“The soldiers 3 are terrified.
They are retreating.
They have been defeated.
They are overcome with terror; 4
they desert quickly
without looking back.
will prove to be like pampered, 6 well-fed calves.
For they too will turn and run away.
They will not stand their ground
when 7 the time for them to be destroyed comes,
the time for them to be punished.
47:3 Fathers will hear the hoofbeats of the enemies’ horses,
the clatter of their chariots and the rumbling of their wheels.
They will not turn back to save their children
because they will be paralyzed with fear. 8
49:24 The people of Damascus will lose heart and turn to flee.
Panic will grip them.
Pain and anguish will seize them
like a woman in labor.
1 tn Heb “Why do I see?” The rendering is that of J. A. Thompson (Jeremiah [NICOT], 685, 88) and J. Bright (Jeremiah [AB], 301; TEV; NIV). The question is not asking for information but is expressing surprise or wonder (see E. W. Bullinger, Figures of Speech, 951).
sn The passage takes an unexpected turn at v. 5. After ironically summoning the Egyptian army to battle, the
2 tn Heb “oracle of the
3 tn Heb “Their soldiers.” These words are actually at the midpoint of the stanza as the subject of the third of the five verbs. However, as G. L. Keown, P. J. Scalise, and T. G. Smothers (Jeremiah 26-52 [WBC], 291) note, this is the subject of all five verbs “are terrified,” “are retreating,” “have been defeated,” “have run away,” and “have not looked back.” The subject is put at the front to avoid an unidentified “they.”
4 tn Heb “terror is all around.”
5 tn Heb “her hirelings in her midst.”
6 tn The word “pampered” is not in the text. It is supplied in the translation to explain the probable meaning of the simile. The mercenaries were well cared for like stall-fed calves, but in the face of the danger they will prove no help because they will turn and run away without standing their ground. Some see the point of the simile to be that they too are fattened for slaughter. However, the next two lines do not fit that interpretation too well.
7 tn The temporal use of the particle כִּי (ki; BDB 472 s.v. כִּי 2.a) seems more appropriate to the context than the causal use.
8 tn Heb “From the noise of the stamping of the hoofs of his stallions, from the rattling of his chariots at the rumbling of their wheels, fathers will not turn to their children from sinking of hands.” According to BDB 952 s.v. רִפָּיוֹן the “sinking of the hands” is figurative of helplessness caused by terror. A very similar figure is seen with a related expression in Isa 35:3-4. The sentence has been restructured to put the subject up front and to suggest through shorter sentences more in keeping with contemporary English style the same causal connections. The figures have been interpreted for the sake of clarity for the average reader.