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Bible Commentaries

Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible
Jeremiah 34

 

 

Introduction

Jeremiah 27-29. Certain linguistic peculiarities (e.g. the incorrect spelling, Nebuchadnezzar) suggest that these three chapters may have circulated as a separate pamphlet, e.g. in Babylon. They deal with the rebuke of false hopes concerning a speedy return from exile.

Jeremiah 30-31. The Future of Israel and Judah.—These two chapters of prophecy, dealing with the future restoration of Israel and Judah, appear to be a later editorial insertion in the narrative scheme of Jeremiah 26-45, placed here perhaps because Jeremiah 32 and Jeremiah 33 contain narratives and prophecies dealing with the same subject (cf. also Jeremiah 29:10 ff.). In Jeremiah 30 and Jeremiah 31, there are numerous points of contact with Deutero-Isaiah, a fact which, with other features, has suggested to many scholars an exilic or post-exilic date for much that these chapters contain. The contrast with the general "pessimism" of earlier chapters is very noticeable. On the other hand, the internal evidence for Jeremiah 31:2-6, Jeremiah 31:15-22, Jeremiah 31:31-34 entitles us to regard these sections as Jeremianic.

Jeremiah 40-44. The next five chapters continue the biography of Jeremiah, including connected events, after the capture of Jerusalem.

Jeremiah 46-51. The Foreign Prophecies.—These form the third principal division of the Book of Jeremiah. As already seen (Jeremiah 1:5; Jeremiah 1:10, Jeremiah 25:15), Jeremiah's prophetic horizon naturally included the surrounding nations; how far the prophecies that follow are his can be decided only by detailed criticism in each case. They refer, though in somewhat different order, to the several nations enumerated in Jeremiah 25:19-26 (which may be regarded as an introduction to them), except that an oracle on Damascus here replaces the reference to Tyre, Sidon, and the Mediterranean. (The LXX, which places this group of prophecies after Jeremiah 25:13, follows a third order.) It is generally admitted that the long prophecy on Babylon (Jeremiah 50 f.) is not by Jeremiah (see prefatory note). As to Jeremiah 46-49, there is considerable difference of opinion, ranging from Duhm's rejection of the whole, through Giesebrecht's acceptance of Jeremiah 47 (except towards end), with the nucleus of Jeremiah 46:2-12, Jeremiah 49:7-11, up to Cornill's acceptance of most of Jeremiah 46-49 (so also Peake). It is in any case natural to suppose that there are genuine prophecies by Jeremiah which underlie these chapters, though they have been worked over, or incorporated with other non-Jeremianic prophecies (e.g. Jeremiah 48) by later writers. For details, the larger commentaries must be consulted.

Jeremiah 26-45. These chapters, usually ascribed in the main to Baruch, chiefly narrate selected incidents in the life of Jeremiah, often with connected prophecies; they form a second main section of the book, in contrast with 1-25, which consist chiefly of prophecies, with little narrative.


Verses 1-7

Jeremiah 34:1-7. The Fate of Jerusalem and of Zedekiah.—In the course of the siege (588-6), Jeremiah is sent to Zedekiah to tell him that the city will be taken and destroyed, that he will be brought before Nebuchadrezzar and sent to Babylon, but will obtain the customary royal honours after a peaceful death. At this time, it is said, the only other uncaptured cities were Lachish (Tell-el-Hesy, 35 m. SW. of Jerusalem, see p. 28) and Azekah (Joshua 15:35, probably 15 m. SW. of Jerusalem). For the actual fate of the king, so different from that here promised, see Jeremiah 52:11, and cf. Ezekiel 12:13. The present prophecy must be explained as conditional on submission to Babylon, a condition not fulfilled.

Jeremiah 34:5. burnings: with reference to the spices used (so mg.); bodies were buried.


Verses 8-22

Jeremiah 34:8-22. The Cancelled Liberation of Slaves.—In the interval during which the besiegers had withdrawn (Jeremiah 34:21; cf. Jeremiah 21:2, Jeremiah 37:5), Jeremiah is commissioned to condemn the breach of the promises made by king and people during the earlier straits. They had agreed to emancipate all Hebrew slaves, and had solemnly covenanted to this effect. They broke this agreement (when the Babylonian peril seemed to be removed), and in so doing they "profaned" (Jeremiah 34:16) Yahweh's name, by disregard of His original covenant (Jeremiah 34:18), when the law of emancipation after six years of service was first given (Jeremiah 34:13). So Yahweh proclaims a "liberation" of His people from Himself to the cruel tyranny of war (Jeremiah 34:17); He will cause the besiegers who have temporarily retired from them ("gone up", Jeremiah 34:21) to return, as they have caused their emancipated slaves to return.

Jeremiah 34:14. The original covenant of Yahweh included the law of Deuteronomy 15:12 ff., which is here cited; the connexion with this law is not, however, very precise, since the present temporary emancipation is represented as general, apart from the period of six years of service.—At the end of seven years (we should say, "in the seventh year", or "at the end of six years".

Jeremiah 34:18. This division of the victim is usually supposed to symbolise the fate invoked on those who break the covenant—but Robertson Smith (RS2, p. 481) suggested that "the parties stood between the pieces, as a symbol that they were taken within the mystical life of the victim" (Genesis 15:17*).

 


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Bibliography Information
Peake, Arthur. "Commentary on Jeremiah 34:4". "Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible ". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/pfc/jeremiah-34.html. 1919.

Lectionary Calendar
Monday, September 23rd, 2019
the Week of Proper 20 / Ordinary 25
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