13 So Nebuzaradan the captain of the guard sent Nebushasban, Rabsaris, Nergal-Sharezer, Rabmag, and all the king of Babylon’s chief officers; 14 then they sent someone to take Jeremiah from the court of the prison, and committed him to Gedaliah the son of Ahikam, the son of Shaphan, that he should take him home. So he dwelt among the people.
40 The word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord after Nebuzaradan the captain of the guard had let him go from Ramah, when he had taken him bound in chains among all who were carried away captive from Jerusalem and Judah, who were carried away captive to Babylon.
There is a little bit of controversy about the story of the release of Jeremiah. Is Chapter 39 describing a first release of Jeremiah in Jerusalem and then Jeremiah is rounded later to be brought in chains to Ramah, a place somewhere approximately 5 miles north of Jerusalem. Chapter 40 would describe a second release of Jeremiah at Ramah.
What is more probable Jeremiah is describing the same event. The Chapter 39 description has less detail than the Chapter 40 description. The book of Jeremiah is a collection of essays by Jeremiah. The Chapter 40 introduction is necessary because the Chapter 39 description was not necessarily in the mind of the reader before the essays were collected and formed in the final book of Jeremiah.
The army of Nebuchadnezzar took captive the survivors in Jerusalem at a staging area in Ramah north of Jerusalem. Jeremiah was among the survivors. He had been found in the courtyard in Jerusalem brought in chains to Ramah. At Ramah the captains of the Babylonians were tasked with deciding the fate of the survivors.
Either the Babylonians were familiar with Jeremiah, by a spy network in the besieged city or through the testimony of deserter who fled Jerusalem before the conquest. Jeremiah was considered an ally of Babylon and afforded certain privileges. He was released from custody and allowed to decide his own fate.
The first verse says “The word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord.” What follows in Chapter 40 is not a prophesy from Jeremiah. It seems to be just a narrative of the final days after the fall of Jerusalem. In the context the words of the captain of Nebuchadnezzar is not considered a word from God. However in context the words of the captain are exactly what Jeremiah has been preaching for some twenty years. The Lord has brought doom on Jerusalem because they have continued in their sin and not repented.
7 The instant I speak concerning a nation and concerning a kingdom, to pluck up, to pull down, and to destroy it, 8 if that nation against whom I have spoken turns from its evil, I will relent of the disaster that I thought to bring upon it. 9 And the instant I speak concerning a nation and concerning a kingdom, to build and to plant it, 10 if it does evil in My sight so that it does not obey My voice, then I will relent concerning the good with which I said I would benefit it.
God through Jeremiah is constantly warning Israel to repent of their evil ways and turn onto God or God will destroy them. Israel is the evil nation whom God is threatening to destroy. The hope of God is that Israel will repent of their evil ways so God can turn back his prophesied wrath against Israel.
3 Perhaps everyone will listen and turn from his evil way, that I may relent concerning the calamity which I purpose to bring on them because of the evil of their doings.
There is a limit to God’s patience, he will eventually bring the evil upon his people that he had promised.
Therefore I will stretch out My hand against you and destroy you; I am weary of relenting!
The word of the captain of the guard is exactly what God had been promising to do to Israel. It is a confirmation of the call of Jeremiah. The word is coming through a nonbeliever.
This has happened before. Balaam said in Numbers 2319 “God is not a man, that He should lie, Nor a son of man, that He should repent. Has He said, and will He not do?.He prophesies doom for Balak and victory for Israel.
2 Chronicles 3521 But he sent messengers to him, saying, “What have I to do with you, king of Judah? I have not come against you this day, but against the house with which I have war; for God commanded me to make haste. Refrain from meddling with God, who is with me, lest He destroy you.”
Josiah was prophesied to die in peace but Josiah decided to fight a war that was none of his business. He warned by God through Pharoah Necho to stay out of the war but with arrogance he decided to fight against Pharoah Necho. Josiah lost his prophesied promise from God through his arrogance.
2 Chronicles 34
28 “Surely I will gather you to your fathers, and you shall be gathered to your grave in peace;
2 And the captain of the guard took Jeremiah and said to him: “The Lord your God has pronounced this doom on this place. 3 Now the Lord has brought it, and has done just as He said. Because you people have sinned against the Lord, and not obeyed His voice, therefore this thing has come upon you. 4 And now look, I free you this day from the chains that [a]were on your hand. If it seems good to you to come with me to Babylon, come, and I will look after you. But if it seems wrong for you to come with me to Babylon, remain here. See, all the land is before you; wherever it seems good and convenient for you to go, go there.”
Sometimes when a foreign army occupies a country, the crops are destroyed, the fields are salted, the and the land is unable to recover because of the ravages of the army. This is not what happened in the Babylonian occupation. There was a combination of depopulation and means of production that the poor people left behind were able to gather in abundance. The threat to the remnant of Israel was not the means of production and the resulting wealth. The threat was from the enemies of Israel who envious of that wealth.
For this reason the remnants of Jerusalem had to ally with a strong leader who could protest them and their interests. The logical resource would be Gedaliah who was appointed governor over Judah. Gedaliah was the grandson of Shaphan the scribe (2 Kings 22) who participated in the find of the Book of the law during the reign of Josiah. His son Ahikam who was Gedaliah’s father saved Jeremiah from the people when they sought to kill Jeremiah. (Jer. 26:24) Gedaliah had connections to the ruling class in Jerusalem and was allied with Jeremiah.
11 Likewise, when all the Jews who were in Moab, among the Ammonites, in Edom, and who were in all the countries, heard that the king of Babylon had left a remnant of Judah, and that he had set over them Gedaliah the son of Ahikam, the son of Shaphan, 12 then all the Jews returned out of all places where they had been driven, and came to the land of Judah, to Gedaliah at Mizpah, and gathered wine and summer fruit in abundance.
During the siege of Jerusalem some Judeans hid in the caves of Israel and others fled to neighboring countries to escape. Perhaps some served as vigilantes against Babylon during the siege. After the armies of Babylon left a Jerusalem that was burned and torn down, some of these refugees returned to Judah and naturally allied themselves with Gedaliah.
Although Gedaliah was a good political choice for Nebuchadnezzar he was not very good in judging the character of the people he was overseeing. Some people who had sought refuge from the Babylonians might owe some favors to the kings in the lands where refuge was obtained. In addition there might be some deep seated hatred of Babylon who had killed so many people and destroyed Jerusalem.
13 Moreover Johanan the son of Kareah and all the captains of the forces that were in the fields came to Gedaliah at Mizpah, 14 and said to him, [c]“Do you certainly know that Baalis the king of the Ammonites has sent Ishmael the son of Nethaniah to murder you?” But Gedaliah the son of Ahikam did not believe them.
15 Then Johanan the son of Kareah spoke secretly to Gedaliah in Mizpah, saying, “Let me go, please, and I will kill Ishmael the son of Nethaniah, and no one will know it. Why should he murder you, so that all the Jews who are gathered to you would be scattered, and the remnant in Judah perish?”
16 But Gedaliah the son of Ahikam said to Johanan the son of Kareah, “You shall not do this thing, for you speak falsely concerning Ishmael.”
Johanan perhaps from his own spies determined the real intentions of Ishmael. The political naivete of Gedaliah will lead to his own death and the death of many other Jews.
Now it came to pass in the seventh month that Ishmael the son of Nethaniah, the son of Elishama, of the royal [a]family and of the officers of the king, came with ten men to Gedaliah the son of Ahikam, at Mizpah. And there they ate bread together in Mizpah. 2 Then Ishmael the son of Nethaniah, and the ten men who were with him, arose and struck Gedaliah the son of Ahikam, the son of Shaphan, with the sword, and killed him whom the king of Babylon had made governor over the land. 3 Ishmael also struck down all the Jews who were with him, that is, with Gedaliah at Mizpah, and the Chaldeans who were found there, the men of war.
A leader of one of the raiders against Babylon who had not joined the defenders inside the walls of Jerusalem, aligned his band with Gedaliah. According to his intel Ishmael was conspiring with the king of Amman to assassinate Gedaliah. Gedaliah dismissed the accusation in wanton display of incredulity and self- deception.
The assassination was planned when Gedaliah was dining at his table and unprepared for an assault against his person. Ishmael the invited guest murdered his host with just ten other men, although Gedaliah had a protection squad of Chaldeans and the friendly presence of other Judeans. was caught off his guard and was defenseless. Perhaps Ishmael was armed and the people surrounding Gedaliah had no weapons available during the feast.
In Zechariah 7:5 the reference to the fast of the seventh month seems to be a reference to this murder which was in the seventh month. The people mourned the death of Gedaliah during the captivity. Gedaliah was responsible for more than just his own death. The text refers to all the Judeans with Gedaliah at Mizpah and the all the Chaldean there as well. Then eighty men come from various parts of Israel on a pilgrimage, in a blood lust of greed and exploitation Ishmael kills all but ten of these men. He does not even give them a decent burial but throws their corpses in a well. This murderous rampage seems more than simple revenge against Babylon. It indicates an avaricious appetite for wealth and power against people innocent of conspiring with Babylon.
