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Jeremiah 36:2-10

Context
36:2 “Get a scroll. 1  Write on it everything I have told you to say 2  about Israel, Judah, and all the other nations since I began to speak to you in the reign of Josiah until now. 3  36:3 Perhaps when the people of Judah hear about all the disaster I intend to bring on them, they will all stop doing the evil things they have been doing. 4  If they do, I will forgive their sins and the wicked things they have done.” 5 

36:4 So Jeremiah summoned Baruch son of Neriah. Then Jeremiah dictated to Baruch everything the Lord had told him to say and Baruch wrote it all down in a scroll. 6  36:5 Then Jeremiah told Baruch, “I am no longer allowed to go 7  into the Lord’s temple. 36:6 So you go there the next time all the people of Judah come in from their towns to fast 8  in the Lord’s temple. Read out loud where all of them can hear you what I told you the Lord said, which you wrote in the scroll. 9  36:7 Perhaps then they will ask the Lord for mercy and will all stop doing the evil things they have been doing. 10  For the Lord has threatened to bring great anger and wrath against these people.” 11 

36:8 So Baruch son of Neriah did exactly what the prophet Jeremiah had told him to do. He read what the Lord had said from the scroll in the temple of the Lord. 12  36:9 All the people living in Jerusalem 13  and all the people who came into Jerusalem from the towns of Judah came to observe a fast before the Lord. The fast took place in the ninth month of the fifth year that Jehoiakim son of Josiah was ruling over Judah. 14  36:10 At that time Baruch went into the temple of the Lord. He stood in the entrance of the room of Gemariah the son of Shaphan who had been the royal secretary. 15  That room was in the upper court 16  near the entrance of the New Gate. 17  There, where all the people could hear him, he read from the scroll what Jeremiah had said. 18 

1 sn Heb “a roll [or scroll] of a document.” Scrolls consisted of pieces of leather or parchment sewn together and rolled up on wooden rollers. The writing was written from right to left and from top to bottom in columns and the scroll unrolled from the left roller and rolled onto the right one as the scroll was read. The scroll varied in length depending on the contents. This scroll was probably not all that long since it was read three times in a single day (vv. 10-11, 15-16, 21-23).

2 sn The intent is hardly that of giving a verbatim report of everything that the Lord had told him to say or of everything that he had actually said. What the scroll undoubtedly contained was a synopsis of Jeremiah’s messages as constructed from his memory.

3 sn This refers to the messages that Jeremiah delivered during the last eighteen years of Josiah, the three month reign of Jehoahaz and the first four years of Jehoiakim’s reign (the period between Josiah’s thirteenth year [cf. 1:2] and the fourth year of Jehoiakim [v. 1]). The exact content of this scroll is unknown since many of the messages in the present book are undated. It is also not known what relation this scroll had to the present form of the book of Jeremiah, since this scroll was destroyed and another one written that contained more than this one did (cf. v. 32). Since Jeremiah continued his ministry down to the fall of Jerusalem in 587/6 b.c. (1:2) and beyond (cf. Jer 40-44) much more was added to those two scrolls even later.

4 tn Heb “will turn each one from his wicked way.”

5 tn Heb “their iniquity and their sin.”

sn The offer of withdrawal of punishment for sin is consistent with the principles of Jer 18:7-8 and the temple sermon delivered early in the reign of this king (cf. 26:1-3; 7:5-7).

6 tn Heb “Then Baruch wrote down on a scroll from the mouth of Jeremiah all the words of the Lord which he [the Lord] had spoken to him [Jeremiah].” The syntax of the Hebrew sentence is awkward and hard to reproduce “literally” in any meaningful way. The English sentence has been restructured to reproduce all the pertinent facts in more simplified language.

7 tn Heb “I am restrained; I cannot go into.” The word “restrained” is used elsewhere in Jeremiah of his being confined to the courtyard of the guardhouse (33:1; 39:15). However, that occurred only later during the tenth year of Zedekiah (Jer 32:1-2) and Jeremiah appears here to be free to come and go as he pleased (vv. 19, 26). The word is used in the active voice of the Lord preventing Sarah from having a baby (Gen 16:2). The probable nuance is here “I am prevented/ debarred” from being able to go. No reason is given why he was prevented/debarred. It has been plausibly suggested that he was prohibited from going into the temple any longer because of the scathing sermon he delivered there earlier (Jer 26:1-3; 7:1-15).

