1:14 Then the Lord said, “This means 1 destruction will break out from the north on all who live in the land. 1:15 For I will soon summon all the peoples of the kingdoms of the north,” says the Lord. “They will come and their kings will set up their thrones 2 near the entrances of the gates of Jerusalem. 3 They will attack all the walls surrounding it, and all the towns in Judah. 4
Run for safety! Do not delay!
For I am about to bring disaster out of the north.
It will bring great destruction. 6
6:1 “Run for safety, people of Benjamin!
Get out of Jerusalem! 7
Sound the trumpet 8 in Tekoa!
Light the signal fires at Beth Hakkerem!
For disaster lurks 9 out of the north;
it will bring great destruction. 10
6:22 “This is what the Lord says:
‘Beware! An army 11 is coming from a land in the north.
A mighty nation is stirring into action in faraway parts of the earth.
It is coming to turn the towns of Judah into rubble,
places where only jackals live.
“Look up, Jerusalem, 16 and see
the enemy 17 that is coming from the north.
Where now is the flock of people that were entrusted to your care? 18
Where now are the ‘sheep’ that you take such pride in? 19
2 tn Heb “they will each set up.” The pronoun “they” refers back to the “kingdoms” in the preceding sentence. However, kingdoms do not sit on thrones; their kings do. This is an example of a figure of speech called metonymy where the kingdom is put for its king. For a similar use see 2 Chr 12:8.
4 tn Or “They will come and set up their thrones in the entrances of the gates of Jerusalem. They will destroy all the walls surrounding it and also destroy all the towns in Judah.” The text of v. 15b reads in Hebrew, “they will each set up his throne [near? in?] the entrance of the gates of Jerusalem and against all its walls…and against all the towns….” Commentators are divided over whether the passage refers to the kings setting up their thrones after victory in preparation for passing judgment on their defeated enemies in the city or whether it refers to setting up siege against it. There is no Hebrew preposition before the word for “the entrance” so that it could be “in” (which would imply victory) or “at/near” (which would imply siege), and the same verb + object (i.e., “they will set up their thrones”) governs all the locative statements. It is most often taken to refer to the aftermath of victory because of the supposed parallel in Jer 43:8-13 and the supposed fulfillment in Jer 39:3. Though this may fit well with the first part of the compound expression, it does not fit well with the latter part which is most naturally taken to refer to hostile attacks against Jerusalem and the other cities of Judah. The translation given in the text is intended to reflect the idea of an army setting up for siege. The alternate translation is intended to reflect the other view.
5 tn Heb “Raise up a signal toward Zion.”
6 tn Heb “out of the north, even great destruction.”
7 tn Heb “Flee for safety, people of Benjamin, out of the midst of Jerusalem.”
sn Compare and contrast Jer 4:6. There people in the outlying areas were warned to seek safety in the fortified city of Jerusalem. Here they are told to flee it because it was about to be destroyed.
8 tn Heb “ram’s horn,” but the modern equivalent is “trumpet” and is more readily understandable.
9 tn Heb “leans down” or “looks down.” This verb personifies destruction leaning/looking down from its window in the sky, ready to attack.
10 tn Heb “[It will be] a severe fracture.” The nation is pictured as a limb being fractured.
sn This passage is emotionally charged. There are two examples of assonance or wordplay in the verse: “sound” (Heb tiq’u, “blow”), which has the same consonants as “Tekoa” (Heb uvitqoa’), and “signal fire,” which comes from the same root as “light” (Heb sÿ’u mas’et, “lift up”). There is also an example of personification where disaster is said to “lurk” (Heb “look down on”) out of the north. This gives a sense of urgency and concern for the coming destruction.
11 tn Heb “people.”
12 tn Heb “The sound of a report, behold, it is coming.”
13 tn Heb “ coming, even a great quaking.”
16 tn The word “Jerusalem” is not in the Hebrew text. It is added in the Greek text and is generally considered to be the object of address because of the second feminine singular verbs here and throughout the following verses. The translation follows the consonantal text (Kethib) and the Greek text in reading the second feminine singular here. The verbs and pronouns in vv. 20-22 are all second feminine singular with the exception of the suffix on the word “eyes” which is not reflected in the translation here (“Look up” = “Lift up your eyes”) and the verb and pronoun in v. 23. The text may reflect the same kind of alternation between singular and plural that takes place in Isa 7 where the pronouns refer to Ahaz as an individual and his entourage, the contemporary ruling class (cf., e.g., Isa 7:4-5 [singular], 9 [plural], 11 [singular], 13-14 [plural]). Here the connection with the preceding may suggest that it is initially the ruling house (the king and the queen mother), then Jerusalem personified as a woman in her role as a shepherdess (i.e., leader). However, from elsewhere in the book the leadership has included the kings, the priests, the prophets, and the citizens as well (cf., e.g., 13:13). In v. 27 Jerusalem is explicitly addressed. It may be asking too much of some readers who are not familiar with biblical metaphors to understand an extended metaphor like this. If it is helpful to them, they may substitute plural referents for “I” and “me.”
17 tn The word “enemy” is not in the text but is implicit. It supplied in the translation for clarity.
sn On the phrase the enemy that is coming from the north see Jer 1:14-15; 4:6; 6:1, 22; 10:22.
18 tn Heb “the flock that was given to you.”
19 tn Heb “the sheep of your pride.” The word “of your people” and the quotes around “sheep” are intended to carry over the metaphor in such a way that readers unfamiliar with the metaphor will understand it.