New English Translation
The Lord Promises a Second Time to Restore Israel and Judah
33 The Lord’s message came to Jeremiah a second time[a] while he was still confined in the courtyard of the guardhouse. 2 “I, the Lord, do these things. I, the Lord, form the plan to bring them about.[b] I am known as the Lord. I say to you, 3 ‘Call on me in prayer and I will answer you. I will show you great and mysterious[c] things that you still do not know about.’ 4 For I, the Lord God of Israel, have something more to say about the houses in this city and the royal buildings of Judah that have been torn down for defenses against the siege ramps and military incursions of the Babylonians:[d] 5 ‘The defenders of the city will go out and fight with the Babylonians.[e] 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.[f] That will happen because I have decided to turn my back on[g] this city on account of the wicked things they have done.[h] 6 But I will most surely[i] heal the wounds of this city and restore it and its people to health.[j] I will show them abundant[k] peace and security. 7 I will restore Judah and Israel[l] and will rebuild them as they were in days of old.[m] 8 I will purify them from all the sin that they committed against me. I will forgive all their sins that they committed in rebelling against me.[n] 9 All the nations will hear about all the good things that I will do for them. This city will bring me fame, honor, and praise before them for the joy that I bring it. The nations will tremble in awe at all the peace and prosperity that I will provide for it.’
10 “I, the Lord, say:[o] ‘You and your people are saying[p] about this place, “It lies in ruins. There are no people or animals in it.” That is true. The towns of Judah and the streets of Jerusalem will soon be desolate, uninhabited either by people or by animals. But happy sounds will again be heard in these places. 11 Once again there will be sounds[q] of joy and gladness and the glad celebrations of brides and grooms.[r] Once again people will bring their thank offerings to the temple of the Lord and will say, “Give thanks to the Lord of Heaven’s Armies. For the Lord is good and his unfailing love lasts forever.”[s] For I, the Lord, affirm[t] that I will restore the land to what it was[u] in days of old.’[v]
12 “I, the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, say:[w] ‘This place will indeed lie in ruins. There will be no people or animals in it. But there will again be in it and in its towns sheepfolds where shepherds can rest their sheep. 13 I, the Lord, say that shepherds will once again count their sheep as they pass into the fold.[x] They will do this in all the towns in the hill country, the foothills,[y] the Negev,[z] the territory of Benjamin, the villages surrounding Jerusalem, and the towns of Judah.’[aa]
The Lord Reaffirms His Covenant with David, Israel, and Levi
14 “I, the Lord, affirm:[ab] ‘The time will certainly come when I will fulfill my gracious promise concerning the nations of Israel and Judah.[ac] 15 In those days and at that time I will raise up for them a righteous descendant[ad] of David.
“‘He will do what is just and right in the land. 16 Under his rule Judah will enjoy safety[ae] and Jerusalem will live in security. At that time Jerusalem will be called “The Lord has provided us with justice.”[af] 17 For I, the Lord, promise: “David will never lack a successor to occupy[ag] the throne over the nation of Israel.[ah] 18 Nor will the Levitical priests ever lack someone to stand before me and continually offer up burnt offerings, sacrifice cereal offerings, and offer the other sacrifices.”’”[ai]
19 The Lord’s message came to Jeremiah another time:[aj] 20 “I, the Lord, make the following promise:[ak] ‘I have made a covenant with the day[al] and with the night that they will always come at their proper times. Only if you people[am] could break that covenant 21 could my covenant with my servant David and my covenant with the Levites ever be broken. So David will by all means always have a descendant to occupy his throne as king and the Levites will by all means always have priests who will minister before me.[an] 22 I will make the children who follow one another in the line of my servant David very numerous. I will also make the Levites who minister before me very numerous. I will make them all as numerous as the stars in the sky and as the sands that are on the seashore.’”[ao]
23 The Lord’s message came to Jeremiah another time:[ap] 24 “You have surely noticed what these people are saying, haven’t you? They are saying,[aq] ‘The Lord has rejected the two families of Israel and Judah[ar] that he chose.’ So they have little regard that my people will ever again be a nation.[as] 25 But I, the Lord, make the following promise:[at] ‘I have made a covenant governing the coming of day and night. I have established the fixed laws governing heaven and earth. 26 Just as surely as I have done this, so surely will I never reject the descendants of Jacob. Nor will I ever refuse to choose one of my servant David’s descendants to rule over the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Indeed,[au] I will restore them[av] and show mercy to them.’”
