Jeremiah 27:12
I spoke also to Zedekiah king of Judah according to all these words, saying, Bring your necks under the yoke of the king of Babylon, and serve him and his people, and live.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(12) I spake also to Zedekiah . . .—There was, as we see in Jeremiah 28:13, a party of resistance in Judah also, and they, too, were trusting in delusive prophecies of the overthrow of the Chaldæan monarchy. Sadly and earnestly the prophet pleads with them in the question, “Why will ye die, thou and thy people, by the sword . . .?

Jeremiah 27:12-13. I spake also to Zedekiah, &c. — What the prophet here says to Zedekiah has a particular weight in it, because he was made king of Judea by Nebuchadnezzar, and had taken an oath to be faithful to him, and never to resist his authority. Why will ye die, thou and thy people? — That is, why wilt thou wilfully ruin, not only thyself, but thy people, by the sword, the famine, and the pestilence? by which judgments the Lord hath declared, that all nations who will not willingly yield to the king of Babylon shall be destroyed.27:12-18 Jeremiah persuades the king of Judah to surrender to the king of Babylon. Is it their wisdom to submit to the heavy iron yoke of a cruel tyrant, that they may secure their lives; and is it not much more our wisdom to submit to the pleasant and easy yoke of our Lord and Master, Jesus Christ, that we may secure our souls? It were well if sinners would be afraid of the destruction threatened against all who will not have Christ to reign over them. Why should they die the second death, infinitely worse than that by sword and famine, when they may submit and live? And those who encourage sinners to go on in sinful ways, will perish with them.Nations ... - Rather, the nation. 12. I spake also—translate, "And I spake," &c. Special application of the subject to Zedekiah. Some think this was at another time, but it is most probable it was the same time. I spake also to Zedekiah king of Judah,.... At the same time that he delivered the above message from the Lord to the ambassadors of several nations, who were then residents in Zedekiah's court, or however in Jerusalem:

according to all these words; the same things, and much in the same language, he said to the king of Judah, as to the messengers of the nations:

saying; as follows:

bring your necks under the yoke of the king of Babylon; you, O king, your nobles, and your people. Zedekiah was set upon the throne by the king of Babylon, was a tributary to him, and had took an oath to be faithful to him; and yet was now meditating rebellion against him; and was consulting and entering into a confederacy with the neighbouring nations to throw off the yoke, and be independent on him: wherefore the sense of this advice must be to bring themselves, he and his people, to a cheerful submission to it, and a patient bearing it, and not attempt to shake it off:

and serve him and his people, and live: the king of Babylon, and the Chaldeans, by faithfully paying the tribute, and acknowledging subjection to him; and so "live" in their own land, enjoying all other civil and religious privileges.

I spake also to Zedekiah king of Judah according to all these words, saying, Bring your necks under the yoke of the king of Babylon, and serve him and his people, and live.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
12–15. The warning to Zedekiah. The LXX, apparently through an accident in copying, omit much of these vv. They correspond in the main to the previous passage, the warning against the false prophets in Jeremiah 27:14-15 answering to that of Jeremiah 27:9-10. The plural is used throughout on account of many sympathisers among all ranks.Verses 12-15. - But the warnings of Jeremiah were not confined, far from it, to the neighboring kings. Zedekiah had received a precisely similar message. Bring your necks. The plural is used, for Zedekiah was but an individual among a number of much more vigorous personalities (comp. on Jeremiah 22:2). The yoke of the king of Babylon upon the kings of Edom, Moab, Ammon, Tyre, and Sidon. - Jeremiah 27:2. "Thus said Jahveh to me: Make thee bonds and yokes, and put them upon thy neck, Jeremiah 27:3. And send them to the king of Edom, the king of Moab, the king of the sons of Ammon, the king of Tyre, and the king of Sidon, by the hand of the messengers that are come to Jerusalem to Zedekiah king of Judah. Jeremiah 27:4. And command them to say unto their masters, Thus hath Jahveh of hosts, the God of Israel, said: Thus shall ye say unto your masters: Jeremiah 27:5. I have made the earth, the man and the beast that are upon the ground, by my great power and by my outstretched hand, and give it to whom it seemeth meet unto me. Jeremiah 27:6. And how have I given all these lands into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, my servant; and the beasts of the field also have I given him to serve him. Jeremiah 27:7. And all nations shall serve him, and his son, and his son's son, until the time of his land come, and many nations and great kings serve themselves of him. Jeremiah 27:8. And the people and the kingdom that will not serve him, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, and that will not put its neck into the yoke of the king of Babylon, with sword, with famine, and with pestilence I will visit that people, until I have made an end of them by his hand. Jeremiah 27:9. And ye, hearken not to your prophets, and your soothsayers, and to your dreams, to your enchanters and your sorcerers, which speak unto you, saying: Ye shall not serve the king of Babylon. Jeremiah 27:10. For they prophesy a lie unto you, that I should remove you far from your land, and that I should drive you out and ye should perish. Jeremiah 27:11. But the people that will bring its neck under the yoke of the king of Babylon and will serve him, that will I let remain in its land, saith Jahveh, to till it and to dwell therein."

