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Zedekiah's Question and its Answer
v. 1. The word which came unto Jeremiah from the Lord, when King Zedekiah sent unto him Pashur, the son of Melchiah, not the same Pashur who was mentioned in the last chapter, but the man listed with other prominent men of the kingdom in 38:1, and Zephanlah, the son of Maaseiah, the priest, saying,
v. 2. Enquire, I pray thee, of the Lord for us, to find out what attitude Jehovah would take, and whether they could count on His assistance on the basis of a special revelation; for Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, maketh war against us, this incident taking place at the time when the invaders were already near the city or about to enter; if so be that the Lord will deal with us according to all His wondrous works, the fact that the true God is almighty coming to their remembrance at the time of this affliction, that he, the invading king, may go up from us, discontinue his advance or raise the siege which he had even then begun. It has ever been thus, that affliction drove people to seek the Lord and His mercy, much as the same people otherwise ignored Him.
v. 3. Then said Jeremiah unto them, Thus shall ye say to Zedekiah,
v. 4. Thus saith the Lord God of Israel, the one true God, of whose existence the people and their king seemed to be aware only as it suited their needs and their fancy. Behold, I will turn back the weapons of war that are in your hands wherewith ye fight against the king of Babylon and against the Chaldeans which besiege you without the walls, so that their entire defense would be rendered vain, and I will assemble them into the midst of this city, so that its defenders, who were still attempting to repel the invaders outside the walls, would be compelled to take refuge in the city, their weapons having proved powerless against the enemy.
v. 5. And I Myself will fight against you with an outstretched hand and with a strong arm, exhibiting His almighty power in punishing them, even in anger and in fury and in great wrath, the climax presented by the synonyms indicating that He was possessed with the highest degree of indignation,
v. 6. and I will smite the inhabitants of this city, both man and beast, in a general sentence of punishment; they shall die of a great pestilence, this being the first part of the destruction decided upon by the Lord.
v. 7. And afterward, saith the Lord, I will deliver Zedekiah, king of Judah, and his servants, and the people, the inhabitants in general, and such as are left in this city from the pestilence, from the sword, and from the famine, the survivors after the coming of these great scourges, into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, and into the hand of their enemies, and into the hand of those that seek their life, the inevitable doom being brought out in these expressions, and he shall smite them with the edge of the sword, in a relentless slaughter; he shall not spare them, neither have pity nor have mercy. Cf Deuteronomy 29:29; 2 Kings 25:6-7; Ezekiel 12:13. Thus did Zedekiah receive his answer in agreement with his actions and his state of mind, for he did evil in the sight of the Lord.
A Message to Judah and its King
v. 8. And unto this people thou shalt say, Thus saith the Lord, Behold, I set before you the way of life and the way of death, putting it up to their own choice and laying the responsibility of their decision upon them.
v. 9. He that abideth in this city shall die by the sword and by the famine and by the pestilence, the three great scourges of God's punishment which have been mentioned time and again; but he that goeth out and falleth to the Chaldeans that besiege you, voluntarily surrendering to them, he shall live, and his life shall be unto him for a prey, keeping it safely from the greed of the enemies.
v. 10. For I have set My face against this city for evil and not for good, saith the Lord, being fully determined to pursue His course of vengeance; it shall be given into the hand of the king of Babylon, and he shall burn it with fire.
v. 11. And touching the house of the king of Judah, addressing himself to the reigning house, say, Hear ye the word of the Lord:
v. 12. O house of David, whose descendants were still occupying the throne of Judah, thus saith the Lord, Execute judgment in the morning, with all promptness and eager application, and deliver him that is spoiled out of the hand of the oppressor, so that justice would be dispensed in his case, lest My fury go out like fire and burn that none can quench it, because of the evil of your doings, which challenged the holiness of the avenging Lord.
v. 13. Behold, I am against thee, O inhabitant of the valley and rock of the plain, saith the Lord, Jerusalem being considered, on the one hand, as being situated beneath Mount Olivet and its range, and on the other as being exalted above the lowlands toward the south and west, which say, in proud self-confidence, Who shall come down against us? or who shall enter into our habitations? deeming themselves safe from attack within fortifications which were well-nigh impregnable in those days.
v. 14. But I will punish you according to the fruit of your doings, saith the Lord, in agreement with her wicked deeds; and I will kindle a fire in the forest thereof, and it shall devour all things round about it, the city itself, with all its suburbs, being considered a forest of dwellings. Thus the specific items in the destruction of Jerusalem were ever and again brought to the attention of the apostate Jews, just as the individual incidents of the Last Judgment are set forth at length and with careful attention to details in the New Testament.
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Kretzmann, Paul E. Ph. D., D. D. "Commentary on Jeremiah 21". "Kretzmann's Popular Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/
the Fourth Week after Epiphany