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Jeremiah 50:21

Context

50:21 The Lord says, 1 

“Attack 2  the land of Merathaim

and the people who live in Pekod! 3 

Pursue, kill, and completely destroy them! 4 

Do just as I have commanded you! 5 

Jeremiah 50:26

Context

50:26 Come from far away and attack Babylonia! 6 

Open up the places where she stores her grain!

Pile her up in ruins! 7  Destroy her completely! 8 

Do not leave anyone alive! 9 

Jeremiah 51:3

Context

51:3 Do not give her archers time to string their bows

or to put on their coats of armor. 10 

Do not spare any of her young men.

Completely destroy 11  her whole army.

1 tn Heb “Oracle of the Lord.”

2 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.

3 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.

4 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.

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

6 tn Heb “Come against her from the end.” There is a great deal of debate about the meaning of “from the end” (מִקֵּץ, miqqets). Some follow the suggestion of F. Giesebrecht in BDB 892 s.v. קָצֶה 3 and emend the text to מִקָּצֶה (miqqatseh) on the basis of the presumed parallel in Jer 51:31 which is interpreted as “on all sides,” i.e., “from every quarter/side.” However, the phrase does not mean that in Jer 51:31 but is used as it is elsewhere of “from one end to another,” i.e., in its entirety (so Gen 19:4). The only real parallel here is the use of the noun קֵץ (qets) with a suffix in Isa 37:24 referring to the remotest part, hence something like from the end (of the earth), i.e., from a far away place. The referent “her” has been clarified here to refer to Babylonia in case someone might not see the connection between v. 25d and v. 26.

7 tn Heb “Pile her up like heaps.” Many commentators understand the comparison to be to heaps of grain (compare usage of עֲרֵמָה (’aremah) in Hag 2:16; Neh 13:15; Ruth 3:7). However, BDB 790 s.v. עֲרֵמָה is more likely correct that this refers to heaps of ruins (compare the usage in Neh 4:2 [3:34 HT]).

8 sn Compare Jer 50:21 and see the study note on 25:9.

9 tn Heb “Do not let there be to her a remnant.” According to BDB 984 s.v. שְׁאֵרִית this refers to the last remnant of people, i.e., there won’t be any survivors. Compare the usage in Jer 11:23.

10 tc The text and consequent meaning of these first two lines are uncertain. Literally the Masoretic reads “against let him string let him string the one who strings his bow and against let him raise himself up in his coat of armor.” This makes absolutely no sense and the ancient versions and Hebrew mss did not agree in reading this same text. Many Hebrew mss and all the versions as well as the Masoretes themselves (the text is left unpointed with a marginal note not to read it) delete the second “let him string.” The LXX (or Greek version) left out the words “against” at the beginning of the first two lines. It reads “Let the archer bend his bow and let the one who has armor put it on.” The Lucianic recension of the LXX and some Targum mss supplied the missing object “it” and thus read “Let the archer ready his bow against it and let him array himself against it in his coat of mail.” This makes good sense but does not answer the question of why the Hebrew text left off the suffix on the preposition twice in a row. Many Hebrew mss and the Syriac, Targum, and Vulgate (the Latin version) change the pointing of “against” (אֶל [’el]) to “not” (אַל [’al]) and thus read “Let the archer not string the bow and let him not array himself in his armor.” However, many commentators feel that this does not fit the context because it would apparently be addressed to the Babylonians, not the enemy, which would create a sudden shift in addressee with the second half of the verse. However, if it is understood in the sense taken here it refers to the enemy not allowing the Babylonian archers to get ready for the battle, i.e., a surprise attack. This sense is suggested as an alternative in J. Bright, Jeremiah (AB), 346, n. u-u, and J. A. Thompson, Jeremiah (NICOT), 747, n. 5, and is the interpretation adopted in TEV and probably also in NIrV.

11 sn For the concept underlying this word see the study note on “utterly destroy” in Jer 25:9 and compare the usage in 50:21, 26.



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