Jeremiah stays in Judah (Jer 40:5-40:6)

“‘If you remain,

Then return to Gedaliah,

The son of Ahikam,

The son of Shaphan.

The king of Babylon

Has appointed him governor

Of the towns of Judah.

Stay with him

Among the people!

Or go wherever

You think it right to go.’

So the captain of the guard

Gave him an allowance

Of food

With a present.

He let him go.

Then Jeremiah went

To Gedaliah,

The son of Ahikam,

At Mizpah.

He stayed with him

Among the people

Who were left in the land.”

Nebuzaradan, the captain of the troops, told Jeremiah that if he stayed in Judah that he would be better off with Gedaliah, the son of Ahikam. The King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon had appointed Gedaliah the governor for the towns of Judah, since there was no longer a king. As mentioned in the previous chapter, Gedaliah’s father and grandfather, Ahikam and Shaphan had been loyal to the various prophets. Shaphan went back to the days of King Josiah (640-609 BCE) and his religious reform. Ahikam had protected Jeremiah during the reign of King Jehoiakim (609-598 BCE) as in chapter 26 of this book. His brother Gemariah had helped Jeremiah in chapter 36. Thus Ahikam’s son Gedaliah seemed like the right person to protect Jeremiah. Still Jeremiah was free to go wherever he wanted. The captain of the troops gave Jeremiah some food and a present, maybe some money. Jeremiah then went to Gedaliah, who was at Mizpah, about 6 miles north of Jerusalem, in the Benjamin territory. Thus Jeremiah stayed with all these people who were left in Israel. These were either the so-called poor people or collaborators with the Babylon king and his emissaries.

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Jeremiah is sent to Gedaliah (Jer 39:13-39:14)

“So Nebuzaradan,

The captain of the guard,

Nebu-shazban the Rabsaris,

Nergal-sharezer the Rabmag,

With all the chief officers

Of the king of Babylon

Sent for Jeremiah.

They took him

From the court of the guard.

They entrusted him

To Gedaliah,

The son of Ahikam,

The son of Shaphan.

They brought him home.

So he stayed

With his own people.”

Nebuzaradan, the captain of the guard, and presumably the man in charge on the ground in Jerusalem, gathered the other Babylonian officials together. Two are named here. One is the same as mentioned at the beginning of this chapter, Nergal-sharezer the Rabmag, who was in charge of the Assyrian priests or religious element of Babylon. On the other hand, Nebu-shazban the Rabsaris has the same title as Sarsechim, Rabsaris, earlier in this chapter. The Rabsaris was in charge of the eunuchs, but the name is different here. Are they the same people with different names or two different people? Anyway, they take Jeremiah from the royal prison, presumably before they burn the royal palace down. They hand him over to Gedaliah. His father and grandfather, Ahikam and Shaphan had been loyal to the various prophets. Shaphan went back to the days of King Josiah (640-609 BCE) and his religious reform. Ahikam had protected Jeremiah during the reign of King Jehoiakim (609-598 BCE) as in chapter 26 of this book. His brother Gemariah had helped Jeremiah in chapter 36. Thus Ahikam’s son Gedaliah seemed like the right person to protect Jeremiah.

The new king (Jer 37:1-37:1)

“King Zedekiah,

The son of King Josiah,

Whom King Nebuchadnezzar

Of Babylon

Made king

In the land of Judah,

Succeeded King Coniah,

The son of King Jehoiakim.”          

This is a clear statement that the Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar (605-562 BCE) put King Zedekiah on the throne of David in Judah in 598 BCE. The Babylonian king got rid of King Coniah or King Jehoiachin, who was the son of King Jehoiakim (609-598 BCE), who had just died. There is no doubt that King Zedekiah or King Mattaniah (598-587 BCE), the son of King Josiah (640-609 BCE) and brother of King Jehoiakim, was the favorite of the Babylonian king. Like the preceding chapter, this is a different numbered chapter in the Greek translation of the Septuagint, chapter 44, not chapter 37 as here.

Write a scroll or book (Jer 36:2-36:2)

“Take a scroll!

Write on it

All the words

That I have spoken

To you

Against Israel,

Against Judah,

Against all the nations,

From the day

I spoke to you,

From the days

Of King Josiah

Until today.”

Yahweh tells Jeremiah to write down all the oracles that he told him since the beginning of his prophetic work to the present. He was to get a scroll to write all these oracles that Yahweh had delivered to him against Israel, Judah, and all the nations. He was to go back to the beginning under King Josiah in 626 BCE. Thus this would have been about 20 years worth of Yahweh oracles, with most of it coming when King Josiah was king, since King Jehoiakim had been king for only 4 years. Thus we have some idea about what is in this Book of Jeremiah.

During the time of King Jehoiakim (Jer 36:1-36:1)

“In the fourth year

Of King Jehoiakim,

The son of King Josiah,

Of Judah,

This word

Came to Jeremiah

From Yahweh.”

Once again, there is an exact date for this oracle of Yahweh to Jeremiah, the 4th year of King Jehoiakim, 605 BCE. King Eliakim, or King Jehoiakim (609-598 BCE) as he was called, was the son of King Josiah (640-609 BCE). He took over for his brother King Jehoahaz or King Shallum, who just lasted a few months in 609 BCE. Like the preceding chapter, this is a different numbered chapter in the Greek translation of the Septuagint, chapter 43, not chapter 36 as here.

King Jehoiakim (Jer 35:1-35:1)

“The word

Came to Jeremiah

From Yahweh

In the days

Of King Jehoiakim,

The son of King Josiah

Of Judah.”

Once again we have an earlier time frame for this oracle from Yahweh to Jeremiah. The text of Jeremiah now goes back to the preceding king of Judah, King Jehoiakim, or King Eliakim (609-598 BCE), the brother of King Zedekiah or King Mattaniah (598-587 BCE). They both had the same father, King Josiah (640-609 BCE). Like the preceding chapter, this is a different numbered chapter in the Greek translation of the Septuagint, chapter 42, not chapter 35 as here.

Jeremiah meets the prophet Hananiah (Jer 28:1-28:1)

“In that same year,

At the beginning

Of the reign

Of King Zedekiah

Of Judah,

In the fifth month

Of the fourth year,

Hananiah,

The son of Azzur,

From Gibeon,

Spoke to me

In the house of Yahweh,

In the presence

Of the priests

With all the people.”

Once again we have an exact time frame for this confrontation with Hananiah. This meeting of Jeremiah and Hananiah took place at the beginning of the reign of King Zedekiah or King Mattaniah (598-587 BCE), the son of King Josiah (640-609 BCE) who was installed by King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon (605-562 BCE) at the age of 21. Hananiah was a prophet from Gibeon, north of Jerusalem in the Benjamin territory, whose father was Azzur. Thus this meeting between Jeremiah and Hananiah in the Temple of Yahweh took place around 594 BCE, during the 4th year of the reign of King Zedekiah in the presence of the priests and all the people, as much as that was possible. Like the preceding chapter, this is a different numbered chapter in the Greek translation of the Septuagint, chapter 35, not 28 as here.