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Jeremiah 37:1-9

Context
Introduction to Incidents During the Reign of Zedekiah

37:1 Zedekiah son of Josiah succeeded Jeconiah 1  son of Jehoiakim as king. He was elevated to the throne of the land of Judah by King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon. 2  37:2 Neither he nor the officials who served him nor the people of Judah paid any attention to what the Lord said through the prophet Jeremiah. 3 

The Lord Responds to Zedekiah’s Hope for Help

37:3 King Zedekiah sent 4  Jehucal 5  son of Shelemiah and the priest Zephaniah 6  son of Maaseiah to the prophet Jeremiah. He told them to say, “Please pray to the Lord our God on our behalf.” 37:4 (Now Jeremiah had not yet been put in prison. 7  So he was still free to come and go among the people as he pleased. 8  37:5 At that time the Babylonian forces 9  had temporarily given up their siege against Jerusalem. 10  They had had it under siege, but withdrew when they heard that the army of Pharaoh had set out from Egypt. 11 ) 37:6 The Lord gave the prophet Jeremiah a message for them. He told him to tell them, 12  37:7 “The Lord God of Israel says, ‘Give a message to the king of Judah who sent you to ask me to help him. 13  Tell him, “The army of Pharaoh that was on its way to help you will go back home to Egypt. 14  37:8 Then the Babylonian forces 15  will return. They will attack the city and will capture it and burn it down. 37:9 Moreover, I, the Lord, warn you not to deceive yourselves into thinking that the Babylonian forces 16  will go away and leave you alone. For they will not go away. 17 

1 tn Heb “Coniah.” For explanation of the rendering here see the translator’s note on 22:4.

2 tn Heb “And Zedekiah son of Josiah whom Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon made king in the land of Judah ruled as king instead of Coniah son of Jehoiakim.” The sentence has been restructured and simplified to better conform to contemporary English style.

3 sn These two verses (37:1-2) are introductory to chs. 37–38 and are intended to characterize Zedekiah and his regime as disobedient just like Jehoiakim and his regime had been (Jer 36:27; cf. 2 Kgs 24:19-20). This characterization is important because Zedekiah is portrayed in the incidents that follow in 37–38 as seeking the Lord’s help or seeking a word from the Lord. However though he did send to inquire of Jeremiah three times, he did not pay attention to the warnings that he received in reply and was ultimately responsible for the fall of Jerusalem (Jer 39). As elsewhere in the book of Jeremiah, Jeconiah’s reign is passed over in silence because it was negligible and because Jeremiah did not wish to legitimize the hopes that many in Israel and Babylon had in his returning from exile and resuming rule over Judah (see further the study notes on 22:24, 30 and 33:30).

4 sn This is the second of two delegations that Zedekiah sent to Jeremiah to ask him to pray for a miraculous deliverance. Both of them are against the background of the siege of Jerusalem which was instigated by Zedekiah’s rebelling against Nebuchadnezzar and sending to Egypt for help (cf. Ezek 17:15). The earlier delegation (21:1-2) was sent before Nebuchadnezzar had clamped down on Jerusalem because the Judean forces at that time were still fighting against the Babylonian forces in the open field (see 21:4 and the translator’s note there). Here the siege has been lifted because the Babylonian troops had heard a report that the Egyptian army was on the way into Palestine to give the Judeans the promised aid (vv. 5, 7). The request is briefer here than in 21:2 but the intent is no doubt the same (see also the study note on 21:2).

5 sn Jehucal was one of the officials who later sought to have Jeremiah put to death for what they considered treason (38:1-4).

6 sn The priest Zephaniah son of Maaseiah was a member of the earlier delegation (21:2) and the chief of security in the temple to whom the Babylonian false prophet wrote a letter complaining that Jeremiah should be locked up for his treasonous prophecies (29:25-26). See the study notes on 21:2 and 29:25 for further details.

7 sn This statement anticipates v. 15. Verses 3-4 are parenthetical to the narrative thread which is picked up in v. 5. They provide background information necessary for understanding the situation at the time the delegation comes to Jeremiah.

8 tn The words “as he pleased” are not in the text but are implicit in the idiom both in Hebrew and in English. They have been supplied in the translation for clarity and the sake of English idiom.

9 tn Heb “the Chaldeans.” See the study note on 21:4 for the rendering “Babylonian.” The word “forces” is supplied in the translation here for the sake of clarity.

10 map For location see Map5 B1; Map6 F3; Map7 E2; Map8 F2; Map10 B3; JP1 F4; JP2 F4; JP3 F4; JP4 F4.

11 tn Heb “And the army of Pharaoh had set out from Egypt and the Chaldeans who were besieging Jerusalem heard a report about them and they went up from besieging them.” The sentence has been restructured and reworded to give greater emphasis to the most pertinent fact, i.e., that the siege had been temporarily lifted. The word “temporarily” is not in the text but is implicit from the rest of the context. It is supplied in the translation here to better show that the information in vv. 4-5 is all parenthetical, providing a background for the oracle that will follow. For the meaning “given up their siege against” (Heb “had taken themselves away from against”) see BDB 749 s.v. עָלָה Niph.1.c(2); 759 s.v. עַל IV.2.b.

sn The Pharaoh referred to here is Pharaoh Hophra who is named in Jer 44:30. He ruled from 589-570 b.c. Shortly after he began to rule, Zedekiah had been enticed by some of the officials in his court to appeal to him for aid. This act of rebellion quickly brought Nebuchadnezzar’s wrath and he invaded Judah, blockading Jerusalem and reducing the fortified cities of Judah one by one. According to Jer 39:1 the siege began in Zedekiah’s ninth year (589/88 b.c.) and lasted until his eleventh year when Jerusalem fell (587/86 b.c.). The army of Pharaoh likely came sometime during 588 b.c.

12 tn Heb “And the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah, saying.”

13 tn Or “to ask me what will happen.” The dominant usage of the verb דָּרַשׁ (darash) is to “inquire” in the sense of gaining information about what will happen (cf., e.g., 1 Kgs 14:5; 2 Kgs 8:8; 22:7-8) but it is also used in the sense of “seeking help” from (cf., e.g., Isa 31:1; 2 Chr 16:12; 20:3). The latter nuance appears appropriate in Jer 20:2 where Zedekiah is hoping for some miraculous intervention. That nuance also appears appropriate here where Zedekiah has sent messengers to ask Jeremiah to intercede on their behalf. However, it is also possible that the intent of both verbs is to find out from God whether the Egyptian mission will succeed and more permanent relief from the siege will be had.

14 tn Heb “will go back to its land, Egypt.”

15 tn Heb “the Chaldeans.” See the study note on 21:4 for the rendering “Babylonian.” The word “forces” is supplied in the translation here for the sake of clarity.

16 tn Heb “the Chaldeans.” See the study note on 21:4 for the rendering “Babylonian.” The word “forces” is supplied in the translation here for the sake of clarity.

17 tn Heb “Thus says the Lord, ‘Do not deceive yourselves, saying, “The Chaldeans will surely go away from against us” because they will not go away.’” The first person “I, the Lord,” has been used because the whole of vv. 7-8 has been a quote from the Lord and it would be confusing to go back and start a separate quote. The indirect quote has been used instead of the direct quote to avoid the proliferation of quote marks at the end and the possible confusion that creates.



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