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Jeremiah 6:1-5

Context
The Destruction of Jerusalem Depicted

6:1 “Run for safety, people of Benjamin!

Get out of Jerusalem! 1 

Sound the trumpet 2  in Tekoa!

Light the signal fires at Beth Hakkerem!

For disaster lurks 3  out of the north;

it will bring great destruction. 4 

6:2 I will destroy 5  Daughter Zion, 6 

who is as delicate and defenseless as a young maiden. 7 

6:3 Kings will come against it with their armies. 8 

They will encamp in siege all around it. 9 

Each of them will devastate the portion assigned to him. 10 

6:4 They will say, 11  ‘Prepare to do battle 12  against it!

Come on! Let’s attack it at noon!’

But later they will say, 13  ‘Oh, oh! Too bad! 14 

The day is almost over

and the shadows of evening are getting long.

6:5 So come on, let’s go ahead and attack it by night

and destroy all its fortified buildings.’

1 tn Heb “Flee for safety, people of Benjamin, out of the midst of Jerusalem.”

sn Compare and contrast Jer 4:6. There people in the outlying areas were warned to seek safety in the fortified city of Jerusalem. Here they are told to flee it because it was about to be destroyed.

map For location see Map5 B1; Map6 F3; Map7 E2; Map8 F2; Map10 B3; JP1 F4; JP2 F4; JP3 F4; JP4 F4.

2 tn Heb “ram’s horn,” but the modern equivalent is “trumpet” and is more readily understandable.

3 tn Heb “leans down” or “looks down.” This verb personifies destruction leaning/looking down from its window in the sky, ready to attack.

4 tn Heb “[It will be] a severe fracture.” The nation is pictured as a limb being fractured.

sn This passage is emotionally charged. There are two examples of assonance or wordplay in the verse: “sound” (Heb tiqu, “blow”), which has the same consonants as “Tekoa” (Heb uvitqoa’), and “signal fire,” which comes from the same root as “light” (Heb sÿu maset, “lift up”). There is also an example of personification where disaster is said to “lurk” (Heb “look down on”) out of the north. This gives a sense of urgency and concern for the coming destruction.

5 tn The verb here is another example of the Hebrew verb form that indicates the action is as good as done (a Hebrew prophetic perfect).

6 sn Jerusalem is personified as a young maiden who is helpless in the hands of her enemies.

7 tn Heb “The beautiful and delicate one I will destroy, the daughter of Zion. The English versions and commentaries are divided over the rendering of this verse because (1) there are two verbs with these same consonants, one meaning “to be like” and the other meaning “to be destroyed” (intransitive) or “to destroy” (transitive), and (2) the word rendered “beautiful” (נָוָה, navah) can be understood as a noun meaning “pasture” or as a defective writing of an adjective meaning “beautiful, comely” (נָאוָה, navah). Hence some render “Fair Zion, you are like a lovely pasture,” reading the verb form as an example of the old second feminine singular perfect. Although this may fit the imagery of the next verse, that rendering ignores the absence of a preposition (לְ or אֶל, lÿ or ’el, both of which can be translated “to”) that normally goes with the verb “be like” and drops the conjunction in front of the adjective “delicate.” The parallel usage of the verb in Hos 4:5 argues for the meaning “destroy.”

8 tn Heb “Shepherds and their flocks will come against it.” Rulers are often depicted as shepherds; see BDB 945 s.v. רָעָה 1.d(2) (cf. Jer 12:10). The translation of this verse attempts to clarify the point of this extended metaphor.

9 tn Heb “They will thrust [= pitch] tents around it.” The shepherd imagery has a surprisingly ominous tone. The beautiful pasture filled with shepherds grazing their sheep is in reality a city under siege from an attacking enemy.

10 tn Heb “They will graze each one his portion.” For the use of the verb “graze” to mean “strip” or “devastate” see BDB 945 s.v. רָעָה 2.c. For a similar use of the word normally meaning “hand” to mean portion compare 2 Sam 19:43 (19:44 HT).

sn There is a wordplay involving “sound…in Tekoa” mentioned in the study note on “destruction” in v. 1. The Hebrew verb “they will pitch” is from the same root as the word translated “sound” (taqÿu [תִּקְעוּ] here and tiqu [תִּקְעוּ] in v. 1).

11 tn These words are not in the text but are implicit in the connection. They are supplied in the translation for clarity.

12 tn Heb “Sanctify war.” This is probably an idiom from early Israel’s holy wars in which religious rites were to precede the battle.

13 tn These words are not in the text but are supplied in the translation for clarity. Some commentaries and English versions see these not as the words of the enemy but as those of the Israelites expressing their fear that the enemy will launch a night attack against them and further destroy them. The connection with the next verse, however, fits better with them if they are the words of the enemy.

14 tn Heb “Woe to us!” For the usage of this phrase see the translator’s note on 4:13. The usage of this particle here is a little exaggerated. They have lost the most advantageous time for attack but they are scarcely in a hopeless or doomed situation. The equivalent in English slang is “Bad news!”



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