Commentary on Jeremiah 37 (2023)

…sequel to “The Bitter End” from 36-45…

KJVJeremiah 37:1¶ And king Zedekiah the son of Josiah reigned in the stead of Coniah the son of Jehoiakim, who [i.e. Zed. ...] Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, became king in the land of Judah.

Just to give us the context of what we're looking at here, I'd like to read an expanded quote from the OT book of 2 Kings.

2 Reis 24:8-25:2 - ...

KJV2 Reis 24:8¶ Jojachinalso known as Conias; This is the son of Jehoiakim we saw in the last chapter burning the scroll with God's message in it...]Guerrahe was eighteen years old when he began to reign, and he reigned three months in Jerusalem. And your mother's nameGuerraNehushta, daughter of Elnathan of Jerusalem.9and he didwhat wasevil in the eyes of the Lord, after all that his father [Jeoaquim…] done.

10¶ At that time the servants of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came against Jerusalem, and the city was besieged.11And Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon went against the city, and his servants besieged it.12And Jehoiakim king of Judah went out to the king of Babylon, he and his mother and his servants and his princes and his servants; and the king of Babylon took him away in the eighth year of his [Nebuchadnezzar…] government.13And he took from there all the treasures of the house of the LORD and the treasures of the king's house, and cut in pieces all the golden vessels that Solomon king of Israel had made in the temple of the LORD, as the LORD had done.14And he kidnapped all Jerusalem and all the princes and all the heroes of heroes,autoten thousand captives and all craftsmen and blacksmiths: none remained but the poorest sort of people in the country [That would be for the next king of Judah...].15And he brought Jehoiachin to Babylon, and the king's mother, and the king's wives, and his servants, and the rulers of the land,to beled him captive from Jerusalem to Babylon.16And all the men of powerautoseven thousand and craftsmen and blacksmiths a thousand, allthose werehardEfit for war, even those whom the king of Babylon brought captive to Babylon.

And that's where King Zedekiah comes in...

17And the king of Babylon made Mattaniah his [Sometimes...] King father's brother in his place and changed his name to Zedekiah.18ZedekiahGuerrahe was twenty-one years old when he began to reign, and he reigned eleven years in Jerusalem. And your mother's nameGuerraHamutal, daughter of Jeremiah of Libnah.19and he didwhat wasevil in the eyes of the Lord after all that Jehoiakim had done.20¶ For by the anger of the Lord it came to pass in Jerusalem and in Judah, until he had driven them out of his presence, that Zedekiah rebelled against the king of Babylon.

And because Zedekiah rebelled against the world power of the day...

25:1And it came to pass in the ninth year of his reign, in the tenth month, in the tenthMarkingof the month,ONebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came against Jerusalem with all his army and attacked her; and they built forts against it all around.2And the city was besieged until the eleventh year of King Zedekiah.

We'll stop there. This gives us a good idea of ​​the context of this chapter. Jehoiakim - whom we saw in chapter 36 died. He was replaced by his son Joaquim. But Babylonia did not seem to approve of this change of power, so they attacked Jehoiachin and he surrendered. And in his place Nebuchadnezzar put his uncle-or Jehoiakim's brother-or Josiah's son-on the throne.

And you feel sorry for this man whose name turns out to be Zedekiah because he's inheriting a really weakened country. Only the country's poorest, least educated and physically fit remain.

And yet, we cannot feel too bad for him, for, as we have already witnessed - he was wicked in the sight of God. And, in fact, in verse 2 more is said about the wickedness of him and his people...

2But neither does he
nor your servants
nor the people of the country

heard the words of the Lord
which he spoke through the prophet Jeremiah.

So Zedekiah is a new king. But he will only continue what wicked kings did before him.

And even if that were the case - even if he didn't bother to listen to God's directives and commands, we'll see how this wicked king seeks God's blessing from the prophet Jeremiah from verse 3 onwards...

