Jeremiah 15


וַיֹּאמֶר יְהוָה אֵלַי אִם־יַעֲמֹד מֹשֶׁה וּשְׁמוּאֵל לְפָנַי אֵין נַפְשִׁי אֶל־הָעָם הַזֶּה שַׁלַּח מֵעַל־פָּנַי וְיֵצֵאוּ׃   15:1

Jere. 15:1   Then the Lord said to me, “Though Moses and Samuel should stand before Me, My passion would not be toward this people, expelled from My presence. So let them go forth.”

וְהָיָה כִּי־יֹאמְרוּ אֵלֶיךָ אָנָה נֵצֵא וְאָמַרְתָּ אֲלֵיהֶם כֹּה־אָמַר יְהוָה אֲשֶׁר לַמָּוֶת לַמָּוֶת וַאֲשֶׁר לַחֶרֶב   15:2  לַחֶרֶב וַאֲשֶׁר לָרָעָב לָרָעָב וַאֲשֶׁר לַשְּׁבִי לַשֶּׁבִי׃

Jere. 15:2   “And it shall be when they say to you, ‘Where shall we go?’ Then you say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord: ‘Who is for death, to death; and who is for the sword, to the sword; and who is for famine, to the famine; and who is for captivity, to captivity.’”

וּפָקַדְתִּי עֲלֵיהֶם אַרְבַּע מִשְׁפָּחֹות נְאֻם־יְהוָה אֶת־הַחֶרֶב לַהֲרֹג וְאֶת־הַכְּלָבִים לִסְחֹב וְאֶת־עֹוף   15:3   הַשָּׁמַיִם הַשָּׁמַיִםוְאֶת־בֶּהֱמַת הָאָרֶץ לֶאֱכֹל וּלְהַשְׁחִית׃

Jere. 15:3   “So I will appoint four kinds over them,” says the Lord, “the sword to slay, and the dogs to drag, and the birds of the skies, and the beasts of the earth, to devour, and to destroy.”

וּנְתַתִּים לִזְוָעָה לְכֹל מַמְלְכֹות הָאָרֶץ בִּגְלַל מְנַשֶּׁה בֶן־יְחִזְקִיָּהוּ מֶלֶךְ יְהוּדָה עַל אֲשֶׁר־עָשָׂה   15:4


Jere. 15:4   “And I shall give them to be a horror for all the kingdoms of the earth, because of Manasseh, son of Hezekiah, king of Judah, for what he did in Jerusalem.”

Remember Manasseh, son of Hezekiah?  He reigned in Judah for fifty-five years, and his abominable acts are  succinctly described in vss. 2Kin. 21:2 - 6.

כִּי מִי־יַחְמֹל עָלַיִךְ יְרוּשָׁלִַם וּמִי יָנוּד לָךְ וּמִי יָסוּר לִשְׁאֹל לְשָׁלֹם לָךְ׃   15:5

Jere. 15:5   “Then who should have pity on you,

                               O Jerusalem?

                      And who should grieve for you?

                               And who should turn aside

                      to ask for peace for you?”

אַתְּ נָטַשְׁתְּ אֹתִי נְאֻם־יְהוָה אָחֹור תֵּלֵכִי וָאַט אֶת־יָדִי עָלַיִךְ וָאַשְׁחִיתֵךְ נִלְאֵיתִי הִנָּחֵם׃   15:6

Jere. 15:6   “You have forsaken Me,” declares the Lord.

                               “You shall depart backwards.

                     And I will stretch forth My ‘hand’ against you

                               and destroy you.

                      I weary of repenting.”

According to the great medieval commentator, Rashi, in the last statement in this verse the Lord is expressing an anthropomorphic regret over having repeatedly promised to destroy Israel and later repenting and aborting His decisions.  Despite my professed and acknowledged ignorance, I submit that the word for repenting has a heh prefix and therefore can also be translated as the repenting.  This would imply that the statement is referring to Israel’s frequent repenting and subsequent backsliding,  In fact, I favor this interpretation, because the word in question does not have a first-person possessive pronoun suffix, which would make it My repenting.  Moreover, no where does the Lord say here that this time He will not repent.

וָאֶזְרֵם בְּמִזְרֶה בְּשַׁעֲרֵי הָאָרֶץ שִׁכַּלְתִּי אִבַּדְתִּי אֶת־עַמִּי מִדַּרְכֵיהֶם לֹוא־שָׁבוּ׃   15:7

Jere. 15:7   “So I will scatter them with a pitchfork

                               through the gates of the land.

                      I make childless, I destroy my people;

                               they do not turn back from their ways.”

