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Jeremiah 50:4-7

Context

50:4 “When that time comes,” says the Lord, 1 

“the people of Israel and Judah will return to the land together.

They will come back with tears of repentance

as they seek the Lord their God. 2 

50:5 They will ask the way to Zion;

they will turn their faces toward it.

They will come 3  and bind themselves to the Lord

in a lasting covenant that will never be forgotten. 4 

50:6 “My people have been lost sheep.

Their shepherds 5  have allow them to go astray.

They have wandered around in the mountains.

They have roamed from one mountain and hill to another. 6 

They have forgotten their resting place.

50:7 All who encountered them devoured them.

Their enemies who did this said, ‘We are not liable for punishment!

For those people have sinned against the Lord, their true pasture. 7 

They have sinned against the Lord in whom their ancestors 8  trusted.’ 9 

1 tn Heb “oracle of the Lord.”

2 tn Heb “and the children of Israel will come, they and the children of Judah together. They shall go, weeping as they go, and they will seek the Lord their God.” The concept of “seeking” the Lord often has to do with seeking the Lord in worship (by sacrifice [Hos 5:6; 2 Chr 11:16]; prayer [Zech 8:21, 22; 2 Sam 12:16; Isa 65:1; 2 Chr 15:4]). In Hos 7:10 it is in parallel with returning to the Lord. In Ps 69:6 it is in parallel with hoping in or trusting in the Lord. Perhaps the most helpful parallels here, however, are Hos 3:5 (in comparison with Jer 30:9) and 2 Chr 15:15 where it is in the context of a covenant commitment to be loyal to the Lord which is similar to the context here (see the next verse). The translation is admittedly paraphrastic but “seeking the Lord” does not mean here looking for God as though he were merely a person to be found.

3 tc The translation here assumes that the Hebrew בֹּאוּ (bou; a Qal imperative masculine plural) should be read בָּאוּ (bau; a Qal perfect third plural). This reading is presupposed by the Greek version of Aquila, the Latin version, and the Targum (see BHS note a, which mistakenly assumes that the form must be imperfect).

4 sn See Jer 32:40 and the study note there for the nature of this lasting agreement.

5 sn The shepherds are the priests, prophets, and leaders who have led Israel into idolatry (2:8).

6 sn The allusion here, if it is not merely a part of the metaphor of the wandering sheep, is to the worship of the false gods on the high hills (2:20, 3:2).

7 tn This same Hebrew phrase “the habitation of righteousness” is found in Jer 31:23 in relation to Jerusalem in the future as “the place where righteousness dwells.” Here, however, it refers to the same entity as “their resting place” in v. 6 and means “true pasture.” For the meaning of “pasture” for the word נָוֶה (naveh) see 2 Sam 7:8 and especially Isa 65:10 where it is parallel with “resting place” for the flocks. For the meaning of “true” for צֶדֶק (tsedeq) see BDB 841 s.v. צֶדֶק 1. For the interpretation adopted here see G. L. Keown, P. J. Scalise, T. G. Smothers, Jeremiah 26-52 (WBC), 365. The same basic interpretation is reflected in NRSV, NJPS, and God’s Word.

8 tn Heb “fathers.”

9 sn These two verses appear to be a poetical summary of the argument of Jer 2 where the nation is accused of abandoning its loyalty to God and worshiping idols. Whereas those who tried to devour Israel were liable for punishment when Israel was loyal to God (2:3), the enemies of Israel who destroyed them (i.e., the Babylonians [but also the Assyrians], 50:17) argue that they are not liable for punishment because the Israelites have sinned against the Lord and thus deserve their fate.



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