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Jeremiah 49:7-22

Context
Judgment Against Edom

49:7 The Lord who rules over all 1  spoke about Edom. 2 

“Is wisdom no longer to be found in Teman? 3 

Can Edom’s counselors not give her any good advice? 4 

Has all of their wisdom turned bad? 5 

49:8 Turn and flee! Take up refuge in remote places, 6 

you people who live in Dedan. 7 

For I will bring disaster on the descendants of Esau.

I have decided it is time for me to punish them. 8 

49:9 If grape pickers came to pick your grapes,

would they not leave a few grapes behind? 9 

If robbers came at night,

would they not pillage only what they needed? 10 

49:10 But I will strip everything away from Esau’s descendants.

I will uncover their hiding places so they cannot hide.

Their children, relatives, and neighbors will all be destroyed.

Not one of them will be left!

49:11 Leave your orphans behind and I will keep them alive.

Your widows too can depend on me.” 11 

49:12 For the Lord says, “If even those who did not deserve to drink from the cup of my wrath must drink from it, do you think you will go unpunished? You will not go unpunished, but must certainly drink from the cup of my wrath. 12  49:13 For I solemnly swear,” 13  says the Lord, “that Bozrah 14  will become a pile of ruins. It will become an object of horror and ridicule, an example to be used in curses. 15  All the towns around it will lie in ruins forever.”

49:14 I said, 16  “I have heard a message from the Lord.

A messenger has been sent among the nations to say,

‘Gather your armies and march out against her!

Prepare to do battle with her!’” 17 

49:15 The Lord says to Edom, 18 

“I will certainly make you small among nations.

I will make you despised by all humankind.

49:16 The terror you inspire in others 19 

and the arrogance of your heart have deceived you.

You may make your home in the clefts of the rocks;

you may occupy the highest places in the hills. 20 

But even if you made your home where the eagles nest,

I would bring you down from there,”

says the Lord.

49:17 “Edom will become an object of horror.

All who pass by it will be filled with horror;

they will hiss out their scorn

because of all the disasters that have happened to it. 21 

49:18 Edom will be destroyed like Sodom and Gomorrah

and the towns that were around them.

No one will live there.

No human being will settle in it,”

says the Lord.

49:19 “A lion coming up from the thick undergrowth along the Jordan 22 

scatters the sheep in the pastureland around it. 23 

So too I will chase the Edomites off their land. 24 

Then I will appoint over it whomever I choose. 25 

For there is no one like me, and there is no one who can call me to account. 26 

There is no 27  ruler 28  who can stand up against me.

49:20 So listen to what I, the Lord, have planned against Edom,

what I intend to do to 29  the people who live in Teman. 30 

Their little ones will be dragged off.

I will completely destroy their land because of what they have done. 31 

49:21 The people of the earth will quake when they hear of their downfall. 32 

Their cries of anguish will be heard all the way to the Gulf of Aqaba. 33 

49:22 Look! Like an eagle with outspread wings,

a nation will soar up and swoop down on Bozrah.

At that time the soldiers of Edom will be as fearful

as a woman in labor.” 34 

1 tn Heb “Yahweh of armies.” See the study note on 2:19 for this title.

2 sn Edom was a kingdom to the south and east of Judah. Its borders varied over time but basically Edom lay in the hundred mile strip between the Gulf of Aqaba on the south and the Zered River on the north. It straddled the Arabah leading down from the Dead Sea to the Gulf of Aqaba, having as its northern neighbors both Judah and Moab. A long history of hostility existed between Israel and Edom, making Edom one of the favorite objects of the prophets’ oracles of judgment (cf., e.g., Isa 21:11-12; 34:5-15; 63:1-6; Amos 1:11-12; Ezek 25:12-14; 35:1-15; Obad 1-16). Not much is known about Edom at this time other than the fact that they participated in the discussions regarding rebellion against Nebuchadnezzar in 594 b.c. According to Obadiah 10-16 they not only gloated over Judah’s downfall in 586 b.c. but participated in its plunder and killed some of those who were fleeing the country.

3 sn Teman was the name of one of Esau’s descendants, the name of an Edomite clan and the name of the district where they lived (Gen 36:11, 15, 34). Like the name Bozrah, it is used poetically for all of Edom (Jer 49:20; Ezek 25:13).

4 tn Heb “Has counsel perished from men of understanding?”

5 tn The meaning of this last word is based on the definition given in KBL 668 s.v. II סָרַח Nif and HALOT 726 s.v. II סָרַח Nif, which give the nuance “to be [or become] corrupt” rather than that of BDB 710 s.v. סָרַח Niph who give the nuance “let loose (i.e., to be dismissed; to be gone)” from a verb that is elsewhere used of the overhanging of a curtains or a cliff.

