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Jeremiah 33

PARAGRAPH DIVISIONS OF MODERN TRANSLATIONS

(The parentheses represent poetic literary units)

NASB NKJV NRSV TEV NJB
Restoration Promised Excellence of the Restored Nation God Will Rebuild the Walls of Jerusalem Another Promise of Hope Another Promise of Recovery
33:1-9 33:1-3 33:1-9 33:1-9 33:1-9
  33:4-9      
33:10-11
(11c)
33:10-11
(11c)
33:10-11
(11c)
33:10-11
(11c)
33:10-11
33:12-13 33:12-13 33:12-13 33:12-13 33:12-13
The Davidic Kingdom       The Institutions of the Future
33:14-18 33:14 33:14-16 33:14-18 33:14-18
  33:15-18
(15-16)
    (15-16)
  The Permanence of God's Covenant 33:17-18    
33:19-22 33:19-22 33:19-22 33:19-22 33:19-22
33:23-26 33:23-24 33:23-26 33:23-26 33:23-26
  33:25-26      

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: 33:1-9
1Then the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah the second time, while he was still confined in the court of the guard, saying, 2"Thus says the Lord who made the earth, the Lord who formed it to establish it, the Lord is His name, 3'Call to Me and I will answer you, and I will tell you great and mighty things, which you do not know.' 4For thus says the Lord God of Israel concerning the houses of this city, and concerning the houses of the kings of Judah which are broken down to make a defense against the siege ramps and against the sword, 5'While they are coming to fight with the Chaldeans and to fill them with the corpses of men whom I have slain in My anger and in My wrath, and I have hidden My face from this city because of all their wickedness: 6Behold, I will bring to it health and healing, and I will heal them; and I will reveal to them an abundance of peace and truth. 7I will restore the fortunes of Judah and the fortunes of Israel and will rebuild them as they were at first. 8I will cleanse them from all their iniquity by which they have sinned against Me, and I will pardon all their iniquities by which they have sinned against Me and by which they have transgressed against Me. 9It will be to Me a name of joy, praise and glory before all the nations of the earth which will hear of all the good that I do for them, and they will fear and tremble because of all the good and all the peace that I make for it.'"

33:1 This shows that chapters 32 and 33 are linked (as are chapters 30-33, the Book of Consolation).

33:2 This is one of several references in Jeremiah to YHWH as creator.

1. The first verb "made" (BDB 793, KB 889, Qal active participle) is used in a parallel way to "create" (BDB 135, KB 153, cf. Gen. 1:1), which is clearly seen in 1:7,16,25; 3:1. YHWH made the earth (LXX), which is denoted in the MT by the pronoun "it." However, it could refer to His eternal redemptive plan (JPSOA).

2. The second verb "formed" (BDB 427, KB 428, Qal active participle) is also used often of YHWH as creator

a. Adam - Gen. 2:7,8

b. Israel as a covenant nation - Isa. 27:11; 43:1,21; 44:21; 45:9,11; 64:7

c. Jeremiah - Jer. 1:5

3. The third verb "to establish it" (BDB 465, KB 464, Hiphil infinitive construct) may relate to the fixed order of nature in Jer. 31:35-37 or to YHWH establishing the world by His wisdom in Jer. 10:12.

4. All three verbs are present in Isa. 45:18.

 

▣ "the Lord is His name" See Special Topics below.

SPECIAL TOPIC: "THE NAME" of YHWH

SPECIAL TOPIC: THE NAME OF THE LORD

33:3 Notice the personal element of biblical, covenant faith. Notice the verb forms.

1. "call to Me" - BDB 894, KB 1128, Qal imperative, singular, cf. 29:12

a. Jeremiah

b. His people, collectively

2. "I will answer you" - BDB 772, KB 851, Qal imperfect used in a cohortative sense

3. "I will tell you" - BDB 616, KB 665, Hiphil cohortative

 

▣ "Call to Me, and I will answer you" Here again is the sign of the renewed covenant. Earlier Jeremiah had been told not to pray for the people could not repent. Now they are assured that as they sought God, He would respond to them.

