‘Cut down the trees around Jerusalem
and build up a siege ramp against its walls. 3
This is the city which is to be punished. 4
Nothing but oppression happens in it. 5
6:14 They offer only superficial help
for the harm my people have suffered. 6
They say, ‘Everything will be all right!’
But everything is not all right! 7
There will be no grapes on their vines.
There will be no figs on their fig trees.
Even the leaves on their trees will wither.
The crops that I gave them will be taken away.’” 9
“Why are we just sitting here?
Let us gather together inside the fortified cities. 11
Let us at least die there fighting, 12
since the Lord our God has condemned us to die.
He has condemned us to drink the poison waters of judgment 13
because we have sinned against him. 14
8:15 We hoped for good fortune, but nothing good has come of it.
We hoped for a time of relief, but instead we experience terror. 15
8:16 The snorting of the enemy’s horses
is already being heard in the city of Dan.
The sound of the neighing of their stallions 16
causes the whole land to tremble with fear.
They are coming to destroy the land and everything in it!
They are coming to destroy 17 the cities and everyone who lives in them!”
“Yes indeed, 19 I am sending an enemy against you
that will be like poisonous snakes which cannot be charmed away. 20
And they will inflict fatal wounds on you.” 21
“There is no cure 23 for my grief!
I am sick at heart!
throughout the length and breadth of the land. 26
They are crying, ‘Is the Lord no longer in Zion?
Is her divine King 27 no longer there?’”
The Lord answers, 28
“Why then do they provoke me to anger with their images,
with their worthless foreign idols?” 29
and still we have not been delivered.’
I go about crying and grieving. I am overwhelmed with dismay. 34
There is still a physician there! 36
Why then have my dear people 37
not been restored to health? 38
and my eyes were a fountain full of tears!
If they were, I could cry day and night
for those of my dear people 41 who have been killed.
1 tn Heb “For.” The translation attempts to make the connection clearer.
2 tn Heb “Yahweh of armies.”
sn For an explanation of the significance of this title see the study note on 2:19.
3 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.
4 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 (hoy ’ir hasheqer) instead of הִיא הָעִיר הָפְקַד (hi’ ha’ir 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
5 tn Heb “All of it oppression in its midst.”
6 tn Heb “They heal [= bandage] the wound of my people lightly”; TEV “They act as if my people’s wounds were only scratches.”
7 tn Heb “They say, ‘Peace! Peace!’ and there is no peace!”
8 tn Or “I will completely destroy them.” The translation which is adopted is based on the revocalization of the MT which appears to mean literally “gathering I will sweep them away,” a rather improbable grammatical combination. It follows the suggestion found in HALOT 705 s.v. סוּף (Hiph) of reading אֹסֵף אֲסִיפָם (’ose, a first singular Qal imperfect of אָסַף [’asaf] followed by a noun אָסִיף [’asif] with possessive suffix) instead of the MT’s אָסֹף אֲסִיפֵם (’aspf ’asifem, a Qal infinitive absolute of אָסַף [’asaf] followed by the Hiphil imperfect of סוּף [suf] plus suffix). For parallel usage of the verb אָסַף (asaf) see BDB 62 s.v. אָסַף Qal.4, and for a similar form of the verb see Mic 4:6. The alternate translation follows the suggestion in BDB 692 s.v. סוּף Hiph: אָסֹף (’asof) is to be interpreted as a form of the Hiphil infinitive absolute (הָסֵף [hasef] would be expected) chosen for assonance with the following form. This suggestion would gain more credence if the MT is to be retained in Zeph 1:2 where parallel forms are found. However, that text too has been questioned on lexical and grammatical grounds. The translation adopted fits the following context better than the alternate one and is based on less questionable lexical and grammatical parallels. The Greek translation which reads “they shall gather their fruits” supports the translation chosen.
9 tn The meaning of this line is very uncertain. A possible alternate translation is: “They have broken the laws that I gave them.” The line reads rather literally “And I gave them they passed over them.” The translation adopted treats the first expression as a noun clause (cf. GKC 488-89 §155.n) which is the subject of the following verb, i.e., “the things I gave them [contextually, the grapes, etc.] passed over from them.” The alternate translation treats the expression as a dangling object (a Hebrew casus pendens) resumed by the pronoun “them” and understands “the things that I gave them” to be the law or some related entity which is often the object of this verb (see BDB 717 s.v. עָבַר Qal.1.i). Neither of these translations is without its weakness. The weakness of the translation which has been adopted is the unusual use it assigns to the object suffix of the verb translated “pass over.” The weakness of the alternate translation is the rather abrupt and opaque introduction of a new topic of reference (i.e., the laws) into the context. On the whole the latter weakness would appear to outweigh the former. This line is missing from the Greek version and J. Bright (Jeremiah [AB]) and J. A. Thompson (Jeremiah [NICOT]) despair of giving a translation. For other possible suggestions see, W. L. Holladay, Jeremiah (Hermeneia), 1:285-86.
