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Jeremiah, Chapter 34
Introduction to Jeremiah 34.
The first prophecy (Jer. 34:1-7) is about Zedekiah, and amplifies that in Jer. 32:1-5, in importance of when Jeremiah was then shut up in the court of the prison. The second prophecy (Jer. 34:8-22) refers to the Jews, who, afraid of the capture of the city, had, in obedience to the law, granted freedom to their servants at the end of seven years, but on the intermission of the siege forced them back into bondage.
In this chapter we have two messages which God sent by Jeremiah. (1). One that foretells the fate of Zedekiah king of Judah, that he would fall into the hands of the king of Babylon, that he would live a captive, but would at last die in peace in his captivity (vs. 1-7). (2). Another message brings the doom of both prince and people for their disloyal dealings with God, in bringing back into bondage their servants whom they had released according to the Law. They had walked at all undertakings with God (v. 8-11), and therefore God would walk at all adventures with them, in bringing the Chaldean army back upon them again, just when they began to hope that they had gotten clear of them (v. 12-22).
Zedekiah's Death at Babylon Foretold (Jer. 34:1-7)
Jer. 34:1 The word which came unto Jeremiah from the LORD, when Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, and all his army, and all the kingdoms of the earth of his dominion, and all the people, fought against Jerusalem, and against all the cities thereof, saying, (KJV)
The word which came unto Jeremiah from the LORD . . . this prophecy came to Jeremiah, and was delivered by him, when he was at liberty, before his imprisonment, and was the reason of it, as appears from Jer.32:2-5; compared with Jer.34:2. The prophecies do not stand in the proper order in which they were given out; for at least the prophecy, in this first part of the chapter, was delivered before that in chapter 32.
When Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, and all his army, and all the kingdoms of the earth of his dominion, and all the people, fought against Jerusalem . . . when this mighty king came to Jerusalem with a numerous army, consisting of Chaldeans, the natives of his own kingdom, and with the backup troops of each the kingdoms he had subdued and made tributary to him, the people of almost every nation, and laid siege to it, and lay against it. Jerusalem and all the cities round about (Jer19:15).
And against all the cities thereof . . . the rest of the cities of Judah, which were as daughters of Jerusalem, the capital or mother city. It was amazing blindness in Zedekiah king of Judah, that, in such a desperate position, he would reject Jeremiah’s warning.
Saying . . . as follows:
Jer. 34:2 Thus saith the LORD, the God of Israel; Go and speak to Zedekiah king of Judah, and tell him, Thus saith the LORD; Behold, I will give this city into the hand of the king of Babylon, and he shall burn it with fire: (KJV)
Thus saith the LORD, the God of Israel . . . who, although the Covenant God of Israel, was provoked by their sins, sends the following message to their king.
Go and speak to Zedekiah king of Judah, and tell him . . . tell it to no one but the king, the message being more strange to him, and had it been told to the people, been very disheartening to them.
Behold, I will give this city into the hand of the king of Babylon, and he shall burn it with fire . . . see Jeremiah 32:3; which was precisely accomplished in: Jer. 52:13-14 And burned the house of the LORD, and the king's house; and all the houses of Jerusalem, and all the houses of the great men, burned he with fire: 14 And all the army of the Chaldeans, that were with the captain of the guard, brake down all the walls of Jerusalem round about. (KJV)
Jer. 34:3 And thou shalt not escape out of his hand, but shalt surely be taken, and delivered into his hand; and thine eyes shall behold the eyes of the king of Babylon, and he shall speak with thee mouth to mouth, and thou shalt go to Babylon. (KJV)
And thou shalt not escape out of his hand . . . although Zedekiah did try to do it (Jer.52:8).
But shall surely be taken, and delivered into his hand . . . but he was taken on the plains of Jericho, and delivered into the hands of the king of Babylon at Riblah (Jer.39:5-6; 52:9-10); as may be seen in this place.
And thine eyes shall behold the eyes of the king of Babylon . . . his eyes were quickly put out by him.
And he shall speak with thee mouth to mouth, and thou shalt go to Babylon . . . (Jer. 32:3).
