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Jeremiah 14:18

Context

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. 1 

For both prophet and priest go about their own business

in the land without having any real understanding.’” 2 

Jeremiah 25:33

Context

25:33 Those who have been killed by the Lord at that time

will be scattered from one end of the earth to the other.

They will not be mourned over, gathered up, or buried. 3 

Their dead bodies will lie scattered over the ground like manure.

Jeremiah 51:49

Context

51:49 “Babylon must fall 4 

because of the Israelites she has killed, 5 

just as the earth’s mortally wounded fell

because of Babylon. 6 

1 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.

2 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.

sn For the “business” of the prophets and priest see 2:8; 5:13; 6:13; 8:10. In the context it refers to the prophets prophesying lies (see vv. 13-15).

3 sn The intent here is to emphasize the large quantity of those who are killed – there will be too many to insure proper mourning rites and proper burial.

4 tn The infinitive construct is used here to indicate what is about to take place. See IBHS 610 §36.2.3g.

5 tn Heb “the slain of Israel.” The words “because of” are supplied in the translation for clarification. The preceding context makes it clear that Babylon would be judged for its atrocities against Israel (see especially 50:33-34; 51:10, 24, 35).

6 tn The juxtaposition of גַםגַם (gam...gam), often “both…and,” here indicates correspondence. See BDB 169 s.v. גַּם 4. Appropriately Babylon will fall slain just as her victims, including God’s covenant people, did.



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