divination involved various mechanical means to try to predict the future. The word was used here for its negative connotations in a statement that is rhetorically structured to emphasize the falseness of the promises of the false prophets. It would be unnatural to contemporary English style to try to capture this emphasis in English. In the Hebrew text the last sentence reads: “False vision, divination, and worthlessness and the deceitfulness of their heart they are prophesying to them.” For the emphasis in the preceding sentence see the note there.
38 tn Heb “Thus says the
39 tn Heb “Thus says the
sn The rhetoric of the passage is again sustained by an emphatic word order which contrasts what they say will not happen to the land, “war and famine,” with the punishment that the
41 tn Heb “And the people to whom they are prophesying will be thrown out into the streets of Jerusalem and there will not be anyone to bury them, they, their wives, and their sons and their daughters.” This sentence has been restructured to break up a long Hebrew sentence and to avoid some awkwardness due to differences in the ancient Hebrew and contemporary English styles.
42 tn Heb “their evil.” Hebrew words often include within them a polarity of cause and effect. Thus the word for “evil” includes both the concept of wickedness and the punishment for it. Other words that function this way are “iniquity” = “guilt [of iniquity]” = “punishment [for iniquity].” Context determines which nuance is proper.
44 tn Many of the English versions and commentaries render this an indirect or third person imperative, “Let my eyes overflow…” because of the particle אַל (’al) which introduces the phrase translated “without ceasing” (אַל־תִּדְמֶינָה, ’al-tidmenah). However, this is undoubtedly an example where the particle introduces an affirmation that something cannot be done (cf. GKC 322 §109.e). Clear examples of this are found in Pss 41:2 (41:3 HT); 50:3; Job 40:32 (41:8). God here is describing again a lamentable situation and giving his response to it. See 14:1-6 above.
sn Once again it is the
45 tn Heb “virgin daughter, my people.” The last noun here is appositional to the first two (genitive of apposition). Hence it is not ‘literally’ “virgin daughter of my people.”
sn This is a metaphor which occurs several times with regard to Israel, Judah, Zion, and even Sidon and Babylon. It is the poetic personification of the people, the city, or the land. Like other metaphors the quality of the comparison being alluded to must be elicited from the context. This is easy in Isa 23:12 (oppressed) and Isa 47:1 (soft and delicate) but not so easy in other places. From the nature of the context the suspicion here is that the protection the virgin was normally privileged to is being referred to and there is a reminder that the people are forfeiting it by their actions. Hence God laments for them.
46 tn This is a poetic personification. To translate with the plural “serious wounds” might mislead some into thinking of literal wounds.
sn Compare Jer 10:19 for a similar use of this metaphor.
47 tn The word “starvation” has been translated “famine” elsewhere in this passage. It is the word which refers to hunger. The “starvation” here may be war induced and not simply that which comes from famine per se. “Starvation” will cover both.
48 tn The meaning of these last two lines is somewhat uncertain. The meaning of these two lines is debated because of the uncertainty of the meaning of the verb rendered “go about their business” (סָחַר, sakhar) and the last phrase translated here “without any real understanding.” The verb in question most commonly occurs as a participle meaning “trader” or “merchant” (cf., e.g., Ezek 27:21, 36; Prov 31:14). It occurs as a finite verb elsewhere only in Gen 34:10, 21; 42:34 and there in a literal sense of “trading,” “doing business.” While the nuance is metaphorical here it need not extend to “journeying into” (cf., e.g., BDB 695 s.v. סָחַר Qal.1) and be seen as a reference to exile as is sometimes assumed. That seems at variance with the causal particle which introduces this clause, the tense of the verb, and the surrounding context. People are dying in the land (vv. 17-18a) not because prophet and priest have gone (the verb is the Hebrew perfect or past) into exile but because prophet and priest have no true knowledge of God or the situation. The clause translated here “without having any real understanding” (Heb “and they do not know”) is using the verb in the absolute sense indicated in BDB 394 s.v. יָדַע Qal.5 and illustrated in Isa 1:3; 56:10. For a more thorough discussion of the issues one may consult W. McKane, Jeremiah (ICC), 1:330-31.