Jeremiah 34:1 NIRV
Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylonia, and all of his armies were fighting against Jerusalem. They were also fighting against all of the towns that were around it. All of the kingdoms and nations Nebuchadnezzar ruled over were helping him. At that time a message came to me from the Lord. He said,
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Jeremiah 34:1 WYC
The word that was made of the Lord to Jeremy, when Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, and all his host, and all the realms of [the] earth, that were under the power of his hand, and all peoples fought against Jerusalem, and against all cities thereof; and he said, (The word of the Lord that was made to Jeremiah, when Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon, and all his army, and all the kingdoms of the earth, that were under the power of his hand, and all the peoples, fought against Jerusalem, and against all its nearby towns; and he said,)
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Zedekiah's death at Babylon foretold. (1-7) The Jews reproved for compelling their poor brethren to return to unlawful bondage. (8-22)
Verses 1-7 Zedekiah is told that the city shall be taken, and that he shall die a captive, but he shall die a natural death. It is better to live and die penitent in a prison, than to live and die impenitent in a palace.
Verses 8-22 A Jew should not be held in servitude above seven years. This law they and their fathers had broken. And when there was some hope that the siege was raised, they forced the servants they had released into their services again. Those who think to cheat God by dissembled repentance and partial reformation, put the greatest cheat upon their own souls. This shows that liberty to sin, is really only liberty to have the sorest judgments. It is just with God to disappoint expectations of mercy, when we disappoint the expectations of duty. And when reformation springs only from terror, it is seldom lasting. Solemn vows thus entered into, profane the ordinances of God; and the most forward to bind themselves by appeals to God, are commonly most ready to break them. Let us look to our hearts, that our repentance may be real, and take care that the law of God regulates our conduct.
Jeremiah 34:1-22 . CAPTIVITY OF ZEDEKIAH AND THE PEOPLE FORETOLD FOR THEIR DISOBEDIENCE AND PERFIDY.
The prophecy ( Jeremiah 34:1-7 ) as to Zedekiah is an amplification of that in Jeremiah 32:1-5 , in consequence of which Jeremiah was then shut up in the court of the prison. The prophecy ( Jeremiah 34:8-22 ) refers to the Jews, who, afraid of the capture of the city, had, in obedience to the law, granted freedom to their servants at the end of seven years, but on the intermission of the siege forced them back into bondage.
1. Jerusalem and . . . all the cities that, in such a desperate position, he should reject admonition.
3. ( Jeremiah 32:4 ).
4, 5. Mitigation of Zedekiah's punishment.
5. the burnings of thy fathers--Thy funeral shall be honored with the same burning of aromatic spices as there was at the funerals of thy fathers ( 2 Chronicles 16:14 , 21:19 ). The honors here mentioned were denied to Jehoiakim ( Jeremiah 22:18 ).
Ah, lord!--The Hebrews in their chronology (Sederolam) mention the wailing used over him, "Alas! King Zedekiah is dead, drinking the dregs (that is, paying the penalty for the sins) of former ages."
7. these . . . retained--alone (compare 2 Chronicles 11:5 2 Chronicles 11:9 ).
8. By the law a Hebrew, after having been a bond-servant for six years, on the seventh was to be let go free ( Exodus 21:22 , Deuteronomy 15:12 ).
Zedekiah made a covenant--with solemn ceremonial in the temple ( Jeremiah 34:15 Jeremiah 34:18 Jeremiah 34:19 ).
them--bond-servants ( Jeremiah 34:9 ).
9. none . . . serve himself of a Jew--( Leviticus 25:39-46 ).
11. During the interruption of the siege by Pharaoh-hophra (compare Jeremiah 34:21 Jeremiah 34:22 , with Jeremiah 37:5-10 ), the Jews reduced their servants to bondage again.
13. The last year of Zedekiah was the sabbatical year. How just the retribution, that they who, against God's law and their own covenant, enslaved their brethren, should be doomed to bondage themselves: and that the bond-servants should enjoy the sabbatical freedom at the hands of the foe ( Jeremiah 52:16 ) which their own countrymen denied them!
14. At the end of seven years--that is, not on the eighth year, but within the limit of the seventh year, not later than the end of the seventh year ( Exodus 21:2 , 23:10 , Deuteronomy 15:12 ). So "at the end of three years" ( Deuteronomy 14:28 , 2 Kings 18:10 ), and "after three days, I will rise again" ( Matthew 27:63 ), that is, on the third day (compare Matthew 27:64 ).
15. in the house . . . called by my name--the usual place of making such covenants ( 2 Kings 23:3 ; compare 1 Kings 8:31 , Nehemiah 10:29 ).
16. polluted my name--by violating your oath ( Exodus 20:7 ).
17. not . . . proclaiming liberty--Though the Jews had ostensibly emancipated their bond-servants, they virtually did not do so by revoking the liberty which they had granted. God looks not to outward appearances, but to the sincere intention.
I proclaim a liberty--retribution answering to the offense ( Matthew 7:2 , Matthew 18:32 Matthew 18:33 , Galatians 6:7 , 2:13 ). The Jews who would not give liberty to their brethren shall themselves receive "a liberty" calamitous to them. God will manumit them from His happy and safe service ( Psalms 121:3 ), which is real "liberty" ( Psalms 119:45 , John 8:36 , 2 Corinthians 3:17 ), only to pass under the terrible bondage of other taskmasters, the "sword," &c.
to be removed--The Hebrew expresses agitation Deuteronomy 28:25 Deuteronomy 28:48 Deuteronomy 28:64 Deuteronomy 28:65 , as to the restless agitation of the Jews in their ceaseless removals from place to place in their dispersion.
18. passed between the parts thereof--The contracting parties in the "covenant" (not here the law in general, but their covenant made before God in His house to emancipate their slaves, Jeremiah 34:8 Jeremiah 34:9 ) passed through the parts of the animal cut in two, implying that they prayed so to be cut in sunder ( Matthew 24:51 ; Greek, "cut in two") if they should break the covenant ( Genesis 15:10 Genesis 15:17 ).
20. I will even give--resuming the sentence begun, but not completed ( Jeremiah 34:18 ), "I will give," &c.
seek their life--implacably: satisfied with nothing short of their blood; not content with booty.
dead bodies--The breakers of the covenant shall be cut in pieces, as the calf between whose parts they passed.
21. gone up--that is, raised the siege in order to meet Pharaoh-hophra ( Jeremiah 37:7-10 ). The departure of the Chaldeans was a kind of manumission of the Jews; but as their manumission of their bond-servants was recalled, so God revoked His manumission of them from the Chaldeans.
22. I will command--Nebuchadnezzar, impelled unconsciously by a divine instigation, returned on the withdrawal of the Egyptians.