▣ "great and mighty things, which you do not know" The term "mighty" is literally "inaccessible" (BDB 130). This word was often used for breaking into a fortified city (cf. 15:20; 52:7; II Chr. 32:1). It refers to that which is beyond human ability ("which you do not know"), therefore, God's revelation (cf. Isa. 48:6) about future acts for His people.

33:4 The buildings inside the walls of Jerusalem (both of the king and the citizens) are torn down to

1. fortify, support

2. fill in the damage done by the Babylonian siege machines (i.e., A-frames with ropes and logs)

3. drop rocks on the siege machines placed against the walls

In v. 5 YHWH will show His wrath on Jerusalem by allowing dead bodies to fill the holes made by the siege machines! The JPSOA and the AB both assert the ambiguity and uncertainty of the end of v. 4 and the beginning of v. 5.

JPSOA's translation, "for [defense] against the siegemounds and against the sword, and were filled by those who went to fight the Chaldeans" (p. 995).

AB simply leaves it blank with two blank parentheses (p. 292).

▣ "Against the sword" This is an uncertain Hebrew term (BDB 352, KB 349). The JPSOA indicates that vv. 4c-5a are ambiguous. The Septuagint translates this as "fortifications" (cf. Isa. 22:10).

33:5 "to fill them with corpses" The places where the buildings were torn down became burial places for the soldiers slain and/or the citizens who died from famine and pestilence.

▣ "and I have hidden My face from this city because of all their wickedness" Judah's idolatry and unwillingness to listen to Jeremiah or repent of their wickedness has caused the personal God to turn His face away (i.e., not to be attentive to the prayers of His people). This imagery begins in Deut. 31:17 and is repeated often in the prophets.

1. Isa. 1:15; 8:17; 45:15; 54:8; 59:2

2. Jer. 21:10; 44:11

3. Amos 9:4

4. Micah 3:4

As sin drove Adam, Eve, and Cain from the Garden of Eden, it now drives the descendants of Abraham out of the Promised Land!

33:6-9 The great and mighty things of v. 3 are explained in vv. 6-9. Chapters 30-33 are the most positive messages in all of Jeremiah.

Notice what YHWH will do.

1. bring health (BDB 74) and healing (BDB 951), cf. 8:22; 30:17 (opposite of 8:15; 14:19)

2. bring peace (BDB 1027, possibly "prosperity")

3. bring truth (BDB 54, possibly "security")

4. restore the fortunes of both Judah and Israel (some LXX MSS change "Israel" to "Jerusalem," however, Jeremiah does mention the reunification often, cf. 3:18; 30:3; 31:27; 33:11,14,17; and possibly v. 24)

5. rebuild them both (i.e., completely restore them)

6. cleanse them from all their iniquity (#6 and #7 are part of the promise of the new covenant in 31:31-34)

7. pardon all their iniquities (the first seven above are all perfects)

8. the restored covenant people will resume their place as a light to the nations (v. 9; 3:17,19; 4:2; 16:19)

 

33:8 This is a tremendous affirmation of God cleansing His people. It seems to reflect the new covenant (cf. Jer. 31:31-33). All three Hebrew words for sin are found in this verse (as they are in Psalm 51).

1. iniquity - BDB 730, KB 800

2. sin - BDB 306, KB 305 (twice), Qal perfects

3. transgress - BDB 833, KB 981, Qal perfect, also translated "rebel"

They all refer to some deviation from the standard of judgment which is God Himself, as revealed in the covenant. However, God affirms that He will cleanse (BDB 372, KB 369, Piel perfect) and pardon (BDB 699, KB 757, Qal perfect). "Pardon" is a term which is always used for God's forgiveness.

