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Jeremiah 25

PARAGRAPH DIVISIONS OF MODERN TRANSLATIONS

(The parentheses represent poetic literary units)

NASB NKJV NRSV TEV NJB
Prophecy of the Captivity Seventy Years of Desolation Babylon, God's Instrument for Punishment The Enemy From the North Babylon, the Scourge of Yahweh
25:1-7 25:1-7 25:1-7 25:1-7 25:1-2
        25:3-7
25:8-11 25:8-11 25:8-14 25:8-14 25:8-13a
Babylon Will Be Judged        
25:12-14 25:12-14     The Vision of the Cup
        25:13b
      God's Judgment On the Nations 25:14
25:15-16 25:15-26 25:15-16 25:15-16 25:15-26
25:17-26   25:17-26 25:17-18  
      25:19-26  
25:27-29 25:27-29 25:27 25:27-29 25:27-29
    25:28-29    
25:30-31
(30b-31)
25:30-31
(30b-31)
25:30-31
(30b-31)
25:30-31
(30b-31)
25:30-32
(30b-32)
25:32
(32)
25:32
(32)
25:32
(32)
25:32-33  
25:33-38
(34-38)
25:33 25:33-38   25:33
  25:34-38
(34-38)
(34-38) 25:34-38 25:34-38
(34-38)

READING CYCLE THREE (see introductory section)

FOLLOWING THE ORIGINAL AUTHOR'S INTENT AT PARAGRAPH LEVEL

This is a study guide commentary,which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

Read the chapter in one sitting. Identify the subjects (reading cycle #3). Compare your subject divisions with the five translations above. Paragraphing is not inspired, but it is the key to following the original author's intent, which is the heart of interpretation. Every paragraph has one and only one subject.

1. First paragraph

2. Second paragraph

3. Third paragraph

4. Etc.

 

WORD AND PHRASE STUDY

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 25:1-7
1The word that came to Jeremiah concerning all the people of Judah, in the fourth year of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah, king of Judah (that was the first year of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon), 2which Jeremiah the prophet spoke to all the people of Judah and to all the inhabitants of Jerusalem, saying, 3"From the thirteenth year of Josiah the son of Amon, king of Judah, even to this day, these twenty-three years the word of the Lord has come to me, and I have spoken to you again and again, but you have not listened. 4And the Lord has sent to you all His servants the prophets again and again, but you have not listened nor inclined your ear to hear, 5saying, 'Turn now everyone from his evil way and from the evil of your deeds, and dwell on the land which the Lord has given to you and your forefathers forever and ever; 6and do not go after other gods to serve them and to worship them, and do not provoke Me to anger with the work of your hands, and I will do you no harm. ' 7Yet you have not listened to Me," declares the Lord, "in order that you might provoke Me to anger with the work of your hands to your own harm."

25:1 This is obviously an attempt to date the prophecy historically (cf. v. 3).

1. the fourth year of Jehoiakim (i.e., 605 b.c., same year as the defeat of Egypt at Carchemish; see chart in Appendix One)

2. the first year of Nebuchadnezzar II (see historical survey in Appendix Three)

The poems of Jeremiah have been organized by themes, key words, word plays (sound plays, semantic field). They are not chronological (although the earlier chapters may be).

One tenant in hermeneutical theory is to establish the historical setting and try to identify the reason for the poem/prophecy. When there is no historical item mentioned it becomes theological speculation.

Notice the king of Neo-Babylon is spelled here Nebuchadnezzar. There are always differences when transliterating names. The Babylonian name is Nabu-kudurri-osur, but it is transliterated two different ways in the OT (with an "n" and an "r").

25:2 Jeremiah identifies his audience as

1. all the people of Judah, vv. 1,2

2. all the inhabitants of Jerusalem, v. 2

The first designation would relate to the common people of Judah and the second to her leadership and elite of society.

Notice that in v. 4 he calls them "His servants." YHWH's people are meant to be servants and priests (see Special Topic at 1:5). Jeremiah's twenty-three years of delivering YHWH's revelations had not affected these sin-hardened people.

25:3 "the thirteenth year of Josiah" This would be 627 b.c., the year of Jeremiah's call (cf. 1:1-3).

▣ "even to this day" This phrase (and variations) occurs many times in the OT. For most scholars it shows the presence of a later editor/compiler, but here it is used by an author to refer to his previous ministry. We must always be careful of our assumptions. They are just that! Moderns do not understand ancient literature as well as they think they do!!

