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Jeremiah 14:1--15:21

Context
A Lament over the Ravages of Drought 1 

14:1 The Lord spoke to Jeremiah 2  about the drought. 3 

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 

Cries of distress come up to me 5  from Jerusalem. 6 

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 

14:4 They are dismayed because the ground is cracked 10 

because there has been no rain in the land.

The farmers, too, are dismayed

and bury their faces in their hands.

14:5 Even the doe abandons her newborn fawn 11  in the field

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 

14:7 Then I said, 13 

“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?

14:9 Why should you be like someone who is helpless, 18 

like a champion 19  who cannot save anyone?

You are indeed with us, 20 

and we belong to you. 21 

Do not abandon us!”

14:10 Then the Lord spoke about these people. 22 

“They truly 23  love to go astray.

They cannot keep from running away from me. 24 

So I am not pleased with them.

I will now call to mind 25  the wrongs they have done 26 

and punish them for their sins.”

Judgment for Believing the Misleading Lies of the False Prophets

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 

Lament over Present Destruction and Threat of More to Come

14:17 “Tell these people this, Jeremiah: 43 

‘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 

14:19 Then I said,

Lord, 49  have you completely rejected the nation of Judah?

Do you despise 50  the city of Zion?

Why have you struck us with such force

that we are beyond recovery? 51 

We hope for peace, but nothing good has come of it.

We hope for a time of relief from our troubles, but experience terror. 52 

14:20 Lord, we confess that we have been wicked.

We confess that our ancestors have done wrong. 53 

We have indeed 54  sinned against you.

14:21 For the honor of your name, 55  do not treat Jerusalem 56  with contempt.

Do not treat with disdain the place where your glorious throne sits. 57 

Be mindful of your covenant with us. Do not break it! 58 

14:22 Do any of the worthless idols 59  of the nations cause rain to fall?

Do the skies themselves send showers?

Is it not you, O Lord our God, who does this? 60 

So we put our hopes in you 61 

because you alone do all this.”

15:1 Then the Lord said to me, “Even if Moses and Samuel stood before me pleading for 62  these people, I would not feel pity for them! 63  Get them away from me! Tell them to go away! 64  15:2 If they ask you, ‘Where should we go?’ tell them the Lord says this:

“Those who are destined to die of disease will go to death by disease.

Those who are destined to die in war will go to death in war.

Those who are destined to die of starvation will go to death by starvation.

Those who are destined to go into exile will go into exile.” 65 

15:3 “I will punish them in four different ways: I will have war kill them. I will have dogs drag off their dead bodies. I will have birds and wild beasts devour and destroy their corpses. 66  15:4 I will make all the people in all the kingdoms of the world horrified at what has happened to them because of what Hezekiah’s son Manasseh, king of Judah, did in Jerusalem.” 67 

15:5 The Lord cried out, 68 

“Who in the world 69  will have pity on you, Jerusalem?

Who will grieve over you?

Who will stop long enough 70 

to inquire about how you are doing? 71 

15:6 I, the Lord, say: 72  ‘You people have deserted me!

You keep turning your back on me.’ 73 

So I have unleashed my power against you 74  and have begun to destroy you. 75 

I have grown tired of feeling sorry for you!” 76 

15:7 The Lord continued, 77 

“In every town in the land I will purge them

like straw blown away by the wind. 78 

I will destroy my people.

I will kill off their children.

I will do so because they did not change their behavior. 79 

15:8 Their widows will become in my sight more numerous 80 

than the grains of sand on the seashores.

At noontime I will bring a destroyer

against the mothers of their young men. 81 

I will cause anguish 82  and terror

to fall suddenly upon them. 83 

15:9 The mother who had seven children 84  will grow faint.

All the breath will go out of her. 85 

Her pride and joy will be taken from her in the prime of their life.

It will seem as if the sun had set while it was still day. 86 

She will suffer shame and humiliation. 87 

I will cause any of them who are still left alive

to be killed in war by the onslaughts of their enemies,” 88 

says the Lord.

Jeremiah Complains about His Lot and The Lord Responds

15:10 I said, 89 

“Oh, mother, how I regret 90  that you ever gave birth to me!

I am always starting arguments and quarrels with the people of this land. 91 

I have not lent money to anyone and I have not borrowed from anyone.

Yet all of these people are treating me with contempt.” 92 

15:11 The Lord said,

“Jerusalem, 93  I will surely send you away for your own good.

