Jeremiah 25:1-38 (25:1-14; 32:13, 15-38, LXX)

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“In the fourth year of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah, the king of Judah,” Jeremiah received “the word” or message from YHWH “regarding all the people of Judah” (the kingdom of Judah). This year is also identified as the “first year of Nebuchadrezzar [Nebuchadnezzar] the king of Babylon.” The generally accepted date for the fourth year of Jehoiakim’s reign is 605 BCE. It was in that year that Nebuchadnezzar with his forces defeated the Egyptians at the battle of Carchemish. This decisive victory marked the start of Babylonian dominance in the region that included the territory of the kingdom of Judah. When news of the death of his father Nabopolassar reached him, Nebuchadnezzar returned to Babylon and succeeded his father as king on the first of Elul (mid-August to mid-September) of the same year. (25:1; see the Notes section.)

“Jeremiah the prophet” spoke the “word” or message that had been revealed to him “to all the people of Judah and to all those residing in Jerusalem.” Apparently his public proclamation in the temple area made it possible for him to reach the largest number of people. (25:2; see the Notes section.)

Jeremiah reminded the people that he had begun his service as a prophet in the “thirteenth year of Josiah the son of Amon, the king of Judah,” and had continued to serve as a prophet to that very “day” or time. During the twenty-three years that had passed, the “word of YHWH” came to him, and he had constantly spoken it to the people. According to the Septuagint, he rose early to speak to the people. They, however, had not listened to the message, refusing to act in harmony with the words Jeremiah proclaimed. (25:3)

Jeremiah was not the only prophet to whom the people paid no attention. Again and again YHWH (early in the morning [LXX]) sent “all his servants the prophets” to the people, but they did not listen, not inclining their “ear to hear” or to be responsive. (25:4)

The prophets, when proclaiming the word of YHWH, admonished the people, each one individually to turn from his evil or corrupt way and his evil dealings or bad deeds. If they did so, they were assured that they would, for all time to come (“from age and unto age” [LXX]), continue dwelling in the land that YHWH had given to them and to their “fathers” or ancestors. (25:5)

Through his prophets, YHWH told his people “not to go after other gods [foreign gods (LXX)] to serve them and to bow down to them” in worship and “not to provoke [him] to anger with the work of [their] hands” (the images of nonexistent deities). If they were obedient, YHWH would do his people no “evil,” or bring no calamity upon them as a punishment for unfaithfulness to him. (25:6)

The people did not listen to YHWH but provoked him to anger with the “work of [their] hands” (the images of false gods and goddesses). This they did to their own “evil,” bringing calamity upon themselves through the loss of YHWH’s help, protection, and blessing. (25:7; see the Notes section.)

The people did not listen to or obey (believe [LXX]) the “words” of “YHWH of hosts,” the God with hosts of angels in his service. Therefore, he declared his purpose to act against them. (25:8) “Look, I will send and take all the tribes of the north” (the combined forces that would be invading the kingdom of Judah from the north). The chief one of the invaders is identified as “Nebuchadrezzar [Nebuchadnezzar] the king of Babylon” and as YHWH’s “servant,” for he would be used to carry out the punitive judgment against the disobedient people. YHWH is then quoted as declaring, “And I will bring them [the military forces] against this land [the territory of the kingdom of Judah] and those inhabiting it and against all these nations round about, and I will destroy them and make them a horror [an extinction (LXX)], a hissing [as an object of mockery], and ruins for limitless time” (an eternal reproach or disgrace [LXX]). The conquest would not be limited to the kingdom of Judah, but all the surrounding nations and lands would fall before the forces under the command of Nebuchadnezzar. Included would be Egypt, Philistia, Edom, Moab, Ammon, Tyre, and Sidon. (25:9; see verses 19-22.)

There would be devastation in the territory of the kingdom of Judah and in all the other lands the military forces under the command of Nebuchadnezzar would conquer. YHWH is quoted as saying that he would banish the “sound of merriment and the sound of rejoicing, the voice of the bridegroom and the voice of the bride, the sound of millstones [aroma of perfume (LXX)] and the light of the lamp.” There would be no rejoicing in the devastated territories. Many of the inhabitants would be slain during the course of the military conquest. Others would perish from concomitant famine and infectious disease. Large numbers of survivors would be taken as captives into exile. This would bring an end to all celebratory activities and the joys associated with marriage. The voice of a bridegroom and a bride would no longer be heard. In the devastated towns and cities, no grain would be ground into flour, and no flame from lighted oil lamps would be seen in deserted dwellings. (25:10; see the Notes section.)

