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New English Translation
5 ‘The defenders of the city will go out and fight with the Babylonians.[a] But they will only fill those houses and buildings with the dead bodies of the people that I will kill in my anger and my wrath.[b] That will happen because I have decided to turn my back on[c] this city on account of the wicked things they have done.[d]Read full chapter
- Jeremiah 33:5 tn Heb “The Chaldeans.” See the study note on 21:4 for further explanation.
- Jeremiah 33:5 sn This refers to the tearing down of buildings within the city to strengthen the wall or to fill gaps in it which had been created by the Babylonian battering rams. For a parallel to this during the siege of Sennacherib in the time of Hezekiah, see Isa 22:10 and 2 Chr 32:5. These torn-down buildings were also used as burial mounds for those who died in the fighting or through starvation and disease during the siege. The siege prohibited them from taking the bodies outside the city for burial, and leaving them in their houses or in the streets would have defiled them.
- Jeremiah 33:5 tn Heb “Because I have hidden my face from.” The modern equivalent for this gesture of rejection is “to turn the back on.” See Ps 13:1 for comparable usage. The perfect is to be interpreted as a perfect of resolve (cf. IBHS 488-89 §30.5.1d and compare the usage in Ruth 4:3).
- Jeremiah 33:5 tn The translation and precise meaning of vv. 4-5 are uncertain at a number of points due to some difficult syntactical constructions and some debate about the text and meaning of several words. The text reads more literally, “33:4 For thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, concerning the houses of this city and concerning the houses of the kings of Judah that have been torn down on account the siege ramps and the sword 33:5 going to fight the Chaldeans and to fill them [the houses] with the dead bodies of the men whom I have killed in my anger and in my wrath, and on account of all whose wickedness I have hidden my face from this city.” There are two difficult syntactical forms (1) the participle at the beginning of v. 5, “going [or those going] to fight” (בָּאִים, baʾim), and (2) the infinitive plus suffix that introduces the next clause, “and to fill them” (וּלְמַלְאָם, ulemalʾam). The translation has interpreted the former as a verbal use of the participle with an indefinite subject “they” (= the defenders of Jerusalem who have torn down the buildings; cf. GKC 460-61 §144.i for this point of grammar). The conjunction plus preposition plus infinitive construct have been interpreted as equivalent to a finite verb (cf. IBHS 611 §36.3.2a, i.e., “and they will fill them [the houses and buildings of v. 4]”). Adopting the Greek text of these two verses would produce a smoother reading. It reads, “For thus says the Lord concerning the houses of this city and concerning the houses of the kings of Judah, which have been pulled down for mounds and fortifications to fight against the Chaldeans and to fill it [should be “them”] with the corpses of men whom I smote in my anger and my wrath, and I turned away my face from them [rather than from “this city” of the Hebrew text] for all their wickedness: Behold I will…” The Greek does not have the problem with the participle because it has seen it as part of a word meaning fortification. This also eliminates the problem with the infinitive because it is interpreted as parallel with “to fight.” That is, the defenders used these torn-down buildings for defensive fortifications and for burial places. It would be tempting to follow this reading. However, there is no graphically close form for “fortification” that would explain how the more difficult בָּאִים הֶחָרֶב (hekharev baʾim) of the Hebrew text arose, and there is doubt whether סֹלְלוֹת (solelot) can refer to a defense mound. W. L. Holladay (Jeremiah [Hermeneia], 2:221, 225) has suggested reading הַחֲרַכִּים (hakharakim) in place of הֶחָרֶב (hekharev) in the technical sense of “crenels,” the gaps between the raised portion on top of the wall (which raised portion he calls “merlons” and equates with סֹלְלוֹת, solelot). He does not see בָּאִים (baʾim) as part of the original text, choosing rather to see it as a gloss. His emendation and interpretation, however, have been justly criticized as violating the usage of both סֹלְלוֹת, which is elsewhere “siege mound,” and חֲרַכִּים (kharakim), which elsewhere refers only to the latticed opening of a window (Song 2:9). Until a more acceptable explanation of how the difficult Hebrew text could have arisen from the Greek, the Hebrew should be retained, though it is admittedly awkward. G. L. Keown, P. J. Scalise, and T. G. Smothers (Jeremiah 26-52 [WBC], 166, 172) have perhaps the best discussion of the issues and the options involved here.