Jeremiah 34:1-35:26 Comments by Stephen Ricker
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Judah Repents of Repenting
Comments for Study 26

Jeremiah 34:1-35:26
Memory Verse: 35:15

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I. Warning to Zedekiah (34:1-7)

Judah's Fall Time line

>1. When did this message come and who was it to? (1-3, 6-7)

* Jeremiah 34:1-3 "While Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon and all his army and all the kingdoms and peoples in the empire he ruled were fighting against Jerusalem and all its surrounding towns, this word came to Jeremiah from the LORD: "This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: Go to Zedekiah king of Judah and tell him, 'This is what the LORD says: I am about to hand this city over to the king of Babylon, and he will burn it down. You will not escape from his grasp but will surely be captured and handed over to him. You will see the king of Babylon with your own eyes, and he will speak with you face to face. And you will go to Babylon."

* Jeremiah 34:6-7 "Then Jeremiah the prophet told all this to Zedekiah king of Judah, in Jerusalem, while the army of the king of Babylon was fighting against Jerusalem and the other cities of Judah that were still holding out--Lachish and Azekah. These were the only fortified cities left in Judah."

* "Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon" -Nebuchadnezzar (634– - 562 B.C.) was king of the Neo-Babylonian Empire, who reigned from 605– - 562 B.C. The Akkadian name means "O god Nabu, preserve/defend my firstborn son". Nabu is the Babylonian deity of wisdom, and son of the god Marduk. In an inscription, Nebuchadnezzar styles himself as Nabu's "beloved" and "favourite". Nebuchadnezzar was the oldest son and successor of Nabopolassar, who delivered Babylon from its three centuries of vassalage to its fellow Mesopotamian state Assyria, and in alliance with the Medes, Persians, Scythians and Cimmerians, laid Nineveh in ruins. During the last century of Nineveh's existence, Babylon had been greatly devastated, not only at the hands of Sennacherib and Assurbanipal, but also as a result of her ever renewed rebellions. Nebuchadnezzar, continuing his father's work of reconstruction, aimed at making his capital one of the world's wonders.

* Nebuchadnezzar's final siege of Jerusalem was from 10 January 587 to 9 July 586 B.C.

* "Zedekiah king of Judah" -Zedekiah reigned from 597-586 B.C. Nebuchadnezzar had made him king. He was the last king of Judah. Zedekiah was twenty-one years old when he became king, a puppet king of Babylon. (2 Kings 24:18-19) King Zedekiah took an oath of allegiance to the Babylonian but soon became disloyal. So Nebuchadnezzar besieged the city from 10 January 587 to 9 July 586 B.C. Jerusalem fell and approximately eighty distinguished leaders of the community were executed, the royal palace and the city were set on fire, and the survivors (except the poorest of the land) were taken into captivity. After him governors ruled Israel/Judah on Babylon's behalf.

* 2 Kings 24:18-20 "Zedekiah was twenty-one years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem eleven years. His mother's name was Hamutal daughter of Jeremiah; she was from Libnah. He did evil in the eyes of the LORD, just as Jehoiakim had done. It was because of the LORD's anger that all this happened to Jerusalem and Judah, and in the end he thrust them from his presence. Now Zedekiah rebelled against the king of Babylon."

* 2 Chronicles 36:11-14 "Zedekiah was twenty-one years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem eleven years. He did evil in the eyes of the LORD his God and did not humble himself before Jeremiah the prophet, who spoke the word of the LORD. He also rebelled against King Nebuchadnezzar, who had made him take an oath in God's name. He became stiff-necked and hardened his heart and would not turn to the LORD, the God of Israel. Furthermore, all the leaders of the priests and the people became more and more unfaithful, following all the detestable practices of the nations and defiling the temple of the LORD, which he had consecrated in Jerusalem."

* "Go to... and tell him" -The event in verses 1-7 take place just before the events in the previous two chapters. 32:1-5 state Jeremiah locked up because of the words he speaks here.

* Chapter 34 marks a new theme in Jeremiah. Chapters 34-39 document Jerusalem's siege and fall.

* Babylon and Judah counted king's reigns differently. According to the Babylonian system of computing the years of a king's reign, the third year of Jehoiakim would have been 605 B.C. (Daniel 1:1), since his first full year of kingship begun on New Year's Day after his ascension in 608 B.C. But according to the Judahite system, which counted the year of ascension as the first year of reign, this was the fourth year of Jehoiakim (Jeremiah 25:1, 46:2) Also note that the Babylon and Hebrew calendars had different months and began the year at different times.

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>What was the Lord going to make and allow happen? (2-3)

* Jeremiah 34:2-3 "This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: Go to Zedekiah king of Judah and tell him, 'This is what the LORD says: I am about to hand this city over to the king of Babylon, and he will burn it down. You will not escape from his grasp but will surely be captured and handed over to him. You will see the king of Babylon with your own eyes, and he will speak with you face to face. And you will go to Babylon."

