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Jeremiah 21:1

Context
The Lord Will Hand Jerusalem over to Enemies

21:1 The Lord spoke to Jeremiah 1  when King Zedekiah 2  sent to him Pashhur son of Malkijah and the priest Zephaniah son of Maaseiah. 3  Zedekiah sent them to Jeremiah to ask, 4 

Jeremiah 38:1-6

Context
Jeremiah Is Charged with Treason and Put in a Cistern to Die

38:1 Now Shephatiah son of Mattan, Gedaliah son of Pashhur, Jehucal 5  son of Shelemiah, and Pashhur 6  son of Malkijah had heard 7  the things that Jeremiah had been telling the people. They had heard him say, 38:2 “The Lord says, ‘Those who stay in this city will die in battle or of starvation or disease. 8  Those who leave the city and surrender to the Babylonians 9  will live. They will escape with their lives.’” 10  38:3 They had also heard him say, 11  “The Lord says, ‘This city will certainly be handed over to the army of the king of Babylon. They will capture it.’” 12  38:4 So these officials said to the king, “This man must be put to death. For he is demoralizing 13  the soldiers who are left in the city as well as all the other people there by these things he is saying. 14  This 15  man is not seeking to help these people but is trying to harm them.” 16  38:5 King Zedekiah said to them, “Very well, you can do what you want with him. 17  For I cannot do anything to stop you.” 18  38:6 So the officials 19  took Jeremiah and put him in the cistern 20  of Malkijah, one of the royal princes, 21  that was in the courtyard of the guardhouse. There was no water in the cistern, only mud. So when they lowered Jeremiah into the cistern with ropes he sank in the mud. 22 

1 tn Heb “The word which came to Jeremiah from the Lord.”

2 sn Zedekiah was the last king of Judah. He ruled from 597 b.c. when he was placed on the throne by Nebuchadnezzar (2 Kgs 24:17) until the fall of Jerusalem in 587/6 b.c. He acquiesced to some of his anti-Babylonian counselors, rebelled against Nebuchadnezzar, and sought help from the Egyptians (Ezek 17:12-15). This brought Nebuchadnezzar against the city in 588 b.c. This is the first of two delegations to Jeremiah. The later one was sent after Nebuchadnezzar withdrew to take care of the Egyptian threat (cf. Jer 37:1-9).

3 sn The Pashhur son of Malkijah referred to here is not the same as the Pashhur referred to in 20:1-6 who was the son of Immer. This Pashhur is referred to later in 38:1. The Zephaniah referred to here was the chief of security referred to later in Jer 29:25-26. He appears to have been favorably disposed toward Jeremiah.

4 tn Heb “sent to him…Maaseiah, saying,….”

5 tn The name is spelled “Jucal” in the Hebrew text here rather than “Jehucal” as in Jer 37:3. The translation uses the same spelling throughout so that the English reader can identify these as the same individual.

sn Jehucal was a member of the delegation sent to Jeremiah by Zedekiah in Jer 37:3.

6 sn Pashhur was a member of the delegation sent to Jeremiah in 21:2. For the relative sequence of these two delegations see the study note on 21:1.

7 tn J. Bright (Jeremiah [AB], 226, 30) is probably correct in translating the verbs here as pluperfects and in explaining that these words are prophecies that Jeremiah uttered before his arrest not prophecies that were being delivered to the people through intermediaries sent by Jeremiah who was confined in the courtyard of the guardhouse. For the use of the vav consecutive + imperfect to denote the pluperfect see the discussion and examples in IBHS 552-53 §33.2.3a and see the usage in Exod 4:19. The words that are cited in v. 2 are those recorded in 21:9 on the occasion of the first delegation and those in v. 3 are those recorded in 21:10; 34:2; 37:8; 32:28 all except the last delivered before Jeremiah was confined in the courtyard of the guardhouse.

8 tn Heb “by sword, by starvation, or by disease.”

9 tn Heb “those who go out to the Chaldeans.” For the rendering “Babylonians” for “Chaldeans” see the study note on 21:4.

10 tn Heb “his life will be to him for spoil and he will live.” For the meaning of this idiom see the study note on 21:9. The words and “he will live” have been left out of the translation because they are redundant after “will live” and “they will escape with their lives.”

sn See Jer 21:9 for this prophecy.

11 tn The words “They had also heard him say,” are not in the Hebrew text. They are supplied in the translation for clarity so as to avoid any possible confusion that might be created by saying merely “And the Lord says,” without any introduction.

12 sn See Jer 21:10; 32:28; 34:2; 37:8 for this same prophecy. Jeremiah had repeatedly said this or words to the same effect.

13 tn Heb “weakening the hands of.” For this idiom see BDB 951 s.v. רָפָה Pi. and compare the usage in Isa 13:7; Ezek 21:7 (21:12 HT).

14 tn Heb “by saying these things.”

15 tn The Hebrew particle כִּי (ki) has not been rendered here because it is introducing a parallel causal clause to the preceding one. To render “For” might be misunderstood as a grounds for the preceding statement. To render “And” or “Moreover” sounds a little odd here. If it must be represented, “Moreover” is perhaps the best rendering.

16 tn Or “is not looking out for these people’s best interests but is really trying to do them harm”; Heb “is not seeking the welfare [or “well-being”; Hebrew shalom] of this people but [their] harm [more literally, evil].”

17 tn Heb “Behold, he is in your hands [= power/control].”

18 tn Heb “For the king cannot do a thing with/against you.” The personal pronoun “I” is substituted in the English translation due to differences in style; Hebrew style often uses the third person or the title in speaking of oneself but English rarely if ever does. Compare the common paraphrasis of “your servant” for “I” in Hebrew (cf. BDB 714 s.v. עֶבֶד 6 and usage in 1 Sam 20:7, 8) and compare the usage in Pss 63:11 (63:12 HT); 61:6 (61:7 HT) where the king is praying for himself. For the meaning of יָכֹל (yakhol) as “to be able to do anything,” see BDB 407 s.v. יָכֹל 1.g.

19 tn Heb “they.”

20 sn A cistern was a pear-shaped pit with a narrow opening. Cisterns were cut or dug in the limestone rock and lined with plaster to prevent seepage. They were used to collect and store rain water or water carried up from a spring.

21 tn Heb “the son of the king.” See the translator’s note on Jer 36:26 for the rendering here.

22 tn Heb “And they let Jeremiah down with ropes and in the cistern there was no water, only mud, and Jeremiah sank in the mud.” The clauses have been reordered and restructured to create a more natural and smoother order in English.



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