Jer. 34:4 Yet hear the word of the LORD, O Zedekiah king of Judah; Thus saith the LORD of thee, Thou shalt not die by the sword: (KJV)
Yet hear the word of the LORD, O Zedekiah king of Judah . . . which, even though Zedekiah was a king, he should have paid attention to; because what follows was for comfort, being a lessening of his sentence, containing in it mercy as well as judgment.
Thus saith the LORD of thee, thou shalt not die by the sword . . . by the king of Babylon; or die a violent death; and therefore fear not to deliver up thyself and city into his hands; which he might be afraid to do, fearing he would put him to death immediately.
*****Jer.34:1-4, we had all this in Jer. 32:3-4.
Jer. 34:5 But thou shalt die in peace: and with the burnings of thy fathers, the former kings which were before thee, so shall they burn odours for thee; and they will lament thee, saying, Ah lord! for I have pronounced the word, saith the LORD. (KJV)
But thou shall die in peace . . . Zedekiah would die on his bed, a natural death, and in friendship with the king of Babylon; and it may be, in peace with God; for before his death, some time in his captivity, he might have been brought to true repentance for his sins, for we do not know the hearts of any person, as does the LORD.
And with the burnings of thy fathers, the former kings which were before thee: so shall they burn odours for thee . . . the meaning is, that he would have an honorable burial; and that sweet odors and spices would be burned for him, as were for the kings of Judah his predecessors, such as Asa. 2 Chr. 16:14 And they buried him in his own sepulchres, which he had made for himself in the city of David, and laid him in the bed which was filled with sweet odours and divers kinds of spices prepared by the apothecaries' art: and they made a very great burning for him. (KJV)
And they will lament, saying, Ah lord! . . . Ah lord (Jer.22:18). Another form of mourning was alas (Jer.30:7).
For I have pronounced the word, saith the LORD . . . this seems to respect Zedekiah’s captivity, and that which refers to his death; the manner of it, and his honorable burial, which would be accomplished.
*****Jer.34:4-5. Since Zedekiah was shamefully treated when captured, being forced to watch his sons executed before his eyes and then being blinded, the statements here concerning a peaceful and honorable death may be conditional. That is, if he surrendered rather than resisted (Jer.21:8-10) he personally would be spared humiliation. The burnings of thy fathers, meaning an honorable funeral, with the same burning of aromatic spices as there was at the funerals of earlier kings (2 Chron.16:14; 21:19). Biblical or historical sources do not report the actual fate of this king. He more than likely died in prison, a blind and broken man. Ah, lord! The same expression of mourning is found in: Jer.22:18 Therefore thus saith the LORD concerning Jehoiakim the son of Josiah king of Judah; They shall not lament for him, saying, Ah my brother! or, Ah sister! they shall not lament for him, saying, Ah lord! or, Ah his glory! (KJV)
Jer. 34:6 Then Jeremiah the prophet spake all these words unto Zedekiah king of Judah in Jerusalem, (KJV)
Then Jeremiah the prophet spake all these words . . . told of the threat, as well as the consolation, he kept back no part of the message he was sent with, but faithfully delivered all of it.
Unto Zedekiah king of Judah in Jerusalem . . . even though Jeremiah knew it would displease him, and get him in trouble, as it did; for because of this, Jeremiah was put into prison.
Jer. 34:7 When the king of Babylon's army fought against Jerusalem, and against all the cities of Judah that were left, against Lachish, and against Azekah: for these defenced cities remained of the cities of Judah. (KJV)
When the king of Babylon's army fought against Jerusalem . . . had laid close siege to it, and continued in it.
And against all the cities of Judah that were left . . . left unconquered by him; when he invaded the land, he fought against, and took, and ravished all the cities that lay in his way; and it seems there were none that stood out against him but Jerusalem, now besieged by him, and two others, next mentioned.
Against Lachish, and against Azekah; for these defenced cities remained of the cities of Judah . . . two cities, Lachish and Azekah, had been fortified by Rehoboam (2 Chr.11:9); and were the only ones besides Jerusalem, which as yet had not fallen into the hands of the king of Babylon.
