Ezekiel lies on his right side for Judah (Ezek 4:6-4:8)

“When you have

Completed these things,

You shall lie down

A second time,

But on your right side.

You shall bear

The punishment

Of the house of Judah.

I assign you

Forty days,

One day for each year.

You shall set your face

Toward the siege of Jerusalem.

With your arm bared,

You shall prophesy

Against the city.

See!

I am putting cords

On you.

Thus you cannot turn

From one side

To the other,

Until you have completed

The days of your siege.”

When Ezekiel had finished the 390 days laying on his left side for the punishment of Israel, he was ordered to lie down a second time, but this time on his right side. He was going to bear a punishment for the house of Judah. However, this was only for 40 days, representing the famous 40 years in the wilderness from Egypt to the Promise Land. However, during this time, he was to face toward the siege of Jerusalem. In fact, he was to bear his arm and prophesy against the city of Jerusalem. To make sure that Ezekiel would do this and not move, Ezekiel had cords put on him, so that he could not switch sides. I am not sure how this worked. He was to do this until he had completed the two assignments for a total of 430 days.

The siege of Jerusalem (Jer 39:1-39:1)

“In the ninth year

Of King Zedekiah

Of Judah,

In the tenth month,

King Nebuchadnezzar

Of Babylon

With all his army

Came against Jerusalem.

He besieged it.”

Once again, there is an exact date, almost the same as in 2 Kings, chapter 25. It is rare that we have exact dating, but here it is very specific, not some vague “at that time.” In the 9th year of King Zedekiah, in the 10th month, King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon came with his army to Jerusalem in order to besiege the city. King Zedekiah had probably began to plot with the Egyptians and rebelled against the king of Babylon.   This siege of Jerusalem probably began in 588 BCE. Like the preceding chapter, this is a different numbered chapter in the Greek translation of the Septuagint, since they are the latter part of chapter 45 and chapter 46, not chapter 39 as here.

The siege of Jerusalem (Jer 32:2-32:2)

“At that time,

The army of

The king of Babylon

Was besieging Jerusalem.

The prophet Jeremiah

Was confined

In the court of the guard

That was in the palace

Of the king of Judah.

King Zedekiah of Judah

Had confined him.”

The time frame is clearly the time of the siege of Jerusalem by the Babylonian army. However, Jeremiah was imprisoned in the palace jail by King Zedekiah of Judah. King Zedekiah had been installed as king by King Nebuchadnezzar in 598 BCE. However, he revolted against him and sought the aid of King Hophra or Pharaoh Apries (589-570 BCE) of Egypt. This led to the siege that lasted almost 2 years as the Egyptians tried to help King Zedekiah. Eventually, the Babylonians were successful. Meanwhile, King Zedekiah had Jeremiah confined to prison because, as always, Jeremiah was pro-Babylonian.

The request for help against the king of Babylon (Jer 21:1-21:2)

“This is the word

That came to Jeremiah

From Yahweh.

King Zedekiah sent to him

Pashhur,

The son of Malchiah,

With the priest Zephaniah,

The son of Maaseiah.

Saying.

‘Please inquire of Yahweh

On our behalf!

King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon

Is making war against us.

Perhaps Yahweh will perform

A wonderful deed for us

As he has often done.

He could make him

Withdraw from us.’”

The word of Yahweh came to Jeremiah when King Zedekiah or King Mattaniah (598-587 BCE), the son of King Josiah (640-609 BCE), was in charge. He sent Pashhur, not the Pashhur at the Temple mentioned in the last chapter, but the son of Malchiah. There also was the priest Zephaniah, the son of Maaseiah, with him. They had a question for Jeremiah. Would he ask Yahweh to help them against King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon (605-562 BCE), who was waging war on them? They knew that Yahweh had often done wonderful deeds for them. Could he make the king of Babylon withdraw and retreat from them? This was probably around 588 BCE, during the siege of Jerusalem.