Jeremiah 34:19
The princes of Judah, and the princes of Jerusalem, the eunuchs, and the priests, and all the people of the land, which passed between the parts of the calf;
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(19) The eunuchs.—See Note on Jeremiah 29:2. They were for the most part, if not always, of alien birth (comp. Isaiah 56:3), as in the case of Ebed-melech (Jeremiah 38:7), who had become proselytes on entering the king’s service. The prominence given to them indicates that in Judah as in Assyria, and we may add, in all Oriental monarchies, they held high position in the king’s court, and had probably, like the princes of Judah and Jerusalem, enriched themselves by lending money to the poorer Israelites, and then bringing them into bondage. It is significant that here they take precedence of the priests, as in Jeremiah 29:2 of the princes.

Jeremiah 34:19-22. The princes of Judah, &c., (see Jeremiah 29:2,) the eunuchs — The officers belonging to the court; the priests and all the people which passed between the parts of the calf — Assenting to the solemn and awful imprecation, Let us in like manner be cut in pieces if we do not perform what we now promise. I will even give them into the hand of their enemies, &c. — God does not here threaten all the Jews, but those only who had first made, and then broken, this solemn covenant, and thereby falsified their engagements, and dealt treacherously with him. The king and nobles, and great courtiers, as well as the people, he would give into the hand of their enemies, who sought, not their wealth only, or their service, but their lives: and who should obtain what they sought; and, not content therewith, should leave their dead bodies lying unburied upon the face of the earth, a loathsome spectacle to all mankind, and an easy prey to the fowls of the heaven and the beasts of the earth. Thus doth the Lord execute justice, without respect of persons, on all that do wickedly, and who will neither be won by his mercies, nor be brought to obey him by a dread of his wrath. Behold, I will command, and cause them to return to this city — Namely, the king of Babylon’s army, which had departed for a season, having gone to meet the army of the king of Egypt. I will put it into their hearts to return, saith the Lord, to the siege, and they shall leave it no more till they have taken the city, and burned it with fire, and made the whole country desolate. The motions of armies are under the government of Divine Providence, they are all at God’s command; when he bids them come they come, and they shall certainly effect what he hath determined to be done. When we come to chapter 39. we shall read of the fulfilment of this prophecy. Observe here, reader, 1st, As an humble confidence in God is a hopeful presage of approaching deliverance, so security in sin is a sad omen of approaching destruction. 2d, When judgments are removed from a people before they have done their work, and leave them unhumbled and unreformed, they do but retreat to come on again with so much the greater force; for when God judges he will overcome. 3d, It is just with God to disappoint those expectations of mercy which his providence had excited, when we disappoint those expectations of duty which our professions, pretensions, and fair promises had given cause for. If we repent of the good we had promised, God will repent of the good he had purposed. The froward are an abomination to the Lord. With the froward he will show himself froward. 34:8-22 A Jew should not be held in servitude above seven years. This law they and their fathers had broken. And when there was some hope that the siege was raised, they forced the servants they had released into their services again. Those who think to cheat God by dissembled repentance and partial reformation, put the greatest cheat upon their own souls. This shows that liberty to sin, is really only liberty to have the sorest judgments. It is just with God to disappoint expectations of mercy, when we disappoint the expectations of duty. And when reformation springs only from terror, it is seldom lasting. Solemn vows thus entered into, profane the ordinances of God; and the most forward to bind themselves by appeals to God, are commonly most ready to break them. Let us look to our hearts, that our repentance may be real, and take care that the law of God regulates our conduct.The words ... - The Jews spoke of "cutting" a covenant, because the contracting parties cut a calf in twain and passed between the pieces. Thus cutting a covenant and cutting a calf in twain, meant the same thing.18. passed between the parts thereof—The contracting parties in the "covenant" (not here the law in general, but their covenant made before God in His house to emancipate their slaves, Jer 34:8, 9) passed through the parts of the animal cut in two, implying that they prayed so to be cut in sunder (Mt 24:51; Greek, "cut in two") if they should break the covenant (Ge 15:10, 17). No text from Poole on this verse. The princes of Judah, and the princes of Jerusalem,.... Here is a particular enumeration of the persons that had made the covenant, and transgressed it, and that should suffer for so doing; the princes of Judah, distinguished from the princes of Jerusalem, design such princes as lived without Jerusalem, in the cities of Judah, and presided over them, though now at Jerusalem, having fled thither, upon the invasion of the king of Babylon, for their safety; as the princes of Jerusalem, or the magistrates of that city, are distinguished from the princes of the blood, and from the courtiers, both in this and Jeremiah 34:21;

the eunuchs, and the priests, and all the people of the land; that is, as many as had got into Jerusalem to secure themselves from the common enemy: the "priests" also were concerned herein, who had menservants, and maidservants, as well as others; and, besides, were persons doubtless concerned in drawing up the covenant and the form of an oath, as well as in slaying the sacrifice, and cutting it into pieces, and laying the parts in order: it is more surprising that there should be "eunuchs" here; that such should be in the court of the king of Judah, and have offices in it, and preside in them, as among the Gentiles. The Targum renders the word "princes":

which passed between the parts of the calf; signifying their assent to the covenant, and wishing they might be so used if they broke it.

The princes of Judah, and the princes of Jerusalem, the eunuchs, and the priests, and all the people of the land, which passed between the parts of the calf;
In Jeremiah 34:13-16 the Lord sets before the people and their rulers their new offence; in Jeremiah 34:17-22 He announces to them the punishment for this new deed by which the covenant is broken. In order to place the transgression in its proper light, He mentions, first of all, that, when He led Israel out of Egypt, He concluded with them a covenant to the effect that every one of them should set free his Hebrew servant at the end of seven years; He also mentions that their fathers had transgressed this covenant (Jeremiah 34:13, Jeremiah 34:14). The designation of Egypt as a house of bondmen, as in Exodus 13:3, Exodus 13:14; Exodus 20:2; Deuteronomy 6:12, etc., possesses a special emphasis, and points to what is mentioned in Deuteronomy 15:15 as the motive for obeying the law referred to in the address. Because Israel was a servant in Egypt, and the Lord has redeemed him out of this house of bondmen, therefore must they not treat as slaves their brethren who had fallen into poverty, but set them free after six years of service. The expression "at the end (after the lapse) of seven years" is to be understood in the same way as the expression "after eight days." As this just means "when seven days are completed," so also, according to the law, Exodus 21:2; Deuteronomy 15:12, the emancipation was to follow in the seventh year, after six full years of service. "Who sold himself to thee" is an expression copied from Deuteronomy 15:12. - From this sin of their fathers they had now for a little turned away, and, in a solemn covenant, resolved to free the bondmen, as the law decreed (Jeremiah 34:15); but they have immediately profaned the name of the Lord again by revoking this decree, viz., by breaking the covenant made before God. לנפשׁם, "according to their pleasure," like eלנפשׁהּ, Deuteronomy 21:14.
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