“In every town in the land I will purge them
like straw blown away by the wind. 2
I will destroy my people.
I will kill off their children.
I will do so because they did not change their behavior. 3
than the grains of sand on the seashores.
At noontime I will bring a destroyer
against the mothers of their young men. 5
I will cause anguish 6 and terror
to fall suddenly upon them. 7
All the breath will go out of her. 9
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. 10
She will suffer shame and humiliation. 11
I will cause any of them who are still left alive
to be killed in war by the onslaughts of their enemies,” 12
says the Lord.
1 tn The words “The
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.
3 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…”
4 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.
5 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.
6 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.
7 tn The “them” in the Hebrew text is feminine referring to the mothers.
8 tn Heb “who gave birth to seven.”
9 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.
10 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.
12 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.