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Jeremiah 36:20-23

Context

36:20 The officials put the scroll in the room of Elishama, the royal secretary, for safekeeping. 1  Then they went to the court and reported everything 2  to the king. 3  36:21 The king sent Jehudi to get the scroll. He went and got it from the room of Elishama, the royal secretary. Then he himself 4  read it to the king and all the officials who were standing around him. 36:22 Since it was the ninth month of the year, the king was sitting in his winter quarters. 5  A fire was burning in the firepot in front of him. 6  36:23 As soon as Jehudi had read three or four columns 7  of the scroll, the king 8  would cut them off with a penknife 9  and throw them on the fire in the firepot. He kept doing so until the whole scroll was burned up in the fire. 10 

1 tn Heb “they deposited.” For the usage of the verb here see BDB 824 s.v. פָּקַד Hiph.2.b and compare the usage in Jer 37:21 where it is used for “confining” Jeremiah in the courtyard of the guardhouse.

2 tn Heb “all the matters.” Compare the translator’s note on v. 16.

3 tn Both here and in the next verse the Hebrew has “in the ears of” before “the king” (and also before “all the officials”). As in v. 15 these words are not represented in the translation due to the awkwardness of the idiom in contemporary English (see the translator’s note on v. 15).

4 tn Heb “and Jehudi read it.” However, Jehudi has been the subject of the preceding; so it would be awkward in English to use the personal subject. The translation has chosen to bring out the idea that Jehudi himself read it by using the reflexive.

5 tn Heb “in the autumn house.” Commentators are agreed that this was not a separate building or palace but the winter quarters in the palace.

sn Larger houses, including the palace, were two-storied buildings with a lower quarters better suited for the cold of winter and an upper quarters which was better ventilated to provide cool in the summer. Since this was the ninth month (December) the king had taken up residence in the lower, warmer quarters which were equipped with a portable fire pot or brazier to keep him warm.

6 tc Heb “the fire in the firepot was burning before him.” The translation assumes that the word “fire” (אֵשׁ, ’esh) has dropped out after the particle אֶת (’et) because of the similar beginnings of the two words. The word “fire” is found in the Greek, Syriac, and Targumic translations according to BHS. The particle אֵת should be retained rather than dropped as an erroneous writing of אֵשׁ. Its presence is to be explained as the usage of the sign of the accusative introducing a new subject (cf. BDB 85 s.v. אֶת 3.α and compare the usage in 27:8; 38:16 [in the Kethib]; 45:4).

7 tn Heb “doors.” This is the only time the word “door” is used in this way but all the commentaries and lexicons agree that it means “columns.” The meaning is figurative based on the similarity of shape.

8 tn Heb “he.” The majority of commentaries and English versions are agreed that “he” is the king. However, since a penknife (Heb “a scribe’s razor”) is used to cut the columns off, it is possible that Jehudi himself did it. However, even if Jehudi himself did it, he was acting on the king’s orders.

9 sn Heb “a scribe’s razor.” There is some irony involved here since a scribe’s razor was used to trim the sheets to be sewn together, scrape them in preparation for writing, and to erase errors. What was normally used to prepare the scroll was used to destroy it.

10 tn Heb “until the whole scroll was consumed upon the fire which was in the fire pot.”



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