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.

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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.

Messengers brought the letter to Babylon (Jer 29:3-29:3)

“The letter was sent

By the hand of Elasah,

The son of Shaphan,

With Gemariah,

The son of Hilkiah,

Whom King Zedekiah

Of Judah

Sent to Babylon

To King Nebuchadnezzar

Of Babylon.”

There two official messengers took this letter of Jeremiah from King Zedekiah or King Mattaniah (598-587 BCE) of Judah to King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon (605-562 BCE). The two messengers were named Elasah and Gemariah. Elasah whose father was Shaphan may have been the brother of Ahikam mentioned earlier in chapter 26 who had helped Jeremiah, since they both had the same father named Shaphan. Perhaps Gemariah was the son of the high priest Hilkiah. Anyway, King Zedekiah trusted them with the letter of Jeremiah to bring to the king of Babylon, King Nebuchadnezzar. They would be well received in Babylon.

The letter to the exiles (Jer 29:1-29:1)

“These are the words

Of the letter

That the prophet Jeremiah

Sent from Jerusalem

To the remaining elders

Among the exiles.

It was also sent to

The priests,

The prophets,

Including all the people

Whom King Nebuchadnezzar

Had taken into exile

From Jerusalem

To Babylon.

This was after King Jeconiah,

With the queen mother,

The court officials,

The leaders of Judah,

The leaders of Jerusalem,

The artisans.

With the smiths

Had departed from Jerusalem.”

Apparently Jeremiah wrote a letter to the elders from the first exile in 598 BCE. He sent this letter, like many of Yahweh’s oracles addressed to the priests, the prophets, and all the people, who went to Babylon during the first exile in 598 BCE. King Nebuchadnezzar had taken them from Jerusalem to Babylon. It is hard to tell whether this letter still exists in any form or when it was composed, but probably between 598-587 BCE. King Jeconiah or King Coniah or King Jeconiah of Judah had ruled for only a couple of months when King Nebuchadnezzar removed him in 598 BCE in favor of his uncle King Zedekiah or King Mattaniah (598-587 BCE). At that time, King Jeconiah’s mother, the wife of King Jehoiakim or King Eliakim (609-598 BCE), as well as the court officials and leaders of Judah and Jerusalem went into exile. With them also went the main artisans and iron workers of Jerusalem. Thus the remnant in Jerusalem was like a puppet government for King Nebuchadnezzar. Like the preceding chapter, this is a different numbered chapter in the Greek translation of the Septuagint, chapter 36, not chapter 29 as here.

The prophet Hananiah speaks (Jer 28:2-28:4)

“Thus says Yahweh of hosts!

The God of Israel!

‘I have broken the yoke

Of the king of Babylon.

Within two years,

I will bring back

To this place

All the vessels

Of Yahweh’s house

That King Nebuchadnezzar

Of Babylon

Took away from this place.

He carried them

To Babylon.

I will also bring back

To this place

King Jeconiah,

The son of King Jehoiakim

Of Judah,

With all the exiles

From Judah

Who went to Babylon.

I will break

The yoke

Of the king of Babylon.’

Says Yahweh.”

Hananiah, the prophet from Gibeon, then uttered an oracle of Yahweh, the God of Israel, much like Jeremiah had done. He claimed that he had broken the yoke of the king of Babylon. He said that within 2 years all the vessels from the Temple sanctuary would be returned to Jerusalem. He was also going to bring back the deposed King Jeconiah or King Jehoiachin or King Coniah as he was known as, who had been king for only a couple of months in 598 BCE after his father King Jehoiakim or King Eliakim (609-598 BCE) had been killed. In the meantime, King Nebuchadnezzar had put King Jeconiah’s uncle on the throne, King Zedekiah or King Mattaniah (598-587 BCE). The exiled King Jeconiah was in Babylon in captivity. He was part of the first captivity of 598 BCE, when the sacred vessels and the other exiles also went to Babylon. Clearly, Hananiah the prophet said that Yahweh wanted to break the yoke of the king of Babylon. However, Jeremiah the prophet had said that Yahweh was in favor of this yoke. Let’s see what happens as these 2 prophets interpret the will of Yahweh as regards Babylon.

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.

Remembering the first captivity (Jer 27:19-27:20)

“Thus says Yahweh of hosts

Concerning the pillars,

The sea,

The stands,

With the rest of the vessels

That are left in this city,

That King Nebuchadnezzar

Of Babylon

Did not take away,

When he took into exile

From Jerusalem

To Babylon

King Jeconiah,

The son of King Jehoiakim,

Of Judah,

With all the nobles

Of Judah

As well as Jerusalem.”

Yahweh talked about the other holy vessels still in Jerusalem, including the Temple pillars, the sea structure outside the Temple, the various lamp stands in the Temple, as well as the other sacred vessels in the Temple. These were all left behind when the first captivity took place in 598 BCE, when King Zedekiah or King Mattaniah (598-587 BCE) was put on the throne by King Nebuchadnezzar. King Jeconiah or King Coniah or King Jehoiachin (598 BCE) was only on the throne for a few months before he was taken into exile. His father, King Jehoiakim or King Eliakim (609-598 BCE) had been favored by the Egyptians. King Zedekiah was the brother of King Jehoiakim and the uncle of King Jeconiah. In other words, there was a dispute between Egypt and Babylon and the kings of Judah changed on who was in charge, Egypt or Babylon. Clearly Jeremiah and Yahweh favored Babylon.