Jeremiah 34:20
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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(20) 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.

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.20. I will even give—resuming the sentence begun, but not completed (Jer 34:18), "I will give," &c.

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.

God doth not threaten all the Jews, but those only who had made this covenant, and formally confirmed it, by killing a beast, and passing through the parts of it thus divided and laid opposite one to another. Of these he spareth none, but threatens both the king, and nobles, and great courtiers, as well as the people, that he would give them into the hand of their enemies that thirsted after their blood; they should be slain, and their dead bodies should not be buried. Herein the righteousness of God appeared, by doing to them as they desired (by passing betwixt the calf) that God would do in case they did not keep to the promise they had made, and called God to witness, and challenging him to destroy them if they did not fulfil what they covenanted for. I will even give them into the hand of their enemies,.... The Chaldeans, who were the enemies of the Jews, that were come from a far country to invade, dispossess, ravage, and plunder them; and what can be a greater punishment than to be given up into an enemy's hand, to be in his power, and at his mercy?

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.
Verse 20. - And their dead bodies, etc. One of Jeremiah's repetitions (see Jeremiah 7:33). 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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