The flight and capture of King Zedekiah (Jer 52:8-25:9)

“But the army

Of the Chaldeans

Pursued the king.

They overtook

King Zedekiah

In the plains

Of Jericho.

All his army

Was scattered.

They had deserted him.

Then they captured

The king.

They brought him up

To the king of Babylon,

At Riblah,

In the land of Hamath.

He passed sentence on him.”

This is pretty much the same as in 2 Kings, chapter 25. The Chaldeans caught them in the plains of Jericho, about 5 miles from Jerusalem. In 2 Kings, chapter 25, the Judean troops scattered and deserted the king as here, but in the earlier Jeremiah story, there was no mention of that. They then brought the king to King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon, who was at Riblah in Hamath, north of Jerusalem, almost on the Syrian border. The Babylonian king then passed sentence on him.

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The taunt against Babylon (Jer 50:11-50:13)

“‘Though you rejoice,

Though you exult,

O plunderers of my heritage,

Though you frisk about

Like a heifer

On the grass,

Though you neigh

Like stallions,

Your mother

Shall be utterly shamed.

She who bore you

Shall be disgraced.

O!

She shall be

The last of the nations,

A wilderness,

A dry land,

A desert.

Because of the wrath

Of Yahweh,

She shall not be inhabited.

But she shall be

An utter desolation.

Everyone who passes

By Babylon

Shall be appalled.

They will hiss

Because of all her wounds.”

Then Yahweh via Jeremiah taunted Babylon, by indicating how they thought that they were superior with their plundering and rejoicing. They were like young heifers and stallions doing whatever they wanted to do. Now their mothers will be shamed and disgraced. They will become the last of the countries, as their land will become a wilderness, a dry land, like a desert. The wrath of Yahweh will not be held back. Babylon will be deserted and become an utter desolation. Everyone who passes by her will be appalled. They will hiss at all the wounds that they would see.

The punishment for the people of Jerusalem (Jer 39:8-39:10)

“The Chaldeans burned

The king’s house

With the houses of the people.

They broke down

The walls of Jerusalem.

Then Nebuzaradan,

The captain of the guard,

Exiled to Babylon

The rest of the people

Who were left in the city.

This included

Those who had deserted to him,

As well as the people who remained.

Nebuzaradan,

The captain of the guard,

Left in the land of Judah

Some of the poor people

Who owned nothing.

He gave them vineyards.

He gave them fields

At the same time.”

Once again, this is similar to 2 Kings, chapter 25. However, here there is no mention of an exact date. The Chaldean fighters burned the palace of the king and other houses in Jerusalem. There is no mention about the burning of the Temple as in 2 Kings. They also broke down the walls of Jerusalem. The king of Babylon did not come himself, but he sent the captain of his bodyguard, Nebuzaradan, to take all the people as captives. This included those who had deserted to the Chaldeans as well as those left in the city. However, he gave the poor people the vineyards and fields. This might be a problem when the exiles return. Thus, the Judean kingdom lasted 134 years after the fall of the northern Israelite kingdom at Samaria.

The flight and capture of King Zedekiah (Jer 39:4-39:5)

“When King Zedekiah

Of Judah,

With all the soldiers

Saw the Babylonians,

They fled.

They went out of the city

At night

By way of the king’s garden

Through the gate

Between the two walls.

They went toward the Arabah.

But the army of the Chaldeans

Pursued them.

They overtook King Zedekiah

In the plains of Jericho.

When they had taken him,

They brought him up

To King Nebuchadnezzar

Of Babylon,

At Riblah,

In the land of Hamath.

He passed sentence on him.”

This is pretty much the same as in 2 Kings, chapter 25. The king and his army escaped through a hole in the wall via the king’s garden. They were headed for Arabah, the Jordan River valley, but the Chaldeans caught them in the plains of Jericho, about 5 miles from Jerusalem. In 2 Kings, chapter 24, the Judean troops scattered and deserted the king, but there is no mention of that here.  They then brought the king and his army officials to King Nebuchadnezzar, who was at Riblah in Hamath, north of Jerusalem, almost on the Syrian border.

The vision of not surrendering (Jer 38:21-38:23)

“But if you are determined

Not to surrender,

This is what Yahweh

Has shown me.

This is the vision.

All the women

Remaining in the house

Of the king of Judah

Were being led out

To the officials

Of the king of Babylon

Saying.

‘Your trusted friends

Have seduced you.

They have overcome you.

Now that your feet

Are stuck in the mud,

They desert you.’

All your wives,

All your children,

Shall be led out

To the Chaldeans.

You yourself shall not escape

From their hand.

But you shall be seized

By the king of Babylon.

This city shall be burned

With fire.”

Jeremiah told King Zedekiah that Yahweh had sent him a vision of what was going to happen, if he did not surrender to the Babylonians. In this vision, all the women of the household of the king were being brought out to the officials of the Babylonians. These women were saying that their trusted friends had deceived, seduced, and overcome them. Now that their feet were stuck in the mud, as Jeremiah had been in the well, their trusted friends had deserted them. Thus all the Judean wives and children would be were led out to the Chaldeans. The Judean king himself would not escape from the king of Babylon. The city of Jerusalem would be burned with a great fire. This was a grim vision of defeat.

Against the sexual immorality of idolatry (Isa 57:7-57:8)

“Upon a high lofty mountain

You have set your bed.

There you went up to offer sacrifice.

Behind the door,

Behind the doorpost

You have set up your symbol.

In deserting me,

You have uncovered your bed.

You have gone up to it.

You have made it wide.

You have made a bargain

For yourself with them.

You have loved their bed.

You have gazed on their nakedness.”

Third Isaiah speaks out against the sexual immorality of this idol worship. On a high mountain of worship there would be a bed. With the symbol of the idol behind the door or the doorpost, there they opened their wide bed to others. Thus, they deserted Yahweh when they offered their sacrifices. They made a bargain with their sexual partners, where they loved and gazed on each other’s nakedness. These were the implications of sexual immoral acts of naked bodies in a bed.

The lamentation (Isa 33:7-33:9)

“Listen!

The valiant cry in the streets!

The envoys of peace weep bitterly!

The highways are deserted!

The travelers have quit the road!

The treaty is broken!

Its cities are despised!

Its obligations are disregarded!

The land mourns.

The land languishes.

Lebanon is confounded.

Lebanon withers away.

Sharon is like a desert.

Bashan shakes off their leaves.

Carmel shakes off their leaves.”

Now we have a lamentation. Things are in bad shape. Once again, there is the continual plea to listen. The valiant ones are crying in the streets. The peace envoys are also weeping. The highways are deserted, since no travelers are going any place. The treaties have been broken. The city is despised since no one keeps their obligations. The land itself mourns and languishes. Even the northern neighbor Lebanon is confused and withering away. Sharon and Carmel on the west and Bashan on the southeast are like dying trees in a desert. Everybody is having troubles.