Bible Commentaries
Jeremiah 21

Garner-Howes Baptist CommentaryGarner-Howes

Verses 1-2




Chapters 21 and 22 contain a series of prophecies (by no means chronological) recorded during the reigns of Judah’s last four kings. Following the death of Josiah, his son Shallum (Jehoahaz) was enthroned for three months before being bound by Pharaoh-Necho and taken captive to Egypt, where he died. Another son of Josiah, Eliakim (whose name was changed to Jehoiakim), was placed on the throne, by Necho, and reigned for 11 years over Judah. Defeating Egypt at the battle of Carchemish (605 B.C.), Nebuchadnezzar quickly moved against Jerusalem and forced the submission of Jehoiakim who, after three years, rebelled - bringing the army of Babylon against Jerusalem once more. Jehoiakim was bound (Nebuchadnezzar planning to take him captive to Babylon), but died in Jerusalem in December, 598 B.C. Eighteen-year-old Jehoiachin (Coniah), his son, was placed on the throne, but, because of his evil ways, Jerusalem was again besieged by Babylon; he was deposed and led away captive.

Finally, another son of Josiah, Mattaniah, whose name Nebuchadnezzar changed to Zedekiah, was made king in Jerusalem. The weakest of all these kings, he reigned for 11 years - until the actual fall of Jerusalem - when he was forced to watch the slaying of his sons, had his eyes put out, was bound with fetters of brass and taken captive to Babylon (586 B.C.).



1. This incident finds its setting during the reign of Zedekiah (597-586 B.C.) - when Nebuchadnezzar is making war against Judah, (2 Kings 24:18-20; 2 Chronicles 36:11-14).

a. This is the first naming of Nebuchadnezzar (or Nebuchadnezzar) in , Jeremiah’s prophecy.

b. According to the Babylonian Chronicle, the events of 597 B.C. found Nebuchadnezzar marching into Palestine, laying a siege against Jerusalem, and finally capturing it on the second day of Adar (March 16).

c. Some years earlier, during the reign of Jehoiakim, Nebuchadnezzar had overwhelmed Jerusalem; though he left Jehoiakim as a vassal-king, he carried to Babylon many of the temple treasures -with Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah (Shadrack, Meshach and Abednego)-some of the choice young men of Judah, (Daniel 1:1-7).

d. Thus, it is being demonstrated, quite clearly, that Jeremiah’s warnings have been true and trustworthy.

2. This is the first mention of Jeremiah’s being consulted at the initiative of the king, who is now fearful for the future of Judah.

3. Remembering how God has intervened for the salvation of Judah and Jerusalem in the past, Zedekiah wants Jeremiah to intercede with Jehovah in behalf of the Holy City and the kingdom, (vs. 2; 2 Kings 19:6-7; 2 Kings 19:32-36; Isaiah 37).

a. If the Lord be willing, His wondrous works will once again be manifested in behalf of the people of His covenant.

b. Before His might the Chaldeans will not be able to stand: the king of Judah was aware of Jehovah’s great power; yet, he had not previously shown any concern for His pleasure - and the Lord will never permit himself to be USED as a troubleshooter for wicked men!

Verses 3-7

1. The answer of Jeremiah is swift and uncompromising: the Lord Himself will render ineffective the weapons that Judah attempts to use against the king of Babylon; the city must ultimately be surrendered to the Chaldeans, (VS. 4; Jeremiah 32:5; Jeremiah 33:4-5; Jeremiah 37:8-10).

2. The powerful arm and outstretched hand of Jehovah will now be lifted against Judah, (vs. 5).

a. That hand has often been lifted in judgment against the enemies of His covenant people, (Deuteronomy 26:8).

b. When the northern kingdom broke covenant, and rebelled against Jehovah, His outstretched hand sent them into captivity in Assyria.

c. And, since Judah has long since broken, forsaken and despised the covenant, she has no right to the protection of that powerful arm: with the covenant broken, the glory is departed, (Ezekiel 10­:11).

d. Yet, while the hand of Jehovah is stretched out against this disobedient and gainsaying people, it is with a sovereign and loving purpose-designing their ultimate good! (Romans 10:21).

