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Jeremiah 51:29-30

Context

51:29 The earth will tremble and writhe in agony. 1 

For the Lord will carry out his plan.

He plans to make the land of Babylonia 2 

a wasteland where no one lives. 3 

51:30 The soldiers of Babylonia will stop fighting.

They will remain in their fortified cities.

They will lose their strength to do battle. 4 

They will be as frightened as women. 5 

The houses in her cities will be set on fire.

The gates of her cities will be broken down. 6 

1 sn The figure here is common in the poetic tradition of the Lord going forth to do battle against his foes and the earth’s reaction to it is compared to a person trembling with fear and writhing in agony, agony like that of a woman in labor (cf. Judg 5:4; Nah 1:2-5; Hab 3:1-15 [especially v. 6]).

2 tn Heb “For the plans of the Lord have been carried out to make the land of Babylon…” The passive has been turned into an active and the sentence broken up to better conform with contemporary English style. For the meaning of the verb קוּם (qum) in the sense used here see BDB 878 s.v. קוּם 7.g and compare the usage in Prov 19:21 and Isa 46:10.

3 tn The verbs in this verse and v. 30 are all in the past tense in Hebrew, in the tense that views the action as already as good as done (the Hebrew prophetic perfect). The verb in v. 31a, however, is imperfect, viewing the action as future; the perfects that follow are all dependent on that future. Verse 33 looks forward to a time when Babylon will be harvested and trampled like grain on the threshing floor and the imperatives imply a time in the future. Hence the present translation has rendered all the verbs in vv. 29-30 as future.

4 tn Heb “Their strength is dry.” This is a figurative nuance of the word “dry” which BDB 677 s.v. נָשַׁת Qal.1 explain as meaning “fails.” The idea of “strength to do battle” is implicit from the context and is supplied in the translation here for clarity.

5 tn Heb “They have become women.” The metaphor has been turned into a simile and the significance of the comparison drawn out for the sake of clarity. See 50:37 for the same figure.

6 tn Heb “Her dwelling places have been set on fire. Her bars [i.e., the bars on the gates of her cities] have been broken.” The present translation has substituted the word “gates” for “bars” because the intent of the figure is to show that the bars of the gates have been broken giving access to the city. “Gates” makes it easier for the modern reader to understand the figure.



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