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Jeremiah 50:20-23

Context

50:20 When that time comes,

no guilt will be found in Israel.

No sin will be found in Judah. 1 

For I will forgive those of them I have allowed to survive. 2 

I, the Lord, affirm it!’” 3 

50:21 The Lord says, 4 

“Attack 5  the land of Merathaim

and the people who live in Pekod! 6 

Pursue, kill, and completely destroy them! 7 

Do just as I have commanded you! 8 

50:22 The noise of battle can be heard in the land of Babylonia. 9 

There is the sound of great destruction.

50:23 Babylon hammered the whole world to pieces.

But see how that ‘hammer’ has been broken and shattered! 10 

See what an object of horror

Babylon has become among the nations!

1 tn Heb “In those days and at that time, oracle of the Lord, the iniquity [or guilt] of Israel will be sought but there will be none and the sins of Judah but they will not be found.” The passive construction “will be sought” raises the question of who is doing the seeking which is not really the main point. The translation has avoided this question by simply referring to the result which is the main point.

2 sn Compare Jer 31:34 and 33:8.

3 tn Heb “Oracle of the Lord.” In this case it is necessary to place this in the first person because this is already in a quote whose speaker is identified as the Lord (v. 18).

4 tn Heb “Oracle of the Lord.”

5 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.

6 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.

7 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.

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

9 tn The words “of Babylonia” are not in the text but are implicit from the context. They have been supplied in the translation to clarify the referent.

sn The verbs in vv. 22-25 are all descriptive of the present, but all of this is really to take place in the future. Hebrew poetry has a way of rendering future actions as though they were already accomplished. The poetry of this section makes it difficult, however, to render the verbs as future, as has been done regularly in the present translation.

10 tn Heb “How broken and shattered is the hammer of all the earth!” The “hammer” is a metaphor for Babylon who was God’s war club to shatter the nations and destroy kingdoms just like Assyria is represented in Isa 10:5 as a rod and a war club. Some readers, however, might not pick up on the metaphor or identify the referent, so the translation has incorporated an identification of the metaphor and the referent within it. “See how” and “See what” are an attempt to capture the nuance of the Hebrew particle אֵיךְ (’ekh) which here expresses an exclamation of satisfaction in a taunt song (cf. BDB 32 s.v. אֵיךְ 2 and compare usage in Isa 14:4, 12; Jer 50:23).



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