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Jeremiah 23:3-8

Context
23:3 Then I myself will regather those of my people 1  who are still alive from all the countries where I have driven them. I will bring them back to their homeland. 2  They will greatly increase in number. 23:4 I will install rulers 3  over them who will care for them. Then they will no longer need to fear or be terrified. None of them will turn up missing. 4  I, the Lord, promise it! 5 

23:5 “I, the Lord, promise 6  that a new time will certainly come 7 

when I will raise up for them a righteous branch, 8  a descendant of David.

He will rule over them with wisdom and understanding 9 

and will do what is just and right in the land. 10 

23:6 Under his rule 11  Judah will enjoy safety 12 

and Israel will live in security. 13 

This is the name he will go by:

‘The Lord has provided us with justice.’ 14 

23:7 “So I, the Lord, say: 15  ‘A new time will certainly come. 16  People now affirm their oaths with “I swear as surely as the Lord lives who delivered the people of Israel out of Egypt.” 23:8 But at that time they will affirm them with “I swear as surely as the Lord lives who delivered the descendants of the former nation of Israel 17  from the land of the north and from all the other lands where he had banished 18  them.” 19  At that time they will live in their own land.’”

1 tn Heb “my sheep.”

2 tn Heb “their fold.”

3 tn Heb “shepherds.”

4 tn There are various nuances of the word פָּקַד (paqad) represented in vv. 2, 4. See Ps 8:4 (8:5 HT) and Zech 10:3 for “care for/take care of” (cf. BDB 823 s.v. פָּקַד Qal.A.1.a). See Exod 20:5; Amos 3:2; Jer 9:24; 11:22 for “punish” (cf. BDB 823 s.v. פָּקַד Qal.A.3). See 1 Kgs 20:39 and 2 Kgs 10:19 for “be missing” (cf. BDB 823 s.v. פָּקַד Niph.1).

sn There is an extended play on the Hebrew word פָּקַד which is a word with rather broad English equivalents. Here the word refers to the fault of the shepherds/rulers who have not “taken care” of the sheep/people (v. 2), the “punishment” for the evil they have done in not taking care of them (v. 2), and the fact that after the Lord assigns new shepherds/rulers over them they will be cared for in such a way that none of them “will turn up missing” (v. 4).

5 tn Heb “Oracle of the Lord.”

6 tn Heb “Oracle of the Lord.”

7 tn Heb “Behold the days are coming.”

8 tn Heb “a righteous sprig to David” or “a righteous shoot” (NAB).

sn This passage and the parallel in Jer 33:15 are part of a growing number of prayers and prophecies regarding an ideal ruler to come forth from the Davidic line who will bring the justice, security, and well-being that the continuing line of Davidic rulers did not. Though there were periodic kings like Josiah who did fulfill the ideals set forth in Jer 22:3 (see Jer 22:15), by and large they were more like Jehoiakim who did not (see Jer 22:13). Hence the Lord brought to an end the Davidic rule. The potential for the ideal, however, remained because of God’s promise to David (2 Sam 7:16). The Davidic line became like a tree which was cut down, leaving only a stump. But from that stump God would bring forth a “shoot,” a “sprig” which would fulfill the ideals of kingship. See Isa 11:1-6 and Zech 3:8, 6:12 for this metaphor and compare Dan 4:14-15, 23, 26 for a different but related use of the metaphor.

9 tn Heb “he will reign as king and act wisely.” This is another example of the use of two verbs joined by “and” where one becomes the adverbial modifier of the other (hendiadys). For the nuance of the verb “act wisely” rather than “prosper” see Amos 5:13; Ps 2:10 (cf. BDB 968 s.v. שָׂכַל Hiph.5).

10 sn This has been the constant emphasis in this section. See 22:3 for the demand, 22:15 for its fulfillment, and 22:13 for its abuse. The ideal king would follow in the footsteps of his illustrious ancestor David (2 Sam 8:15) who set this forth as an ideal for his dynasty (2 Sam 23:3) and prayed for it to be true of his son Solomon (Ps 72:1-2).

11 tn Heb “In his days [= during the time he rules].”

12 tn Parallelism and context (cf. v. 4) suggest this nuance for the word often translated “be saved.” For this nuance elsewhere see Ps 119:117; Prov 28:18 for the verb (יָשַׁע [yasha’] in the Niphal); and Ps 12:6; Job 5:4, 11 for the related noun (יֶשַׁע, yesha’).

13 sn It should be noted that this brief oracle of deliverance implies the reunification of Israel and Judah under the future Davidic ruler. Jeremiah has already spoken about this reunification earlier in 3:18 and will have more to say about it in 30:3; 31:27, 31. This same ideal was espoused in the prophecies of Hosea (1:10-11 [2:1-2 HT]), Isaiah (11:1-4, 10-12), and Ezekiel (37:15-28) all of which have messianic and eschatological significance.

14 tn Heb “his name will be called ‘The Lord our righteousness’.”

sn The Hebrew word translated “justice” here is very broad in its usage, and it is hard to catch all the relevant nuances for this word in this context. It is used for “vindication” in legal contexts (see, e.g., Job 6:29), for “deliverance” or “salvation” in exilic contexts (see, e.g., Isa 58:8), and in the sense of ruling, judging with “justice” (see, e.g., Lev 19:15; Isa 32:1). Here it probably sums up the justice that the Lord provides through raising up this ruler as well as the safety, security, and well-being that result (see vv. 5-6a). In the NT this takes on soteriological connotations (see 1 Cor 1:31 in its context).

15 tn Heb “Oracle of the Lord.”

16 tn Heb “Behold the days are coming.”

17 tn Heb “descendants of the house of Israel.”

18 tc It is probably preferable to read the third masculine singular plus suffix (הִדִּיחָם, hiddikham) here with the Greek version and the parallel passage in 16:15 rather than the first singular plus suffix in the MT (הִדַּחְתִּים, hiddakhtim). If this is not a case of mere graphic confusion, the MT could have arisen under the influence of the first person in v. 3. Though sudden shifts in person have been common in the book of Jeremiah, that is unlikely in a context reporting an oath.

19 tn This passage is the same as 16:14-15 with a few minor variations in Hebrew wording. The notes on that passage should be consulted for the rendering here. This passage has the Niphal of the verb “to say” rather than the impersonal use of the Qal. It adds the idea of “bringing out” to the idea of “bringing up out” and (Heb “who brought up and who brought out,” probably a case of hendiadys) before “the people [here “seed” rather than “children”] of Israel [here “house of Israel”] from the land of the north.” These are minor variations and do not affect the sense in any way. So the passage is rendered in much the same way.

sn This passage looks forward to a new and greater Exodus, one that so outstrips the earlier one that the earlier will not serve as the model of deliverance any longer. This same ideal was the subject of Isaiah’s earlier prophecies in Isa 11:11-12, 15-16; 43:16-21; 49:8-13; 51: 1-11.



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