Often David is portrayed by Christian scholars as paranoid in such verses as
12 Those also who seek my life lay snares for me; Those who seek my hurt speak of destruction, And plan deception all the day long.
14 Let them be ashamed and brought to mutual confusion Who seek to destroy my [a]life; Let them be driven backward and brought to dishonor Who wish me evil.
5 My enemies speak evil of me: “When will he die, and his name perish?” 6 And if he comes to see me, he speaks [c]lies;
From the couches of the commentators who dwell in secure countries with police and secure borders this may be paranoia but the history of the Bible and secular history is abundant in assassinations of kings and governors.
Sennacherib king of Assyria was assassinated in 681 BC.
32 Kings 19
6 So Sennacherib king of Assyria departed and went away, returned home, and remained at Nineveh. 37 Now it came to pass, as he was worshiping in the temple of Nisroch his god, that his sons Adrammelech and Sharezer struck him down with the sword; and they escaped into the land of Ararat. Then Esarhaddon his son reigned in his place.
Asa King of Judah in 870 BC
1 Kings 16
8 In the twenty-sixth year of Asa king of Judah, Elah the son of Baasha became king over Israel, and reigned two years in Tirzah. 9 Now his servant Zimri, commander of half his chariots, conspired against him as he was in Tirzah drinking himself drunk in the house of Arza, steward[c] of his house in Tirzah. 10 And Zimri went in and struck him and killed him in the twenty-seventh year of Asa king of Judah, and reigned in his place.
Nadab King of Israel 909 BC
1 Kings 15
25 Now Nadab the son of Jeroboam became king over Israel in the second year of Asa king of Judah, and he reigned over Israel two years. 26 And he did evil in the sight of the Lord, and walked in the way of his father, and in his sin by which he had made Israel sin.
27 Then Baasha the son of Ahijah, of the house of Issachar, conspired against him. And Baasha killed him at Gibbethon
Amon King of Judah 641 BC
2 Kings 21
19 Amon was twenty-two years old when he became king, and he reigned two years in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Meshullemeth the daughter of Haruz of Jotbah. 20 And he did evil in the sight of the Lord, as his father Manasseh had done. 21 So he walked in all the ways that his father had walked; and he served the idols that his father had served, and worshiped them. 22 He forsook the Lord God of his fathers, and did not walk in the way of the Lord.
23 Then the servants of Amon conspired against him, and killed the king in his own house.
Perhaps because of this murder the third deportation of Jews to Babylon occurred. There were three deportations of Jews to Babylon. The first deportation was in 597 at the death of Jehoiakim and the surrender of Jerusalem by his son Jehoiachin. Eleven years later Jerusalem was conquered under Zedekiah 586 BC. According to Jeremiah 52:30 5 years after the fall of Jerusalem the third deportation occurred. The timing is consistent with the assassination.
During the Jewish captivity in Babylon the Jews observed a fast to remember this tragedy (Zech. 7:5; 8:19).
Why was Ishmael able to overcome eighty men with only ten men? He used deception by pretending grief, even putting on an act of mourning. He lies to the men by greeting them with a reference to Gedaliah. The pilgrims who may not have been armed were taken by surprise at a vulnerable moment.
The assassination of Gedaliah was at Mizpah about 5 miles north of Jerusalem. The eighty pilgrims were from Shechem, Shiloh and Samaria between 10 and fifty miles north of Jerusalem. King Asa had use the defensive works of Ramah, a city of his enemy Baasha, to build the fortified works of Mizpah. Recent excavations at el- Jib which is s 6 miles northwest of Jerusalem found a large pit feet deep with steps carved on its sides. This could have been the pit mentioned at Mizpah.
Once Johanan was informed of the murders committed by Ishmael he initiated a chase of the murderers. Since Gedaliah had a retinue of captives, he moved slower than Johanan. He caught up with the captives and Ishmael at the pool of Gibeon. This is not far from Mizpah, it north of Jerusalem and just a few miles from Mizpah.
The pool is a famous place in the life of David. Twelve men of David and twelve men of Abner lined up in a duel between the two groups. Each man drew their swords and killed his rival in one motion, with all twenty-four dying.
It is not readily apparent if there was an actual battle or not but Johanan caused Ishmael to flee and he escaped with 8 men, two short of the original 10.
1 In the ninth year of Zedekiah king of Judah, in the tenth month, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon marched against Jerusalem with his whole army and laid siege to it. 2 And on the ninth day of the fourth month of Zedekiah’s eleventh year, the city wall was broken through. 3 Then all the officials of the king of Babylon came and took seats in the Middle Gate: Nergal-Sharezer of Samgar, Nebo-Sarsekim a chief officer, Nergal-Sharezer a high official and all the other officials of the king of Babylon.
Zedekiah has been resisting Nebuchadnezzar for eighteen months. The food is gone, the wall is breached, he is looking at princes of Babylon sitting at a gate just a few feet away from his last line of defense. Jerusalem did not have a single wall but there are several walls within walls. These secondary lines of defense were designed to give refuge in case of a breach in the outer wall. Maybe Zedekiah was on the Temple Mount with a last stand inside the city but now even that temporary security was destroyed with the food supply. The text does not say but there is tunnel underneath the city which leads from the Gihon Springs to the Pool of Siloam.
4 So it was, when Zedekiah the king of Judah and all the men of war saw them, that they fled and went out of the city by night, by way of the king’s garden, by the gate between the two walls. And he went out by way of the ]plain. 5 But the Chaldean army pursued them and overtook Zedekiah in the plains of Jericho.
This flight happened at night to avoid detection from the Babylonian army surrounding Jerusalem. The king’s garden is mentioned as being next to the Pool of Siloam was on the southern most part of the Old City. (Nehemiah 3:15) When Hezekiah was besieged by the Assyrians in 701 BC the water sources including the Gihon Springs were outside of the city. Where was this gate, the double wall and the king’s garden?
15 Shallun the son of Col-Hozeh, leader of the district of Mizpah, repaired the Fountain Gate; he built it, covered it, hung its doors with its bolts and bars, and repaired the wall of the Pool of Shelah[a] by the King’s Garden, as far as the stairs that go down from the City of David.
The Pool of Siloam is a recent archeological find. In 2004 some workmen were digging a ditch for a drainage pipe but hit a large stone under the dirt. The stone was carved and looked like a building stone. Archaeologists Eli Shukrun and Ronny Reich investigated a found a series of steps leading to a pool the size of two football fields. This was the pool of Siloam.
According to the Bible, King Hezekiah prepared Jerusalem for an impending siege by the Assyrians, by “blocking the source of the waters of the upper Gihon, and leading them straight down on the west to the City of David” (2 Chronicles 32:30). By diverting the waters of the Gihon, he prevented the enemy forces under Sennacherib from having access to water.
2 Chronicles 32:4
4 They gathered a large group of people who blocked all the springs and the stream that flowed through the land. “Why should the kings[a] of Assyria come and find plenty of water?” they said.5 Then he worked hard repairing all the broken sections of the wall and building towers on it. He built another wall outside that one and reinforced the terraces[b] of the City of David.
2 Kings 22
20 Now the rest of the acts of Hezekiah—all his might, and how he made a pool and a tunnel and brought water into the city—are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Judah?
In 1880 while exploring the tunnel an inscription was found on the walls of tunnel. It is Hebrew written in an old alphabet. The inscription read
2. the pickaxes one against the other. And when there were only three cubits more to cut through, the men were heard
3. calling from one side to the other; [for] there was zedah in the rock, on the right and on the left. And on the day of
4. piercing the workmen struck each to meet the other, pickax against pickax. And there flowed
5. the waters from the spring to the pool for a space of 200 cubits. And
6. cubits was the height over the head of the workmen.
According to the inscription, the workman started from opposite sides of the tunnel and met in the middle which is a technical feat admired by modern geologists.
The double wall is explained by an older wall protecting the city and an additional wall built around the springs of water. There was a gate next to the pool which lead to the king’s garden. Today this gate is under the Dung Gate in modern Jerusalem.
Zedekiah and his men would have left on foot, perhaps all the horses were killed for food.
2 Kings 25
3 By the ninth day of the fourth month the famine had become so severe in the city that there was no food for the people of the land.
Zedekiah and his army ran though the Kidron Valley up the Mount of Olives toward Jericho. The most direct route to Jericho from the Kidron Valley is eighteen miles. Today the way is rough under desert conditions. There is an old Roman road that is fourteen miles from the mountains into the plain of Jericho. Zedekiah and his army would be fleeing on foot through a desert form at least fourteen miles under hot pursuit by an overwhelming army.
The route is downhill with a vertical displacement of some 3,430 feet. The Temple Mount in Jerusalem is 2.450 feet above sea level, the summits of the Mount of Olives is 2,710 feet in elevation. The plain of Jericho lies about 720 feet below sea level. Most of the distance would have been over rough boulders and gravel sandstone. At best the trip would have taken about eight hours. Zedekiah although famished would have moved on by desperation. His sons were captured, perhaps they were with him, but there is no mention of the wives and children.
