I will even give them into the hand of their enemies, and into the hand of them that seek their life: and their dead bodies shall be for meat to the fowls of the heaven, and to the beasts of the earth.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Their dead bodies shall be for meat . . .—As in Jeremiah 7:33; Jeremiah 16:4; Jeremiah 19:7, this takes its place as the extremest penalty of transgression. The sentence on Zedekiah and his princes—i.e., those who were more immediately connected with his policy—is as before (Jeremiah 34:5) somewhat milder, probably because he, though too weak and vacillating to stop the evil which the prophet condemned, had not been actively prominent in the transgression of the covenant, and showed more disposition, as in Jeremiah 37:17, to listen to his counsels.
seek their life—implacably: satisfied with nothing short of their blood; not content with booty.
dead bodies—The breakers of the covenant shall be cut in pieces, as the calf between whose parts they passed.
and into the hand of them that seek their life; not their wealth and substance only, but their lives also; nothing less will content them:
and their dead bodies shall be for meat unto the fowls of the heaven,
and to the beasts of the earth; not only such should be the cruelty of their enemies that sought their lives, that they should slay them with the sword, and give them no quarter; but such their inhumanity, that they should not suffer their carcasses to be buried, but leave them exposed to birds and beasts of prey; of the princes of Judah, see Jeremiah 52:10.I will even give them into the hand of their enemies, and into the hand of them that seek their life: and their dead bodies shall be for meat unto the fowls of the heaven, and to the beasts of the earth.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)Verse 20. - And their dead bodies, etc. One of Jeremiah's repetitions (see Jeremiah 7:33). 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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