The yoke Jeremiah is to make and lay on his neck is a plain emblem of the Babylonian yoke the nations are to bear. The words "bonds and yokes" denote together one yoke. מטות are the two wooden beams or poles of the yoke, which were fastened together by means of the מוסרות, bonds, ropes, so that the yoke might be laid on the beast's neck; cf. Leviticus 26:13. That Jeremiah really put such a yoke on his neck and wore it, we see from Jeremiah 28:10, Jeremiah 28:12, where a false prophet breaks it for him. He is to send the yoke to the kings of Edom, Moab, etc., by means of envoys of those kings, who were come to Jerusalem to Zedekiah. And since Jeremiah laid a yoke on his own neck, and so carried out the commanded symbolical action in objective reality, there is no reason to doubt that he made yokes for the five kings named and gave them to their respective envoys. Chr. B. Mich., Hitz., Graf, hold this to be improbable, and suppose that Jeremiah only made a yoke for himself and put it on his neck; but by appearing abroad with it, he set before the eyes of the ambassadors, the yoke that was to be laid on their kings, and, in a certain sense, emblematically gave it to them. But even though this might have sufficed to accomplish the aim of the prophecy, it is difficulty to reconcile it with the wording of the text; hence Hitz. seeks arbitrarily to change שׁלּחתּם into שׁלּחתּה. And it is a worthless argument that Jeremiah cannot possibly have believed that the envoys would carry the yokes with them and deliver them to their masters. Why should not he have believed they would do so? And if they did not, it was their concern. The plur. "bands and yokes" may indeed mean a single yoke, but it may also mean many; and the verbs נתתּם and שׁלּחתּם, both with plural suffixes, indicate clearly that he was to make not merely one yoke for himself, but yokes for himself and the kings. In Jeremiah 28:10 and Jeremiah 28:12, where one yoke is spoken of, the singular המּוטה is used; while, Jeremiah 28:13, "yokes of wood hast thou broken," does not prove that this plural has the same force as the singular.

We are not told for what purpose ambassadors from the kings named had come to Jerusalem; but we can discover what it was from the message Jeremiah gives them for their lords. From this it appears, without a doubt, that they were come to take counsel as to a coalition with the view of throwing off the Chaldean supremacy. By God's command Jeremiah opposes this design with the announcement, that the God of Israel, the Creator of the world and of all creatures, has given all these lands (those of the kings named in Jeremiah 27:3) into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar; that men, and even beasts, should serve him, i.e., that he might exercise unbounded dominion over these lands and all that belonged to them, cf. Jeremiah 28:14. "My servant," as in Jeremiah 25:9. All nations are to serve him, his son and his grandson. These words simply express the long duration of the king of Babylon's power over them, without warranting us in concluding that he was succeeded on the throne by his son and his grandson, cf. Deuteronomy 6:2; Deuteronomy 4:25. For, as we know, Nebuchadnezzar was succeeded by his son Evil-Merodach; then came his brother-in-law Neriglissar, who murdered Evil-Merodach, who was followed by his son Laborosoarchod, a child, murdered after a nine months' reign by conspirators. Of these latter, Neboned ascended the throne of Babylon; and it was under his reign that the time for his land came that it should be made subject by many nations and great kings, cf. Jeremiah 25:14. גּם הוּא serves to strengthen the suffix on ארצו; and the suffix, like בּו, refers to Nebuchadnezzar.

(Note: Jeremiah 27:7 is wanting in the lxx, and therefore Mov. and Hitz. pronounce it spurious. But, as Graf remarked, they have no sufficient reason for this, since, reference being had to Jeremiah 27:16 and to Jeremiah 28:3, Jeremiah 28:11, this verse is very much in place here. It is not a vaticinium ex eventu, as Hitz. asserts, but was rather omitted by the lxx, simply because its contents, taken literally, were not in keeping with the historical facts. The lxx omit also the clause from "that will not serve" to "king of Babylon and," which is accordingly, and for other subjective reasons of taste, pronounced spurious by Hitz.; but Graf justly opposes this.)

What is said in Jeremiah 27:6 and Jeremiah 27:7 is made sterner by the threatening of Jeremiah 27:8, that the Lord will punish with sword, famine, and pestilence the people and kingdom that will not serve Nebuchadnezzar. ואת introduces a second relative clause, the את being here quite in place, since "the people and the kingdom" are accusatives made to precede absolutely, and resumed again by the 'על הגּוי ה, which belongs directly to the verb "visit." With עד־תּמּי, cf. Jeremiah 24:10 and אתם עד־כּלּותי, corresponding in meaning, in Jeremiah 9:15.

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