33:9 It must be stated with emphasis that God chose Israel to choose the whole world (see Special Topic at 1:5). However, the light that was being given to the world was not the wonderful, merciful character of God (cf. Lev. 26:2-13; Deut. 28:1-6; 30:1-20), that He wanted to reveal (cf. Ezek. 36:22-38). Because of Israel's and Judah's disobedience the only aspect of YHWH' character the nations saw was judgment. God wanted to use Israel as a kingdom of priests (cf. Exod. 19:5-6, note the phrase's use in I Pet. 2:5,9; Rev. 1:6) to reach the whole world (cf. 3:17,19; 4:2; 16:19). In my opinion the church has become that evangelistic light (cf. Matt. 28:18-20; Luke 24:47; Acts 1:8), but the same warning (cf. Rom. 11:18-22; James 2:14-26) that was given to Abraham's physical seed is obviously appropriate for Abraham's spiritual seed (cf. Rom. 2:28-29). See Special Topic at 2:19.

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 33:10-11
10"Thus says the Lord, 'Yet again there will be heard in this place, of which you say, "It is a waste, without man and without beast," that is, in the cities of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem that are desolate, without man and without inhabitant and without beast, 11the voice of joy and the voice of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom and the voice of the bride, the voice of those who say,
"Give thanks to the Lord of hosts,
For the Lord is good,
For His lovingkindness is everlasting";
and of those who bring a thank offering into the house of the Lord. For I will restore the fortunes of the land as they were at first,' says the Lord.

33:10-11 What a contrast v. 10 is to v. 11! Verse 10 expresses the tragedy of the destruction and exile of Jerusalem/Judah. The human population and their flocks and herds are all gone! One note I would add is that even though there are no domesticated animals left, there is also no mention of wild animals inhabiting the site. These wild animals often denoted the presence of the demonic (cf. 9:11; 10:22; Isa. 13:22; 34:11-15; Zeph. 2:14).

Verse 11 is a litany of the joys of normal social activities (i.e., weddings, feast days). This joy is possible because YHWH has brought His people back to their land and He dwells with them (i.e., the temple). This theme of joy is recurrent in the prophets (i.e., 31:12; Isa. 12:1-6; 25:9; 35:10; 51:3,11; 65:18; 66:10; Zeph. 2:6-7). A new day is coming because a new covenant is coming. That new covenant is Jesus Christ and salvation by grace through faith (cf. Eph. 2:8-10), which issues in Christlikeness (cf. v. 15).

The voice of joy (a command of thanks, BDB 392, KB 389, Hiphil imperative) is also found in Ps. 106:1; 107:1; 118:1; 136:1. So it must have been a well known poem/proverb/ritual affirmation!

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 33:12-13
12"Thus says the Lord of hosts, 'There will again be in this place which is waste, without man or beast, and in all its cities, a habitation of shepherds who rest their flocks. 13In the cities of the hill country, in the cities of the lowland, in the cities of the Negev, in the land of Benjamin, in the environs of Jerusalem and in the cities of Judah, the flocks will again pass under the hands of the one who numbers them,' says the Lord.

33:12-13 The strophe further explains vv. 10-11.

33:13 "will again pass under the hands of the one who numbers them" This refers to the daily actions a shepherds (cf. Lev. 27:32; this imagery is the background of John 10:1-18).

1. making sure that all of the sheep were in the pen at night

2. a way of counting the sheep for tithing purposes

3. the Aramaic Targums specifically attribute this action to the Messiah

 

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 33:14-18
14'Behold, days are coming,' declares the Lord, 'when I will fulfill the good word which I have spoken concerning the house of Israel and the house of Judah. 15In those days and at that time I will cause a righteous Branch of David to spring forth; and He shall execute justice and righteousness on the earth. 16In those days Judah will be saved and Jerusalem will dwell in safety; and this is the name by which she will be called: the Lord is our righteousness.' 17For thus says the Lord, 'David shall never lack a man to sit on the throne of the house of Israel; 18and the Levitical priests shall never lack a man before Me to offer burnt offerings, to burn grain offerings and to prepare sacrifices continually.'"