*****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 unrepentant in a palace.
The Jews Reproved for Compelling Their Poor Brethren to Return to Unlawful Bondage (Jer. 34:8-11)
Jer. 34:8 This is the word that came unto Jeremiah from the LORD, after that the king Zedekiah had made a covenant with all the people which were at Jerusalem, to proclaim liberty unto them; (KJV)
This is the word that came to Jeremiah from the LORD . . . this begins a new prophecy, which was delivered sometime after the one above; and that was given out while the king of Babylon was besieging Jerusalem. This was after the king had stopped the siege for a while, and had gone to meet the king of Egypt, who was coming to the relief of the city. The Jews say this was delivered in the seventh year of Zedekiah, in the first month, and tenth day of the month; at the same time that the elders of Israel came to Ezekiel, to inquire of the LORD by him (Eze.20:1); which was two years before the king of Babylon came against Jerusalem . . . but this does not seems likely. It is said to be,
After that the King Zedekiah made a covenant with all the people that were at Jerusalem, to proclaim liberty unto them . . . Zedekiah had made a covenant, maybe the king began the release of slaves by a declaration, followed by a Covenant ceremony (34:15, 18-19). What incited this act is not stated. Suggestions abound: to make the bond slaves available for military service or to set the owners free from the responsibility of feeding them during the economically depressed days of the siege are two possibilities. It is clear from what later happened (34:15-16), that a token gesture of penitence was involved, but it was not driven by a desire to obey a divine command (34:14; Ex.21:2; Lev.25:39-46; Deut. 15:12-18).
Jer. 34:9 That every man should let his manservant, and every man his maidservant, being an Hebrew or an Hebrewess, go free; that none should serve himself of them, to wit, of a Jew his brother. (KJV)
That every man should let his manservant, and every man his maidservant, being an Hebrew, or an Hebrewess, go free . . . this is the proclamation that was agreed on to be made, that every manservant and maidservant, that served six years an apprenticeship, should be freed from their slavery, according to the Law in Exodus 21:1; a law based on justice and fairness, mercy and compassion; done for the honor of the Jewish nation, that they might be a free people, and in honor of their deliverance from their slavery in Egypt. It seems this Law had been long neglected, and servants had been retained in bondage long beyond their due time, through the oppression and covetousness of their masters, and the neglect of the civil officials; who should have made sure that such a Law was kept, and that servants were not to be oppressed. Some think that it was at the beginning of the Sabbatical year that this proclamation was made, when, according to the Law, there should be a release of servants (Deu.15:1); but that there was not a release of servants, but of debts; for if a servant had not served out his time, the Sabbatical year, or year of release, did not discharge him; although the year of jubilee did.
That none should serve himself of them, to wit, of a Jew his brother . . . or cause them to serve him, force them against their will to continue in his service; or by any means benefit himself by them, and receive any profit or advantage by their service, they being Jews and brethren; which seems to be added, both as the reason of the Law, because they were brethren of the same nation and religion with them, and to distinguish them from other servants, who apart from this law might be kept as such.
*****This was the meaning of God's Law mentioned in the above named texts; and it seemed Zedekiah, noticed the violation of this Law, and the Jews' regular oppressing those of their own nation this way, judging that this might be one of those sins for which the wrath of God was at this time kindled against them, Zedekiah caused the people to make a Covenant, that they would give that liberty to their servants of either sex which the Law of God required, of which he made proclamation. An Hebrew . . . the use of this term is important, for it goes back to the enslavement of the Hebrews in Egypt, when as a nation they had been under the undeserved control of Pharaoh. A Jew was someone from the tribe of Judah originally, but after the exile from Egypt, this term was universal to include all the Israelites.
Jer. 34:10 Now when all the princes, and all the people, which had entered into the covenant, heard that every one should let his manservant, and every one his maidservant, go free, that none should serve themselves of them any more, then they obeyed, and let them go. (KJV)
Now when all the princes, and all the people, which had entered into the covenant . . . the covenant the king had made with the people. The princes are mentioned, who were not before, but included in the people; they and all the rest of the people are here meant, who had agreed to the covenant.
