We will begin this lesson in Jeremiah 34:1 "The word which came
unto Jeremiah from the LORD, when Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, and
all his army, and all the kingdoms of the earth of his dominion, and
all the people, fought against Jerusalem, and against all the cities
thereof, saying,"

     The word that was translated "earth" here, does not mean the
entire earth, but a country or area. This is speaking of the siege
that came,  when Jerusalem and all of Judah was captured by Babylon.

     Jeremiah 34:2 "Thus saith the LORD, the God of Israel; Go and
speak to Zedekiah king of Judah, and tell him, Thus saith the LORD;
Behold, I will give this city into the hand of the king of Babylon,
and he shall burn it with fire:"

     We had discussed in a previous lesson, that king Zedekiah did not
want to hear this prophecy. He would much rather believe the false
prophets, who were saying they would be quickly restored. Jeremiah has
said, now, that the destruction will be by fire.

     Jeremiah 34:3 "And thou shalt not escape out of his hand, but
shalt surely be taken, and delivered into his hand; and thine eyes
shall behold the eyes of the king of Babylon, and he shall speak with
thee mouth to mouth, and thou shalt go to Babylon."

     We will see in chapter 39 verse 7, that Zedekiah's eyes will be
put out. This is mentioned again in II Kings 25:7 "And they slew the
sons of Zedekiah before his eyes, and put out the eyes of Zedekiah,
and bound him with fetters of brass, and carried him to Babylon."
Nebuchadnezzar will be the one to pronounce sentence on Zedekiah. This
is unusual, since this is Nebuchadnezzar's uncle. After they have put
Zedekiah's eyes out, they will take him to Babylon.

     Jeremiah 34:4 "Yet hear the word of the LORD, O Zedekiah king of
Judah; Thus saith the LORD of thee, Thou shalt not die by the sword:"

     Zedekiah would have preferred to die by the sword in battle. It
would be very humiliating to be taken bound to Babylon.

     Jeremiah 34:5 "[But] thou shalt die in peace: and with the
burnings of thy fathers, the former kings which were before thee, so
shall they burn [odours] for thee; and they will lament thee,
[saying], Ah lord! for I have pronounced the word, saith the LORD."

     This peace was at great expense to Zedekiah. His eyes had been
put out, because of his rebellion against Nebuchadnezzar, his sons had
been killed and his daughters left in Jerusalem. There was little for
him to do but live in peace in Babylon, until his death. It appears
that the usual burning of spices for high officials who died, would be
carried out for Zedekiah. This does not say exactly where this
mourning will take place.

     Jeremiah 34:6 "Then Jeremiah the prophet spake all these words
unto Zedekiah king of Judah in Jerusalem,"

     This is just placing the location of the prophecy in Jerusalem.

     Jeremiah 34:7 "When the king of Babylon's army fought against
Jerusalem, and against all the cities of Judah that were left, against
Lachish, and against Azekah: for these defenced cities remained of the
cities of Judah."

     The "defenced cities" meant that they had a wall surrounding them
to deter any attack.

     Jeremiah 34:8   "[This is] the word that came unto Jeremiah from
the LORD, after that the king Zedekiah had made a covenant with all
the people which [were] at Jerusalem, to proclaim liberty unto them;"

     This covenant had to do with the Levitical law. It appears, this
covenant was made in Jerusalem at the temple. It had to do with
releasing Jews who had served, as a slave. This was connected with

     Jeremiah 34:9 "That every man should let his manservant, and
every man his maidservant, [being] an Hebrew or an Hebrewess, go free;
that none should serve himself of them, [to wit], of a Jew his

     A fellow Hebrew was to serve as a slave to another Hebrew for no
more than 7 years. They were to be released then. They were set free,
because they had fulfilled the law of the jubilee. It did not matter
if the slave was male or female, this was the law.

     Jeremiah 34:10 "Now when all the princes, and all the people,
which had entered into the covenant, heard that every one should let
his manservant, and every one his maidservant, go free, that none
should serve themselves of them any more, then they obeyed, and let
[them] go."

     This appears from a glance, that they had repented. It appears to
me, they realize they had not been keeping the covenant with God about
their servants, who were fellow Hebrews. They let them go for fear of
being punished.

     Jeremiah 34:11 "But afterward they turned, and caused the
servants and the handmaids, whom they had let go free, to return, and
brought them into subjection for servants and for handmaids."

     Their repentance was short-lived. They had not really repented.
They repented long enough to keep from being punished, and then went
right back to their evil ways.

     Jeremiah 34:12  "Therefore the word of the LORD came to Jeremiah
from the LORD, saying,"
     We may hide our sin from our neighbor, but God knows. He is about
to act on this in the verse above.

     Jeremiah 34:13 "Thus saith the LORD, the God of Israel; I made a
covenant with your fathers in the day that I brought them forth out of
the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondmen, saying,"

     This covenant had been made with God and their ancestors, when He
brought them out of Egypt to the promised land. This is part of the
things that set them apart from the rest of the world. This was so
very important for them to keep, since God had taken them out of
bitter slavery in Egypt.

