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Jeremiah 46:16

Context

46:16 I will make many stumble. 1 

They will fall over one another in their hurry to flee. 2 

They will say, ‘Get up!

Let’s go back to our own people.

Let’s go back to our homelands

because the enemy is coming to destroy us.’ 3 

Jeremiah 50:16

Context

50:16 Kill all the farmers who sow the seed in the land of Babylon.

Kill all those who wield the sickle at harvest time. 4 

Let all the foreigners return to their own people.

Let them hurry back to their own lands

to escape destruction by that enemy army. 5 

1 tn Heb “he multiplied the one stumbling.” For the first person reference see the preceding translator’s note.

2 tc The words “in their hurry to flee” are not in the text but appear to be necessary to clarify the point that the stumbling and falling here is not the same as that in vv. 6, 12 where they occur in the context of defeat and destruction. Reference here appears to be to the mercenary soldiers who in their hurried flight to escape stumble over one another and fall. This is fairly clear from the literal translation “he multiplies the stumbling one. Also [= and] a man falls against a man and they say [probably = “saying”; an epexegetical use of the vav (ו) consecutive (IBHS 551 §33.2.2a, and see Exod 2:10 as a parallel)] ‘Get up! Let’s go…’” A reference to the flight of the mercenaries is also seen in v. 21. Many of the modern commentaries and a few of the modern English versions follow the Greek text and read vv. 15a-16 very differently. The Greek reads “Why has Apis fled from you? Your choice calf [i.e., Apis] has not remained. For the Lord has paralyzed him. And your multitudes have fainted and fallen; and each one said to his neighbor…” (reading רֻבְּךָ כָּשַׁל גַּם־נָפַל וַיֹּאמְרוּ אִישׁ אֶל־רֵעֵהוּ instead of כּוֹשֵׁל הִרְבָּה גַּם־נָפַל אִישׁ אֶל־רֵעֵהוּ). One would expect אִישׁ אֶל־רֵעֵהוּ (’ishel-reehu) to go with וַיֹּאמְרוּ (vayyomÿru) because it is idiomatic in this expression (cf., e.g., Gen 11:3; Judg 6:29). However, אִישׁ אֶל־רֵעֵהוּ (’ishel-reehu) is also found with singular verbs as here in Exod 22:9; 33:11; 1 Sam 10:11. There is no doubt that the Hebrew text is the more difficult and thus probably original. The reading of the Greek version is not supported by any other text or version and looks like an attempt to smooth out a somewhat awkward Hebrew original.

3 tn Heb “to our native lands from before the sword of the oppressor.” The compound preposition “from before” is regularly used in a causal sense (see BDB 818 s.v. פָּנֶה 6.a, b, c). The “sword” is again interpreted as a figure for the destructive power of an enemy army.

4 tn Heb “Cut off the sower from Babylon, and the one who wields the sickle at harvest time.” For the meaning “kill” for the root “cut off” see BDB 503 s.v. כָּרַת Qal.1.b and compare usage in Jer 11:19. The verb is common in this nuance in the Hiphil, cf. BDB 504 s.v. כָּרַת Hiph, 2.b.

5 tn Heb “Because of [or out of fear of] the sword of the oppressor, let each of them turn toward his [own] people and each of them flee to his [own] country.” Compare a similar expression in 46:16 where the reference was to the flight of the mercenaries. Here it refers most likely to foreigners who are counseled to leave Babylon before they are caught up in the destruction. Many of the commentaries and English versions render the verbs as futures but they are more likely third person commands (jussives). Compare the clear commands in v. 8 followed by essentially the same motivation. The “sword of the oppressor,” of course, refers to death at the hands of soldiers wielding all kinds of weapons, chief of which has been a reference to the bow (v. 14).



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