Jeremiah 4:11-12, 22-28

Jeremiah 4:11-12, 22-28
Ordinary C42


11 At that timeA it will be said to this peopleB and to Jerusalem:C

Notes on verse 11a

A “time” = eth. Probably from anah (to answer, sing, announce); from ad (forever, all, old); from adah (to pass on, advance, decorate oneself). This is a period or season. It can also mean whenever or continually.
B “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.
C “Jerusalem” = Yerushalaim. From yarah (to throw, shoot, be stunned; to flow as water so figuratively to instruct or teach) + shalam (to make amends, to be complete or sound). This is Jerusalem, dwelling of peace.

A hotD windE comesF from me out of the bare heightsG in the desertH

Notes on verse 11b

D “hot” = tsach. 4x in OT. From tsachach (to dazzle, be white). This is dazzling, glowing, scorching, sunny, radiant, evident.
E “wind” = ruach. This is breath, wind, air, cool, spirit. This is wind, which resembles the breath and so this can be used figuratively for life itself or being frail/mortal/impermanent. It can refer to the air of the sky or the spirit.
F “comes” = bo. This is to enter, come in, advance, fulfill, bring offerings, enter to worship, attack. It can also have a sexual connotation.
G “bare heights” = shephi. 10x in OT. From shaphah (to sweep bare, stick out). This is smoothness, a high place, stick out, a bare height.
H “desert” = midbar. From dabar (to speak, command, declare). This is mouth or speech. It can also be desert or wilderness. Additionally, it can be used for a pasture to which one drives cattle.

towardI the daughterJ of my people, not to winnowK or cleanse,L 

Notes on verse 11c

I “toward” = derek. From darak (to tread, march, to walk. Can also mean affixing a string to a box since one needs to step on it to bend it in the process; so also an archer). This is a road as a thing that is walked on. Can be used figuratively for the path that one’s life takes or how one chooses to live one’s life.
J “daughter” = bat. From ben (son literal or figurative; also, grandson, subject, nation); from banah (to build or obtain children). This is daughter in a literal or figurative sense.
K “winnow” = zarah. This is to scatter or toss around. It can imply to disperse, cast away, or to scrutinize.
L “cleanse” = barar. 18x in OT. To clarify, brighten, or polish. This can mean examine, select, choose. It can also mean purge, sharpen, or purify.

12 a wind too strongM for that. Now it is I who speakN in judgmentO against them.

Notes on verse 12

M “strong” = male. From male (fill, satisfy, replenish, accomplish, fulfill, confirm, or consecrate; fill in a literal or figurative sense). This is full in a literal or figurative sense. It can also mean filling or pregnant.
N “speak” = dabar. Related to “desert” in v11. See note H above.
O “judgment” = mishpat. From shaphat (to judge, defend, pronounce judgment, condemn, govern). This is a verdict or formal sentence whether from humans or from God. It includes the act of judging as well as the place that judging takes place, the suit itself, and the penalty. Abstractly, this is justice, which includes the rights of the participants.

22 “For my people are foolish;P
    they do not knowQ me;
they are stupidR children;S

Notes on verse 22a

P “foolish” = evil. Root may be to be preserve. This is a fool or, figuratively, silly.
Q “know” = 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.
R “stupid” = sakal. 7x in OT. From sakal (being or acting foolishly, whether intentionally or unintentionally). This is a fool or stupid.
S “children” = ben. Related to “daughter” in v11. See note J above.

    they have no understanding.T
They are skilledU in doing evilV
    but do not know how to do good.”W

Notes on verse 22b

T “have…understanding” = bin. This is to discern, consider, attend to. It refers to distinguishing things in one’s mind or, more generally, to understand.
U “skilled” = chakam. From chakam (to be wise or teach wisdom; this is wisdom in thought, word, or action). This is wise, skillful, cunning, or artful.
V “doing evil” = ra’a’. This is to be evil, bad, afflict. Properly, it means to spoil – to destroy by breaking into pieces. Figuratively, it is to cause something to be worthless. It is bad in a physical, social, or moral sense – something that displeases, does harm or mischief, punishes or vexes.
W “do good” = yatab. This is to be good or pleasing, joyful. It can also mean doing good in an ethical sense or be beautiful, happy, successful, or right.

23 I lookedX on the earth,Y andZ it was complete chaos,AA

Notes on verse 23a

X “looked” = raah. This is to see in a literal or figurative sense so stare, advise, think, view.
Y “earth” = erets. Root may mean to be firm. This is earth, ground, field land, or country.
Z {untranslated} = hinneh. From hen (lo! Behold! If, though; an expression of surprise). This is to draw attention, show suddenness or surprise, or to emphasize the importance of the coming statement. See! Lo! Behold!
AA “complete chaos” = tohu + bohu. It is the same as Genesis 1:2 “the earth was formless and void.” Tohu has a root that may mean a wasteland or desert. This is desolation or waste. Figuratively, it refers to emptiness, chaos, confusion, futility, something worthless or meaningless, or unreality. Used as an adverb, it can mean in vain. Bohu is 3x in OT. Root might mean being empty. So, this is void or chaos or ruin.

