Jer 34:1-22. Captivity of
Zedekiah and the People Foretold for Their Disobedience and
The prophecy (Jer 34:1-7) as to Zedekiah is an amplification of
that in Jer 32:1-5,
in consequence of which Jeremiah was then shut up in the court of the
prison. The 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.
1. Jerusalem and … all the cities
thereof—(see on Jer 19:15). It was
amazing blindness in the king, that, in such a desperate position, he
should reject admonition.
3. (Jer 32:4).
4, 5. Mitigation of Zedekiah's punishment.
5. the burnings of thy fathers—Thy
funeral shall be honored with the same burning of aromatic spices as
there was at the funerals of thy fathers (2Ch 16:14;
21:19). The honors here
mentioned were denied to Jehoiakim (Jer 22:18).
Ah, lord!—The Hebrews in their
chronology (Seder Olam) mention the wailing used over him,
"Alas! King Zedekiah is dead, drinking the dregs (that is, paying the
penalty for the sins) of former ages."
7. these … retained—alone (compare
8. By the law a Hebrew, after having been a
bond-servant for six years, on the seventh was to be let go free (Ex
21:22; De 15:12).
Zedekiah made a covenant—with solemn
ceremonial in the temple (Jer 34:15, 18, 19).
them—bond-servants (Jer 34:9).
9. none … serve himself of a
11. During the interruption of the siege by
Pharaoh-hophra (compare Jer 34:21, 22, with Jer 37:5-10), the Jews reduced their servants to
13. The last year of Zedekiah was the
sabbatical year. How just the retribution, that they who, against God's
law and their own covenant, enslaved their brethren, should be doomed
to bondage themselves: and that the bond-servants should enjoy the
sabbatical freedom at the hands of the foe (Jer 52:16) which their own countrymen denied
14. At the end of seven years—that is,
not on the eighth year, but within the limit of the seventh
year, not later than the end of the seventh year (Ex 21:2;
23:10; De 15:12). So "at the
end of three years" (De 14:28; 2Ki 18:10), and "after three days, I will
rise again" (Mt 27:63),
that is, on the third day (compare Mt 27:64).
15. in the house … called by my
name—the usual place of making such covenants (2Ki 23:3; compare 1Ki 8:31; Ne 10:29).
16. polluted my name—by violating your
17. not … proclaiming
liberty—Though the Jews had ostensibly emancipated their
bond-servants, they virtually did not do so by revoking the
liberty which they had granted. God looks not to outward appearances,
but to the sincere intention.
I proclaim a liberty—retribution
answering to the offense (Mt 7:2; 18:32, 33; Ga 6:7; Jas
2:13). The Jews who would not
give liberty to their brethren shall themselves receive "a liberty"
calamitous to them. God will manumit them from His happy and safe
121:3), which is real
"liberty" (Ps 119:45; Joh 8:36; 2Co 3:17), only to pass under the terrible
bondage of other taskmasters, the "sword," &c.
to be removed—The Hebrew
expresses agitation (see on Jer 15:4).
Compare De 28:25, 48, 64, 65, as to the restless agitation of
the Jews in their ceaseless removals from place to place in their
18. passed between the parts thereof—The
contracting parties in the "covenant" (not here the law in
general, but their covenant made before God in His house to
emancipate their slaves, Jer 34:8, 9) passed through the parts of the animal
cut in two, implying that they prayed so to be cut in sunder (Mt 24:51; Greek, "cut in two") if
they should break the covenant (Ge 15:10, 17).
20. I will even give—resuming the
sentence begun, but not completed (Jer 34:18), "I will give," &c.
seek their life—implacably: satisfied
with nothing short of their blood; not content with booty.
dead bodies—The breakers of the
covenant shall be cut in pieces, as the calf between whose parts they
21. gone up—that is, raised the siege in
order to meet Pharaoh-hophra (Jer 37:7-10). The departure of the Chaldeans was a
kind of manumission of the Jews; but as their manumission of their
bond-servants was recalled, so God revoked His manumission of them from
22. I will command—Nebuchadnezzar,
impelled unconsciously by a divine instigation, returned on the
withdrawal of the Egyptians.