Jeremiah 23:1-6

Jeremiah 23:1-6
Ordinary B34


WoeA to the shepherdsB who destroyC

Notes on verse 1a

A “woe” = hoy. Perhaps from ho (ah, alas); from hahh (alas, used for grief or woe); from ahahh (alas or ah, used to express pain). This is meant to be onomatopoeia – ah, O, alas, woe. Perhaps where the Yiddish “oy” comes from.
B “shepherds” = ra’ah. This is to tend a flock, pasture, or graze. It can mean to rule or to associate with someone. Figuratively, it can be ruler or teacher.
C “destroy” = abad. To wander off, lose self. This implies to perish, destroy, die, vanish, or be broken or corrupt.

and scatterD the sheepE of my pasture!F saysG the Lord.H 

Notes on verse 1b

D “scatter” = puts. This is to dash in pieces, scatter, disperse, drive.
E “sheep” = tson. This is a flock of sheep and goats.
F “pasture” = marit. Related to “shepherds” in v1. 10x in OT. From ra’ah (see note B above). This is shepherding, pasturage, a flock.
G “says” = neum. From na’am (to speak a prophecy; properly, to whisper, which implies saying an oracle). This is an utterance or speaking an oracle.
H “Lord” = YHVH. From havah (to be, become) or hayah (to come to pass, become, be). This is the name of the God of Israel, the self-existent and eternal one, the tetragrammaton. This pronunciation has been lost to time so “Lord” is generally used in its place.

Therefore thus says the Lord, the GodI of Israel,J concerning the shepherds who shepherd my people:K

Notes on verse 2a

I “God” = Elohim.
J “Israel” = Yisrael. Related to “God” in v2. From sarah (to persist, exert oneself, contend, persevere, wrestle, prevail) + el (see note I above). This is Israel, meaning God strives or one who strives with God; new name for Jacob and for his offspring. This refers to the people and to the land.
K “people” = am. From amam (to darken, hide, associate; creating shadows by huddling together). This is people or nation. It can be used specifically for a tribe, collectively of troops or armies, or figuratively to refer to a flock of animals.

It is you who have scattered my flock,L and have driven them away,M and you have not attendedN to them. SoO I will attend to you for your evilP doings,Q says the Lord. 

Notes on verse 2b

L “flock” = tson. Same as “sheep” in v1. See note E above.
M “driven…away” = nadach. This is scatter, seduce, banish, draw away, drive away, outcast, scatter. It means to push off in a literal or figurative sense so it could also be mislead, inflict, or withdraw.
N “attended” = paqad. This is to attend to or visit – can be used for a friendly or violent encounter. So, it can be to oversee, care for, avenge, or charge.
O “so” = hen. This is a remark of surprise or excitement: lo! Behold! It can also mean if or though.
P “evil” = roa. 19x in OT. Perhaps from ra’a’ (to be evil, bad, afflict; properly, to spoil – to destroy by breaking into pieces; figuratively, to cause something to be worthless; this is bad in a physical, social, or moral sense; that which displeases, to do harm or mischief, to punish or vex). This is badness, sorrow, or some other negative. It could refer to physical badness (like ugly cows in Pharaoh’s dream in Genesis 41 or rotten figs in Jeremiah 24). It can also be sadness, evil deeds, or an evil heart.
Q “doings” = maalal. From alal (to affect, do, practice, mock, overdo, glean, abuse, pain). This is some kind of deed, action, invention or practice whether good or bad.

Then I myself will gatherR the remnantS of my flock out of all the landsT where I have driven them,

Notes on verse 3a

R “gather” = qabats. This is to collect, assemble, heap, grasp, or gather.
S “remnant” = sheerit. From shaar (properly, swelling up i.e. being left over; a remnant, remaining, being redundant). This is a remainder, residue, or survivor. It can also refer to posterity.
T “lands” = erets. Root may mean to be firm. This is earth, ground, field land, or country.

and I will bring them backU to their fold,V and they shall be fruitfulW and multiply.X 

Notes on verse 3b

U “bring…back” = shub. To turn back, return, turn away – literally or figuratively. Doesn’t necessarily imply going back to where you started from. This is also the root verb for the Hebrew word for repentance “teshubah.”
V “fold” = naveh. From navah (home, beautify, praise) This is home, place where shepherd or sheep live. It is at home – implies a lovely place or a place of satisfaction. It can also be used for the Temple or a pasture as the home of wild animals.
W “be fruitful” = parah. This is to bear fruit, grow, be fruitful, increase. It is bearing fruit in a literal or figurative sense.
X “multiply” = rabah. This is increasing in any aspect whether quantity, authority, size, quality, greatness, etc.