6 tn Heb “make deep to dwell.” The meaning of this phrase is debated. Some take it as a reference for the Dedanites who were not native to Edom to go down from the heights of Edom and go back home (so G. L. Keown, P. J. Scalise, T. G. Smothers, Jeremiah 26-52 [WBC], 330). The majority of commentaries, however, take it as a reference to the Dedanites disassociating themselves from the Edomites and finding remote hiding places to live in (so J. A. Thompson, Jeremiah [NICOT], 718). For the options see W. L. Holladay, Jeremiah (Hermeneia), 2:375.

7 sn Dedan. The Dedanites were an Arabian tribe who lived to the southeast of Edom. They are warned here to disassociate themselves from Edom because Edom is about to suffer disaster.

8 tn Heb “For I will bring the disaster of Esau upon him, the time when I will punish him.” Esau was the progenitor of the tribes and nation of Edom (cf. Gen 36:1, 8, 9, 19).

9 tn The translation of this verse is generally based on the parallels in Obad 5. There the second line has a ה interrogative in front of it. The question can still be assumed because questions can be asked in Hebrew without a formal marker (cf. GKC 473 §150.a and BDB 519 s.v. לֹא 1.a[e] and compare usage in 2 Kgs 5:26).

10 tn The tense and nuance of the verb translated “pillage” are both different than the verb in Obad 5. There the verb is the imperfect of גָּנַב (ganav, “to steal”). Here the verb is the perfect of a verb which means to “ruin” or “spoil.” The English versions and commentaries, however, almost all render the verb here in much the same way as in Obad 5. The nuance must mean they only “ruin, destroy” (by stealing) only as much as they need (Heb “their sufficiency”), and the verb is used as metonymical substitute, effect for cause. The perfect must be some kind of a future perfect; “would they not have destroyed only…” The negative question is carried over by ellipsis from the preceding lines.

11 tn Or “Their children and relatives will all be destroyed. And none of their neighbors will say, ‘Leave your orphans with me and I’ll keep them alive. Your widows can trust in me.’” This latter interpretation is based on a reading in a couple of the Greek versions (Symmachus and Lucian) and is accepted by a number of the modern commentaries, (J. Bright, J. A. Thompson, W. L. Holladay, and G. L. Keown, P. J. Scalise, T. G. Smothers). However, the majority of modern English versions do not follow it and lacking any other Hebrew or versional evidence it is probable that this is an interpretation to explain the mitigation of what appears as a prophecy of utter annihilation. There have been other cases in Jeremiah where a universal affirmation (either positive or negative) has been modified in the verses that follow. The verb in the second line תִּבְטָחוּ (tivtakhu) is highly unusual; it is a second masculine plural form with a feminine plural subject. The form is explained in GKC 127-28 §47.k and 160-61 §60.a, n. 1 as a pausal substitution for the normal form תִּבְטַחְנָה (tivtakhnah) and a similar form in Ezek 37:7 cited as a parallel.

12 tn The words “of my wrath” after “cup” in the first line and “from the cup of my wrath” in the last line are not in the text but are implicit in the metaphor. They have been supplied in the translation for clarity.

sn The reference here is to the cup of God’s wrath which is connected with the punishment of war at the hands of the Babylonians referred to already in Jer 25:15-29. Those who do not deserve to drink are the innocent victims of war who get swept away with the guilty. Edom was certainly not one of the innocent victims as is clear from this judgment speech and those referred to in the study note on 49:7.

13 tn Heb “I swear by myself.” See 22:5 and the study note there.

14 sn Bozrah appears to have been the chief city in Edom, its capital city (see its parallelism with Edom in Isa 34:6; 63:1; Jer 49:22). The reference to “its towns” (translated here “all the towns around it”) could then be a reference to all the towns in Edom. It was located about twenty-five miles southeast of the southern end of the Dead Sea apparently in the district of Teman (see the parallelism in Amos 1:12).

15 tn See the study note on 24:9 for the rendering of this term.

16 tn The words “I said” are not in the text but it is generally agreed that the words that follow are Jeremiah’s. These words are supplied in the translation to make clear that the speaker has shifted from the Lord to Jeremiah.

17 tn Heb “Rise up for battle.” The idea “against her” is implicit from the context and has been supplied in the translation for clarity.

18 tn The words “The Lord says to Edom” are not in the text. They have been supplied in the translation to mark the shift from the address of the messenger summoning the nations to prepare to do battle against Edom. The Lord is clearly the speaker (see the end of v. 16) and Edom is clearly the addressee. Such sudden shifts are common in Hebrew poetry, particularly Hebrew prophecy, but are extremely disruptive to a modern reader trying to follow the argument of a passage. TEV adds “The Lord said” and then retains third person throughout. CEV puts all of vv. 14-16 in the second person and uses indirect discourse in v. 15.

