[This is] the word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord
Here begins a new prophecy, which was delivered some time after the former; that was given out while the king of Babylon was besieging Jerusalem; this after he had quitted the siege for a while, and was gone to meet the king of Egypt, who was coming to the relief of the city, as appears from ( Jeremiah 34:21 Jeremiah 34:22 ) ; though the Jews F11 say this was delivered in the seventh year of Zedekiah, in the first month, and tenth day of the month; at the same time that the elders of Israel came to Ezekiel, to inquire of the Lord by him, ( Ezekiel 20:1 ) ; which was two years before the king of Babylon came against Jerusalem; but this seems not likely. It is said to be after that the King Zedekiah made a covenant with all the people that
[were] at Jerusalem, to proclaim liberty unto them;
not unto the people, or to themselves, the king and the people; unless the sense is, that the king and the people entered into an agreement among themselves to make proclamation, that liberty would be granted by them to their servants; for the liberty proclaimed was to the servants, and not to them. This seems to confirm it, that it was while the city was besieged that this covenant was made; since it was made only with the people at Jerusalem, which were pent up in it; for otherwise it would in all probability have been made with all the people of the land; and seems to have been done with this view, to obtain this favour of the Lord, that they might gain their freedom from the enemy, and come not under the yoke and into the servitude of the king of Babylon: and very probable it is that they did not do this of their own accord, but were exhorted to it by Jeremiah; who perhaps, among other sins, had reproved them for the breach of the law respecting the liberty of servants.
F11 Seder Olam Rabba, c. 26. p. 74.