1.Now King Zedekiah the son of Josiah reigned instead of Coniah the son of Jehoiakim
Zedekiah was the last king of Judah who reigned from 597-586 BC. According to 2 Kings 25:1-2 Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon began his siege against Jerusalem in the ninth year of his reign the tenth month and completed his capture of Jerusalem in the eleventh year of the fourth month. This is 18 months of war against Jerusalem. During these 18 months Pharaoh marched against Babylon to relieve the siege of Jerusalem. Babylon withdrew from Jerusalem to face the army of Egypt. Apparently Egypt withdrew from the confrontation and Babylon returned to Jerusalem.
However during this respite from the siege of Jerusalem Jeremiah was commanded by God to buy a field from his cousin.
6 Jeremiah said, “The word of the Lord came to me: 7 Hanamel son of Shallum your uncle is going to come to you and say, ‘Buy my field at Anathoth, because as nearest relative it is your right and duty to buy it.’
When Jeremiah was about to leave Jerusalem to take physical possession of the property the captain of the guard stopped Jeremiah with the false charge “You are deserting to the Babylonians!” The guard who made the claim was Irijah the son of Shelemiah, the son of Hananiah. Hananiah was the priest who challenged Jeremiah’s prophesy about Jerusalem in the yoke metaphor by breaking the wooden yoke. Jeremiah prophesied Hananiah would die for this act and in fact Hananiah died a few months later. There might have been some payback in the false charges against Jeremiah.
Of course Jeremiah’s denial of desertion was not aided by his prophesies of the coming disaster to Jerusalem.
Jeremiah 37 8 And the Chaldeans shall come back and fight against this city, and take it and burn it with fire.” ’
Zedekiah sought the advice from Jeremiah at least twice. Once before the retreat of the Babylonians and once after their return.
3 And Zedekiah the king sent Jehucal the son of Shelemiah, and Zephaniah the son of Maaseiah, the priest, to the prophet Jeremiah, saying, “Pray now to the Lord our God for us.”
After the retreat and after Jeremiah was forced into the cistern
16 When Jeremiah entered the dungeon and the cells, and Jeremiah had remained there many days, 17 then Zedekiah the king sent and took him out. The king asked him secretly in his house, and said, “Is there any word from the Lord?”
The answer was the same in both situations: Before the retreat
7 “This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: Tell the king of Judah, who sent you to inquire of me, ‘Pharaoh’s army, which has marched out to support you, will go back to its own land, to Egypt. 8 Then the Babylonians will return and attack this city; they will capture it and burn it down.’
When Babylon returned After the retreat
17 Then King Zedekiah sent for him and had him brought to the palace, where he asked him privately, “Is there any word from the Lord?”
“Yes,” Jeremiah replied, “you will be delivered into the hands of the king of Babylon.”
Jeremiah was in a dungeon. The prophets who lied to King Zedekiah about Babylon were walking around free. Jeremiah had everything to gain by lying to King Zedekiah but Jeremiah remained true to the Lord and prophesied the truth about Babylon. Nevertheless the King release Jeremiah from the underground cistern to a better detainment above ground in the courtyard.
It is clear from the context that King Zedekiah was afraid of the ruling class nobles in Jerusalem. Was this from an inherent weakness in the King or was it simply prudent political action or a combination of both. Afterall Zedekiah had been placed in as king by Babylon after the fall of Jerusalem in 599. The ruling class had made Jehoiachin the son of Jehoiakim king. Jehoiakim had been put into power by Pharoah Necho but switched allegiance to Babylon in 605 after Babylon had defeated Egypt at Carchemish. When Babylon had a failed invasion of Egypt sometime between 605 and 599 Jehoiakim switched alliances again back to Egypt.
24 Then Zedekiah said to Jeremiah, “Do not let anyone know about this conversation, or you may die. 25 If the officials hear that I talked with you, and they come to you and say, ‘Tell us what you said to the king and what the king said to you; do not hide it from us or we will kill you,’ 26 then tell them, ‘I was pleading with the king not to send me back to Jonathan’s house to die there.’”
Chapter 38 seems to be the same story told in Chapter 37.
The timing seems to coincide just before the fall of Jerusalem
Jeremiah 37 21 King Zedekiah then gave orders for Jeremiah to be placed in the courtyard of the guard and given a loaf of bread from the street of the bakers each day until all the bread in the city was gone. So Jeremiah remained in the courtyard of the guard.
Jeremiah 3828 And Jeremiah remained in the courtyard of the guard until the day Jerusalem was captured. This is how Jerusalem was taken:
Jeremiah prophesied the same prophesy before his arrest
7 “This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: Tell the king of Judah, who sent you to inquire of me, ‘Pharaoh’s army, which has marched out to support you, will go back to its own land, to Egypt. 8 Then the Babylonians will return and attack this city; they will capture it and burn it down.’
Jeremiah 38 ‘Whoever stays in this city will die by the sword, famine or plague, but whoever goes over to the Babylonians[b] will live. They will escape with their lives; they will live.’3 And this is what the Lord says: ‘This city will certainly be given into the hands of the army of the king of Babylon, who will capture it.’”
The nobles of Jerusalem appealed to the king to imprison Jeremiah
Jeremiah 37 15 They were angry with Jeremiah and had him beaten and imprisoned in the house of Jonathan the secretary, which they had made into a prison.
Jeremiah 38 4 Then the officials said to the king, “This man should be put to death. He is discouraging the soldiers who are left in this city, as well as all the people, by the things he is saying to them. This man is not seeking the good of these people but their ruin.”… 6 So they took Jeremiah and put him into the cistern
Zedekiah in inquired of Jeremiah after his imprisonment
Jeremiah 37 17 Then King Zedekiah sent for him and had him brought to the palace, where he asked him privately, “Is there any word from the Lord?”
Jeremiah 38 14 Then King Zedekiah sent for Jeremiah the prophet and had him brought to the third entrance to the temple of the Lord. “I am going to ask you something,” the king said to Jeremiah. “Do not hide anything from me.”
After his conversation with Zedekiah Jeremiah was released from the underground prison to the courtyard.
21 King Zedekiah then gave orders for Jeremiah to be placed in the courtyard of the guard
Jeremiah 38 13 and they pulled him up with the ropes and lifted him out of the cistern. And Jeremiah remained in the courtyard of the guard.
Differences between Jeremiah 37 and 38
Chapter 37 does not mention Ebed-Melek the Cushite who pulled Jeremiah from the cistern with the help of guards.
The prison is Chapter 37 is called “in the house of Jonathan the scribe” which seems to bea forbidden place that threatened the life of Jeremiah. In Chapter 38:6 they put Jeremiah into “the put him into the cistern of Malkijah.” But in Chapter 38:26 he explains to the nobles that he does not want to be sent back to “Jonathan’s house to die there.”
The cistern of Malkijah seems to be the same place as Jonathon’s house.
At the start of Jeremiah 36 what is particularly present is the similarity between the message of Jeremiah 26:3 and Jeremiah 36:3. Three phrases are repeated word for word, letter for letter and vowel point for vowel point. In English:
Perhaps they will hear of all the evil which I thought to do to them each man will turn from his evil way
Jeremiah 36:3 NKJV It may be that the house of Judah will hear all the adversities which I purpose to bring upon them, that everyone may turn from his evil way, that I may forgive their iniquity and their sin.”
Jeremiah 26:3 Craig C Fisher version Perhaps they will hearand each man will turn from his evil way and I will repent from all the evil which I thought to do to them because of the evil of their doings.
Jeremiah 26:3 NKJV 3 Perhaps everyone will listen and turn from his evil way, that I may relent concerning the calamity which I purpose to bring on them because of the evil of their doings.
Just a glance at the Hebrew, the phrases in bold are repeated word for word in both chapters. Each verse starts with “perhaps they will listen.” The use of the word for perhaps is defined in Strongs as “perhaps, usually expressing a hope” or “it expresses the protasis” of a conditional clause. The protasis is the grounds upon which the conclusion is yielded. In this case “If they repent” (protasis) then “I will repent of the evil I purposed to bring on them” (apodosis).
The verb for they will hear( יִשְׁמְע֔וּ) is in the imperfect tense which can be described as a contingent or hypothetical mood.
At other times, the imperfect may assume a subjunctive or hypothetical mood, describing a dependent situation that is only contingent or possible.
Arnold, Bill T.; Choi, John H.. A Guide to Biblical Hebrew Syntax (p. 69). Cambridge University Press. Kindle Edition.
How do the Calvinists respond to these conditional statements? John Calvin was a proponent of Exhaustive Devine Determinism (EDD). Immutability is the foundation of this view. God is perfect, the perfect cannot change since any change would be less than perfect. God’s knowledge is perfect. Therefore God cannot obtain any new knowledge, God must know everything that has existed, now exists and will exist in the future. This philosophy is not in the Bible, it is from Plato’s Republic. there can be no conditional, subjunctive or hypothetical situations. EDD claims God created every future event and therefore the future event is known with certainty. The classical theologian believes God is timeless and is able to see and experience the future as certain as God sees and experiences the present.
Here are excerpts from Calvin’s commentary on the companion verse of Jeremiah 26.