19 tn The meaning of this Hebrew word (תִּפְלֶצֶת, tifletset) is uncertain because it occurs only here. However, it is related to a verb root that refers to the shaking of the pillars (of the earth) in Job 9:6 and a noun (מִפְלֶצֶת, mifletset) that refers to “horror” or “shuddering” used in Job 21:6; Isa 21:4; Ezek 7:18; Ps 55:6. This is the nuance that is accepted by BDB, KBL, HAL and a majority of the modern English versions. The suffix is an objective genitive. The fact that the following verb is masculine singular suggests that the text here (הִשִּׁיא אֹתָךְ, hishi’ ’otakh) is in error for הִשִּׁיאָתָךְ (hishiatakh; so G. L. Keown, P. J. Scalise, T. G. Smothers, Jeremiah 26-52 [WBC], 327, n. 16.a).

20 tn The Hebrew text of the first four lines reads: “Your terror [= the terror you inspire] has deceived you, [and] the arrogance of your heart, you who dwell in the clefts of the rock, who occupy the heights of the hill.” The sentence is broken up and restructured to better conform with English style.

21 sn This verse is very similar to Jer 19:8 where the same judgment is pronounced on Jerusalem. For the meaning of some of the terms here (“hiss out their scorn” and “all the disasters that have happened to it”) see the notes on that verse.

22 tn See the study note on Jer 12:5 for the rendering of this term.

23 tn “The pasture-ground on the everflowing river” according to KBL 42 s.v. I אֵיתָן 1. The “everflowing river” refers to the Jordan.

24 tn Heb “Behold, like a lion comes up from the thicket of the Jordan into the pastureland of everflowing water so [reading כֵּן (ken) for כִּי (ki); or “indeed” (reading כִּי as an asseverative particle with J. A. Thompson, Jeremiah [NICOT], 719, n. 6)] I will suddenly chase him [Edom] from upon it [the land].” The sentence has been restructured to better conform with contemporary English style and the significance of the simile drawn from the comparison has been spelled out for the sake of clarity. The form אַרְגִּיעָה (’argiah) is functioning here as an adverbial modifier in a verbal hendiadys (cf. GKC 386 §120.g).

25 tn For the use of the interrogative מִי (mi) in the sense of “whoever” and functioning like an adjective see BDB 567 s.v. מִי g and compare the usage in Prov 9:4, 16.

26 tn For the meaning of this verb in the sense of “arraign” or “call before the bar of justice” compare Job 9:19 and see BDB 417 s.v. יָעַד Hiph.

27 tn The interrogative מִי (mi) is rendered “there is no one” in each of the last three occurrences in this verse because it is used in a rhetorical question that expects the answer “no one” or “none” and is according to BDB 566 s.v. מִי f(c) equivalent to a rhetorical negative.

28 tn The word “shepherd” (רֹעֶה, roeh) has been used often in the book of Jeremiah to refer metaphorically to the ruler or leader (cf. BDB 945 s.v. I רָעָה Qal.1.d(2) and compare usage, e.g., in Jer 2:8; 23:1).

29 tn Heb “Therefore listen to the plan of the Lord which he has planned against Edom, and the purposes which he has purposed against…” The first person has again been adopted in the translation to avoid the shift from the first person address in v. 19 to the third person in v. 20, a shift that is common in Hebrew poetry, particularly Hebrew prophecy, but which is not common in contemporary English literature.

30 sn Teman here appears to be a poetic equivalent for Edom, a common figure of speech in Hebrew poetry where the part is put for the whole. “The people of Teman” is thus equivalent to all the people of Edom.

31 tn Heb “They will surely drag them off, namely the young ones of the flock. He will devastate their habitation [or their sheepfold] on account of them.” The figure of the lion among the flock of sheep appears to be carried on here where the people are referred to as a flock and their homeland is referred to as a sheepfold. It is hard, however, to carry the figure over here into the translation, so the figures have been interpreted instead. Both of these last two sentences are introduced by a formula that indicates a strong affirmative oath (i.e., they are introduced by אִם לֹא [’im lo’; cf. BDB 50 s.v. אִם 1.b(2)]). The subject of the verb “they will drag them off” is the indefinite third plural which may be taken as a passive in English (cf. GKC 460 §144.g). The subject of the last line is the Lord which has been rendered in the first person for stylistic reasons (see the translator’s note on the beginning of the verse).

32 tn Heb “The earth will quake when at the sound of their downfall.” However, as in many other places “earth” stands here metonymically for the inhabitants or people of the earth (see E. W. Bullinger, Figures of Speech, 578-79, and compare usage in 2 Sam 15:23; Ps 66:4).

33 tn Heb “the Red Sea,” of which the Gulf of Aqaba formed the northeastern arm. The land of Edom once reached this far according to 1 Kgs 9:26.

34 sn Compare Jer 48:40-41 for a similar prophecy about Moab. The parallelism here suggests that Bozrah, like Teman in v. 20, is a poetic equivalent for Edom.



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