Jeremiah 34

Listen to Jeremiah 34
1 King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon came with all the armies from the kingdoms he ruled, and he fought against Jerusalem and the towns of Judah. At that time this message came to Jeremiah from the LORD :
2 “Go to King Zedekiah of Judah, and tell him, ‘This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: I am about to hand this city over to the king of Babylon, and he will burn it down.
3 You will not escape his grasp but will be captured and taken to meet the king of Babylon face to face. Then you will be exiled to Babylon.
4 “‘But listen to this promise from the LORD, O Zedekiah, king of Judah. This is what the LORD says: You will not be killed in war
5 but will die peacefully. People will burn incense in your memory, just as they did for your ancestors, the kings who preceded you. They will mourn for you, crying, “Alas, our master is dead!” This I have decreed, says the LORD .’”
6 So Jeremiah the prophet delivered the message to King Zedekiah of Judah.
7 At this time the Babylonian army was besieging Jerusalem, Lachish, and Azekah—the only fortified cities of Judah not yet captured.
8 This message came to Jeremiah from the LORD after King Zedekiah made a covenant with the people, proclaiming freedom for the slaves.
9 He had ordered all the people to free their Hebrew slaves—both men and women. No one was to keep a fellow Judean in bondage.
10 The officials and all the people had obeyed the king’s command,
11 but later they changed their minds. They took back the men and women they had freed, forcing them to be slaves again.
12 So the LORD gave them this message through Jeremiah:
13 “This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: I made a covenant with your ancestors long ago when I rescued them from their slavery in Egypt.
14 I told them that every Hebrew slave must be freed after serving six years. But your ancestors paid no attention to me.
15 Recently you repented and did what was right, following my command. You freed your slaves and made a solemn covenant with me in the Temple that bears my name.
16 But now you have shrugged off your oath and defiled my name by taking back the men and women you had freed, forcing them to be slaves once again.
17 “Therefore, this is what the LORD says: Since you have not obeyed me by setting your countrymen free, I will set you free to be destroyed by war, disease, and famine. You will be an object of horror to all the nations of the earth.
18 Because you have broken the terms of our covenant, I will cut you apart just as you cut apart the calf when you walked between its halves to solemnize your vows.
19 Yes, I will cut you apart, whether you are officials of Judah or Jerusalem, court officials, priests, or common people—for you have broken your oath.
20 I will give you to your enemies, and they will kill you. Your bodies will be food for the vultures and wild animals.
21 “I will hand over King Zedekiah of Judah and his officials to the army of the king of Babylon. And although they have left Jerusalem for a while,
22 I will call the Babylonian armies back again. They will fight against this city and will capture it and burn it down. I will see to it that all the towns of Judah are destroyed, with no one living 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.

Footnotes 1

  • [a]. Hebrew Nebuchadrezzar, a variant spelling of Nebuchadnezzar.

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