We now see what God’s design was, even that he wished to give those Jews the hope of mercy who were altogether irreclaimable, so that they might not reject what he taught on hearing that it would be for their good….
By saying ‘vly, auli, “if peradventure,” he made use of a common mode of speaking. God indeed has perfect knowledge of all events, nor had he any doubt respecting what would take place, when the prophets had discharged their duties; …
As to God’s repentance, of which mention is made, there is no need of long explanation. No change belongs to God; but when God is said to turn away his wrath, it is to be understood in a sense suitable to the comprehension of men:….
Calvin calls God a liar. He designed a statement to give hope to those people who were beyond salvation which Calvin says are “irreclaimable.” If God knows the future exhaustively, he knows the people addressed in Jeremiah 26 & 36 are irreclaimable. Therefore there is no hope to give.
John Calvin knows what the Bible says. He translates the word ‘vly, auli (perhaps) correctly but he uses deception to call this a lie. He believes God is using a common expression to express just the opposite of what the expression means. There is no doubt that God knows the future exhaustively so the word perhaps means something else.
Cavin also denies the words of God, “that I may relent.” The word translated relent here really means repent as Calvin admits but Calvin denies that God repents or relents. The exegetical method of denying God’s Word is “there is no need of long explanation. No change belongs to God.” Incredulity is used as an excuse for exegesis. In Geneva at the time of Calvin his words were declared to be on par with the Word of God. No dissent was allowed at the expense of trial resulting in exile or death. What are the excuses of modern Calvinists who under no such threat?
Here is the logic of his philosophy. God does not change, his knowledge never changes if God was in time his knowledge would change as time progresses, therefore God is not in time.
There are no Scriptural philosophies or verses supporting this philosophy. There is a philosophy which propounds this logic. It is called Platonism.
Socrates in a dialogue with Adeimantus The Republic by Plato Book II
But surely God and the things of God are in every way perfect?
Of course they are.
Then he can hardly be compelled by external influence to take many shapes?
But may he not change and transform himself?
Clearly, he said, that must be the case if he is changed at all.
And will he then change himself for the better and fairer, or for the worse and more unsightly?
If he change at all he can only change for the worse, for we cannot suppose him to be deficient either in virtue or beauty.
In Platonism God is perfect, meaning he cannot change. In his explanation of Jeremiah 26:3 John Calvin admits to this same philosophy: No change belongs to God.
Thus a close enough definition of Eternity would be that it is a life limitless in the full sense of being all the life there is and a life which, knowing nothing of past or future to shatter its completeness, possesses itself intact for ever.
Plotinus, The Six Enneads, trans. Stephen MacKenna and B. S. Page III.7.5.13
When we attribute prescience to God, we mean that all things always were, and ever continue, under his eye; that to his knowledge there is no past or future, but all things are present, and indeed so present, that it is not merely the idea of them that is before him (as those objects are which we retain in our memory), but that he truly sees and contemplates them as actually under his immediate inspection.
Calvin, John, Institutes of Christian Religion,trans. Henry Beveridge (Peabody, Mass: Hendrickson Publishers, Inc., 2008-11), 609-610 (Book III, Chapter 21, Section 5)
Both John Calvin and Plotinus believe God’s knowledge has no past or future. John Calvin came to these beliefs through Augustine. Augustine’s philosophy was from the Platonists via Plotinus. These philosophies were not merely correlative or similar in nature but were causative. John Calvin believed these philosophies because Augustine believed them. Augustine believed these philosophies because the Platonists believed them.
Chapters 26-29 Historical Narrative during reigns of Jehoiakim and Zedekiah
Chapters 30-33 Hope for Israel
Chapters 34-45 Siege and Destruction of Jerusalem
Chapters 46-51 Judgement of the Nations
Chapter 52 Fall of Jerusalem
Chapter 29 is the end of the historical narrative during the reigns of Jehoiakim and Zedekiah. The question must be asked “What is the purpose of Jeremiah’s ministry? Often Christians will attempt to overlay their dispensational calling of faith in Jesus and salvation apart from works into the books of the prophets. Yet the words for faith and belief in Jeremiah are almost nonexistent. Perhaps the use of the word salvation in Jeremiah is telling” Jeremiah 3:23
Truly, in vain is salvation hoped for from the hills, And from the multitude of mountains; Truly, in the Lord our God Is the salvation of Israel.
The salvation of Israel is a political salvation from the nations coercing and taking Israel captive. This is not a salvation from eternal damnation for the souls of individual persons in Israel. This dispensation of Jeremiah, the obligations of Israel and the blessings promised as a result of the failure or success of Israel, should be kept in mind.
What does Yahweh expect from Israel? He expects to do deeds in keeping with the covenant given in Deuteronomy.
do not oppress the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow, and do not shed innocent blood in this place, or walk after other gods to your hurt, 7 then I will cause you to dwell in this place, in the land that I gave to your fathers forever and ever.
9 Will you steal, murder, commit adultery, swear falsely, burn incense to Baal, and walk after other gods whom you do not know,
26 “Behold, I set before you today a blessing and a curse: 27 the blessing, if you obey the commandments of the Lord your God which I command you today; 28 and the curse, if you do not obey the commandments of the Lord your God, but turn aside from the way which I command you today, to go after other gods which you have not known.
Jeremiah’s call was a warning to the people to follow the commandments of God. The reward was a temporal reward of land and prosperity. This was the Deuteronomic covenant modified slightly by the promises made to David; the Davidic covenant. Jeremiah 29 begins as a reminder to Israel of their punishment for forsaking their covenant responsibilities. They are facing the curse of Deuteronomy.
29 Now these are the words of the letter that Jeremiah the prophet sent from Jerusalem to the remainder of the elders who were carried away captive—to the priests, the prophets, and all the people whom Nebuchadnezzar had carried away captive from Jerusalem to Babylon. 2 (This happened after Jeconiah[a] the king, the queen mother, the [b]eunuchs, the princes of Judah and Jerusalem, the craftsmen, and the smiths had departed from Jerusalem.) 3 The letter was sent by the hand of Elasah the son of Shaphan, and Gemariah the son of Hilkiah, whom Zedekiah king of Judah sent to Babylon, to Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, saying,
This is a letter from Jeremiah, that was carried by the hand of two couriers who also carried official business letters from Zedekiah, the king of Jerusalem to Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon. Doubtless the primary purpose of the couriers was delivering some message between Zedekiah and Nebuchadnezzar. It is not known if Jeremiah’s letter was delivered with the knowledge of Zedekiah or simple a favor between Jeremaih and the house of Shaphan. Since this was before the rebellion of Zedekiah, this dates the letter in the early years of Zedekiah’s reign from 598-595 BC. This is the only mention of these two people but their families have a full history in Judah.
The father Hilkiah was the high priest who found the “Book of the Law” in the temple during Josiah’s temple renovation. Hilkiah then gave the scroll to the scribe Shaphan, who read the scroll and delivered it to King Josiah. King Josiah whose subsequent repentance and reformation made him perhaps the best king outside of David that Israel ever had.
2 Kings 22:8
Then Hilkiah the high priest said to Shaphan the scribe, “I have found the Book of the Law in the house of the Lord.” And Hilkiah gave the book to Shaphan, and he read it.
The sons of Shaphan (Hbr rat), Elasah (Hbr the doings of God), Gemariah (Hbr perfection of the Lord) and Ahikam (Hbr brother who raises up) were to play an instrumental role in the ministry of Jeremiah(Hbr exaltation of the Lord). The family functioned as part of the ruling class but offered overt and covert support to Jeremiah. Elasah is not mentioned again. Ahikam saved Jeremiah from a lynching previously.
Jer 2624 Nevertheless the hand of Ahikam the son of Shaphan was with Jeremiah, so that they should not give him into the hand of the people to put him to death.
Another brother of Elasah, Gemariah was an official in Zedekiah’s court. His son Michaiah ( the son of Gemariah, the son of Shaphan) heard the words of the book that Jeremiah’s scribe Baruch had written of Jeremiah’s prophesy. The family hid Baruch and perhaps Jeremiah, then forwarded the book to Zedekiah the king. In an act of defiance Zedekiah cut the book into pieces and threw it into the fire. To his credit Gemariah protested the burning but he was given a subtle admonishment. He did not tear his garments.
11 When Michaiah the son of Gemariah, the son of Shaphan, heard all the words of the Lord from the book, 12 he then went down to the king’s house, into the scribe’s chamber; and there all the princes were sitting—Elishama the scribe, Delaiah the son of Shemaiah, Elnathan the son of Achbor, Gemariah the son of Shaphan, Zedekiah the son of Hananiah, and all the princes…
23 And it happened, when Jehudi had read three or four columns, that the king cut it with the scribe’s knife and cast it into the fire that was on the hearth, until all the scroll was consumed in the fire that was on the hearth… 25 Nevertheless Elnathan, Delaiah, and Gemariah implored the king not to burn the scroll; but he would not listen to them.”
Gedaliah, the son of Ahikam, the son of Shapham was made governor of Judah after the fall of Jerusalem.
