Home

 

JEREMIAH CHAPTER 25

 

Comparison of the RSV Masoretic Text with the Brenton Septuagint translation.

 

A study of how textual alterations by the ancients influenced our understanding.

Sources:

The Revised Standard Version of the Holy Bible, The New Oxford Annotated Bible, 1952, Oxford University Press, New York.

The Septuagint with Apocrypha: Greek and English, Brenton, Lancelot C, L., Samuel Bagster & Sons, Ltd., London, 1851. Reprint by Hendrickson Publishers, 1986 - 2001.

 

The Masoretic Text adds interpretive expansions. These are shown in bold print. Differences between the two translations are shown in italics.

 

I offer commentaries at appropriate points. See following text.

 

This shows how the Masoretic text misled the generations.

 

Editorial changes made August, 25, 2005

 

Verse RSV Masoretic Text Brenton Septuagint Text
1 The 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 Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon), The word that came to Jeremiah concerning all the people of Judah in the fourth year of Joakim, son of Josiah, king of Judah,
This explanatory expansion seems directed to people who may have forgotten the dates. Hence, it may have been made some time after the events, of sufficient distance to cause confusion. If so, Babylonian editorial influence on Jeremiah's text must have continued for at least a century later. From the tone of the text I do not believe the LXX translators merely dropped the phrase.
2 which Jeremiah the prophet spoke to all the people of Judahh and all the inhabitants of Jerusalem: which he spoke to all the people of Judah, and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, saying,
This expansion supports the surmise of verse 1.
3 "For twenty-three years, from the thirteenth year of Josiah the son of Amon, king of Judah, to this day, the word of Yahweh has come to me, and I have spoken persistently to you, but you have not listened. In the thirteenth year of Josias, son of Amos, king of Judah, even until this day for three-and twenty years, I have both spoken to you, rising early and speaking,
MT uses the phrase about Yahweh, showing that the text gave justification to Jeremiah's power to speak for the Lord. The fact that Yahweh is used shows the authenticity of the text prior to c. 300 BC, and the creation of LXX. After that date the Jews no longer used the word Yahweh, but substituted Lord instead, as LXX clearly shows. The LXX translators probably excised the phrase from the text.

RSV has altered the translation to provide the word "persistently," while neglecting "rising early and speaking," apparently in attempt to better capture Jeremiah's intent. The last phrase about not listening is not found in LXX. Did the LXX editors excise the phrase, or was the phrase added by the MT editors? The charges brought against the people in this Chapter would support this phrase in the original.

