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Jeremiah 19:7-9

Context
19:7 In this place I will thwart 1  the plans of the people of Judah and Jerusalem. I will deliver them over to the power of their enemies who are seeking to kill them. They will die by the sword 2  at the hands of their enemies. 3  I will make their dead bodies food for the birds and wild beasts to eat. 19:8 I will make this city an object of horror, a thing to be hissed at. All who pass by it will be filled with horror and will hiss out their scorn 4  because of all the disasters that have happened to it. 5  19:9 I will reduce the people of this city to desperate straits during the siege imposed on it by their enemies who are seeking to kill them. I will make them so desperate that they will eat the flesh of their own sons and daughters and the flesh of one another.”’” 6 

1 sn There is perhaps a two-fold wordplay in the use of this word. One involves the sound play with the word for “jar,” which has been explained as a water decanter. The word here is בַקֹּתִי (vaqqoti). The word for jar in v. 1 is בַקְבֻּק (vaqbuq). There may also be a play on the literal use of this word to refer to the laying waste or destruction of a land (see Isa 24:3; Nah 2:3). Many modern commentaries think that at this point Jeremiah emptied out the contents of the jar, symbolizing the “emptying” out of their plans.

2 sn This refers to the fact that they will die in battle. The sword would be only one of the weapons that strikes them down. It is one of the trio of “sword,” “starvation,” and “disease” which were the concomitants of war referred to so often in the book of Jeremiah. Starvation is referred to in v. 9.

3 tn Heb “I will cause them to fall by the sword before their enemies and in the hand of those who seek their soul [= life].” In this context the two are meant as obvious qualifications of one entity, not two. Some rearrangement of the qualifiers had to be made in the English translation to convey this.

4 sn See 18:16 and the study note there.

5 tn Heb “all its smitings.” This word has been used several times for the metaphorical “wounds” that Israel has suffered as a result of the blows from its enemies. See, e.g., 14:17. It is used in the Hebrew Bible of scourging, both literally and metaphorically (cf. Deut 25:3; Isa 10:26), and of slaughter and defeat (1 Sam 4:10; Josh 10:20). Here it refers to the results of the crushing blows at the hands of her enemies which has made her the object of scorn.

6 tn This verse has been restructured to try to bring out the proper thought and subordinations reflected in the verse without making the sentence too long and complex in English: Heb “I will make them eat the flesh of their sons and daughters. And they will eat one another’s flesh in the siege and in the straits which their enemies who are seeking their lives reduce them to.” This also shows the agency through which God’s causation was effected, i.e., the siege.

sn Cannibalism is one of the penalties for disobedience to their covenant with the Lord effected through the Mosaic covenant. See Deut 28:53, 55, 57. For examples of this being carried out see 2 Kgs 6:28-29; Lam 4:10.



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