▣ "the word of the Lord has come to me" As a modern preacher/teacher, how do I know the Lord has spoken to me, directed me? It is obvious the OT prophets and NT apostles had a unique revelation (see Special Topics at 23:21-22). For those of us who live and serve in the post-apostolic age, our message must be linked to inspired authors and their message. Every text has only one meaning (i.e., the intent of the original author) but many applications. We cannot just say, "God told me!" We must point people to texts that they can evaluate themselves! Texts have priority!

NASB, REB"again and again"
NKJV"rising early and speaking"
NRSV, JPSOA"I have spoken persistently to you"
NJB"I have never tired of speaking to you"

The NKJV is the Hebrew idiom (two infinitive absolutes). It occurs in v. 4; 7:25; 11:7; 26:5. This idiomatic language represents one of the greatest challenges to interpreters because idioms, by their very nature, are not literal. The words have a special meaning. An idiom such as this can be understood because it is repeated and contextually obvious, but others are very difficult

1. to identify as an idiom

2. to ascertain its meaning in context

I am sure when we get to heaven and get to visit with these original authors, we and they, will be shocked by what we think they wrote!

▣ "but you have not listened" This verb (BDB 1033, KB 1570) is a Qal perfect which denoted a settled opposition to hearing and obeying YHWH! These are His people. They have His revelation but they seem not to recognize the choice of "life" or "death" (cf. Deut. 30:15) connected to YHWH's words (cf. Leviticus 26; Deuteronomy 27-28).

For further insights to this verb, see notes in my commentary on Deuteronomy 4:1; 5:1; and 6:5. It is online free in several languages at www.freebiblecommentary.org.

25:4 Notice the parallelism between

1. you have not listened

2. inclined your ear to hear

Hebrew poetry must be interpreted through (1) purposeful parallelism, (2) parallel passages, and (3) word plays. See the Appendix One: Introduction to Hebrew Poetry.

Also notice the number of Hebrew words that begin with שׁ in vv. 305.

1. hear (thrice), שׁמע

2. send (twice), שׁלח

3. rise (twice), שׁכם

4. turn, שׁוב

5. dwell, ישׁב

 

25:4-7 YHWH lists why He is angry with His people, Judah.

1. they have not listened and obeyed, vv. 4, 7

2. they have not responded (see Special Topic at 2:22), v. 5

3. they have committed flagrant idolatry, vv. 6, 7 (i.e., "the work of your hands," cf. v. 14; 1:16; 10:3-5; Isa. 2:8; 17:8; 37:19)

 

25:5 "dwell in the land which the Lord has given to you and your forefathers forever and ever" This reflects 7:7 (see Special Topic there), which reflects Deut. 4:40. The land was part of the Abrahamic Covenant (cf. Gen. 12:1-3; 15:12-21). It was meant to be a permanent gracious gift, but there were conditions (i.e., covenant obedience, cf. Leviticus 26; Deuteronomy 27-28, 30).

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 25:8-11
8"Therefore thus says the Lord of hosts, 'Because you have not obeyed My words, 9behold, I will send and take all the families of the north,' declares the Lord, 'and I will send to Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, My servant, and will bring them against this land and against its inhabitants and against all these nations round about; and I will utterly destroy them and make them a horror and a hissing, and an everlasting desolation. 10Moreover, I will take from them the voice of joy and the voice of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom and the voice of the bride, the sound of the millstones and the light of the lamp. 11This whole land will be a desolation and a horror, and these nations will serve the king of Babylon seventy years.

25:8-11 YHWH lists the results of their disobedience (v. 8).

1. I will send and take all the families of the north. YHWH controls both Assyria and Babylon, as well as Persia, for His purposes!

2. They will invade, destroy, and exile the people of Palestine.

3. Society will be radically changed from peace to panic.

a. I will take (i.e., "cause to perish") the voice of joy

b. I will take the voice of gladness

c. I will take the voice of the bridegroom

d. I will take the voice of the bride

e. I will take the sound of the millstone

f. I will take the light of the lamp

This means utter destruction (cf. v. 9). The land of promise and abundance will be the land of

1. horror, vv. 9, 11

2. hissing, v. 9

3. everlasting desolation, vv. 9, 11

 

25:9 "My servant" This is the same title (BDB 712, 713) used of the Messiah in Isaiah 40-66. Here it is not used in a Messianic sense, but is a way of denoting one who fulfills YHWH"s purpose (i.e., 27:6; 43:10; Isa. 13:3).