4 You have neither listened nor inclined your ears to hear, although Yahweh persistently sent to you all his servants the prophets, and I sent to you my servants the prophets, sending them early; (but ye hearkened not, and listened not with your ears;) saying,
Here the expansion is intended to clarify the fact that Jeremiah is not sending the prophets, but rather the Lord. We find similar clarification in following verses.
5 saying, Turn now, every one of you, from his evil way and wrong doings, and dwell upon the land which Yahweh has given to you and your fathers from of old and for ever; Turn ye every one from his evil way, and from your evil practices, and ye shall dwell in the land which I gave to you and your fathers, of old and for ever.
6 do not go after other gods to serve and worship them, or provoke me to anger with the work of your hands. Then I will do you no harm. Go ye not after strange gods, to serve them, and to worship them, that ye provoke me not by the works of your hands, to do you hurt.
7 Yet you have not listened to me, says Yahweh, that you might provoke me to anger with the work of your hands to your own harm. But ye hearkened not to me.
The two verses are repetitive in MT. This suggest that the MT text was edited. Why the editors felt a need to do so is uncertain. It may be that several different hands were at work on the expansions, either coincident in time, or over a period of time, and that the final editing failed to detect the repetition. LXX does not use the word "anger," nor does it have the repetitive phrases. We can see the the LXX is more simple in its phraseology. We cannot rule out that the more simple phrases of LXX were by the LXX editors.
8 "Therefore thus says Yahweh of hosts : Because you have not obeyed my words, Therefore thus saith the Lord; Since ye believed not my words,
"Yahweh of hosts" is a formula found throughout the OT MT.
9 behold, I will send for all the tribes of the north, says Yahweh, and for Nebuchadrezzar the king of Babylon, my servant, and I will bring them against this land and its inhabitants, and against all these nations round about; I will utterly destroy them, and make them a horror, a hissing, and an everlasting reproach. behold, I will send, and take a family from the north, and will bring them against this land, and against the inhabitants of it, and against all the nations round about it, and I will make them utterly waste, and make them a desolation, and a hissing, and an everlasting reproach.
This expansion is crucially important. Clearly Jeremiah did not intend for the "family from the north" to include Nebuchadnezzar and Babylon. This verse has been the key misleading statement for reducing the global nature of Jeremiah's text to a provincial environment. The expansion follows previous editorial purpose to explain for readers who were some distance from the events of the fall of Jerusalem. Since the editors felt that Jeremiah intended the prophecy to pertain to those immediate events they modified the text to support such view. The insertion was not malicious; it merely corroborated their understanding, ex post facto. A family from the north is certainly different in intent from all the tribes of the north. A family might pertain to the United States, a family of states, rather than to a family of nations, such as Europe. The global nature of events is seen in the following verses.
10 Moreover, I will banish from them the voice of mirth and the voice of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom and the voice of the bride, the grinding of the millstones, and the light of the lamp. And I will destroy from among them the voice of joy, and the voice of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom, and the voice of the bride, the scent of ointment, and the light of a candle.
11 This whole land shall become a ruin and a waste, and these nations shall serve the king of Babylon seventy years. And all the land shall be a desolation ; and they shall serve among the Nations seventy years.
Again we see how Jeremiah's statement about the Nations is reduced to the king of Babylon. (Note that Brenton translated the Greek word ethnecin = nations as Gentiles, similar to the translation of the Hebrew goim = nations again as Gentiles found in the King James version. This view severely modified understanding of the prophecies since the reign of King James. Gentiles is a prejudicial word, intended to reflect on those who are not Jews, a religious separation. The word nations denotes geographic or political assignment, not conditioned by religious affiliation. This choice in translation is due to religious attitudes developed over the centuries about the intent of the old writings.)
12 Then after seventy years are completed, I will punish the king of Babylon and that nation, the land of the Chaldeans, for their iniquity, says Yahweh, making the land an everlasting waste. And when the seventy years are fulfilled, I will take vengeance on that nation, and will make them a perpetual desolation.
Once again we see how the MT editors substituted Babylon for "that nation." From the context we can infer that the phrase "that nation" means Judea. Again this expansion severely misled understanding of the prophecy.
13 I will bring upon that land all the words which I have uttered against it, everything written in this book, which Jeremiah prophesied against all the nations. And I will bring upon that land all my words which I have spoken against it, even all things that are written in this book.
Here the MT editors mixed number. Jeremiah spoke about "that land" while the MT phrase is "all the nations." Clearly Jeremiah was prophesying against Jerusalem and Judea, as he explicitly states in the opening verses. Did the MT editors attempt to divert the full strength of the prophecy against Jerusalem and Judea? Or did the original text forecast against all the nations?  Jeremiah again implies "the people of Judah," not restricting the doom to the city of Jerusalem.
14 For many nations and great kings shall make slaves even of them; and I will recompense them according to their deeds and the work of their hands."
The phrase "of them" suggests Jerusalem and the land of Judah. However, continuity of the expansions in verses 12-14 show that the MT editors understood the prophecy as including historic Babylon. The editors may have been influenced by the prophecies against Babylon in MT Chapters 50 and 51. Scholars have noted that in some MT chapters the King of Babylon is regarded as the servant of Yahweh. See MT 25:9, 27:6 and 43:10. On those grounds they debate why Babylon would here be condemned. However, the assignment of the King of Babylon as the Lord's servant is not found in LXX. Hence this interpolated verse would not be inconsistent with the LXX as directed to Jerusalem and Judah; it merely supports the MT doom directed against Babylon! This contradiction shows that the LXX editors must have been using a text different from the MT editors, or that the MT was, indeed, an expansion of the original text. These expansions about ancient Babylon contributed to misunderstanding of Jeremiah's original prophecy, and sadly misled the generations.

