Jeremiah 34

Listen to Jeremiah 34

Zedekiah to Die in Babylon

1 The word that came to Jeremiah from the LORD, when 1Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon and all his army 2and all the kingdoms of the earth under his dominion and all the peoples were fighting against Jerusalem and all of its cities:
2 "Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel: Go and speak to 3Zedekiah king of Judah and say to him, 'Thus says the LORD: 4Behold, I am giving this city into the hand of the king of Babylon, and he shall burn it with fire.
3 5You shall not escape from his hand but shall surely be captured and delivered into his hand. 6You shall see the king of Babylon eye to eye and speak with him face to face. And you shall go to Babylon.'
4 Yet hear the word of the LORD, O Zedekiah king of Judah! 7Thus says the LORD concerning you: 8'You shall not die by the sword.
5 You shall die in peace. 9And as spices were burned for your fathers, the former kings who were before you, so people shall 10burn spices for you 11and lament for you, saying, "Alas, lord!"' For I have spoken the word, declares the LORD."
6 Then Jeremiah the prophet spoke all these words to Zedekiah king of Judah, in Jerusalem,
7 when the army of the king of Babylon was fighting against Jerusalem and against all the cities of Judah that were left, 12Lachish and 13Azekah, 14for these were the only 15fortified cities of Judah that remained.
8 The word that came to Jeremiah from the LORD, after King Zedekiah 16had made a covenant with all the people in Jerusalem 17to make a proclamation of liberty to them,
9 18that everyone should set free his Hebrew slaves, male and female, 19so that no one should enslave a Jew, his brother.
10 And they obeyed, all the officials and all the people who had entered into the covenant that everyone would set free his slave, male or female, so that they would not be enslaved again. They obeyed and set them free.
11 But afterward they turned around and took back the male and female slaves 20they had set free, and brought them into subjection as slaves.
12 The word of the LORD came to Jeremiah from the LORD:
13 "Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel: I myself made a covenant with your fathers when 21I brought them out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage, saying,
14 22'At the end of seven years each of you must set free the fellow Hebrew who has been sold to you and has served you six years; 23you must set him free from your service.' But 24your fathers did not listen to me or incline their ears to me.
15 You recently repented and did what was right in my eyes 25by proclaiming liberty, each to his neighbor, and 26you made a covenant before me in the 27house that is called by my name,
16 but then you turned around 28and profaned my name when each of you took back his male and female slaves, 29whom you had set free according to their desire, and you brought them into subjection to be your slaves.
17 "Therefore, thus says the LORD: You have not obeyed me 30by proclaiming liberty, every one to his brother and to his neighbor; 31behold, I proclaim to you liberty 32to the sword, to pestilence, and to famine, declares the LORD. 33I will make you a horror to all the kingdoms of the earth.
18 And the men who transgressed my covenant and did not keep the terms of 34the covenant that they made before me, I will make them like[a]35the calf that they cut in two and passed between its parts--
19 the officials of Judah, the officials of Jerusalem, 36the eunuchs, the priests, and all the people of the land who passed between the parts of the calf.
20 And I will give them into the hand of their enemies 37and into the hand of those who seek their lives. 38Their dead bodies shall be food for the birds of the air and the beasts of the earth.
21 And 39Zedekiah king of Judah and his officials I will give into the hand of their enemies and into the hand of those who seek their lives, into the hand of the army of the king of Babylon 40which has withdrawn from you.
22 Behold, 41I will command, declares the LORD, and will 42bring them back to this city. 43And they will fight against it and take it and burn it with fire. 44I will make the cities of Judah a desolation 45without inhabitant."

Jeremiah 34 Commentary

Chapter 34

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.

Cross References 45

  • 1. Jeremiah 39:1; Jeremiah 52:4; 2 Kings 25:1
  • 2. Jeremiah 1:15; [Jeremiah 51:28]
  • 3. 2 Kings 25:2
  • 4. See Jeremiah 21:10
  • 5. See Jeremiah 32:4
  • 6. See Jeremiah 32:4
  • 7. [Jeremiah 38:17, 20; Jeremiah 39:4, 7]
  • 8. [Jeremiah 38:17, 20; Jeremiah 39:4, 7]
  • 9. 1 Samuel 31:12; 2 Chronicles 21:19
  • 10. 2 Chronicles 16:14
  • 11. [Jeremiah 22:18]
  • 12. Joshua 10:3
  • 13. Joshua 10:10; Joshua 15:35
  • 14. 2 Kings 18:13
  • 15. Jeremiah 4:5
  • 16. ver. 15
  • 17. ver. 15, 17; Exodus 21:2; Leviticus 25:10; [Isaiah 61:1]
  • 18. See Leviticus 25:39-46
  • 19. [Nehemiah 5:8]
  • 20. [See ver. 9 above]
  • 21. Exodus 20:2
  • 22. Exodus 21:2; Deuteronomy 15:12
  • 23. [See ver. 9 above]
  • 24. Jeremiah 7:24, 26; Jeremiah 11:8; Jeremiah 17:23; Jeremiah 25:4; Jeremiah 35:15; Jeremiah 44:5
  • 25. [See ver. 8 above]
  • 26. ver. 8; [2 Kings 23:3]
  • 27. See Jeremiah 7:10
  • 28. Leviticus 18:21; Leviticus 19:12
  • 29. ver. 11
  • 30. [See ver. 8 above]
  • 31. [Matthew 7:2; Galatians 6:7; James 2:13]
  • 32. See Jeremiah 14:12
  • 33. See Jeremiah 15:4
  • 34. [See ver. 15 above]
  • 35. [Genesis 15:10]
  • 36. Jeremiah 29:2
  • 37. See Jeremiah 22:25
  • 38. See Jeremiah 7:33
  • 39. [ver. 2, 4, 8]
  • 40. Jeremiah 37:5, 11
  • 41. Isaiah 10:6
  • 42. Jeremiah 37:8; Jeremiah 38:3
  • 43. Jeremiah 37:8; Jeremiah 38:3
  • 44. Jeremiah 9:11
  • 45. See Jeremiah 4:7

Footnotes 1

Chapter Summary


In this chapter is a prophecy of the taking and burning of Jerusalem; of the captivity of Zedekiah king of Judah; and of the destruction of the whole land, because of their breach of covenant to let servants go free. The time of this prophecy is observed, Jer 34:1,6,7; the taking and burning of the city, Jer 34:2; the carrying captive the king, who yet should not die a violent death, but in peace, and should have an honourable funeral, Jer 34:3-5; the covenant the king, princes, and people entered into, to let their servants go free, according to the law of God, which was at first observed, and afterwards retracted, Jer 34:8-11; which conduct is taken notice of and resented, Jer 34:13-16; and they are threatened with the sore judgments of God, sword, famine, pestilence, and captivity, the king, princes, priests, and people; and with the destruction, not on of Jerusalem, but of the rest of the cities of Judah, Jer 34:17-22.

Jeremiah 34 Commentaries

The English Standard Version is published with the permission of Good News Publishers.