Cyrus is called "My shepherd" (Isa. 44:28) and "His anointed" (Isa. 45:1) in the same sense. As YHWH used Pharaoh in the Exodus, so He uses these kings.

The one true God (see Special Topic at 1:5) is actively involved in all of human history. The Bible records that aspect of this involvement that relates to redemption through Israel and the Messiah (see Special Topic at 23:5).

▣ "utterly destroy" This is the Hebrew verb herem (BDB 355 I, KB 353), Hiphil perfect. It is used of things devoted to God and thereby they become too holy for common use (BDB 356, cf. Lev. 27:21, 28, 29; Num. 28:14; Deut. 7:26; 13:17; Josh 6:17-18; 7:1,11,12,13,15). The same root (BDB 355) means "to completely destroy" (cf. 25:9; 50:21, 26; 51:3; Exod. 22:20; Lev. 27:28, 29; Num. 21:2, 3; Deut. 2:34; 3:6; 7:2; 13:15; 20:17). This second sense is how the word is used in Jeremiah.

This is "holy war" terminology. The God who fought for Israel in the conquest of Joshua now fights against Judah and Jerusalem (i.e., the very place He caused His name to dwell).

NASB"horror"
NKJV"astonishment"
NRSV, NJB,
REB"object of horror"
JPSOA"desolation"

This Hebrew word (BDB 1031, KB 1566) means "waste" or "devastation." It is used numerous times by Jeremiah (cf. 4:27; 6:8; 9:11; 10:22; 12:10, 11; 25:12; 32:43; 34:22; 44:6; 49:2, 33; 50:13; 51:26, 62).

▣ "hissing" This Hebrew word (BDB 1057, KB 1657) means "to hiss" (cf. v. 18) or "to whistle." The Jewish Study Bible, at Jer. 18:6, has the footnote, "These actions were performed at the sight of ruin to ward off a like fate from the observer" (p. 964).

▣ "an everlasting desolation" The word translated "everlasting" (BDB 352) must be interpreted in context. It has a wide semantic field. See Special Topic at 7:7.

For a good discussion of the use of hyperbole, see D. Brent Sandy, Plowshares and Pruning Hooks, chapter 2, "What Makes Prophecy Problematic?" (pp. 31-57).

25:11 "seventy years" This time prediction is also mentioned in 29:10; II Chr. 36:21-23; Dan. 9:2; and Zech. 7:5. Seventy is a round number which denotes (1) multiple generations or (2) a complete life (cf. Ps. 90:10; Isa. 23:15). It is interesting that the date of the destruction of the temple by Nebuchadnezzar (i.e., 586 b.c.) is exactly seventy years from the rebuilding of the second temple by Zerubbabel (i.e., 516 b.c., cf. Zech. 1:12).

Remember the ancients used numbers differently than moderns. See the Special Topic: Symbolic Numbers in Scripture at 15:9.

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 25:12-14
12'Then it will be when seventy years are completed I will punish the king of Babylon and that nation,' declares the Lord, 'for their iniquity, and the land of the Chaldeans; and I will make it an everlasting desolation. 13I will bring upon that land all My words which I have pronounced against it, all that is written in this book which Jeremiah has prophesied against all the nations. 14For many nations and great kings will make slaves of them, even them; and I will recompense them according to their deeds and according to the work of their hands.)'"

25:12-14 Jeremiah records YHWH's commitment to judging Babylon. The same phrase, "an everlasting desolation" from v. 9 is now used of the ones who made Palestine desolate.

Notice that Jeremiah alludes to his own book (i.e., "this book"), but notice Jeremiah is mentioned by name, which implies Baruch (cf. 36:4,29,32) or another editor (i.e., Ezra). The destruction and judgment of Neo-Babylon is predicted and described in chapter 51.

25:13 "against all the nations" Several of the Prophets have chapters about YHWH's judgment of the nations. These nations probably never heard these messages. They are written to show the universal nature of Israel's God. All history is before Him. He is not like the dead, blind, deaf idols; He acts in His world.

The NJB entitles 25:13c-38 "Introduction to the Prophecies Against the Nations." The LXX moves these prophecies from chapters 46-51 in the MT to begin at chapter 25 in the Septuagint.