A curiosity exists of how the MT editors arrived at the concept of Babylon as the Lord's servant. This phrase is not found in the other prophetical books. If the United States as the modern Babylon were developed as a servant of Yahweh, we can understand the concept. The United States then becomes God's servant, not in a beneficial sense, but as the Servant bringing God's judgment upon the world

In the above section the LXX prophecy pertains to Jerusalem and Judea, until the phrase "all the nations round about" is introduced in verse 9. This is also the verse where "a family from the north" is introduced. This makes the prophecy global in nature. But then the singular "nation" is introduced in verse 12. Hence, there was room in the LXX text for confusion on the roles played by the various nations. These verses can be considered as a preface to the Oracles Against the Nations (OAN).

The verses following are in Chapter 32 of the Septuagint. Apparently Jeremiah, or some editor, was uncertain of how to structure the summary statements found in MT Chapter 25 against the details of the Oracles Against the Nations (OAN) in the following chapters. (Refer to the tabulation showing the transpositions.) We can see from the nature of the statements that a different tone is now displayed. Here there is no uncertainty that the prophecy is against the "nations." This uncertainty explains why the LXX and the MT show two different placements of the MT 25 verses and the chapters on the nations (OAN) to whom they refer.

15 Thus Yahweh, the God of Israel, said to me: "Take from my hand this cup of the wine of wrath, and make all the nations to whom I send you drink it. Thus said the Lord God of Israel: take the cup of this unmixed wine from mine hand, and thou shalt cause all the nations to drink, to whom I send thee.
16 They shall drink and stagger and be crazed because of the sword which I am sending among them." And they shall drink, and vomit, and be mad, because of the sword which I send among them.
17 So I took the cup from Yahwehs hand, and made all the nations to whom Yahweh sent me drink it: So I took the cup out of the Lord's hand, and caused the nations to whom the Lord sent me to drink:
18 Jerusalem and the cities of Judah, its kings and princes, to make them a desolation and a waste, a hissing and a curse, as at this day; Jerusalem, and the cities of Judah, and the kings of Judah, and his princes, to make them a desert place, a desolation, and a hissing;
The expansion again shows how the MT editors believed that the prophecies applied to their time and generation, without recognition that the events may be in some distant future.
19 Pharaoh king of Egypt, his servants, his princes, all his people, and Pharaoh king of Egypt, and his servants, and his nobles, and all his people;
20 and all the foreign folk among them; all the kings of the land of Uz and all the kings of the land of the Philistines (Ashkelon, Gaza, Ekron, and the remnant of Ashdod); and all the mingled people, and all the kings of the Philistines, and Ashkelon, and Gaza, and Ekron, and the remnant of Ashdod,
The MT Hebrew word shown as "foreign folk" in RSV means "a mixture," or "mixed people." The LXX Greek follows this sense. Because of the nebulous reference RSV and other translation reflect the verse back onto Egypt, without cause.
21 Edom, Moab, and the sons of Ammon; and Edom, and the land of Moab, and the children of Ammon,
22 all the kings of Tyre, all the kings of Sidon, and the kings of the coastland across the sea; and the kings of Tyre, and the kings of Sidon, and the kings in the country beyond the sea,
The MT "coastland across the sea" may imply the colonies of the Phoenicians, but the LXX may literally capture the sense better of kings in countries "beyond the sea."
23 Dedan, Tema, Buz, and all who cut the corners of their hair; and Dedan, and Tema, and Buz, and every one that is shaved round about the face,
The MT phrase "cut the corners of their hair" has confused many people. The LXX translation offers much clearer understanding. It refers to a specific social custom of those foreign people, contrary to Jewish practices.
24 all the kings of Arabia and all the kings of the mixed tribes that dwell in the desert; and all the mingled people lodging in the wilderness,
The phrase "mingled people" or "mixed tribes" and the "wilderness" or "desert" show that Jeremiah was including all people of surrounding Arabian tribes without specific national designation. Refer to verse 20 above. The MT editors probably introduced the clarifying phrase.
25 all the kings of Zimri, all the kings of Elam, and all the kings of Media; and all the kings of Elam, and all the kings of the Persians,
The reason the MT editors introduced the extra phrase about Zimri has puzzled biblical scholars. We cannot make a ready identification with other people. Several references exist in the early Old Testament. We may infer that it means tribes of Arabia. Again, LXX does not contain this reference.
26 all the kings of the north, far and near, one after another, and all the kingdoms of the world which are on the face of the earth. And after them the king of Babylon shall drink. and all the kings from the north, the far and the near, each one with his brother, and all the kingdoms which are on the face of the earth.
