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Jeremiah 37:15-16

Context
37:15 The officials were very angry 1  at Jeremiah. They had him flogged and put in prison in the house of Jonathan, the royal secretary, which they had converted into a place for confining prisoners. 2 

37:16 So 3  Jeremiah was put in prison in a cell in the dungeon in Jonathan’s house. 4  He 5  was kept there for a long time.

Jeremiah 37:20

Context
37:20 But now please listen, your royal Majesty, 6  and grant my plea for mercy. 7  Do not send me back to the house of Jonathan, the royal secretary. If you do, I will die there.” 8 

1 sn The officials mentioned here are not the same as those mentioned in Jer 36:12, most of whom were favorably disposed toward Jeremiah, or at least regarded what he said with enough trepidation to try to protect Jeremiah and preserve the scroll containing his messages (36:16, 19, 24). All those officials had been taken into exile with Jeconiah in 597 b.c. (2 Kgs 24:14).

2 tn Heb “for they had made it into the house of confinement.” The causal particle does not fit the English sentence very well and “house of confinement” needs some explanation. Some translate this word “prison” but that creates redundancy with the earlier word translated “prison” (בֵּית הָאֵסוּר, bet haesur, “house of the band/binding”] which is more closely related to the concept of prison [cf. אָסִיר, ’asir, “prisoner”]). It is clear from the next verse that Jeremiah was confined in a cell in the dungeon of this place.

3 tn The particle כִּי (ki) here is probably temporal, introducing the protasis to the main clause in v. 17 (cf. BDB 473 s.v. כִּי 2.a). However, that would make the translation too long, so the present translation does what several modern English versions do here, though there are no parallels listed for this nuance in the lexicons.

4 tn Heb “Jeremiah came into the house of the pit [= “dungeon,” BDB 92 s.v. בּוֹר 4 and compare usage in Gen 40:15; 41:14] and into the cells [this word occurs only here; it is defined on the basis of the cognate languages (cf. BDB 333 s.v. חָנוּת)].” The sentence has been restructured and some words supplied in the translation to better relate it to the preceding context.

5 tn Heb “Jeremiah.” But the proper name is somewhat redundant and unnecessary in a modern translation.

6 tn Heb “My lord, the king.”

7 tn Heb “let my plea for mercy fall before you.” I.e., let it come before you and be favorably received (= granted; by metonymical extension).

8 tn Or “So that I will not die there,” or “or I will die there”; Heb “and I will not die there.” The particle that introduces this clause (וְלֹא) regularly introduces negative purpose clauses after the volitive sequence (אַל [’al] + jussive here) according to GKC 323 §109.g. However, purpose and result clauses in Hebrew (and Greek) are often indistinguishable. Here the clause is more in the nature of a negative result.



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