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Jeremiah 12:11-13 New English Translation (NET Bible)

11 They will lay it waste.
It will lie parched[a] and empty before me.
The whole land will be laid waste,
but no one living in it will pay any heed.[b]
12 A destructive army[c] will come marching
over the hilltops in the wilderness.
For the Lord will use them as his destructive weapon[d]
against[e] everyone from one end of the land to the other.
No one will be safe.[f]
13 My people will sow wheat, but will harvest weeds.[g]
They will work until they are exhausted, but will get nothing from it.
They will be disappointed in their harvests[h]
because the Lord will take them away in his fierce anger.[i]


  1. Jeremiah 12:11 tn For the use of this verb see the notes on 12:4. Some understand the homonym here as meaning “it [the desolated land] will mourn to me.” However, the only other use of the preposition עַל (ʿal) with this root means “to mourn over” not “to” (cf. Hos 10:5). For the use of the preposition here see BDB 753 s.v. עַל II.1.b and compare the use in Gen 48:7.
  2. Jeremiah 12:11 tn Heb “But there is no man laying it to heart.” For the idiom here see BDB 525 s.v. לֵב II.3.d and compare the usage in Isa 42:25; 47:7.sn There is a very interesting play on words and sounds in this verse that paints a picture of desolation and the pathos it evokes. Part of this is reflected in the translation. The same Hebrew word referring to a desolation or a waste (שְׁמֵמָה, shememah) is repeated three times at the end of three successive lines (the first is the last line of v. 10), and the related verb is found at the beginning of the fourth (נָשַׁמָּה, nashammah). A similar sounding word is found in the second of the three successive lines (שָׁמָהּ, shamah = “he [they] will make it”). This latter word is part of a further play because it is repeated in a different form (שָׁם, sham = “laying”) in the last two lines of the verse: they lay it waste, but no one lays it to heart. There is also an interesting contrast between the sorrow the Lord feels and the inattention of the people.
  3. Jeremiah 12:12 tn Heb “destroyers.”
  4. Jeremiah 12:12 tn Heb “It is the Lord’s consuming sword.”
  5. Jeremiah 12:12 tn Heb “For a sword of the Lord will devour.” The sword is often symbolic for destructive forces of all kinds. Here and in Isa 34:6; Jer 47:6, it is symbolic of the enemy armies that the Lord uses to carry out destructive punishment against his enemies, hence the translation “his destructive weapon.” A similar figure is use in Isa 10:5, where the figure is more clearly identified; Assyria is the rod/club that the Lord will use to discipline unfaithful Israel.
  6. Jeremiah 12:12 tn Heb “There is no peace to all flesh.”
  7. Jeremiah 12:13 sn Invading armies lived off the land, using up all the produce and destroying everything they could not consume.
  8. Jeremiah 12:13 tn The pronouns here are actually second plural: Heb “Be ashamed/disconcerted because of your harvests.” Because the verb form (וּבֹשׁוּ, uvoshu) can either be Qal perfect third plural or Qal imperative masculine plural, many emend the pronoun on the noun to third plural (see, e.g., BHS). However, this is the easier reading and is not supported by either the Latin or the Greek, which have second plural. This is probably another case of the shift from description to direct address that has been met with several times already in Jeremiah (the figure of speech called apostrophe; for other examples see, e.g., 9:4; 11:13). As in other cases, the translation has been leveled to third plural to avoid confusion for the contemporary English reader. For the meaning of the verb here see BDB 101 s.v. בּוֹשׁ Qal.2 and compare the usage in Jer 48:13.
  9. Jeremiah 12:13 tn Heb “be disappointed in their harvests from the fierce anger of the Lord.” The translation makes explicit what is implicit in the elliptical poetry of the Hebrew original.
New English Translation (NET)

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