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The two families which the Lord hath chosen, he hath even cast them off? thus they have despised my people, that they should be no more a nation before them. Thus saith the *s Lord; If my covenant be not with day and night, and if I have not appointed the ordinances of heaven and earth; then will I cast away the seed of Jacob, and David my 26 servant, so that I will not take any of his seed to be rulers over the seed of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob: for I will cause their captivity to return, and have mercy on them.

Chap. XXXIV. 1—7. Prophecy of the burning of the city and the captivity of Zedekiah.

The word which came unto Jeremiah from the Lord, 34 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

thus they have] and they have.

that they should be] so that they are.

26. There shall yet be rulers and priests over Israel in its spiritual sense viz. the Christian Church, the natural successor and development of Judaism. For this thought one step further advanced, and pointing faintly to the means by which the issue was to be brought about, compare Is. lxvi. 19—21.

Chap. XXXIV. 1—7. Prophecy Of The Burning Of The

CITY AND THE CAPTIVITY OF ZEDEKIAH.

1. The word which came] The similarity between the earlier part (verses 2, 3) of this message to Zedekiah and that of xxxii. 3—5 suggests what is the ordinary view, that this prophecy is merely the fuller form of the same. Verses 4, 5 however are not sufficiently like anything in the former passage, and rather suggest a peaceful reign and death in Jerusalem, followed by kingly obsequies. Either therefore this is in fact their sense, and the verse is really a conditional promise, though here given in an abbreviated form with the condition omitted (see xxxviii. 17, where the condition is given), or the words mean only that Zedekiah should escape with his life in the destruction of the city, and should on the occasion of his death in Babylon receive from his fellow-exiles the honours here described.

Nebuchadnezzar ...and all his army] The long enumeration of the hostile forces seems meant to refer to their number and perhaps unwieldiness, as composed of many different nations whose connecting links were of the slenderest. Compare Ezek. xxvi. 7, where the like description is given of Nebuchadnezzar's attack on Tyre.

and all the people] and all ihe peoples, separate nations.

2 cities thereof, saying, 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

3 fire: 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

4 Babylon. Yet hear the word of the Lord, O Zedekiah king of Judah; Thus saith the Lord of thee, Thou shalt

s not die by the sword: 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

6 the word, saith the Lord. Then Jeremiah the prophet spake all these words unto Zedekiah king of Judah in Jeru

7 salem, when the king of Babylon's army fought against Jerusalem, and against all the cities of Judah that were

all the cities thereof] including Lachish and Azekah of ver. 7. The fact that those cities were not taken, and that Jeremiah was still free ('go and speak' ver. 2) shews us that the date was early in this last campaign of Nebuchadnezzar, and probably in the ninth year of Zedekiah.

3. thine eyes shall behold the eyes of the king of Babylon] Seexxxii. 4. "The fact of Zedekiah's interview with Nebuchadnezzar at Riblah, and his being carried blind to Babylon, [see chap. lii. 11], reconciles two predictions of Jeremiah and Ezekicl, which at the time of their delivery must have appeared conflicting, and which Josephus indeed particularly • states that Zedekiah alleged as his reason for not giving more heed to Jeremiah. The former of these (Jer. xxxii. 4) states that Zedekiah shall 'speak with the king of Babylon mouth to mouth, and his eyes shall behold his eyes,' the latter (Ezek. xii. 13) that 'he shall be brought to Babylon and shall not see it, though he die there.'" Sm. Bibl. Diet. Art. Zedekiah.

5. in peace] in tranquillity. See note on xi. 12.

with the buntings of thy fathers] See 2 Chron. xvi. 14, xxi. 19.

shall they burn odours] Shall they make a burning. There is nothing in the Hebrew implying more than a burning, which might have been of wood, perhaps with some of the personal property of the deceased. Odours would probably have been difficult for the exiles to procure in Babylon, if the words here really have reference to the actual event. (See note on The word which came, ver. 1.)

Ah lord] See xxii. 18 with note.

left, against Lachish, and against Azekah: for these defenced cities remained of the cities of Judah.

8—11. The treatment received by the Hebrew servants.

This is the word that came unto Jeremiah from the Lord, 8 after that the king Zedekiah had made a covenant with all the people which were at Jerusalem, to proclaim liberty unto them; that every man should let his manservant, and 9

7. against Lachish, and against Azekah] Both these were in the low country of Judah near the borders of Egypt. Nebuchadnezzar would not venture to advance on his career of conquest, into Egypt, leaving such important fortresses untaken.

8—11. The Treatment Received By The Hebrew Servants.