All the “land” or the entire territory of the kingdom of Judah would become a desolated region, an area transformed into a ruin. “These nations,” the ones that came under Babylonian control, would have to serve or be subject to the king of Babylon “seventy years.” According to the Septuagint rendering, the exiles from the kingdom of Judah would be the ones serving “among the nations” seventy years. In other contexts, “seventy years” appears as a round or approximate number. Psalm 90:10 refers to the “days of our years” or our lifetime as being “seventy years,” and Isaiah 23:15 indicates the “seventy years” to be like the “days of one king” (or his approximate lifespan). Also here in Jeremiah, the “seventy years” may be approximate and have had their start when Babylon became the dominant power in the region after the defeat of the Egyptian forces at Carchemish. If the various peoples, including the inhabitants in the territory of the kingdom of Judah, had not rebelled against the king of Babylon, they would have been able to continue living in their respective regions and not experienced devastation of their lands. (25:11)

After the “seventy years” of servitude to the king of Babylon (Nebuchadnezzar and his successors) ended, YHWH purposed to “hold an accounting against the king of Babylon and that nation.” YHWH, by means of the instrument of his choosing, would take punitive action “for their guilt” and make the “land of the Chaldeans” ruins for limitless time to come (“eternal extinction” or destruction [LXX]). (25:12)

YHWH determined to bring to fulfillment “all the words” that he had spoken against the land of the Chaldeans through Jeremiah and concerning which a written record had been made (literally, “all that is written in this book” or scroll) of the prophecies “against all the nations.” (25:13; see the Notes section.)

“Many nations and great kings” would make slaves of the Chaldeans or Babylonians. In this manner, YHWH purposed to repay them “according to their action and the work of their hands,” which would have included their ruthless and destructive military campaigns, their harsh treatment of his exiled people, and their idolatrous practices. (25:14; compare Habakkuk 1:6-11; 2:8-13, 15-19; see the Notes section.)

“YHWH the God of Israel” instructed Jeremiah to take the “cup of wine [unmixed or undiluted wine (32:15, LXX)],” which represented his wrath, “from his hand” and to “make all the nations” drink of it. These were “all the nations” to which YHWH would send him. This probably occurred in a vision, with Jeremiah actually taking the cup. Then Jeremiah would make the nations drink of it by proclaiming the message that was revealed to him. The prophetic words would unfailingly be fulfilled, and the nations would end up drinking, tasting, or experiencing YHWH’s anger. (25:15) The effect on them would be comparable to their becoming drunk with wine, staggering and acting crazed. YHWH’s wrath would be expressed against them in the form of the “sword” of warfare, and they would be forced to drink the bitter potion of humiliating defeat and accompanying suffering. According to the Septuagint rendering, they would drink and puke and become crazed before the sword that God would send into their midst. (25:16 [32:16, LXX])

Likely in a vision, Jeremiah took the “cup from YHWH’s hand,” and he made all the nations to which YHWH sent him drink from it, apparently by making known YHWH’s judgment against them. (25:17 [32:17, LXX]) The people of Jerusalem and the other cities of Judah, including the kings who would reign in the realm, and the princes or members of the royal household or high officials, would all have to drink of the cup of YHWH’s wrath. Jerusalem and the other cities of Judah would be transformed into a “desolation,” a “waste [an untrodden (region) (LXX)],” a “hissing” (an object of mockery), and a “curse” (as when a person would include mention of desolated Jerusalem and other cities of Judah in the wording of a curse). The concluding words, “as at this day,” suggest that they were added, or that the prophetic message was recorded, after Jerusalem and the other cities of Judah had been desolated. (25:18 [32:18, LXX])

