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Bible Commentaries

Utley's You Can Understand the Bible

Jeremiah 33

Jeremiah 33:0

PARAGRAPH DIVISIONS OF MODERN TRANSLATIONS

(The parentheses represent poetic literary units)

NASBNKJVNRSVTEVNJB
Restoration PromisedExcellence of the Restored NationGod Will Rebuild the Walls of JerusalemAnother Promise of HopeAnother Promise of Recovery
Jeremiah 33:1-9Jeremiah 33:1-3Jeremiah 33:1-9Jeremiah 33:1-9Jeremiah 33:1-9
Jeremiah 33:4-9
Jeremiah 33:10-11(vv. Jeremiah 33:11c)Jeremiah 33:10-11(vv. Jeremiah 33:11c)Jeremiah 33:10-11(vv. Jeremiah 33:11c)Jeremiah 33:10-11(vv. Jeremiah 33:11c)Jeremiah 33:10-11
Jeremiah 33:12-13Jeremiah 33:12-13Jeremiah 33:12-13Jeremiah 33:12-13Jeremiah 33:12-13
The Davidic KingdomThe Institutions of the Future
Jeremiah 33:14-18Jeremiah 33:14Jeremiah 33:14-16Jeremiah 33:14-18Jeremiah 33:14-18
Jeremiah 33:15-18(vv. Jeremiah 33:15-16)(vv. Jeremiah 33:15-16)
The Permanence of God's CovenantJeremiah 33:17-18
Jeremiah 33:19-22Jeremiah 33:19-22Jeremiah 33:19-22Jeremiah 33:19-22Jeremiah 33:19-22
Jeremiah 33:23-26Jeremiah 33:23-24Jeremiah 33:23-26Jeremiah 33:23-26Jeremiah 33:23-26
Jeremiah 33:25-26

READING CYCLE THREE (see “Guide to Good Bible Reading”)

FOLLOWING THE ORIGINAL AUTHOR'S INTENT AT PARAGRAPH LEVEL

This is a study guide commentary, which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

Read the chapter in one sitting. Identify the subjects (reading cycle #3). Compare your subject divisions with the five translations above. Paragraphing is not inspired, but it is the key to following the original author's intent, which is the heart of interpretation. Every paragraph has one and only one subject.

1. First paragraph

2. Second paragraph

3. Third paragraph

4. Etc.

Verses 1-9

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Jeremiah 33:1-9 1Then the word of the LORD came to Jeremiah the second time, while he was still confined in the court of the guard, saying, 2”Thus says the LORD who made the earth, the LORD who formed it to establish it, the LORD is His name, 3'Call to Me and I will answer you, and I will tell you great and mighty things, which you do not know.' 4For thus says the LORD God of Israel concerning the houses of this city, and concerning the houses of the kings of Judah which are broken down to make a defense against the siege ramps and against the sword, 5'While they are coming to fight with the Chaldeans and to fill them with the corpses of men whom I have slain in My anger and in My wrath, and I have hidden My face from this city because of all their wickedness: 6Behold, I will bring to it health and healing, and I will heal them; and I will reveal to them an abundance of peace and truth. 7I will restore the fortunes of Judah and the fortunes of Israel and will rebuild them as they were at first. 8I will cleanse them from all their iniquity by which they have sinned against Me, and I will pardon all their iniquities by which they have sinned against Me and by which they have transgressed against Me. 9It will be to Me a name of joy, praise and glory before all the nations of the earth which will hear of all the good that I do for them, and they will fear and tremble because of all the good and all the peace that I make for it.'“

Jeremiah 33:1 This shows that chapters 32 and 33 are linked (as are chapters 30-33, the Book of Consolation).

Jeremiah 33:2 This is one of several references in Jeremiah to YHWH as creator.

1. The first VERB “made” (BDB 793, KB 889, Qal ACTIVE PARTICIPLE) is used in a parallel way to “create” (BDB 135, KB 153, cf. Genesis 1:1), which is clearly seen in Genesis 1:7, Genesis 1:16, Genesis 1:25; Genesis 3:1. YHWH made the earth (LXX), which is denoted in the MT by the PRONOUN “it.” However, it could refer to His eternal redemptive plan (JPSOA).

