Jeremiah 23:23-29

Jeremiah 23:23-29
Ordinary C38


23 Am I a GodA near by,B saysC the Lord,D and not a God far off?E 

Notes on verse 23

A “God” = Elohim.
B “near by” = qarob. From qarab (to come near, offer, make ready). This is near whether nearby, related, near in time, or allied.
C “says” = neum. From na’am (to speak a prophecy; properly, to whisper, which implies saying an oracle). This is an utterance or speaking an oracle.
D “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.
E “far off” = rachoq. From rachaq (to widen, become distant, cast, or remove in a literal or figurative sense). This is distant or far, whether of space or of time.

24 WhoF can hideG in secretH places so that I cannot seeI them? says the Lord.

Notes on verse 24a

F {untranslated} = ish. Perhaps from enosh (human, humankind, mortal); from anash (to be weak, sick, or frail). This is man, husband, another, or humankind.
G “hide” = sathar. This is hide, conceal, or be absent. It is hiding because something is covered – used in a literal or figurative sense.
H “secret” = mistar. Related to “hide” in v24. 10x in OT. From sathar (see note G above). This is a secret or a hiding place. Properly, it is something or somewhere that conceals like a covert.
I “see” = raah. This is to see in a literal or figurative sense so stare, advise, think, view.

Do I not fillJ heavenK and earth?L says the Lord. 

Notes on verse 24b

J “fill” = male. This is fill, satisfy, replenish, accomplish, fulfill, confirm, or consecrate. It is fill in a literal or figurative sense.
K “heaven” = shamayim. Root may mean being lofty. This is sky, the air, or heaven. It is in a dual noun form so this might refer to the part of the sky where the clouds move on the one hand and the part beyond that where the sun, moon, and stars are on the other hand.
L “earth” = erets. Root may mean to be firm. This is earth, ground, field land, or country.

25 I have heardM what the prophetsN have said who prophesyO

Notes on verse 25a

M “heard” = shama. This is to hear, call, consent, or consider. It implies listening intelligently, giving attention, and, because of these two factors, obedience and action are often implied.
N “prophets” = nabi. This is prophet, prophecy, speaker, or someone inspired.
O “prophesy” = naba. Related to “prophets” in v25. Related to nabi (see note N above). This is to prophesy. It can also refer to an ecstatic state – raving. It is associated with speech, song, teachings, and predictions.

liesP in my name,Q saying, “I have dreamed!R I have dreamed!” 

Notes on verse 25b

P “lies” = sheqer. This is deception, lie, or disappointment. It can also be something that is vain or wrongfully.
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 “dreamed” = chalam. Properly, to bind solidly and so to be plump. This is to be healthy or strong, to recover; figuratively, to dream.

26 How long? Will the heartsS of the prophets ever turn back—those who prophesy lies and who prophesy the deceitT of their own heart? 27 They planU to make my peopleV forgetW my name

Notes on verses 26-27a

S “hearts” = 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.
T “deceit” = tormah. 6x in OT. From ramah (to betray, deceive, beguile). This is deceit, treachery, cunning, or fraud.
U “plan” = 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.
V “people” = am. From amam (to darken, hide, associate; creating shadows by huddling together). This is people or nation. It can be used specifically for a tribe, collectively of troops or armies, or figuratively to refer to a flock of animals.
W “forget” = shakach. This is to forget because of not remembering something or not paying attention to it. It can also mean to mislay.

by their dreamsX that they tellY one another,Z just as their ancestorsAA forgot my name for Baal.BB 

Notes on verse 27b

X “dreams” = chalom. Related to “dreamed” in v25. From chalam (see note R above). This is a dream or dreamer.
Y “tell” = saphar. From sepher (writing, document, book, evidence). This is properly to tally or record something. It can be enumerate, recount, number, celebrate, or declare.
Z “one another” = ish + rea. Literally, a man to his neighbor.” Ish is the same as {untranslated} in v24. See note F above. Rea is from raah (to associate with). This is the same as neighbor in Leviticus 19:18 “love your neighbor as yourself.” This is friend, companion, fellow, neighbor. It is someone with whom you associate, whether more or less close.
AA “ancestors” = ab. This is father, chief, or ancestor. It is father in a literal or figurative sense.
BB “Baal” = Baal. From the same as ba’al (lord, owner, ally, or archer); from ba’al (to marry, have dominion, be master). This is Baal, literally “lord,” a Phoenician god.

28 Let the prophet who has a dream tell the dream, but let the one who has my wordCC speakDD my word faithfully.EE What has strawFF in common with wheat?GG says the Lord. 

Notes on verse 28

CC “word” = dabar. From dabar (to speak, declare, discuss). This is speech, a word, a matter, an affair, charge, command, message, promise, purpose, report, request. It is a word, which implies things that are spoken of in a wide sense.
DD “speak” = dabar. Related to “word” in v28. See note CC above.
EE “faithfully” = emet. From aman (to believe, endure, fulfill, confirm, support, be faithful, put one’s trust in, be steadfast. Figuratively, this is to be firm, steadfast, or faithful, trusting, believing, being permanent, morally solid). This is firmness or stability. Figuratively, it is faithfulness, truth, or trustworthiness. This is the same root that “amen” comes from.
FF “straw” = teben. 17x in OT. Perhaps from banah (to build or obtain children). This is material like straw or stubble – refuse used as fodder.
GG “wheat” = bar. 14x in OT. From barar (to select, polish, cleanse, brighten, purify). This is something that is winnowed so any kind of grain, whether in the field or harvested. It can be corn, wheat, or other grains. This can also refer to a field or the open country.

29 Is not my word like fire,HH says the Lord, and like a hammerII that breaks a rockJJ in pieces?KK

Notes on verse 29

HH “fire” = esh. This is fire, burning, flaming, hot. It is fire in a literal or figurative sense.
II “hammer” = pettish. 3x in OT – 1x in Isaiah & 2x in Jeremiah. May be from a word that means to pound. This is a forge hammer.
JJ “rock” = sela. Root may mean being lofty. This is a rock, cliff, crag, mountain. It could be used figuratively for obstinance or to show God as a refuge. It can also more generally mean fortress or stronghold.
KK “breaks…in pieces” = puts. This is to dash in pieces, scatter, disperse, drive.

Image credit: “wheat_field_rows” by Rae Allen, 2005.

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