33:14-16 This passage is absent in the LXX. Some scholars postulate that the reason it is omitted in chapter 33 is because it seems to be a development and repetition of the same truth found in Jer. 23:5-6 (this is a characteristic of the LXX; see notes at 23:5-6). However, this is a tremendous Messianic passage which promises a future fulfillment, not only of the exiled seed of Abraham to the Promised Land, but also of the restoration of the Davidic seed and the restored temple.

R. K. Harrison is one of my favorite authors. In his commentary (Tyndale OT series) on Jeremiah he gives a list of all the descriptive titles and phrases Jeremiah uses of the coming Davidic seed/Messiah (p. 144).

1. the Fountain of living waters, 2:13; 17:13

2. the good Shepherd, 23:4; 31:10 (3:15 plural)

3. the righteous Branch, 3:15; 23:5

4. the Redeemer, 50:34

5. the Lord our righteousness, 23:6; 33:16

6. David the king, 30:9

7. agent of the new covenant, 31:31-34

 

33:15 "In those days and at that time" This refers to a future period. It and similar phrases are used often in chapters 30-33.

1. 30:3,24

2. 31:27,29,31,33,38

3. 32:14

4. 33:14,15,16

The exact time element is not stated but since it is the "new covenant period," Christian scholars believe it refers to the New Testament and Jesus, while Jewish scholars believe it refers to the post-exilic period (i.e., Zerubbabel and Joshua). If it is post-exilic then even though it is not stated in the "if. . .then" format, it is a conditional covenant (i.e., future Seleucid and Roman defeats). Here, one's meta-narrative structures the text to fit a particular worldview. My biases are spelled out in the Special Topic: Bob's Evangelical Biases at 1:5.

▣ "I will cause a righteous Branch of David to spring forth" This is the same Messianic metaphor used in 23:5-6 and 30:9. It was a favorite metaphor of

1. Isaiah, cf. 4:2; 7:5; 45:24-25; also note 11:1-5

2. Zechariah, cf. 3:8; 6:12,13

 

33:16 "the Lord is our righteousness" This title of the Messiah (cf. 23:6) is transferred to the repentant and obedient people of God (cf. 31:31-34). The goal of God is a people who reflect His character to a lost and needy world!

For Hebrew people a change of name marked a significant event in the life of a person (cf. Gen. 32:28). A significant, permanent change has occurred to the nation personified in this title (also note the title in 21:23 for Jerusalem).

33:17 "For thus says the Lord, 'David shall never lack a man to sit on the throne of the house of Israel'" This goes back to the prophecy of II Sam. 7:11-16; 23:5 (cf. Ps. 89:30-37). However, we learn from history that Jerusalem did fall, the temple was destroyed and the Davidic seed was carried into captivity in Babylon. This section certainly reflects the Messiah (i.e., Jesus, the line of David, Matthew 1; Luke 2), but some see it as referring to Zerubbabel as the Davidic branch (i.e., Prince, possibly Sheshbazzar and Zerubbabel are the same person or relatives, cf. Ezra 1:8; 5:14) who returned after the exile (cf. Zech. 4:6-10; 6:12).

33:18 "the Levitical priests shall never lack a man before Me" There has been much discussion about this promise of a renewed Levitical priesthood. Some say it means that there will be sacrifices in the end-time period. However, my understanding of Jesus as fulfilling both the roles of king and priest (cf. Heb. 1:2-3) probably makes this a spiritual promise instead of one to be literally fulfilled. There are several places in the OT where the Messiah has both a priestly and royal aspect (cf. Ps. 110:1-3 [royal], then 4 [priestly]; also Zerubbabel [royal] and Joshua [priestly], cf Zechariah 4, esp. v. 14; 6:9-15).

Remember that Melchizedek, in Gen. 14:17-24, was the priest/king of Salem. The NT book of Hebrews, particularly chapters 5-7, asserts that the Messiah's twin roles (priest/king) is foreshadowed in him. This same priest/king combination is revealed in Psalm 110 and Zechariah 3 and 4. The Dead Sea Scroll community expected two Messiahs, one from the tribe of Judah (Gen. 49:8-12) and one from the tribe of Levi.

