“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
so that the whole land lies in ruins.
I see our 7 tents suddenly destroyed,
4:21 “How long must I see the enemy’s battle flags
and hear the military signals of their bugles?” 10
We have become helpless with fear! 12
Anguish grips us,
agony like that of a woman giving birth to a baby!
“There is no cure 14 for my grief!
I am sick at heart!
Our wound is severe!
We once thought, ‘This is only an illness.
And we will be able to bear it!’ 17
10:20 But our tents have been destroyed.
The ropes that held them in place have been ripped apart. 18
Our children are gone and are not coming back. 19
There is no survivor to put our tents back up,
no one left to hang their tent curtains in place.
They have not sought the Lord’s advice. 21
So they do not act wisely,
and the people they are responsible for 22 have all been scattered.
It is coming to turn the towns of Judah into rubble,
places where only jackals live.
It is not in their power to determine what will happen to them. 27
Do not punish us in anger or you will reduce us to nothing. 29
For they have destroyed the people of Jacob. 33
They have completely destroyed them 34
and left their homeland in utter ruin.
“O Lord, intervene for the honor of your name 36
even though our sins speak out against us. 37
Indeed, 38 we have turned away from you many times.
We have sinned against you.
14:8 You have been the object of Israel’s hopes.
You have saved them when they were in trouble.
Why have you become like a resident foreigner 39 in the land?
Why have you become like a traveler who only stops in to spend the night?
like a champion 41 who cannot save anyone?
You are indeed with us, 42
and we belong to you. 43
Do not abandon us!”
14:19 Then I said,
“Lord, 44 have you completely rejected the nation of Judah?
Do you despise 45 the city of Zion?
Why have you struck us with such force
that we are beyond recovery? 46
We hope for peace, but nothing good has come of it.
We hope for a time of relief from our troubles, but experience terror. 47
14:20 Lord, we confess that we have been wicked.
We confess that our ancestors have done wrong. 48
We have indeed 49 sinned against you.
Do not treat with disdain the place where your glorious throne sits. 52
Be mindful of your covenant with us. Do not break it! 53
Do the skies themselves send showers?
Is it not you, O Lord our God, who does this? 55
So we put our hopes in you 56
because you alone do all this.”
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, from the context, someone other than God is speaking and is speaking for and to the people (either Jeremiah or the people themselves). These words are supplied in the translation for clarity.
12 tn Or “We have lost our strength to do battle”; Heb “Our hands hang limp [or helpless at our sides].” According to BDB 951 s.v. רָפָה Qal.2, this idiom is used figuratively for losing heart or energy. The best example of its figurative use of loss of strength or the feeling of helplessness is in Ezek 21:12 where it appears in the context of the heart (courage) melting, the spirit sinking, and the knees becoming like water. For other examples compare 2 Sam 4:1; Zeph 3:16. In Neh 6:9 it is used literally of the builders “dropping their hands from the work” out of fear. The words “with fear” are supplied in the translation because they are implicit in the context.
14 tn The meaning of this word is uncertain. The translation is based on the redivision and repointing of a word that occurs only here in the MT and whose pattern of formation is unparalleled in the Hebrew Bible. The MT reads מַבְלִיגִיתִי (mavligiti) which BDB provisionally derives from a verb root meaning “to gleam” or “to shine.” However, BDB notes that the text is dubious (cf. BDB 114 s.v. מַבְלִיגִית). The text is commonly emended to מִבְּלִי גְּהֹת (mibbÿli gÿhot) which is a Qal infinitive from a verb meaning “to heal” preceded by a compound negative “for lack of, to be at a loss for” (cf., e.g., HALOT 514 s.v. מַבְלִיגִית and 174 s.v. גּהה). This reading is supported by the Greek text which has an adjective meaning “incurable,” which is, however, connected with the preceding verse, i.e., “they will bite you incurably.”