“Pharaoh the king of Egypt,” his servants (officials), his princes (members of the royal household or high officials [nobles (LXX)]), and “all his people” would have to drink from YHWH’s cup, experiencing his wrath in the form of Babylonian military invasion. (25:19 [32:19, LXX]) The words “all the mixture” may refer to the nonnative population residing in Egypt. They also would have to drink from the cup. Others who would be made to do so were “all the kings [or rulers] of the land of Uz and all the kings [or rulers] of the land of the Philistines [allophyles (LXX)],” including the the rulers of the Philistine cities of Ashkelon, Gaza, and Ekron. At the time, the Philistine city of Ashdod must have had a limited population on account of a previous military defeat, but the “remnant of Ashdod” would again be submitted to suffering. In the book of Job, the Septuagint rendering for Uz is Ausitis (Job 1:1), and words of an epilogue that are not found in the Masoretic Text refer to the “land of Ausitis” as bordering Idumea and Arabia. (25:20 [32:20, LXX]; see the Notes section.)

Edom (Idumea [LXX], or the inhabitants of this land that bordered on the southern boundary of Moab), Moab (or the inhabitants of this land that was situated east of the Dead Sea), and the “sons of Ammon” (the people who resided in the land that lay east of the southern end of the Jordan River) are next listed as the ones to be given the cup to drink. (25:21 [32:21, LXX]) Others who were destined to experience YHWH’s wrath by having to drink of the cup in the form of military conquest included “all the kings [or rulers] of Tyre and all the kings [or rulers] of Sidon and the kings of the coastland across the sea.” This “coastland” (or the islands [a collective singular in Hebrew]) may refer to Phoenician colonies that lay far to the west of the Phoenician coast. (25:22 [32:22, LXX]) Other peoples residing at a greater distance from the kingdom of Judah and who would be drinking from the cup were those of Dedan, Tema, and Buz (Ros [LXX]). These three locations are commonly believed to have been east of the northeastern coast of the Red Sea in the northwestern region of Arabia. “All” those identified as having been cut at the “corners” probably were members of Arab tribes whose men had their hair clipped at the temples. The Septuagint refers to them as “everyone being shaven around his face.” (25:23 [32:23, LXX]) Next among the ones mentioned as being in line for drinking of the cup were “all the kings of Arabia and all the kings of the mixture dwelling in the desert.” The “kings of the mixture” may refer to the rulers or leaders of the people of various nomadic tribes in the Arabian desert. (25:24 [32:24, LXX]; see the Notes section.) Other kings who would be drinking of the cup were those of Zimri (a location that cannot be identified with any known site today), Elam (an ancient kingdom that was located in what is today southwestern Iran), and Media (an ancient land in a region that is today in northwestern Iran). According to the Septuagint, the ones who were to drink of the cup were “all the kings of Ailam [Elam] and all the kings of the Persians.” (25:25 [32:25, LXX])

The last ones mentioned as having to drink from the cup were “all the kings of the north [all the kings from the east wind (LXX)], [those] near and far,” probably the kings in the region north of ancient Media, both the kings in neighboring lands and those in lands that were far away. The reference to each “man to his brother” could mean that the cup would be passed from the hand of one king to the hand of another. The outpouring of YHWH’s anger as represented by having to partake of the cup would leave no exceptions. “All the kingdoms of the earth which [were] on the surface of the land” would have to drink of the cup. “The king of Sheshak will drink after them.” “Sheshak” is commonly considered to be a cryptogram for Babylon (Babel). This is according to a system called atbash, where the last letter of the Hebrew alphabet is substituted with the first, and the next to last letter is substitued with the second, and this is done with each letter of the alphabet. Accordingly, in the case of Sheshak, the beth has been substituted with the shin, and the lamed has been substituted with the kaph. In the Septuagint, however, there is no corresponding phrase about the “king of Sheshak.” (25:26 [32:26, LXX)

To the peoples against whom YHWH’s wrath would be expressed, Jeremiah was to say, “Thus says YHWH of hosts [the God with hosts of angels in his service (the Lord Almighty [LXX])], the God of Israel, Drink and be intoxicated and puke and fall and get up no more because of the sword that I am sending among you.” The military action that YHWH would permit to be taken against them in expression of his anger would reduce them to the helpless state of a drunkard who staggers, falls, and then is unable to get up. (25:27 [32:27, LXX)