עָצְמוּ־לִי אַלְמְנֹתָוק מֵחֹול יַמִּים הֵבֵאתִי לָהֶם עַל־אֵם בָּחוּר שֹׁדֵד בַּצָּהֳרָיִם הִפַּלְתִּי עָלֶיהָ פִּתְאֹם   15:8      עִיר וּבֶהָלֹות׃

Jere. 15:8   “Its widows are numerous to Me

                                more than the sand of the sea.

                       I bring to them, against the mother,

                                 a youth despoiling at midday.

                       I cause anguish and terrors

                                 to fall upon her suddenly.”

I believe the mother referred to in the third line is Jerusalem.

אֻמְלְלָה יֹלֶדֶת הַשִּׁבְעָה נָפְחָה נַפְשָׁהּ בָּאָה שִׁמְשָׁהּ בְּעֹד יֹוםָם בֹּושָׁה וְחָפֵרָה וּשְׁאֵרִיתָם לַחֶרֶב   15:9  אֶתֵּן לִפְנֵי אֹיְבֵיהֶם נְאֻם־יְהוָה׃

Jere. 15:9   “She who has borne seven languishes;

                                 her spirit is lost;

                      gone is her sun while it is still day;

                                 ashamed and confounded is she.

                      Yet I shall deliver their residue

                                  to the sword before their enemies,”

                       says the Lord.

Some commentators reference 1Sam. 2:5 for a connection to the expression She who has borne seven.  I suspect it may actually secretly refer to Jerusalem here, while there in 1Samuel it has another entirely different meaning.

אֹוי־לִי אִמִּי כִּי יְלִדְתִּנִי אִישׁ רִיב וְאִישׁ מָדֹון לְכָל־הָאָרֶץ לֹא־נָשִׁיתִי וְלֹא־נָשׁוּ־בִי כֻּלֹּה מְקַלְלַונִי׃   15:10

Jere. 15:10   Woe is me, my mother,

                                 that you bore me,

                         a man of strife and a man of contention

                                 to all the land!

                         I do not lend,

                                 neither do any lend to me;

                         all are cursing me.

Here I imagine that Jeremiah interrupts the ongoing discussion to address his own sorrows.   He seems to be speaking to or of his own mother, and seems to be expressing his disappointment over his difficult and lonely life, and perhaps his subsequent supposed demise at the hands of the future Babylonian invaders.

אָמַר יְהוָה אִם־לֹא (שָׁרֹותִךָ) [שֵׁרִיתִיִךָ] לְטֹוב אִם־לֹוא הִפְגַּעְתִּי בְךָ בְּעֵת־רָעָה וּבְעֵת צָרָה   15:11         אֶת־הָאֹיֵב׃

Jere. 15:11   Says the Lord:  “Surely I release you for good.  Surely I cause the enemy to make supplication to you in the time of evil and in the time of trouble.”

This verse contains an error in the word in parentheses.  Instead of the vav, it should have two yads, one before the tav and one after it.  The correction is made in the brackets.

הֲיָרֹעַ בַּרְזֶל בַּרְזֶל מִצָּפֹון וּנְחֹשֶׁת׃   15:12

Jere. 15:12   “Can iron break iron from the north, or brass?”

In v. 15:11 Jeremiah leaves off his personal plea and resumes the Lord’s monologue.  But it is uncertain as to whom the Lord is referring.  Is he addressing Jeremiah and responding to his plea, or is He again speaking of Judah?  The subsequent verses, that is, v. 15:13 and 14, seem to solve the mystery.  I believe He is again speaking about Judah (because of v. 15:13).  In this verse, I’m guessing that the Lord is comparing Judah (or Jerusalem) to the finest and strongest iron known, iron from the north, a metaphor for Babylon.  So He is saying that the Jews will not be totally destroyed and that they will be treated well by the Babylonians.  Finally, he says they will not be able to beat off the invaders.

חֵילְךָ וְאֹוצְרֹותֶיךָ לָבַז אֶתֵּן לֹא בִמְחִיר וּבְכָל־חַטֹּאותֶיךָ וּבְכָל־גְּבוּלֶיךָ׃   15:13

Jere. 15:13   “Your wealth and your treasures I shall give for a spoil without a price.  And for all your sins, and throughout your borders,

וְהַעֲבַרְתִּי אֶת־אֹיְבֶיךָ בְּאֶרֶץ לֹא יָדָעְתָּ כִּי־אֵשׁ קָדְחָה בְאַפִּי עֲלֵיכֶם תּוּקָד׃   15:14

Jere. 15:14   and I cause your enemies to take away to a land you do not know.  For a fire is kindled in My ‘nostril;’ against you it shall burn.”