Heard that everyone should let his manservant, and everyone his maidservant, go free, that none should serve themselves of them any more . . . no longer keep these servants, which they had done, which was disobedience to the Law. When they understood that this was the sum of the covenant they had entered into, and this was the intent of the proclamation they agreed to; or when they heard the Law read and explained by Jeremiah, concerning the freeing of the Hebrew servants, when the time of their servitude was expired,
Then they obeyed, and let them go . . . dismissed them from their service, in obedience to the Law of God, agreeable to the proclamation of liberty which they approved. They obeyed, and let them go free (verse 11). In the shortened account here, it is not clear whether or not the Jews freed all their slaves, or only those who were being kept in bondage contrary to the Law of Moses; but, in any case, the number of released must have been extensive, because all the princes and the people entered into the covenant.
Jer. 34:11 But afterward they turned, and caused the servants and the handmaids, whom they had let go free, to return, and brought them into subjection for servants and for handmaids. (KJV)
But afterwards they turned . . . after they realized what they had done, they changed their minds and turned away from the Law of God, and their own agreement, and returned to their former usage of their servants. This seems to have been done, when the king of Babylon, hearing the king of Egypt was coming to break up the siege of Jerusalem, stopped the siege, and went to meet him, as appears from verse 34:21. The Jews now saw their freedom, and were out of danger (they thought), and wickedly rebelled against the Law of God; deceitfully broke their own Covenant, sorry for what they had done, and returned to their former ways of oppression and cruelty; revealing they were not sincere in their Covenant.
And caused the servants and the handmaids, whom they had let go free, to return, and brought them into subjection for servants and for handmaids . . . which was done by force, against the will of their servants and handmaids, and in violation of the Law of God, and their own solemn oath and covenant.
Chaldean army upon them again when they began to hope that they had got clear of them (Jer. 34:12-22).
Jer. 34:12 Therefore the word of the LORD came to Jeremiah from the LORD, saying, (KJV)
Therefore the word of the LORD came to Jeremiah from the LORD . . . the word of the LORD came to the prophet because of this transgression of the princes and people, and it seems that as soon as it was committed by them; for it is plain, from verse 34:21, that it was before the Chaldean army returned to Jerusalem, after its departure from it.
Saying . . . as follows:
Jer. 34:13 Thus saith the LORD, the God of Israel; I made a covenant with your fathers in the day that I brought them forth out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondmen, saying, (KJV)
Thus saith the LORD, the God of Israel . . . the Covenant God of Israel, their Creator, Redeemer, and their Benefactor.
I made a covenant with your fathers . . . I gave them Laws, among which was that of the release of servants.
In the day that I brought them forth out of the land of Egypt . . . quickly after that that time, when they came to Mount Sinai; this shows what fathers are meant, the Jewish ancestors that came out of Egypt, brought from there by the Mighty Hand of God, and gave them many favors, both in the wilderness, and in the land of Canaan, where the LORD brought and settled them.
Out of the house of bondmen . . . where they were bondmen, servants and slaves. This is mentioned, to remind them of their former state and condition; to show them the basis and foundation of the Law concerning servants, and how reasonable and merciful it was, and to magnify their sin. They acted cruelly to their servants, who were their brethren, in not discharging them in due time.
Saying . . . giving out the following Law, as a part of the covenant made with their fathers.
*****Out of the house of bondmen. Egypt had been a house of bondmen to their fathers (Ex.13:3; Deu.6:12, and elsewhere). They should not make the Holy City as grievous to those who were just as equal as they were, as children of God’s redeemed ones.
Jer. 34:14 At the end of seven years let ye go every man his brother an Hebrew, which hath been sold unto thee; and when he hath served thee six years, thou shalt let him go free from thee: but your fathers hearkened not unto me, neither inclined their ear. (KJV)
This is just a repetition of the law, which concerned the persons that were sold by others, or had sold themselves. God would not have His people take advantage of the sudden and rash acts of their brethren, which were the effects of passion. Through this Law the Jews, who were always a very covetous, griping people, did otherwise. Ex. 21:2 If thou buy an Hebrew servant, six years he shall serve: and in the seventh he shall go out free for nothing. (KJV) Deu.15:12 And if thy brother, an Hebrew man, or an Hebrew woman, be sold unto thee, and serve thee six years; then in the seventh year thou shalt let him go free from thee. (KJV)
Jer. 34:15 And ye were now turned, and had done right in my sight, in proclaiming liberty every man to his neighbour; and ye had made a covenant before me in the house which is called by my name: (KJV)
And ye were now turned . . . they indeed were turned, but for only a short time, they did turn from the evil ways of their fathers, for which they were to be praised, as having acted a better part than they.