Here the MT editors would appear to be expanding the prophecy once again to their understanding. They may have wished that historic Babylon be included in the doom. However, we can see how a reference to modern Babylon reinforces the condemnation upon the United States.
27 "Then you shall say to them, Thus says Yahweh of hosts, the God of Israel: Drink, be drunk and vomit, fall and rise no more, because of the sword which I am sending among you. And thou shalt say to them, Thus said the Lord Almighty; Drink, be ye drunken; and ye shall vomit, and shall fall, and shall in no wise rise, because of the sword which I send among you.
The MT expansion continues as an effort to define Yahweh as assigned only to the Jews. The "Lord Almighty" would be a natural method of the LXX translators to avoid the word Yahweh.
28 "And if they refuse to accept the cup from your hand to drink, then you shall say to them, Thus says Yahweh of hosts: You must drink! And it shall come to pass, when they refuse to take the cup out of thine hand, to drink it, that thou shalt say, Thus said the Lord; Ye shall surely drink.
29 For behold, I begin to work evil at the city which is called by my name, and shall you go unpunished? You shall not go unpunished, for I am summoning a sword against all the inhabitants of the earth, says Yahweh of hosts. For I am beginning to afflict the city whereon my name is called, and ye shall by no means be held guiltless: for I am calling a sword upon all that dwell upon the earth.
The LXX editors again avoided use of the name. The MT text captures the sense of the finality by using the word "evil." Jerusalem and Judea are the culprits bringing the judgment. The text emphasizes the judgment against nations other than Judea.
30 "You, therefore, shall prophesy against them all these words, and say to them: Yahweh will roar from on high, and from his holy habitation utter his voice; he will roar mightily against his fold, and shout, like those who tread grapes, against all the inhabitants of the earth. And thou shalt prophesy against them these words, and shall say, The Lord shall speak from on high, from his sanctuary he will utter his voice; he will pronounce a declaration on his place; and these shall answer like men gathering grapes : and destruction is coming on them that dwell on the earth,
31 The clamor will resound to the ends of the earth, for Yahweh has an indictment against the nations; he is entering into judgment with all flesh, and the wicked he will put to the sword, says Yahweh. even upon the extreme part of the earth; for the Lord has a controversy with the nations, he is pleading with all flesh, and the ungodly are given to the sword, saith the Lord.
One can easily recognize the superior wording of the RSV. It better captures the intent of the judgment.
32 "Thus says Yahweh of hosts: Behold, evil is going forth from nation to nation, and a great tempest is stirring from the farthest parts of the earth! Thus said the Lord; Behold, evils are proceeding from nation to nation, and a great whirlwind goes forth from the end of the earth.
33 "And those slain by Yahweh on that day shall extend from one end of the earth to the other. They shall not be lamented, or gathered, or buried; they shall be dung on the surface of the ground. And the slain of the Lord shall be in the day of Lord from one end of the earth even to the other end of the earth: they shall not be buried; they shall be as dung on the face of the earth.
Here the LXX seems to have been expanded to specify the time of the events: the day of God's judgment.
34 "Wail, you shepherds, and cry, and roll in ashes , you lords of the flock, for the days of your slaughter and dispersion have come, and you shall fall like choice rams. Howl, ye shepherds, and cry; and lament, ye rams of the flock: for your days have been completed for slaughter and ye shall fall as the choice rams.
The MT use of the word "dispersion" is particularly important, for it implies a dispersion of people to avoid destruction.
35 No refuge will remain for the shepherds, nor escape for the lords of the flock. And flight shall perish from the shepherds, and safety from the rams of the flock.
36 Hark, the cry of the shepherds, and the wail of the lords of the flock! For Yahweh is despoiling their pasture, A voice of the crying of the shepherds, and a moaning of the sheep and the rams: for the Lord has destroyed their pastures.
37 and the peaceful folds are devastated, because of the fierce anger of Yahweh. And the peaceable abodes that remain shall be destroyed before the fierceness of my anger.
38 Like a lion he has left his covert, for their land has become a waste because of the sword of the oppressor, and because of his fierce anger." He has forsaken his lair, as a lion: for their land is become desolate before the great sword.
The added phrase seems intended to emphasize the nature of God's judgment. See also the emphasis about God's anger in verses 6 and 7. God cannot be angry, but the effects of his judgment shall certainly make it appear to human kind that he is.



 
Home