The future death of the people of Judah and Jerusalem (Jer 34:19-34:20)

“The officials of Judah,

The officials of Jerusalem,

The eunuchs,

The priests,

With all the people

Of the land,

Who passed between

The parts of the calf,

Shall be handed over

To their enemies.

They shall be handed over

To those who seek

Their lives.

Their corpses

Shall be food

For the birds

Of the air

As well as the wild animals

Of the earth.”

All the officials of Judah and Jerusalem, along with the eunuchs and the priests, would be handed over to their enemies, who wanted to kill them. The same goes true also for all the people who were part of that agreement to free the Hebrew slaves, when they passed through the 2 parts of the calf. Thus they would all die. Their dead bodies would become the food for the birds of the air or the wild animals of the earth.

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Breaking the covenant agreement (Jer 34:17-34:18)

“Therefore,

Thus says Yahweh!

‘You have not obeyed me

By granting a release

To your neighbors,

As well as to your friends.

I am going to

Grant a release to you,

A release to the sword,

A release to pestilence,

A release to famine.’

Says Yahweh.

‘I will make you a horror

To all the kingdoms

Of the earth.

Those who transgressed

My covenant,

Those who did not

Keep the terms

Of the covenant

That they made before me,

I will make them

Like the calf

When they cut it in two.

As they passed

Between its parts.’”

The people of Jerusalem had not obeyed Yahweh about freeing up their Hebrew slaves. Now Yahweh was going to free them to the sword, pestilence, and famine, the common formula of Jeremiah for destruction. They would become a horror for all the countries in the world. They had broken their covenant with Yahweh. They had not kept the terms of the covenant agreement, since they had re-enslaved the freed Hebrew slaves in Jerusalem. The ancient practice of cutting or sacrificing an animal into two pieces was a way of ratifying an agreement, as can be seen in Genesis, chapter 15. Then the two people would walk between the two pieces of the calf to indicate that if they broke the agreement, they too would be killed. Thus these disobedient ones who broke the covenant were subject to death, just as the calf had been killed and cut up.