25:14 This verse is in parentheses in the NASB, NKJV, which denotes the comments of an editor or an aside from Baruch.

▣ "I will recompense them according to their deeds" See full notes at 17:10. We reap what we sow, often in kind!

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 25:15-16
15For thus the Lord, the God of Israel, says to me, "Take this cup of the wine of wrath from My hand and cause all the nations to whom I send you to drink it. 16They will drink and stagger and go mad because of the sword that I will send among them."

25:15 "this cup of the wine" This is a Hebrew idiom for judgment (cf. 13:13; 51:7; Ps. 75:8; Isa. 51:17,22). Notice it again asserts that YHWH, not the gods of the nations, controls the outcome of wars and international treaties, etc. (cf. v. 28; 1:10; Deut. 32:8).

This same imagery is used of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane (cf. Matt. 24:39; also note 20:22).

Notice the number of times the verbs related to drinking/drunkenness are used.

1. give to drink - BDB 1052, KB 1639, Hiphil perfect, vv. 15, 17

2. drink - BDB 1059, KB 1667, Qal perfect, vv. 16, 26, 28 (thrice)

3. be drunk - BDB 1016, KB 1500, Qal imperative, v. 27

4. surely drink - BDB 1059, KB 1667, infinitive absolute and Qal imperfect of the same root for intensity, v. 27

 

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 25:17-26
17Then I took the cup from the Lord's hand and made all the nations to whom the Lord sent me drink it: 18Jerusalem and the cities of Judah and its kings and its princes, to make them a ruin, a horror, a hissing and a curse, as it is this day; 19Pharaoh king of Egypt, his servants, his princes and all his people; 20and all the foreign people, all the kings of the land of Uz, all the kings of the land of the Philistines (even Ashkelon, Gaza, Ekron and the remnant of Ashdod); 21Edom, Moab and the sons of Ammon; 22and all the kings of Tyre, all the kings of Sidon and the kings of the coastlands which are beyond the sea; 23and Dedan, Tema, Buz and all who cut the corners of their hair; 24and all the kings of Arabia and all the kings of the foreign people who dwell in the desert; 25and all the kings of Zimri, all the kings of Elam and all the kings of Media; 26and all the kings of the north, near and far, one with another; and all the kingdoms of the earth which are upon the face of the ground, and the king of Sheshach shall drink after them.

25:17 "all the nations" The list of nations in vv. 18-26 is

1. mostly listed in chapters 46-51

2. listed as part of the Persian Empire

 

25:23 "all who cut the corners of their hair" This pagan practice is mentioned two other times in Jeremiah (cf. 9:26; 49:32) and may relate to Lev. 19:27-28 or 21:5 (cf. Deut. 14:1-2). Its exact nature is uncertain.

25:26 "all the kings of the north, near and far" This phrase is used of those nations directly north of Palestine and those of the Fertile Crescent/Mesopotamia.

▣ "Sheshach" This (BDB 1058) is a cryptogram for Babel (footnote on p. 1001 from the New Oxford Annotated Bible, NRSV). AB says in a footnote, "a cipher by which letters of one name, counted from the beginning of the alphabet, are exchanged for corresponding letters counted from the end" (p. 161). This is from Jerome. The method is called atbash (also note 51:1).

▣ "all the kingdoms of the earth which are upon the face of the ground" This is hyperbole (cf. v. 29)! This refers to the nations of which Israel/Judah had knowledge (i.e., the ANE). It would not include China, the Americas, etc., but theologically it would! God loves all the nations and wants all of them to know Him!

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 25:27-29
27"You shall say to them, 'Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, "Drink, be drunk, vomit, fall and rise no more because of the sword which I will send among you."' 28And it will be, if they refuse to take the cup from your hand to drink, then you will say to them, 'Thus says the Lord of hosts: "You shall surely drink! 29For behold, I am beginning to work calamity in this city which is called by My name, and shall you be completely free from punishment? You will not be free from punishment; for I am summoning a sword against all the inhabitants of the earth," declares the Lord of hosts.'

25:27 there is a string of commands related to drunkenness as a metaphor for judgment.

1. drunk - BDB 1059, KB 1667, Qal imperative

2. be drunk - BDB 1016, KB 1500, Qal imperative

3. vomit - BDB 883, KB 1096, Qal imperative

4. fall - BDB 656, KB 709, Qal imperative

5. notice the infinitive absolute and imperfect verb of #1 in v. 28 for intensity

 

25:29 Jerusalem, who had such privileges, will be judged along with the rest of mankind!

