All the people living in Jerusalem 1 and all the people who came into Jerusalem from the towns of Judah came to observe a fast before the Lord. The fast took place in the ninth month of the fifth year that Jehoiakim son of Josiah was ruling over Judah. 2
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2 tn There is some debate about the syntax of the words translated “All the people living in Jerusalem and all the people who came into Jerusalem from the towns in Judah.” As the sentence is structured in Hebrew it looks like these words are the subject of “proclaim a fast.” However, most commentaries point out that the people themselves would hardly proclaim a fast; they would be summoned to fast (cf. 1 Kgs 21:9, 12; Jonah 3:7). Hence many see these words as the object of the verb which has an impersonal subject “they.” This is most likely unless with J. Bright (Jeremiah [AB], 180) the word “proclaim” is used in a looser sense as “observed.” The translation has chosen to follow this latter tack rather than use the impersonal (or an equivalent passive) construction in English. For a similar problem see Jonah 3:5 which precedes the official proclamation in 3:7. The Hebrew text reads: “In the fifth year of Jehoiakim son of Josiah king of Judah, in the ninth month they proclaimed a fast before the
sn Judging from v. 22 this was one of the winter months meaning that the reckoning is based on the calendar which starts with April rather than the one which starts with September (Nisan to Nisan rather than Tishri to Tishri). The ninth month would have been Kislev which corresponds roughly to December. According to Babylonian historical records this is the same year and the same month when Ashkelon was captured and sacked. The surrender of Jerusalem and the subsequent looting of the temple in the previous year (Dan 1:1) and the return of the menacing presence of Nebuchadnezzar in the near vicinity were probably the impetus for the fast.