37:3 King Zedekiah sent 1 Jehucal 2 son of Shelemiah and the priest Zephaniah 3 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. 4 So he was still free to come and go among the people as he pleased. 5 37:5 At that time the Babylonian forces 6 had temporarily given up their siege against Jerusalem. 7 They had had it under siege, but withdrew when they heard that the army of Pharaoh had set out from Egypt. 8 ) 37:6 The Lord gave the prophet Jeremiah a message for them. He told him to tell them, 9 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. 10 Tell him, “The army of Pharaoh that was on its way to help you will go back home to Egypt. 11 37:8 Then the Babylonian forces 12 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 13 will go away and leave you alone. For they will not go away. 14 37:10 For even if you were to defeat all the Babylonian forces 15 fighting against you so badly that only wounded men were left lying in their tents, they would get up and burn this city down.”’” 16
1 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).
3 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.
4 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.
5 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.
8 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
9 tn Heb “And the word of the
10 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.
11 tn Heb “will go back to its land, Egypt.”
14 tn Heb “Thus says the
16 tn The length and complexity of this English sentence violates the more simple style that has been used to conform such sentences to contemporary English style. However, there does not seem to be any alternative that would enable a simpler style and still retain the causal and conditional connections that give this sentence the rhetorical force that it has in the original. The condition is, of course, purely hypothetical and the consequence a poetic exaggeration. The intent is to assure Zedekiah that there is absolutely no hope of the city being spared.