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Jeremiah Preaching to Zedekiah

>How would the last king of Judah die? (4-5)

* Jeremiah 34:4-5 "'Yet hear the promise of the LORD, O Zedekiah king of Judah. This is what the LORD says concerning you: You will not die by the sword; you will die peacefully. As people made a funeral fire in honor of your fathers, the former kings who preceded you, so they will make a fire in your honor and lament, "Alas, O master!" I myself make this promise, declares the LORD.'"

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>Had the Lord given him a chance to avoid this fate, and if so what can we learn about our own lives?

* 2 Thessalonians 3:14-15 "If anyone does not obey our instruction in this letter, take special note of him. Do not associate with him, in order that he may feel ashamed. Yet do not regard him as an enemy, but warn him as a brother."

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II. Slaves Freed (34:8-22)

>2. What had King Zedekiah repented of? (8)

* Jeremiah 34:8 "The word came to Jeremiah from the LORD after King Zedekiah had made a covenant with all the people in Jerusalem to proclaim freedom for the slaves."

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>Who agreed with his decision? (9-10)

* Jeremiah 34:9-10 "Everyone was to free his Hebrew slaves, both male and female; no one was to hold a fellow Jew in bondage. So all the officials and people who entered into this covenant agreed that they would free their male and female slaves and no longer hold them in bondage. They agreed, and set them free."

* "Hebrew" -Abraham was called a Hebrew. (Genesis 14:13) "Hebrew" means "son of Heber" or "son of Eber"; whose family kept in that degenerate age, the profession of the true religion. Eber is found in Shem's and Abram's genealogy in Genesis 11:16-17. He is eight generations before Abram.

When Abraham is called a Hebrew in Genesis 14:13 it is the first time this word appears in the Bible. Abram is called this here perhaps because Heber is known as the Father of the Hebrews. Hebrew is usually an ethnic term in the Bible, it was normally used by non-Israelites in a disparaging sense.

Later Joseph said, "For I was forcibly carried off from the land of the Hebrews..." He said this here to show that Abram was part of but separate from the other people in the land.

Later, outside the Bible, people known as the Habiru/Apiru (a word probably related to Hebrew) are referred to as a propertyless, dependent, immigrant (foreign) social class rather than as a specific ethnic group. Negative descriptions of them are given in the Amarna letters (clay tablets found in Egypt.) (Genesis 40:15) (Also see Genesis 43:32, Exodus 2:6; and 2 Corinthians 11:22; and Philippians 3:5)

* "Jew" -Jew in Hebrew is "yehudi" and "yehudim". The word "Jew" first appears in the Bible from a chronological point of view in Jeremiah in 32:12 and Daniel 3:8 and 12. Jeremiah also used the word in 34:9, 38:19, 40:11, 15, 41:3, 9, 44:1, 26-28, 44:27-28, and 30. Chronologically after Jeremiah and Daniel used the word "Jew" it is used a lot in Esther, Ezra, Nehemiah, and the New Testament (mostly by John and Paul). The word Jew is derived ultimately from the tribe of Judah through Middle English Iewe, Old French Ieu, Latin Iudaeus, and Greek Ioudaios (the woman's name Judith originally meant “Jewess”). Though most believe the word refers to descendants of Judah, in fact the Bible calls other Israelites Jews too. The Bible authors call anyone who lived in Judah's territory (which included other tribes' territories) during the fall of Jerusalem and after a Jew. For example Mordecai, a Benjamite is called a “Jew” in Esther 2:5 (while he was in Babylon). In the New testament Paul, a Benjamite called himself a Jew though born in Tarsus (Acts 21:39, 22:3; Romans 11:1, Philippians 3:4-5) and the prophetess Anna was of the tribe Asher, also a Jew (Luke 2:36-38). Extra Bible authors also used the term. The Greek name Ioudaios (plural Ioudaioi) was used for the Israelites in the Greek and Roman world. This is the name used in the treaty between Judas Maccabeus and the Romans, described in 1 Maccabees 8:23-32: “May all go well with the Romans and with the nation of the Jews...”

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>Did they keep their word? (11)

* Jeremiah 34:11 "But afterward they changed their minds and took back the slaves they had freed and enslaved them again."

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old testament covenants

>3. What did the Lord remind them of? (12-13)

* Jeremiah 34:12-13 "Then the word of the LORD came to Jeremiah: "This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: I made a covenant with your forefathers when I brought them out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. I said,"

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>What specific part of the covenant was he addressing now? (14; Leviticus 25:39-46, 54-55; Deuteronomy 15:12-15)

* Jeremiah 34:14 "'Every seventh year each of you must free any fellow Hebrew who has sold himself to you. After he has served you six years, you must let him go free.' Your fathers, however, did not listen to me or pay attention to me."