8. had made a covenant] This covenant was merely to the effect that the Law of Moses regarding Hebrew slaves should be carried out. There were two classes of rules on the subject in the Pentateuch, apparently but not really conflicting. According to Exod. xxi. 2 a Hebrew male slave was to be set free after six years' service, and by Deut. xv. 12, this was extended to female slaves. In Lev. xxv. 39—55 on the other hand we find that a Hebrew slave was to be treated not as a slave, but a hired servant, and to be set free at the jubilee (each fiftieth year; but see note on ver. 14 below). It is clear however, from the context of this last passage that it had regard to out door service, tillage, etc., while the others are concerned with domestic slavery. This law seems to have fallen out of use among many Jews. In general the Mosaic Law would be more closely kept at Jerusalem than elsewhere, and it may well be that the coming in of many of the wealthier Jews from the country to avoid the invading army, made the laxity on their part more conspicuous by contrast. This, coupled with the conscience-quickening power of impending danger, in meeting which the slaves, if enfranchised, would be more ready to co-operate with their former masters, seems to have induced Zedekiah, naturally too weak-minded a man to have displayed much vigour in urging any such conduct upon his subjects, to make the agreement with them here spoken of. It probably has reference to all slaves who according to the above law had a claim to freedom either of shorter or longer standing. It is possible indeed that all Hebrew slaves, even those who had not completed their six years' servitude, were in the terror of the moment set free. It appears however that when the Babylonian army withdrew for a short time to meet the Egyptian force from which they imagined themselves in danger (xxxvii. 5), the Jews, fancying all danger passed, basely withdrew the gift of freedom from their newly emancipated compatriots of both sexes.

to proclaim liberty unto them] The same phrase is used of the proclamation made in the year of jubilee (Lev. xxv. 10).

every man his maidservant, being a Hebrew or a Hebrewess, go free; that none should serve himself of them, to wit, of a Jew his brother. 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. But afterwards 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.

12—22. The punishment of their masters which is to ensue.

Therefore the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah from the Lord, saying, 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, At the end of seven years let ye go every

9. serve himself of tkeni] See note on xxx. 8.

10. heard] The Hebrew verb is the same as that rendered later in the verse 'obeyed.' In strictness therefore it should be rendered alike in both places. For the sake of the English idiom however, which does not repeat a verb in this way, it is better to vary. "It is part of the courtesy of oriental countries to represent obedience as the necessary result of hearing another's wishes."—Sp. Comm.

11. they turned, and caused...to return] they again brought back. For the Hebrew idiom, which our version has literally translated, see note on chap. xii. 15.

12—22. The Punishment Of Their Masters Which Is To Ensue.

12. Therefore the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah] The prophet reminds the people of the covenant which God made with their fathers, of the circumstances under which it was made, of their shortlived obedience to it, and then announces the penalty.

13. the house of bondmen] The phrase occurs Deut. vii. 8, and the phrase 'house of bondage' frequently in Exod. and Deut. The point of its use here is to remind Israel that their position, as recently delivered from slavery when this covenant was made, should have taught them to be specially tender of others.

14. At the end of seven years] As we should say of six years. In Hebrew counting of this kind both the first and the last items were reckoned in. So the jubilee was in strictness the forty-ninth (the seventh Sabbatical) not the fiftieth year. Compare the rite of circumcision administered on the eighth (seventh) day after birth, and our Lord's Resurrection on " the third (second) day."

man his brother a 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. And ye were now turned, and 15 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. But ye turned r6 and polluted ray name, and caused every man his servant, and every man hk 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. Therefore 17 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. And I will give the men that have transgressed 18 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, the 19 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; I will even give them into 20 the hand of their enemies, and into the hand of them that

hearkened] the same verb as in ver. To, where see note. IS. And ye] The pronoun is emphatic, as contrasting them with the former generations. At last men were found to obey. in proclaiming liberty] See note on ver. 8.

17. / proclaim a liberty for you] The people, hitherto God's servants, and secure in that service, shall be cast off by Him, and shall accordingly, being no longer under His protection as their Owner, be exposed to the perils which follow.

to be removed] See notes on xv. 4, and xxiv. 9.

18. The construing of this verse presents a difficulty. 'When they cut the calf in twain' is literally thecal/ which they cut in twain. 'Calf then is most probably either a second accusative after 'I will give,' or, better, in apposition to 'the covenant.' In the former case the rendering will be, '1will make the men...the calf i.e. I will cut them in pieces as they have done to the calf of sacrifice, in the latter, / will give...(resuming this at ver. 20 I will even give) the men...which have not performed the words of the covenant...even the calf which they cut, &c. See Gen xv. 10 for ceremonies of this kind as attendant upon a covenant.

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