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Jeremiah 38:2-3

Context
38:2 “The Lord says, ‘Those who stay in this city will die in battle or of starvation or disease. 1  Those who leave the city and surrender to the Babylonians 2  will live. They will escape with their lives.’” 3  38:3 They had also heard him say, 4  “The Lord says, ‘This city will certainly be handed over to the army of the king of Babylon. They will capture it.’” 5 

Jeremiah 38:17-23

Context

38:17 Then Jeremiah said to Zedekiah, “The Lord, the God who rules over all, the God of Israel, 6  says, ‘You must surrender to the officers of the king of Babylon. If you do, your life will be spared 7  and this city will not be burned down. Indeed, you and your whole family will be spared. 38:18 But if you do not surrender to the officers of the king of Babylon, this city will be handed over to the Babylonians 8  and they will burn it down. You yourself will not escape from them.’” 9  38:19 Then King Zedekiah said to Jeremiah, “I am afraid of the Judeans who have deserted to the Babylonians. 10  The Babylonians might hand me over to them and they will torture me.” 11  38:20 Then Jeremiah answered, “You will not be handed over to them. Please obey the Lord by doing what I have been telling you. 12  Then all will go well with you and your life will be spared. 13  38:21 But if you refuse to surrender, the Lord has shown me a vision of what will happen. Here is what I saw: 38:22 All the women who are left in the royal palace of Judah will be led out to the officers of the king of Babylon. They will taunt you saying, 14 

‘Your trusted friends misled you;

they have gotten the best of you.

Now that your feet are stuck in the mud,

they have turned their backs on you.’ 15 

38:23 “All your wives and your children will be turned over to the Babylonians. 16  You yourself will not escape from them but will be captured by the 17  king of Babylon. This city will be burned down.” 18 

1 tn Heb “by sword, by starvation, or by disease.”

2 tn Heb “those who go out to the Chaldeans.” For the rendering “Babylonians” for “Chaldeans” see the study note on 21:4.

3 tn Heb “his life will be to him for spoil and he will live.” For the meaning of this idiom see the study note on 21:9. The words and “he will live” have been left out of the translation because they are redundant after “will live” and “they will escape with their lives.”

sn See Jer 21:9 for this prophecy.

4 tn The words “They had also heard him say,” are not in the Hebrew text. They are supplied in the translation for clarity so as to avoid any possible confusion that might be created by saying merely “And the Lord says,” without any introduction.

5 sn See Jer 21:10; 32:28; 34:2; 37:8 for this same prophecy. Jeremiah had repeatedly said this or words to the same effect.

6 tn Heb “Yahweh, the God of armies, the God of Israel.” Compare 7:3 and 35:17 and see the study note on 2:19.

7 tn Heb “Your life/soul will live.” The quote is a long condition-consequence sentence with compound consequential clauses. It reads, “If you will only go out to the officers of the king of Babylon, your soul [= you yourself; BDB 660 s.v. נֶפֶשׁ 4.a] will live and this city will not be burned with fire and you and your household will live.” The sentence has been broken down and restructured to better conform with contemporary English style. The infinitive absolute in the condition emphasizes the one condition, i.e., going out or surrendering (cf. Joüon 2:423 §123.g, and compare usage in Exod 15:26). For the idiom “go out to” = “surrender to” see the full idiom in 21:9 “go out and fall over to” which is condensed in 38:2 to “go out to.” The expression here is the same as in 38:2.

8 tn Heb “Chaldeans.” See the study note on 21:4 for explanation.

9 tn Heb “will not escape from their hand.”

sn Zedekiah held out this hope of escape until the end and attempted to do so but was unsuccessful (cf. 39:4-5).

10 tn Heb “Chaldeans.” See the study note on 21:4 for explanation.

11 tn Or “and they will badly abuse me.” For the usage of this verb in the situation presupposed see Judg 19:25 and 1 Sam 31:4.

12 tn Heb “Please listen to the voice of the Lord with regard to what I have been telling you.” For the idiom “listen to the voice” = “obey” see BDB 1034 s.v. שָׁמַע 1.m. Obedience here is expressed by following the advice in the qualifying clause, i.e., what I have been telling you.

13 tn Heb “your life [or you yourself] will live.” Compare v. 17 and the translator’s note there for the idiom.

14 tn Heb “And they will say.” The words “taunt you” are supplied in the translation to give the flavor of the words that follow.

15 tn Heb “The men of your friendship incited you and prevailed over you. Your feet are sunk in the mud. They turned backward.” The term “men of your friendship” (cf. BDB 1023 s.v. שָׁלוֹם 5.a) is used to refer to Jeremiah’s “so-called friends” in 20:10, to the trusted friend who deserted the psalmist in Ps 41:10, and to the allies of Edom in Obad 7. According to most commentators it refers here to the false prophets and counselors who urged the king to rebel against Nebuchadnezzar. The verb translated “misled” is a verb that often refers to inciting or instigating someone to do something, often with negative connotations (so BDB 694 s.v. סוּת Hiph.2). It is generally translated “deceive” or “mislead” in 2 Kgs 18:32; 2 Chr 32:11, 15. Here it refers to the fact that his pro-Egyptian counselors induced him to rebel. They have proven too powerful for him and prevailed on him (יָכֹל לְ, yakhol lÿ; see BDB 408 s.v. יָכֹל 2.b) to follow a policy which will prove detrimental to him, his family, and the city. The phrase “your feet are sunk in the mud” is figurative for being entangled in great difficulties (so BDB 371 s.v. טָבַע Hoph and compare the usage in the highly figurative description of trouble in Ps 69:2 [69:3 HT]).

sn The taunt song here refers to the fact that Zedekiah had been incited into rebellion by pro-Egyptian nobles in his court who prevailed on him to seek aid from the new Egyptian Pharaoh in 589 b.c. and withhold tribute from Nebuchadnezzar. This led to the downfall of the city which is depicted in Jeremiah’s vision from the standpoint of its effects on the king himself and his family.

16 tn Heb “Chaldeans.” See the study note on 21:4 for explanation.

17 tn Heb “you yourself will not escape from their hand but will be seized by [caught in] the hand of the king of Babylon.” Neither use of “hand” is natural to the English idiom.

18 tc This translation follows the reading of the Greek version and a few Hebrew mss. The majority of the Hebrew mss read “and you will burn down this city.” This reading is accepted by the majority of modern commentaries and English versions. Few of the commentaries, however, bother to explain the fact that the particle אֶת (’et), which normally marks the accusative object, is functioning here as the subject. For this point of grammar see BDB 85 s.v. I אֵת 1.b. Or this may be another case where אֵת introduces a new subject (see BDB 85 s.v. אֵת 3.α and see usage in 27:8; 36:22).



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