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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,
Ver. 1. The word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord. ] Still he voucheth his author for more authority sake. And this is held to be his sixteenth sermon.
And all the kingdoms of the earth of his dominion. ] For never any monarch was master of the whole earth.
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:
Ver. 2. Go and speak unto Zedekiah. ] Tell him plainly what shall become of him and his, though thou be sent to prison for thy plain dealing.
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.
Ver. 3. And thou shalt not escape. ] Whatever vain hopes thou mayest nourish, and although thou thinkest thou hast a stake in store, howsoever the world goes with the rest. See Jeremiah 32:4-5 .
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:
Ver. 4. Yet hear the word of the Lord. ] A word of comfort. The Lord is good to all, and his tender mercies are over all his works. Psa 145:9 Out of his philanthropy he giveth this wicked prince a mitigation of his just punishment, and a further time to repent. as Rev 2:21 And possibly this goodness of God might in time lead him to repentance. as Rom 2:4
Thou shalt not die by the sword. ] And yet Josiah, his father, a far better man, did; so unsearchable are God’s judgments, and his ways past finding out.
Jeremiah 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.
Ver. 5. But thou shalt die in peace. ] Yet not as his father Josiah did, in that peace of God, unless he amended his manners, for he was reckoned among the naughty figs.
And with the burnings of thy fathers, the former kings. ] With the usual solemnities at the exequies of the better sort of kings: Nec una fuit veteribus sepeliendi ratio. See 2Ch 16:14 ; 2 Chronicles 21:19 . The Jews have a tradition that Nebuchadnezzar, upon a festival day, caused him to be brought out of prison, and so abused him before his princes to make them sport, that for shame and grief thereof he died soon after; and then Nebuchadnezzar, to make him some recompense, caused him to be honourably buried, suffering his former subjects to burn sweet odours and to bewail his death. a
And they will lament thee. ] The dues of the dead are, honorifice lugeri et honeste sepeliri, to be honourably lamented and laid up; which yet is not granted to all good men, but heaven makes amends. Planctus haec fuit formula iuxta Seder Olam, Heu! quia mortuus est Rex Zedechias bibens faeces omnium cetatum; i.e., Luens peccata priorum saeculorum - interprete Genebrardo.
For I have pronounced the word. ] Both the comminatory part of this message and the consolatory. But Zedekiah was so moved at the former that he regarded not the latter.
a Joseph. Antiq., lib. x. cap. 11.
Jer 34:6 Then Jeremiah the prophet spake all these words unto Zedekiah king of Judah in Jerusalem,
Ver. 6. Then Jeremiah spake all these words. ] Never fearing what might follow; and he had no sooner done but he was clapped up. See Jeremiah 32:3 .
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.
Ver. 7. And against all the cities of Judah which were left. ] These were not many, for the Chaldean conqueror, as an overflowing scourge, had passed through Judah, and gone over all, reaching even to the neck. as Isa 8:8
Jeremiah 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;
Ver. 8. This is the word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord. ] Here beginneth a new sermon, reckoned the seventeenth; and here ought to begin a new chapter, saith Piscator.
After that the king Zedekiah had made a covenant. ] In their distress they made some shows of remorse, and some overtures of reformation. So did Pharaoh. Exodus 8:8 ; Exodus 8:15 ; Exodus 8:28 ; Exodus 8:32 ; Exodus 9:28 ; Exodus 9:34 ; Exodus 10:17 ; Exo 10:20 And the Israelites of old. Judges 10:15-16 Psalms 78:34-36 ; see the notes there Daemon languebat, &c. Pliny, in one of his epistles to one that desired rules from him how to order his life aright, I will, said he, give you one rule that shall be instead of a thousand: Ut tales esse perseveremus sani, quales nos futuros esse profitemur infirmi, i.e., That we continue to be as good in health as we promise and begin to be at the time of our sickness.
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.
Ver. 9. That every man should let his manservant. ] Should manumit and dismiss him at six years’ end, according to the law. Exo 21:1-2 The seventh year a was called the year of liberty, and then they were to let go their brethren that served them, and this in a thankful remembrance of their deliverance from the Egyptian servitude. But this they had neglected to do; and now, to pacify God’s wrath, and to prevent, if it might be, the Chaldeans’ cruelty, this coarse they took, and not altogether without success, for the siege was thereupon raised for a season; and had they returned to God with all their heart and with all their soul, who knows what might have been further done for them? But they did nothing less; therefore came wrath upon them to the utmost.
a Hic septimus annus fuit typus aeternae liberationis post curriculum sex dierum mundi, sex mille annorum.
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.
Ver. 10. Then they obeyed, and let them go. ] They seemed to be very good as long as it lasted. See on Jeremiah 34:8 . So when God lays siege to men by sickness or otherwise, then covenants are made and kept for a while concerning the putting away of their sins; but no sooner doth God slack his wrath but they retract their vows, and return to their wonted wickedness:
“ Aegrotus surgit, sed pia vota iacent. ”
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.
