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Jeremiah 48:20-24

Context

48:20 They will answer, ‘Moab is disgraced, for it has fallen!

Wail and cry out in mourning!

Announce along the Arnon River

that Moab has been destroyed.’

48:21 “Judgment will come on the cities on the high plain: 1  on Holon, Jahzah, and Mephaath, 48:22 on Dibon, Nebo, and Beth Diblathaim, 48:23 on Kiriathaim, Beth Gamul, and Beth Meon, 48:24 on Kerioth and Bozrah. It will come on all the towns of Moab, both far and near.

Jeremiah 48:31-34

Context

48:31 So I will weep with sorrow for Moab.

I will cry out in sadness for all of Moab.

I will moan 2  for the people of Kir Heres.

48:32 I will weep for the grapevines of Sibmah

just like the town of Jazer weeps over them. 3 

Their branches once spread as far as the Dead Sea. 4 

They reached as far as the town of Jazer. 5 

The destroyer will ravage

her fig, date, 6  and grape crops.

48:33 Joy and gladness will disappear

from the fruitful land of Moab. 7 

I will stop the flow of wine from the winepresses.

No one will stomp on the grapes there and shout for joy. 8 

The shouts there will be shouts of soldiers,

not the shouts of those making wine. 9 

48:34 Cries of anguish raised from Heshbon and Elealeh

will be sounded as far as Jahaz. 10 

They will be sounded from Zoar as far as Horonaim and Eglath Shelishiyah.

For even the waters of Nimrim will be dried up.

1 sn See the study note on Jer 48:8 for reference to this tableland or high plain that lay between the Arnon and Heshbon.

2 tc The translation is based on the emendation of the Hebrew third masculine singular (יֶהְגֶּה, yehggeh) to the first singular (אֶהְגֶּה, ’ehgeh). This emendation is assumed by almost all of the modern English versions and commentaries even though the textual evidence for it is weak (only one Hebrew ms and the Eastern Qere according to BHS).

3 tc Or “I will weep for the grapevines of Sibmah more than I will weep over the town of Jazer.” The translation here assumes that there has been a graphic confusion of מ (mem) with כְּ (kaf) or בְּ (bet). The parallel passage in Isa 16:9 has the preposition בְּ and the Greek version presupposes a comparative idea “as with.” Many of the modern English versions render the passage with the comparative מִן (min) as in the alternate translation, but it is unclear what the force of the comparison would be here. The verse is actually in the second person, an apostrophe or direct address to the grapevine(s) of Sibmah. However, the translation has retained the third person throughout because such sudden shifts in person are uncommon in contemporary English literature and retaining the third person is smoother. The Hebrew text reads: “From/With the weeping of Jazer I will weep for you, vine of Sibmah. Your tendrils crossed over the sea. They reached unto the sea of Jazer. Upon your summer fruit and your vintage [grape harvest] the destroyer has fallen.”

4 tn Heb “crossed over to the Sea.”

5 tn Or “reached the sea of Jazer.” The Sea is generally taken to be a reference to the Dead Sea. The translation presupposes that the word “sea” is to be omitted before “Jazer.” The word is missing from two Hebrew mss, from the parallel passage in Isa 16:8, and from the Greek version. It may have arisen from a mistaken copying of the same word in the preceding line.

sn Though there is some doubt about the precise location of these places, Sibmah is generally considered to have been located slightly north and west of Heshbon and Jazer further north toward the border of Ammon not far from the city of Amman. Most commentators see the reference here (and in the parallel in Isa 16:8) to the spread of viticulture westward and northward from the vineyards of Sibmah. G. L. Keown, P. J. Scalise, and T. G. Smothers (Jeremiah 26-52 [WBC], 318-19), however, see the reference rather to the spread of trade in wine westward beyond the coast of the Mediterranean and eastward into the desert.

6 tn Heb “her summer fruit.” See the translator’s note on 40:10 for the rendering here. According to BDB 657 s.v. נָפַל Qal.4.a, the verb means to “fall upon” or “attack” but in the context it is probably metonymical for attack and destroy.

7 tn Heb “from the garden land, even from the land of Moab.” Comparison with the parallel passage in Isa 16:10 and the translation of the Greek text here (which has only “the land of Moab”) suggest that the second phrase is appositional to the first.

8 tn Heb “no one will tread [the grapes] with shout of joy.”

9 tn Heb “shouts will not be shouts.” The text has been expanded contextually to explain that the shouts of those treading grapes in winepresses will come to an end (v. 33a-d) and be replaced by the shouts of the soldiers who trample down the vineyards (v. 32e-f). Compare 25:30 and 51:41 for the idea.

10 tn The meaning of this verse is very uncertain. The ambiguity of the syntax and the apparent elliptical nature of this text makes the meaning of this verse uncertain. The Hebrew text reads: “From the cry of Heshbon unto Elealeh unto Jahaz they utter their voice from Zoar unto Horonaim Eglath Shelishiyah.” The translation and interpretation here are based on interpreting the elliptical syntax here by the parallel passage in Isaiah 15:4-6 where cries of anguish rise from Heshbon and Elealeh which are heard all the way to Jahaz. The people flee southward arriving at Zoar and Eglath Shelishiyah where they voice the news of the destruction in the north. Hence, the present translation interprets the phrase “from the cry of Heshbon unto Elealeh” to be parallel to “Heshbon and Elealeh cry out” and take the preposition “from” with the verb “they utter their voice,” i.e., with the cry of Heshbon and Elealeh. The impersonal “they raise their voice” is then treated as a passive and made the subject of the whole verse. There is some debate about the identification of the waters of Nimrim. They may refer to the waters of the Wadi Nimrim which enters the Jordan about eight miles north of the Dead Sea or those of the Wadi en-Numeirah which flows into the southern tip of the Dead Sea from about ten miles south. Most commentators take the reference to be the latter because of association with Zoar. However, if the passage is talking about the destruction in the north which is reported in the south by the fleeing refugees, the reference is probably to the Wadi Nimrim in the north.

sn Elealeh was about two miles (3.3 km) north of Heshbon. Jahaz was about twenty miles (33 km) south of it. These three cities were in the north and Zoar, Horonaim, and Eglath Shelishiyah were apparently in the south. The verse is speaking about the news of destruction in the north spreading to the south. Comparison should be made with the parallel passage in Isa 15:4-6.



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