4 I will raise upY shepherds over them who will shepherd them, and they shall not fearZ any longer, or be dismayed,AA nor shall any be missing,BB says the Lord.

Notes on verse 4

Y “raise up” = qum. To arise, stand, accomplish, establish, abide. This is rising as in rising against, getting up after being sick or asleep, arising from one state to another, becoming powerful, or rising for action. It can also be standing in a figurative sense.
Z “fear” = yare. This is to fear, be afraid, dreadful. It can also refer to fearful reverence – to fear in a moral sense is to say to revere, respect.
AA “be dismayed” = chathath. This is properly to prostrate. So it could be shatter, break, or break down in a literal, violent sense. It could also figuratively refer to being dismayed, discouraged, or frightened. It can also mean to stand in awe.
BB “be missing” = paqad. Same as “attended” in v2. See note N above.

5 CCThe daysDD are surely coming,EE says the Lord, when I will raise up for DavidFF a righteousGG Branch,HH

Notes on verse 5a

CC {untranslated} = hinneh. Related to “so” in v2. From hen (see note O above). This is to draw attention, show suddenness or surprise, or to emphasize the importance of the coming statement. See! Lo! Behold!
DD “days” = yom. Root may mean being hot. This is the day in a literal or figurative sense. It can also mean birth, age, daylight, continually or other references to time.
EE “coming” = bo. This is to enter, come in, advance, fulfill, bring offerings, enter to worship, attack. It can also have a sexual connotation.
FF “David” = David. From the same as dod (beloved, love, uncle); the root may mean to boil, which is used figuratively to describe love. So, this implies someone you love such as a friend, a lover, or a close family member like an uncle. David’s name likely means something like “beloved one.”
GG “righteous” = tsaddiq. From the same as tsedeq (rightness, righteousness, just cause, vindication; that which is right in a natural, moral, or legal sense; abstractly equity; figuratively prosperity). This is just, innocent, righteous, righteous one, or lawful.
HH “Branch” = tsemach. 12x in OT. From tsamach (to sprout, grow – literal or figurative). This is a sprout or growth, literal or figurative.

and he shall reignII as kingJJ and deal wisely,KK and shall executeLL justiceMM and righteousnessNN in the land. 

Notes on verse 5b

II “reign” = malak. To be or become king or queen, to rise to the throne, to be crowned. By implication, to take counsel. This word may be from the Hebrew word for king “melek” or vice versa.
JJ “king” = melek. Related to “reign” in v5. From malak (see note II above). This is king or royal.
KK “deal wisely” = sakal. This is to consider or be prudent and so it can mean to instruct or be an expert. It can also mean dealing prudently, which implies success and prospering. This verb presumes intelligence of the subject. In one form of the verb, it can mean laying cross-wise.
LL “execute” = asah. This is to make, do, act, appoint, become in many senses.
MM “justice” = mishpat. From shaphat (to judge, defend, pronounce judgment, condemn, govern). This is a verdict or formal sentence whether from humans or from God. It includes the act of judging as well as the place that judging takes place, the suit itself, and the penalty. Abstractly, this is justice, which includes the rights of the participants.
NN “righteousness” = tsedaqah. Related to “righteous” in v5. From the same as tsedeq (see note GG above). This is righteousness, justice, righteous acts, and moral virtue.

6 In his days JudahOO will be savedPP and Israel will liveQQ in safety.RR

Notes on verse 6a

OO “Judah” = Yehudah. Probably from yadah (to throw one’s hands into the air in a gesture of praise); from yad (hand). This is Judah, meaning “praised.”
PP “saved” = yasha. To deliver, defend, help, preserve, rescue, be safe. Properly, to be open, wide or free, which implies being safe. Used causatively, it means to free.
QQ “live” = shakan. This is to settle down in the sense of residing somewhere or staying there permanently. It can mean abide or continue. “Mishkan,” taken from this verb, is the Hebrew word for the Tabernacle (as a place where God abided).
RR “safety” = betach. From batach (to hide for refuge, be secure or sure; figuratively, it refers to trust, being confident, or hoping). This is a place of refuge. So, abstractly, it can be confidence, security, hope, trust, or assurance.

And this is the nameSS by which he will be called:TT “The Lord is our righteousness.”UU

Notes on verse 6b

SS “name” = shem. May be from sum (to put, place, set). This is name, fame, renown. A name was thought to indicate something essential about a person – something about their individuality. So, this word can also mean honor, authority, or character.
TT “called” = qara. This is to call or call out – to call someone by name. Also used more broadly for calling forth.
UU “righteousness” = tsedeq. Related to “righteous” and “righteousness” in v5. See note GG above.

Image credit: “Magnolia Branches” by Anna Wolf, 2008.

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