Jeremiah 23:2

Paul Zellmer zellmer at
Sat Sep 12 11:37:28 EDT 1998

RHutchin at wrote:

> In the following two verses, the same Hebrew word is translated as visiting,
> visited, and visit.  Could someone explain this word and why it can be used in
> seemingly opposing contexts?
> Exodus 20
> 5 Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD
> thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the
> children
> unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me;
> Jeremiah 23
> 2 Therefore thus saith the LORD God of Israel against the pastors that
> feed my people; Ye have scattered my flock, and driven them away, and have not
> visited them: behold, I will visit upon you the evil of your doings, saith the

I haven't seen anyone else respond to this, so let me give you a possible answer and a
place to go to research it further.

It appears like your question is over the way the word has been translated, but you
really need to try to get a grasp on its meaning in general to begin to understand the
answer you are looking for on these cases in particular.  According to the article
(unsigned, by the way :^<) on PQD in the Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament
(TWOT), "The basic meaning is to exercise oversight over a subordinate, either in the
form of inspecting or of taking action to cause a considerable change in the
circumstances of the subordinate, either for the better or for the worse."  The
article goes on to quote Speiser, BASOR, 149:21: "There is probably no other Hebrew
verb that has caused translators as much trouble as pqd."

Later, the article says this: "When translated 'visit,' as fifty-seven times in the
KJV (RSV the same in many of these occurrences), this word almost always has the
sense, now largely obsolete, of 'making a visitation' and points to the action that
produces a great change in the position of a subordinate either for good or for ill."

I really recommend you look at the article, if only for the extensive bibliography
that would guide you in further research on a fairly common word in the Tanakh.  (It
was used more than 300X.)

Hope this helps.  If you want to discuss the breadth of the English word, "visit," I
guess we can do that.


Paul and Dee Zellmer, Jimmy Guingab, Geoffrey Beltran
Ibanag Translation Project
Cabagan, Philippines

zellmer at

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