15 tn The words, “And I cried out” are not in the text. It is not altogether clear who the speaker is in vv. 19-25. The words of vv. 19-20 would best be assigned to a personified Jerusalem who laments the destruction of her city (under the figure of a tent) and the exile of her children (under the figure of children). However, the words of v. 21 which assign responsibility to the rulers do not fit well in the mouth of the people but do fit Jeremiah. The words of v. 22 are very appropriate to Jeremiah being similar to the report in 4:19-20. Likewise the words of v. 23 which appear to express man’s incapacity to control his own destiny and his resignation to the fate which awaits him in the light of v. 24 seem more appropriate to Jeremiah than to the people. There has been no indication elsewhere that the people have shown any indication of being resigned to their fate or willing to accept their punishment. Though the issue is far from resolved a majority of commentators see Jeremiah as the speaker so identifying himself with their fate that he speaks as though he were this personified figure. It is not altogether out of the question, however, that the speaker throughout is personified Jerusalem though I know of no commentator who takes that view. For those who are interested, the most thorough discussion of the issue is probably to be found in W. McKane, Jeremiah (ICC), 1:230-35, especially 233-35. Rendering the pronouns throughout as “we” and “our” alleviates some of the difficulty but some speaker needs to be identified in the introduction to allay any possible confusion. Hence I have opted for what is the majority view.
16 tn Heb “Woe to me on account of my wound.” The words “woe to” in many contexts carry the connotation of hopelessness and of inevitable doom (cf. 1 Sam 4:7, 8; Isa 6:5), hence a “deadly blow.” See also the usage in 4:13, 31; 6:4 and the notes on 4:13. For the rendering of the pronoun as “we” and “our” here and in the verses to follow see the preceding note.
17 tn Some interpret this as a resignation to the punishment inflicted and translate “But I said, ‘This is my punishment and I will just need to bear it.’” This is unlikely given the meaning and usage of the word rendered “sickness” (חֳלִי, khali), the absence of the pronoun “my,” and the likelihood that the particle אַךְ means “only” not “indeed” (cf. BDB s.v. אַךְ 2.b and compare its usage in v. 24).
sn What is being referred to here is the feeling that was encouraged by the false prophets that the ill fortunes of the nation were just temporary setbacks and everything would soon get better (cf. 6:14; 8:11).
18 tn Heb “My tent has been destroyed and my tent cords have been ripped apart.” For a very similar identification of Jeremiah’s plight with the plight of the personified community see 4:20 and the notes there.
19 tn Heb “my children have gone from me and are no more.”
sn What is being referred to is the exile of the people of the land. This passage could refer to the exiles of 605
20 tn Heb “the shepherds.”
21 tn Heb “They have not sought the
sn The idiom translated sought the
22 tn Heb “all their flock (or “pasturage”).”
sn This verse uses the figure of rulers as shepherds and the people they ruled as sheep. It is a common figure in the Bible. See Ezek 34 for an extended development of this metaphor.
23 tn Heb “The sound of a report, behold, it is coming.”
24 tn Heb “ coming, even a great quaking.”
26 tn Heb “Not to the man his way.” For the nuance of “fate, destiny, or the way things turn out” for the Hebrew word “way” see Hag 1:5, Isa 40:27 and probably Ps 49:13 (cf. KBL 218 s.v. דֶּרֶךְ 5). For the idea of “control” or “hold in one’s power” for the preposition “to” see Ps 3:8 (cf. BDB 513 s.v. לְ 5.b[a]).
27 tn Heb “Not to a man the walking and the establishing his step.”
28 tn Heb “with justice.”
29 tn The words, “to almost nothing” are not in the text. They are implicit from the general context and are supplied by almost all English versions.
31 tn Heb “tribes/clans.”
32 tn Heb “who do not call on your name.” The idiom “to call on your name” (directed to God) refers to prayer (mainly) and praise. See 1 Kgs 18:24-26 and Ps 116:13, 17. Here “calling on your name” is parallel to “acknowledging you.” In many locations in the OT “name” is equivalent to the person. In the OT, the “name” reflected the person’s character (cf. Gen 27:36; 1 Sam 25:25) or his reputation (Gen 11:4; 2 Sam 8:13). To speak in a person’s name was to act as his representative or carry his authority (1 Sam 25:9; 1 Kgs 21:8). To call someone’s name over something was to claim it for one’s own (2 Sam 12:28).
33 tn Heb “have devoured Jacob.”
34 tn Or “have almost completely destroyed them”; Heb “they have devoured them and consumed them.” The figure of hyperbole is used here; elsewhere Jeremiah and God refer to the fact that they will not be completely consumed. See for example 4:27; 5:10, 18.
