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Jeremiah 15:11

Context

15:11 The Lord said,

“Jerusalem, 1  I will surely send you away for your own good.

I will surely 2  bring the enemy upon you in a time of trouble and distress.

1 tn The word “Jerusalem” is not in the text. It is supplied in the translation for clarity to identify the referent of “you.” A comparison of three or four English versions will show how difficult this verse is to interpret. The primary difficulty is with the meaning of the verb rendered here as “I will surely send you out [שֵׁרִותִךָ, sherivtikha].” The text and the meaning of the word are debated (for a rather full discussion see W. L. Holladay, Jeremiah [Hermeneia], 1:446-47, n. b-b). Tied up with that is the meaning of the verb in the second line and the identification of who the speaker and addressee are. One of two approaches are usually followed. Some follow the Greek version which has Jeremiah speaking and supporting his complaint that he has been faithful. In this case the word “said” is left out, the difficult verb is taken to mean “I have served you” (שֵׁרַתִּיךָ [sheratikha] from שָׁרַת [sharat; BDB 1058 s.v. שָׁרַת]) and the parallel verb means “I have made intercession for my enemies.” The second tack is to suppose that God is speaking and is promising Jeremiah deliverance from his detractors. In this case the troublesome word is taken to mean “deliver” (cf. BDB 1056 s.v. I שָׁרָה), “strengthen” (see BDB’s discussion) or read as a noun “remnant” (שֵׁרִיתְךָ = שְׁאֵרִיתְךָ [sheritekha = shÿeritekha]; again see BDB’s discussion). In this case the parallel verb is taken to mean “I will cause your enemies to entreat you,” a meaning it has nowhere else. Both of these approaches are probably wrong. The Greek text is the only evidence for leaving out “said.” The problem with making Jeremiah the addressee is twofold. First, the word “enemy” is never used in the book of Jeremiah’s foes, always of political enemies. Second, and more troublesome, one must assume a shift in the addressee between v. 11 and vv.13-14 or assume that the whole is addressed. The latter would be odd if he is promised deliverance from his detractors only to be delivered to captivity. If, however, one assumes that the whole is addressed to Jerusalem, there is no such problem. A check of earlier chapters will show that the second masculine pronoun is used for Judah/Jerusalem in 2:28-29; 4:1-2; 5:17-18; 11:13. In 2:28-28 and 4:1-2 the same shift from second singular to second plural takes place as does here in vv. 13-14. Moreover, vv. 13-14 continue much of the same vocabulary and is addressed to Jerusalem. The approach followed here is similar to that taken in REB except “for good” is taken in the way it is always used rather to mean “utterly.” The nuance suggested by BDB 1056 s.v. I שָׁרָה is assumed and the meaning of the parallel verb is assumed to be similar to that in Isa 53:6 (see BDB 803 s.v. פָּגַע Hiph.1). The MT is retained with demonstrable meanings. For the concept of “for good” see Jer 24:5-6. This assumes that the ultimate goal of God’s discipline is here announced.

sn The Lord interrupts Jeremiah’s complaint with a word for Jerusalem. Compare a similar interruption in discussion with Jeremiah in vv. 5-6.

2 tn “Surely” represents a construct in Hebrew that indicates a strong oath of affirmation. Cf. BDB 50 s.v. אִם 1.b(2) and compare usage in 2 Kgs 9:26.



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