    and to the heavens,BB and they had no light.CC
24 I looked on the mountains,DD andEE they were quaking,FF

Notes on verses 23b-24a

BB “heavens” = 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.
CC “light” = or. From or (to be or become light). This is light, sun, sunshine, dawn, or daylight. Figuratively, it can refer to light from instruction, light of a face (that is to say one that is cheerful or finds favor). It can refer to prosperity or salvation; a light that guides, a light eternal from Zion.
DD “mountains” = har. From harar (hill or mountain). This is mountain, hill, hilly region.
EE {untranslated} = hinneh. Same as {untranslated} in v23. See note Z above.
FF “quaking” = raash. This is to quake, shake, tremble, shake from fear; leap like a locust.

    and allGG the hillsHH moved to and fro.II
25 I looked, andJJ there was no oneKK at all,
    and all the birdsLL of the airMM had fled.NN

Notes on verses 24b-25

GG “all” = kol. From kalal (to complete). This is all or every.
HH “hills” = gibah. From the same as Geba (Geba or Gibeah; hillock); from the same as gabia (cup, bowl, flower; root might mean being convex). This is hill or little hill.
II “moved to and fro” = qalal. This is to be little, insignificant, swift. It can also mean to bring down in esteem, create contempt, curse.
JJ {untranslated} = hinneh. Same as {untranslated} in v23. See note Z above.
KK “one” = adam. Perhaps from adam (to be red, make ruddy); related to adamah (ground, dirt, earth). This is man, humankind, also Adam’s name. It refers to a human individual or humanity.
LL “birds” = oph. From uph (to fly, flee, shine, be weary, be faint). This is a flying creature.
MM “air” = shamayim. Same as “heavens” in v23. See note BB above.
NN “fled” = nadad. This is to wave back and forth. Figuratively, it is to flee, stray, flutter chase away, shake, or shrink. It can also refer to a fugitive.

26 I looked, andOO the fruitful landPP was a desert,
    and all its citiesQQ were laid in ruinsRR

Notes on verse 26a

OO {untranslated} = hinneh. Same as {untranslated} in v23. See note Z above.
PP “fruitful land” = karmel. 15x in OT. From the same as kerem (vineyard, garden, vines, or a vintage). This is a fertile field, garden, new growth, fruit, grain. It can be an orchard or park as well as the produce.
QQ “cities” = iyr. From uwr (to awaken or wake oneself up). This can mean excitement in the sense of wakefulness or city. Properly, this is a place that is guarded. Guards kept schedules according to watches. This sense of the word would include cities as well as encampments or posts that were guarded.
RR “laid in ruins” = nathats. This is to pull down, demolish, break down, raze, overthrow.

    beforeSS the Lord,TT beforeUU his fierceVV anger.WW

Notes on verse 26b

SS “before” = paneh. From panah (to turn, face, appear). This is face in a literal or figurative sense. It could be face, presence, anger, respect. It can also be used of God to indicate divine favor or presence.
TT “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.
UU “before” = paneh. Same as “before” in v26. See note SS above.
VV “fierce” = charon. From charah (to be displeased, burn with anger, glow, become warn; figuratively a blaze of anger, zeal, or jealousy). This is burning anger, fierceness, or wrathfulness.
WW “anger” = aph. From anaph (to be angry; properly, breathing hard as a signifier of being enraged). This properly refers to the nose or nostril and by extension the face. It can specifically refer to anger or wrath as one breathes hard and nostrils flare in times of great anger.

27 For thus says the Lord: The wholeXX landYY shall beZZ
a desolation,AAA yet I will not makeBBB a full end.CCC

Notes on verse 27

XX “whole” = kol. Same as “all” in v24. See note GG above.
YY “land” = erets. Same as “earth” in v23. See note Y above.
ZZ “be” = hayah. Related to “Lord” in v26. See note TT above.
AAA “desolation” = shemamah. From shamem (to be appalled, astonished; to stun or devastate, be destitute). This is a devastation, ruin, or waste.
BBB “make” = asah. This is to make, do, act, appoint, become in many senses.
CCC “full end” = kalah. From kalah (to end, be finished, complete, prepare, consume, spent, or completely destroyed). This is completion, destruction, end, consummation.

28 Because of this the earth shall mourn
    and the heavens above grow black,DDD
for I have spoken; I have purposed;EEE
    I have not relented,FFF nor will I turn back.GGG

Notes on verse 28

DDD “grow black” = qadar. 17x in OT. This is to be dark, grow black. It can be ashy or otherwise having a dark color. It can also imply mourning, wearing sackcloth.
EEE “purposed” = zamam. 13x in OT. This is to devise, plot, imagine, intend, scheme, think evil. It is usually used in an evil sense.
FFF “relented” = nacham. Properly, this is a strong breath or a sigh. This can be to be sorry, to pity, console. Comfort, or repent. But, one can also comfort oneself with less righteous thoughts, so this can also mean to avenge oneself.
GGG “turn back” = shub. To turn back, return, turn away – literally or figuratively. Doesn’t necessarily imply going back to where you started from. This is also the root verb for the Hebrew word for repentance “teshubah.”

Image credit: “Rubble at Quneitra” by watchsmart, 2007.

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