* Leviticus 25:39-46 "'If one of your countrymen becomes poor among you and sells himself to you, do not make him work as a slave. He is to be treated as a hired worker or a temporary resident among you; he is to work for you until the Year of Jubilee. Then he and his children are to be released, and he will go back to his own clan and to the property of his forefathers. Because the Israelites are my servants, whom I brought out of Egypt, they must not be sold as slaves. Do not rule over them ruthlessly, but fear your God. 'Your male and female slaves are to come from the nations around you; from them you may buy slaves. You may also buy some of the temporary residents living among you and members of their clans born in your country, and they will become your property. You can will them to your children as inherited property and can make them slaves for life, but you must not rule over your fellow Israelites ruthlessly."

* "until the Year of Jubilee" -Every fifty years was the year of Jubilee; land was to return as allotted by Joshua, Hebrew slaves were to be freed, the land was to rest, and there was to be a huge celebration.

* Leviticus 25:54-55 "'Even if he is not redeemed in any of these ways, he and his children are to be released in the Year of Jubilee, for the Israelites belong to me as servants. They are my servants, whom I brought out of Egypt. I am the LORD your God."

* Deuteronomy 15:12-15 "If a fellow Hebrew, a man or a woman, sells himself to you and serves you six years, in the seventh year you must let him go free. And when you release him, do not send him away empty-handed. Supply him liberally from your flock, your threshing floor and your winepress. Give to him as the LORD your God has blessed you. Remember that you were slaves in Egypt and the LORD your God redeemed you. That is why I give you this command today."

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>Why would it be important to point out that they had agreed to this before the Lord's house? (15; Numbers 30:1-2)

* Jeremiah 34:15 "Recently you repented and did what is right in my sight: Each of you proclaimed freedom to his countrymen. You even made a covenant before me in the house that bears my Name."

* Numbers 30:1-2 "Moses said to the heads of the tribes of Israel: "This is what the LORD commands: When a man makes a vow to the LORD or takes an oath to obligate himself by a pledge, he must not break his word but must do everything he said."

* Deuteronomy 23:21-23 "If you make a vow to the LORD your God, do not be slow to pay it, for the LORD your God will certainly demand it of you and you will be guilty of sin. But if you refrain from making a vow, you will not be guilty. Whatever your lips utter you must be sure to do, because you made your vow freely to the LORD your God with your own mouth."

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>4. Did the Lord see what they had done? (16)

* Jeremiah 34:16 "But now you have turned around and profaned my name; each of you has taken back the male and female slaves you had set free to go where they wished. You have forced them to become your slaves again."

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>Why does the Lord want us to keep our promises and vows?

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>5. How will the Lord make the covenant breakers a covenant? (17-18)

* Jeremiah 34:17-20 "Therefore, this is what the LORD says: You have not obeyed me; you have not proclaimed freedom for your fellow countrymen. So I now proclaim 'freedom' for you, declares the LORD--'freedom' to fall by the sword, plague and famine. I will make you abhorrent to all the kingdoms of the earth. The men who have violated my covenant and have not fulfilled the terms of the covenant they made before me, I will treat like the calf they cut in two and then walked between its pieces. The leaders of Judah and Jerusalem, the court officials, the priests and all the people of the land who walked between the pieces of the calf, I will hand over to their enemies who seek their lives. Their dead bodies will become food for the birds of the air and the beasts of the earth."

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>How does verses 21-22 give understanding on why the leaders recanted their vow?

* Jeremiah 34:21-22 "I will hand Zedekiah king of Judah and his officials over to their enemies who seek their lives, to the army of the king of Babylon, which has withdrawn from you. I am going to give the order, declares the LORD, and I will bring them back to this city. They will fight against it, take it and burn it down. And I will lay waste the towns of Judah so no one can live there."

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>Why is it better not to make a vow? (Romans 7:14-25)

* Romans 7:14-25 "We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin. I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do--this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it. So I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God's law; but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God--through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God's law, but in the sinful nature a slave to the law of sin."

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III. The Recabites (35:1-19)

>6. When did the events of chapter 35 take place? (1)

* Jeremiah 35:1 "This is the word that came to Jeremiah from the LORD during the reign of Jehoiakim son of Josiah king of Judah:"

* Jehoiakim son of Josiah king of Judah" -Jehoiakim (609-597 B.C.) was king at this time. He ambitious, cruel and corrupt. (2 Kings 23:36-37; and 2 Chronicles 36:2-8) Egypt's Pharaoh Neco made Eliakim son of Josiah king in place of his father Josiah and changed Eliakim's name to Jehoiakim. Jehoiakim paid Pharaoh Neco the silver and gold he demanded. In order to do so, he taxed the land and exacted the silver and gold from the people of the land according to their assessments. (2 Kings 23:33-34) In the third and fourth years of his reign Babylon defeated Egypt and besieged Jerusalem.

