4:19 I said, 1
“Oh, the feeling in the pit of my stomach! 2
I writhe in anguish.
Oh, the pain in my heart! 3
My heart pounds within me.
I cannot keep silent.
For I hear the sound of the trumpet; 4
the sound of the battle cry pierces my soul! 5
4:20 I see 6 one destruction after another taking place,
so that the whole land lies in ruins.
I see our 7 tents suddenly destroyed,
their 8 curtains torn down in a mere instant. 9
4:21 “How long must I see the enemy’s battle flags
and hear the military signals of their bugles?” 10
4:22 The Lord answered, 11
“This will happen 12 because my people are foolish.
They do not know me.
They are like children who have no sense. 13
They have no understanding.
They are skilled at doing evil.
They do not know how to do good.”
4:23 “I looked at the land and saw 14 that it was an empty wasteland. 15
I looked up at the sky, and its light had vanished.
4:24 I looked at the mountains and saw that they were shaking.
All the hills were swaying back and forth!
4:25 I looked and saw that there were no more people, 16
and that all the birds in the sky had flown away.
4:26 I looked and saw that the fruitful land had become a desert
and that all of the cities had been laid in ruins.
The Lord had brought this all about
because of his blazing anger. 17
4:27 All this will happen because the Lord said, 18
“The whole land will be desolate;
however, I will not completely destroy it.
4:28 Because of this the land will mourn
and the sky above will grow black. 19
For I have made my purpose known 20
and I will not relent or turn back from carrying it out.” 21
4:29 At the sound of the approaching horsemen and archers
the people of every town will flee.
Some of them will hide in the thickets.
Others will climb up among the rocks.
All the cities will be deserted.
No one will remain in them.
4:30 And you, Zion, city doomed to destruction, 22
you accomplish nothing 23 by wearing a beautiful dress, 24
decking yourself out in jewels of gold,
and putting on eye shadow! 25
You are making yourself beautiful for nothing.
Your lovers spurn you.
They want to kill you. 26
4:31 In fact, 27 I hear a cry like that of a woman in labor,
a cry of anguish like that of a woman giving birth to her first baby.
It is the cry of Daughter Zion 28 gasping for breath,
reaching out for help, 29 saying, “I am done in! 30
My life is ebbing away before these murderers!”
1 tn The words “I said” are not in the text. They are used to mark the shift from the
2 tn Heb “My bowels! My bowels!”
3 tn Heb “the walls of my heart!”
4 tn Heb “ram’s horn,” but the modern equivalent is “trumpet” and is more readily understandable.
5 tc The translation reflects a different division of the last two lines than that suggested by the Masoretes. The written text (the Kethib) reads “for the sound of the ram’s horn I have heard [or “you have heard,” if the form is understood as the old second feminine singular perfect] my soul” followed by “the battle cry” in the last line. The translation is based on taking “my soul” with the last line and understanding an elliptical expression “the battle cry [to] my soul.” Such an elliptical expression is in keeping with the elliptical nature of the exclamations at the beginning of the verse (cf. the literal translations of the first two lines of the verse in the notes on the words “stomach” and “heart”).
6 tn The words, “I see” are not in the text here or at the beginning of the third line. They are supplied in the translation to show that this is Jeremiah’s vision of what will happen as a result of the invasion announced in 4:5-9, 11-17a.
7 tn Heb “my.” This is probably not a reference to Jeremiah’s own tents since he foresees the destruction of the whole land. Jeremiah so identifies with the plight of his people that he sees the destruction of their tents as though they were his very own. It would probably lead to confusion to translate literally and it is not uncommon in Hebrew laments for the community or its representative to speak of the community as an “I.” See for example the interchange between first singular and first plural pronouns in Ps 44:4-8.
8 tn Heb “my.”
9 tn It is not altogether clear what Jeremiah intends by the use of this metaphor. In all likelihood he means that the defenses of Israel’s cities and towns have offered no more resistance than nomads’ tents. However, in light of the fact that the word “tent” came to be used generically for a person’s home (cf. 1 Kgs 8:66; 12:16), it is possible that Jeremiah is here referring to the destruction of their homes and the resultant feeling of homelessness and loss of even elementary protection. Given the lack of certainty the present translation is rather literal here.
10 tn Heb “the sound of ram’s horns,” but the modern equivalent is “bugles” and is more readily understandable.
11 tn These words are not in the text but are supplied in the translation to show clearly the shift in speaker. Jeremiah has been speaking; now the
12 tn Heb “For….” This gives the explanation for the destruction envisaged in 4:20 to which Jeremiah responds in 4:19, 21.
13 tn Heb “They are senseless children.”
14 tn Heb “I looked at the land and behold...” This indicates the visionary character of Jeremiah’s description of the future condition of the land of Israel.
15 tn Heb “formless and empty.” This is a case of hendiadys (two nouns joined by “and” both describe the same thing): one noun retains its full nominal force, the other functions as an adjective. The words תֹהוּ וָבֹהוּ (tohu vavohu) allude to Gen 1:2, hyperbolically picturing a reversal of creation and return to the original precreation chaos.
16 tn Heb “there was no man/human being.”
17 tn Heb “because of the
18 tn Heb “For this is what the
19 sn The earth and the heavens are personified here and depicted in the act of mourning and wearing black clothes because of the destruction of the land of Israel.
20 tn Heb “has spoken and purposed.” This is an example of hendiadys where two verbs are joined by “and” but one is meant to serve as a modifier of the other.
21 tn Heb “will not turn back from it.”
22 tn Heb “And you that are doomed to destruction.” The referent is supplied from the following context and the fact that Zion/Jerusalem represents the leadership which was continually making overtures to foreign nations for help.
23 tn Heb “What are you accomplishing…?” The rhetorical question assumes a negative answer, made clear by the translation in the indicative.
24 tn Heb “clothing yourself in scarlet.”
25 tn Heb “enlarging your eyes with antimony.” Antimony was a black powder used by women as eyeliner to make their eyes look larger.
26 tn Heb “they seek your life.”
27 tn The particle כִּי (ki) is more likely asseverative here than causal.
28 sn Jerusalem is personified as a helpless maiden.
29 tn Heb “spreading out her hands.” The idea of asking or pleading for help is implicit in the figure.
30 tn Heb “Woe, now to me!” See the translator’s note on 4:13 for the usage of “Woe to…”