3¶ And Zedekiah king sent [21:2…]
playful [38:1-4…] the son of Shelemiah and
Zephaniah [21:2; 29:25-26…] the son of Maaseiah the priest

to the prophet Jeremiah and said:

To pray [now please] the Lord our God for us.

Well, this is not the first time that Zedekiah has sent such a message to Jeremiah. Chapter 21 of Jeremiah begins like this:

“The word that came to Jeremiah from the LORD, when Zedekiah the king sent to Pashur the son of Melchiah and Zephaniah the son of Maaseiah the priest, saying,2Consult the Lord for us; because Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon makes war against us; if so, the Lord will deal with us according to all his wonders, that he may rise from us.

And what I pointed out as I studied this chapter is that Zedekiah sought God's blessings but refused the repentance that would secure those blessings. And so we saw in that chapter that without repentance God will bestow no blessing.

But the point is, Zedekiah seemed devoted to this kind of sending to Jeremiah for help. In Jeremiah 21 he sent Zephaniah just like here. But now, in Jeremiah 37, Zedekiah also sends this man named Jeucal. We will see his name again next time in the next chapter. This man actually accuses and attacks Jeremiah. But now in this chapter he goes to Jeremiah to seek God's help at Zedekiah's request.

OK, so far we know that Zedekiah sent two men to ask Jeremiah to pray for Judah.

But now, at this point in history, God wants us to have a little more experience for what's to come. That's what verses 4 and 5 are about. Verse 4 tells us of Jeremiah's situation. And verse 5 informs us of a situation that affects all of Judah.

(Video) Against the Message and the Messenger - Jeremiah 36-37

4Now Jeremiah [yet…] went in and out among the people:
because they had not put him in prison.

OK, so verse 4 was written from a perspective after Jeremiah was arrested. But this prison is in the future from the point of view of verse 4. Therefore, Jeremiah is free at this time. He goes in and out among people.

It may be helpful to gather all that we know about Jeremiah's status as free or imprisoned as recorded in his book.

It is very clear that Jeremiah was imprisoned for the last two years before the Babylonian exile. These would have been the last two years of Zedekiah's reign.

Passages like Jeremiah 32 and 33, 39 and even here later in this chapter - they all testify to the fact that Jeremiah was imprisoned in the last two years of Zedekiah's reign.

Well, we read something last week about Jeremiah not being able to go to the temple. And I wanted to dwell on that passage for a moment.

In Jeremiah 36:5, Jeremiah tells Baruch, “Ibinkeep your mouth shut; I cannot enter the house of the Lord.” That phrase, “shut up,” might lead one to believe that Jeremiah was in prison at the time. And this is why he cannot go to the temple to deliver his message.

But I will give some reasons why I think the only time Jeremiah was arrested - so far as we can record for ourselves - was during these last two years of Zedekiah's reign.

First, in chapter 36, when this message was delivered by Jeremiah in the temple of Baruch, the then king - Jehoiakim - was not happy and tried to capture and kill Jeremiah. If Jeremiah was under arrest—even if he was under some kind of house arrest, like the apostle Paul, where he was chained by the wrist to a guard or something like that—there was no way for Jeremiah to escape and hide. And yet Jeremiah hid himself. This is one of the reasons why I think Jeremiah was free to roam for most of his ministry, except for the last two years of the Babylonian siege of Jerusalem.

Second, the statement we have here in Jeremiah 37:4 is pretty clear that Jeremiah was free to come and go as he pleased. That will change later in this chapter. But now Jeremiah is free. Not under house arrest, as far as I know. Free.

And those two thoughts that we just reviewed are helpful. But I think we might still be curious to know what it means that Jeremiah was "imprisoned" in Jeremiah 36:5. What does that mean if it doesn't mean he was arrested?

The Hebrew word translated "shut up" in the KJV isBase. It is used 50 times in the Old Testament. In Genesis 16:2 it is used of Sarahinabilityconceive a child. In Genesis 20:18 it is used twice to speak of the LordTo closethe bosom of the house of Abimelech. Numbers 16:48 & 50 Moses uses this word to describe how hestoppeda plague attacking the people. Numbers 25:8 uses it in the same way. Deuteronomy 11:17 uses this word of the heavenly beingimpededto send rain.

