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Jeremiah 43:12-13

Context
43:12 He will set fire 1  to the temples of the gods of Egypt. He will burn their gods or carry them off as captives. 2  He will pick Egypt clean like a shepherd picks the lice from his clothing. 3  He will leave there unharmed. 4  43:13 He will demolish the sacred pillars in the temple of the sun 5  in Egypt and will burn down the temples of the gods of Egypt.”’”

1 tc The translation follows the Greek, Syriac, and Latin versions. The Hebrew text reads: “I will set fire to.” While it would be possible to explain the first person subject here in the same way as in the two verbs in v. 12b, the corruption of the Hebrew text is easy to explain here as a metathesis of two letters, י (yod) and ת (tav). The Hebrew reads הִצַּתִּי (hitsatti) and the versions presuppose הִצִּית (hitsit).

2 tn Heb “burn them or carry them off as captives.” Some of the commentaries and English versions make a distinction between the objects of the verbs, i.e., burn the temples and carry off the gods. However, the burning down of the temples is referred to later in v. 13.

sn It was typical in the ancient Near East for the images of the gods of vanquished nations to be carried off and displayed in triumphal procession on the return from battle to show the superiority of the victor’s gods over those of the vanquished (cf., e.g., Isa 46:1-2).

3 tn Or “he will take over Egypt as easily as a shepherd wraps his cloak around him.” The translation follows the interpretation of HALOT 769 s.v. II ָעטָה Qal, the Greek translation, and a number of the modern commentaries (e.g., J. A. Thompson, Jeremiah [NICOT], 671). The only other passage where that translation is suggested for this verb is Isa 22:17 according to HAL. The alternate translation follows the more normal meaning of עָטָה (’atah; cf. BDB 741 s.v. I עָטָה Qal which explains “so completely will it be in his power”). The fact that the subject is “a shepherd” lends more credence to the former view though there may be a deliberate double meaning playing on the homonyms (cf. W. L. Holladay, Jeremiah [Hermeneia], 2:302).

4 tn Heb “in peace/wholeness/well-being/safety [shalom].”

5 sn It is generally agreed that the temple of the sun was located in Heliopolis, which is elsewhere referred to as On (cf. Gen 41:45). It was the center for the worship of Amon-Re, the Egyptian sun god, and was famous for its obelisks (conical shaped pillars) dedicated to that god. It was located about 6 miles (10 km) northeast of modern-day Cairo.



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