Jeremiah could not have given a literal cup to the nations or peoples. He could only have done so in a vision and encountered those who were unwilling to accept the cup and to drink from it. They, however, would have no option to refuse. Jeremiah was to tell them, “Thus says YHWH of hosts [the God with hosts of angels in his service], “Drinking, you will drink.” There would be no escape for them from having YHWH’s wrath expressed against them. (25:28 [32:28, LXX])

It was upon Jerusalem, the city upon which his name had been called (the city uniquely belonging to him because of being the location of his temple) that YHWH determined to start bringing “evil” or calamity. Therefore, no possibility existed that the other nations or peoples would remain free from punishment for their corrupt and unjust actions. YHWH’s message conveyed through Jeremiah was, “You will not go unpunished [by no means (literally, not not) will you be cleansed by cleansing (LXX)], for I am calling a sword against all the inhabitants of the earth” (all the people residing in the lands to whom the words of judgment applied and who would become victims of warfare [all the ones dwelling on the earth (LXX)]). (25:29 [32:29, LXX])

Jeremiah, when prophesying, was to proclaim “all these words” YHWH had made known to him. He was told to say, “YHWH from on high will roar and utter his voice from his holy habitation. Roaring, he will roar against his pasture. He will respond [with] a shout like those treading [grapes] against all the inhabitants of the earth” (all those dwelling in the lands to whom the prophetic words applied). From his exalted heavenly abode, YHWH would roar like a lion establishing possession of his pasture or territory. In this context, this “pasture” included all the lands that would be affected by the outpouring of his wrath. The shout of persons treading grapes could be heard from far away. In this case, the loud shout appears to represent YHWH’s announcement that he was about to express his wrath. (25:30 [32:30, LXX]; see the Notes section.)

“From the extremity [or a distant part] of the earth,” a “roar,” uproar, crash, or din would come. This apparently would be the loud sound of battle. It was certain to come, for YHWH had a judicial case against the nations. He determined to enter into “judgment with all flesh” (or the peoples of all the nations that were the objects of his wrath on account of their unjust and corrupt deeds) and to deliver the wicked (“impious ones” [LXX]) “to the sword.” (25:31 [32:31, LXX])

The military conquest that “YHWH of hosts” (the God with hosts of angels in his service) would permit the various nations to experience would cause widespread devastation and the loss of many lives. He is quoted as saying, “Look, evil [or calamity] is going forth from nation to nation,” with ruin coming upon one nation after another. From the most distant parts of the earth, a “great tempest” would be stirring. This indicated that a destructive force like that of a devastating storm was about to be unleashed against the nations. (25:32 [32:32, LXX])

YHWH purposed to use military forces to carry out his punitive judgment. Therefore, those who would perish are designated as those slain by him. On the “day” or at the time of judgment, the slain would be everywhere the sword of warfare reached, “from one end of the earth to the other end of the earth.” The dead would not be lamented. Their corpses would not be collected for burial. The dead bodies would remain on the surface of the ground like manure used for fertilizer. (25:33 [32:33, LXX])

The “shepherds” were the kings or rulers who would “wail” or “howl” and “cry out” on account of the calamity they would be facing. They appear also to be designated as “nobles [or majestic ones] of the flock” or of their subjects. In their distress, they would “wallow,” probably rolling about in ashes. (Compare Jeremiah 6:26 and Ezekiel 27:30.) Their “days” or time for “slaughter” had come (literally, been fulfilled), also their time for being scattered before attacking military forces or for being dispersed as captives taken into exile. The shepherds, kings, rulers, or nobles would fall like a choice vessel and be shattered. (25:34 [32:34, LXX]; see the Notes section.) For the shepherds or rulers, any possibility of flight to safety would “perish” or be cut off. There would be no avenue of escape or deliverance for the “nobles of the flock” (“rams of the sheep” [LXX]). (25:35 [32:35, LXX])

