Jeremiah 34 – “A Peaceful Death for Zedekiah; The Sin of the Unfreed Slaves”

incense stick smoke Hebrew-English Text

I. Summary

Yahweh tells Jeremiah that king Zedekiah will be exiled to Babylon where he will die in peace. Yahweh promises death and destruction to Judah when the people renege on their commitment to free their Hebrew slaves .

II. Photo

Zedekiah will not be forgotten: “As spices were burned for your ancestors, the earlier kings who preceded you, so they shall burn spices for you and lament for you.” (v. 5)

III. Select Verses

4-5: Yet hear the word of the LORD, O King Zedekiah of Judah! Thus says the LORD concerning you: You shall not die by the sword;  you shall die in peace. And as spices were burned for your ancestors, the earlier kings who preceded you, so they shall burn spices for you and lament for you, saying, “Alas, lord!” For I have spoken the word, says the LORD.

8-11: The word that came to Jeremiah from the LORD, after King Zedekiah had made a covenant with all the people in Jerusalem to make a proclamation of liberty to them,  that all should set free their Hebrew slaves, male and female, so that no one should hold another Judean in slavery. And they obeyed, all the officials and all the people who had entered into the covenant that all would set free their slaves, male or female, so that they would not be enslaved again; they obeyed and set them free.  But afterward they turned around and took back the male and female slaves they had set free, and brought them again into subjection as slaves.

13-14: Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel: I myself made a covenant with your ancestors when I brought them out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery, saying, “Every seventh year each of you must set free any Hebrews who have been sold to you and have served you six years; you must set them free from your service.” But your ancestors did not listen to me or incline their ears to me.

18-20: And those who transgressed my covenant and did not keep the terms of the covenant that they made before me, I will make like the calf when they cut it in two and passed between its parts:  the officials of Judah, the officials of Jerusalem, the eunuchs, the priests, and all the people of the land who passed between the parts of the calf shall be handed over to their enemies and to those who seek their lives. Their corpses shall become food for the birds of the air and the wild animals of the earth.

IV. Outline

1-5. Oracle about Zedekiah’s capture and death

    1. General introduction: prophecy while Babylon attacks Jerusalem

    2a. Introduction: a message for Zedekiah

    2b-3. Jerusalem will be sacked and Zedekiah will be brought to Babylon

    4-5. Zedekiah will die in peace and be lamented

6-22. Oracle about the sin of the unfreed slaves

    6-7. General introduction: prophecy during the battles for Jerusalem, Lachish, and Azekah

    8-11. General introduction: Zedekiah and the people agreed to free their Hebrew slaves but then reneged

    12. Introduction    

    13-14a. Yahweh’s command about the law of the seventh year 

    14b. The ancestors did not follow the law

    15-16. Although the people repented, they returned to sin

    17. The people who sinned will die of sword, pestilence and famine

    18-20. The people will be like the calf cut in two, corpses left for the scavengers

    21. Zedekiah and his officials will be exiled

    22. The land of Judah will become a desolation

V. Comment

No comment today. Stay tuned.

VI. Works Used

(see “Commentaries” page)

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