11 tn Heb “Gather together and let us enter into the fortified cities.”
12 tn Heb “Let us die there.” The words “at least” and “fighting” are intended to bring out the contrast of passive surrender to death in the open country and active resistance to the death implicit in the context.
13 tn The words “of judgment” are not in the text but are intended to show that “poison water” is not literal but figurative of judgment at the hands of God through the agency of the enemy mentioned in v. 16.
14 tn Heb “against the
15 tn Heb “[We hoped] for a time of healing but behold terror.”
16 tn Heb “his stallions.”
17 tn The words “They are coming to destroy” are not in the text. They are inserted to break up a long sentence in conformity with contemporary English style.
18 tn These words which are at the end of the Hebrew verse are brought forward to show at the outset the shift in speaker.
19 tn Heb “Indeed [or For] behold!” The translation is intended to convey some of the connection that is suggested by the Hebrew particle כִּי (ki) at the beginning of the verse.
20 tn Heb “I am sending against you snakes, poisonous ones which cannot be charmed.” In the light of the context literal snakes are scarcely meant. So the metaphor is turned into a simile to prevent possible confusion. For a similar metaphorical use of animals for enemies see 5:6.
21 tn Heb “they will bite you.” There does not appear to be any way to avoid the possible confusion that literal snakes are meant here except to paraphrase. Possibly one could say “And they will attack you and ‘bite’ you,” but the enclosing of the word “bite” in quotations might lead to even further confusion.
23 tn The meaning of this word is uncertain. The translation is based on the redivision and repointing of a word that occurs only here in the MT and whose pattern of formation is unparalleled in the Hebrew Bible. The MT reads מַבְלִיגִיתִי (mavligiti) which BDB provisionally derives from a verb root meaning “to gleam” or “to shine.” However, BDB notes that the text is dubious (cf. BDB 114 s.v. מַבְלִיגִית). The text is commonly emended to מִבְּלִי גְּהֹת (mibbÿli gÿhot) which is a Qal infinitive from a verb meaning “to heal” preceded by a compound negative “for lack of, to be at a loss for” (cf., e.g., HALOT 514 s.v. מַבְלִיגִית and 174 s.v. גּהה). This reading is supported by the Greek text which has an adjective meaning “incurable,” which is, however, connected with the preceding verse, i.e., “they will bite you incurably.”
25 tn Heb “Behold the voice of the crying of the daughter of my people.”
27 tn Heb “her King” but this might be misunderstood by some to refer to the Davidic ruler even with the capitalization.
28 tn The words, “The
29 sn The people’s cry and the
30 tn The words “They say” are not in the text; they are supplied in the translation to make clear that the lament of the people begun in v. 19b is continued here after the interruption of the
31 tn Heb “Harvest time has passed, the summer is over.”
sn This appears to be a proverbial statement for “time marches on.” The people appear to be expressing their frustration that the
33 tn Heb “Because of the crushing of the daughter of my people I am crushed.”
34 tn Heb “I go about in black [i.e., mourning clothes]. Dismay has seized me.”
35 tn Heb “balm.” The more familiar “ointment” has been used in the translation, supplemented with the adjective “medicinal.”
sn This medicinal ointment (Heb “balm”) consisted of the gum or resin from a tree that grows in Egypt and Palestine and was thought to have medicinal value (see also Jer 46:11).
36 tn Heb “Is there no balm in Gilead? Is there no physician there?” In this context the questions are rhetorical and expect a positive answer, which is made explicit in the translation.
sn The prophet means by this metaphor that there are still means available for healing the spiritual ills of his people, mainly repentance, obedience to the law, and sole allegiance to God, and still people available who will apply this medicine to them, namely prophets like himself.
38 tn Or more clearly, “restored to spiritual health”; Heb “Why then has healing not come to my dear people?”
sn Jeremiah is lamenting that though there is a remedy available for the recovery of his people they have not availed themselves of it.
39 sn Beginning with 9:1, the verse numbers through 9:26 in the English Bible differ from the verse numbers in the Hebrew text (BHS), with 9:1 ET = 8:23 HT, 9:2 ET = 9:1 HT, 9:3 ET = 9:2 HT, etc., through 9:26 ET = 9:25 HT. Beginning with 10:1 the verse numbers in the ET and HT are again the same.
40 tn Heb “I wish that my head were water.”