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Jeremiah 50:16-18

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. 1 

Let all the foreigners return to their own people.

Let them hurry back to their own lands

to escape destruction by that enemy army. 2 

50:17 “The people of Israel are like scattered sheep

which lions have chased away.

First the king of Assyria devoured them. 3 

Now last of all King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon has gnawed their bones. 4 

50:18 So I, the Lord God of Israel who rules over all, say: 5 

‘I will punish the king of Babylon and his land

just as I punished the king of Assyria.

1 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.

2 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).

3 sn The king of Assyria devoured them. This refers to the devastation wrought on northern Israel by the kings of Assyria beginning in 738 b.c. when Tiglath Pileser took Galilee and the Transjordanian territories and ending with the destruction and exile of the people of Samaria by Sargon in 722 b.c.

4 tn The verb used here only occurs this one time in the Hebrew Bible. It is a denominative from the Hebrew word for “bones” (עֶצֶם, ’etsem). BDB 1126 s.v. עֶָצַם, denom Pi, define it as “break his bones.” HALOT 822 s.v. II עָצַם Pi defines it as “gnaw on his bones.”

sn If the prophecies which are referred to in Jer 51:59-64 refer to all that is contained in Jer 50–51 (as some believe), this would have referred to the disasters of 605 b.c. and 598 b.c. and all the harassment that Israel experienced from Babylon up until the fourth year of Zedekiah (594 b.c.). If on the other hand, the prophecy related there refers to something less than this final form, the destruction of 587/6 b.c. could be referred to as well.

5 tn Heb “Therefore thus says Yahweh of armies, the God of Israel.” The first person is again adopted because the Lord is speaking. For this title, “Yahweh of armies,” compare 7:3 and the study note on 2:19.



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