[b-hebrew] Prophetic Perfect? Jer. 50.

Bill Rea bsr15 at cantsl.canterbury.ac.nz
Thu May 20 17:30:21 EDT 2004


Liz wrote:-

>Now you assume that it is about a future event because you
>say that Jeremiah lived in the time of Zedekiah and that
>the fall of Babylon didn't occur until the time of Cyrus.
>I don't assume this however. I assume that a later
>writer added to the book of Jeremiah and wrote about a past
>event.

And later wrote:-

>You label a book prophetic, and that allows you to interpret verbs
>as futures which you wouldn't do if you found those same words
>in another book, say Chronicles.

If you go down this road don't you get to the point where you can't
know anything? For example, if I pick up an English book of poetry
and read it and then by chance find some of the same verbs in a
science text and then later find the same verbs in a novel am I not
allowed to use my knowledge of these books to understand their meaning?

It seems to me if you are not allowed to consider the type of material
you are reading then you cut yourself off from valuable information which
will help you to understand it, and in our case translate it into English
for the benefit of those who read no Hebrew.

Now refering back to the first statement, it seems as if all that you are
doing is saying your assumptions are more valid than Rolf's. Because what
you have done, whether you like to acknowledge it or not, is allowed your
assumptions to dictate your understanding.

I translate Jer 50:1 as:-

The word which YHWH spoke against Babylon, against the land of the
Chaldeans by means of the prophet Jeremiah.

While one can deny, if one so chooses, that Jeremiah made such a
prophesy, it seems to me a statement of the obvious that the writer,
whoever that might be, intends for you to understand that Jeremiah
wrote it about events which were in the future relative to Jeremiah.
Replacing the clearing meaning of this verse with some assumption
that it was a later writer writing about events past, relative to
him, and hence the verbs are to be understood as past references
seems to me to be unjustified.

In light of this discussion I was a little surprized at the inconsistency
I used in my own translation when I checked it just now. Here's verses 2
and 3:-

2 Tell among the nations and make them hear
Raise up a banner, announce
Do not conceal, say
Babylon is captured
Bel is put to shame
Merodach is terrrified
Her idols are disgraced
Her images are terrified
3 For a nation from the north has gone up against her
It will make her land a desolation
There will be no inhabitant in it
Both man and beast will wander away

It's interesting that I used so much present tense. I certainly didn't
understand this as past. Perhaps it's just a muddle.


Bill Rea, Information Technology Dept., Canterbury  University  \_
E-Mail bill.rea at canterbury.ac.nz                                </   New
Phone   64-3-364-2331, Fax     64-3-364-2332                   /)  Zealand
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