I will surely 94  bring the enemy upon you in a time of trouble and distress.

15:12 Can you people who are like iron and bronze

break that iron fist from the north? 95 

15:13 I will give away your wealth and your treasures as plunder.

I will give it away free of charge for the sins you have committed throughout your land.

15:14 I will make you serve your enemies 96  in a land that you know nothing about.

For my anger is like a fire that will burn against you.”

15:15 I said, 97 

Lord, you know how I suffer. 98 

Take thought of me and care for me.

Pay back for me those who have been persecuting me.

Do not be so patient with them that you allow them to kill me.

Be mindful of how I have put up with their insults for your sake.

15:16 As your words came to me I drank them in, 99 

and they filled my heart with joy and happiness

because I belong to you. 100 

15:17 I did not spend my time in the company of other people,

laughing and having a good time.

I stayed to myself because I felt obligated to you 101 

and because I was filled with anger at what they had done.

15:18 Why must I continually suffer such painful anguish?

Why must I endure the sting of their insults like an incurable wound?

Will you let me down when I need you

like a brook one goes to for water, but that cannot be relied on?” 102 

15:19 Because of this, the Lord said, 103 

“You must repent of such words and thoughts!

If you do, I will restore you to the privilege of serving me. 104 

If you say what is worthwhile instead of what is worthless,

I will again allow you to be my spokesman. 105 

They must become as you have been.

You must not become like them. 106 

15:20 I will make you as strong as a wall to these people,

a fortified wall of bronze.

They will attack you,

but they will not be able to overcome you.

For I will be with you to rescue you and deliver you,” 107 

says the Lord.

15:21 “I will deliver you from the power of the wicked.

I will free you from the clutches of violent people.”

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 Lord answers not with oracles promising deliverance but promising doom (14:10; 15:1-9). In the course of giving the first oracle of doom, the Lord commands Jeremiah not to pray for the people (14:11-12) and Jeremiah tries to provide an excuse for their actions (14:13). The Lord responds to that with an oracle of doom on the false prophets (14:14-16).

2 tn Heb “That which came [as] the word of the Lord to Jeremiah.” The introductory formula here is a variation of that found in 7:1; 10:1; 11:1, i.e., “The word of the Lord which came to Jeremiah.” The relative pronoun “which” (אֲשֶׁר, ’asher) actually precedes the noun it modifies. See BDB 82 s.v. אֲשֶׁר 6.a for discussion and further examples.

3 sn Drought was one of the punishments for failure to adhere to the terms of their covenant with God. See Deut 28:22-24; Lev 26:18-20.

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 Lord is speaking. They are supplied in the translation for clarity.

6 map For location see Map5 B1; Map6 F3; Map7 E2; Map8 F2; Map10 B3; JP1 F4; JP2 F4; JP3 F4; JP4 F4.

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 Lord’s speech and the people have consistently refused to acknowledge their sin. The fact that the prayer here and in vv. 19-22 are followed by an address from God to Jeremiah regarding prayer (cf. 4:11 and the interchanges there between God and Jeremiah and 15:1) also argues that the speaker is Jeremiah. He is again identifying with his people (cf. 8:18-9:2). Here he takes up the petition part of the lament which often contains elements of confession of sin and statements of trust. In 14:1-6 God portrays to Jeremiah the people’s lamentable plight instead of their describing it to him. Here Jeremiah prays what they should pray. The people are strangely silent throughout.

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 Lord’s land; they were but resident foreigners and tenants on it (Lev 25:23). Jeremiah’s complaint here is particularly bold. For further information on the status of “resident foreigners” see IDB 4:397-99 s.v. “Sojourner.”

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.

19 tn Heb “mighty man, warrior.” For this nuance see 1 Sam 17:51 where it parallels a technical term used of Goliath used earlier in 17:4, 23.

20 tn Heb “in our midst.”

21 tn Heb “Your name is called upon us.” See Jer 7:10, 11, 14, 30 for this idiom with respect to the temple and see the notes on Jer 7:10.

22 tn Heb “Thus said the Lord concerning this people.”

sn The Lord answers indirectly, speaking neither to Jeremiah directly nor to the people. Instead of an oracle of deliverance which was hoped for (cf. 2 Chr 20:14-17; Pss 12:5 [12:6 HT]; 60:6-8 [60:8-10 HT]) there is an oracle of doom.

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.”

28 sn See 6:16-20 for parallels.