Previously (in verse 34), the shepherds were called upon to wail or howl and to cry out. In this verse, the cry of the shepherds and the wail of the “nobles of the flock” (“rams of the sheep” [LXX]) are portrayed as being heard, “for YHWH is despoiling their pasture.” The “pasture” may refer to the land and its inhabitants, the realm over which the shepherds, nobles, or kings ruled. (25:36 [32:36, LXX]) “Peaceful dwelling places” (or pastures), where the inhabitants had enjoyed security, are depicted as silent or lifeless. This would be because the people had incurred YHWH’s wrath with their evil practices. (25:37 [32:37, LXX])

YHWH appears to be represented as the one launching the attack, acting “like a lion” that has “left his lair.” As a result, the land of the shepherds (literally, “their land”) has been made a waste (“untrodden” [LXX]). According to the Masoretic Text, this development is attributed to the “burning of the oppressing” and YHWH’s “burning anger.” The Septuagint indicates the cause for the devastation of the land to be the “great sword.” Also in numerous Hebrew manuscripts, the word for “sword” appears. Modern translations vary in their renderings. “Their land has become a waste because of the cruel sword, and because of his fierce anger.” (NRSV) “Their land is made desolate by the sweeping sword, by the burning wrath of the LORD.” (NAB) “Their land will become desolate because of the sword of the oppressor and because of the LORD’s fierce anger.” (NIV) “The land has become a desolation, because of the oppressive wrath, because of His fierce anger.” (Tanakh [JPS, 1985 edition]) “Their country is a wasteland now, owing to the devastating fury, owing to his furious anger.” (NJB) (25:38 [32:38, LXX])

Notes

In verse 1, the Septuagint includes no reference to the first year of Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar.

The Septuagint rendering of verse 2 does not mention “Jeremiah the prophet.”

The Septuagint wording of verse 7 is shorter than that of the Hebrew text. “And you did not hear [listen to or obey] me.”

In verse 10, the Septuagint rendering “aroma of perfume” may have arisen when the Greek word mýlou (the genitive form for the noun meaning “mill”) was misread as mýrou (the genitive form for the noun meaning “perfume” or fragrant ointment).

After verse 13, the text of the Septuagint no longer corresponds to that of the extant Hebrew text. The arrangement of the text is not the same until the concluding section of the book of Jeremiah, the words of chapter 52. Rahlfs’ printed text of the Septuagint includes wording from verse 13 as the introductory verse of chapter 32 (“What Jeremiah prophesied regarding all the nations”). These words, however, are not included in fourth-century Codex Vaticanus and Codex Sinaiticus, suggesting that they are not original. Rahlfs’ printed text continues with verse 15 of chapter 32, and ends the chapter with verse 38. The wording basically corresponds to that of the Hebrew text of chapter 25, verses 15 through 38.

Verse 14 of the Septuagint contains some wording that parallels the reading of verse 34 of chapter 49 in the Hebrew text. “What Jeremiah prophesied regarding the nations [or peoples] of Ailam [Elam].” The Septuagint rendering of the words of verses 15-19 basically corresponds to the Hebrew text of verses 35 through 39 in chapter 49. Rahlfs’ printed text of the Septuagint includes as verse 20 words that correspond to those of verse 34 of chapter 49 in the Hebrew text.

In verse 20 of chapter 32, which corresponds to verse 20 of chapter 25 of the Hebrew text, the Septuagint does not include any corresponding reference to “all the kings of the land of Uz.”

In the verse that contains the rendering of verse 24 in the Hebrew text, the Septuagint does not include a corresponding phrase for “all the kings of Arabia” and makes no mention of “kings.”

In verse 30 of chapter 32 in the Septuagint, the rendering differs somewhat from the Hebrew text. “And you [Jeremiah] shall prophesy these words against them and say, The Lord will utter [a message] from on high, from his holy place he will give [or lift] his voice. He will utter a word against his place. And like grape gatherers, they will answer, Aided! And upon the ones dwelling on the earth destruction has come.” The expression aided is a transliteration of the Hebrew word that designates a joyous shout.

In verse 34, the corresponding rendering of the Hebrew text in chapter 32 of the Septuagint differs in wording but not in basic meaning. “Shout, you shepherds, and cry out. And lament [or beat yourselves upon your chests], you rams of the sheep, for your days for slaughter have been fulfilled, and you will fall like choice rams.”