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Jeremiah 8:18--9:2

Context

8:18 Then I said, 1 

“There is no cure 2  for my grief!

I am sick at heart!

8:19 I hear my dear people 3  crying out 4 

throughout the length and breadth of the land. 5 

They are crying, ‘Is the Lord no longer in Zion?

Is her divine King 6  no longer there?’”

The Lord answers, 7 

“Why then do they provoke me to anger with their images,

with their worthless foreign idols?” 8 

8:20 “They cry, 9  ‘Harvest time has come and gone, and the summer is over, 10 

and still we have not been delivered.’

8:21 My heart is crushed because my dear people 11  are being crushed. 12 

I go about crying and grieving. I am overwhelmed with dismay. 13 

8:22 There is still medicinal ointment 14  available in Gilead!

There is still a physician there! 15 

Why then have my dear people 16 

not been restored to health? 17 

9:1 (8:23) 18  I wish that my head were a well full of water 19 

and my eyes were a fountain full of tears!

If they were, I could cry day and night

for those of my dear people 20  who have been killed.

9:2 (9:1) I wish I had a lodging place in the desert

where I could spend some time like a weary traveler. 21 

Then I would desert my people

and walk away from them

because they are all unfaithful to God,

a congregation 22  of people that has been disloyal to him. 23 

1 tn The words, “Then I said” are not in the text but there is a general consensus that the words of vv. 18-19a are the words of Jeremiah. These words are supplied in the translation for clarity.

2 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.”

3 tn Heb “daughter of my people.” For the translation given here see 4:11 and the note on the phrase “dear people” there.

4 tn Heb “Behold the voice of the crying of the daughter of my people.”

5 tn Heb “Land of distances, i.e., of wide extent.” For parallel usage cf. Isa 33:17.

6 tn Heb “her King” but this might be misunderstood by some to refer to the Davidic ruler even with the capitalization.

7 tn The words, “The Lord would answer” are not in the text but are implicit from the words that follow. They are supplied in the translation for clarity. Another option would be to add “And I can just hear the Lord reply.”

8 sn The people’s cry and the Lord’s interruption reflect the same argument that was set forth in the preceding chapter. They have misguided confidence that the Lord is with them regardless of their actions and he responds that their actions have provoked him to the point of judging them. See especially 7:4 and 7:30.

9 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 Lord’s words in v. 19c.

10 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 Lord has not gone about his business of rescuing them as they expected. For a similar misguided feeling based on the offering of shallow repentance see Hos 6:1-3 (and note the Lord’s reply in 6:4-6).

11 tn Heb “daughter of my people.” For the translation given here see 4:11 and the note on the phrase “dear people” there.

12 tn Heb “Because of the crushing of the daughter of my people I am crushed.”

13 tn Heb “I go about in black [i.e., mourning clothes]. Dismay has seized me.”

14 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).

15 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.

16 tn Heb “daughter of my people.” For the translation given here see 4:11 and the note on the phrase “dear people” there.

17 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.

18 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.

19 tn Heb “I wish that my head were water.”

20 tn Heb “daughter of my people.” For the translation given here see 4:11 and the note on the phrase “dear people” there.

21 tn Heb “I wish I had in the desert a lodging place [inn, or place to spend the night] for travelers.”

22 tn Or “bunch,” but this loses the irony; the word is used for the solemn assemblies at the religious feasts.

23 tn Heb “they are all adulterers, a congregation of unfaithful people.” However, spiritual adultery is, of course, meant, not literal adultery. So the literal translation would be misleading.



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