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Jeremiah 27:1

Jeremiah Counsels Submission to Babylon

27:1 The Lord spoke to Jeremiah 1  early in the reign of Josiah’s son, King Zedekiah of Judah. 2 

Jeremiah 28:1

Jeremiah Confronted by a False Prophet

28:1 The following events occurred in that same year, early in the reign of King Zedekiah of Judah. To be more precise, it was the fifth month of the fourth year of his reign. 3  The prophet Hananiah son of Azzur, who was from Gibeon, spoke to Jeremiah 4  in the Lord’s temple in the presence of the priests and all the people. 5 

1 sn The names of Jeremiah and of Nebuchadnezzar are spelled differently in the Hebrew of chapter 27-29. That and other literary features show that these three chapters are all closely related. The events of these three chapters all take place within the space of one year (cf. 28:1; 29:17).

2 tc The reading here is based on a few Hebrew mss and the Syriac and Arabic versions. The majority of Hebrew mss and most of the versions read “At the beginning of the reign of Josiah’s son, Jehoiakim king of Judah” as in 26:1. The LXX does not have this whole verse. It has long been recognized that the text of 27:1 is textually corrupt. The date formula in the majority of Hebrew mss at 27:1 is contradictory both with the context of the passage which deals with an event in the reign of Zedekiah (see vv. 3, 13 and v. 20 which presupposes that Jeconiah, Jehoiakim’s son, has been taken captive [i.e., after the death of Jehoiakim!]) and the date formula in 28:1 which refers to an event “in that same year” and then qualifies it with “Early in the reign of Zedekiah.” Hence it is preferable to read “Zedekiah” here in place of “Jehoiakim” and explain the error in the Hebrew manuscripts as an erroneous copying of 26:1.

sn If the text of 28:1 is correct, the date here would be sometime in the fourth year of Zedekiah which would be 594/3 b.c. Zedekiah had been placed on the throne as a puppet king by Nebuchadnezzar after he deposed Zedekiah’s nephew, Jeconiah (Jehoiachin) and sent him, his family, some of the temple treasures, and some of the Judean leaders away to Babylon (2 Kgs 23:8-17). The author does not state directly why the envoys from the nations mentioned in v. 3 were in Jerusalem, but the implication is that they were there trying to interest Zedekiah in rebelling. Modern scholars have used the data here and in 28:1 and in the Babylonian Chronicles (it contains a record of major events of Nebuchadnezzar’s reign) to suggest a plausible background for such a meeting. Nebuchadnezzar had to put down an uprising in the east and quell a rebellion in Babylon itself in the two years prior to this meeting. Some “prophets” in the nation of Israel and in these other nations (see vv. 9-10) saw in these events hopes for not having to pay tribute to (i.e., submit to the yoke of) Nebuchadnezzar and were counseling rebellion. Jeremiah saw this as foolhardy and counseled otherwise. Again, there is a conflict between “prophets” which is what this whole section (Jer 27–29) is all about.

3 tc The original text is unusually full here and deemed by many scholars to be corrupt: Heb “And it happened in that year in the beginning of the reign of Zedekiah king of Judah, in the fourth year, in the fifth month Hananiah…said to…” Many scholars see a contradiction between “in the fourth year” and “in the beginning of the reign.” These scholars point to the fact that the Greek version does not have “in that year” and “in the beginning of the reign of”; it merely reads “in the fourth year of Zedekiah king of Judah, in the fifth month.” These scholars generally also regard the heading at 27:1 to be unoriginal and interpret the heading in the MT here as a faulty harmonization of the original (that in the Greek version) with the erroneous one in the Hebrew of 27:1. However, it is just as possible that the Greek version in both places is an attempt to harmonize the data of 27:1 and 28:1. I.e., it left out both the heading at 27:1, and “in that year” and “at the beginning of the reign of” in the heading here because it thought the data was contradictory. However, it is just as likely that there is really no contradiction here. I.e., the term “beginning of the reign” can include the fourth year. E. H. Merrill has argued that the term here refers not to the accession year (see the translator’s note on 26:1) but to the early years in general (“The ‘Accession Year’ and Davidic Chronology,” JANESCU 19 [1989]: 105-6, and cf. note 18 for bibliography on Akkadian parallels). Hence the phrase has been translated both here and in 27:1 “early in the reign of…” For other attempts at harmonization see the discussion in G. L. Keown, P. J. Scalise, T. G. Smothers, Jeremiah 26-52 (WBC), 41, n. 1a.

sn The dating here is very full and precise. “In that same year” ties the events here in with the messages that Jeremiah delivered to the envoys, the king and his court, and the priests and people while wearing the yoke symbolizing servitude to Nebuchadnezzar. The text wants to show that the events here transpired shortly after those in Jer 27 and that Jeremiah is still wearing the yoke. The supplying of the precise month is important because the end of the chapter will show that Jeremiah’s prophecy regarding Hananiah was fulfilled two months later. Hence Jeremiah is the true prophet and Hananiah and the others (27:16) are false. The supplying of the year is perhaps significant because the author states in 51:59 that Zedekiah went to Babylon that same year, probably to pledge his loyalty. The suggestion lies ready to hand that the events of this chapter and the preceding one lead to his dismissal of the false prophet Hananiah’s advice and the acceptance of Jeremiah’s.

4 tn Heb “to me.” The rest of the chapter is all in third person narrative (see vv. 5, 6, 10, 11, 12, 15). Hence, many explain the first person here as a misunderstanding of the abbreviation “to Jeremiah” (אֶל יִרְמִיָּה [’el yirmiyyah] = אֵלַי, [’elay]). It is just as likely that there is a similar kind of disjunction here that was found in 27:1-2 only in the opposite direction. There what started out as a third person report was really a first person report. Here what starts out as a first person report is really a third person report. The text betrays both the hands of the narrator, probably Baruch, and the reportee, Jeremiah, who dictated a synopsis of his messages and his stories to Baruch to write down (Jer 36:4, 32).

5 tn Heb “And it happened in that year in the beginning of the reign of Zedekiah king of Judah, in the fourth year, in the fifth month, Hananiah son of Azzur the prophet who was from Gibeon said to me in…” The sentence has been broken up in conformity with contemporary English style and the flavor given in modern equivalent terms.

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