Jeremiah 34

Warning to Zedekiah

1 While Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon and all his army and all the kingdoms and peoples in the empire he ruled were fighting against Jerusalem and all its surrounding towns, this word came to Jeremiah from the LORD:
2 “This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: Go to Zedekiah king of Judah and tell him, ‘This is what the LORD says: I am about to give this city into the hands of the king of Babylon, and he will burn it down.
3 You will not escape from his grasp but will surely be captured and given into his hands. You will see the king of Babylon with your own eyes, and he will speak with you face to face. And you will go to Babylon.
4 “ ‘Yet hear the LORD’s promise to you, Zedekiah king of Judah. This is what the LORD says concerning you: You will not die by the sword;
5 you will die peacefully. As people made a funeral fire in honor of your predecessors, the kings who ruled before you, so they will make a fire in your honor and lament, “Alas, master!” I myself make this promise, declares the LORD.’ ”
6 Then Jeremiah the prophet told all this to Zedekiah king of Judah, in Jerusalem,
7 while the army of the king of Babylon was fighting against Jerusalem and the other cities of Judah that were still holding out—Lachish and Azekah. These were the only fortified cities left in Judah.

Freedom for Slaves

8 The word came to Jeremiah from the LORD after King Zedekiah had made a covenant with all the people in Jerusalem to proclaim freedom for the slaves.
9 Everyone was to free their Hebrew slaves, both male and female; no one was to hold a fellow Hebrew in bondage.
10 So all the officials and people who entered into this covenant agreed that they would free their male and female slaves and no longer hold them in bondage. They agreed, and set them free.
11 But afterward they changed their minds and took back the slaves they had freed and enslaved them again.
12 Then the word of the LORD came to Jeremiah:
13 “This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: I made a covenant with your ancestors when I brought them out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. I said,
14 ‘Every seventh year each of you must free any fellow Hebrews who have sold themselves to you. After they have served you six years, you must let them go free.’[a] Your ancestors, however, did not listen to me or pay attention to me.
15 Recently you repented and did what is right in my sight: Each of you proclaimed freedom to your own people. You even made a covenant before me in the house that bears my Name.
16 But now you have turned around and profaned my name; each of you has taken back the male and female slaves you had set free to go where they wished. You have forced them to become your slaves again.
17 “Therefore this is what the LORD says: You have not obeyed me; you have not proclaimed freedom to your own people. So I now proclaim ‘freedom’ for you, declares the LORD—‘freedom’ to fall by the sword, plague and famine. I will make you abhorrent to all the kingdoms of the earth.
18 Those who have violated my covenant and have not fulfilled the terms of the covenant they made before me, I will treat like the calf they cut in two and then walked between its pieces.
19 The leaders of Judah and Jerusalem, the court officials, the priests and all the people of the land who walked between the pieces of the calf,
20 I will deliver into the hands of their enemies who want to kill them. Their dead bodies will become food for the birds and the wild animals.
21 “I will deliver Zedekiah king of Judah and his officials into the hands of their enemies who want to kill them, to the army of the king of Babylon, which has withdrawn from you.
22 I am going to give the order, declares the LORD, and I will bring them back to this city. They will fight against it, take it and burn it down. And I will lay waste the towns of Judah so no one can live there.”

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 40

  • 1. Jeremiah 27:7
  • 2. 2 Kings 25:1; Jeremiah 39:1
  • 3. S 2 Chronicles 36:11
  • 4. ver 22; Jeremiah 32:29; Jeremiah 37:8
  • 5. S 2 Kings 25:7; S Jeremiah 21:7; Jeremiah 32:4
  • 6. Jeremiah 52:11
  • 7. S 2 Chronicles 16:14; 2 Chronicles 21:19
  • 8. Jeremiah 22:18
  • 9. S Joshua 10:3
  • 10. Joshua 10:10; 2 Chronicles 11:9
  • 11. S 2 Kings 11:17
  • 12. S Exodus 21:2; Lev 25:10,39-41; Nehemiah 5:5-8
  • 13. Deuteronomy 15:12-18; Leviticus 25:39-46
  • 14. Psalms 78:37
  • 15. S Exodus 24:8
  • 16. S Deuteronomy 15:15
  • 17. S Exodus 21:2
  • 18. Deuteronomy 15:12; 2 Kings 17:14; S Jeremiah 7:26
  • 19. ver 8
  • 20. S Jeremiah 7:10-11; Jeremiah 32:34
  • 21. Ezekiel 3:20; Ezekiel 18:24
  • 22. Exodus 20:7; S Leviticus 19:12
  • 23. S Matthew 7:2; Galatians 6:7
  • 24. Jeremiah 21:7
  • 25. S Jeremiah 14:12
  • 26. Deuteronomy 28:25,64; Jeremiah 15:4; S Jeremiah 24:9; S Jeremiah 29:18
  • 27. S Jeremiah 11:10
  • 28. S Genesis 15:10
  • 29. S Jeremiah 26:10; Zephaniah 3:3-4
  • 30. Jeremiah 21:7; Ezekiel 16:27; Ezekiel 23:28
  • 31. S Jeremiah 11:21
  • 32. S Deuteronomy 28:26; Jeremiah 7:33; Jeremiah 19:7
  • 33. S Jeremiah 32:4
  • 34. 2 Kings 25:21; Jeremiah 39:6; Jeremiah 52:24-27
  • 35. S Jeremiah 21:7
  • 36. S 2 Chronicles 36:10
  • 37. Jeremiah 37:5
  • 38. Jeremiah 39:1-2
  • 39. S Nehemiah 2:17; Jeremiah 38:18; Jeremiah 39:8; Ezekiel 23:47
  • 40. S Leviticus 26:32; S Isaiah 1:7

Footnotes 1

Chapter Summary

INTRODUCTION TO JEREMIAH 34

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