There is still a physician there! 2
Why then have my dear people 3
not been restored to health? 4
you dear poor people of Egypt. 6
But it will prove useless no matter how much medicine you use; 7
there will be no healing for you.
1 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).
2 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.
4 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.
6 sn Heb “Virgin Daughter of Egypt.” See the study note on Jer 14:17 for the significance of the use of this figure. The use of the figure here perhaps refers to the fact that Egypt’s geographical isolation allowed her safety and protection that a virgin living at home would enjoy under her father’s protection (so F. B. Huey, Jeremiah, Lamentations [NAC], 379). By her involvement in the politics of Palestine she had forfeited that safety and protection and was now suffering for it.
7 tn Heb “In vain you multiply [= make use of many] medicines.”