2. The second VERB “formed” (BDB 427, KB 428, Qal ACTIVE PARTICIPLE) is also used often of YHWH as creator

a. Adam - Genesis 2:7, Genesis 2:8

b. Israel as a covenant nation - Isaiah 27:11; Isaiah 43:1, Isaiah 43:21; Isaiah 44:21; Isaiah 45:9, Isaiah 45:11; Isaiah 64:8

c. Jeremiah - Jeremiah 1:5

3. The third VERB “to establish it” (BDB 465, KB 464, Hiphil INFINITIVE CONSTRUCT) may relate to the fixed order of nature in Jeremiah 31:35-37 or to YHWH establishing the world by His wisdom in Jeremiah 10:12.

4. All three VERBS are present in Isaiah 45:18.

“the LORD is His name” See Special Topics below.

SPECIAL TOPIC: “THE NAME” of YHWH

SPECIAL TOPIC: THE NAME OF THE LORD

Jeremiah 33:3 Notice the personal element of biblical, covenant faith. Notice the VERB forms.

1. “call to Me” - BDB 894, KB 1128, Qal IMPERATIVE, SINGULAR, cf. Jeremiah 29:12

a. Jeremiah

b. His people, collectively

2. “I will answer you” - BDB 772, KB 851, Qal IMPERFECT used in a COHORTATIVE sense

3. “I will tell you” - BDB 616, KB 665, Hiphil COHORTATIVE

“Call to Me, and I will answer you” Here again is the sign of the renewed covenant. Earlier Jeremiah had been told not to pray, for the people could not repent. Now they are assured that as they sought God, He would respond to them.

“great and mighty things, which you do not know” The term “mighty” is literally “inaccessible” (BDB 130). This word was often used for breaking into a fortified city (cf. Jeremiah 15:20; Jeremiah 52:7; 2 Chronicles 32:1). It refers to that which is beyond human ability (“which you do not know”), therefore, God's revelation (cf. Isaiah 48:6) about future acts for His people.

Jeremiah 33:4 The buildings inside the walls of Jerusalem (both of the king and the citizens) are torn down to

1. fortify, support

2. fill in the damage done by the Babylonian siege machines (i.e., A-frames with ropes and logs)

3. drop rocks on the siege machines placed against the walls

In Jeremiah 33:5 YHWH will show His wrath on Jerusalem by allowing dead bodies to fill the holes made by the siege machines! The JPSOA and the AB both assert the ambiguity and uncertainty of the end of Jeremiah 33:4 and the beginning of Jeremiah 33:5.

JPSOA's translation, “for [defense] against the siegemounds and against the sword, and were filled by those who went to fight the Chaldeans” (p. 995).

AB simply leaves it blank with two blank parentheses (p. 292).

“Against the sword” This is an uncertain Hebrew term (BDB 352, KB 349). The JPSOA indicates thatJer. Jeremiah 33:4-5a are ambiguous. The Septuagint translates this as “fortifications” (cf. Isaiah 22:10).

Jeremiah 33:5 “to fill them with corpses” The places where the buildings were torn down became burial places for the soldiers slain and/or the citizens who died from famine and pestilence.

“and I have hidden My face from this city because of all their wickedness” Judah's idolatry and unwillingness to listen to Jeremiah or repent of their wickedness has caused the personal God to turn His face away (i.e., not to be attentive to the prayers of His people). This imagery begins in Deuteronomy 31:17 and is repeated often in the prophets.

1. Isaiah 1:15; Isaiah 8:17; Isaiah 45:15; Isaiah 54:8; Isaiah 59:2

2. Jeremiah 21:10; Jeremiah 44:11

3. Amos 9:4

4. Micah 3:4

As sin drove Adam, Eve, and Cain from the Garden of Eden, it now drives the descendants of Abraham out of the Promised Land!

Jeremiah 33:6-9 The great and mighty things of Jeremiah 33:3 are explained in Jeremiah 33:6-9. Chapters 30-33 are the most positive messages in all of Jeremiah.