- Jeremiah 33:1 sn The introductory statement here ties this incident in with the preceding chapter, which was the first time that the Lord spoke to him about the matters discussed here. There is no indication of how much time passed between the two incidents, though it appears that the situation has worsened somewhat (cf. v. 4).
- Jeremiah 33:2 tn Or “I, the Lord, made the earth. I formed it in such a way as to firmly establish it”; Heb “Thus says the Lord who makes/does it, the Lord who forms it to establish it, whose name is the Lord.” It is unclear what the antecedent of “it” is. The Greek version supplies the object “the earth.” However, as D. Barthélemy, ed., Preliminary and Interim Report on the Hebrew Old Testament Text Project, 4:269, notes, this is probably a smoothing of a text that had no object other than the pronoun. No other text or version has an object other than the pronoun. It could be argued that “the earth” is to be understood as the intended referent from other contexts within the book of Jeremiah (Jer 10:12, 16; 51:15) where these verbs refer to the Lord as creator, and from the prior context in 32:17, where the Lord’s power as creator is the basis for the assertion that nothing is too hard for him. This is the object that is supplied in a number of modern English versions and commentaries. However, the use of the feminine singular pronoun in other contexts to refer to an indefinite reality that is spelled out in the preceding or following context (cf. 2 Kgs 19:25; Isa 22:11; 37:26; 44:7) lends credence to the suggestion by the committee for The Hebrew Old Testament Project that the pronoun refers to the work or plan of the Lord, a view that is reflected in the NJPS and has been adopted here. For the use of the verb “form” here in the sense of “plan,” see BDB 427 s.v. יָצַר 2.b and compare the usage in Isa 22:11 and 37:26. The best discussion of options is given in G. L. Keown, P. J. Scalise, T. G. Smothers, Jeremiah 26-52 (WBC), 169-70, who see the pronoun referring ahead to the great and hidden things of v. 3. As in several other cases, our translation has opted for a first person introduction, rather than the third person of the original, because the Lord himself is speaking.
- Jeremiah 33:3 tn This passive participle or adjective is normally used to describe cities or walls as “fortified” or “inaccessible.” All the lexicons, however, agree in seeing it used here metaphorically of “secret” or “mysterious” things, things that Jeremiah could not know apart from the Lord’s revelation. G. L. Keown, P. J. Scalise, and T. G. Smothers (Jeremiah 26-52 [WBC], 170) make the interesting observation that the word is used here in a context in which the fortifications of Jerusalem are about to fall to the Babylonians; the fortified things in God’s secret counsel fall through answer to prayer.
- Jeremiah 33:4 tn Heb “the sword.” The figure has been interpreted for the sake of clarity.
- 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.
- Jeremiah 33:6 tn Heb “Behold, I am healing.” For usage of the particle “behold” to indicate certainty, see the translator’s note on 1:6. These are the great and hidden things that the Lord promised to reveal. The statements in v. 5 have been somewhat introductory. See the usage of הִנְנִי (hineni) after the introductory “Thus says the Lord” in Jer 32:28, 37.
- Jeremiah 33:6 sn Cf. Jer 30:17. Jerusalem is again being personified, and her political and spiritual well-being are again in view.
- Jeremiah 33:6 tn The meaning and text of this word are questioned by KBL 749 s.v. עֲתֶרֶת. However, KBL also emends both occurrences of the verb from which BDB 801 s.v. עֲתֶרֶת derives this noun. BDB is more likely correct in seeing this and the usage of the verb in Prov 27:6 and Ezek 35:13 as Aramaic loan words from a root meaning to be rich (equivalent to the Hebrew עָשַׁר, ʿashar).
- Jeremiah 33:7 tn Heb “I will reverse [or restore] the fortunes of Judah and the fortunes of Israel.” For this idiom see the translator’s note on Jer 29:14 and see the usage in 30:3, 18; 31:23; 32:44.