And had done right in my sight . . . they did what was acceptable to the LORD, was approved by Him, for they agreed to His Law; and it would have been well IF they had continued to do so.
In proclaiming liberty every man to his neighbor . . . for a manservant or maidservant was his neighbor, and were to be treated as such, and loved as himself, especially a Hebrew, of the same nation and religion; and not to be used as a slave, or retained forever in slavery.
And ye made a covenant before me in the house which is called by my name . . . this is mentioned as aggravating the breach of the Covenant they had willingly made, to dismiss their servants according to Law. It had been made in a very sincere manner, and in the Presence of Almighty God, appealing to Him as a Witness; it was done in the Temple, a sacred place, devoted to the LORD and His worship; which was called by His Name, the Temple of the LORD, and where His Name was called upon, and where there were symbols of His Presence.
*****Ye were now turned, reformed in this specific thing, in which you did what I commanded you, proclaiming a liberty to your servants. You made a Covenant in My Presence to that purpose, and that done in the Temple, where it seems that this Covenant was made.
Jer. 34:16 But ye turned and polluted my name, and caused every man his servant, and every man his handmaid, whom ye had set at liberty at their pleasure, to return, and brought them into subjection, to be unto you for servants and for handmaids. (KJV)
But ye turned and polluted my name . . . they changed their minds, they changed horses in the middle of the stream. They turned away from their resolutions they had entered into, and the good ways they were walking in, and returned to their former evil practices; thus polluting the Name of God by taking it in vain, and breaking the Covenant they had agreed to in His Presence.
To return . . . then they caused every man and every woman whom they had set free, and forced their servants, although dismissed, to return again to their former bondage and service to them.
And brought them into subjection . . . they forced them to come back to their houses, and into their service, be subject to them and obey their commands as before.
To be unto you for servants and for handmaids . . . to do their business just as they had done before.
Jer. 34:17 Therefore thus saith the LORD; Ye have not hearkened unto me, in proclaiming liberty, every one to his brother, and every man to his neighbour: behold, I proclaim a liberty for you, saith the LORD, to the sword, to the pestilence, and to the famine; and I will make you to be removed into all the kingdoms of the earth. (KJV)
Therefore thus saith the LORD . . . this being the case, and this their crime, which did indeed provoke the LORD.
Ye have not hearkened unto me in proclaiming liberty everyone to his brother, and everyone to his neighbour . . . even though they did proclaim liberty, they did not give the freedom they stated, for almost as soon as they had granted the freedom, they took it away again; and it was considered by the LORD as not done at all.
Behold, I proclaim liberty for you, saith the LORD . . . or rather against them; the LORD dismissed them from His service, His care and protection, and consigned them to other lords and masters. The LORD gave them up (Acts 7:42; Rom.1:24, 26).
To the sword, to the pestilence, and to the famine . . . to rule over them; and gave these things liberty to make chaos on them, and destroy them, that what was left by one, might be seized by the other.
And I will make you to be removed into all the kingdoms of the earth . . . to be moved, and wander from place to place in great fear and terror, not knowing where to settle or how to live comfortably. This was a liberty to go about in foreign countries where they could, for relief and shelter, being banished from their own land; but this was a liberty that was miserable and uncomfortable; and no other than captivity and bondage; and so it is threatened on what remained of them, who were not destroyed with the sword of the Chaldeans, or perished not by pestilence and famine, would be carried captive, and be miserable vagrants in each of the kingdoms and nations of the world.
Jer. 34:18 And I will give the men that have transgressed my covenant, which have not performed the words of the covenant which they had made before me, when they cut the calf in twain, and passed between the parts thereof, (KJV)
And I will give the men that have transgressed my covenant . . . the Covenant the king, princes and all the people made, to let their servants go free, is called the LORD'S covenant, because it was made in His Name, in His Presence, and before Him as a Witness.