This is a small selection of verses. But I think it shows that the meaning of this word has a certain range.

So I think this word is used by Jeremiah in Jeremiah 36:5 to simply say that he is barred, unable, or barred from entering the temple to deliver his message. I think it likely that Jeremiah just delivered his fiery sermon in the temple and was banished from the temple as a result. Not that he was arrested or imprisoned or chained to a soldier - but that he was simply prevented by some ordinance from entering the temple.

In summary, Jeremiah is in prison under Zedekiah for the last two years of Judah's pre-exilic existence. Under Jehoiakim, Jeremiah was excluded from the temple for a period of time. But apparently Jeremiah was a free man until the last two years of Zedekiah.

That's verse 4. It gives some background information about Jeremiah.

Now we move on to verse 5, which gives background information about what was happening throughout Judah at the time.

5Then Pharaoh's army left Egypt:

By the way, this is Pharaoh Hofra, who died in 589-570 BC. reigned. Apparently he was summoned by Zedekiah to drive Babylon out of Jerusalem. Events here likely took place around 588 BC. And just to remind you: Jerusalem fell in 587/6 BC. So these are the last two years of Jerusalem's existence before the exile.

And now we see something interesting happening when Pharaoh comes with his army from Egypt.

and when the Chaldeans who besieged Jerusalem heard [News from/News about] they,
They left Jerusalem.

Then Babylon hears of the coming of Egypt. And that causes his army to stop attacking Jerusalem.

So, to put things in perspective, Zedekiah asks Jeremiah to pray for Judah because Babylon is attacking them. And so it looks like God is answering Jeremiah's prayer - at least it may have looked like it from Zedekiah's perspective.

But sometimes what we can see with our human eyes is not the ultimate reality. Sometimes things can happen that can be misunderstood by mortal people. Zedekiah would likely have been greatly encouraged by the fact that God would have heard and answered Jeremiah's prayer and that the Babylonians would be gone forever.

And so the Lord must send His Word to interpret for Zedekiah what the events recorded in verses 6 through 10 mean.

6¶ Then the word of the LORD came to Jeremiah the prophet, saying,

(Video) Lessons from Jeremiah 37

7Thus saith the LORD, the God of Israel;

So tell the king of Judah, who sent you to consult me ​​[20:2…];

Behold the army of Pharaoh,
who came to help you
they will return to Egypt to their land.

8And the Chaldeans will return
and fight this town
E [catch/capture] Sim,
and burn it with fire.

So this is God's interpretation of the fact that Babylon left Jerusalem to fight Egypt.Egypt - which you trust - will lose and Babylon will return and destroy your city.

But many times the people of Judah did not hear a message from God as we have just heard. In fact, that's why they're in the situation they were in at the time. God punishes them for not listening to his messages and disobeying him.

And because that was the case, the Lord really needs to emphasize that what He just said was indeed the truth.

9Thus saith the LORD;

Make no mistake and say:

The Chaldeans will surely depart from us:

That was their tendency - to reject God's message. And what more can God say than what He says next?

because they don't go away.

And then the Lord gives them a completely ridiculous scenario designed to get their attention and show them how serious he was about what he was saying.

10because although youbeaten/defeated] all the army of the Chaldeans fighting against you,
and stayedButhurt between them

So imagine a battlefield where Judah has just completely defeated the Chaldeans. The only men who remained on the Babylonian side were all badly wounded and in their tents. God says - even if it were so...

yetthey must rise up, each in his tent, and burn this city with fire.

In other words, God had ordained that this destruction of Jerusalem would take place. He would even use wounded soldiers lying in their tents to bring the promised destruction.

And indeed, what Judah experienced at this point in the book of Jeremiah was what Jeremiah had warned them about for decades. From the beginning, the Prophet warned them to repent of their sins. If they didn't, an army would come from the north. And that was the message in Josiah's day. Now, probably some 40 years later, the warnings and threats are finally coming true.