     Jeremiah 34:14 "At the end of seven years let ye go every man his
brother an Hebrew, which hath been sold unto thee; and when he hath
served thee six years, thou shalt let him go free from thee: but your
fathers hearkened not unto me, neither inclined their ear."

     They were to work six years, and be released the seventh year.
God made the earth, and all in it in 6 days, and rested the seventh.
These people worked 6 years, and were to be set free the 7th. Their
fathers had not kept covenant with God to do this thing. This was part
of the reason God was so angry with them.

     Jeremiah 34:15 "And ye were now turned, and had done right in my
sight, in proclaiming liberty every man to his neighbour; and ye had
made a covenant before me in the house which is called by my name:"

     Since their fathers had not kept covenant, and they had kept
their fellow Hebrews longer than the 7 years, they were to release all
of their Hebrew brothers who were slaves. In a very short time, they
would be slaves themselves, then perhaps, they would realize the
misery of being a slave. "The house that is called by my name" is
speaking of the temple in Jerusalem.

     Jeremiah 34:16 "But ye turned and polluted my name, and caused
every man his servant, and every man his handmaid, whom he had set at
liberty at their pleasure, to return, and brought them into
subjection, to be unto you for servants and for handmaids."

     They had not kept their word to the servants, but worse, they had
broken covenant and lied to God. They had made this oath in the
temple. They had polluted God's name before their Hebrew brothers, and
before the Babylonians. They had no respect for God.

     Jeremiah 34:17 "Therefore thus saith the LORD; Ye have not
hearkened unto me, in proclaiming liberty, every one to his brother,
and every man to his neighbour: behold, I proclaim a liberty for you,
saith the LORD, to the sword, to the pestilence, and to the famine;
and I will make you to be removed into all the kingdoms of the earth."

     God had given them a last moment chance to repent, and they had
backslidden into sin. Since they did this terrible thing against God
and their fellowman, now they will feel hunger, the sword, and
pestilence. They will know how it feels to be slaves, because they
will be slaves to their captors.

     Jeremiah 34:18 "And I will give the men that have transgressed my
covenant, which have not performed the words of the covenant which
they had made before me, when they cut the calf in twain, and passed
between the parts thereof."

     This was a blood covenant they had made. They walked between the
two parts of the divided calf, to show that if they broke the
covenant, the same would come to them. If they killed, they would be
killed. In this case, they took the slaves back, so they will be
slaves. The walking between the two halves of the calf, made this a
very serious covenant.

     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;"

     This just explains that anyone who walked through the calf, and
in fact all who did, would pay for the breaking of the covenant.

     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 unto the fowls of the heaven, and to the
beasts of the earth."

     Now, we see the severity of the punishment for breaking covenant
with God. They will pay with their lives. They will not even have the
honor of burial. They are to be eaten of the vultures, like those of

     Jeremiah 34:21 "And Zedekiah king of Judah and his princes will I
give into the hand of their enemies, and into the hand of them that
seek their life, and into the hand of the king of Babylon's army,
which are gone up from you."

     Earlier in this lesson, we found what would happen to Zedekiah.
There are worse things than death, and Zedekiah's fate was worse than

     Jeremiah 34:22 "Behold, I will command, saith the LORD, and cause
them to return to this city; and they shall fight against it, and take
it, and burn it with fire: and I will make the cities of Judah a
desolation without an inhabitant."

     A very important thing to remember, here, is that this is God who
causes this destruction. It is done, because of the sins of these
people. This type of punishment is so severe, because they broke
covenant with God.

                         Jeremiah 37 Questions

1.  When did this word of the LORD come to Jeremiah?
2.  What does "earth" in verse 1 mean?
3.  What was Jeremiah to tell Zedekiah?
4.  How will the destruction come?
5.  Who passes judgement on Zedekiah?
6.  What did he do to Zedekiah, before he took him to Babylon?
7.  What happened to Zedekiah's sons?
8.  How would Zedekiah have preferred to die?
9.  How shall Zedekiah die?
10. What was usually done as part of the mourning for high officials?
11. Where did Jeremiah speak to Zedekiah {in verse 6}?
12. What are two other cities specifically named, besides Jerusalem,
    that were destroyed?
13. What was meant by "defenced cities"?
14. What covenant did Zedekiah make with the people?
15. What was this connected with?
16. What did the covenant say, they were to do?
17. When they heard about the covenant agreement, what did the princes
    and the people do?
18. What did they do afterwards?
19. How did God feel about this?
20. When had God made the covenant with their fathers?
21. Had their fathers kept the covenant?
22. When were the Hebrews supposed to release their Hebrew salves?
23. What is the "house that is called by my name"?
24. How had they polluted God's name?
25. What was their punishment to be?
26. What had they done, showing this to be a very serious covenant?
27. Who had been part of the covenant?
28. How severe is the punishment?
29. Zedekiah's fate was worse than _______.
30. Who causes the destruction to come, and why?