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Bible Commentaries
Jeremiah 39

Kingcomments on the Whole BibleKingcomments

Verses 1-3


This chapter mentions the fall of Jerusalem. This is an event of such great significance that the Holy Spirit mentions it four times in God’s Word (2 Kings 25:1-Ezra :; 2 Chronicles 36:17-Ecclesiastes :; Jeremiah 39:10; Jeremiah 52:4-Amos :).

Jerusalem Is Captured

What has been foretold is happening. The army of the king of Babylon returns from the battle against Egypt and besieges Jerusalem (Jeremiah 39:1; Jeremiah 37:8). This happens in the tenth month of the ninth year of Zedekiah’s reign. Over a year and a half later the city falls (Jeremiah 39:2). The date is given to the exact day.

All the officials of the king of Babylon are there, that is, there is a great display of power (Jeremiah 39:3). The starving city is dwarfed by it. The “Rab-mag” is the head of magi. The fact that the officials of Babylon are posted at the Middle Gate probably means that they form a government for the city there and also judge the captives there.

Verses 4-10

The Fate of Zedekiah and Jerusalem

When Zedekiah sees the enemy appearing in the city, he concludes his evil reign with the shameful and cowardly act of attempting to flee (Jeremiah 39:4). Concerned for his own life, he abandons his people whom he has plunged into misery by his futile opposition to an overpowering enemy. Far worse, in doing so, he again demonstrates his disobedience to God’s Word that was so clearly preached to him by Jeremiah.

He ventures out together with the remaining fighting men. They do it at night in a place that seems to be hidden from the eye of the enemy. He leaves “toward the Arabah”, that is, that of the Jordan. The escape attempt proves to be in vain. It is also folly to run away from the clear statements of the LORD and the means He uses. He is caught up on the plains of Jericho and seized there (Jeremiah 39:5). It is rather tragic that the last king of the people suffers this fate at the very place where Joshua and the people won their first victory in the land (Joshua 6:2; Joshua 6:20-Ecclesiastes :).

Zedekiah is taken to the king of Babylon. There, as has been foretold, he stands face to face with the mighty Nebuchadnezzar (Jeremiah 32:3-Numbers :), the man who made him king (2 Kings 24:16). He made a covenant with him and broke it (Ezekiel 17:18). Now he reaps what he sowed in his folly (2 Chronicles 36:12-1 Chronicles :). The king of Babylon passes sentence on him. In a deeper sense, this is the sentence of the LORD.

His sons are slain before his eyes (Jeremiah 39:6). That must have been a terrible sight. All the nobles of Judah, who supported Zedekiah in his wicked policy, are also slain. Then Zedekiah’s eyes are put out and he is blind (Jeremiah 39:7). He has always refused the light of God’s Word and lived in spiritual darkness. Now he must also lack the light of his eyes for the rest of his life and literally live in darkness.

The last thing he saw in the light of the world was the slaughter of his sons. That picture will always stay with him and torment him. Then, blind and bound with fetters of bronze, he is taken to Babylon. Thus also the word is fulfilled that he shall go to Babylon, but shall not see it (Ezekiel 12:13).

1. Zedekiah, the last king,
2. Samson, the last judge and
3. Laodicea, the last church,
all ended up blind. They were overcome by the world because of their unfaithfulness to God and their disobedience to His Word. As a result, they lost sight of the things of God.

The Chaldeans burn the king’s house and the houses of the people (Jeremiah 39:8). They also break down the walls of Jerusalem. What is left of the people, both in the city and outside it, is taken into exile to Babylon, as are the deserters (Jeremiah 39:9). The poorest of the land, those who have no possessions – perhaps the Rechabites (Jeremiah 35:1-1 Kings :)? – may continue to live in the land (Jeremiah 39:10). They pose no threat and can tend the vineyards and fields placed at their disposal.

Verses 11-14

The Deliverance of Jeremiah

Nebuchadnezzar will certainly have been informed of Jeremiah’s preaching to the people to surrender to him. This is the reason why he gives orders concerning Jeremiah (Jeremiah 39:11). He commands that Jeremiah should be taken into protection and that no harm should be done to him (Jeremiah 39:12). On the contrary, he is to be at his beck and call when he says something. Nebuchadnezzar commands his entire staff that is in Jerusalem to do this (Jeremiah 39:13).

They do as he commands and send messengers to Jeremiah to release him from his captivity (Jeremiah 39:14). Then they turn him over to the care of Gedaliah, who is to take him home. Jeremiah is free again. He reaps the truth of the LORD’s words that he spoke to all the people.

Verses 15-18

Promise for Ebed-Melech

The LORD forgets nothing of what anyone has done for Him or His own. Before the city has fallen and Jeremiah is still a prisoner, the word of the LORD has come to him with a message for Ebed-Melech (Jeremiah 39:15). He is to bring Ebed-Melech the Ethiopian, the word of the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel (Jeremiah 39:16).

First the LORD points out that He will bring His words of calamity upon the city. Ebed-Melech will see that for himself. But the LORD will deliver him (Jeremiah 39:17). He does fear the Chaldeans, for he has been a servant of Zedekiah. Perhaps he is also afraid of the men who wanted to kill Jeremiah because he helped Jeremiah out of the cistern into which they had thrown him. The man who did such a brave act of faith, they will want to make him pay for that.

But he has served the LORD, the King of kings, and Who promises that He “will certainly rescue” him (Jeremiah 39:18) from all dangers. The sword will not strike him; he will remain alive. The reason is: “Because you have trusted in Me.” God honors those who honor Him. Let us too take the risks of faith in the way of obedience and thus adorn the gospel.

Bibliographical Information
de Koning, Ger. Commentaar op Jeremiah 39". "Kingcomments on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/kng/jeremiah-39.html. 'Stichting Titus' / 'Stichting Uitgeverij Daniël', Zwolle, Nederland. 2021.
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