1 tn Heb “The word which came to Jeremiah from the Lord.”
2 tn Heb “The word which came to Jeremiah from the Lord, saying.” The proposed translation is more in keeping with contemporary English idiom. Cf. 1:2 and 7:1 and footnotes there.
3 tn Heb “The word which came to Jeremiah from the Lord, saying:” This same formula occurs ten other times in Jeremiah. It has already occurred at 7:1 and 11:1.
4 tn Heb “The word which came to Jeremiah from the Lord.”
5 sn Zedekiah was the last king of Judah. He ruled from 597 b.c. when he was placed on the throne by Nebuchadnezzar (2 Kgs 24:17) until the fall of Jerusalem in 587/6 b.c. He acquiesced to some of his anti-Babylonian counselors, rebelled against Nebuchadnezzar, and sought help from the Egyptians (Ezek 17:12-15). This brought Nebuchadnezzar against the city in 588 b.c. This is the first of two delegations to Jeremiah. The later one was sent after Nebuchadnezzar withdrew to take care of the Egyptian threat (cf. Jer 37:1-9).
6 sn The Pashhur son of Malkijah referred to here is not the same as the Pashhur referred to in 20:1-6 who was the son of Immer. This Pashhur is referred to later in 38:1. The Zephaniah referred to here was the chief of security referred to later in Jer 29:25-26. He appears to have been favorably disposed toward Jeremiah.
7 tn Heb “sent to him…Maaseiah, saying,….”
8 tn Compare the headings at 7:1; 11:1; 18:1; 21:1 and the translator’s note at those places.
9 tn Heb “The word which came to Jeremiah from the Lord in the eleventh year of…” See 7:1; 11:1; 18:1; 21:1; 30:1 for this same formula.
sn The dating formulas indicate that the date was 588/87 b.c. Zedekiah had begun to reign in 598/97 and Nebuchadnezzar had begun to reign in 605/604 b.c. The dating of Nebuchadnezzar’s rule here includes the partial year before he was officially crowned on New Year’s day. See the translator’s note on 25:1 for the method of dating a king’s reign.
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 “The word which came to Jeremiah from the Lord while Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon and all his army and all the kingdoms of the earth under the dominion of his hand and all the peoples were fighting against Jerusalem and against all its towns, saying.” The sentence is obviously too long and the qualifiers obviously too ill-defined to translate literally. This same introductory formula has occurred in 7:1; 11:1; 18:1; 21:1; 30:1; 32:1 but without such a long introductory phrase. It is generally agreed that the phrase “all the peoples” should be seen as a parallel term to “all the kingdoms” under the qualifying “under the dominion of his hand/ control” and what is referred to are contingent forces supplied by these vassal kingdoms and peoples under the terms of their vassal treaties with Nebuchadnezzar. Some of the nature of the make-up of these forces may be seen from a reference to Babylonian, Aramean, Moabite, and Ammonite raiders in the earlier attacks on Jerusalem during the reign of Jehoiakim (2 Kgs 24:2).
sn It is difficult to assign dates to passages which have no dating formulas but there is sufficient detail in this passage to show that this incident occurred sometime early in the siege of Jerusalem while Jeremiah was still free to come and go (see v. 2 and compare 37:4 and see the second study note on 32:2). The Babylonian forces blockaded Jerusalem and attacked the outlying cities, reducing them one by one until Jerusalem had no further help. According to v. 7 Azekah and Lachish in the western foothills still held out and there is evidence from some of the correspondence from Lachish at this period that help was being sought from Egypt.
12 tn Usually translated “covenant.” See the study note on 11:2 for the rationale for the translation here.
sn There are no details regarding the nature of this covenant, but it was probably a parity covenant in which the people agreed to free their slaves in exchange for some concessions from the king (see the study note on 11:2 for more details on the nature of ancient Near Eastern covenants). More details about this covenant are given in vv. 15, 18-19 where it is said to have been made before the Lord in the temple and involved passing between the pieces of a cut-up calf. Hence it involved their swearing an oath invoking the Lord’s name (cf. Gen 21:23; 31:51-53; 1 Sam 20:42) and pronouncing self-maledictory curses on themselves calling down on themselves a fate similar to that of the dead calf if they failed to keep it. (This latter practice is illustrated in treaty documents from the ancient Near East and is reflected in the covenant ceremony in Gen 15:8-16.)
