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Jeremiah 30:8 (NAB): On that day—oracle of the LORD of hosts—I will break his yoke off your neck and snap your bonds. Strangers shall no longer enslave them;

To whom do all these pronouns refer?

The most confusing is “your”.
Is the verse switching from 3rd person to 2nd person?
Is it addressing Jeremiah himself and equating him to Jacob?
Is the verse referring to someone from previous verse in Jeremiah?

And I have no idea whose yoke it is that is broken and who "your" is.

4 Answers 4

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Ellicott's comments here (concerning Jer 30:8) is helpful:

The second and third person are strangely mingled. Jehovah speaks to Israel, “thy bonds,” “thy yoke,” and “his yoke” is that of the oppressor, i.e., of the Babylonian ruler, and then, the person changing, “strangers shall no more get service done for them by him” i.e., by Israel. The prophet echoes the words of Isaiah 10:27.

Let me quote the surrounding context with the antecedents inserted:

4 These are the words that the LORD spoke concerning Israel and Judah. 5 Yes, this is what the LORD says: “A cry of panic is heard— a cry of terror, not of peace. ...

7 How awful that day will be! None will be like it! It is the time of Jacob’s distress, but he (Jacob = Israel) will be saved out of it.

8 On that day, declares the LORD of Hosts, I [the LORD] will break the yoke off their [Israel's] necks and tear off their [Israel's] bonds, and no longer will strangers enslave them [Israel].

9 Instead, they [Israel] will serve the LORD their [Israel's] God and David their [Israel's] king, whom I [the LORD] will raise up for them [Israel].

10 As for you, O Jacob My servant, do not be afraid, declares the LORD, and do not be dismayed, O Israel. For I will surely save you out of a distant place, your descendants from the land of their captivity! Jacob will return to quiet and ease, with no one to make him afraid. These are the words that the LORD spoke concerning Israel and Judah.

Benson is also helpful:

Jeremiah 30:8-9. It shall come to pass in that day — In the day when Jacob shall be saved out of all his troubles, Jeremiah 30:7. The phrase that day often denotes an extraordinary or remarkable time for some signal events of Providence: see Isaiah 4:2. That I will break his yoke from off thy neck — This promise was in part fulfilled when Cyrus set the Jews free from the Babylonish yoke, and gave them liberty to return to their own country. And strangers shall no more serve themselves of him — In this latter part of the sentence the Jewish state, or rather that of Israel and Judah, is spoken of in the third person, him; in the foregoing part in the second person, thy neck. But they shall serve the Lord their God — They shall live in subjection and obedience to the one living and true God, and to David their king — That is, the Messiah, who is often called by the name of David in the prophets, as the person in whom all the promises made to David were to be fulfilled.

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  • This answer is right... it is the yoke of Babylon. I'll expand on this in my own answer since I think it's important to know how important the symbol of the yoke is in Jeremiah's prophecies. Aug 22, 2023 at 15:07
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This is G-d coming to the aid of Israel. And it is G-d talking the whole time to israel.

And it shall be on that day, says the L-rd of Hosts, that I will break his yoke (the heathens) off your neck (that is Israel). And i will break yyour thong's (Israel's), and strangers shall no longer enslave them. (I guess this conclusion saying 'them' is no longer no longer to Israel just a conclusion sentence).

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In the RSV, vv8-9 are formatted as a short passage of prose interrupting the poetry which otherwise fills ch30 from v5 onwards. This makes it easier to notice that v10 follows on from v7; "It is a time of distress for Jacob; yet he shall be saved out of it" leads into "... Then fear not, O Jacob my servant. says the Lord, not be dismayed, O Israel, for lo, I will save you from afar". So vv8-9 could be understood as another Jeremiah prophecy on a similar theme, combined with the "Jacob" prophecy by the ultimate collector.

Now, the words "Strangers shall no more make servants of them" are a promise of future freedom from any kind of bondage, imposed by anyone at all. So I suggest that the preceding words "I will break the yoke from off their neck, and I will burst their bonds" (RSV) should be intepreted in the same way. It is about the final and complete liberation of God's people, taking place "in that day" (the day of God's decisive action).

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The symbol of the Babylonian yoke plays a major role in Jeremiah's ministry. In some verses it symbolizes obedience to God but in the later chapters it refers to the yoke of the Babylonian ruler. In the case of vs. 30:8, "his" is the right translation.

In Jer. 2 and 5, the yoke indeed belongs to God.

Know then, and see, how evil and bitter is your forsaking the Lord, your God, And your showing no fear of me, oracle of the Lord, the God of hosts. 20 Long ago you broke your yoke, you tore off your bonds. You said, “I will not serve." (2:19-20)

Let me go to the leaders and speak with them; For they must know the way of the Lord, the justice of their God. But, one and all, they have broken the yoke, torn off the harness. (5:5)

But starting in Jer. 27, the yoke symbolizes subservience to the king of Babylon:

The Lord said to me: Make for yourself thongs and yoke bars and put them on your shoulders. 3 Send them to the kings of Edom, Moab, the Ammonites, Tyre, and Sidon, through the ambassadors who have come to Jerusalem to Zedekiah, king of Judah, 4 and command them to tell their lords: Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, Thus shall you say to your lords... Now I have given all these lands into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, my servant; even the wild animals I have given him to serve him.

In chapter 28 Hananiah the [false] prophet, breaks the yoke that Jeremiah has made and says, in the Lord's name:

3 Within two years I will restore to this place all the vessels of the house of the Lord which Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, took from this place and carried away to Babylon.

Jeremiah at first seems to accept Hananiah's prophecy but soon receives another revelation from God:

Go tell Hananiah this: Thus says the Lord: By breaking a wooden yoke bar, you make an iron yoke! 14 For thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: A yoke of iron I have placed on the necks of all these nations serving Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, and they shall serve him; even the wild animals I have given him.

Finally, in chapter 30, Jeremiah pronounces the words of hope, that once the price has been paid through their Exile, the people of Judah will be freed and the David kingship will be restored.

the days are coming—oracle of the Lord—when I will restore the fortunes of my people Israel and Judah ...Ah! How mighty is that day— there is none like it! A time of distress for Jacob, though he shall be saved from it. 8 On that day—oracle of the Lord of hosts—I will break his yoke off your neck and snap your bonds. Strangers shall no longer enslave them; 9 instead, they shall serve the Lord, their God, and David, their king, whom I will raise up for them.

Conclusion: although in the beginning of his book, Jeremiah speaks of God's yoke, in chapters 27-30 the yoke symbolizes the oppression of the king of Babylon. This also applies to the prophecy mentioned in the OP, in which God promises both liberation from Babylonian oppression and the re-establishment of the Davidic kingdship.

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