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Jeremiah 49:34-39

Context
Judgment Against Elam

49:34 Early in the reign 1  of King Zedekiah of Judah, the Lord spoke to the prophet Jeremiah about Elam. 2 

49:35 The Lord who rules over all said,

“I will kill all the archers of Elam,

who are the chief source of her military might. 3 

49:36 I will cause enemies to blow through Elam from every direction

like the winds blowing in from the four quarters of heaven.

I will scatter the people of Elam to the four winds.

There will not be any nation where the refugees of Elam will not go. 4 

49:37 I will make the people of Elam terrified of their enemies,

who are seeking to kill them.

I will vent my fierce anger

and bring disaster upon them,” 5  says the Lord. 6 

“I will send armies chasing after them 7 

until I have completely destroyed them.

49:38 I will establish my sovereignty over Elam. 8 

I will destroy their king and their leaders,” 9  says the Lord. 10 

49:39 “Yet in days to come

I will reverse Elam’s ill fortune.” 11 

says the Lord. 12 

1 tn Or “In the beginning of the reign.” For a discussion of the usage of the terms here see the translator’s note on 28:1. If this refers to the accession year the dating would be 598/97 b.c.

2 tn Heb “That which came [as] the word of the Lord to Jeremiah the prophet about the Elam.” See the translator’s note on 14:1 for the construction here and compare also 46:1; 47:1; 50:1.

sn Elam was a country on the eastern side of the Tigris River in what is now southwestern Iran. Its capital city was Susa. It was destroyed in 640 b.c. by Ashurbanipal after a long period of conflict with the Assyrian kings. It appears from Babylonian records to have regained its independence shortly thereafter, perhaps as early as 625 b.c., and was involved in the fall of Assyria in 612 b.c. If the date refers to the first year of Zedekiah’s rule (597 b.c.), this prophecy appears to be later than the previous ones (cf. the study notes on 46:2 and 47:1).

3 tn Heb “I will break the bow of Elam, the chief source of their might.” The phrase does not mean that God will break literal bows or that he will destroy their weapons (synecdoche of species for genus) or their military power (so Hos 1:5). Because of the parallelism, the “bow” here stands for the archers who wield the bow, and were the strongest force (or chief contingent) in their military.

4 tn Or more simply, “I will bring enemies against Elam from every direction. / And I will scatter the people of Elam to the four winds. // There won’t be any nation / where the refugees of Elam will not go.” Or more literally, “I will bring the four winds against Elam / from the four quarters of heaven. / I will scatter….” However, the winds are not to be understood literally here. God isn’t going to “blow the Elamites” out of Elam with natural forces. The winds must figuratively represent enemy forces that God will use to drive them out. Translating literally would be misleading at this point.

5 tn Heb “I will bring disaster upon them, even my fierce anger.”

6 tn Heb “Oracle of the Lord.”

7 tn Heb “I will send the sword after them.”

8 tn Or “I will sit in judgment over Elam”; Heb “I will set up my throne in Elam.” Commentators are divided over whether this refers to a king sitting in judgment over his captured enemies or whether it refers to formally establishing his rule over the country. Those who argue for the former idea point to the supposed parallels in 1:15 (which the present translation understands not to refer to this but to setting up siege) and 43:8-13. The parallelism in the verse here, however, argues that it refers to the Lord taking over the reins of government by destroying their former leaders.

9 tn Heb “I will destroy king and leaders from there.”

10 tn Heb “Oracle of the Lord.”

11 tn See Jer 29:14; 30:3 and the translator’s note on 29:14 for the idiom used here.

sn See a similar note on the reversal of Moab’s fortunes in Jer 48:47 and compare also 46:26 for a future restoration of Egypt.

12 tn Heb “Oracle of the Lord.”



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