Ver. 11. But afterwards they turned, and caused their servants. ] Stimulante avaritia. Covetousness prompting and pricking them on thereunto for that is the root of all evil. 1Ti 6:10 The Chaldeans had drawn off, to go, belike, to fight with the relief that was coming out of Egypt; Jeremiah 37:7 ; Jer 37:11 and now these silly Jews thought themselves out of the reach of God’s rod perfidiously repealed their vows, re-embondaged their servants, and are therefore worthily threatened with a more cruel servitude to the Chaldeans for this their relapse and breach of covenant with God.
Jer 34:12 Therefore the word of the LORD came to Jeremiah from the LORD, saying,
Ver. 12. Therefore the word of the Lord. ] Of God the Son. a
Came to Jeremiah from the Lord. ] From God the Father.
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,
Ver. 13. I made a covenant with your fathers. ] Heb., I cut a covenant. See Jeremiah 34:18 .
Out of the house of bondmen. ] Such were you when there; why then should you pull up the bridge before others which yourselves have gone over? make slaves of those whom God had made free? Leviticus 25:39 ; Lev 25:42
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.
Ver. 14. At the end of seven years let ye go. ] He layeth before them God’s law, which they had transgressed, out of Exo 21:2 Deuteronomy 15:12 . A law so full of equity, humanity, and benignity, that the more honest heathens approved and observed it, as the Romans and Athenians. Only these latter had an action at law (which they called ‘ Aποστασιον ) for a master against his servant, ungrateful for his manumission, and not doing his duty to his master, for such were again to be made bondslaves, if the crime could be proved against them. a
a Val. Max., lib. ii. cap. 1.
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:
Ver. 15. And you were now turned. ] Being frightened into a temporary reformation: but all was in hypocrisy, as now well appeareth. Falling stars were never but meteors.
In proclaiming liberty every one to his neighbour. ] Your servants were your neighbours, and "their flesh as your flesh," Neh 5:5 and should have been so considered. In the law the servant paid the half shekel as well as his master. And in the gospel, as there is "neither Jew nor Greek, so neither bond nor free, but all are one in Christ Jesus," Gal 3:28 whether he be lord or lowlies. Servus est domini sui συναδελφος .
And ye had made a covenant before. ] And have not all done so in baptism, that Beersheba, or Well of an oath?
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.
Ver. 16. But ye turned. ] Exprobrat recidivum Iudaeorum scelus, qui scilicet primam virtutem turpiter deluserint et violarint. He upbraideth them, and deservedly, with their apostasy and perjury. Peter also thundereth against such. 2Pe 2:1-22
And polluted my name, ] scil., By the violation of your solemn vow; so doth every profligate professor and ungirt Christian.
Whom he had set at liberty at their pleasure. ] Liberty is a desirable and delectable commodity. Those that live in Turkey, Persia, yea, or but in France, &c., esteem it so.
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.
Ver. 17. Ye have not hearkened unto me in proclaiming liberty. ] Ye have not done it, because ye have not continued to do it; ye have lost the things that you had wrought.
Behold, I proclaim a liberty for you. ] God loves to retaliate. Here he abandoneth these apostates to the plagues instanced. Let them use you at their pleasure, saith God; I have no mercy for such merciless wretches, neither care I what becomes of you.
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,
Ver. 18. That have transgressed my covenant. ] His covenant he calleth it by a weighty emphasis, because about a business by him commanded, and wherein he was engaged, not as a bare spectator, but as a severe avenger of their perjury.
When they cut the calf in twain. ] To show the correspondence of wills whereunto the contractors did bind themselves, and the punishment of dissection or other violent death whereunto they submitted themselves, in case they broke promise. The rise of this rite in covenanting, see Genesis 15:9-10 ; Genesis 15:17 . The heathens a used the like ceremony, b as is to be seen in Homer, Cicero, Livy, Virgil:
“ Et caesa iungebant faedera porea. ”
The Romans cut a sow in twain; and when it was divided, the Faeciales or heralds gave one half to one party, and the other half to the other, and said, So God divide you asunder if you break this covenant; and let God do this so much the more as he is more able.
a Hom. Il., lib. iii; Tul. de Invent. ; Liv., lib. i.; Virg. Aeneid, 8.
b Hinc faedus a faedo animali diviso.
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;
Ver. 19. The princes of Judah. ] These were most of them cut in pieces by the King of Babylon, as the calf had been.
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.
Ver. 20. And their dead bodies. ] Jeremiah 7:33 ; Jeremiah 16:4 .
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.
Ver. 21. Which are gone up from you. ] But will be upon you again ere long; they are but gone back to fetch beer, as it were. You have deceived your servants with a vain hope of liberty, and so you do now yourselves. See Jeremiah 37:8 ; Jeremiah 37:21 .
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.
Ver. 22. Behold, I will command ] i.e., By a secret instinct I will move.
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Trapp, John. "Commentary on Jeremiah 34". Trapp's Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/
the Second Week after Epiphany