Jeremiah 21

Listen to Jeremiah 21

Jerusalem Will Fall to Nebuchadnezzar

1 This is the word that came to Jeremiah from the LORD, when King Zedekiah sent to him 1Pashhur the son of Malchiah and 2Zephaniah the priest, the son of 3Maaseiah, saying,
2 4"Inquire of the LORD for us, 5for Nebuchadnezzar[a] king of Babylon is making war against us. Perhaps the LORD will deal with us according to 6all his wonderful deeds and will make him withdraw from us."
3 Then Jeremiah said to them:
4 "Thus you shall say to Zedekiah, 'Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel: 7Behold, I will turn back the weapons of war that are in your hands and with which you are fighting against the king of Babylon and against the Chaldeans who are besieging you outside the walls. 8And I will bring them together into the midst of this city.
5 I myself will fight against you 9with outstretched hand and strong arm, 10in anger and in fury and in great wrath.
6 And I will strike down the inhabitants of this city, both man and beast. They shall die of a great pestilence.
7 Afterward, declares the LORD, 11I will give Zedekiah king of Judah and his servants and the people in this city who survive the pestilence, sword, and famine into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon and into the hand of their enemies, into the hand of those who seek their lives. He shall strike them down with the edge of the sword. 12He shall not pity them or spare them or have compassion.'
8 "And to this people you shall say: 13'Thus says the LORD: Behold, 14I set before you the way of life and the way of death.
9 He who stays in this city shall die 15by the sword, by famine, and by pestilence, but he who goes out and 16surrenders to the Chaldeans who are besieging you shall live 17and shall have his life as a prize of war.
10 For 18I have set my face against this city for harm and 19not for good, declares the LORD: 20it shall be given into the hand of the king of Babylon, and he shall burn it with fire.'

Message to the House of David

11 "And to the house of the king of Judah say, 'Hear the word of the LORD,
12 O house of David! Thus says the LORD: 21"'Execute justice 22in the morning, and deliver from the hand of the oppressor him who has been robbed, 23lest my wrath go forth like fire, and burn with none to quench it, because of your evil deeds.'"
13 24"Behold, I am against you, O inhabitant of the valley, O rock of the plain, declares the LORD; you who say, 25'Who shall come down against us, or who shall enter our habitations?'
14 26I will punish you according to 27the fruit of your deeds, declares the LORD; 28I will kindle a fire in her forest, 29and it shall devour all that is around her."

Jeremiah 21 Commentary

Chapter 21

The only way of deliverance is to be surrendering to the Babylonians. (1-10) The wickedness of the king and his household. (11-14)

Verses 1-10 When the siege had begun, Zedekiah sent to ask of Jeremiah respecting the event. In times of distress and danger, men often seek those to counsel and pray for them, whom, at other times, they despise and oppose; but they only seek deliverance from punishment. When professors continue in disobedience, presuming upon outward privileges, let them be told that the Lord will prosper his open enemies against them. As the king and his princes would not surrender, the people are exhorted to do so. No sinner on earth is left without a Refuge, who really desires one; but the way of life is humbling, it requires self-denial, and exposes to difficulties.

Verses 11-14 The wickedness of the king and his family was the worse because of their relation to David. They were urged to act with justice, at once, lest the Lord's anger should be unquenchable. If God be for us, who can be against us? But if he be against us, who can do any thing for us?

Cross References 29

  • 1. See Jeremiah 20:1
  • 2. Jeremiah 29:25; Jeremiah 37:3; 2 Kings 25:18
  • 3. Jeremiah 35:4; 2 Chronicles 34:8
  • 4. [Jeremiah 37:7]
  • 5. [2 Kings 25:1]
  • 6. Psalms 105:2, 5
  • 7. [Jeremiah 32:5; Jeremiah 37:10]
  • 8. [Isaiah 13:4]
  • 9. Jeremiah 27:5; Jeremiah 32:17, 21; Exodus 6:6; Deuteronomy 4:34; Ezekiel 20:33
  • 10. Jeremiah 32:37; Deuteronomy 29:28
  • 11. Jeremiah 37:17; Jeremiah 39:5; Jeremiah 52:9
  • 12. Deuteronomy 28:50; 2 Chronicles 36:17; Ezekiel 5:11
  • 13. Deuteronomy 30:15, 19
  • 14. Jeremiah 38:2
  • 15. See Jeremiah 15:2
  • 16. Jeremiah 37:13, 14
  • 17. Jeremiah 39:18; Jeremiah 45:5
  • 18. Jeremiah 44:11; Leviticus 20:3, 5; Psalms 34:16; Ezekiel 14:8; [Amos 9:4]
  • 19. [Jeremiah 14:11]
  • 20. ver. 7; Jeremiah 34:2; Jeremiah 37:8, 10; Jeremiah 38:17, 18, 23; Jeremiah 39:8; Jeremiah 52:13; 2 Chronicles 36:19
  • 21. Jeremiah 22:3; Zechariah 7:9; [Jeremiah 22:16]
  • 22. Psalms 101:8
  • 23. Jeremiah 4:4
  • 24. [ver. 10]; See Ezekiel 13:8
  • 25. [Jeremiah 49:4]
  • 26. Jeremiah 9:25
  • 27. Proverbs 1:31; Isaiah 3:10
  • 28. Ezekiel 20:47
  • 29. Ezekiel 20:47

Footnotes 1

  • [a]. Hebrew Nebuchadrezzar, another spelling for Nebuchadnezzar (king of Babylon) occurring frequently from Jeremiah 21 - 52; this latter spelling is used throughout Jeremiah for consistency

Chapter Summary


This chapter contains Jeremiah's answer to King Zedekiah's message to him; in which he assures him of the destruction of the city of Jerusalem, and gives advice both to the people and the king. The names of the persons sent to him are mentioned, Jer 21:1; and the errand they were sent upon, to desire the prophet to pray to the Lord, that the king of Babylon might be obliged to depart from Jerusalem, Jer 21:2; the answer from the Lord by him is, that their opposition to the king of Babylon should be fruitless; that he should be so far from quitting the siege, that he should enter the city, Jer 21:3,4; yea, that the Lord himself would fight against them, and destroy men and beast with the pestilence; and that such who escaped the sword, famine, and pestilence, should fall into the hands of the king of Babylon, Jer 21:5-7; and then some advice is given to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, to go out and give up themselves to the Chaldeans; which was the best way to save their lives, since the city would certainly fall into their hands, and be burnt by them, Jer 21:8-10; and as for the royal family, they are advised to do justice and deliver the oppressed; the not doing of which, it is suggested, was the cause of their ruin, Jer 21:11,12; and the chapter is closed with a denunciation of destruction upon the city, notwithstanding the vain trust and confidence of the inhabitants of it, Jer 21:13,14.

Jeremiah 21 Commentaries