2 Kings 25:22 Then he made Gedaliah the son of Ahikam, the son of Shaphan, governor over the people who remained in the land of Judah, whom Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon had left.
Now Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon gave charge concerning Jeremiah to Nebuzaradan, the captain of the guard committed him to Gedaliah the son of Ahikam, the son of Shaphan, that he should take him home. So he dwelt among the people.
The sons and grandsons of Shaphan seem to be allies of Jeremiah.
Now back to the letter. Jeremiah’s commission was over the nation to (Jeremiah 1:10)
To root out and to pull down, To destroy and to throw down, To build and to plant.”
To those who were deported to Babylon he promises to build and to plant. He encourages them to take wives, bear children and build vineyards and homes. The famous plan to spend seventy years in Babylon was repeated in this letter. After the seventy years God will gather Israel back to Jerusalem. To those who were still in Jerusalem and resisting Babylon he promises to root out, pull down, and destroy. He promises to pursue them with sword, famine and pestilence.
There is a problem with the captives in Babylon. Some false prophets are promising a quick return to Jerusalem. These false prophets include Ahab the son of Kolaiah and Zedekiah the son of Maaseiah. Zedekiah may be the brother of the current high priest of Jerusalem who is Zephaniah the son of Maaseiah the priest. As with the false prophet of Hananiah in Jeremiah 28 the Lord promises death to these men. In addition to their false prophesies the Lord accuses them of adultery with their neighbor’s lives. Jeremiah prophesies the awful death by fire in the revenge of Nebuchadnezzar.
Another false prophet or elder sends a letter back with Shemaiah the Nehelamite in the hands of Elasah the son of Shaphan, and Gemariah the son of Hilkiah. He requests the high priest of Jerusalem to use his power to imprison and force into stocks, the prophet Jeremiah. Shemiah calls Jeremiah demented. The high priest Zephaniah, the brother of Zedekiah the son of Maaseiah, reads the letter to Jeremiah but does not imprison Jeremiah. Perhaps he remembers Hananiah the last false prophet, who died as a result from the prophesy of Jeremiah.
25 Thus speaks the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, saying: You have sent letters in your name to all the people who are at Jerusalem, to Zephaniah the son of Maaseiah the priest, and to all the priests, saying, 26 “The Lord has made you priest instead of Jehoiada the priest, so that there should be officers in the house of the Lord over every man who is demented and considers himself a prophet, that you should put him in prison and in the stocks.
The Lord not only sentences Shemaiah to death but curses his descendants. This is the last chapter in an historical series of chapters in Jeremiah 29 to 29. The rejection of the word of the Lord has consequences. Yahweh choses his own prophets and those prophets who self proclaim are condemned. In every case judgment follows rejection and blessings follow obedience. The covenant of Yahweh with Israel is a national covenant of cursing and blessing. This is not a covenant of salvation or damnation for the individual.
29 Now Zephaniah the priest read this letter in the hearing of Jeremiah the prophet. 30 Then the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah, saying: 31 Send to all those in captivity, saying, Thus says the Lord concerning Shemaiah the Nehelamite: Because Shemaiah has prophesied to you, and I have not sent him, and he has caused you to trust in a lie— 32 therefore thus says the Lord: Behold, I will punish Shemaiah the Nehelamite and his [c]family: he shall not have anyone to dwell among this people, nor shall he see the good that I will do for My people, says the Lord, because he has taught rebellion against the Lord.
Chiasmus is a literary device where a sequence of ideas is presented and then repeated in reverse order. The term comes from the Greek capital letter X. In Jeremiah 30 there are two ideas: the promise of salvation and warnings of suffering. If promise of salvation is labeled as “A” and the warnings of suffering are labeled as “B” were can depict this chiasmus as follows: A(30:1-3) Promise of Salvation B(30:4-7) Warning of Suffering A(30:8-11) Promise of Salvation B(30:12-16) Warning of Suffering A(17-24) Promise of Salvation The first pericope sets up the poetic prophesies that follow. The first verse is a formula that is common to Jeremiah and sets up the authority and importance of what follows. The authority is not an invention of Jeremiah but it is a message from God. Jeremiah 30:1
The word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord, saying
This formula, the word, comes to Jeremiah and the source in the Lord, is also in Jeremiah 7:1, 11:1, and 36:1. This name for God is his personal name Yahweh. The second verse is also a formula identifying the verse that follow as being a product of God of Israel. This is to stress the personal God or Yahweh is also the God of Israel. This sets up not only the authority of God over Israel but the personal relationship that Israel has for God. Israel is the chosen people of God, chosen not for salvation but for a personal relationship with God. The other nations of world do not have this special relationship. This second formula is repeated in verses 28:2 and 29:25.
“Thus speaks the LordGod of Israel, saying: ‘Write in a book for yourself all the words that I have spoken to you.
The title “LordGod” is repeated in the Old Testament 1582 times in New Kings James Bible. In the Hebrew this is Yahweh Elohim. When the word Lord is seen in the Old Testament it is in two forms. Lord in small caps Lord from YHWH (pronounced Yahweh) and Lord in small letters from Adonai. The word Adonai is used more frequently in the Old Testament as the owners or masters of slaves. It is also used of God. When Aaron made the golden calf, a false god, and proclaimed “Tomorrow is a feast to the Lord (YHWH)” this drew an immediate response of revenge from God. He threatened to kill the people of Israel. This name of YHWH is the personal name of God and is not to be used lightly. The third commandment is you shall not take the name of your God, YHWH in vain.
The command for a prophet to “write in a book” is only given to Jeremiah, Moses (Exodus 17:14) and John (Revelation 1:11). This is an unusual command does it indicate a special relationship Jeremiah had to God? As it could not be emphasized enough these are the words spoken to Jeremiah from God.
3 For behold, the days are coming,’ says the Lord, ‘that I will bring back from captivity My people Israel and Judah,’ says the Lord. ‘And I will cause them to return to the land that I gave to their fathers, and they shall possess it.’ ”
This clearly a prophesy of events which are yet to come. As this cannot be emphasized enough the refrain is repeated “says the LORD,” God is speaking in the present. He is not in the eternal now looking at a future event that he already has performed. God “will bring back” .he will preform an event that has not already happened at a future time. He does not see the event happening, he is promising the fulfillment of the event because he is powerful enough to make it happen.
4 Now these are the words that the Lord spoke concerning Israel and Judah.
5 “For thus says the Lord:
It may be supposed that the redundancy of emphasizing “these are the words of the Lord” has not been sufficient these ideas are again repeated in verses 4 and 5. There is some additional information. The prophesy is to both Israel and Judah. Both Israel in 722 BC and Judah in 599 BC had suffered deportation: Israel to Assyria and Judah to Babylon. In verse 3 God will cause both to return to land of their fathers. This is the land of present day Israel where Jerusalem is located. This is not a promise to a future church of Gentiles to inherit the land of Israel but it is a promise to a chosen people to possess a specific space of land in the Middle East. Unfortunately, some present day Protestants and Catholics believe in Replacement Theology. The present church will replace the people of Israel as the beneficiary of all the promises in the Old Testament.
Paul is clear, the body of Christ is grafted into the vine of Israel as far as salvation.
But through their fall, to provoke them to jealousy, salvation has come to the Gentiles.
The promise of the land and the return of Israel to the land is still a promise to the people of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
my countrymen according to the flesh, 4 who are Israelites, to whom pertain the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the service of God, and the promises;
Israel still has the promises of the land.
Now for the poetic pericope of Jeremiah 30:5-7.
‘We have heard a voice of trembling, Of [a]fear, and not of peace. 6 Ask now, and see, Whether a [b]man is ever in [c]labor with child? So why do I see every man with his hands on his loins Like a woman in labor, And all faces turned pale? 7 Alas! For that day is great, So that none is like it; And it is the time of Jacob’s trouble, But he shall be saved out of it.
In English poetry is a balance of sound and phonetic rhythm. Nursery rhymes are a simple form of this balance of sound.
Hush, little Baby, don’t say a word, _ . . _ . _ _ . _ Mama’s gonna buy you a Mockingbird.
_ . . _ _ . _ . _
Notice the variation of the stress words “_” with the non stressed words “.”. It almost the same and the end of the syllable rhymes.
Hebrew poetry is balance of thought with logical rhythm. The poetic form is where one line is parallel to another.
‘We have heard a voice of trembling, Of [a]fear, and not of peace.
These verses are a combination of parallelism and ellipsis. In ellipses some words in the sentence are omitted but the reader understands what words are needed to make the grammatical sentence complete.
We have heard a voice of trembling
We have heard a voice of fear
We have not heard a voice of peace.
In the first two stiches trembling and fear have synonymous meanings. They mean almost the same thing. In the next two verses fear and peace are antithetic. They have opposite meanings. These are labeled synonymous parallelism and antithetical parallelism. Three lines are called a tristich. Understanding the poetry aids the reader in understanding the pericope. The threefold emphasis on the warning contained in the voice.
6 Ask now, and see, Whether a [b]man is ever in [c]labor with child? So why do I see every man with his hands on his loins Like a woman in labor, And all faces turned pale?
