Jeremiah 9

 

מִי־יִתְּנֵנִי בַמִּדְבָּר מְלֹון אֹרְחִים וְאֶעֶזְבָה אֶת־עַמִּי וְאֵלְכָה מֵאִתָּם כִּי כֻלָּם מְנָאֲפִים עֲצֶרֶת בֹּגְדִים׃   9:1

Jere. 9:1   Who would give me a lodging place

                             of wayfarers in the wilderness

                    that I might leave my people

                             and depart from them!

                    For all of them are adulterers,

                             an assembly of treacherous men.

וַיַּדְרְכוּ אֶת־לְשֹׁונָם קַשְׁתָּם שֶׁקֶר וְלֹא לֶאֱמוּנָה גָּבְרוּ בָאָרֶץ כִּי מֵרָעָה אֶל־רָעָה יָצָאוּ וְאֹתִי   9:2

לֹא־יָדָעוּ נְאֻם־יְהוָה׃

Jere. 9:2   “And they bend their tongue,

                             their bow of deceit,

                   and they do not prevail for truth upon the earth;

                             since they proceed from evil to evil,

                   and they do not know Me,” declares the Lord.

אִישׁ מֵרֵעֵהוּ הִשָּׁמֵרוּ וְעַל־כָּל־אָח אַל־תִּבְטָחוּ כִּי כָל־אָח עָקֹוב יַעְקֹב וְכָל־רֵעַ רָכִיל יַהֲלֹךְ׃   9:3

Jere. 9:3   Be on guard, each man more than his fellow!

                             You should not even place trust on a brother.

                   For every brother will utterly assail insidiously,

                             and slander of every neighbor will proceed.

וְאִישׁ בְּרֵעֵהוּ יְהָתֵלּוּ וֶאֱמֶת לֹא יְדַבֵּרוּ לִמְּדוּ לְשֹׁונָם דַּבֶּר־שֶׁקֶר הַעֲוֵה נִלְאוּ׃   9:4

Jere. 9:4   And they will deceive, any man with his fellow,

                             and they will not speak the truth.

                   Their tongues have learned false language;

                             they weary themselves to commit iniquity.

שִׁבְתְּךָ בְּתֹוךְ מִרְמָה בְּמִרְמָה מֵאֲנוּ דַעַת־אֹותִי נְאֻם־יְהוָה׃   9:5

Jere. 9:5   Your habitation is in the midst of deceit.

                            “Through deceit they refuse to know Me,”

                   declares the Lord.

לָכֵן כֹּה אָמַר יְהוָה צְבָאֹות הִנְנִי צֹורְפָם וּבְחַנְתִּים כִּי־אֵיךְ אֶעֱשֶׂה מִפְּנֵי בַּת־עַמִּי׃   9:6

Jere. 9:6   Therefore thus says the Lord of hosts:

                    “Behold, I am their Refiner

                             and I will try them.

                    How else can I act

                             before the daughter of My people?”

חֵץ (שֹׁוחֵט) [שָׁחוּט] לְשֹׁונָם מִרְמָה דִבֵּר בְּפִיו שָׁלֹום אֶת־רֵעֵהוּ יְדַבֵּר וּבְקִרְבֹּו יָשִׂים אָרְבֹּו׃   9:7

Jere. 9:7   Their tongue is a sharpened arrow;

                            it speaks deceit.

                    One may speak peaceful speech

                            to his neighbor,

                    but in his thoughts

                            he will be setting up his treachery.

The word in error in the parentheses has the vav in the wrong position.  As written, the word means ritual slaughterer, which seems out of place here.  With the vav moved to the third position as in the brackets, the word becomes translatable as sharpened or beaten.

הַעַל־אֵלֶּה לֹא־אֶפְקָד־בָּם נְאֻם־יְהוָה אִם בְּגֹוי אֲשֶׁר־כָּזֶה לֹא תִתְנַקֵּם נַפְשִׁי׃   9:8

Jere. 9:8   “Because of these,

                            shall I not reckon with them,”

                   declares the Lord?

                            “Should My ‘soul’ not avenge itself

                   with a nation that is like this?”

עַל־הֶהָרִים אֶשָּׂא בְכִי וָנֶהִי וְעַל־נְאֹות מִדְבָּר קִינָה כִּי נִצְּתוּ מִבְּלִי־אִישׁ עֹבֵר וְלֹא שָׁמְעוּ קֹול   9:9     מִקְנֶה מֵעֹוף הַשָּׁמַיִם וְעַד־בְּהֵמָה נָדְדוּ הָלָכוּ׃

Jere. 9:9   “I will lift up a weeping and a wailing

                             upon the mountains,

                   and upon the meadows of the wilderness

                             a lamentation,

                   for they burn up

                             so that no one passes through,

                   and they do not hear the sound of cattle.

