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Jeremiah 25:1-11

Context
Seventy Years of Servitude for Failure to Give Heed

25:1 In the fourth year that Jehoiakim son of Josiah was king of Judah, the Lord spoke to Jeremiah 1  concerning all the people of Judah. (That was the same as the first year that Nebuchadnezzar was king of Babylon.) 2  25:2 So the prophet Jeremiah spoke to all the people of Judah and to all the people who were living in Jerusalem. 3  25:3 “For the last twenty-three years, from the thirteenth year that Josiah son of Amon was ruling in Judah 4  until now, the Lord has been speaking to me. I told you over and over again 5  what he said. 6  But you would not listen. 25:4 Over and over again 7  the Lord has sent 8  his servants the prophets to you. But you have not listened or paid attention. 9  25:5 He said through them, 10  ‘Each of you must turn from your wicked ways and stop doing the evil things you are doing. 11  If you do, I will allow you to continue to live here in the land that I gave to you and your ancestors as a lasting possession. 12  25:6 Do not pay allegiance to 13  other gods and worship and serve them. Do not make me angry by the things that you do. 14  Then I will not cause you any harm.’ 25:7 So, now the Lord says, 15  ‘You have not listened to me. But 16  you have made me angry by the things that you have done. 17  Thus you have brought harm on yourselves.’

25:8 “Therefore, the Lord who rules over all 18  says, ‘You have not listened to what I said. 19  25:9 So I, the Lord, affirm that 20  I will send for all the peoples of the north 21  and my servant, 22  King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon. I will bring them against this land and its inhabitants and all the nations that surround it. I will utterly destroy 23  this land, its inhabitants, and all the nations that surround it 24  and make them everlasting ruins. 25  I will make them objects of horror and hissing scorn. 26  25:10 I will put an end to the sounds of joy and gladness, to the glad celebration of brides and grooms in these lands. 27  I will put an end to the sound of people grinding meal. I will put an end to lamps shining in their houses. 28  25:11 This whole area 29  will become a desolate wasteland. These nations will be subject to the king of Babylon for seventy years.’ 30 

1 tn Heb “The word was to Jeremiah.” It is implicit from the context that it was the Lord’s word. The verbal expression is more in keeping with contemporary English style.

2 sn The year referred to would be 605 b.c. Jehoiakim had been placed on the throne of Judah as a puppet king by Pharaoh Necho after the defeat of Josiah at Megiddo in 609 b.c. (2 Kgs 23:34-35). According to Jer 46:2 Nebuchadnezzar defeated Necho at Carchemish in that same year. After defeating Necho, Nebuchadnezzar had hurried back to Babylon where he was made king. After being made king he then returned to Judah and attacked Jerusalem (Dan 1:1. The date given there is the third year of Jehoiakim but scholars are generally agreed that the dating there is based on a different system than the one here. It did not count the part of the year before New Year’s day as an official part of the king’s official rule. Hence, the third year there is the fourth year here.) The identity of the foe from the north referred to in general terms (4:6; 6:1; 15:12) now becomes clear.

3 map For location see Map5 B1; Map6 F3; Map7 E2; Map8 F2; Map10 B3; JP1 F4; JP2 F4; JP3 F4; JP4 F4.

4 sn The year referred to would be 627 b.c. The same year is referred to in 1:2 in reference to his call to be a prophet.

5 tn For the idiom involved here see the notes at 7:13 and 11:7.

6 tn The words “what he said” are not in the text but are implicit. They are supplied in the translation for clarity.

7 tn For the idiom involved here see the notes at 7:13 and 11:7.

8 tn The vav consecutive with the perfect in a past narrative is a little unusual. Here it is probably indicating repeated action in past time in keeping with the idiom that precedes and follows it. See GKC 332 §112.f for other possible examples.

9 tn Heb “inclined your ear to hear.” This is idiomatic for “paying attention.” It is often parallel with “listen” as here or with “pay attention” (see, e.g., Prov 4:20; 51:1).

10 tn Heb “saying.” The infinitive goes back to “he sent”; i.e., “he sent, saying.”

11 tn Heb “Turn [masc. pl.] each person from his wicked way and from the evil of your [masc. pl.] doings.” See the same demand in 23:22.

12 tn Heb “gave to you and your fathers with reference to from ancient times even unto forever.” See the same idiom in 7:7.

13 tn Heb “follow after.” See the translator’s note on 2:5 for this idiom.

14 tn Heb “make me angry with the work of your hands.” The term “work of your own hands” is often interpreted as a reference to idolatry as is clearly the case in Isa 2:8; 37:19. However, the parallelism in 25:14 and the context in 32:30 show that it is more general and refers to what they have done. That is likely the meaning here as well.

15 tn Heb “Oracle of the Lord.”