This is a similitude which is an extended simile; a comparison using like or as. If one were to label the ideas, A would be “a man in labor” the other A “is like a woman in labor.” The B would be “the suffering of labor with hands on the loins” and the other B is “the suffering of labor of faces turned pale.” The similitude is AB is like AB and the parallelism is ABAB.
Is this a taunt intended to demoralize the hearing to enhance the punishment ordained for the victims? Does there remain a chance of repentance to avoid the dire circumstances? Or is this a form of hope? Judah is predestined to endure a time of pain and punishment but there is hope for the one who endures.
7 Alas! For that day is great, So that none is like it; And it is the time of Jacob’s trouble, But he shall be saved out of it.
Here is the parallel A is like A is like A but then B. There is an emphatic the day is great and the synonymous parallel is in the negative form there is none like it. The English translation is superb it has captured the meaning and the rhythm of the Hebrew.
Day is great None like it Time of Jacob’s trouble Saved out of it.
Is this a reference to the exile of the fall of Jerusalem from 586 and the return of Israel in the promised 70 years? Or is the time of Jacob’s trouble a reference to the apocalypse; the end times? Certainly. the fall of Jerusalem in 586 was a special event. However, there was an event like it in 599 (first deportation to Babylon), and even 609 (fall of Jerusalem to Pharoah after Josiah’s death) that was comparable to 586. Or is this a double prophecy; the apocalypse is like the fall of Jerusalem and the return of the captives is like the second coming?
Jeremiah 30:8-11 8 ‘For it shall come to pass in that day,’ Says the Lord of hosts, ‘That I will break his yoke from your neck, And will burst your bonds; Foreigners shall no more enslave them. 9 But they shall serve the Lord their God, And David their king, Whom I will raise up for them.
10 ‘Therefore do not fear, O My servant Jacob,’ says the Lord, ‘Nor be dismayed, O Israel; For behold, I will save you from afar, And your seed from the land of their captivity. Jacob shall return, have rest and be quiet, And no one shall make him afraid.
How many of these prophecies were actually fulfilled?
Break his yoke from your neck
Burst your bonds
Foreigners no longer enslave them
They will serve the Lord
They will David their king
Jacob shall return
No one will make him afraid
Of all these prophesies almost none of them were fulfilled in the return of the captives to Jerusalem. Cyrus may have allowed the Jews to return to Jerusalem from Babylon but maintained political control over Jerusalem. Here is a summary of the control of nations over the land of Israel.
586 BC – 333 BC Ruled by Babylon and Persians 333 BC-140 BC Ruled by Grecians 140 BC-37 BC Hasmonean dynasty (Israelites ruled themselves) 37 BC-634 AD Ruled by Rome 634 AD-1917 AD Rule by Moslems, Crusaders and Mongols 1917AD-1948 AD Rule by British 1948AD to present self rule
The yoke was not broken, the bonds were not burst, foreigners ruled over them, the history of the Bible is Israel running from God, the return of David in Jesus the Messiah did not result in a political kingdom, Judah returned but Israel did not, and Judah lived in constant fear from their neighbors. This is a prophecy of the apocalypse; the second coming of Jesus.
For this pericope of Jeremiah 30:12-16, a warning of disaster, the literal context sounds like a cruel taunt. It is vicious in parts. God claims credit for inflicting foul wounds upon Israel. The wounds are so cruel there is no cure for them. The blows are delivered without mercy as from a cruel person. This is great contrast to last pericope of hope and restoration.
An open theist would read these words as a warning with an appeal to the character of God.
2 So he prayed to the Lord, and said, “Ah, Lord, was not this what I said when I was still in my country? Therefore I fled previously to Tarshish; for I know that You are a gracious and merciful God, slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness, One who relents from doing harm.
The warning given to the people of Nineveh did not contain an out. “Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!” If the warning was contained in a conditional sentence like “unless you repent” then the warning would not have been as affective. Most prophesies of God are not glimpses of an unavoidable future, but God does not want the prophesy to be fulfilled. The prophesy is a warning “repent or be punished.”
In the next verses the apocalyptic prophesy stops and the prophesy of the immediate future begins. The signal of the a new type of prophesy is the repetition of the prophetic formula. Again there is a reinforcement of the source of the prophecy “thus says the Lord.” This is followed by the poetry of synonymous parallelism.
12 “For thus says the Lord: ‘Your affliction is incurable, Your wound is severe.
The parallel is affliction is like wound incurable is like severe.
The next verse is strange. The first part “there is no one to plead your cause” is simple Hebrew. The second part is ambiguous. It is literal a series of nouns next to each other.
To a wound, medicines, Healing, there is not, to you
Perhaps the best translation is for a wound there are no healing medicines for you. Not only does this break the poetical construction of the previous verses but the meaning is that there is no hope for hope. Your wound is incurable.
13 There is no one to plead your cause, That you may be bound up; You have no healing medicines.
In verse 14 there is heaving poetry. The Hebrew is literally “Your lovers have forgotten you, (you) they do not seek. The word “you” is not repeated but forms the center the parallel construction. Who are these lovers? Egypt was a political ally of Judah. She encouraged Judah to rebel against Babylon and even sent an army to meet Babylon in 588 BC. This army was met well before Jerusalem and turned back by Nebuchadnezzar.
14 All your lovers have forgotten you; They do not seek you; For I have wounded you with the wound of an enemy, With the chastisement of a cruel one, For the multitude of your iniquities, Because your sins have increased.
Because the event is certain, God foretells the fall of Jerusalem by Babylon. Even though Babylon would be yielding the sword, God claims credit for the wound. God mimics the cruelty of the cruel one from Babylon inflicting the wound.
Here is the taunt that many cannot attribute to God. God attributes this cruelty to himself. Does the commentator misrepresent the character of God when he tries to soften this taunt?
The second part of the verse has been mistranslated. It is literally “Because of the multitude of your iniquities, your sins have increased, I have done these things to you.” Most translators try to make too much of the parallelism between sin and iniquities. What is probably meant is because of the iniquities committed against persons your sins against God have increased.
15Why do you cry about your affliction? Your sorrow is incurable. Because of the multitude of your iniquities, Because your sins have increased, I have done these things to you.
How often Christians imagine that God is not a God of vengeance. He is forgiving to those who repent and turn from their sins but he takes revenge on the unrepentant who devour his chosen people. This is not limited to the Old Testament:
2 Thessalonians 1:6
since it is a righteous thing with God to repay with tribulation those who trouble you,
This parallelism is evident:
You who devour will be devoured You who lead people to captivity will be made captive You who plunder will become plunder You who prey will become prey
16 ‘Therefore all those who devour you shall be devoured; And all your adversaries, every one of them, shall go into captivity; Those who plunder you shall become plunder, And all who prey upon you I will make a prey.
Babylon was captured by Persia in 539BC. Assyria, Edom, Amnon, and Moab were eventually conquered and destroyed.
For I will restore health to you And heal you of your wounds,’ says the Lord, ‘Because they called you an outcast saying: “This is Zion; No one seeks her.” ’
The verses of 18 to 24 is a return to narrative in contrast with the poetical forms just mentioned. The prophesy of verse 18 is a prophesy of the immediate future. Israel returned to Jerusalem. The temple and the palace of David were rebuilt. Archeology confirms the city was rebuilt on the ruins of the old city.
18 “Thus says the Lord:
‘Behold, I will bring back the captivity of Jacob’s tents, And have mercy on his dwelling places; The city shall be built upon its own [d]mound, And the palace shall remain according to its own plan. 19 Then out of them shall proceed thanksgiving And the voice of those who make merry; I will multiply them, and they shall not diminish; I will also glorify them, and they shall not be small.
Archeologist have recently discovered the remains of the palace of David in just south of the Old City Walls in Jerusalem. Dr. Eilat Mazar found a massive building which Mazar believes is King David’s palace. One of the discoveries is a 2,600 year old clay seal with the name Gedaliah ben Pashur. This name appears in Jeremiah 38:1. He was a minister in the court of King Zedekiah. Previously another seal was found with name of another official which was in the same verse mentioned in Jeremiah: Jehukal son of Shelemiah
38 Shephatiah son of Mattan, Gedaliah son of Pashhur, Jehukal son of Shelemiah, and Pashhur son of Malkijah heard what Jeremiah was telling all the people when he said,
This is the first time two clay seals were found in the same location with persons mentioned in the same verse. In the online site Jerusalem Archeological Sites: City of David, the archeologist is quoted:
“It is not very often that such a discovery happens in which real figures of the past shake off the dust of history and so vividly revive the stories of the Bible,” Mazar noted.
She found signs of a massive structure with huge boulders. The walls were thick about 16 feet thick. She originally thought the cite was a fortress but after finding pottery in different places it was determined this was the palace of David.
The next verses seem to be a eschatological prophesy.