35 tn The words “Then I said” are not in the text. However, it cannot be a continuation of the
36 tn Heb “Act for the sake of your name.” The usage of “act” in this absolute, unqualified sense cf. BDB 794 s.v. עָוֹשָׂה Qal.I.r and compare the usage, e.g., in 1 Kgs 8:32 and 39. For the nuance of “for the sake of your name” compare the usage in Isa 48:9 and Ezek 20:9, 14.
37 tn Or “bear witness against us,” or “can be used as evidence against us,” to keep the legal metaphor. Heb “testify against.”
38 tn The Hebrew particle כִּי (ki) can scarcely be causal here; it is either intensive (BDB 472 s.v. כִּי 1.e) or concessive (BDB 473 s.v. כִּי 2.c). The parallel usage in Gen 18:20 argues for the intensive force as does the fact that the concessive has already been expressed by אִם (’im).
39 tn It would be a mistake to translate this word as “stranger.” This word (גֵּר, ger) refers to a resident alien or resident foreigner who stays in a country not his own. He is accorded the privilege of protection through the common rights of hospitality but he does not have the rights of the native born or citizen. The simile here is particularly effective. The land was the
40 tn This is the only time this word occurs in the Hebrew Bible. The lexicons generally take it to mean “confused” or “surprised” (cf., e.g., BDB 187 s.v. דָּהַם). However, the word has been found in a letter from the seventh century in a passage where it must mean something like “be helpless”; see W. L. Holladay, Jeremiah (Hermeneia), 1:433, for discussion and bibliography of an article where this letter is dealt with.
42 tn Heb “in our midst.”
44 tn The words, “Then I said, ‘
45 tn Heb “does your soul despise.” Here as in many places the word “soul” stands as part for whole for the person himself emphasizing emotional and volitional aspects of the person. However, in contemporary English one does not regularly speak of the “soul” in contexts such as this but of the person.
sn There is probably a subtle allusion to the curses called down on the nation for failure to keep their covenant with God. The word used here is somewhat rare (גָּעַל, ga’al). It is used of Israel’s rejection of God’s stipulations and of God’s response to their rejection of him and his stipulations in Lev 26:11, 15, 30, 43-44. That the allusion is intended is probable when account is taken of the last line of v. 21.
46 tn Heb “Why have you struck us and there is no healing for us.” The statement involves poetic exaggeration (hyperbole) for rhetorical effect.
47 tn Heb “[We hope] for a time of healing but behold terror.”
sn The last two lines of this verse are repeated word for word from 8:15. There they are spoken by the people.
48 tn Heb “We acknowledge our wickedness [and] the iniquity of our [fore]fathers.” For the use of the word “know” to mean “confess,” “acknowledge” cf. BDB 394 s.v. יָדַע, Qal.1.f and compare the usage in Jer 3:13.
sn For a longer example of an individual identifying with the nation and confessing their sins and the sins of their forefathers see Ps 106.
49 tn This is another example of the intensive use of כִּי (ki). See BDB 472 s.v. כִּי 1.e.
50 tn Heb “For the sake of your name.”
52 tn English versions quite commonly supply “us” as an object for the verb in the first line. This is probably wrong. The Hebrew text reads: “Do not treat with contempt for the sake of your name; do not treat with disdain your glorious throne.” This is case of poetic parallelism where the object is left hanging until the second line. For an example of this see Prov 13:1 in the original and consult E. W. Bullinger, Figures of Speech, 103-4. There has also been some disagreement whether “your glorious throne” refers to the temple (as in 17:12) or Jerusalem (as in 3:17). From the beginning of the prayer in v. 19 where a similar kind of verb has been used with respect to Zion/Jerusalem it would appear that the contextual referent is Jerusalem. The absence of an object from the first line makes it possible to retain part of the metaphor in the translation and still convey some meaning.
sn The place of God’s glorious throne was first of all the ark of the covenant where God was said to be enthroned between the cherubim, then the temple that housed it, then the city itself. See 2 Kgs 19:14-15 in the context of Sennacherib’s attack on Jerusalem.
53 tn Heb “Remember, do not break your covenant with us.”
55 tn Heb “Is it not you, O
56 tn The rhetorical negatives are balanced by a rhetorical positive.