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Jeremiah 50:14-16

Context

50:14 “Take up your battle positions all around Babylon,

all you soldiers who are armed with bows. 1 

Shoot 2  all your arrows at her! Do not hold any back! 3 

For she has sinned against the Lord.

50:15 Shout the battle cry from all around the city.

She will throw up her hands in surrender. 4 

Her towers 5  will fall.

Her walls will be torn down.

Because I, the Lord, am wreaking revenge, 6 

take out your vengeance on her!

Do to her as she has done!

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. 7 

Let all the foreigners return to their own people.

Let them hurry back to their own lands

to escape destruction by that enemy army. 8 

Jeremiah 50:21

Context

50:21 The Lord says, 9 

“Attack 10  the land of Merathaim

and the people who live in Pekod! 11 

Pursue, kill, and completely destroy them! 12 

Do just as I have commanded you! 13 

1 tn Heb “all you who draw the bow.”

2 tc The verb here should probably be read as a Qal imperative יְרוּ (yÿru) from יָרָה (yarah) with a few Hebrew mss rather than a Qal imperative יְדוּ (yidu) from יָדָה (yadah) with the majority of Hebrew mss. The verb יָדָה (yadah) does not otherwise occur in the Qal and only elsewhere in the Piel with a meaning “cast” (cf. KBL 363 s.v. I יָדָה). The verb יָרָה (yarah) is common in both the Qal and the Hiphil with the meaning of shooting arrows (cf. BDB 435 s.v. יָרָה Qal.3 and Hiph.2). The confusion between ד (dalet) and ר (resh) is very common.

3 tn Heb “Shoot at her! Don’t save any arrows!”

4 tn Heb “She has given her hand.” For the idiom here involving submission/surrender see BDB 680 s.v. נָתַן Qal.1.z and compare the usage in 1 Chr 29:24; 2 Chr 30:8. For a different interpretation, however, see the rather complete discussion in G. L. Keown, P. J. Scalise, and T. G. Smothers (Jeremiah 26-52 [WBC], 366) who see this as a reference to making a covenant. The verb in this line and the next two lines are all Hebrew perfects and most translators and commentaries see them as past. God’s Word, however, treats them as prophetic perfects and translates them as future. This is more likely in the light of the imperatives both before and after.

5 tn The meaning of this word is uncertain. The definition here follows that of HALOT 91 s.v. אָשְׁיָה, which defines it on the basis of an Akkadian word and treats it as a loanword.

6 tn Heb “Because it is the Lord’s vengeance.” The first person has again been used because the Lord is the speaker and the nominal expression has been turned into a verbal one more in keeping with contemporary English style.

7 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.

8 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).

9 tn Heb “Oracle of the Lord.”

10 sn The commands in this verse and in vv. 26-27 are directed to the armies from the north who are referred to in v. 3 as “a nation from the north” and in v. 9 as a “host of mighty nations from the land of the north.” The addressee in this section shifts from one referent to another.

11 sn Merathaim…Pekod. It is generally agreed that the names of these two regions were chosen for their potential for wordplay. Merathaim probably refers to a region in southern Babylon near where the Tigris and Euphrates come together before they empty into the Persian Gulf. It was known for its briny waters. In Hebrew the word would mean “double rebellion” and would stand as an epithet for the land of Babylon as a whole. Pekod refers to an Aramean people who lived on the eastern bank of the lower Tigris River. They are mentioned often in Assyrian texts and are mentioned in Ezek 23:23 as allies of Babylon. In Hebrew the word would mean “punishment.” As an epithet for the land of Babylon it would refer to the fact that Babylon was to be punished for her double rebellion against the Lord.

12 tn Heb “Smite down and completely destroy after them.” The word translated “kill” or “smite down” is a word of uncertain meaning and derivation. BDB 352 s.v. III חָרַב relates it to an Aramaic word meaning “attack, smite down.” KBL 329-30 s.v. II חָרַב sees it as a denominative from the word חֶרֶב (kherev, “sword”), a derivation which many modern commentaries accept and reflect in a translation “put to the sword.” KBL, however, gives “to smite down; to slaughter” which is roughly the equivalent of the meaning assigned to it in BDB. The word only occurs here and in v. 27 in the Qal and in 2 Kgs 3:23 in the Niphal where it means something like “attacked one another, fought with one another.” Many commentators question the validity of the word “after them” (אַחֲרֵיהֶם, ’akharehem) which occurs at the end of the line after “completely destroy.” The Targum reads “the last of them” (אַחֲרִיתָם, ’akharitam) which is graphically very close and accepted by some commentators. The present translation has chosen to represent “after them” by a paraphrase at the beginning “pursue them.”

sn For the concept underlying the words translated here “completely destroy” see the study note on Jer 25:9.

13 tn Heb “Do according to all I have commanded you.”



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