20 Their children also shall be as before, And their congregation shall be established before Me; And I will punish all who oppress them. 21 Their nobles shall be from among them, And their governor shall come from their midst; Then I will cause him to draw near, And he shall approach Me; For who is this who pledged his heart to approach Me?’ says the Lord. 22 ‘You shall be My people, And I will be your God.’ ”
23 Behold, the whirlwind of the Lord Goes forth with fury, A [e]continuing whirlwind; It will fall violently on the head of the wicked. 24 The fierce anger of the Lord will not return until He has done it,
And until He has performed the intents of His heart.
In the Septuagint Jeremiah 33 is Chapter 40. The Septuagint omits verses 14-26. The first thirteen verses speak about a return of the nation Israel to land of Israel. The second thirteen verses speak about a future Israel ruled by a legitimate shoot of David where Israel and Jerusalem will dwell in safety. Some commentators believe the Septuagint is the original text and the last thirteen verses were added later by some kind of editors of the text. The Septuagint was written to Greek rulers who may not have looked favorably upon a future ruler of Israel who was to dwell securely in the land protected from his enemies. It is more likely the verses were omitted by the Septuagint authors who were more concerned with being politically correct than respecting Scriptures.
The timing of these prophesies is the same for chapter 32, in the last days of Jerusalem in the tenth or eleventh year of the regnal years of Zedekiah.
Moreover the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah a second time, while he was still shut up in the court of the prison
4 “For thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, concerning the houses of this city and the houses of the kings of Judah, which have been pulled down to fortify against the siege mounds and the sword: 5 ‘They come to fight with the Chaldeans, but only to fill their places with the dead bodies of men whom I will slay in My anger and My fury, all for whose wickedness I have hidden My face from this city.
There is some controversy over the translation of verses 4-5. The NKJ version translates verse 4 well. The passive participle “have been pulled down” does not identify an object. The prepositional phrases “to the siege mounds” and to the “sword” are not clear. The King James version implies houses are thrown down by the siege mounds and the sword. The NKJ version translates to fortify against the siege mounds (Babylonian) and against the sword.
Verse 5 is even worse. Although the subject is not stated it is assumed the people of Judah are coming against the Babylonians. Is it the intent of Israel to fight against the Babylonians and to fill Jerusalem places with the dead men of Judah? Or is the conjunction “and” an adversial conjunction meaning “however.” The people of Judah came to fight the Babylonians but God will fill the places of Jerusalem with the dead bodies of the people of Jerusalem. Both alternatives are credible according to the grammar.
These prophecies of doom are then surrendered to prophesies of the restoration of Judah.
6 Behold, I will bring it health and healing; I will heal them and reveal to them the abundance of peace and truth. 7 And I will cause the captives of Judah and the captives of Israel to return, and will rebuild those places as at the first.
Jeremiah’s commission given in Jeremiah 1:10 is to stand against nations “to pluck up and to break down, to destroy and to overthrow, to build and to plant.”
Jeremiah 33:4 uses the verb “to pull down” from Jeremiah 1:10 translated a bit differently “to break down.” In verse 7 the Hebrew word “rebuild” is the same word word Jeremiah 1:10 translated “to build.” There may be some connection between Jeremiah’s commission and the ultimate fate of Jerusalem.
8 I will cleanse them from all their iniquity by which they have sinned against Me, and I will pardon all their iniquities by which they have sinned and by which they have transgressed against Me.
Since this is a prophecy of the return of Israel from Babylonian captivity does this imply sanctification in Christian salvation? More likely this cleansing is limited to their transgression against God for specific sins. These sins are limited to those transgressions leading to their expulsion from Jerusalem.
Now the cities lie desolate but God’s iconic sign of prosperity and peace is the sound of a wedding. The voices of the bridegroom and the bride will again be heard in Jerusalem.
11 the voice of joy and the voice of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom and the voice of the bride, the voice of those who will say:
“Praise the Lord of hosts, For the Lord is good, For His mercy endures forever”—
and of those who will bring the sacrifice of praise into the house of the Lord. For I will cause the captives of the land to return as at the first,’ says the Lord.
Verse 14 starts another prophesy which is promise of an age to come.
14 ‘Behold, the days are coming,’ says the Lord, ‘that I will perform that good thing which I have promised to the house of Israel and to the house of Judah:
The days are coming, a prominent phrase used for prophesy, is used 22 times in the Bible. This is the introductory phrase used in Jeremiah 31:31 referring to the New Covenant. This prophesy emphasizes the heir of David that will rule in Jerusalem in the last days. The promise is not to the church. It is a promise to the Jews, the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. This is in contrast to those in the church who recognize Abraham as their father. (Romans 4:11) Abraham is the father of those in the church who believe in God like Abraham believed. The emphasis on the three patriarchs as in Exodus 3 is a clear reference to genetic inheritance.
26 then I will cast away the descendants of Jacob and David My servant, so that I will not take any of his descendants to be rulers over the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
15 ‘In those days and at that time I will cause to grow up to David A Branch of righteousness;
This is a direct parallel to Jeremiah 23:5
“Behold, the days are coming,” says the Lord, “That I will raise to David a Branch of righteousness; A King shall reign and prosper, And execute judgment and righteousness in the earth.
There is little doubt that the prophetic son of David is Jesus Christ.
Luke 1:32 32 He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David.
In Matthew 1:29 Joseph, the husband of Mary, is called a son of David. Those who are in the genetic line from David are called sons of David. However, the Son of David, who is also the messiah. There are many sons of David but there is one special son of David called “the Son of David.”
41 While the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them, 42 saying, “What do you think about the Christ? Whose Son is He?”
They said to Him, “The Son of David.”
43 He said to them, “How then does David in the Spirit call Him ‘Lord,’ saying:
44 ‘The Lord said to my Lord, “Sit at My right hand, Till I make Your enemies Your footstool” ’?
God promised David a seed who be on the throne of his kingdom forever. Solomon died but not without apostatizing from the true faith. The throne had not a true seed of David from 587, the fall of Jerusalem to time of Jesus. There was a spirit of expectation in Israel. Jesus is addressed as the Son of David sixteen times in the gospels. Jesus died, he never sat on the throne of Israel and the prophesy was never fulfilled.
2 Samuel 7
12 “When your days are fulfilled and you rest with your fathers, I will set up your seed after you, who will come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. 13 He shall build a house for My name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. 14 I will be his Father, and he shall be My son.
Jeremiah 33:14-25 speaking about this future son of David. He will fulfill the promises made to Judah and Israel. Not the spiritual Israel Paul refers to but the physical descents of Jacob, referred to here in Jeremiah as house of Judah and the house of Israel. The prophetic formula as the days are coming and the future certainty of “I will perform” confirm this prophesy.
14 ‘Behold, the days are coming,’ says the Lord, ‘that I will perform that good thing which I have promised to the house of Israel and to the house of Judah:
The unfulfilled promise of 2 Samuel 7, is confirmed by this promise 400 years after Solomon. This king will be a descendant of David, reign in Jerusalem and will execute justice on the earth.
Jeremiah 33 15 ‘In those days and at that time I will cause to grow up to David A Branch of righteousness; He shall execute judgment and righteousness in the earth. 16 In those days Judah will be saved, And Jerusalem will dwell safely. And this is the name by which she will be called:
The references to Judah will be saved and Jerusalem will dwell safely cannot be spiritualized into some sort of replacement theology. It is not the Church that will be saved and dwell safely in Jerusalem.
There is no doubt that the father of John the Baptist believed Jesus was to be the one promised to David and he was to deliver Israel from her enemies.
68 “Blessed is the Lord God of Israel, For He has visited and redeemed His people, 69 And has raised up a horn of salvation for us In the house of His servant David, 70 As He spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets, Who have been since the world began, 71 That we should be saved from our enemies And from the hand of all who hate us, 72 To perform the mercy promised to our fathers And to remember His holy covenant, 73 The oath which He swore to our father Abraham: 74 To grant us that we, Being delivered from the hand of our enemies, Might serve Him without fear, 75 In holiness and righteousness before Him all the days of our life.
The horn of salvation was Israel by the house of David. His mission was to deliver Israel from the hand of those who hate Israel according to the covenant promised to our fathers. This is a physical salvation from physical enemies.
This king who will reign in Jerusalem and execute justice will issue in a new dispensation where priests will offer burnt offerings and sacrifices continually.
17 “For thus says the Lord: ‘David shall never lack a man to sit on the throne of the house of Israel; 18 nor shall the priests, the Levites, lack a man to offer burnt offerings before Me, to kindle grain offerings, and to sacrifice continually.’ ”
The dispensation of Gentiles where faith alone saves a person will be ended.
For I do not desire, brethren, that you should be ignorant of this mystery, lest you should be wise in your own opinion, that blindness in part has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in.
The Lord Jesus will return but not as a meek lamb before his shearers. He will return in power and destroy those nations that fight against Jerusalem.
The Day of the Lord
14 Behold, the day of the Lord is coming, And your [a]spoil will be divided in your midst. 2 For I will gather all the nations to battle against Jerusalem; The city shall be taken, The houses [b]rifled, And the women ravished. Half of the city shall go into captivity, But the remnant of the people shall not be cut off from the city.
3 Then the Lord will go forth And fight against those nations, As He fights in the day of battle. 4 And in that day His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, Which faces Jerusalem on the east. And the Mount of Olives shall be split in two, From east to west, Making a very large valley; Half of the mountain shall move toward the north And half of it toward the south.