13 map For location see Map5 B1; Map6 F3; Map7 E2; Map8 F2; Map10 B3; JP1 F4; JP2 F4; JP3 F4; JP4 F4.
14 sn The introductory statement here shows that this incident is earlier than those in Jer 32–34 which all take place in the reign of Zedekiah. Jehoiakim ruled from 609/8 b.c. until 598/97 b.c. and his brother Zedekiah followed him after a brief reign of three months by Jehoiakim’s son who was captured by Nebuchadnezzar and taken to Babylon. Zedekiah ruled from 598/7 b.c. until the kingdom fell in 587/86. The position of this chapter is out of chronological order emphasizing the theme of covenant infidelity (Jer 34; 35:12-17) versus the faithfulness to his commands that God expected from Israel as illustrated by the Rechabites’ faithfulness to the commands of their progenitor. This is thus another one of those symbolic acts in Jeremiah which have significance to the message of the book (compare Jer 13, 19). This incident likely took place during the time that people living in the countryside like the Rechabites were forced to take shelter in the fortified cities because of the raiding parties that Nebuchadnezzar had sent against Jehoiakim after he had rebelled against him in 603 b.c. (compare v. 11 and Jer 4:5 with 2 Kgs 24:1-2).
15 tn Heb “The word which came to Jeremiah from the Lord in the days of Jehoiakim son of Josiah king of Judah, saying.”
16 tn Heb “The word which came to Jeremiah from the Lord.” This phrase regularly introduces the Lord’s directions to Jeremiah which immediately follow (cf. 7:1; 11:1; 18:1; 30:1; 34:1; 35:1). In 21:1; 44:1 it introduces a word of the Lord that Jeremiah communicates to others. However, no directions to Jeremiah follow here nor does any oracle that Jeremiah passes on to the people. Some commentators explain this as a heading parallel to that in 1:1-3 (which refers to messages and incidents in the life of Jeremiah up to the fall of Jerusalem) introducing the oracles that Jeremiah delivered after the fall of Jerusalem. However, no oracles follow until 42:9. It is possible that the intervening material supply background material for the oracle that is introduced in 42:7. An analogy to this structure but in a much shorter form may be found in 34:8-12. Another possible explanation is that the words of the captain of the guard in vv. 2-3 are to be seen as the word of the Lord to Jeremiah. In this case, it is a rather ironical confirmation of what Jeremiah had been saying all along. If it is thought strange that a pagan soldier would have said these words, it should be remembered that foreign soldiers knew through their intelligence sources what kings and prophets were saying (cf. Isa 36:7), and it is not unusual for God to speak through pagan prophets (cf. Balaam’s oracles, e.g. Num 23:7-10) or even a dumb animal (e.g., Balaam’s donkey [Num 22:28, 30]). Given the penchant for the use of irony in the book of Jeremiah, this is the most likely explanation. For further discussion on this view see G. L. Keown, P. J. Scalise, T. G. Smothers, Jeremiah 26-52 (WBC), 235-36.
17 sn Some commentators see the account of Jeremiah’s release here in 40:1-6 as an alternate and contradictory account to that of Jeremiah’s release in 39:11-14. However, most commentators see them as complementary and sequential. Jeremiah had been released from the courtyard of the guardhouse on orders of the military tribunal there shortly after Nebuzaradan got to Jerusalem and passed on Nebuchadnezzar’s orders to them. He had been released to the custody of Gedaliah who was to take him back to the governor’s residence and look after him there. However, Jeremiah remained in Jerusalem among the people there. He was mistakenly rounded up with them and led off as a prisoner to be deported with the rest of the exiles. However, when he got to Ramah which was a staging area for deportees, Nebuzaradan recognized him among the prisoners and released him a second time.
18 tn Heb “when he took him and he was in chains.” The subject is probably Nebuzaradan or the indefinite third singular (GKC 460 §144.d). The Kethib of the word for בָּאזִקִּים (ba’ziqqim) is to be explained as a secondary formation with prosthetic א (aleph) from the normal word for “fetter” (זֵק, zeq) according to HALOT 27 s.v. אֲזִקִּים (see GKC 70 §19.m and 235-36 §85.b for the phenomenon).
19 map For location see Map5 B1; Map6 F3; Map7 E2; Map8 F2; Map10 B3; JP1 F4; JP2 F4; JP3 F4; JP4 F4.