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Bible Commentaries
Jeremiah 34

Whedon's Commentary on the BibleWhedon's Commentary

Verse 1

1. People Literally, peoples; suggesting the extent of the Chaldean monarchy, and perhaps also the heterogeneousness of the army of Nebuchadnezzar, made up of unassimilated and, perhaps, half conquered tribes.

All the cities thereof See Jeremiah 19:15. The towns and villages immediately about Jerusalem.

Fought Literally, are fighting.

Verse 2

2. Burn it with fire Suggesting the fierceness and fury of the king of Babylon and the cruelty of oriental warfare.

Verse 3

3. Thou shalt not escape Many, as, for instance, Hitzig, Graf, and Payne Smith, in the Speaker’s Commentary, understand this to express a conditional prophecy. The fate set forth in this and the following verses would be inevitable should he persist in resisting, but otherwise might be averted. But this interpretation is unwarranted and unnecessary.

Verse 4

4. Not die by the sword Though a captive, yet a king of God’s covenant people, and hence distinguished by the care of God for him even in misfortune and defeat. In this he was in contrast with Jehoiakim.

Verse 5

5. Burn ( odours) for thee See 2 Chronicles 16:14; 2 Chronicles 21:19. Some have understood this to imply an actual burning of the body; but this does not seem to have been customary among the Hebrews.

Verse 7

7. Against Lachish, etc. Lachish and Azekah were both situated in the south-western part of Judah, on the Philistine plain, and were both fortified by Rehoboam. 2 Chronicles 11:9. The siege of Lachish by Sennacherib (2 Kings 18:14; 2 Kings 18:17, et al) is supposed by Layard to be depicted on certain slabs disinterred from the ruins of Nineveh. (Cowles.) The general meaning of the passage is that these cities remained; but it is hardly true that the passage requires us to conclude that these alone remained.

Verse 8


8. Had made a covenant… to proclaim liberty By the law, as given in Deuteronomy 15:12, and Exodus 21:2, Hebrews held as bond-servants were to be emancipated after being held in service for six years. It does not seem that this means the sabbatical year, but only after six years. Their great danger had, doubtless, quickened their consciences in this matter, and the proper observance of this law was one of the reforms which the king sought to institute. It is possible, too, that slaves were liberated without reference to the time of their servitude.

Verse 11

11. But afterwards, etc. This reformation in the presence of impending danger, was no more genuine than deathbed repentances frequently are. So soon as the danger seemed over-past the wrong was resumed. The idiom in this verse is mistaken in the Authorized Version. Instead of turned, and caused… to return, the true translation should be, they again caused them to return.

Verse 13

13. Egypt… the house of bond-men This law was more sacred because of their own history. The whole people had been slaves and had been set at liberty by God’s gracious interference; it would then be peculiarly wicked and ungrateful if they held their brethren in perpetual bondage.

Verse 14

14. Seven years At the close of six years the bondage of a Hebrew ceased. See Deuteronomy 15:12.

Verse 17

17. I proclaim a liberty for you I will punish you according to your offence. I will set you free from my care and guidance will manumit you from my safe and happy service will substitute a liberty to calamity and death for a service of prosperity and life. Make you to be removed, etc. Make you to be a dread unto. Others translate, make you an agitation.

Keil, make you a tossing hither and thither. According to these last there is here predicted the condition of unrest in which the Jewish people have been.

Verse 18

18. Passed between the parts thereof The construction of the latter part of this verse is difficult. The following are the two leading constructions proposed. I will make the men like the calf which they cut in two. (Keil.) The words of the covenant… even of the calf, etc. (Ewald, Smith, et.al.) In the former the men are identified with or likened to the calf; in the latter, the calf and the covenant are used as synonymes. The last gives the most satisfactory sense, but the Hebrew construction with difficulty admits of it. The contracting parties passed between the parts of the animal cut in two, implying an imprecation upon themselves, so to be cut in sunder should they fail to keep the covenant. In the New Testament “cut him asunder” (Matthew 24:51) may possibly retain a shadow of this meaning. We find God himself conforming to this usage in Genesis 15:9, etc.

Bibliographical Information
Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Jeremiah 34". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/whe/jeremiah-34.html. 1874-1909.
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