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.

31 tn Heb “Behold.” See the translator’s note on usage of this particle in 1:6.

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).

36 tn Heb “I did not command them.” Compare 1 Chr 22:12 for usage.

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 Lord about.” The first person construction has been used in the translation for better English style.

39 tn Heb “Thus says the Lord concerning the prophets who are prophesying in my name and I did not send them [= whom I did not send] and they are saying [= who are saying], ‘Sword and famine…’, by sword and famine those prophets will be killed.” This sentence has been restructured to conform to contemporary English style.

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 Lord will inflict on them, i.e., “war and starvation [or famine].”

40 map For location see Map5 B1; Map6 F3; Map7 E2; Map8 F2; Map10 B3; JP1 F4; JP2 F4; JP3 F4; JP4 F4.

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.

43 tn The word “Jeremiah” is not in the text but the address is to a second person singular and is a continuation of 14:14 where the quote starts. The word is supplied in the translation for clarity.

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 Lord lamenting the plight of the people, now directed to them, not the people lamenting their plight to him. See 14:1-6 and the study notes on the introduction to this section and on 14:7.

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.

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).

49 tn The words, “Then I said, ‘Lord” are not in the Hebrew text. It is obvious from the context that the Lord is addressee. The question of the identity of the speaker is the same as that raised in vv. 7-9 and the arguments set forth there are applicable here as well. Jeremiah is here identifying with the people and doing what they refuse to do, i.e., confess their sins and express their trust in him.

50 tn Heb “does your soul despise.” Here as in many places the word “soul” stands as part for whole for the person himself emphasizing emotional and volitional aspects of the person. However, in contemporary English one does not regularly speak of the “soul” in contexts such as this but of the person.

sn There is probably a subtle allusion to the curses called down on the nation for failure to keep their covenant with God. The word used here is somewhat rare (גָּעַל, gaal). It is used of Israel’s rejection of God’s stipulations and of God’s response to their rejection of him and his stipulations in Lev 26:11, 15, 30, 43-44. That the allusion is intended is probable when account is taken of the last line of v. 21.

51 tn Heb “Why have you struck us and there is no healing for us.” The statement involves poetic exaggeration (hyperbole) for rhetorical effect.

52 tn Heb “[We hope] for a time of healing but behold terror.”

sn The last two lines of this verse are repeated word for word from 8:15. There they are spoken by the people.

53 tn Heb “We acknowledge our wickedness [and] the iniquity of our [fore]fathers.” For the use of the word “know” to mean “confess,” “acknowledge” cf. BDB 394 s.v. יָדַע, Qal.1.f and compare the usage in Jer 3:13.

sn For a longer example of an individual identifying with the nation and confessing their sins and the sins of their forefathers see Ps 106.

54 tn This is another example of the intensive use of כִּי (ki). See BDB 472 s.v. כִּי 1.e.

55 tn Heb “For the sake of your name.”

56 map For location see Map5 B1; Map6 F3; Map7 E2; Map8 F2; Map10 B3; JP1 F4; JP2 F4; JP3 F4; JP4 F4.

57 tn English versions quite commonly supply “us” as an object for the verb in the first line. This is probably wrong. The Hebrew text reads: “Do not treat with contempt for the sake of your name; do not treat with disdain your glorious throne.” This is case of poetic parallelism where the object is left hanging until the second line. For an example of this see Prov 13:1 in the original and consult E. W. Bullinger, Figures of Speech, 103-4. There has also been some disagreement whether “your glorious throne” refers to the temple (as in 17:12) or Jerusalem (as in 3:17). From the beginning of the prayer in v. 19 where a similar kind of verb has been used with respect to Zion/Jerusalem it would appear that the contextual referent is Jerusalem. The absence of an object from the first line makes it possible to retain part of the metaphor in the translation and still convey some meaning.

sn The place of God’s glorious throne was first of all the ark of the covenant where God was said to be enthroned between the cherubim, then the temple that housed it, then the city itself. See 2 Kgs 19:14-15 in the context of Sennacherib’s attack on Jerusalem.

58 tn Heb “Remember, do not break your covenant with us.”

59 tn The word הֶבֶל (hevel), often translated “vanities”, is a common pejorative epithet for idols or false gods. See already in 8:19 and 10:8.

60 tn Heb “Is it not you, O Lord our God?” The words “who does” are supplied in the translation for English style.

61 tn The rhetorical negatives are balanced by a rhetorical positive.