Notice what YHWH will do.

1. bring health (BDB 74) and healing (BDB 951), cf. Jeremiah 8:22; Jeremiah 30:17 (opposite of Jeremiah 8:15; Jeremiah 14:19)

2. bring peace (BDB 1027, possibly “prosperity”)

3. bring truth (BDB 54, possibly “security”)

4. restore the fortunes of both Judah and Israel (some LXX MSS change “Israel” to “Jerusalem,” however, Jeremiah does mention the reunification often, cf. Jeremiah 3:18; Jeremiah 30:3; Jeremiah 31:27; Jeremiah 33:11, Jeremiah 33:14, Jeremiah 33:17; and possibly Jeremiah 33:24)

5. rebuild them both (i.e., completely restore them)

6. cleanse them from all their iniquity (#6 and #7 are part of the promise of the new covenant in Jeremiah 31:31-34)

7. pardon all their iniquities (the first seven above are all PERFECTS)

8. the restored covenant people will resume their place as a light to the nations (Jeremiah 33:9; Jeremiah 3:17, Jeremiah 3:19; Jeremiah 4:2; Jeremiah 16:19)

Jeremiah 33:8 This is a tremendous affirmation of God cleansing His people. It seems to reflect the new covenant (cf. Jeremiah 31:31-34). All three Hebrew words for sin are found in this verse (as they are in Psalms 51:0).

1. iniquity - BDB 730, KB 800

2. sin - BDB 306, KB 305 (twice), Qal PERFECTS

3. transgress - BDB 833, KB 981, Qal PERFECT, also translated “rebel”

They all refer to some deviation from the standard of judgment which is God Himself, as revealed in the covenant. However, God affirms that He will cleanse (BDB 372, KB 369, Piel PERFECT) and pardon (BDB 699, KB 757, Qal PERFECT). “Pardon” is a term which is always used for God's forgiveness.

Jeremiah 33:9 It must be stated with emphasis that God chose Israel to choose the whole world (see Special Topic: YHWH's Eternal Redemptive Plan). However, the light that was being given to the world was not the wonderful, merciful character of God (cf. Leviticus 26:2-13; Deuteronomy 28:1-6; Deuteronomy 30:1-20) that He wanted to reveal (cf. Ezekiel 36:22-38). Because of Israel's and Judah's disobedience the only aspect of YHWH' character the nations saw was judgment. God wanted to use Israel as a kingdom of priests (cf. Exodus 19:5-6, note the phrase's use in 1 Peter 2:5, 1 Peter 2:9; Revelation 1:6) to reach the whole world (cf. Jeremiah 3:17, Jeremiah 3:19; Jeremiah 4:2; Jeremiah 16:19). In my opinion the church has become that evangelistic light (cf. Matthew 28:18-20; Luke 24:47; Acts 1:8), but the same warning (cf. Romans 11:18-22; James 2:14-26) that was given to Abraham's physical seed is obviously appropriate for Abraham's spiritual seed (cf. Romans 2:28-29). See Special Topic: Apostasy (aphistçmi).

Verses 10-11

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Jeremiah 33:10-11 10”Thus says the LORD, 'Yet again there will be heard in this place, of which you say, “It is a waste, without man and without beast,” that is, in the cities of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem that are desolate, without man and without inhabitant and without beast, 11the voice of joy and the voice of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom and the voice of the bride, the voice of those who say, “Give thanks to the LORD of hosts, For the LORD is good, For His lovingkindness is everlasting”; and of those who bring a thank offering into the house of the LORD. For I will restore the fortunes of the land as they were at first,' says the LORD.

Jeremiah 33:10-11 What a contrast Jeremiah 33:10 is to Jeremiah 33:11! Verse Jeremiah 33:10 expresses the tragedy of the destruction and exile of Jerusalem/Judah. The human population and their flocks and herds are all gone! One note I would add is that even though there are no domesticated animals left, there is also no mention of wild animals inhabiting the site. These wild animals often denoted the presence of the demonic (cf. Jeremiah 9:11; Jeremiah 10:22; Isaiah 13:22; Isaiah 34:11-15; Zephaniah 2:14).

