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Jeremiah 6:3-6

Context

6:3 Kings will come against it with their armies. 1 

They will encamp in siege all around it. 2 

Each of them will devastate the portion assigned to him. 3 

6:4 They will say, 4  ‘Prepare to do battle 5  against it!

Come on! Let’s attack it at noon!’

But later they will say, 6  ‘Oh, oh! Too bad! 7 

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.’

6:6 All of this is because 8  the Lord who rules over all 9  has said:

‘Cut down the trees around Jerusalem

and build up a siege ramp against its walls. 10 

This is the city which is to be punished. 11 

Nothing but oppression happens in it. 12 

1 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.

2 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.

3 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).

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

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

6 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.

7 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!”

8 tn Heb “For.” The translation attempts to make the connection clearer.

9 tn Heb “Yahweh of armies.”

sn For an explanation of the significance of this title see the study note on 2:19.

10 tn Heb “Cut down its trees and build up a siege ramp against Jerusalem.” The referent has been moved forward from the second line for clarity.

11 tn Or “must be punished.” The meaning of this line is uncertain. The LXX reads, “Woe, city of falsehood!” The MT presents two anomalies: a masculine singular verb with a feminine singular subject in a verbal stem (Hophal) that elsewhere does not have the meaning “is to be punished.” Hence many follow the Greek which presupposes הוֹי עִיר הַשֶּׁקֶר (hoyir hasheqer) instead of הִיא הָעִיר הָפְקַד (hihair hofqad). The Greek is the easier reading in light of the parallelism, and it would be hard to explain how the MT arose from it. KBL suggests reading a noun meaning “licentiousness” which occurs elsewhere only in Mishnaic Hebrew, hence “this is the city, the licentious one” (attributive apposition; cf. KBL 775 s.v. פֶּקֶר). Perhaps the Hophal perfect (הָפְקַד, hofÿqad) should be revocalized as a Niphal infinitive absolute (הִפָּקֹד, hippaqod); this would solve both anomalies in the MT since the Niphal is used in this nuance and the infinitive absolute can function in place of a finite verb (cf. GKC 346 §113.ee and ff). This, however, is mere speculation and is supported by no Hebrew ms.

12 tn Heb “All of it oppression in its midst.”



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