Jer 34: "A message of doom was delivered as the Babylonian
army sweeps south. Jeremiah declared:  Jerusalem shall not escape: vv 1-7.
 The reason why it will not escape: It is false to its oath: vv 8-11. 
'You have polluted My Name,' saith Yahweh: vv 12-16.  Therefore I proclaim
liberty over the sword to destroy you!: vv 17-20.  Zedekiah and Jerusalem are
doomed: vv 21,22. Note: The siege was began in the 9th year of Zedekiah, the
10th day, the 10th month. This revelation came a little later during the
interval between the raising the siege and the return of Nebuchadnezzar (cp Jer
37:5). The prophecy threatened the king in particular. It so incensed him that
he imprisoned the prophet (Jer 32:2-5), or rather this became the grounds upon
which he refused to release him -- for he had already been imprisoned by
Shelemiah. Zedekiah had made a belated attempt to save the nation by binding it
to the covenant of Yahweh. But there was no genuineness in it. Already he had
proved false to Nebuchadnezzar (Eze 17:13), and now was attempting to
double-cross Yahweh" (GEM).
Cp this v with Eze 12:12: "He will cover his face so that he
cannot see the land." Zedekiah compares the 2 prophecies, believes this
represents a contradiction. But both WERE fulfilled: Zedekiah saw the king at
Riblah, after which his eyes were put out, and he was taken to Babylon (BS
One of the ostraka found in the dig at Lachish described how
the commander of the Israelite garrison outside Lachish was "watching for the
signals of Lachish... for we cannot see the signals of Azekah." "Our stomachs
churning, we contemplated how the residents of Lachish, looking in vain for the
extinguished beacon from the neighboring town, would have realized that the
implacable Babylonian army would soon arrive at the walls of their own town,
where we now stood" (BAR 27:4:53).
EVERY SEVENTH YEAR: KJV has: "at the end of seven
years." That is, 'at end of 6 years, and the beginning of 7th year'. Cp later
part of v: "after he has served you six years."
The covenant God made with Abraham in Gen 15.
Terms of the covenant (vv 18-20): all parties to the covenant
must pass between the separated pieces of the sacrificed calf. Evidently, such a
practice was common in the Middle East -- evidence of such a practice has been
found among other peoples of the area, and not just Jews. Two individuals, or
two groups, would decide to make a solemn covenant, or contract, with one
another; it might be a purely secular matter, having to do with property rights
or business arrangements. To confirm the agreement, they would sacrifice an
animal, cut the animal in pieces, separate the pieces, and then pass between the
parts, or meet in their midst. They would also participate in a common meal of
fellowship, each partaking of the animal which they had sacrificed and
separated. Thereby they would confirm, by a gesture of great solemnity, their
mutual understanding of the terms of their agreement.
They were saying something else as well, something very
profound and sobering: if anyone violated the terms of that covenant, then he
was deserving of the same fate that had befallen the covenant-victim; he was
deserving of death. In fact, he would have already eaten his own condemnation,
in the meal itself!
Quite possibly, this is the basis, too, for the oft-repeated
and rather enigmatic vow: "The LORD -- or God -- do so to me, and more also,
if...": Rth 1:17; 1Sa 3:17; 14:44; 20:13; 25:22; 2Sa 19:13; 1Ki 2:23; 2Ki 6:31;
etc. May God do WHAT, exactly? The same thing that was done to the
Likewise, it explains the Hebraism, where "to make a covenant"
-- as we might put it -- is, literally, "to CUT a covenant"!
Also, it may account for the rather gruesome procedure adopted
by the Levite, when he cut up his dead concubine into twelve pieces and sent the
pieces around to the various tribes (Jdg 19:29)... as well as what Saul did,
similarly, with two oxen (1Sa 11:7), and what Samuel did with Agag (1Sa
15:33)... and the words of Jesus in Mat 24:51, where the fate of the unfaithful
servant was to be "cut in pieces" or "cut asunder"! Notice also how Isaac and
Abimelech (Gen 26:28-31), and Jacob and Laban (Gen 31:44-54) confirm their
agreements by a "sacrifice" and a meal.