The end of Israelite slavery (Jer 30:8-30:8)

“On that day!

Says Yahweh of hosts!

I will break

The yoke

From off their neck.

I will burst their bonds.

Strangers shall no more

Make servants of them.”

Yahweh, via Jeremiah, was clear. He was going to break the yoke from their necks on that coming day. He was also going to burst their chains. No longer would they be servants to strangers.

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The word of Yahweh comes to Jeremiah (Jer 28:12-28:12)

Sometime after

The prophet Hananiah

Had broken the yoke

From the neck

Of the prophet Jeremiah,

The word of Yahweh

Came to Jeremiah.”

Sometime after the speech by the prophet Hananiah, the word of Yahweh came to Jeremiah. Hananiah had broken the yoke that Jeremiah had been wearing on his neck, but now a new word from Yahweh came to Jeremiah.

Hananiah predicts the end of the exile in two years (Jer 28:11-28:11)

“Hananiah spoke

In the presence

Of all the people.

Saying.

‘Thus says Yahweh.

This how I will break

The yoke

Of King Nebuchadnezzar

Of Babylon

From the neck

Of all the nations

Within two years.’

At this,

The prophet Jeremiah

Went his way.”

Hananiah the prophet boldly proclaimed in the presence of all the people that Yahweh said that he was going to break the yoke of King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon from the neck of all the countries during the next 2 years. With that, Jeremiah had no response. He just left.

 

Hananiah breaks the yoke of Jeremiah (Jer 28:10-28:10)

“Then the prophet Hananiah

Took the yoke

From the neck

Of the prophet Jeremiah.

He broke it.”

In a real symbolic efficacious action, the prophet Hananiah took the yoke off the neck of Jeremiah. Remember from the preceding chapter that Jeremiah wore a yoke around his neck to symbolize the power of King Nebuchadnezzar had over him and the people of Judah. Now this prophet Hananiah took the yoke off of Jeremiah and broke it.

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.

King Zedekiah was to serve the Babylonian king (Jer 27:12-27:13)

“I spoke to King Zedekiah

Of Judah

In the same way.

‘Bring your necks

Under the yoke

Of the king of Babylon.

Serve him!

Serve his people!

Live!

Why should you,

With your people,

Die

By the sword,

By famine,

By pestilence?

Yahweh has spoken

Concerning any nation

That will not serve

The king of Babylon.”

Jeremiah says that he spoke to King Zedekiah or King Mattaniah (598-587 BCE) who had been put on the throne by the King of Babylon. Jeremiah told King Zedekiah to put his neck unde the yoke of this Babylonian king. He was to serve him and his people. Thus he would live. Why should they die by the sword, famine, or pestilence? Yahweh had said that this was to be the fate of those who did not serve the king of Babylon.

The threat of Yahweh (Jer 27:8-27:8)

“‘But if any nation or kingdom

Will not serve this king,

Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon,

I will punish that nation or kingdom.

If they will not put their necks

Under the yoke

Of the king of Babylon,

I will punish that nation

With the sword,

With famine,

With pestilence,

Until I have completed

Its destruction

By his hand.’

Says Yahweh.”

In this oracle of Yahweh, via Jeremiah, if any country would not serve King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon (605-562 BCE), Yahweh was going to punish them. If they were not willing to wear the yoke of the Babylonian king, Yahweh would punish them either by the sword, famine, or pestilence. This punishment would exist as long as it took for the Babylonian king to destroy them. This was a clear mandate of Yahweh in favor of the good King Nebuchadnezzar. Those who rebelled against him would be punished.