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Jeremiah 4:20

Context

4:20 I see 1  one destruction after another taking place,

so that the whole land lies in ruins.

I see our 2  tents suddenly destroyed,

their 3  curtains torn down in a mere instant. 4 

Jeremiah 10:20

Context

10:20 But our tents have been destroyed.

The ropes that held them in place have been ripped apart. 5 

Our children are gone and are not coming back. 6 

There is no survivor to put our tents back up,

no one left to hang their tent curtains in place.

Jeremiah 49:29

Context

49:29 Their tents and their flocks will be taken away.

Their tent curtains, equipment, and camels will be carried off.

People will shout 7  to them,

‘Terror is all around you!’” 8 

1 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.

2 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.

3 tn Heb “my.”

4 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.

5 tn Heb “My tent has been destroyed and my tent cords have been ripped apart.” For a very similar identification of Jeremiah’s plight with the plight of the personified community see 4:20 and the notes there.

6 tn Heb “my children have gone from me and are no more.”

sn What is being referred to is the exile of the people of the land. This passage could refer to the exiles of 605 b.c., 597 b.c., or more probably be anticipatory of the exile of 588 b.c. since the “tent,” (i.e., the city) is pictured as torn down. The picture of devastation and desolation here should be contrasted with that in Isa 54:2-3.

7 tn Or “Let their tents…be taken….Let their tent…be carried…. Let people shout….”

8 sn This expression is a favorite theme in the book of Jeremiah. It describes the terrors of war awaiting the people of Judah and Jerusalem (6:25), the Egyptians at Carchemish (46:5), and here the Kedarites.



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