62 tn The words “pleading for” have been supplied in the translation to explain the idiom (a metonymy). For parallel usage see BDB 763 s.v. עָמַד Qal.1.a and compare usage in Gen 19:27, Deut 4:10.

sn Moses and Samuel were well-known for their successful intercession on behalf of Israel. See Ps 99:6-8 and see, e.g., Exod 32:11-14, 30-34; 1 Sam 7:5-9. The Lord is here rejecting Jeremiah’s intercession on behalf of the people (14:19-22).

63 tn Heb “my soul would not be toward them.” For the usage of “soul” presupposed here see BDB 660 s.v. נֶפֶשׁ 6 in the light of the complaints and petitions in Jeremiah’s prayer in 14:19, 21.

64 tn Heb “Send them away from my presence and let them go away.”

65 tn It is difficult to render the rhetorical force of this passage in meaningful English. The text answers the question “Where should we go?” with four brief staccato-like expressions with a play on the preposition “to”: Heb “Who to the death, to the death and who to the sword, to the sword and who to the starvation, to the starvation and who to the captivity, to the captivity.” The word “death” here is commonly understood to be a poetic substitute for “plague” because of the standard trio of sword, famine, and plague (see, e.g., 14:12 and the notes there). This is likely here and in 18:21. For further support see W. L. Holladay, Jeremiah (Hermeneia), 1:440. The nuance “starvation” rather than “famine” has been chosen in the translation because the referents here are all things that accompany war.

66 tn The translation attempts to render in understandable English some rather unusual uses of terms here. The verb translated “punish” is often used that way (cf. BDB 823 s.v. פָּקַד Qal.A.3 and compare usage in Jer 11:22, 13:21). However, here it is accompanied by a direct object and a preposition meaning “over” which is usually used in the sense of appointing someone over someone (cf. BDB 823 s.v. פָּקַד Qal.B.1 and compare usage in Jer 51:27). Moreover the word translated “different ways” normally refers to “families,” “clans,” or “guilds” (cf. BDB 1046-47 s.v. מִשְׁפָּחָה for usage). Hence the four things mentioned are referred to figuratively as officers or agents into whose power the Lord consigns them. The Hebrew text reads: “I will appoint over them four guilds, the sword to kill, the dogs to drag away, the birds of the skies and the beasts of the earth to devour and to destroy.”

67 tn The length of this sentence runs contrary to the normal policy followed in the translation of breaking up long sentences. However, there does not seem any way to break it up here without losing the connections.

sn For similar statements see 2 Kgs 23:26; 24:3-4 and for a description of what Manasseh did see 2 Kgs 21:1-16. Manasseh was the leader, but they willingly followed (cf. 2 Kgs 21:9).

68 tn The words “The Lord cried out” are not in the text. However, they are necessary to show the shift in address between speaking to Jeremiah in vv. 1-4 about the people and addressing Jerusalem in vv. 5-6 and the shift back to the address to Jeremiah in vv. 7-9. The words “oracle of the Lord” are, moreover, found at the beginning of v. 6.

69 tn The words, “in the world” are not in the text but are the translator’s way of trying to indicate that this rhetorical question expects a negative answer.

70 tn Heb “turn aside.”

71 tn Or “about your well-being”; Heb “about your welfare” (שָׁלוֹם, shalom).

72 tn Heb “oracle of the Lord.” In the original text this phrase is found between “you have deserted me” and “you keep turning your back on me.” It is put at the beginning and converted to first person for sake of English style and clarity.

73 tn Heb “you are going backward.” This is the only occurrence of this adverb with this verb. It is often used with another verb meaning “turn backward” (= abandon; Heb סוּג [sug] in the Niphal). For examples see Jer 38:22; 46:5. The only other occurrence in Jeremiah has been in the unusual idiom in 7:24 where it was translated “they got worse and worse instead of better.” That is how J. Bright (Jeremiah [AB], 109) translates it here. However it is translated, it has connotations of apostasy.

74 tn Heb “stretched out my hand against you.” For this idiom see notes on 6:12.