Notice two things about God from what we just said. Observe his mercy and patience. He waited forty years to carry out the threats. But notice also the justice of God. He does not leave sin unpunished - not even the sin of his professed people.

To summarize what we've seen so far, Zedekiah asks Jeremiah to pray. Babylon temporarily abandons her siege of Jerusalem. God wants everyone to understand that the exit from Babylon is temporary. And Jeremiah is the man who delivers this disappointing message.

And yet this is just another day for Jeremiah. Delivering unpopular messages was practically his occupation for four decades. And so he delivered this message, and as the Babylonians were temporarily out of town, he thought he'd take the opportunity to attend to some business at home.

11¶ And it came to pass when the army of the Chaldeans [was disbanded/retired] from Jerusalem for fear of Pharaoh's army,

12So Jeremiah left Jerusalem to go to the land of Benjamin,

For [separated/cracked/share/distribute] [for…] To yourself [Terra…] from there in the middle [His] People.

It therefore appears that Jeremiah went north to Anathoth to obtain some land for himself among his people. Perhaps a relative died and the land was to be redistributed according to Old Testament rules.

And that kind of event might lead you to Jeremiah 32. Something similar happens there. There, Jeremiah's relative comes to him in prison and tells him to buy some land from him. But in the case of Jeremiah 32, it actually takes place after the events of that chapter.

(Video) Jeremiah 36-39 • The Fall of Jerusalem

Well, as we shall see, Jeremiah could never go to Benjamin for his original purpose. And so it is possible that when Jeremiah could not go to his kinsmen in this chapter, his kinsmen went to him in Jeremiah 32.

Anyway, like I said, Jeremiah doesn't get to Benjamin. Let's see why.

13And when he was at the gate of Benjamin, [north of town...]
A [Station Captain / Sentinel Guard / Watch Officer]GuerraLeaves,
who's nameGuerraI would go, [nothing else is known about him...]
the son of Shelemiah
the son of Hananiah; [probably not the false prophet...]

and he took the prophet Jeremiah and said:

Of [fall / desert] and the Chaldeans.

By the way, that was God's order to the people of Judah in Jeremiah 21:9. But Jeremiah had work to do in Jerusalem by God's command. So he had no intention of going to the Chaldeans. And so he protests the accusations.

14Then Jeremiah said:

That's it[fake/a lie];
EU [don't get out / don't leave me] and the Chaldeans.

But [is/Irija] did not hear him:

also would [taken/seized/arrested] Jeremiah,
and brought him toprinces/officials].

This is not the same group of people we saw in Jeremiah 36. In this chapter, the officials were kind to Jeremiah. These people would be 597 B.C. banished with Jeconiah. Jeremiah 37 takes place about 10 years later - around 588 BC.

And we see that these new officers are not very kind to Jeremiah.

15[Because is] the princes were [angry with / angry with / very angry with] Jeremiah,
E [beaten / spanked / flogged] he,
and put him in jail
in the house of Jonathan, the [Clerk/Royal Secretary]:

for they made it a prison.

The Lord in the Old Testament law did not really make provisions for prisons. Every crime was punished accordingly. And the punishment must be carried out quickly. Penalties ranged from fines to death and between these two extremes.

But the fact that prisons are not really provided for in God's law explains why the house of this writer named Jonathan had to be converted into a prison.

16¶ When Jeremiah entered the dungeon ["Casa da Cova", Jan 40-41...] e no [cabins/cells], and Jeremiah stayed there many days;

17So King Zedekiah sent and brought him out:

and the king asked him secretly in [your house/palace], and said,

Existanyword of the Lord?

So Zedekiah leaves Jeremiah in prison for "many days." And we must not think that Zedekiah lacked the power to deliver Jeremiah. I think everyone was very angry with him - Zedekiah, the officers and that Iria. And yet at least Zedekiah was unwilling to kill the prophet.

