Jer 21:1-44. Zedekiah
Consults Jeremiah What Is to Be the Event of the War: God's
Written probably when, after having repulsed the
Egyptians who brought succors to the Jews (Jer 37:5-8;
2Ki 24:7), the Chaldees were
a second time advancing against Jerusalem, but were not yet closely
besieging it (Jer 21:4, 13) [Rosenmuller]. This chapter probably ought to be
placed between the thirty-seventh and thirty-eight chapters; since what
the "princes," in Jer 38:2,
represent Jeremiah as having said, is exactly what we find in Jer 21:9. Moreover, the same persons as
21:1) are mentioned in Jer 37:3;
38:1, namely, Pashur and
Zephaniah. What is here more fully related is there simply referred to
in the historical narrative. Compare Jer 52:24; 2Ki 25:18 [Maurer].
1. Zedekiah—a prince having some
reverence for sacred things, for which reason he sends an honorable
embassy to Jeremiah; but not having moral courage to obey his better
Pashur—son of Melchiah, of the fifth
order of priests, distinct from Pashur, son of Immer (Jer 20:1), of the sixteenth order (1Ch 24:9, 14).
Zephaniah—of the twenty-fourth order.
They are designated, not by their father, but by their family (1Ch 24:18).
2. Nebuchadrezzar—the more usual way of
spelling the name in Jeremiah than Nebuchadnezzar. From Persiac
roots, meaning either "Nebo, the chief of the gods," or, "Nebo, the god
of fire." He was son of Nabopolassar, who committed the command of the
army against Egypt, at Carchemish, and against Judea, to the crown
according to all his wondrous
works—Zedekiah hopes for God's special interposition, such as
was vouchsafed to Hezekiah against Sennacherib (2Ki 19:35, 36).
go up from us—rise up from the
siege which he sat down to lay (Jer 37:5, 11, Margin; Nu 16:24,
27; 1Ki 15:19,
4. God of Israel—Those "wondrous works"
21:2) do not belong to you;
God is faithful; it is you who forfeit the privileges of
the covenant by unfaithfulness. "God will always remain the God of
Israel, though He destroy thee and thy people" [Calvin].
turn back the weapons—I will turn them
to a very different use from what you intend them. With them you now
fight against the Chaldees "without the walls" (the Jewish defenders
being as yet able to sally forth more freely, and defend the fountains
outside the walls in the valley under Mount Zion; see Jer 21:13;
Jer 19:6, 7); but soon ye
shall be driven back within the city [Maurer], and "in the midst" of it, I will cause all
your arms to be gathered in one place ("I will assemble them,"
namely, your arms) by the Chaldean conquerors [Grotius], who shall slay you with those very arms
5. The Jews shall have not merely the
Chaldees, but Jehovah Himself in wrath at their provocations, fighting
against them. Every word enhances the formidable character of God's
opposition, "I myself … outstretched hand … strong arm (no
longer as in Ex 6:6, and in
the case of Sennacherib, in your behalf, but) in anger … fury
… great wrath."
7. the people, and such—rather,
explanatory, "the people," namely, "such as are left."
seek their life—content with nothing
short of their death; not content with plundering and enslaving
smite with … sword—This was the
fate of Zedekiah's sons and many of the Jewish nobles. Zedekiah
himself, though not put to a violent death, died of grief. Compare as
to the accurate fulfilment, Jer 34:4; Eze 12:13; 2Ki 25:6,
8. "Life," if ye surrender; "death," if ye
persist in opposing the Chaldees (compare De 30:19). The individuality of Jeremiah's
mission from God is shown in that he urges to unconditional surrender;
whereas all former prophets had urged the people to oppose their
invaders (Isa 7:16; 37:33, 35).
9. (Jer 38:2, 17, 18).
falleth to—deserts to.
life … a prey—proverbial, to
make one's escape with life, like a valuable spoil or prey that one
carries off; the narrowness of the escape, and the joy felt at it, are
included in the idea (Jer 39:18).
10. set … face against—determined
to punish (See on Le 17:10).
12. house of David—the royal family and
all in office about the king. He calls them so, because it was the
greater disgrace that they had so degenerated from the piety of their
forefather, David; and to repress their glorying in their
descent from him, as if they were therefore inviolable; but God will
not spare them as apostates.
in the morning—alluding to the
time of dispensing justice (Job 24:17; Ps 101:8); but the sense is mainly proverbial,
for "with promptness" (Ps 90:14; 143:8). Maurer
translates, "every morning."
lest my fury … like fire—Already
it was kindled, and the decree of God gone forth against the city
21:4, 5), but the king and
his house may yet be preserved by repentance and reformation. God urges
to righteousness, not as if they can thereby escape punishment wholly,
but as the condition of a mitigation of it.
13. inhabitant of the valley, and rock of the
plain—Jerusalem personified; situated for the most part on
hills, with valleys at the bottom of them, as the valley of Hinnom,
&c.; and beyond the valleys and mountains again, a position most
fortified by nature, whence the inhabitants fancied themselves beyond
the reach of enemies; but since God is "against" them, their position
will avail nothing for them. The "valley" between Mount Zion and Moriah
is called Tyropœon. Robinson takes,
"rock of the plain" as Mount Zion, on which is a level
tract of some extent. It is appropriately here referred to, being
the site of the royal residence of the "house of David," addressed
14. fruit of your doings—(Pr 1:31; Isa
forest thereof—namely of your city,
taken from Jer 21:13.
"Forest" refers to the dense mass of houses built of cedar, &c.,
brought from Lebanon (Jer 22:7; 52:13; 2Ki 25:9).