The future death of King Zedekiah (Jer 34:4-34:5)

“Yet hear

The word of Yahweh!

O King Zedekiah

Of Judah!

Thus says Yahweh

Concerning you.

‘You shall not die

By the sword.

You shall die in peace.

As spices were burned

For your ancestors,

The earlier kings

Who preceded you,

So they will

Burn spices for you.

They will

Lament for you,

Saying.

‘Alas!

Lord!’

I have spoken the word.’

Says Yahweh.”

Yahweh has Jeremiah tell King Zedekiah that he will not die by the sword or on the battlefield. Instead the king would die in peace. They would have a nice funeral for him. They would burn spices for him, as they had done to the honor the former kings, his ancestors. They had not done this for his brother King Jehoiakim or King Eliakim (609-598 BCE). However, they would lament the death of King Zedekiah as if he were a good king. Thus he would have a glorious happy death.

King Zedekiah learns of his imminent defeat (Jer 34:2-34:3)

“Thus says Yahweh!

The God of Israel!

‘Go!

Speak to King Zedekiah

Of Judah!

Say to him!’

‘Thus says Yahweh!

I am going

To give this city

Into the hand

Of the king of Babylon.

He shall burn it

With fire.

You yourself

Shall not escape

From his hand.

But you shall surely

Be captured.

You shall be

Handed over to him.

You shall see

The king of Babylon

Eye to eye.

You shall speak

With him

Face to face.

You shall go

To Babylon.’”

Yahweh, the God of Israel, spoke directly to Jeremiah. Jeremiah was to go and tell King Zedekiah about the coming defeat of Jerusalem and his own personal fate. Yahweh told Jeremiah exactly what to say to the king. Yahweh was going to hand over the city of Jerusalem to the king of Babylon, who was then going to burn it down. As for King Zedekiah, he was not going to escape. He was going to be captured. Then he would be turned over to King Nebuchadnezzar. He would then see him eye to eye and speak to him face to face. He would be sent off to Babylon. This prophecy is much like the same prophecy that Jeremiah had given to King Zedekiah earlier in chapter 32.

The battle with King Nebuchadnezzar (Jer 34:1-34:1)

“The word

That came to Jeremiah

From Yahweh,

When King Nebuchadnezzar

Of Babylon,

With all his army,

As well as all

The kingdoms of the earth,

All the people

Under his dominion,

Were fighting

Against Jerusalem

With all of its cities.”

Once again, the word of Yahweh came to Jeremiah, but there is a different setting, the beginning of the siege of Jerusalem in 588 BCE. King Nebuchadnezzar was going to fight against Jerusalem, as well as the towns and cities around it. At this point, the Babylonian king had a lot of people under him with a huge army. Besides his own army, other kingdoms under his control were also fighting with him against Jerusalem. Like the preceding chapter, this is a different numbered chapter in the Greek translation of the Septuagint, chapter 41, not chapter 34 as here.

The good future of Israel (Jer 33:23-33:26)

“The word of Yahweh

came to Jeremiah.

‘Have you not observed

How these people say?

‘The two families

That Yahweh chose

Have been rejected

By him.’

They hold my people

In such contempt

That they no longer

Regard them as a nation.’

Thus says Yahweh.

‘Only if I had not established

My covenant

With day and night,

With the ordinances

Of heaven and earth,

Would I reject

The offspring

Of Jacob,

Or my servant David.

Then I would not choose

Any of his descendants

As rulers

Over the offspring

Of Abraham,

Isaac,

Or Jacob.

I will restore their fortunes.

I will have mercy upon them.’”

Yahweh once again uttered an oracle to Jeremiah. People were saying that Yahweh had rejected the two families that he had chosen, Judah and Israel. Thus these people held his people in contempt. They did not consider them to be a nation or a country. Yahweh responded that as long as there was a day and a night, as well as heaven and earth, he would not reject the offspring of David. He has chosen them to be the rulers of the descendents of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. He was going to restore their fortunes and have mercy on them.

The covenant about future kings and Levites (Jer 33:19-33:22)

“The word of Yahweh

Came to Jeremiah.

Thus says Yahweh.

‘If any of you could break

My covenant with the day,

If any of you could break

My covenant with the night,

So that day and night

Would not come

At their appointed time,

Only then could

My covenant

With my servant David

Be broken.

Thus he would not

Have a son

To reign on his throne.

My covenant is

With my ministers,

The Levites.

Just as the host of heaven

Cannot be numbered,

Just as the sands of the sea

Cannot be measured,

So I will increase

The offspring

Of my servant David.

I will increase

The Levites

Who minister to me.’”

Once again this is an oracle of Yahweh to Jeremiah. Yahweh seems to say that if you can make day and night not appear at the correct time, then he would break his covenant with David. Otherwise, David would have a son to reign on his throne. It was very clear that no one could become king without a Davidic background. He also includes the Levite ministers, when he compares the numerous heavenly hosts and the immeasurable sands of the sea that cannot be measured or counted. Thus there would be offspring of David and Levites to minister to him.

Levitical priests (Jer 33:18-3:18)

“The Levitical priests

Shall never lack

A man in my presence

To offer burnt offerings,

To make grain offerings,

To make sacrifices forever.”

Now Yahweh indicates, via this oracle, that they would never lack Levitical priests. These priests would offer burnt offerings, grain offerings, and other sacrifices to Yahweh forever.

The future righteousness king (Jer 33:15-33:17)

“In those days,

At that time,

I will cause

A righteous branch

To spring up

For David.

He shall execute justice

In the land.

He shall execute righteousness

In the land.

In those days,

Judah will be saved.

Jerusalem will live in safety.

This is the name

It will be called.

‘Yahweh is our righteousness.’

Thus says Yahweh.

‘David shall never lack

A man to sit

On the throne

Of the house of Israel.’”

This is almost word for word from chapter 23 of this work. Yahweh indicates that a future Davidic king would rule in both Judah and Jerusalem, not Israel as in chapter 23. This king would come from David’s righteous branch. He would rule wisely with justice and righteousness. Judah would be saved and Jerusalem, not Israel, would live in safety. The name of Jerusalem would be called “Yahweh of our righteousness.” However, Yahweh said that they would never lack a descendant of David to sit on the throne as the king of Israel.