Verse Jeremiah 33:11 is a litany of the joys of normal social activities (i.e., weddings, feast days). This joy is possible because YHWH has brought His people back to their land and He dwells with them (i.e., the temple). This theme of joy is recurrent in the prophets (i.e., Jeremiah 31:12; Isaiah 12:1-6; Isaiah 25:9; Isaiah 35:10; Isaiah 51:3, Isaiah 51:11; Isaiah 65:18; Isaiah 66:10; Zephaniah 2:6-7). A new day is coming because a new covenant is coming. That new covenant is Jesus Christ and salvation by grace through faith (cf. Ephesians 2:8-10), which issues in Christlikeness (cf. Jeremiah 33:15).

The voice of joy (a command of thanks, BDB 392, KB 389, Hiphil IMPERATIVE) is also found in Psalms 106:1; Psalms 107:1; Psalms 118:1; Psalms 136:1. So it must have been a well known poem/proverb/ritual affirmation!

Verses 12-13

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Jeremiah 33:12-13 12”Thus says the LORD of hosts, 'There will again be in this place which is waste, without man or beast, and in all its cities, a habitation of shepherds who rest their flocks. 13In the cities of the hill country, in the cities of the lowland, in the cities of the Negev, in the land of Benjamin, in the environs of Jerusalem and in the cities of Judah, the flocks will again pass under the hands of the one who numbers them,' says the LORD.

Jeremiah 33:12-13 The strophe further explains Jeremiah 33:10-11.

Jeremiah 33:13 “will again pass under the hands of the one who numbers them” This refers to the daily actions of shepherds (cf. Leviticus 27:32; this imagery is the background of John 10:1-18).

1. making sure that all of the sheep were in the pen at night

2. a way of counting the sheep for tithing purposes

3. the Aramaic Targums specifically attribute this action to the Messiah

Verses 14-18

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Jeremiah 33:14-18 14'Behold, days are coming,' declares the LORD, 'when I will fulfill the good word which I have spoken concerning the house of Israel and the house of Judah. 15In those days and at that time I will cause a righteous Branch of David to spring forth; and He shall execute justice and righteousness on the earth. 16In those days Judah will be saved and Jerusalem will dwell in safety; and this is the name by which she will be called: the LORD is our righteousness.' 17For thus says the LORD, 'David shall never lack a man to sit on the throne of the house of Israel; 18and the Levitical priests shall never lack a man before Me to offer burnt offerings, to burn grain offerings and to prepare sacrifices continually.'“

Jeremiah 33:14-16 This passage is absent in the LXX. Some scholars postulate that the reason it is omitted in Jeremiah 33:0 is because it seems to be a development and repetition of the same truth found in Jeremiah 23:5-6 (this is a characteristic of the LXX; see notes at Jeremiah 23:5-6). However, this is a tremendous Messianic passage which promises a future fulfillment, not only of the exiled seed of Abraham to the Promised Land, but also of the restoration of the Davidic seed and the restored temple.

R. K. Harrison is one of my favorite authors. In his commentary (Tyndale OT series) on Jeremiah he gives a list of all the descriptive titles and phrases Jeremiah uses of the coming Davidic seed/Messiah (p. 144).

1. the Fountain of living waters, Jeremiah 2:13; Jeremiah 17:13

2. the good Shepherd, Jeremiah 23:4; Jeremiah 23:4; Jeremiah 31:10 (Jeremiah 3:15, PLURAL)

3. the righteous Branch, Jeremiah 23:5; Jeremiah 33:15

4. the Redeemer, Jeremiah 50:34

5. the Lord our righteousness, Jeremiah 23:6; Jeremiah 33:16

6. David the king, Jeremiah 30:9

7. agent of the new covenant, Jeremiah 31:31-34

Jeremiah 33:15 “In those days and at that time” This refers to a future period. It and similar phrases are used often in chapters 30-33.

