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Jeremiah 4:13-22

Context

4:13 Look! The enemy is approaching like gathering clouds. 1 

The roar of his chariots is like that of a whirlwind. 2 

His horses move more swiftly than eagles.”

I cry out, 3  “We are doomed, 4  for we will be destroyed!”

4:14 “Oh people of Jerusalem, purify your hearts from evil 5 

so that you may yet be delivered.

How long will you continue to harbor up

wicked schemes within you?

4:15 For messengers are coming, heralding disaster,

from the city of Dan and from the hills of Ephraim. 6 

4:16 They are saying, 7 

‘Announce to the surrounding nations, 8 

“The enemy is coming!” 9 

Proclaim this message 10  to Jerusalem:

“Those who besiege cities 11  are coming from a distant land.

They are ready to raise the battle cry against 12  the towns in Judah.”’

4:17 They will surround Jerusalem 13 

like men guarding a field 14 

because they have rebelled against me,”

says the Lord.

4:18 “The way you have lived and the things you have done 15 

will bring this on you.

This is the punishment you deserve, and it will be painful indeed. 16 

The pain will be so bad it will pierce your heart.” 17 

4:19 I said, 18 

“Oh, the feeling in the pit of my stomach! 19 

I writhe in anguish.

Oh, the pain in my heart! 20 

My heart pounds within me.

I cannot keep silent.

For I hear the sound of the trumpet; 21 

the sound of the battle cry pierces my soul! 22 

4:20 I see 23  one destruction after another taking place,

so that the whole land lies in ruins.

I see our 24  tents suddenly destroyed,

their 25  curtains torn down in a mere instant. 26 

4:21 “How long must I see the enemy’s battle flags

and hear the military signals of their bugles?” 27 

4:22 The Lord answered, 28 

“This will happen 29  because my people are foolish.

They do not know me.

They are like children who have no sense. 30 

They have no understanding.

They are skilled at doing evil.

They do not know how to do good.”

Jeremiah 14:12

Context
14:12 Even if they fast, I will not hear their cries for help. Even if they offer burnt offerings and grain offerings, I will not accept them. 31  Instead, I will kill them through wars, famines, and plagues.” 32 

Jeremiah 21:6-7

Context
21:6 I will kill everything living in Jerusalem, 33  people and animals alike! They will die from terrible diseases. 21:7 Then 34  I, the Lord, promise that 35  I will hand over King Zedekiah of Judah, his officials, and any of the people who survive the war, starvation, and disease. I will hand them over to King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon and to their enemies who want to kill them. He will slaughter them with the sword. He will not show them any mercy, compassion, or pity.’

1 tn Heb “he is coming up like clouds.” The words “The enemy” are supplied in the translation to identify the referent and the word “gathering” is supplied to try to convey the significance of the simile, i.e., that of quantity and of an approaching storm.

2 tn Heb “his chariots [are] like a whirlwind.” The words “roar” and “sound” are supplied in the translation to clarify the significance of the simile.

3 tn The words “I cry out” are not in the text, but the words that follow are obviously not the Lord’s. They are either those of the people or of Jeremiah. Taking them as Jeremiah’s parallels the interjection of Jeremiah’s response in 4:10 which is formally introduced.

4 tn Heb “Woe to us!” The words “woe to” are common in funeral laments and at the beginning of oracles of judgment. In many contexts they carry the connotation of hopelessness or apprehensiveness of inevitable doom.

5 tn Heb “Oh, Jerusalem, wash your heart from evil.”

6 tn Heb “For a voice declaring from Dan and making heard disaster from the hills of Ephraim.”

7 tn The words “They are saying” are not in the text but are implicit in the connection and are supplied in the translation for clarification.

8 tn The word “surrounding” is not in the text but is implicit and is supplied in the translation for clarification.

9 tc Or “Here they come!” Heb “Look!” or “Behold!” Or “Announce to the surrounding nations, indeed [or yes] proclaim to Jerusalem, ‘Besiegers…’” The text is very elliptical here. Some of the modern English versions appear to be emending the text from הִנֵּה (hinneh, “behold”) to either הֵנָּה (hennah, “these things”; so NEB), or הַזֶּה (hazzeh, “this”; so NIV). The solution proposed here is as old as the LXX which reads, “Behold, they have come.”

