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Yeremia 14:3-4


14:3 The leading men of the cities send their servants for water.

They go to the cisterns, 1  but they do not find any water there.

They return with their containers 2  empty.

Disappointed and dismayed, they bury their faces in their hands. 3 

14:4 They are dismayed because the ground is cracked 4 

because there has been no rain in the land.

The farmers, too, are dismayed

and bury their faces in their hands.

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[14:3]  1 tn Though the concept of “cisterns” is probably not familiar to some readers, it would be a mistake to translate this word as “well.” Wells have continual sources of water. Cisterns were pits dug in the ground and lined with plaster to hold rain water. The drought had exhausted all the water in the cisterns.

[14:3]  2 tn The word “containers” is a generic word in Hebrew = “vessels.” It would probably in this case involve water “jars” or “jugs.” But since in contemporary English one would normally associate those terms with smaller vessels, “containers” may be safer.

[14:3]  3 tn Heb “they cover their heads.” Some of the English versions have gone wrong here because of the “normal” use of the words translated here “disappointed” and “dismayed.” They are regularly translated “ashamed” and “disgraced, humiliated, dismayed” elsewhere (see e.g., Jer 22:22); they are somewhat synonymous terms which are often parallel or combined. The key here, however, is the expression “they cover their heads” which is used in 2 Sam 15:30 for the expression of grief. Moreover, the word translated here “disappointed” (בּוֹשׁ, bosh) is used that way several times. See for example Jer 12:13 and consult examples in BDB 101 s.v. בּוֹשׁ Qal.2. A very similar context with the same figure is found in Jer 2:36-37.

[14:4]  4 tn For the use of the verb “is cracked” here see BDB 369 s.v. חָתַת Qal.1 and compare the usage in Jer 51:56 where it refers to broken bows. The form is a relative clause without relative pronoun (cf., GKC 486-87 §155.f). The sentence as a whole is related to the preceding through a particle meaning “because of” or “on account of.” Hence the subject and verb have been repeated to make the connection.

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