Your rulers rebelled against me.
Your prophets prophesied in the name of the god Baal. 5
They all worshiped idols that could not help them. 6
They have not sought the Lord’s advice. 8
So they do not act wisely,
and the people they are responsible for 9 have all been scattered.
23:1 The Lord says, 10 “The leaders of my people are sure to be judged. 11 They were supposed to watch over my people like shepherds watch over their sheep. But they are causing my people to be destroyed and scattered. 12 23:2 So the Lord God of Israel has this to say about the leaders who are ruling over his people: “You have caused my people 13 to be dispersed and driven into exile. You have not taken care of them. So I will punish you for the evil that you have done. 14 I, the Lord, affirm it! 15 23:3 Then I myself will regather those of my people 16 who are still alive from all the countries where I have driven them. I will bring them back to their homeland. 17 They will greatly increase in number. 23:4 I will install rulers 18 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. 19 I, the Lord, promise it! 20
1 tn Heb “The priests…the ones who grasp my law…the shepherds…the prophets…they…”
3 tn Heb “those who handle my law.”
sn The reference is likely to the priests and Levites who were responsible for teaching the law (so Jer 18:18; cf. Deut 33:10). According to Jer 8:8 it could possibly refer to the scribes who copied the law.
4 tn Or “were not committed to me.” The Hebrew verb rendered “know” refers to more than mere intellectual knowledge. It carries also the ideas of emotional and volitional commitment as well intimacy. See for example its use in contexts like Hos 4:1; 6:6.
5 tn Heb “by Baal.”
6 tn Heb “and they followed after those things [the word is plural] which do not profit.” The poetic structure of the verse, four lines in which a distinct subject appears at the beginning followed by a fifth line beginning with a prepositional phrase and no distinct subject, argues that this line is climactic and refers to all four classes enumerated in the preceding lines. See W. L. Holladay, Jeremiah (Hermeneia), 1:88-89. There may be a play or pun in the Hebrew text on the name for the god Baal (בַּעַל, ba’al) and the verb “cannot help you” (Heb “do not profit”) which is spelled יַעַל (ya’al).
7 tn Heb “the shepherds.”
8 tn Heb “They have not sought the
sn The idiom translated sought the
9 tn Heb “all their flock (or “pasturage”).”
sn This verse uses the figure of rulers as shepherds and the people they ruled as sheep. It is a common figure in the Bible. See Ezek 34 for an extended development of this metaphor.
10 tn Heb “Oracle of the
11 sn Heb This particle once again introduces a judgment speech. The indictment is found in v. 1 and the announcement of judgment in v. 2. This leads into an oracle of deliverance in vv. 3-4. See also the note on the word “judged” in 22:13.
12 tn Heb “Woe to the shepherds who are killing and scattering the sheep of my pasture.” See the study note on 22:13 for the significance of “Sure to be judged” (Heb “Woe”) See the study note for the significance of the metaphor introduced here.
sn Verses 1-4 of ch. 23 are an extended metaphor in which the rulers are compared to shepherds and the people are compared to sheep. This metaphor has already been met with in 10:21 and is found elsewhere in the context of the
13 tn Heb “about the shepherds who are shepherding my people. ‘You have caused my sheep….’” For the metaphor see the study note on the previous verse.
14 tn Heb “Therefore, thus says the
15 tn Heb “Oracle of the
16 tn Heb “my sheep.”
17 tn Heb “their fold.”
18 tn Heb “shepherds.”
19 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
20 tn Heb “Oracle of the