16 tn This is a rather clear case where the Hebrew particle לְמַעַן (lÿmaan) introduces a consequence and not a purpose, contrary to the dictum of BDB 775 s.v. מַעַן note 1. They have not listened to him in order to make him angry but with the result that they have made him angry by going their own way. Jeremiah appears to use this particle for result rather than purpose on several other occasions (see, e.g., 7:18, 19; 27:10, 15; 32:29).

17 tn Heb “make me angry with the work of your hands.” The term “work of your own hands” is often interpreted as a reference to idolatry as is clearly the case in Isa 2:8; 37:19. However, the parallelism in 25:14 and the context in 32:30 show that it is more general and refers to what they have done. That is likely the meaning here as well.

18 tn Heb “Yahweh of armies.”

sn See the study note on 2:19 for an explanation of this title.

19 tn Heb “You have not listened to my words.”

20 tn Heb “Oracle of the Lord.”

21 sn The many allusions to trouble coming from the north are now clarified: it is the armies of Babylon which included within it contingents from many nations. See 1:14, 15; 4:6; 6:1, 22; 10:22; 13:20 for earlier allusions.

22 sn Nebuchadnezzar is called the Lord’s servant also in Jer 27:6; 43:10. He was the Lord’s servant in that he was the agent used by the Lord to punish his disobedient people. Assyria was earlier referred to as the Lord’s “rod” (Isa 10:5-6) and Cyrus is called his “shepherd” and his “anointed” (Isa 44:28; 45:1). P. C. Craigie, P. H. Kelley, and J. F. Drinkard (Jeremiah 1-25 [WBC], 364) make the interesting observation that the terms here are very similar to the terms in v. 4. The people of Judah ignored the servants, the prophets, he sent to turn them away from evil. So he will send other servants whom they cannot ignore.

23 tn The word used here was used in the early years of Israel’s conquest for the action of killing all the men, women, and children in the cities of Canaan, destroying all their livestock, and burning their cities down. This policy was intended to prevent Israel from being corrupted by paganism (Deut 7:2; 20:17-18; Josh 6:18, 21). It was to be extended to any city that led Israel away from worshiping God (Deut 13:15) and any Israelite who brought an idol into his house (Deut 7:26). Here the policy is being directed against Judah as well as against her neighbors because of her persistent failure to heed God’s warnings through the prophets. For further usage of this term in application to foreign nations in the book of Jeremiah see 50:21, 26; 51:3.

24 tn Heb “will utterly destroy them.” The referent (this land, its inhabitants, and the nations surrounding it) has been specified in the translation for clarity, since the previous “them” referred to Nebuchadnezzar and his armies.

sn This is essentially the introduction to the “judgment on the nations” in vv. 15-29 which begins with Jerusalem and Judah (v. 18) and ultimately ends with Babylon itself (“Sheshach” in v. 26; see note there for explanation of the term).

25 sn The Hebrew word translated “everlasting” is the word often translated “eternal.” However, it sometimes has a more limited time reference. For example it refers to the lifetime of a person who became a “lasting slave” to another person (see Exod 21:6; Deut 15:17). It is also used to refer to the long life wished for a king (1 Kgs 1:31; Neh 2:3). The time frame here is to be qualified at least with reference to Judah and Jerusalem as seventy years (see 29:10-14 and compare v. 12).

26 tn Heb “I will make them an object of horror and a hissing and everlasting ruins.” The sentence has been broken up to separate the last object from the first two which are of slightly different connotation, i.e., they denote the reaction to the latter.

sn Compare Jer 18:16 and 19:8 and the study note at 18:16.

27 sn Compare Jer 7:24 and 16:9 for this same dire prediction limited to Judah and Jerusalem.

28 sn The sound of people grinding meal and the presence of lamps shining in their houses were signs of everyday life. The Lord is going to make these lands desolate (v. 11) destroying all signs of life. (The statement is, of course, hyperbolic or poetic exaggeration; even after the destruction of Jerusalem many people were left in the land.) For these same descriptions of everyday life applying to the end of life see the allegory in Eccl 12:3-6.

29 tn Heb “All this land.”

30 sn It should be noted that the text says that the nations will be subject to the king of Babylon for seventy years, not that they will lie desolate for seventy years. Though several proposals have been made for dating this period, many ignore this fact. This most likely refers to the period beginning with Nebuchadnezzar’s defeat of Pharaoh Necho at Carchemish in 605 b.c. and the beginning of his rule over Babylon. At this time Babylon became the dominant force in the area and continued to be so until the fall of Babylon in 538 b.c. More particularly Judah became a vassal state (cf. Jer 46:2; 2 Kgs 24:1) in 605 b.c. and was allowed to return to her homeland in 538 when Cyrus issued his edict allowing all the nations exiled by Babylon to return to their homelands. (See 2 Chr 36:21 and Ezra 1:2-4; the application there is made to Judah but the decree of Cyrus was broader.)



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