אַתָּה יָדַעְתָּ יְהוָה זָכְרֵנִי וּפָקְדֵנִי וְהִנָּקֶם לִי מֵרֹדְפַי אַל־לְאֶרֶךְ אַפְּךָ תִּקָּחֵנִי דַּע שְׂאֵתִי עָלֶיךָ   15:15


Jere. 15:15   You know, O Lord!

                                 Remember me and look after me

                        and avenge me of my persecutors.

                                 Out of the patience of Your “anger,”

                        do not carry me off.

                                 Know I have endured taunts for Your sake.

This verse and the next three seem to be a second digression by Jeremiah inserted to plead his own case.  He apparently fears that he will experience the fate promised by God for the people.

נִמְצְאוּ דְבָרֶיךָ וָאֹכְלֵם וַיְהִי דְבָרֶיךָ לִי לְשָׂשֹׂון וּלְשִׂמְחַת לְבָבִי כִּי־נִקְרָא שִׁמְךָ עָלַי יְהוָה אֱלֹהֵי   15:16


Jere. 15:16   Your words have been encountered

                                 and I will eat them,

                        as Your words are for gladness

                                 and for the joy of my heart to me,

                        because Your name is proclaimed on my behalf,

                                 O Lord, God of hosts.

לֹא־יָשַׁבְתִּי בְסֹוד־מְשַׂחֲקִים וָאֶעְלֹז מִפְּנֵי יָדְךָ בָּדָד יָשַׁבְתִּי כִּי־זַעַם מִלֵּאתָנִי׃   15:17

Jere. 15:17   I do not sit in the circle of merrymakers and rejoice.

                                 Because of Your hand, I sit alone,

                       for You have made me full of anger.

נֶצַח וּמַכָּתִי אֲנוּשָׁה מֵאֲנָה הֵרָפֵא הָיֹו תִהְיֶה לִי כְּמֹו אַכְזָב מַיִם לֹא נֶאֱמָנוּ׃   15:18

Jere. 15:18   Why is my pain perpetual

                                 and my wound incurable, refusing to heal?

                        Can it be You will be to me

                                 as deceptive waters that do not nourish?

Does this verse truly reveal Jeremiah’s fears and doubts?  Or is it words he puts into the mouth of the Jews of Jerusalem?  I’m inclined to believe it is the former.  He is expressing his doubt in the Lord’s faithfulness.  And the next verse begins the Lord’s response to his plea.

לָכֵן כֹּה־אָמַר יְהוָה אִם־תָּשׁוּב וַאֲשִׁיבְךָ לְפָנַי תַּעֲמֹד וְאִם־תֹּוצִיא יָקָר מִזֹּולֵל כְּפִי תִהְיֶה יָשֻׁבוּ   15:19        הֵמָּה אֵלֶיךָ וְאַתָּה לֹא־תָשׁוּב אֲלֵיהֶם׃

Jere. 15:19   Therefore thus says the Lord:

                        “If you will repent, then I will bring you back.

                                 You must stand before Me.

                        And if you will exhibit

                                  the precious instead of the vile,

                        you shall be as My ‘mouth.’

                                 They will return to you,

                        but you will not return to them.”

This first statement of God’s answer to Jeremiah is confusing at first glance.  Does Jeremiah have to repent?  Does he not exhibit the precious instead of the vile?  I believe the Lord is referring to Jeremiah’s confession of doubt in v. 15:18.  There he suggests that God is being deceptive.  However, the rest of this verse does sound as if the Lord is addressing Jeremiah’s fears.  He will be a mouth for the Lord.  And his enemies will return to him (and war against him; see next verse), but he will not go back to them.

 וּנְתַתִּיךָ לָעָם הַזֶּה לְחֹומַת נְחֹשֶׁת בְּצוּרָה וְנִלְחֲמוּ אֵלֶיךָ וְלֹא־יוּכְלוּ לָךְ כִּי־אִתְּךָ אֲנִי לְהֹושִׁיעֲךָ   15:20 וּלְהַצִּילֶךָ נְאֻם־יְהוָה׃

Jere. 15:20   “And I will set you

                                 for a fortified brass wall for this people,

                        that they will war against you,

                                 but shall not prevail regarding you.

                        For I am with you,

                                 to save you and to deliver you,”

                        says the Lord.

וְהִצַּלְתִּיךָ מִיַּד רָעִים וּפְדִתִיךָ מִכַּף עָרִצִים׃   15:21

Jere. 15:21   “So I shall deliver you

                                 from the hand of the wicked

                        and redeem you from the ruthless hand.”


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