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Jeremiah 50:3

Context

50:3 For a nation from the north 1  will attack Babylon.

It will lay her land waste.

People and animals will flee out of it.

No one will inhabit it.’

Jeremiah 50:13

Context

50:13 After I vent my wrath on it Babylon will be uninhabited. 2 

It will be totally desolate.

All who pass by will be filled with horror and will hiss out their scorn

because of all the disasters that have happened to it. 3 

Jeremiah 50:21

Context

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 

Jeremiah 50:39

Context

50:39 Therefore desert creatures and jackals will live there.

Ostriches 9  will dwell in it too. 10 

But no people will ever live there again.

No one will dwell there for all time to come. 11 

Jeremiah 50:45

Context

50:45 So listen to what I, the Lord, have planned against Babylon,

what I intend to do to the people who inhabit the land of Babylonia. 12 

Their little ones will be dragged off.

I will completely destroy their land because of what they have done.

1 sn A nation from the north refers to Medo-Persia which at the time of the conquest of Babylon in 539 b.c. had conquered all the nations to the north, the northwest, and the northeast of Babylon forming a vast empire to the north and east of Babylon. Contingents of these many nations were included in her army and reference is made to them in 50:9 and 51:27-28. There is also some irony involved here because the “enemy from the north” referred to so often in Jeremiah (cf. 1:14; 4:6; 6:1) has been identified with Babylon (cf. 25:9). Here in a kind of talionic justice Judah’s nemesis from the north will be attacked and devastated by an enemy from the north.

2 tn Heb “From [or Because of] the wrath of the Lord it will be uninhabited.” The causal connection is spelled out more clearly and actively and the first person has been used because the speaker is the Lord. The referent “it” has been spelled out clearly from the later occurrence in the verse, “all who pass by Babylon.”

3 sn Compare Jer 49:17 and the study note there and see also the study notes on 18:16 and 19:8.

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 identification of this bird has been called into question by G. R. Driver, “Birds in the Old Testament,” PEQ 87 (1955): 137-38. He refers to this bird as an owl. That identification, however, is not reflected in any of the lexicons including the most recent, which still gives “ostrich” (HALOT 402 s.v. יַעֲנָה) as does W. S. McCullough, “Ostrich,” IDB 3:611. REB, NIV, NCV, and God’s Word all identify this bird as “owl/desert owl.”

10 tn Heb “Therefore desert creatures will live with jackals and ostriches will live in it.”

11 tn Heb “It will never again be inhabited nor dwelt in unto generation and generation.” For the meaning of this last phrase compare the usage in Ps 100:5 and Isaiah 13:20. Since the first half of the verse has spoken of animals living there, it is necessary to add “people” and turn the passive verbs into active ones.

12 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 the present translation has regularly done.



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