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Jeremiah 38:4-6

Context
38:4 So these officials said to the king, “This man must be put to death. For he is demoralizing 1  the soldiers who are left in the city as well as all the other people there by these things he is saying. 2  This 3  man is not seeking to help these people but is trying to harm them.” 4  38:5 King Zedekiah said to them, “Very well, you can do what you want with him. 5  For I cannot do anything to stop you.” 6  38:6 So the officials 7  took Jeremiah and put him in the cistern 8  of Malkijah, one of the royal princes, 9  that was in the courtyard of the guardhouse. There was no water in the cistern, only mud. So when they lowered Jeremiah into the cistern with ropes he sank in the mud. 10 

1 tn Heb “weakening the hands of.” For this idiom see BDB 951 s.v. רָפָה Pi. and compare the usage in Isa 13:7; Ezek 21:7 (21:12 HT).

2 tn Heb “by saying these things.”

3 tn The Hebrew particle כִּי (ki) has not been rendered here because it is introducing a parallel causal clause to the preceding one. To render “For” might be misunderstood as a grounds for the preceding statement. To render “And” or “Moreover” sounds a little odd here. If it must be represented, “Moreover” is perhaps the best rendering.

4 tn Or “is not looking out for these people’s best interests but is really trying to do them harm”; Heb “is not seeking the welfare [or “well-being”; Hebrew shalom] of this people but [their] harm [more literally, evil].”

5 tn Heb “Behold, he is in your hands [= power/control].”

6 tn Heb “For the king cannot do a thing with/against you.” The personal pronoun “I” is substituted in the English translation due to differences in style; Hebrew style often uses the third person or the title in speaking of oneself but English rarely if ever does. Compare the common paraphrasis of “your servant” for “I” in Hebrew (cf. BDB 714 s.v. עֶבֶד 6 and usage in 1 Sam 20:7, 8) and compare the usage in Pss 63:11 (63:12 HT); 61:6 (61:7 HT) where the king is praying for himself. For the meaning of יָכֹל (yakhol) as “to be able to do anything,” see BDB 407 s.v. יָכֹל 1.g.

7 tn Heb “they.”

8 sn A cistern was a pear-shaped pit with a narrow opening. Cisterns were cut or dug in the limestone rock and lined with plaster to prevent seepage. They were used to collect and store rain water or water carried up from a spring.

9 tn Heb “the son of the king.” See the translator’s note on Jer 36:26 for the rendering here.

10 tn Heb “And they let Jeremiah down with ropes and in the cistern there was no water, only mud, and Jeremiah sank in the mud.” The clauses have been reordered and restructured to create a more natural and smoother order in English.



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