The word which came unto Jeremiah from the LORD, when king Zedekiah sent unto him Pashur the son of Melchiah, and Zephaniah the son of Maaseiah the priest, saying,
Verse 1. - Pashur. A different Pashur from the one mentioned in Jeremiah 20:1. This one reappears in Jeremiah 38:1; he belonged to the fifteenth of the sacerdotal families, named after Melchiah (comp. 1 Chronicles 9:12). Zephaniah, mentioned again in Jeremiah 29:25; Jeremiah 37:3. He was of the priestly family or class of Maaseiah (comp. 1 Chronicles 24:18), and was next in rank to the high priest (Jeremiah 52:24).
Inquire, I pray thee, of the LORD for us; for Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon maketh war against us; if so be that the LORD will deal with us according to all his wondrous works, that he may go up from us.
Verse 2. - Nebuchadrezzar. This form predominates in Jeremiah and Daniel, and is the only form found in Ezekiel. It is, in fact, the correct way of spelling the name, which is in Babylonian Nabu-kudura-ucur, i.e. "Nebo, protect [or perhaps, 'has made'] the crown." According to all his wondrous works; e.g., the destruction of Sennacherib, which must have occurred in the first instance to the minds of devout Jews.
Then said Jeremiah unto them, Thus shall ye say to Zedekiah:
Thus saith the LORD God of Israel; Behold, I will turn back the weapons of war that are in your hands, wherewith ye fight against the king of Babylon, and against the Chaldeans, which besiege you without the walls, and I will assemble them into the midst of this city.
Verse 4. - I will assemble them into the midst of this city; i.e. I will compel the warriors to give up resistance, and shut themselves up within the walls.
And I myself will fight against you with an outstretched hand and with a strong arm, even in anger, and in fury, and in great wrath.
And I will smite the inhabitants of this city, both man and beast: they shall die of a great pestilence.
And afterward, saith the LORD, I will deliver Zedekiah king of Judah, and his servants, and the people, and such as are left in this city from the pestilence, from the sword, and from the famine, into the hand of Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon, and into the hand of their enemies, and into the hand of those that seek their life: and he shall smite them with the edge of the sword; he shall not spare them, neither have pity, nor have mercy.
Verse 7. - And such as are; rather, left which are left. (There has been an obvious error in the repetition of "and.")
And unto this people thou shalt say, Thus saith the LORD; Behold, I set before you the way of life, and the way of death.
He that abideth in this city shall die by the sword, and by the famine, and by the pestilence: but he that goeth out, and falleth to the Chaldeans that besiege you, he shall live, and his life shall be unto him for a prey.
Verse 9. - He that abideth in this city, etc. No doubt Jeremiah often gave this counsel to his fellow-citizens (comp. Jeremiah 38:1, 17), and it appears from Jeremiah 38:19; Jeremiah 39:9; Jeremiah 52:15, that many of the Jews acted in accordance with it. Falleth; more distinctly, falleth away (as Jeremiah 37:14, Authorized Version); i.e. goeth over to.
For I have set my face against this city for evil, and not for good, saith the LORD: it shall be given into the hand of the king of Babylon, and he shall burn it with fire.
And touching the house of the king of Judah, say, Hear ye the word of the LORD;
Verse 11. - And touching the house, etc. The formula with which this section is introduced shows that it was attached to vers. 1-7 at the same time as vers. 8-10, although obviously written at a much earlier period.
O house of David, thus saith the LORD; Execute judgment in the morning, and deliver him that is spoiled out of the hand of the oppressor, lest my fury go out like fire, and burn that none can quench it, because of the evil of your doings.
Verse 12. - O house of David. The "house of David" here, as in Isaiah 7:13, means the various branches of the royal family, the same, in fact, which are called by courtesy "kings of Judah" in Jeremiah 17:20 (see note). They appear from the present passage to have monopolized the judicial function. Deliver him that is spoiled, etc. The poor man would have no advocate to plead for him; in this case the judge was to see that he suffered no injustice in consequence.
Behold, I am against thee, O inhabitant of the valley, and rock of the plain, saith the LORD; which say, Who shall come down against us? or who shall enter into our habitations?
Verse 13. - Jehovah, standing, as it were, on the Mount of Olives, addresses the proud city beneath him. O inhabitant of the valley, and rock of the plain; rather, O inhabitress; Jerusalem is personified as a virgin. The poetical description of the capital as a "valley" (the word, however, signifies a valley as wide as a plain) reminds us of "the valley [or rather, 'ravine'] of vision" (Isaiah 22:1, 5); While "the rock of the plain" recalls "my mountain in the field" (Jeremiah 17:3). So, as Graf points out, Babylon is called "a mountain" in metaphorical language (Jeremiah 51:25). It is, however, singular that the prophet should call Jerusalem a "valley" and a "rock" in the same passage. In the former, perhaps, Jeremiah is thinking specially of the lower city, and in the latter of Mount Zion. Who shall come down against us? viz. from the "hills round about Jerusalem."
But I will punish you according to the fruit of your doings, saith the LORD: and I will kindle a fire in the forest thereof, and it shall devour all things round about it.
Verse 14. - In the forest thereof; i.e. in the forest of houses (comp. Jeremiah 22:6, 7).