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.
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).