Jeremiah 11:18-20

Jeremiah 11:18-20
Ordinary B43


18 It was the LordA who made it knownB to me, and I knew;
    then you showedC me their evil deeds.D

Notes on verse 18

A “Lord” = YHVH. From havah (to be, become) or hayah (to come to pass, become, be). This is the name of the God of Israel, the self-existent and eternal one, the tetragrammaton. This pronunciation has been lost to time so “Lord” is generally used in its place.
B “made…known” = yada. This is to know, acknowledge, advise, answer, be aware, be acquainted with. Properly, this is to figure something out by seeing. It includes ideas of observation, recognition, and care about something. It can be used causatively for instruction, designation, and punishment.
C “showed” = raah. This is to see in a literal or figurative sense so stare, advise, think, view.
D “evil deeds” = maalal. From alal (to affect, do, practice, mock, overdo, glean, abuse, pain). This is some kind of deed, action, invention or practice whether good or bad.

19 But I was like a gentleE lambF
    ledG to the slaughter.H
And I did not know it was against me
    that they devisedI schemes,J saying,

Notes on verse 19a

E “gentle” = alluph. From alaph (to learn, speak, associate with). This is a friend, something gentle like a tame bull. It can also refer to someone who is noble or a leader like a captain, guide, or governor.
F “lamb” = kebes. Root may mean to dominate. This is a young male sheep – having just reached the age where it can butt other sheep.
G “led” = yabal. 18x in OT. This is to lead, bring, carry, conduct. Properly, it means to flow. It can mean to bring or lead with fanfare.
H “slaughter” = tabach. 11x in OT. This is to slaughter or butcher. It can be used to refer to animals or people.
I “devised” = chashab. This is properly to braid or interpenetrate. Literally it is to create or to wear. Figuratively, it can mean plotting – generally in a negative sense. More broadly, this can also mean think, consider, or make account of.
J “schemes” = machashabah. Related to “devised” in v19. From chashab (see note I above). This is thought, scheme, imagination, purpose, or a plan either good or evil.

“Let us destroyK the treeL with its fruit,M

Notes on verse 19b

K “destroy” = shachat. This is to go to ruin, perish, decay, batter, cast off, lose, one who destroys. This can be used in a literal or figurative sense.
L “tree” = ets. Perhaps from atsah (to shut, fasten, firm up, to close one’s eyes). This is tree or other things related to trees like wood, sticks, or stalks. It can also refer to wood products like a plank or staff or gallows. Additionally, this can refer to a carpenter.
M “fruit” = lechem. From lacham (to eat, feed on). This is bread, food, loaf. It can refer to food more generally for people or for animals.

    let us cut him offN from the landO of the living,P
    so that his nameQ will no longer be remembered!”R

Notes on verse 19c

N “cut…off” = karat. This is to cut down, cut off, or make a covenant (idiom for making a covenant is, “to cut a covenant”). It can also mean to destroy, fail, or consume.
O “land” = erets. Root may mean to be firm. This is earth, ground, field land, or country.
P “living” = chay. From chayah (to live or keep alive literally or figuratively). This is alive, living, lifetime. It can also be used to describe someone’s age. It can refer to animals, plants, water, or a company or congregation of people. It is life in a very broad sense.
Q “name” = shem. May be from sum (to put, place, set). This is name, fame, renown. A name was thought to indicate something essential about a person – something about their individuality. So, this word can also mean honor, authority, or character.
R “be remembered” = zakar. This is to remember, to mark something so that it can be recalled, to be mindful of, to mention.

20 But you, O Lord of hosts,S who judgeT righteously,U

Notes on verse 20a

S “hosts” = tsaba. From tsaba (to wage war, serve, assemble, fight, perform, muster, wait on). This is a large group of persons (used figuratively for a group of things). It implies a campaign literally as with army, war, warfare, battle, company, soldiers. Can also be used figuratively for hardship or for worship.
T “judge” = shaphat. This is to judge, defend, pronounce judgment, condemn, or govern. It can refer to God judging or to human judges. This is pronouncing a verdict in favor or against so it implies consequences or punishment. It can also mean to litigate or govern as one with authority.
U “righteously” = tsedeq. This is rightness, righteousness, vindication. It is everything that is just or ethical. That which is right in a natural, moral, or legal sense. It also includes just weights (i.e. true weights). Figuratively, this is justice, righteousness, equity – even prosperity.

    who tryV the heartW and the mind,X

Notes on verse 20b

V “try” = bachan. This is to examine, test, or prove – as one tests metals. It can also be used literally or figuratively for investigating or trying.
W “heart” = kilyah. Perhaps from keli (something that was prepared – any implement, utensil, article, vessel, weapon, or instrument; also includes jewels, weapons, bags, carriages, and furniture); from kalah (to end, be finished, complete, prepare, consume, spent, or completely destroyed). This is inward parts, such as kidney or heart. It can also be inmost being as feelings, mind, or within.
X “mind” = leb. May be related to labab (to encourage; properly, to be encased as with fat; used in a good sense, this means to transport someone with love; used in a bad sense, it can mean to dull one’s senses). This is the heart, courage, one’s inner self, the mind, or the will. Heart is only used in a figurative sense in the Old and New Testaments.

let me seeY your retributionZ upon them,
    for to you I have committedAA my cause.BB

Notes on verse 20c

Y “see” = raah. Same as “showed” in v18. See note C above.
Z “retribution” = neqamah. From naqam (a quarrel or vengeance); from naqam (to avenge, punish, have a grudge, execute). This is vengeance, or revenge – whether the act of vengeance or the drive towards vengeance.
AA “committed” = galah. This is to remove, bring, carry, lead, appear, advertise. It can mean to strip someone or something bare in a negative sense. Captives were typically stripped before they were sent into exile. Used figuratively, in a positive sense, this word means reveal, disclose, discover.
BB “cause” = rib. From rib (properly to toss or grapple; used figuratively to mean wrangling and so for arguments, complaints, or disputes; used in a legal setting for pleading or defending a case). This is strife or dispute – whether a personal one or one in a court of law.

Image credit: “Eschatological Symbols – Sheep” at the Church of Saints Cosmas and Damian in Rome, Italy, 527.

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