75 tn There is a difference of opinion on how the verbs here and in the following verses are to be rendered, whether past or future. KJV, NASB, NIV for example render them as future. ASV, RSV, TEV render them as past. NJPS has past here and future in vv. 7-9. This is perhaps the best solution. The imperfect + vav consecutive here responds to the perfect in the first line. The imperfects + vav consecutives followed by perfects in vv. 7-9 and concluded by an imperfect in v. 9 pick up the perfects + vav (ו) consecutives in vv. 3-4. Verses 7-9 are further development of the theme in vv. 1-4. Verses 5-6 have been an apostrophe or a turning aside to address Jerusalem directly. For a somewhat similar alternation of the tenses see Isa 5:14-17 and consult GKC 329-30 §111.w. One could of course argue that the imperfects + vav consecutive in vv. 7-9 continue the imperfect + vav consecutive here. In this case, vv. 7-9 are not a continuation of the oracle of doom but another lament by God (cf. 14:1-6, 17-18).

76 sn It is difficult to be sure what intertextual connections are intended by the author in his use of vocabulary. The Hebrew word translated “grown tired” is not very common. It has been used twice before. In 9:5-6b where it refers to the people being unable to repent and in 6:11 where it refers to Jeremiah being tired or unable to hold back his anger because of that inability. Now God too has worn out his patience with them (cf. Isa 7:13).

77 tn The words “The Lord continued” are not in the text. They have been supplied in the translation to show the shift back to talking about the people instead of addressing them. The obvious speaker is the Lord; the likely listener is Jeremiah as in vv. 1-4.

78 tn Heb “I have winnowed them with a winnowing fork in the gates of the land.” The word “gates” is here being used figuratively for the cities, the part for the whole. See 14:2 and the notes there.

sn Like straw blown away by the wind. A figurative use of the process of winnowing is referred to here. Winnowing was the process whereby a mixture of grain and straw was thrown up into the wind to separate the grain from the straw and the husks. The best description of the major steps in threshing and winnowing grain in the Bible is seen in another figurative passage in Isa 41:15-16.

79 tn Or “did not repent of their wicked ways”; Heb “They did not turn back from their ways.” There is no casual particle here (either כִּי [ki], which is more formally casual, or וְ [vÿ], which sometimes introduces casual circumstantial clauses). The causal idea is furnished by the connection of ideas. If the verbs throughout this section are treated as pasts and this section seen as a lament, then the clause could be sequential: “but they still did not turn…”

80 tn Heb “to me.” BDB 513 s.v. ל 5.a(d) compares the usage of the preposition “to” here to that in Jonah 3:3, “Nineveh was a very great city to God [in God’s estimation].” The NEB/REB interpret as though it were the agent after a passive verb, “I have made widows more numerous.” Most English versions ignore it. The present translation follows BDB though the emphasis on God’s agency has been strong in the passage.

81 tn The translation of this line is a little uncertain because of the double prepositional phrase which is not represented in this translation or most of the others. The Hebrew text reads: “I will bring in to them, against mother of young men, a destroyer at noon time.” Many commentaries delete the phrase with the Greek text. If the preposition read “against” like the following one this would be a case of apposition of nearer definition. There is some evidence of that in the Targum and the Syriac according to BHS. Both nouns “mothers” and “young men” are translated as plural here though they are singular; they are treated by most as collectives. It would be tempting to translate these two lines “In broad daylight I have brought destroyers against the mothers of her fallen young men.” But this may be too interpretive. In the light of 6:4, noontime was a good time to attack. NJPS has “I will bring against them – young men and mothers together – ….” In this case “mother” and “young men” would be a case of asyndetic coordination.

82 tn This word is used only here and in Hos 11:9. It is related to the root meaning “to rouse” (so BDB 735 s.v. I עִיר). Here it refers to the excitement or agitation caused by terror. In Hos 11:9 it refers to the excitement or arousal of anger.

83 tn The “them” in the Hebrew text is feminine referring to the mothers.

84 tn Heb “who gave birth to seven.”

sn To have seven children was considered a blessing and a source of pride and honor (Ruth 4:15; 1 Sam 2:5).

85 tn The meaning of this line is debated. Some understand this line to mean “she has breathed out her life” (cf., e.g., BDB 656 s.v. נָפַח and 656 s.v. ֶנפֶשׁ 1.c). However, as several commentaries have noted (e.g., W. McKane, Jeremiah [ICC], 1:341; J. Bright, Jeremiah [AB], 109) it makes little sense to talk about her suffering shame and embarrassment if she has breathed her last. Both the Greek and Latin versions understand “soul” not as the object but as the subject and the idea being one of fainting under despair. This idea seems likely in light of the parallelism. Bright suggests the phrase means either “she gasped out her breath” or “her throat gasped.” The former is more likely. One might also render “she fainted dead away,” but that idiom might not be familiar to all readers.