Again, this reflects this king's vacillation. He wants deliverance, but he will not repent. He wants Jeremiah to be silent-maybe until he dies! But he doesn't want to be responsible for it. And yet here we see him asking if Jeremiah has a word from the Lord!

Now remember that at this point Jeremiah had been preaching the Word of God for decades. Surely they all knew what the Lord's word was to them -surrender to Babylon! Repentance! If not, prepare for destruction!

So this is without a doubt one of the most ridiculous questions recorded in Scripture. And yet this is the kind of behavior we see in Zedekiah.

And Jeremiah responds with little more than a touch of sarcasm.

And Jeremiah said:

(Video) Jeremiah 37 God Always Vindicates Those That Stay by the Stuff - Jeremiah #20

There is:

[for then], he said,

you will be handed over to the king of Babylon. [34:3…]

Now that Jeremiah has revealed the obvious to the king, he asks why he and his officials are treating him unfairly.

18Furthermore, Jeremiah said to King Zedekiah:

What I have [offended / done wrong] against you,
or against your servants,
or against this people

that you put me in jail?

19WoThey arenow your prophets who prophesied to you:

Will the king of Babylon not come against you and against this land?

So the question Jeremiah is asking here is to force Zedekiah to acknowledge that he is a faithful prophet. He is the one who has been speaking the truth about the true God all along. And therefore it is unjust that Zedekiah and his people should arrest him, since Jeremiah gave the true message of God.

Based on this fact, Jeremiah says...

20So listen now, I beseech you, O my Lord and King:
leave my [Please / humble request], I beseech you, be accepted before you;

prevent me from returning to the house of Jonathan the scribe,

so I don't live there.

So we wouldn't necessarily know from the previous verses, but the makeshift prison was a pretty dangerous place. And unless this faithful prophet suddenly overreacted, he truly believed that much longer in that prison would have resulted in his death.

So, in the last verse of this chapter, we see Zedekiah doing something quite noble. He makes sure Jeremiah is well taken care of.

21Then King Zedekiah ordered that they take Jeremiah to the [Hof/Hof] do [jail/guardhouse],

This was apparently where the royal guard was housed, so it would be a better place than the makeshift prison.

and that she gives him a [piece/bread] Bread from Bäckergasse to all the bread in town [used / gone].

So Jeremiah stayed in [Hof/Hof] do [jail/guardhouse].

Thus, Jeremiah had a place to stay and eat while the battle raged around him when the city of Jerusalem would eventually be besieged again by Babylon.

Well, in Jeremiah 36 we last saw Jehoiakim's vain attempt to limit the written Word of God. In this chapter we see Zedekiah's attempt to limit the spoken Word of God.

We also see the fulfillment of all the threats that God has made in this book.

And I think we see Zedekiah rocking back and forth. First, he wants Jeremiah to pray for them as if he were a godly man who cares for God. He then agrees to Jeremiah's arrest, which could easily have resulted in the prophet's death. Then Zedekiah returns and again asks Jeremiah for a word from God. Upon receiving this word, he does not react with remorse. But at least he's pretty friendly with Jeremiah.

And yet, we must observe, that being kind to God's people, and to God's messengers, does not really bring man much eternal good. God is not looking for lost sinners to be kind to His people. He wants lost sinners to repent.

And you and I probably have a few lost people in our lives who might not be directly hostile to us. Maybe they asked you about the Lord a few times. Perhaps they have shown an interest in spiritual things. And yet interest without repentance does not impress the Lord. That kind of man is no closer to the Lord's acceptance than he who is wholly opposed to the Lord and his people.

(Video) Jeremiah Chapter 37-40:6 Free Bible Commentary With Pastor Teacher, Dr Bob Utley

So that's the kind of man Zedekiah was. Interested, but rebellious and disobedient. A double-minded man who was unstable in all of his ways.

And we'll hear more about him next time, God willing.


1. Book of Jeremiah Summary: A Complete Animated Overview
2. Bible Study: Jeremiah 37 & 38 (Jeremiah is thrown into the pit)
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4. Jeremiah 37 Explained
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