1. Jeremiah 30:3, Jeremiah 30:24

2. Jeremiah 31:27, Jeremiah 31:29, Jeremiah 31:31, Jeremiah 31:33, Jeremiah 31:38

3. Jeremiah 32:14

4. Jeremiah 33:14, Jeremiah 33:15, Jeremiah 33:16

The exact time element is not stated but since it is the “new covenant period,” Christian scholars believe it refers to the New Testament and Jesus, while Jewish scholars believe it refers to the post-exilic period (i.e., Zerubbabel and Joshua). If it is post-exilic then even though it is not stated in the “if. . .then” format, it is a conditional covenant (i.e., future Seleucid and Roman defeats). Here, one's meta-narrative structures the text to fit a particular worldview. My biases are spelled out in the Special Topic: YHWH's Eternal Redemptive Plan.

“I will cause a righteous Branch of David to spring forth” This is the same Davidic Messianic metaphor used in Jeremiah 23:5-6 and Jeremiah 30:9-11. It was a favorite metaphor of

1. Isaiah, cf. Isaiah 4:2; Isaiah 53:3; also note Jeremiah 11:1-5

2. Zechariah, cf. Zechariah 3:8; Zechariah 6:12, Zechariah 6:13

See Special Topic: The Branch of the Lord

Jeremiah 33:16 “the LORD is our righteousness” This title of the Messiah (cf. Jeremiah 23:6) is transferred to the repentant and obedient people of God (cf. Jeremiah 31:31-34). The goal of God is a people who reflect His character to a lost and needy world!

For Hebrew people a change of name marked a significant event in the life of a person (cf. Genesis 32:28). A significant, permanent change has occurred to the nation personified in this title (also note the title in Jeremiah 31:23 for Jerusalem).

Jeremiah 33:17 “For thus says the LORD, 'David shall never lack a man to sit on the throne of the house of Israel'“ This goes back to the prophecy of 2 Samuel 7:11-16; 2 Samuel 23:5 (cf. Psalms 89:30-37). However, we learn from history that Jerusalem did fall, the temple was destroyed and the Davidic seed was carried into captivity in Babylon. This section certainly reflects the Messiah (i.e., Jesus, the line of David, Matthew 1:0; Luke 2:0), but some see it as referring to Zerubbabel as the Davidic branch (i.e., Prince, possibly Sheshbazzar and Zerubbabel are the same person or relatives, cf. Ezra 1:8; Ezra 5:14) who returned after the exile (cf. Zechariah 4:6-10; Zechariah 6:12).

Jeremiah 33:18 “the Levitical priests shall never lack a man before Me” There has been much discussion about this promise of a renewed Levitical priesthood. Some say it means that there will be sacrifices in the end-time period. However, my understanding of Jesus as fulfilling both the roles of king and priest (cf. Hebrews 1:2-3) probably makes this a spiritual promise instead of one to be literally fulfilled. There are several places in the OT where the Messiah has both a priestly and royal aspect (cf. Psalms 110:1-3 [royal], then 4 [priestly]; also Zerubbabel [royal] and Joshua [priestly], cf Zechariah 4:0, esp. Jeremiah 33:14; Jeremiah 6:9-15).

Remember that Melchizedek, in Genesis 14:17-24, was the priest/king of Salem. The NT book of Hebrews, particularly chapters 5-7, asserts that the Messiah's twin roles (priest/king) is foreshadowed in him. This same priest/king combination is revealed in Psalms 110:0 and Zechariah 3:0 and 4. The Dead Sea Scroll community expected two Messiahs, one from the tribe of Judah (Genesis 49:8-12) and one from the tribe of Levi.

Verses 19-22

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Jeremiah 33:19-22 19The word of the LORD came to Jeremiah, saying, 20”Thus says the LORD, 'If you can break My covenant for the day and My covenant for the night, so that day and night will not be at their appointed time, 21then My covenant may also be broken with David My servant so that he will not have a son to reign on his throne, and with the Levitical priests, My ministers. 22As the host of heaven cannot be counted and the sand of the sea cannot be measured, so I will multiply the descendants of David My servant and the Levites who minister to Me.'“

Jeremiah 33:19-22 This strophe claims that the new covenant is going to be permanent because the order and cycles of nature are permanent (cf. Jeremiah 31:35-37). Western science was developed on this premise of the regularity of God's creation (cf. Jeremiah 33:25; Genesis 8:22; Psalms 74:16-17; Psalms 89:36-37).