- Jeremiah 33:7 tn This phrase simply means “as formerly” (BDB 911 s.v. רִאשׁוֹן 3.a). The reference to the “as formerly” must be established from the context. See the usage in Judg 20:32; 1 Kgs 13:6; Isa 1:26.sn God offered to reunify Israel and Judah in the state they enjoyed before the division after Solomon. Cf. Jer 3:18; 30:3; 31:27 and see the study note on 30:3.
- Jeremiah 33:8 sn Cf. Jer 31:34; Ezek 36:25, 33.
- Jeremiah 33:10 tn Heb “Thus says the Lord.” For the first person rendering see the translator’s note at the end of v. 2.sn The phrase here is parallel to that in v. 4 and introduces a further amplification of the “great and mysterious things” of v. 3.
- Jeremiah 33:10 tn Heb “You.” However, the pronoun is plural as in 32:36, 43. See the translator’s note on 32:36.
- Jeremiah 33:11 tn Heb “33:10 Thus says the Lord, ‘There will again be heard in this place of which you are saying [masc. pl.], “It is a ruin without people and without animals,” [that is] in the towns of Judah and the streets of Jerusalem, which are desolate without people and without inhabitants and without animals, 33:11 the sound of….” The long, run-on sentence in Hebrew has been broken down to better conform with contemporary English style.
- Jeremiah 33:11 sn What is predicted here is a reversal of the decimation caused by the Babylonian conquest that had been threatened in 7:34; 16:9; 25:10.
- Jeremiah 33:11 sn This is a common hymnic introduction to both individual songs of thanksgiving (e.g., Ps 118:1) and communal songs of thanksgiving (e.g., Ps 136, where it is a liturgical refrain accompanying a recital of Israel’s early history and the Lord’s continuing providence).
- Jeremiah 33:11 tn Heb “Oracle of the Lord.”
- Jeremiah 33:11 tn Or “I will restore the fortunes of the land.”sn See the study note on Jer 29:18 and compare 29:14; 30:3, 18; 31:23; 32:44; 33:7 for the meaning and usage of this idiom. The promise here repeats that in 33:7.
- Jeremiah 33:11 tn This phrase simply means “as formerly” (BDB 911 s.v. רִאשׁוֹן 3.a). The reference to the “as formerly” must be established from the context. See the usage in Judg 20:32; 1 Kgs 13:6; Isa 1:26.sn This refers to the reunification of Israel and Judah to the state that they were before the division after Solomon. Cf. Jer 3:18; 30:3; 31:27; see the study note on 30:3.
- Jeremiah 33:12 tn Heb “Thus says Yahweh of Armies.” For the explanation for the first person introduction see the translator’s notes on 33:2, 10. Verses 4, 10, and 12 introduce three oracles, all fulfilling the Lord’s promise to Jeremiah to show him “great and mysterious things that you still do not know about” (33:2).
- Jeremiah 33:13 sn Heb “Sheep will again pass under the hands of the counter.” This appears to be a reference to counting the sheep to make sure that none was missing as they returned to the fold. See the same idiom in Lev 27:32 and in the metaphor in Ezek 20:37.
- Jeremiah 33:13 tn The foothills (שְׁפֵלָה, shephelah) are the transition region between the hill country and the coastal plains.
- Jeremiah 33:13 sn The Negev is the area of central, southern Judah, south of the hill country and Beer Sheba and west of the rift valley.
- Jeremiah 33:13 sn Cf. Jer 32:44.
- Jeremiah 33:14 tn Heb “Oracle of the Lord.” For the first person form of address see the translator’s notes on vv. 2, 10, and 12.
- Jeremiah 33:14 sn This refers at the very least to the promises of Jer 23:5-6, 7-8; 30:3; 31:27, 31, where the same formula, “The time will certainly come” (Heb “Behold, the days are coming”), occurs. Reference may also be to the promises through the earlier prophets of what is alluded to here, i.e., restoration of Israel and Judah under a Davidic ruler and revival of the offerings (cf. Hos 1:10-11; 3:4-5; Amos 9:11-12; Isa 11:1-5, 10-16; Jer 30:9, 21 for the former, and Jer 31:14; 33:11 for the latter).
