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Jeremiah 31:6-7

Context

31:6 Yes, a time is coming

when watchmen 1  will call out on the mountains of Ephraim,

“Come! Let us go to Zion

to worship the Lord our God!”’” 2 

31:7 Moreover, 3  the Lord says,

“Sing for joy for the descendants of Jacob.

Utter glad shouts for that foremost of the nations. 4 

Make your praises heard. 5 

Then say, ‘Lord, rescue your people.

Deliver those of Israel who remain alive.’ 6 

1 sn Watchmen were stationed at vantage points to pass on warning of coming attack (Jer 6:17; Ezek 33:2, 6) or to spread the news of victory (Isa 52:8). Here reference is made to the watchmen who signaled the special times of the year such as the new moon and festival times when Israel was to go to Jerusalem to worship. Reference is not made to these in the Hebrew Bible but there is a good deal of instruction regarding them in the later Babylonian Talmud.

2 sn Not only will Israel and Judah be reunited under one ruler (cf. 23:5-6), but they will share a unified place and practice of worship once again in contrast to Israel using the illicit places of worship, illicit priesthood, and illicit feasts instituted by Jeroboam (1 Kgs 12:26-31) and continued until the downfall of Samaria in 722 b.c.

3 tn See the translator’s notes on 30:5, 12.

4 tn Heb “for the head/chief of the nations.” See BDB 911 s.v. רֹאשׁ 3.c and compare usage in Ps 18:44 referring to David as the “chief” or “foremost ruler” of the nations.

5 tn It is unclear who the addressees of the masculine plural imperatives are in this verse. Possibly they are the implied exiles who are viewed as in the process of returning and praying for their fellow countrymen.

6 tc Or “The Lord will rescue his people. He will deliver those of Israel who remain alive.” The translation used in the text follows the Hebrew: “Rescue your people, O Lord, the remnant of Israel.” The alternate translation which is preferred by several modern English versions (e.g., REB, TEV) and a majority of modern commentaries (see, e.g., J. A. Thompson, Jeremiah [NICOT], 569; J. Bright, Jeremiah [AB], 273, n. s-s) follows the reading of the Greek version and the Aramaic Targum and appears more appropriate to the context of praise presupposed by the preceding imperatives. The difference in the two readings are the omission of one vowel letter and the confusion of a final ךְ (kaf) and a וֹ (holem-vav) which are very similar in form. (The Greek presupposes הוֹשִׁיעַ יְהוָה אֶת־עַמּוֹ [hoshia yÿhvahet-ammo] for the Hebrew הוֹשַׁע יְהוָה אֶת־עַמְּךְ [hoshayÿhvahet-ammÿkh].) The key to a decision here is the shift from the verbs of praise to the imperative “say” which introduces the quotation; there is a shift from praise to petition. The shift in mood is not uncommon, occurring, for example, in Ps 118:25 and 126:4; it is the shift in mood between praise for what has begun to petition for what is further hoped for. It is easier to explain the origin contextually of the Greek and Targum than it is the Hebrew text, thus the Greek and Targum are probably a secondary smoothing of the text (this is the decision of the D. Barthélemy, ed., Preliminary and Interim Report on the Hebrew Old Testament Text Project, 4:263). The mood of prayer also shows up in v. 9 and again in vv. 17-18.



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