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Jeremiah 48:9

Context

48:9 Set up a gravestone for Moab,

for it will certainly be laid in ruins! 1 

Its cities will be laid waste

and become uninhabited.”

1 tn Or “Scatter salt over Moab for it will certainly be laid in ruins.” The meaning of these two lines is very uncertain. The Hebrew of these two lines presents several difficulties. It reads תְּנוּ־צִיץ לְמוֹאָב נָצֹא תֵּצֵא (tÿnu-tsits lÿmoav natsotetse’). Of the five words two are extremely problematic and the meaning of the second affects also the meaning of the last word which normally means “go out.” The word צִיץ (tsits) regularly refers to a blossom or flower or the diadem on the front of Aaron’s mitre. BDB 851 s.v. II צִיץ gives a nuance “wings (coll)” based on the interpretation of Abu Walid and some medieval Jewish interpreters who related it to an Aramaic root. But BDB says that meaning is dubious and refers to the Greek which reads σημεῖα (shmeia, “sign” or “sign post”). Along with KBL 802 s.v. I צִיץ and HALOT 959 s.v. II צִיץ, BDB suggests that the Greek presupposes the word צִיּוּן (tsiyyun) which refers to a road marker (Jer 31:21) or a gravestone (2 Kgs 23:17). That is the meaning followed here. Several modern commentaries and English versions have followed a proposal by W. Moran that the word is related to a Ugaritic word meaning salt (cf., e.g., J. Bright, Jeremiah [AB], 320). However, HALOT 959 s.v. II צִיץ questions the validity of this on philological grounds saying that the meaning of salt does not really fit the Ugaritic either. The present translation follows the suggestions of the lexicons here and reads the word as though the Greek supported the meaning “gravestone.” The other difficulty is with the word נָצֹא (natso’), which looks like a Qal infinitive absolute of an otherwise unattested root which BDB s.v. נָצָא says is defined in Gesenius’ Thesaurus as “fly.” However, see the meaning and the construction of an infinitive absolute of one root with that of another as highly improbable. Hence, most modern lexicons either emend the forms to read נָצֹה תִּצֶּה (natsoh titseh) from the root נָצָה (natsah) meaning “to fall into ruins” (so KBL 629 s.v. נָצָה Qal, and see among others J. A. Thompson, Jeremiah [NICOT], 700, n. 10, who notes that final א [aleph] and final ה [hey] are often confused; see the discussion and examples in GKC 216-17 §75.nn-rr). This is the option that this translation as well as a number of modern ones have taken. A second option is to see נָצֹא (natso’) as an error for יָצֹא (yatso’) and read the text in the sense of “she will certainly surrender,” a meaning that the verb יָצָא (yatsa’) has in 1 Sam 11:3; Isa 36:6. The best discussion of this option as well as a discussion on the problem of reading צִיץ (tsits) as salt is found in G. L. Keown, P. J. Scalise, T. G. Smothers, Jeremiah 26-52 (WBC), 313-14.



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