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Jeremiah 34:17-22

Context
34:17 So I, the Lord, say: “You have not really obeyed me and granted freedom to your neighbor and fellow countryman. 1  Therefore, I will grant you freedom, the freedom 2  to die in war, or by starvation or disease. I, the Lord, affirm it! 3  I will make all the kingdoms of the earth horrified at what happens to you. 4  34:18 I will punish those people who have violated their covenant with me. I will make them like the calf they cut in two and passed between its pieces. 5  I will do so because they did not keep the terms of the covenant they made in my presence. 6  34:19 I will punish the leaders of Judah and Jerusalem, the court officials, 7  the priests, and all the other people of the land who passed between the pieces of the calf. 8  34:20 I will hand them over to their enemies who want to kill them. Their dead bodies will become food for the birds and the wild animals. 9  34:21 I will also hand King Zedekiah of Judah and his officials over to their enemies who want to kill them. I will hand them over to the army of the king of Babylon, even though they have temporarily withdrawn from attacking you. 10  34:22 For I, the Lord, affirm that 11  I will soon give the order and bring them back to this city. They will fight against it and capture it and burn it down. I will also make the towns of Judah desolate so that there will be no one living in them.”’”

1 tn The Hebrew text has a compound object, the two terms of which have been synonyms in vv. 14, 15. G. L. Keown, P. J. Scalise, and T. G. Smothers (Jeremiah 26-52 [WBC], 189) make the interesting observation that these two terms (Heb “brother” and “neighbor”) emphasize the relationships that should have taken precedence over their being viewed as mere slaves.

2 sn This is, of course, a metaphorical and ironical use of the term “to grant freedom to.” It is, however, a typical statement of the concept of talionic justice which is quite often operative in God’s judgments in the OT (cf., e.g., Obad 15).

3 tn Heb “Oracle of the Lord.”

4 sn Compare Jer 15:4; 24:9; 29:18.

5 sn See the study note on v. 8 for explanation and parallels.

6 tn There is a little confusion in the syntax of this section because the noun “the calf” does not have any formal conjunction or preposition with it showing how it relates to the rest of the sentence. KJV treats it and the following words as though they were a temporal clause modifying “covenant which they made.” The majority of modern English versions and commentaries, however, understand it as a second accusative after the verb + object “I will make the men.” This fits under the category of what GKC 375 §118.r calls an accusative of comparison (compare usage in Isa 21:8; Zech 2:8). Stated baldly, “I will make the people…the calf,” it is, however, more forceful than the formal use of the noun + preposition כְּ just as metaphors are generally more forceful than similes. The whole verse is one long, complex sentence in Hebrew: “I will make the men who broke my covenant [referring to the Mosaic covenant containing the stipulation to free slaves after six years] [and] who did not keep the terms of the covenant which they made before me [referring to their agreement to free their slaves] [like] the calf which they cut in two and passed between its pieces.” The sentence has been broken down into shorter sentences in conformity with contemporary English style.

7 tn For the rendering of this term see the translator’s note on 29:2.

8 tn This verse is not actually a sentence in the Hebrew original but is a prepositioned object to the verb in v. 20, “I will hand them over.” This construction is called casus pendens in the older grammars and is used to call attention to a subject or object (cf. GKC 458 §143.d and compare the usage in 33:24). The same nondescript “I will punish” which was used to resolve the complex sentence in the previous verse has been chosen to introduce the objects here before the more specific “I will hand them over” in the next verse.

9 sn See this same phrase in Jer 7:33; 16:4; 19:7.

10 tn Heb “And Zedekiah king of Judah and his officials I will give into the hand of their enemies and into the hand of those who seek their lives and into the hands of the army of the king of Babylon which has gone up from against them.” The last two “and into the hand” phrases are each giving further explication of “their enemies” (the conjunction is explicative [cf. BDB 252 s.v. וְ 1.b]). The sentence has been broken down into shorter English sentences in conformity with contemporary English style.

sn This refers to the relief offered by the withdrawal of the Babylonian troops to fight against the Egyptians which were coming to Zedekiah’s aid (cf. 37:5, 7, 11).

11 tn Heb “Oracle of the Lord.”



TIP #08: Use the Strong Number links to learn about the original Hebrew and Greek text. [ALL]
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