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Jeremiah 1:9-19

Context
1:9 Then the Lord reached out his hand and touched my mouth and said to me, “I will most assuredly give you the words you are to speak for me. 1  1:10 Know for certain that 2  I hereby give you the authority to announce to nations and kingdoms that they will be 3  uprooted and torn down, destroyed and demolished, rebuilt and firmly planted.” 4 

Visions Confirming Jeremiah’s Call and Commission

1:11 Later the Lord asked me, “What do you see, Jeremiah?” I answered, “I see a branch of an almond tree.” 1:12 Then the Lord said, “You have observed correctly. This means 5  I am watching to make sure my threats are carried out.” 6 

1:13 The Lord again asked me, “What do you see?” I answered, “I see a pot of boiling water; it is tipped toward us from the north.” 7  1:14 Then the Lord said, “This means 8  destruction will break out from the north on all who live in the land. 1:15 For I will soon summon all the peoples of the kingdoms of the north,” says the Lord. “They will come and their kings will set up their thrones 9  near the entrances of the gates of Jerusalem. 10  They will attack all the walls surrounding it, and all the towns in Judah. 11  1:16 In this way 12  I will pass sentence 13  on the people of Jerusalem and Judah 14  because of all their wickedness. For they rejected me and offered sacrifices to other gods, worshiping what they made with their own hands.” 15 

1:17 “But you, Jeremiah, 16  get yourself ready! 17  Go and tell these people everything I instruct you to say. Do not be terrified of them, or I will give you good reason to be terrified of them. 18  1:18 I, the Lord, 19  hereby promise to make you 20  as strong as a fortified city, an iron pillar, and a bronze wall. You will be able to stand up against all who live in 21  the land, including the kings of Judah, its officials, its priests and all the people of the land. 1:19 They will attack you but they will not be able to overcome you, for I will be with you to rescue you,” says the Lord.

1 tn Heb “Behold, I have put my words in your mouth.” This is an example of the Hebrew “scheduling” perfect or the “prophetic” perfect where a future event is viewed as so certain it is spoken of as past. The Hebrew particle rendered here “assuredly” (Heb הִנֵּה, hinneh) underlines the certitude of the promise for the future. See the translator’s note on v. 6.

sn The passage is reminiscent of Deut 18:18 which refers to the Lord’s promise of future revelation through a line of prophets who, like Moses, would speak God’s word.

2 tn Heb “See!” The Hebrew imperative of the verb used here (רָאָה, raah) functions the same as the particle in v. 9. See the translator’s note there.

3 tn Heb “I appoint you today over nations and kingdoms to uproot….” The phrase refers to the Lord giving Jeremiah authority as a prophet to declare what he, the Lord, will do; it does not mean that Jeremiah himself will do these things. The expression involves a figure of speech where the subject of a declaration is stated instead of the declaration about it. Compare a similar use of the same figure in Gen 41:13.

4 sn These three pairs represent the twofold nature of Jeremiah’s prophecies, prophecies of judgment and restoration. For the further programmatic use of these pairs for Jeremiah’s ministry see 18:7-10 and 31:27-28.

5 tn This represents the Hebrew particle (כִּי, ki) that is normally rendered “for” or “because.” The particle here is meant to give the significance of the vision, not the rationale for the statement “you have observed correctly.”

6 tn Heb “watching over my word to do it.”

sn There is a play on the Hebrew word for “almond tree” (שָׁקֵד, shaqed), which blossoms in January/February and is the harbinger of spring, and the Hebrew word for “watching” (שֹׁקֵד, shoqed), which refers to someone watching over someone or something in preparation for action. The play on words announces the certainty and imminence of the Lord carrying out the covenant curses of Lev 26 and Deut 28 threatened by the earlier prophets.

7 tn Heb “a blown upon [= heated; boiling] pot and its face from the face of the north [= it is facing away from the north].”

8 tn There is nothing in the Hebrew text for these words but it is implicit in the connection. Once again the significance of the vision is spelled out. Compare the translator’s note on v. 12.

9 tn Heb “they will each set up.” The pronoun “they” refers back to the “kingdoms” in the preceding sentence. However, kingdoms do not sit on thrones; their kings do. This is an example of a figure of speech called metonymy where the kingdom is put for its king. For a similar use see 2 Chr 12:8.

10 map For location see Map5 B1; Map6 F3; Map7 E2; Map8 F2; Map10 B3; JP1 F4; JP2 F4; JP3 F4; JP4 F4.

11 tn Or “They will come and set up their thrones in the entrances of the gates of Jerusalem. They will destroy all the walls surrounding it and also destroy all the towns in Judah.” The text of v. 15b reads in Hebrew, “they will each set up his throne [near? in?] the entrance of the gates of Jerusalem and against all its walls…and against all the towns….” Commentators are divided over whether the passage refers to the kings setting up their thrones after victory in preparation for passing judgment on their defeated enemies in the city or whether it refers to setting up siege against it. There is no Hebrew preposition before the word for “the entrance” so that it could be “in” (which would imply victory) or “at/near” (which would imply siege), and the same verb + object (i.e., “they will set up their thrones”) governs all the locative statements. It is most often taken to refer to the aftermath of victory because of the supposed parallel in Jer 43:8-13 and the supposed fulfillment in Jer 39:3. Though this may fit well with the first part of the compound expression, it does not fit well with the latter part which is most naturally taken to refer to hostile attacks against Jerusalem and the other cities of Judah. The translation given in the text is intended to reflect the idea of an army setting up for siege. The alternate translation is intended to reflect the other view.

12 tn The Hebrew particle (the vav [ו] consecutive), which is often rendered in some English versions as “and” and in others is simply left untranslated, is rendered here epexegetically, reflecting a summary statement.

13 sn The Hebrew idiom (literally “I will speak my judgments against”) is found three other times in Jeremiah (4:12; 39:5; 52:9), where it is followed by the carrying out of the sentence. Here the carrying out of the sentence precedes in v. 15.

14 tn Heb “on them.” The antecedent goes back to Jerusalem and the cities of Judah (i.e., the people in them) in v. 15.

15 tn I.e., idols.

16 tn The name “Jeremiah” is not in the text. The use of the personal pronoun followed by the proper name is an attempt to reflect the correlative emphasis between Jeremiah’s responsibility noted here and the Lord’s promise noted in the next verse. The emphasis in the Hebrew text is marked by the presence of the subject pronouns at the beginning of each of the two verses.

17 tn Heb “gird up your loins.” For the literal use of this idiom to refer to preparation for action see 2 Kgs 4:29; 9:1. For the idiomatic use to refer to spiritual and emotional preparation as here, see Job 38:3, 40:7, and 1 Pet 1:13 in the NT.

18 tn Heb “I will make you terrified in front of them.” There is a play on words here involving two different forms of the same Hebrew verb and two different but related prepositional phrases, “from before/of,” a preposition introducing the object of a verb of fearing, and “before, in front of,” a preposition introducing a spatial location.

19 tn See the note on “Jeremiah” at the beginning of v. 17.

20 tn Heb “today I have made you.” The Hebrew verb form here emphasizes the certainty of a yet future act; the Lord is promising to protect Jeremiah from any future attacks which may result from his faithfully carrying out his commission. See a similar use of the same Hebrew verb tense in v. 9, and see the translator’s note there.

21 tn Heb “I make you a fortified city…against all the land….” The words “as strong as” and “so you will be able to stand against all the people of…” are given to clarify the meaning of the metaphor.



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