                             All the fowl of the skies and the beast

                   have fled, are gone.”

וְנָתַתִּי אֶת־יְרוּשָׁלִַם לְגַלִּים מְעֹון תַּנִּים וְאֶת־עָרֵי יְהוּדָה אֶתֵּן שְׁמָמָה מִבְּלִי יֹושֵׁב׃   9:10

Jere. 9:10   “And I will give over Jerusalem to heaps,

                              a den of dragons.

                     And I shall make the cities of Judah

                              a desolation without an inhabitant.”

מִי־הָאִישׁ הֶחָכָם וְיָבֵן אֶת־זֹאת וַאֲשֶׁר דִּבֶּר פִּי־יְהוָה אֵלָיו וְיַגִּדָהּ עַל־מָה אָבְדָה הָאָרֶץ נִצְּתָה   9:11

כַמִּדְבָּר מִבְּלִי עֹבֵר׃

Jere. 9:11   Who is the man of wisdom

                               that can discern this?

                      And that the mouth of the Lord

                               speaks to him that he would proclaim

                      why the land has been destroyed,

                               burned up like a wilderness

                      with no one passing through?

וַיֹּאמֶר יְהוָה עַל־עָזְבָם אֶת־תֹּורָתִי אֲשֶׁר נָתַתִּי לִפְנֵיהֶם וְלֹא־שָׁמְעוּ בְקֹולִי וְלֹא־הָלְכוּ בָהּ׃   9:12

Jere. 9:12   And the Lord said,

                      “Because of their forsaking My torah

                                that I have set before them,

                      and they have not listened to My voice

                                and have not walked in it.”

וַיֵּלְכוּ אַחֲרֵי שְׁרִרוּת לִבָּם וְאַחֲרֵי הַבְּעָלִים אֲשֶׁר לִמְּדוּם אֲבֹותָם׃   9:13

Jere. 9:13   “But they have gone

                                after the stubbornness of their own heart

                     and after Baalim,

                               which their fathers taught them.”

לָכֵן כֹּה־אָמַר יְהוָה צְבָאֹות אֱלֹהֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל הִנְנִי מַאֲכִילָם אֶת־הָעָם הַזֶּה לַעֲנָה וְהִשְׁקִיתִים מֵי־רֹאשׁ׃   9:14

Jere. 9:14   Therefore thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel:

                      “Behold, I am making them eat wormwood, this people,

                                and will give them water of gall to drink.”                  [Return to Jere. 23:15]

וַהֲפִצֹותִים בַּגֹּויִם אֲשֶׁר לֹא יָדְעוּ הֵמָּה וַאֲבֹותָם וְשִׁלַּחְתִּי אַחֲרֵיהֶם אֶת־הַחֶרֶב עַד כַּלֹּותִי אֹותָם׃   9:15

Jere. 9:15   “And I will scatter them among heathens

                               who do not know them or their fathers,

                      and I shall let the sword go after them

                               until I have consumed them.”

כֹּה אָמַר יְהוָה צְבָאֹות הִתְבֹּונְנוּ וְקִרְאוּ לַמְקֹונְנֹות וּתְבֹואֶינָה וְאֶל־הַחֲכָמֹות שִׁלְחוּ וְתָבֹואנָה׃   9:16

Jere. 9:16   Thus says the Lord of hosts:

                      “Consider, and call for the mourning women

                                that they may come,

                      and send for the wise women

                                that they may come!”

וּתְמַהֵרְנָה וְתִשֶּׂנָה עָלֵינוּ נֶהִי וְתֵרַדְנָה עֵינֵינוּ דִּמְעָה וְעַפְעַפֵּינוּ יִזְּלוּ־מָיִם׃   9:17

Jere. 9:17   That they may hasten

                                and take up for us a wailing,

                      that tears shall rain down our eyes

                                and our eyelids flow forth water.

כִּי קֹול נְהִי נִשְׁמַע מִצִּיֹּון אֵיךְ שֻׁדָּדְנוּ בֹּשְׁנוּ מְאֹד כִּי־עָזַבְנוּ אָרֶץ כִּי הִשְׁלִיכוּ מִשְׁכְּנֹותֵינוּ׃   9:18

Jere. 9:18   For a sound of wailing is heard from Zion:

                                “How we are devastated!

                     We are greatly ashamed

                                that we have forsaken the land,

                      that our tabernacles have cast us out.”

כִּי־שְׁמַעְנָה נָשִׁים דְּבַר־יְהוָה וְתִקַּח אָזְנְכֶם דְּבַר־פִּיו וְלַמֵּדְנָה בְנֹותֵיכֶם נֶהִי וְאִשָּׁה רְעוּתָהּ קִינָה׃   9:19

Jere. 9:19   Then hear, women, the word of the Lord,

                               and let your ear receive

                      the word of His “mouth”

                               and teach your daughters to wail,

                      and each her neighbor, lamentation!