86 tn Heb “Her sun went down while it was still day.”

sn The sun was the source of light and hence has associations with life, prosperity, health, and blessing. The premature setting of the sun which brought these seems apropos as metaphor for the loss of her children which were not only a source of joy, help, and honor. Two references where “sun” is used figuratively, Ps 84:11 (84:12 HT) and Mal 4:2, may be helpful here.

87 sn She has lost her position of honor and the source of her pride. For the concepts here see 1 Sam 2:5.

88 tn Heb “I will deliver those of them that survive to the sword before their enemies.” The referent of “them” is ambiguous. Does it refer to the children of the widow (nearer context) or the people themselves (more remote context, v. 7)? Perhaps it was meant to include both. Verse seven spoke of the destruction of the people and the killing off of the children.

89 tn The words “I said” are not in the text. They are supplied in the translation for clarity to mark a shift in the speaker.

90 tn Heb “Woe to me, my mother.” See the comments on 4:13 and 10:19.

91 tn Heb “A man of strife and a man of contention with all the land.” The “of” relationship (Hebrew and Greek genitive) can convey either subjective or objective relationships, i.e., he instigates strife and contention or he is the object of it. A study of usage elsewhere, e.g., Isa 41:11; Job 31:35; Prov 12:19; 25:24; 26:21; 27:15, is convincing that it is subjective. In his role as God’s covenant messenger charging people with wrong doing he has instigated counterarguments and stirred about strife and contention against him.

92 tc The translation follows the almost universally agreed upon correction of the MT. Instead of reading כֻּלֹּה מְקַלְלַונִי (kulloh mÿqallavni, “all of him is cursing me”) as the Masoretes proposed (Qere) one should read קִלְלוּנִי (qilluni) with the written text (Kethib) and redivide and repoint with the suggestion in BHS כֻּלְּהֶם (qullÿhem, “all of them are cursing me”).

93 tn The word “Jerusalem” is not in the text. It is supplied in the translation for clarity to identify the referent of “you.” A comparison of three or four English versions will show how difficult this verse is to interpret. The primary difficulty is with the meaning of the verb rendered here as “I will surely send you out [שֵׁרִותִךָ, sherivtikha].” The text and the meaning of the word are debated (for a rather full discussion see W. L. Holladay, Jeremiah [Hermeneia], 1:446-47, n. b-b). Tied up with that is the meaning of the verb in the second line and the identification of who the speaker and addressee are. One of two approaches are usually followed. Some follow the Greek version which has Jeremiah speaking and supporting his complaint that he has been faithful. In this case the word “said” is left out, the difficult verb is taken to mean “I have served you” (שֵׁרַתִּיךָ [sheratikha] from שָׁרַת [sharat; BDB 1058 s.v. שָׁרַת]) and the parallel verb means “I have made intercession for my enemies.” The second tack is to suppose that God is speaking and is promising Jeremiah deliverance from his detractors. In this case the troublesome word is taken to mean “deliver” (cf. BDB 1056 s.v. I שָׁרָה), “strengthen” (see BDB’s discussion) or read as a noun “remnant” (שֵׁרִיתְךָ = שְׁאֵרִיתְךָ [sheritekha = shÿeritekha]; again see BDB’s discussion). In this case the parallel verb is taken to mean “I will cause your enemies to entreat you,” a meaning it has nowhere else. Both of these approaches are probably wrong. The Greek text is the only evidence for leaving out “said.” The problem with making Jeremiah the addressee is twofold. First, the word “enemy” is never used in the book of Jeremiah’s foes, always of political enemies. Second, and more troublesome, one must assume a shift in the addressee between v. 11 and vv.13-14 or assume that the whole is addressed. The latter would be odd if he is promised deliverance from his detractors only to be delivered to captivity. If, however, one assumes that the whole is addressed to Jerusalem, there is no such problem. A check of earlier chapters will show that the second masculine pronoun is used for Judah/Jerusalem in 2:28-29; 4:1-2; 5:17-18; 11:13. In 2:28-28 and 4:1-2 the same shift from second singular to second plural takes place as does here in vv. 13-14. Moreover, vv. 13-14 continue much of the same vocabulary and is addressed to Jerusalem. The approach followed here is similar to that taken in REB except “for good” is taken in the way it is always used rather to mean “utterly.” The nuance suggested by BDB 1056 s.v. I שָׁרָה is assumed and the meaning of the parallel verb is assumed to be similar to that in Isa 53:6 (see BDB 803 s.v. פָּגַע Hiph.1). The MT is retained with demonstrable meanings. For the concept of “for good” see Jer 24:5-6. This assumes that the ultimate goal of God’s discipline is here announced.

sn The Lord interrupts Jeremiah’s complaint with a word for Jerusalem. Compare a similar interruption in discussion with Jeremiah in vv. 5-6.