- Jeremiah 33:15 tn Heb “sprig” or “shoot.”sn For the meaning of this term and its significance in biblical prophecy, see the study note on 23:5.
- Jeremiah 33:16 tn For the translation of this term in this context see the parallel context in 23:6 and consult the translator’s note there.
- Jeremiah 33:16 tn Heb “And this is what will be called to it: ‘The Lord our righteousness.’”sn For the significance of this title see the study note on the parallel text in 23:6. Other titles by which Jerusalem is to be known are found in Isa 62:2-4; Jer 3:17; Ezek 48:35; Zech 8:3, emphasizing that the Lord takes up his relation with it once again, dwells in it, delights in it, and finds it faithful once more (cf. Isa 1:26). In 23:6 the title is applied to the Davidic ruler that the Lord will raise up over them, who will do what is just and right. God’s vindication of the city by its restoration after exile and his provision of this just ruler over it are the probable source for the title.
- Jeremiah 33:17 tn Heb “a man shall not be cut off to David [i.e., belonging to the Davidic line] sitting on the throne of the house of Israel.”
- Jeremiah 33:17 sn It should be noted once again that the reference is to all Israel, not just to Judah (cf. Jer 23:5-6; 30:9).
- Jeremiah 33:18 tn Heb “And to the Levites, the priests [= the Levitical priests, the apposition in place of the adjective], there will not be cut off a man from before me who offers up burnt offering, sacrifices a cereal offering, or makes a sacrifice, all the days.”
- Jeremiah 33:19 tn Or perhaps “further.” This may be a continuation of “the second time” (see v. 1).
- Jeremiah 33:20 tn Heb “Thus says the Lord.” However, the Lord is speaking, so the first person introduction has again been adopted. The content of the verse shows that it is a promise to David (vv. 21-22) and the Levites based on a contrary-to-fact condition (v. 20). See, further, the translator’s note at the end of the next verse for explanation of the English structure adopted here.
- Jeremiah 33:20 tn The word יוֹמָם (yomam) is normally an adverb meaning “daytime, by day, daily.” However, here, in v. 25, and in Jer 15:9 it means “day, daytime” (cf. BDB 401 s.v. יוֹמָם 1).
- Jeremiah 33:20 tn Heb “you.” The pronoun is plural as in 32:36, 43 and 33:10.
- Jeremiah 33:21 tn The very complex and elliptical syntax of the original Hebrew of vv. 20-21 has been broken down to better conform with contemporary English style. The text reads somewhat literally (after the addition of a couple of phrases which have been left out by ellipsis): “Thus says the Lord, ‘If you can break my covenant with the day and my covenant with the night so that there is not to be daytime and night in their proper time, then also my covenant can be broken with my servant David so that there is not to him a son reigning upon his throne, and also [my covenant can be broken] with the Levites [so there are not] priests who minister to me.” The two phrases in brackets are elliptical, the first serving double duty for the prepositional phrase “with the Levites” as well as “with David” and the second serving double duty with the noun “priests,” which parallels “a son.” The noun “priests” is not serving here as appositional because that phrase is always “the priests, the Levites,” never “the Levites, the priests.”sn This refers to a reaffirmation of the Davidic covenant (cf., e.g., 2 Sam 7:11-16, 25-29; Ps 89:3-4, 19-29) and God’s covenant with the Levites (cf. Num 25:10-13; Mal 2:4-6; Deut 32:8-11).