* 2 Chronicles 36:5-8 "Jehoiakim was twenty-five years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem eleven years. He did evil in the eyes of the LORD his God. Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon attacked him and bound him with bronze shackles to take him to Babylon. Nebuchadnezzar also took to Babylon articles from the temple of the LORD and put them in his temple there. The other events of Jehoiakim's reign, the detestable things he did and all that was found against him, are written in the book of the kings of Israel and Judah. And Jehoiachin his son succeeded him as king."

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Jeremiah Preaching at Temple

>What was Jeremiah instructed to do? (2-5)

* Jeremiah 35:2-5 "Go to the Recabite family and invite them to come to one of the side rooms of the house of the LORD and give them wine to drink." So I went to get Jaazaniah son of Jeremiah, the son of Habazziniah, and his brothers and all his sons--the whole family of the Recabites. I brought them into the house of the LORD, into the room of the sons of Hanan son of Igdaliah the man of God. It was next to the room of the officials, which was over that of Maaseiah son of Shallum the doorkeeper. Then I set bowls full of wine and some cups before the men of the Recabite family and said to them, "Drink some wine."

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>7. What was the Recabite family tradition? (6-7)

* Jeremiah 35:6-7 "But they replied, "We do not drink wine, because our forefather Jonadab son of Recab gave us this command: 'Neither you nor your descendants must ever drink wine. Also you must never build houses, sow seed or plant vineyards; you must never have any of these things, but must always live in tents. Then you will live a long time in the land where you are nomads.'"

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>what did they keep even during threads from invading nations? (8-10)

* Jeremiah 35:8-10 "We have obeyed everything our forefather Jonadab son of Recab commanded us. Neither we nor our wives nor our sons and daughters have ever drunk wine or built houses to live in or had vineyards, fields or crops. We have lived in tents and have fully obeyed everything our forefather Jonadab commanded us."

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>What did Nebuchadnezzar finally force them to do? (11)

* Jeremiah 35:11 "But when Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon invaded this land, we said, 'Come, we must go to Jerusalem to escape the Babylonian and Aramean armies.' So we have remained in Jerusalem."

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>8. What was the subject of the message to Judah? (12-13)

* Jeremiah 35:12-13 "Then the word of the LORD came to Jeremiah, saying: "This is what the LORD Almighty, the God of Israel, says: Go and tell the men of Judah and the people of Jerusalem, 'Will you not learn a lesson and obey my words?' declares the LORD."

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>How did the Lord use the Recabites as an example? (14)

* Jeremiah 35:14 "'Jonadab son of Recab ordered his sons not to drink wine and this command has been kept. To this day they do not drink wine, because they obey their forefather's command. But I have spoken to you again and again, yet you have not obeyed me."

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>How did the Lord act as their father? (15-16)

* Jeremiah 35:15-16 "Again and again I sent all my servants the prophets to you. They said, "Each of you must turn from your wicked ways and reform your actions; do not follow other gods to serve them. Then you will live in the land I have given to you and your fathers." But you have not paid attention or listened to me. The descendants of Jonadab son of Recab have carried out the command their forefather gave them, but these people have not obeyed me.'"

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>9. What would happen to unfaithful son Judah? (17)

* Jeremiah 35:17 "Therefore, this is what the LORD God Almighty, the God of Israel, says: 'Listen! I am going to bring on Judah and on everyone living in Jerusalem every disaster I pronounced against them. I spoke to them, but they did not listen; I called to them, but they did not answer.'"

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>How did Jesus reinforce this? (Matthew 21:28-32)

* Matthew 21:28-32 ""What do you think? There was a man who had two sons. He went to the first and said, 'Son, go and work today in the vineyard.' 'I will not,' he answered, but later he changed his mind and went. Then the father went to the other son and said the same thing. He answered, 'I will, sir,' but he did not go. Which of the two did what his father wanted?" "The first," they answered. Jesus said to them, "I tell you the truth, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God ahead of you. For John came to you to show you the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes did. And even after you saw this, you did not repent and believe him."

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>10. What did the Lord promise the Recabites?

* Jeremiah 35:18-19 "Then Jeremiah said to the family of the Recabites, "This is what the LORD Almighty, the God of Israel, says: 'You have obeyed the command of your forefather Jonadab and have followed all his instructions and have done everything he ordered.' Therefore, this is what the LORD Almighty, the God of Israel, says: 'Jonadab son of Recab will never fail to have a man to serve me.'"

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>What can obedient children learn? (Ephesians 6:1-4)

* Ephesians 6:1-4 "Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. "Honor your father and mother"--which is the first commandment with a promise-- "that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth." Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord."

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