94 tn “Surely” represents a construct in Hebrew that indicates a strong oath of affirmation. Cf. BDB 50 s.v. אִם 1.b(2) and compare usage in 2 Kgs 9:26.

95 tn Or “Can iron and bronze break iron from the north?” The question is rhetorical and expects a negative answer. The translation and meaning of this verse are debated. See note for further details. The two main difficulties here involve the relation of words to one another and the obscure allusion to iron from the north. To translate “literally” is difficult since one does not know whether “iron” is subject of “break” or object of an impersonal verb. Likewise, the dangling “and bronze” fits poorly with either understanding. Options: “Can iron break iron from the north and bronze?” Or “Can one break iron, even iron from the north and bronze.” This last is commonly opted for by translators and interpreters, but why add “and bronze” at the end? And what does “iron from the north” refer to? A long history of interpretation relates it to the foe from the north (see already 1:14; 4:6; 6:1; 13:20). The translation follows the lead of NRSV and takes “and bronze” as a compound subject. I have no ready parallels for this syntax but the reference to “from the north” and the comparison to the stubbornness of the unrepentant people to bronze and iron in 6:28 suggests a possible figurative allusion. There is no evidence in the Bible that Israel knew about a special kind of steel like iron from the Black Sea mentioned in later Greek sources. The word “fist” is supplied in the translation to try to give some hint that it refers to a hostile force.

sn Compare Isa 10:5-6 for the idea here.

96 tc This reading follows the Greek and Syriac versions and several Hebrew mss. Other Hebrew mss read “I will cause the enemy to pass through a land.” The difference in the reading is between one Hebrew letter, a dalet (ד) and a resh (ר).

97 tn The words “I said” are not in the text. They are supplied in the translation for clarity to mark the shift from the Lord speaking to Jerusalem, to Jeremiah speaking to God.

98 tn The words “how I suffer” are not in the text but are implicit from the continuation. They are supplied in the translation for clarity. Jeremiah is not saying “you are all knowing.”

99 sn Heb “Your words were found and I ate them.” This along with Ezek 2:83:3 is a poetic picture of inspiration. The prophet accepted them, assimilated them, and made them such a part of himself that he spoke with complete assurance what he knew were God’s words.

100 tn Heb “Your name is called upon me.”

sn See Jer 14:9 where this idiom is applied to Israel as a whole and Jer 7:10 where it is applied to the temple. For discussion cf. notes on 7:10.

101 tn Heb “because of your hand.”

102 tn Heb “Will you be to me like a deceptive (brook), like waters which do not last [or are not reliable].”

sn Jeremiah is speaking of the stream beds or wadis which fill with water after the spring rains but often dry up in the summer time. A fuller picture is painted in Job 6:14-21. This contrasts with the earlier metaphor that God had used of himself in Jer 2:13.

103 tn Heb “So the Lord said thus.”

104 tn Heb “If you return [ = repent], I will restore [more literally, ‘cause you to return’] that you may stand before me.” For the idiom of “standing before” in the sense of serving see BDB 764 s.v. עָמַד Qal.1.e and compare the usage in 1 Kgs 10:8; 12:8; 17:1; Deut 10:8.

105 tn Heb “you shall be as my mouth.”

sn For the classic statement of the prophet as God’s “mouth/mouthpiece,” = “spokesman,” see Exod 4:15-16; 7:1-2.

106 tn Heb “They must turn/return to you and you must not turn/return to them.”

sn Once again the root “return” (שׁוּב, shuv) is being played on as in 3:1–4:4. See the threefold call to repentance in 3:12, 14, 22. The verb is used here four times “repent,” “restore,” and “become” twice. He is to serve as a model of repentance, not an imitator of their apostasy. In accusing God of being unreliable he was coming dangerously close to their kind of behavior.

107 sn See 1:18. The Lord renews his promise of protection and reiterates his call to Jeremiah.



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