The Babylonians Destroy Jerusalem and Set Jeremiah Free--Jeremiah 39
The last chapter in Jeremiah 34-39 relates two very important events in the life of Jeremiah. Hence, Jeremiah 39 naturally falls into two paragraphs.
I. The Babylonians destroy Jerusalem, carry many Judeans into exile, and leave many poor people near the remains of the city in rubble. Jeremiah 39:1-10.
a. The composer of the Book of Jeremiah reminders his hearers [readers] that the Babylonians besieged Jerusalem in the ninth year, tenth month, tenth day of the month of Zedekiah's reign [589 BCE], and made a breach in the wall in the eleventh year, fourth month, ninth day of the month of Zedekiah's reign (587 BCE]. The same dates appear in Jeremiah 52:4-6; 2 Kings 25:1-4. 39:1-2.
b. When the Babylonians break through the wall into the city, the officials of Judah are in the middle gate. Zedekiah and his soldiers flee at night by way of the king's garden through the gate between the two walls toward the Arabah going south. 39:3-4.
c. But the Babylonians pursue Zedekiah and apprehend him in the plains of Jericho. They bring Zedekiah to Nebuchadrezzar II at Riblah, slaughter the sons of Zedekiah, put out the eyes of Zedekiah, and bind him in fetters to take him to Babylon. 39:5-7.
d. Then the Babylonians burn Zedekiah's palace and the houses of the people and break down the walls of Jerusalem. Nebuzaradan the captain of the guard carry the rest of the Judeans who were left in Jerusalem. 39:8-9.
e. Nebuzaradan allows some of the poor people around Jerusalem to stay in the land of Israel if they wished, and give them vineyards and fields to sustain them there. 39:10.
II. The Babylonians set Jeremiah and Ebed-melech free. Jeremiah 39:11-18.
a. Nebuchadrezzar II commands Nebuzaradan to treat Jeremiah well and allow Jeremiah to do whatever he wished. Nebuzaradan takes Jeremiah from the court of the guard and entrust Jeremiah to Gedaliah, the governor of Judah. Jeremiah decides to stay in the land of Israel near fallen Jerusalem. 39:11-14.
b. When Jeremiah was in the court of the guard, Yahweh told Jeremiah that Yahweh would save Ebed-melech because Ebed-melech had trusted in Yahweh and pulled Jeremiah out of the cistern of Malchiah. Yahweh through Jeremiah tells Ebed-melech that Yahweh will overthrow Judah and Jerusalem in the eyes of Ebed-melech. Yahweh assures Ebed-melech that the Babylonians will not kill him or carry him into exile, but will be set free. 39:15-18.
What a turn of events. Just as Yahweh had promised, the Babylonians overthrew Jerusalem, burned the city, destroyed the temple and the walls, and carried many people into Babylonian exile. But Yahweh spared many poor people near fallen Jerusalem, including Jeremiah and his secretary Baruch.
Yahweh was also faithful to Ebed-melech, the Ethiopian eunuch, because Ebed-melech was courageous and delivered Jeremiah from the cistern of Malchiah. These accounts about Ebed-melech in Jeremiah 38:7-13; 39:15-18 call to mind the striking similarities about the account of Philip and the Ethiopian eunuch in Acts 8:26-40. In both cases, an Ethiopian eunuch interacted with Jeremiah and Philip. In both cases, an Ethiopian eunuch behaved in a very godly way toward Jeremiah and Philip. This is just another reminder that frequently "non-Christian people" have better hearts and lives than "Christian people." Christians can help non-Christians, and non-Christians can help Christians. This is God's world. Let us open our eyes to all people whom God created in his own image.
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