Jeremiah 21

God Rejects Zedekiah’s Request

1 The word came to Jeremiah from the LORD when King Zedekiah sent to him Pashhur son of Malkijah and the priest Zephaniah son of Maaseiah. They said:
2 “Inquire now of the LORD for us because Nebuchadnezzar[a] king of Babylon is attacking us. Perhaps the LORD will perform wonders for us as in times past so that he will withdraw from us.”
3 But Jeremiah answered them, “Tell Zedekiah,
4 ‘This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: I am about to turn against you the weapons of war that are in your hands, which you are using to fight the king of Babylon and the Babylonians[b] who are outside the wall besieging you. And I will gather them inside this city.
5 I myself will fight against you with an outstretched hand and a mighty arm in furious anger and in great wrath.
6 I will strike down those who live in this city—both man and beast—and they will die of a terrible plague.
7 After that, declares the LORD, I will give Zedekiah king of Judah, his officials and the people in this city who survive the plague, sword and famine, into the hands of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon and to their enemies who want to kill them. He will put them to the sword; he will show them no mercy or pity or compassion.’
8 “Furthermore, tell the people, ‘This is what the LORD says: See, I am setting before you the way of life and the way of death.
9 Whoever stays in this city will die by the sword, famine or plague. But whoever goes out and surrenders to the Babylonians who are besieging you will live; they will escape with their lives.
10 I have determined to do this city harm and not good, declares the LORD. It will be given into the hands of the king of Babylon, and he will destroy it with fire.’
11 “Moreover, say to the royal house of Judah, ‘Hear the word of the LORD.
12 This is what the LORD says to you, house of David: “ ‘Administer justice every morning; rescue from the hand of the oppressor the one who has been robbed, or my wrath will break out and burn like fire because of the evil you have done— burn with no one to quench it.
13 I am against you, Jerusalem, you who live above this valley on the rocky plateau, declares the LORD— you who say, “Who can come against us? Who can enter our refuge?”
14 I will punish you as your deeds deserve, declares the LORD. I will kindle a fire in your forests that will consume everything around you.’ ”

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 40

  • 1. 2 Kings 24:18; Jeremiah 52:1
  • 2. S 1 Chronicles 9:12; Jeremiah 38:1
  • 3. S 2 Kings 25:18; Jeremiah 29:25; Jeremiah 37:3
  • 4. S Genesis 25:22; S 2 Kings 22:18; Jeremiah 37:3,7
  • 5. S 2 Kings 25:1
  • 6. S Genesis 10:10
  • 7. Psalms 44:1-4; Jeremiah 32:17
  • 8. Jeremiah 32:5
  • 9. Jeremiah 37:8-10
  • 10. S Joshua 10:14; Ezekiel 5:8
  • 11. S 2 Kings 22:13; S Jeremiah 6:12
  • 12. S Exodus 3:20
  • 13. S Jeremiah 7:20
  • 14. S Jeremiah 14:12
  • 15. S 2 Kings 25:7; Jeremiah 52:9; Ezekiel 12:14
  • 16. Jeremiah 14:12; Jeremiah 27:8
  • 17. S 2 Chronicles 36:10; Jeremiah 27:6; Jeremiah 32:4; Jeremiah 34:3; Jeremiah 37:17; Jeremiah 38:18; Jeremiah 39:5; Ezekiel 29:19
  • 18. S Leviticus 26:17; S Jeremiah 19:9
  • 19. S Jeremiah 11:21
  • 20. S Jeremiah 15:9
  • 21. S 2 Chronicles 36:17; S Jeremiah 15:5; Ezekiel 7:9; Habakkuk 1:6
  • 22. S Deuteronomy 30:15
  • 23. Jeremiah 14:12; Ezekiel 5:12
  • 24. Jeremiah 27:11; Jeremiah 40:9
  • 25. Jeremiah 27:12; Jeremiah 38:2,17; Jeremiah 39:18; Jeremiah 45:5
  • 26. Jeremiah 44:11,27; Amos 9:4
  • 27. S Jeremiah 20:4; Jeremiah 32:28; Jeremiah 38:2-3
  • 28. S 2 Kings 25:9; S 2 Chronicles 36:19; Jeremiah 52:13
  • 29. S Jeremiah 13:18
  • 30. S Exodus 22:22; S Leviticus 25:17; Jeremiah 22:3
  • 31. S Psalms 27:11
  • 32. S Isaiah 42:25; S Jeremiah 10:10
  • 33. Jeremiah 23:2
  • 34. S Isaiah 1:31
  • 35. Jeremiah 23:30; Jeremiah 50:31; Jeremiah 51:25; Ezekiel 5:8; Ezekiel 13:8; Ezekiel 21:3; Ezekiel 29:10; Ezekiel 34:10; Nahum 2:13; Nahum 3:5
  • 36. Psalms 125:2
  • 37. 2 Samuel 5:6-7; Jeremiah 49:4; Lamentations 4:12; Obadiah 1:3-4
  • 38. S Proverbs 1:31; S Isaiah 3:10-11; S Jeremiah 17:10
  • 39. S 2 Chronicles 36:19; Jeremiah 52:13; Lamentations 2:3
  • 40. S 2 Kings 19:23; Ezekiel 20:47

Footnotes 2

  • [a]. Hebrew "Nebuchadrezzar," of which "Nebuchadnezzar" is a variant; here and often in Jeremiah and Ezekiel
  • [b]. Or "Chaldeans" ; also in verse 9

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

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