10 tn The words, “this message,” are not in the text but are supplied in the translation to make the introduction of the quote easier.

11 tn Heb “Besiegers.” For the use of this verb to refer to besieging a city compare Isa 1:8.

12 tn Heb “They have raised their voices against.” The verb here, a vav (ו) consecutive with an imperfect, continues the nuance of the preceding participle “are coming.”

13 tn Heb “will surround her.” The antecedent is Jerusalem in the preceding verse. The referent is again made explicit in the translation to avoid any possible lack of clarity. The verb form here is a form of the verb that emphasizes the fact as being as good as done (i.e., it is a prophetic perfect).

14 sn There is some irony involved in the choice of the simile since the men guarding a field were there to keep thieves from getting in and stealing the crops. Here the besiegers are guarding the city to keep people from getting out.

15 tn Heb “Your way and your deeds.”

16 tn Heb “How bitter!”

17 tn Heb “Indeed, it reaches to your heart.” The subject must be the pain alluded to in the last half of the preceding line; the verb is masculine, agreeing with the adjective translated “painful.” The only other possible antecedent “punishment” is feminine.

18 tn The words “I said” are not in the text. They are used to mark the shift from the Lord’s promise of judgment to Jeremiah’s lament concerning it.

19 tn Heb “My bowels! My bowels!”

20 tn Heb “the walls of my heart!”

21 tn Heb “ram’s horn,” but the modern equivalent is “trumpet” and is more readily understandable.

22 tc The translation reflects a different division of the last two lines than that suggested by the Masoretes. The written text (the Kethib) reads “for the sound of the ram’s horn I have heard [or “you have heard,” if the form is understood as the old second feminine singular perfect] my soul” followed by “the battle cry” in the last line. The translation is based on taking “my soul” with the last line and understanding an elliptical expression “the battle cry [to] my soul.” Such an elliptical expression is in keeping with the elliptical nature of the exclamations at the beginning of the verse (cf. the literal translations of the first two lines of the verse in the notes on the words “stomach” and “heart”).

23 tn The words, “I see” are not in the text here or at the beginning of the third line. They are supplied in the translation to show that this is Jeremiah’s vision of what will happen as a result of the invasion announced in 4:5-9, 11-17a.

24 tn Heb “my.” This is probably not a reference to Jeremiah’s own tents since he foresees the destruction of the whole land. Jeremiah so identifies with the plight of his people that he sees the destruction of their tents as though they were his very own. It would probably lead to confusion to translate literally and it is not uncommon in Hebrew laments for the community or its representative to speak of the community as an “I.” See for example the interchange between first singular and first plural pronouns in Ps 44:4-8.

25 tn Heb “my.”

26 tn It is not altogether clear what Jeremiah intends by the use of this metaphor. In all likelihood he means that the defenses of Israel’s cities and towns have offered no more resistance than nomads’ tents. However, in light of the fact that the word “tent” came to be used generically for a person’s home (cf. 1 Kgs 8:66; 12:16), it is possible that Jeremiah is here referring to the destruction of their homes and the resultant feeling of homelessness and loss of even elementary protection. Given the lack of certainty the present translation is rather literal here.

27 tn Heb “the sound of ram’s horns,” but the modern equivalent is “bugles” and is more readily understandable.

28 tn These words are not in the text but are supplied in the translation to show clearly the shift in speaker. Jeremiah has been speaking; now the Lord answers, giving the reason for the devastation Jeremiah foresees.

29 tn Heb “For….” This gives the explanation for the destruction envisaged in 4:20 to which Jeremiah responds in 4:19, 21.

30 tn Heb “They are senseless children.”

31 sn See 6:16-20 for parallels.

32 tn Heb “through sword, starvation, and plague.”

sn These were penalties (curses) that were to be imposed on Israel for failure to keep her covenant with God (cf. Lev 26:23-26). These three occur together fourteen other times in the book of Jeremiah.

33 map For location see Map5 B1; Map6 F3; Map7 E2; Map8 F2; Map10 B3; JP1 F4; JP2 F4; JP3 F4; JP4 F4.

34 tn Heb “And afterward.”

35 tn Heb “oracle of the Lord.”



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