כִּי־עָלָה מָוֶת בְּחַלֹּונֵינוּ בָּא בְּאַרְמְנֹותֵינוּ לְהַכְרִית עֹולָל מִחוּץ בַּחוּרִים מֵרְחֹבֹות׃   9:20

Jere. 9:20   For death ascends through our windows,

                              enters into our citadels

                      to cut off child from the street,

                              young men from the broad places.

דַּבֵּר כֹּה נְאֻם־יְהוָה וְנָפְלָה נִבְלַת הָאָדָם כְּדֹמֶן עַל־פְּנֵי הַשָּׂדֶה וּכְעָמִיר מֵאַחֲרֵי הַקֹּצֵר וְאֵין מְאַסֵּף׃   9:21

Jere. 9:21   Speak! Thus says the Lord:

                      “And human carcasses fall as dung

                               on the surface of the fields

                      and as a swath of fallen grain after the harvest,

                               and there is none gathering.”

כֹּה אָמַר יְהוָה אַל־יִתְהַלֵּל חָכָם בְּחָכְמָתֹו וְאַל־יִתְהַלֵּל הַגִּבֹּור בִּגְבוּרָתֹו אַל־יִתְהַלֵּל עָשִׁיר בְּעָשְׁרֹו׃   9:22

Jere. 9:22   Thus says the Lord:

                      “A wise man should not glory in his wisdom,

                               and the mighty man should not glory in his might;

                      a rich man should not glory in his riches.”

כִּי אִם־בְּזֹאת יִתְהַלֵּל הַמִּתְהַלֵּל הַשְׂכֵּל וְיָדֹעַ אֹותִי כִּי אֲנִי יְהוָה עֹשֶׂה חֶסֶד מִשְׁפָּט וּצְדָקָה בָּאָרֶץ   9:23  כִּי־בְאֵלֶּה חָפַצְתִּי נְאֻם־יְהוָה׃

Jere. 9:23   “But rather one who glories should glory in this:

                              Understanding and knowing Me,

                      that I, the Lord, exercise loving kindness,

                               justice, and righteousness on the earth.

                     For in these I delight,” says the Lord.

In these two verses, 9:22 and 9:23, we have what I believe to be a paraphrase of much of the message of the Torah.  Trust only in the Lord, not in others -- or ourselves.  And the Lord is kind, just, and righteous (among many other divine attributes).  And we should strive to understand and know Him.

הִנֵּה יָמִים בָּאִים נְאֻם־יְהוָה וּפָקַדְתִּי עַל־כָּל־מוּל בְּעָרְלָה׃   9:24

Jere. 9:24   “Behold, the days are coming,” declares the Lord, “when I will reckon against all the circumcised with the uncircumcised,

עַל־מִצְרַיִם וְעַל־יְהוּדָה וְעַל־אֱדֹום וְעַל־בְּנֵי עַמֹּון וְעַל־מֹואָב וְעַל כָּל־קְצוּצֵי פֵאָה הַיֹּשְׁבִים בַּמִּדְבָּר   9:25   כִּי כָל־הַגֹּויִם עֲרֵלִים וְכָל־בֵּית יִשְׂרָאֵל עַרְלֵי־לֵב׃

Jere. 9:25   against Egypt, and against Judah, and against Edom, and against the children of Ammon, and against Moab, and against all cutters off of the edge, dwelling in the wilderness.  For all the nations are uncircumcised and all the house of Israel are uncircumcised of the heart.”

In this last verse of the chapter, there is a peculiarly ambiguous phrase in the Hebrew.  It appears in only two other places in the bible, both also in Jeremiah, so it may be his colloquialism alone.  The phrase is haê'pe yceWcq.-lK, translated by me as all the cutters off of the edge.  The phrase seems to convey an air of uncertainty in connecting with the rest of the verse.  Different translations have arisen to try to make better sense of the phrase and that middle word.  One sample of these is “all that have the corners of their hair polled.”  I view this as a great stretch that takes liberties with the Hebrew although it says something similar.  First, the words of their hair don’t appear in the Hebrew, and secondly, the word for corners is singular, not plural, and you can’t have one corner of the hair.  Another sample of various translations is “all that are in the utmost corners.”  This translation also has problems.  The word that I translate as cutters off is ignored, and the problem with number still persists -- the word for corners is still singular.  It looks like the meaning of this phrase will remain a mystery for now -- but only for a short while.  When we get to the other two instances of the phrase,Jere. 25:23 and 49:32  I will have more to say about this.

 

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