Which have not performed the words of the covenant made before me . . . they did not perform what they promised to do in the Presence of the LORD, as in verse 34:15.
When they cut the calf in twain, and passed between the parts thereof . . . which was a ritual or custom used in making and confirming covenants; a calf, or some other animal, was cut in pieces, and the parts laid in order, and the covenantees passed between these parts; demonstrating that if they did not fulfil the things promised in the Covenant they entered into, that they might be cut in pieces like those beasts, if they did not keep the covenants which they made. Some ways of this practice are to be seen as early as the times of Abraham (Gen.15:9-10); that it was the way of making a covenant to divide a beast, and pass between the parts of it; and this custom came from the Greeks, Chaldeans and Romans. One says this custom was by the Chaldeans, who took it from Abraham.
Jer. 34:19 The princes of Judah, and the princes of Jerusalem, the eunuchs, and the priests, and all the people of the land, which passed between the parts of the calf; (KJV)
The princes of Judah, and the princes of Jerusalem . . . this is a precise list of the persons that had made the covenant, and transgressed it, and that would suffer for so doing; the princes of Judah, separated from the princes of Jerusalem, mean such princes that lived outside of Jerusalem, in the cities of Judah, and presided over them, though now at Jerusalem, having fled there, on the invasion of the king of Babylon, for their safety.The princes of Jerusalem, or the magistrates of that city, are separated from the princes of the blood, and from the courtiers, both in this and verse 34:21.
The eunuchs, and the priests, and all the people of the land . . . meaning as many as had gotten into Jerusalem to secure themselves from the common enemy. The priests also were concerned, who had menservants and maidservants, as well as others. It is shocking that there would be eunuchs here; that such would be in the court of the king of Judah, and have offices in it, and preside in them, as among the Gentiles.
Which passed between the parts of the calf . . . indicating their agreement to the Covenant, and wishing they might be so used if they broke it.
Jer. 34:20 I will even give them into the hand of their enemies, and into the hand of them that seek their life: and their dead bodies shall be for meat unto the fowls of the heaven, and to the beasts of the earth. (KJV)
I will even give them into the hand of their enemies . . . the Chaldeans, who were the enemies of the Jews, that came from a far country to invade, dispossess, ravage and plunder them. What can be a greater punishment than to be given up into an enemy's hand, to be in his power, and at his mercy?
And into the hand of them that seek their life . . . not their wealth and substance only, but their lives also; nothing less will content their enemies.
And their dead bodies shall be for meat unto the fowls of the heaven, and to the beasts of the earth . . . not only would such be the cruelty of their enemies that sought their lives, that they should slay them with the sword, but also their inhumanity, that they would not allow their carcasses to be buried, but leave them exposed to birds and beasts of prey; of the princes of Judah (Jer.52:10).
*****God does not threaten all the Jews, only those who had made this Covenant, and officially confirmed it, by killing a beast, and passing through the parts of it thus divided and laid opposite one to another. Of these, the LORD spared none, but threatens both the king, nobles and great courtiers, as well as the people, that He would give them into the hand of their enemies that thirsted for their blood. They would be slain, and their dead bodies would not be buried. Here the righteousness of God appeared, by doing to them as they desired (by passing between the calf) that God would do in case they did not keep to the promise they had made, and called God to witness, and challenged Him to destroy them if they did not fulfil what they promised in the Covenant.
Jer. 34:21 And Zedekiah king of Judah and his princes will I give into the hand of their enemies, and into the hand of them that seek their life, and into the hand of the king of Babylon's army, which are gone up from you. (KJV)
And Zedekiah king of Judah, and his princes . . . these were either the princes of the blood, the sons of Zedekiah, and his nobles and courtiers, as separate from the princes in verse 34:19. These shall not be spared, neither the king, nor his sons, nor those of the private council: but those . . .
Will I give I to the hands of their enemies, and into the hand of them that seek their life . . . as in verse 34:20.
