The anointed king (Lam 4:20-4:20)

Resh

“Yahweh’s anointed,

The breath

Of our life,

Was taken

In their pits.

This is the one

Of whom

We said.

‘Under his shadow

We shall live

Among the nations.’”

Using the first personal plural, they extol Yahweh’s anointed one, the king of Judah, King Zedekiah. He was the breath of their life, but he fell into a pit and was captured. They had agreed to live under his shadow, but now he was no more. This verse starts with the Hebrew consonant letter Resh in this acrostic poem.

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The oracle about Ebed-melech (Jer 39:15-39:18)

“The word of Yahweh

Came to Jeremiah

While he was confined

In the court of the guard.

‘Go!

Say to Ebed-melech,

The Ethiopian.

Thus says Yahweh of hosts!

The God of Israel!

‘I am going to fulfill my words

Against this city

For evil,

Not for good.

They shall be accomplished

In your presence

On that day.

But I will save you

On that day.’

Says Yahweh.

‘You shall not be

Handed over

To those whom you dread.

I will surely save you.

You shall not fall

By the sword.

But you shall have

Your life

As a prize of war.

Because you have trusted

In me.’

Says Yahweh.”

Perhaps this oracle should have been at the end of chapter 38, but it is here. Jeremiah is still in the royal prison as he gets this oracle about the Ethiopian eunuch Ebed-melech, who had saved him from starvation and death in the cistern well. Jeremiah was to go to Ebed-melech to tell him what Yahweh had told him. Yahweh was going to destroy Jerusalem because of its evil ways, in the sight of this Ethiopian. However, the God of Israel was going to save him as he would not be handed over to the Babylonians to die by the sword. Ebed-melech was going to save his life as a prize of war. This usually meant that he would be taken into captivity with the king of Judah. His life would be saved because he trusted in Yahweh.

Jeremiah says that the king will live (Jer 38:17-38:17)

“Then Jeremiah said

To King Zedekiah.

‘Thus says Yahweh!

The God of hosts!

The God of Israel!

If you will surrender

To the officials

Of the king of Babylon,

Then your life

Shall be spared.

This city

Shall not be burned

With fire.

You

With your house

Shall live.’”

Jeremiah told King Zedekiah what Yahweh, the God of hosts, the God of  Israel, had said. If he surrendered to the officials of the Babylonian king, then his life would be spared. Jerusalem would not be burned down. He and his whole household would be able to live. In other words, Jeremiah was telling the king of Judah to surrender to the king of Babylon.

The new scroll (Jer 36:28-36:29)

“Take another scroll!

Write on it

All the former words

That were in the first scroll

That King Jehoiakim

Of Judah

Has burned.

Concerning King Jehoiakim

Of Judah

You shall say.

‘Thus says Yahweh.

You have dared

To burn this scroll!

Saying!

‘Why have you written in it

That the king of Babylon

Will certainly come?

Why have you written in it

That he will destroy

This land?

Why have you written in it

That he will cut off

Human beings

With animals from it?’”

Yahweh then told Jeremiah to take a new scroll and rewrite the same thing again that Baruch had written earlier. Yahweh wanted Jeremiah to ask the king himself why he dared to burn this scroll. Obviously, the king of Judah was upset because the scroll said that the king of Babylon was going to come and destroy the land of Judah with all the humans and animals in it.