Jeremiah 51:3

New English Translation

3 Do not give her archers time to string their bows
or to put on their coats of armor.#tc The text and consequent meaning of these first two lines are uncertain. Literally the Masoretic reads “against let him string let him string the one who strings his bow and against let him raise himself up in his coat of armor.” This makes absolutely no sense and the ancient versions and Hebrew mss did not agree in reading this same text. Many Hebrew mss and all the versions as well as the Masoretes themselves (the text is left unpointed with a marginal note not to read it) delete the second “let him string.” The LXX (or Greek version) left out the words “against” at the beginning of the first two lines. It reads “Let the archer bend his bow and let the one who has armor put it on.” The Lucianic recension of the LXX and some Targum mss supplied the missing object “it” and thus read “Let the archer ready his bow against it and let him array himself against it in his coat of mail.” This makes good sense but does not answer the question of why the Hebrew text left off the suffix on the preposition twice in a row. Many Hebrew mss and the Syriac, Targum, and Vulgate (the Latin version) change the pointing of “against” (אֶל [’el]) to “not” (אַל [’al]) and thus read “Let the archer not string the bow and let him not array himself in his armor.” However, many commentators feel that this does not fit the context because it would apparently be addressed to the Babylonians, not the enemy, which would create a sudden shift in addressee with the second half of the verse. However, if it is understood in the sense taken here it refers to the enemy not allowing the Babylonian archers to get ready for the battle, i.e., a surprise attack. This sense is suggested as an alternative in J. Bright, Jeremiah (AB), 346, n. u-u, and J. A. Thompson, Jeremiah (NICOT), 747, n. 5, and is the interpretation adopted in TEV and probably also in NIrV.
Do not spare any of her young men.
Completely destroy#sn For the concept underlying this word see the study note on “utterly destroy” in Jer 25:9 and compare the usage in 50:21, 26. her whole army.