3. Jerusalem will be smitten by three divine agents : man, beast and pestilence - all death-dealing instruments of Jehovah, (vs. 6; Jeremiah 7:20; Jeremiah 14:12; Jeremiah 32:24).

4. Those who survive all this (king and slaves alike) will be delivered into the hand of their Babylonian enemies who - without mercy or pity - will smite them with the sword, (vs. 7; Jeremiah 13:14; 2 Chronicles 36:17; Habakkuk 1:6-10).

Verses 8-10


1. At the Lord’s command, Jeremiah sets before the citizens of Jerusalem a choice of LIFE or DEATH: each must choose his own destiny, (vs. 8; comp. Deuteronomy 30:15-20; Joshua 24:15; 1 Kings 18:21; Psalms 1:1-6; Matthew 7:13).

2. To remain in the city will mean certain death - by sword, starvation or disease.

3. Or, they may voluntarily surrender (now) to the Chaldeans and escape with their lives (comp. Jeremiah 38:2; Jeremiah 39:18); there is no other choice!

a. Without surrender to God’s instrument of judgment there can be NO ESCAPE.

b. Though spoken at the Lord’s command, this seemingly treasonous counsel eventually led to Jeremiah’s arrest and imprisonment (ch. 38) - many actually demanded that he be put to death, (Jeremiah 37:13-16).

c. But for the concern and courageous action of a negro slave (Ebed-Melech), and the fall of the city, he would have been left in the dungeon to die.

4. Jerusalem has sinned away her day of grace. a. The Lord’s face is set against her - for destruction, (comp. Jeremiah 39:15-18; Jeremiah 44:11; Jeremiah 44:27; Amos 9:4).

b. She will fall to the king of Babylon, who will burn her with fire! (Jeremiah 32:28-29; Jeremiah 39:8; Jeremiah 52:12-14).

Verses 11-14


1. First, Jeremiah appeals to the royal house for the administration of justice.

a. Social justice is an integral part of the covenant which has been so flagrantly violated!

b. In the divine order for civil government, rulers (shepherds) are responsible for the welfare of their people; this is doubly true of those exalted to rulership in the covenant-nation.

c. The execution of justice should be the first order of the day, (vs. 12a; Jeremiah 22:3; 2 Samuel 4:5; Psalms 72:1; Isaiah 1:17; Zechariah 7:9-10; comp. Zephaniah 3:5).

d. Unless the oppressed are delivered out of the hands of those who are constantly robbing them, the burning wrath of the Lord will soon break forth, like an unquenchable fire, against the evil-doers, (vs. 12b; Jeremiah 4:4; Jeremiah 17:4; comp. Ezekiel 20:47-48; Nahum 1:6).

2. But, since the prospect of a return to righteousness in Judah appears hopeless, Jeremiah makes a statement concerning Jerusalem -the inhabitress of the valley and rock of the plain, (vs. 13-14).

a. In selecting Jerusalem as his capital, David acted wisely (2 Samuel 5:6-9); because of its strategic location it could easily be defended.

b. In spite of numerous prophetic warnings of impending destruction the inhabitants of Jerusalem had a false sense of security; they considered Jerusalem "untouchable"; after all, it was the place chosen of God to dwell among His people! (Jeremiah 21:13; comp. Obadiah 1:3).

c. Because God is against Jerusalem (due to her abounding and unrepented iniquity), He will reward her according to her sins -kindling a fire that will devour her forest and all that is associated with her, (comp. Isaiah 9:18).

d. The fall of Jerusalem will be brought about through the sovereign will and act of Jehovah, the covenant-God whom she has abandoned in her malicious and stubborn willfulness!

Bibliographical Information
Garner, Albert & Howes, J.C. "Commentary on Jeremiah 21". Garner-Howes Baptist Commentary. 1985.