John T. Willis

Thursday, June 09, 2011

Judean Master Re-enslave their Released Slaves--Jeremiah 34

Jeremiah 34-39 contain accounts of events which occurred in the days of Jehoiakim
(609-598 BCE)and in the days of Zedekiah (598-587 BCE). A study of Jeremiah 34-39 shows that these events are NOT in chronological order. Rather, these chapters are arranged in order to communicate great theological truths. As we enter into these chapters, Jeremiah 34 relates TWO events during the time that Nebuchadrezzar II and the Babylonians were besieging Jerusalem from 589 to 587 BCE. This blog discusses these two events briefly.

I. Yahweh through Jeremiah tells Zedekiah that Zedekiah and the Judeans will fall to the Babylonians and go into exile or captivity. Jeremiah 34:1-7.
a. The composer of the Book of Jeremiah dates the event related in Jeremiah 34:1-7 is during the siege of Jerusalem by the Babylonians. 34:1.
b. Yahweh through Jeremiah tells Zedekiah that Yahweh will GIVE Jerusalem into the hands of Nebuchadrezzar II and the Babylonians. The Babylonians will carry Zedekiah and many of the Judeans into Babylonian exile. He promises that Zedekiah will not die by the sword, but die in peace in Babylon. 34:2-5.
c. The composer informs the hearers that the fall of Jerusalem is near because only the fortified towns of Lachish and Azekah are still fighting at the time.
34:6-7. [For additional study and information, archaeologists have excavated part of Lachish and discovered 18 Letters, which now are available in English].

II. Zedekiah made a covenant with all the people in Jerusalem to release their slaves. They do this, but approximately a month later, they re-enslave the slaved they had released. Jeremiah 34:8-22.
a. The composer relates Zedekiah's covenant to release the slaves, and the officials and people do this. 34:8-10.
b. Later, the people re-enslaved their released slaves. 34:11.
c. Yahweh through Jeremiah declares that Yahweh had commanded God's people to release their slaves after seven years. This appears in Exodus 21:1-11; Deuteronomy 15:12-18. Jeremiah 34:14 quotes Deuteronomy 15:12-13 reminding the hearers about God's law on this point. The ancestors of the Judeans did not obey this command, and now the Judeans living in the days of Jeremiah are not obeying this command.
d. In punishment of the disobedience of God's people about God's law concerning releasing slaves every seven year, Yahweh declares that he is bringing the Babylonians against Jerusalem, and bring "sword, pestilence, and famine" on God's people, overthrow Jerusalem and the Judeans by the Babylonians, and take them into Babylonian exile. 34:17-22.

God's people are stubborn. They claim they love God and serve him, but in their lives, they are disobedient. Ultimately, God punishes people when they continue to live in sin.

Share YOUR insights and aspirations with others. Let me hear from YOU.

John Willis


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