Jeremiah 33:22 “counted. . .measured” These are both Niphal IMPERFECTS. They are the same metaphors (i.e., stars and sand) used in the promises to the Patriarchs about the number of descendants to

1. Abraham - Genesis 13:16; Genesis 15:5; Genesis 22:17

2. Isaac - Genesis 26:4

3. Jacob - Genesis 28:14; Genesis 32:12

4. all of them - Exodus 32:13

Verses 23-26

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Jeremiah 33:23-26 23And the word of the LORD came to Jeremiah, saying, 24”Have you not observed what this people have spoken, saying, 'The two families which the LORD chose, He has rejected them'? Thus they despise My people, no longer are they as a nation in their sight. 25Thus says the LORD, 'If My covenant for day and night stand not, and the fixed patterns of heaven and earth I have not established, 26then I would reject the descendants of Jacob and David My servant, not taking from his descendants rulers over the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. But I will restore their fortunes and will have mercy on them.'“

Jeremiah 33:23-26 This strophe expresses the same truth as Jeremiah 33:19-22.

Grant Osborne, The Hermeneutical Spiral (p. 216), calls this strophe a “disputation speech” (cf. Isaiah 28:14-19; Ezekiel 18:1-20) where the prophet uses the opponents' own words to show their sin and rebellion. Each of their statements is answered by the prophet and a future setting/outcome is revealed.

Jeremiah 33:24 “this people. . .My people” The first use of “people” refers to unrepentant Jews who are about to be destroyed and the second uses refers to the repentant remnant (see Special Topic at Jeremiah 5:10-13) which will one day return.

“the two families” This may refer to

1. Abraham - Genesis 13:16; Genesis 15:5; Genesis 22:17

2. Isaac - Genesis 26:4

3. the tribes of Judah (royal) and Levi (priestly), cf. Jeremiah 33:7, Jeremiah 33:14

4. Jacob and David - cf. Jeremiah 33:26

5. David and Levi - cf. Jeremiah 33:21

Jeremiah 33:26 “I will restore their fortunes and will have mercy on them” The term “mercy” is a family term (BDB 933, cf. Psalms 103:13; Isaiah 49:15). What a great affirmation that God will not leave His people totally defenseless. But, notice the conditional element that they must repent and that the time of judgment was necessary to pull them away from the idolatry and ritualism to which they had fallen.

“restore” The MT has “restore” (BDB 996, KB 1427, Qal IMPERFECT) but the Masoretic scholars suggested instead “bring back” (BDB 996, KB 1427, Hiphil IMPERFECT, cf. NKJV, NJB); both concepts are found together in Jeremiah 29:14.

The concept of “restore” is mentioned in Jeremiah 29:14; Jeremiah 30:3, Jeremiah 30:18; Jeremiah 31:23; Jeremiah 32:44; Jeremiah 33:7, Jeremiah 33:11. It refers to the covenant blessings given to the Patriarchs. The concept of “bring back” is included in this larger agenda.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS FOR CHAPTERS 30-33

This is a study guide commentary, whichmeans that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

These discussion questions are provided to help you think through the major issues of this section of the book. They are meant to be thought provoking, not definitive.

1. How are Jeremiah 30-33 related?

2. Why is Jeremiah's symbolic act of buying a field so significant?

3. How has archaeology confirmed the historicity of Jeremiah 32:0?

4. Why is the close of Jeremiah 32:8 so spiritually significant?

5. How are the gods Ba'al and Molech related?

6. How do we explain Jeremiah 32:39 in light of Ezekiel 18:31?

7. List and define the three Hebrew words for sin found in Jeremiah 33:8

8. Why is Jeremiah 33:14-18 so significant and how does it impact our understanding of the end-time?

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Bibliographical Information
Utley. Dr. Robert. "Commentary on Jeremiah 33". "Utley's You Can Understand the Bible". https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ubc/jeremiah-33.html. 2021.