The job of the church is to proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.
1 Corinthians 11
26 For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death till He comes.
αχρις ου ελθη
In Greek transliterated as achri hou elthe. Until he comes the three most important words in the New Testament.
Jeremiah 32:1-15 Jeremiah in prison and Purchase of field dialogue with Yahweh
Jeremiah 32:16-23 Favor toward the People
Jeremiah 32:24-25 Jerusalem delivered to Chaldeans
Jeremiah 32:26 Yahwehs reply
Jeremiah 32:28-35 Chaldean attack
Jeremiah 32:36-40 Glorious future
Zedekiah reigned from 597-586 BC. According to Jeremiah 39:2 in the eleventh year of Zedekiah on the fourth month and the ninth day the city was overthrown. In the ninth year of Zedekiah in the tenth month Nebuchadnezzar began the siege of Jerusalem. The siege of Jerusalem was two and a half years. Jeremiah was shut up into prison in the tenth year of Zedekiah. Sometime during this siege the army of Egypt was coming to the rescue of Jerusalem. In fear of this assault Nebuchadnezzar withdrew from Jerusalem and met the Egyptians in battle. (Jer. 37:11)
32 The word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord in the tenth year of Zedekiah king of Judah, which was the eighteenth year of Nebuchadnezzar. 2 For then the king of Babylon’s army besieged Jerusalem, and Jeremiah the prophet was shut up in the court of the prison, which was in the king of Judah’s house.
It is thought that during this respite Jeremiah may have been going out of the city to complete the land transaction in Anathoth of his relative Hanamel. The guard at the city gate recognized Jeremiah and arrested him. He was arrested on treason for attempting to flee Jerusalem and defect to Babylon. The guard who arrested Jeremiah was Irijah a grandson of Hananiah. Hananiah was the priest who broke the yoke of Jeremiah which in the fourth year of Zedekiah. As a punishment Jeremiah, in a prophesy from God, pronounced a death judgement on him. He died in the same year as the prophesy. Certainly Irijah was an enemy of Jeremiah, there might have been some payback in this arrest.
Jeremiah 32:1-15 is an emblematic action of a prophesy. The transaction represents a sign that Israel will again return to Jerusalem. Seventeen shekels of silver is about seven ounces of silver. In todays monetary terms a silver round is one ounce which slightly larger than a silver dollar. The size of land was not known but it may be inferred the land was sufficient to feed a family: perhaps an acre or two.
15 For thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: “Houses and fields and vineyards shall be possessed again in this land.”
Under the law of the Torah Lev. 25:25–34, the land was a right of possession in almost perpetuity for the individual families in Israel. A poor man could sell his land to his next of kin but there is option to redeem the properties when his financial situation changed. In the year of Jubilee (every 49th year) the property was expected to be returned to the one who sold it. According to Ruth 4:1-2 the next of kin held a first right of refusal to purchase the property. Both Hanamel and Jeremiah were Levites. There are special rules against Levites selling their land to non-Levites but apparently these sales could be done among fellow Levites.
Leviticus 4:23 ‘The land shall not be sold permanently, for the land is Mine; for you are strangers and sojourners with Me. 24 And in all the land of your possession you shall grant redemption of the land. 25 ‘If one of your brethren becomes poor, and has sold some of his possession, and if his redeeming relative comes to redeem it, then he may redeem what his brother sold. 26 Or if the man has no one to redeem it, but he himself becomes able to redeem it, 27 then let him count the years since its sale, and restore the remainder to the man to whom he sold it, that he may return to his possession. 28 But if he is not able to have it restored to himself, then what was sold shall remain in the hand of him who bought it until the Year of Jubilee; and in the Jubilee it shall be released, and he shall return to his possession.
6 And Jeremiah said, “The word of the Lord came to me, saying, 7 ‘Behold, Hanamel the son of Shallum your uncle will come to you, saying, “Buy my field which is in Anathoth, for the right of redemption is yours to buy it.” ’ 8 Then Hanamel my uncle’s son came to me in the court of the prison according to the word of the Lord, and said to me, ‘Please buy my field that is in Anathoth,
Whatever the price or the quantity of land, the transaction was financially irresponsible. Jeremiah was prophesying the return of Babylon to Jerusalem. Anyone fleeing the invading army would want silver over land. Jeremiah prophesied a return of Israel in seventy years from Babylon, Jeremiah was command not to marry, he had no heirs. The victory of Babylon would negate any land transactions or development by Jeremiah. The removal of a large population from Jerusalem and surrounding areas would make land prices cheap if not free for the taking. It was intended to be a foolish transaction that would be a sign to Israel of their return.
It is true that Jeremiah was not forced to captivity but allowed to live in Jerusalem. He would have presumable farmed the land of Anathoth. However, Jeremiah at the time of sale would not have known of his release. Undoubtedly the victors would control the ownership of the land.
Two copies of the deed were produced. One for Jeremiah to possess and the other was put into an earthen jar as a sort of a government copy in case the transaction was disputed. He signed the deed in the presence of witnesses and the purchase price was verified on an official scale. This is like today’s land deeds which are stored in a government office, verified by witnesses and proved with the transfer and recording of the monetary purchase price.
9 So I bought the field from Hanamel, the son of my uncle who was in Anathoth, and weighed out to him the money—seventeen shekels of silver. 10 And I signed the [b]deed and sealed it, took witnesses, and weighed the money on the scales.
Jeremiah realizes the foolishness of the transaction in a prayer of complaint to God. He begins his prayer in Jeremiah 32:16-25 in the appropriate manner of praise first and complaint last. God is the maker of the heavens, he has caused great things to happen in the exodus from Egypt and the result is the possession of the land. However, God, there are siege mounds out there against the city, Jerusalem is in the midst of famine and disease, the Chaldeans are about to take over, but remember how I bought the land in Anathoth. How does that fit into your plans?
24 ‘Look, the siege mounds! They have come to the city to take it; and the city has been given into the hand of the Chaldeans who fight against it, because of the sword and famine and pestilence. What You have spoken has happened; there You see it! 25 And You have said to me, O Lord God, “Buy the field for money, and take witnesses”!—yet the city has been given into the hand of the Chaldeans.’ ”
God replies that nothing is too difficult for God but indeed Jerusalem will fall into the hands of the Chaldeans. Then Jeremiah is presented with a list of offenses against God:
On the roofs they offered incense to Baal
They gave drink offerings to other Gods
They have done only evil since the day Jerusalem was built
They did not listen
They set up idols in the temple
They caused their sons and daughters to pass through fire
This passing through the fire is mentioned at least twelve times in the Old Testament. (Lev. 18:21, Deut. 18:10, 2 Kings 16:23, 17:17, 21:6, 23:10, 2 Chron. 33:6, Jer 32:35, Ezekiel 16:21, 20:26, 20:31 and 13:37) In all cases it is very negative and if someone should think this was some sophomoric college stunt like walking over hot coals, Ezekiel 16:21 explains
0 “Moreover you took your sons and your daughters, whom you bore to Me, and these you sacrificed to them to be devoured. Were your acts of harlotry a small matter,21 that you have slain My children and offered them up to them by causing them to pass through the fire?
The Hebrew word for sacrifice means “to slaughter for sacrifice.” It is used regularly for animal sacrifices to the Lord in the Torah. The Hebrew word “to be devoured” refers to consuming something in order to eat. The word “to slaughter” means to kill. This is what Abraham intended to do to Isaac when he was offering him as a sacrifice to God.
Just outside of Jerusalem in the valley of Hinnom they built high places to Baal and sacrificed children to Molech. The verb surrender is literally “to cause to pass,” that is, “to pass through the fire,” “to devote.” The cult of Molech involved child-sacrifice (2:23; 7:30–8:3; 19:5). It was unauthorized and calculated to lead Judah into sin.
5 And they built the high places of Baal which are in the Valley of the Son of Hinnom, to cause their sons and their daughters to pass through the fire to Molech, which I did not command them, nor did it come into My mind that they should do this abomination, to cause Judah to sin.’
30 For the children of Judah have done evil in My sight,” says the Lord. “They have set their abominations in the house which is called by My name, to [e]pollute it. 31 And they have built the high places of Tophet, which is in the Valley of the Son of Hinnom, to burn their sons and their daughters in the fire, which I did not command, nor did it come into My heart.
This practice of passing through fire to Molech is mentioned from Moses to Jeremiah. Surely God was aware this practice of child sacrifice could occur. What does it mean “nor did it come into My mind that they should do this abomination?”
It never came into the mind of God to command the children of Israel to offer these kind of sacrifices.
Literal Standard Version And they build the high places of Ba‘al that [are] in the Valley of the Son of Hinnom, to cause their sons and their daughters to pass through to Molech, which I did not command them, nor did it come up on My heart to do this abomination, so as to cause Judah to sin.
The term “they” used on so many translations does not exist. The literal translation is “it did not come into my mind to do this abomination.” The subject of to do is not “they”. What it means is that it did not come into God’s mind to command this abomination.