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 33:19-22
19The word of the Lord came to Jeremiah, saying, 20"Thus says the Lord, 'If you can break My covenant for the day and My covenant for the night, so that day and night will not be at their appointed time, 21then My covenant may also be broken with David My servant so that he will not have a son to reign on his throne, and with the Levitical priests, My ministers. 22As the host of heaven cannot be counted and the sand of the sea cannot be measured, so I will multiply the descendants of David My servant and the Levites who minister to Me.'"

33:19-22 This strophe claims that the new covenant is going to be permanent because the order and cycles of nature are permanent (cf. 31:35-37). Western science was developed on this premise of the regularity of God's creation (cf. v. 25; Gen. 8:22; Ps. 74:16-17; 89:36-37).

33:22 "counted. . .measured" These are both Niphal imperfects. They are the same metaphors (i.e., stars and sand) used in the promises to the Patriarchs about the number of descendants to

1. Abraham - Gen. 13:16; 15:5; 22:17

2. Isaac - Gen. 26:4

3. Jacob - Gen. 28:14; 32:12

4. all of them - Exod. 32:13

 

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 33:23-26
23And the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah, saying, 24"Have you not observed what this people have spoken, saying, 'The two families which the Lord chose, He has rejected them'? Thus they despise My people, no longer are they as a nation in their sight. 25Thus says the Lord, 'If My covenant for day and night stand not, and the fixed patterns of heaven and earth I have not established, 26then I would reject the descendants of Jacob and David My servant, not taking from his descendants rulers over the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. But I will restore their fortunes and will have mercy on them.'"

33:23-26 This strophe expresses the same truth as vv. 19-22.

Grant Osborne, The Hermeneutical Spiral (p. 216), calls this strophe a "disputation speech" (cf. Isa. 28:14-19; Ezek. 18:1-20) where the prophet uses the opponents' own words to show their sin and rebellion. Each of their statements is answered by the prophet and a future setting/outcome is revealed.

33:24 "this people. . .My people" The first use of "people" refers to unrepentant Jews who are about to be destroyed and the second uses refers to the repentant remnant (see Special Topic at 5:10-13) which will one day return.

▣ "the two families" This may refer to

1. Abraham - Gen. 13:16; 15:5; 22:17

2. Isaac - Gen. 26:4

3. the tribes of Judah (royal) and Levi (priestly), cf. vv. 7,14

4. Jacob and David - cf. v. 26

5. David and Levi - cf. v. 21

 

33:26 "I will restore their fortunes and will have mercy on them" The term "mercy" is a family term (BDB 933, cf. Ps. 103:13; Isa. 49:15). What a great affirmation that God will not leave His people totally defenseless. But, notice the conditional element that they must repent and that the time of judgment was necessary to pull them away from the idolatry and ritualism to which they had fallen.

▣ "restore" The MT has "restore" (BDB 996, KB 1427, Qal imperfect) but the Masoretic scholars suggested instead "bring back" (BDB 996, KB 1427, Hiphil imperfect, cf. NKJV, NJB); both concepts are found together in 29:14. 

The concept of "restore" is mentioned in 29:14; 30:3,18; 31:23; 32:44; 33:7,11. It refers to the covenant blessings given to the Patriarchs. The concept of "bring back" is included in this larger agenda.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS FOR CHAPTERS 30-33

This is a study guide commentary, whichmeans 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.

These discussion questions are provided to help you think through the major issues of this section of the book. They are meant to be thought provoking, not definitive.

1. How are Jeremiah 30-33 related?

2. Why is Jeremiah's symbolic act of buying a field so significant?

3. How has archaeology confirmed the historicity of Jeremiah 32?

4. Why is the close of Jer. 32:8 so spiritually significant?

5. How are the gods Ba'al and Molech related?

6. How do we explain Jer. 32:39 in light of Ezek. 18:31?

7. List and define the three Hebrew words for sin found in Jer. 33:8

8. Why is Jer. 33:14-18 so significant and how does it impact our understanding of the end-time?