8 sn Regular fast days were not a part of Israel’s religious calendar. Rather fast days were called on special occasions, i.e., in times of drought or a locust plague (Joel 1:14; 2:15), or during a military crisis (2 Chr 20:3), or after defeat in battle (1 Sam 31:13; 2 Sam 1:12). A fast day was likely chosen for the reading of the scroll because the people would be more mindful of the crisis they were in and be in more of a repentant mood. The events referred to in the study note on v. 1 would have provided the basis for Jeremiah’s anticipation of a fast day when the scroll could be read.

9 tn Heb “So you go and read from the scroll which you have written from my mouth the words of the Lord in the ears of the people in the house of the Lord on a fast day, and in that way [for the explanation of this rendering see below] you will be reading them in the ears of all Judah [= the people of Judah] who come from their towns [i.e., to the temple to fast].” Again the syntax of the original is awkward, separating several of the qualifying phrases from the word or phrase they are intended to modify. In most of the “literal” English versions the emphasis on “what the Lord said” tends to get lost and it looks like two separate groups are to be addressed rather than one. The intent of the phrase is to define who the people are who will hear; the וַ that introduces the clause is explicative (BDB 252 s.v. וַ 1.b) and the גַּם (gam) is used to emphasize the explicative “all Judah who come in from their towns” (cf. BDB 169 s.v. גַּם 2). If some force were to be given to the “literal” rendering of that particle here it would be “actually.” This is the group that is to be addressed according to v. 3. The complex Hebrew sentence has been restructured to include all the relevant information in more comprehensible and shorter English sentences.

10 tn Heb “will turn each one from his wicked way.”

11 tn Heb “For great is the anger and the wrath which the Lord has spoken against this people.” The translation uses the more active form which is more in keeping with contemporary English style.

12 tn Heb “And Baruch son of Neriah did according to all that the prophet Jeremiah commanded him with regard to reading from the scroll the words of the Lord in the temple of the Lord.” The sentence has been broken down and the modifiers placed where they belong to better conform to contemporary English style.

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

14 tn There is some debate about the syntax of the words translated “All the people living in Jerusalem and all the people who came into Jerusalem from the towns in Judah.” As the sentence is structured in Hebrew it looks like these words are the subject of “proclaim a fast.” However, most commentaries point out that the people themselves would hardly proclaim a fast; they would be summoned to fast (cf. 1 Kgs 21:9, 12; Jonah 3:7). Hence many see these words as the object of the verb which has an impersonal subject “they.” This is most likely unless with J. Bright (Jeremiah [AB], 180) the word “proclaim” is used in a looser sense as “observed.” The translation has chosen to follow this latter tack rather than use the impersonal (or an equivalent passive) construction in English. For a similar problem see Jonah 3:5 which precedes the official proclamation in 3:7. The Hebrew text reads: “In the fifth year of Jehoiakim son of Josiah king of Judah, in the ninth month they proclaimed a fast before the Lord, all the people in Jerusalem and all the people who came from the cities of Judah into Jerusalem.” The sentence has been broken down and restructured to better conform with contemporary English style.

sn Judging from v. 22 this was one of the winter months meaning that the reckoning is based on the calendar which starts with April rather than the one which starts with September (Nisan to Nisan rather than Tishri to Tishri). The ninth month would have been Kislev which corresponds roughly to December. According to Babylonian historical records this is the same year and the same month when Ashkelon was captured and sacked. The surrender of Jerusalem and the subsequent looting of the temple in the previous year (Dan 1:1) and the return of the menacing presence of Nebuchadnezzar in the near vicinity were probably the impetus for the fast.

15 sn Shaphan had been the royal secretary under Jehoiakim’s father’s rule. During the course of his official duties the book of the law had been discovered and he had read it and reported its contents to Josiah who instituted sweeping reforms on the basis of his obedience to it. (See 2 Kgs 22 and note especially vv. 3, 8, 10.) If the Shaphan mentioned in 26:14 is the same person as this, Gemariah would have been the brother of the man who spoke up on Jeremiah’s behalf when the priests and prophets sought to have him killed.

16 sn It is generally agreed that this is the same as the inner court mentioned in 1 Kgs 6:36; 7:12. It is called “upper” here because it stood above (cf. 1 Kgs 7:12) the outer court where all the people were standing.

17 sn The New Gate is the same gate where Jeremiah had been accused of falsely claiming the Lord’s authority for his “treasonous” prophecies according to 26:10-11. See the study note on 26:10 for more details about the location of this gate.

18 tn The syntax of the original is complicated due to all the qualifying terms: Heb “And Baruch read from the scroll the words of Jeremiah in the house of the Lord in (i.e., in the entrance of) the room of Gemariah son of Shaphan the scribe in the upper court at the entrance of the New Gate in the house of the Lord in the ears of all the people.” The sentence has been broken down and restructured to contain all the same information in shorter English sentences that better conform with contemporary English style.



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