▣ "completely free" This is the infinitive absolute and imperfect verb from the same root (BDB 667, KB 720) for dramatic emphasis. The city which was called by YHWH's name was surely responsible for her covenant breaking, refusal to repent, continued idolatry!

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 25:30-31
30"Therefore you shall prophesy against them all these words, and you shall say to them,
'The Lord will roar from on high
And utter His voice from His holy habitation;
He will roar mightily against His fold.
He will shout like those who tread the grapes,
Against all the inhabitants of the earth.
31'A clamor has come to the end of the earth,
Because the Lord has a controversy with the nations.
He is entering into judgment with all flesh;
As for the wicked, He has given them to the sword,' declares the Lord."

25:30-31 This strophe characterizes YHWH and His purposes. He wanted to bless mankind but they would not, so judgment came on all (hyperbole). Notice the one true God judges (cf. v. 38)

1. His own flock, v. 30, line 4

2. the world (i.e., "the nations," "all flesh"), v. 31

 

25:30 "roar" The metaphor of YHWH's judgment changes in vv. 30-38 to YHWH as a lion.

"Roar" is the infinitive absolute and imperfect verb from the same root (BDB 980, KB 1367) for intensity. For this same imagery see Joel 2:11 and Amos 1:2.

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 25:32
32Thus says the Lord of hosts,
"Behold, evil is going forth
From nation to nation,
And a great storm is being stirred up
From the remotest parts of the earth.

25:32-38 Again a poem of YHWH's universal judgment is appended to the similar poem of vv. 30-31. Were they spoken together at the same time? Probably not. The reason the prophet seems so repetitive is the organization of these poems by theme or key words.

Notice the phrases that speak of universal judgment.

1. v. 15 - "caused all the nations to drink it" (cup of judgment)

2. v. 17 - "made all the nations to drink it"

3. v. 19 - "all his (i.e., Pharaoh) people"

4. v. 20 - "all the foreign people"

5. v. 20 - "all the kings" (vv. 20 [twice], 22 [thrice],24,24,24)

6. v. 26 - "all the kingdoms of the earth which are upon the face of the ground" 

7. v. 15 - "all the inhabitants of the earth" (for "earth" see Special Topic at 6:18-19)

8. v. 30 - "against all the inhabitants of the earth"

9. v. 31 - "to the ends of the earth"

10. v. 31 - "with the nations"

11. v. 31 - "with all flesh"

12. v. 32 - "from nation to nation"

13. v. 32 - "from the remotest part of the earth"

14. v. 33 - "from one end of the earth to the other"

 

One God created the earth (see SPECIAL TOPIC: MONOTHEISM at 1:5). One God wanted fellowship with humans made in His image and likeness (cf. Gen. 1:26,27). All humans rebelled (i.e., in Adam, Genesis 3, and in personal choices, Rom. 3:9-18, 23). The consequences are universal, but so too, the love of God in the Messiah (cf. John 3:16; II Tim. 2:4; II Pet. 3:9; I John 2:2). Judgment is not the last word but it is a necessary word!

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 25:33-38
33"Those slain by the Lord on that day will be from one end of the earth to the other. They will not be lamented, gathered or buried; they will be like dung on the face of the ground.
34"Wail, you shepherds, and cry;
  And wallow in ashes, you masters of the flock;
For the days of your slaughter and your dispersions have come,
And you will fall like a choice vessel.
35Flight will perish from the shepherds,
And escape from the masters of the flock.
36Hear the sound of the cry of the shepherds,
And the wailing of the masters of the flock!
For the Lord is destroying their pasture,
37And the peaceful folds are made silent
Because of the fierce anger of the Lord.
38He has left His hiding place like the lion;
For their land has become a horror
Because of the fierceness of the oppressing sword
And because of His fierce anger."

25:34 There are two difficulties in this verse.

1. "dispersions" (NASB, NKJV, NRSV)

    "shattered" (NJB, NIV)

    "break you in pieces" (JPSOA)

   The Hebrew word is found only here and its root is uncertain.

2. "vessel" (MT, NASB, NKJV, NJB, JPSOA)

   "rams" (LXX, TEV, AB)

   The Hebrew word is uncertain. The UBS Text Project gives "vessel" a "B" rating.

 

25:38 "His fierce anger" See Special Topic at 1:9.