The Agora
Bible Commentary

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52

Jeremiah 34

Jer 34:1

Jer 34: "A message of doom was delivered as the Babylonian army sweeps south. Jeremiah declared: [1] Jerusalem shall not escape: vv 1-7. [2] The reason why it will not escape: It is false to its oath: vv 8-11. [3] 'You have polluted My Name,' saith Yahweh: vv 12-16. [4] Therefore I proclaim liberty over the sword to destroy you!: vv 17-20. [5] 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).

Jer 34:3

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 72:7).

Jer 34:7

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).

Jer 34:14

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."

Jer 34:18

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 covenant-victim!

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.

Previous Index Next