And into the hand of the king of Babylon's army . . . this is an explanation of the former, and shows who their enemies were, and those that sought their life. The accomplishment of this may be seen in: Jer. 52:9-11 Then they took the king, and carried him up unto the king of Babylon to Riblah in the land of Hamath; where he gave judgment upon him.
10 And the king of Babylon slew the sons of Zedekiah before his eyes: he slew also all the princes of Judah in Riblah. 11 Then he put out the eyes of Zedekiah; and the king of Babylon bound him in chains, and carried him to Babylon, and put him in prison till the day of his death. (KJV)
Which are gone up from you . . . departed from Jerusalem, as the Chaldean army did upon hearing that Pharaoh king of Egypt was marching with his army to raise the siege of Jerusalem; upon which they left it, and went forth to meet him; and this encouraged the wicked Jews to break their Covenant, and reduce their servants to bondage again, they had let go free (Jer.37:5).
Jer. 34:22 Behold, I will command, saith the LORD, and cause them to return to this city; and they shall fight against it, and take it, and burn it with fire: and I will make the cities of Judah a desolation without an inhabitant. (KJV)
Behold, I will command, saith the LORD, and cause them to return to this city . . . the LORD of hosts (armies), was the ‘General’ of Nebuchadnezzar's army, and had it at His command, and could direct when and where and when He pleased, and order it to march as He saw fit. Nebuchadnezzar's army was under the direction of the LORD’S wisdom when it departed from Jerusalem, to try the inhabitants of it; and now, He would powerfully work on it, by the ordering external causes to manage it, that it should return to Jerusalem again, and carry on the siege with intensified rigor.
And they shall fight against it, and take it, and burn it with fire . . . they fought against it by shooting arrows from their bows, casting stones from their engines, and by beating down the walls with their battering rams; thus making breaches, and they entered in and took the city; and burnt the Temple, palaces and other houses, with fire; of all which see the accomplishment in: Jer. 52:4-5 And it came to pass in the ninth year of his reign, in the tenth month, in the tenth day of the month, that Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon came, he and all his army, against Jerusalem, and pitched against it, and built forts against it round about. 5 So the city was besieged unto the eleventh year of king Zedekiah. (KJV)
And I will make the cities of Judah a desolation without an inhabitant . . . many of them were already gone; the king of Babylon having taken, ravaged and plundered them before he came to Jerusalem; and where the inhabitants of them, that escaped the sword, fled for security; and others that were not, now would be made desolate upon the taking of Jerusalem (verse 34:7), which would fall into the hands of the enemy, and the inhabitants would be forced to flee into other countries, or would be carried captive; so that they would be without any, or have but few to dwell in them.
*****A Jew should not be held in slavery over seven years. This law they and their fathers had broken. And when there was some hope that the siege was stopped, they forced the servants they had released, back into their services again. Those who think to cheat God by pretended repentance and partial reformation, put the greatest deception on their own souls. This shows that liberty to sin, is only liberty to receive the sorest and worse judgments. It is fair with the LORD to disappoint expectations of mercy, any time that we disappoint the expectations of duty to Him. When reformation springs only from terror, it will seldom last. Solemn vows thus entered into, profane the ordinances of God; and the most forward bind themselves by appeals to God, are the ones usually most ready to break them. We all need to look to our hearts, that our repentance may be real, and take care that the Law of God regulates our conduct.
This Chapter cannot close without first admiring God's remarkable patience and man's complete unworthiness. Even though judgment was at the door, and everyone seemed to be trembling at what would follow, their sin is not lessened. What a Gracious God we have! What but the sovereign grace of God can soften the human heart? Precious LORD Jesus, You were indeed the Servant, who would not go out free. For the love that You did bear for Your Father, and the love You did bear for Your wife, the Church, and the children which the Father had given You (John 10:27-30); Your Ear was indeed bored (Ex.21:6), and You did give Your Back to the smitters (Mat.26:67; 27:26), and Your Cheeks to them that plucked off the hair (Isa.50:6; 52:14). You did not hide Your Face from shame and spitting (Isa.53:3; Heb.12:2). Oh! For grace to imitate Your blessed example, and in all the circumstances of life, to show mercy because we have obtained mercy.
Book of Jeremiah
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