- Jeremiah 33:22 tn Heb “Just as the stars in the sky cannot be numbered and the sand on the seashore cannot be measured, so I will greatly increase [or multiply] the seed of my servant David and the Levites who minister before me.” The word “seed of” does not carry over to the “the Levites” as a noun governing two genitives because “the Levites” has the accusative marker in front of it. The sentence has been broken down in conformity with contemporary English style.sn Context makes it clear that what is in view is an innumerable line of descendants from the righteous ruler that the Lord raises up over Israel and Judah after their regathering and restoration to the land. What is in view, then, is a reinstitution or reinstatement of the Davidic covenant of grant, the perpetual right of the Davidic dynasty to rule over the nation of Israel for all time (see also v. 26). This is guaranteed by the creation order, which is the object of both God’s creative decree (Gen 1:14-19) and his covenant with Noah after the flood (Gen 8:22). (For further discussion on the nature of a covenant of grant see the study note on 32:40.) The rejection of the lines of Jehoiakim (36:30) and Jeconiah (22:30) and the certain captivity and death of Zedekiah (32:4) may have called into question the continuance of the Davidic promise, which always had a certain conditional nature to it (cf. 1 Kgs 2:4; 8:25; 9:5). This promise and this guarantee show that the covenant of grant still stands and will ultimately find its fulfillment. Because this promise never found its fulfillment after the return from exile, it is left to the NT to show how it is fulfilled (cf., e.g., Matt 1:1-17, where it is emphasized that Jesus is the son [and heir] of both Abraham and David).
- Jeremiah 33:23 tn Or perhaps “further.” This may be a continuation of “the second time” (see vv. 1, 19).
- Jeremiah 33:24 tn Heb “Have you not seen what this people have said, saying.” The question is rhetorical and expects a positive answer. The sentence has been broken in two to better conform with contemporary English style.
- Jeremiah 33:24 tn Heb “The two families which the Lord chose, he has rejected them.” This is an example of an object prepositioned before the verb and resumed by a redundant pronoun to throw emphasis of focus on it (called casus pendens in the grammars; cf. GKC 458 §143.d). Some commentators identify the “two families” as those of David and Levi mentioned in the previous verses, and some identify them as the families of the Israelites and of David mentioned in the next verse. However, the next clause in this verse and the emphasis on the restoration and regathering of Israel and Judah in this section (cf. 33:7, 14) show that the reference is to Israel and Judah (see also 30:3, 4; 31:27, 31 and 3:18).
- Jeremiah 33:24 tn Heb “and my people [i.e., Israel and Judah] they disdain [or look down on] from being again a nation before them.” Some take the phrase “before them” as an estimation, a mental view (cf. BDB s.v. פָּנֶה II.4.a[g]). See BDB s.v. עוֹד 1.a[b] or 1.b for the usage of עוֹד [ʿod] here). “They” of “they disdain” are the surrounding Gentile nations.
- Jeremiah 33:25 tn Heb “Thus says the Lord.” See the translator’s note at the beginning of v. 20 for the style adopted here. Here the promise is in v. 26, following the contrary-to-fact condition in v. 25. The Hebrew text of vv. 25-26 reads, “Thus says the Lord, “If I have not established my covenant with day and night, statutes of heaven and earth, also the seed of Jacob and David my servant I could reject, from taking from his seed rulers over the seed of Abraham…” The syntax of the original is a little awkward because it involves the verbs “establish” and “reject” governing different objects, the first governing “my covenant,” with “statutes” in apposition, and the second governing two dissimilar objects, “the seed of Jacob” and “my servant David from taking [so as not to take].” The translation has sought to remove these awkward syntactical constructions and also break down the long, complex original sentence in such a way as to retain its original intent, i.e., the guarantee of the continuance of the seed of Jacob and of the rule of a line of David’s descendants over them, based on the fixed order of God’s creation decrees.
- Jeremiah 33:26 tn The Hebrew particle כִּי (ki) is probably intensive here as it has been on a number of occasions in the book of Jeremiah (see BDB 472 s.v. כִּי 1.e for the category).
- Jeremiah 33:26 tn Or “I will make them prosperous once again,” or “I will bring them back from captivity.”sn For the meaning of this idiom see the translator’s note on Jer 29:14 and compare the usage in 29:14; 30:3, 18; 31:23; 32:44; 33:7, 11. Restoration has been the emphasis in this section, which is called by some commentators “The Book of Consolation.” Jeremiah’s emphasis up until chapters 30-33 had been on judgment, but he was also called to be the prophet of restoration (cf. Jer 1:10). Promises of restoration, though rare up to this point, have, however, occurred on occasion (see, e.g., Jer 3:18; 23:5-7; 24:6-7; 29:10-14).