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Yeremia 39:1-10

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39:1 King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon came against Jerusalem with his whole army and laid siege to it. The siege began in the tenth month of the ninth year that Zedekiah ruled over Judah. 1  39:2 It lasted until the ninth day of the fourth month of Zedekiah’s eleventh year. 2  On that day they broke through the city walls. 39:3 Then Nergal-Sharezer of Samgar, Nebo-Sarsekim, who was a chief officer, Nergal-Sharezer, who was a high official, 3  and all the other officers of the king of Babylon came and set up quarters 4  in the Middle Gate. 5  39:4 When King Zedekiah of Judah and all his soldiers saw them, they tried to escape. They departed from the city during the night. They took a path through the king’s garden and passed out through the gate between the two walls. 6  Then they headed for the Jordan Valley. 7  39:5 But the Babylonian 8  army chased after them. They caught up with Zedekiah in the plains of Jericho 9  and captured him. 10  They took him to King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon at Riblah 11  in the territory of Hamath and Nebuchadnezzar passed sentence on him there. 39:6 There at Riblah the king of Babylon had Zedekiah’s sons put to death while Zedekiah was forced to watch. The king of Babylon also had all the nobles of Judah put to death. 39:7 Then he had Zedekiah’s eyes put out and had him bound in chains 12  to be led off to Babylon. 39:8 The Babylonians 13  burned down the royal palace, the temple of the Lord, and the people’s homes, 14  and they tore down the wall of Jerusalem. 15  39:9 Then Nebuzaradan, the captain of the royal guard, 16  took captive the rest of the people who were left in the city. He carried them off to Babylon along with the people who had deserted to him. 17  39:10 But he 18  left behind in the land of Judah some of the poor people who owned nothing. He gave them fields and vineyards at that time.

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[39:1]  1 sn 2 Kgs 25:1 and Jer 52:4 give the more precise date of the tenth day of the tenth month of the ninth year which would have been Jan 15, 588 b.c. The reckoning is based on the calendar that begins the year in the spring (Nisan = March/April).

[39:2]  2 sn According to modern reckoning that would have been July 18, 586 b.c. The siege thus lasted almost a full eighteen months.

[39:3]  3 tn English versions and commentaries differ on the number of officials named here and the exact spelling of their names. For a good discussion of the options see F. B. Huey, Jeremiah, Lamentations (NAC), 341, n. 71. Most commentaries follow the general lead of J. Bright (Jeremiah [AB], 243) as the present translation has done here. However, the second name is not emended on the basis of v. 13 as Bright does, nor is the second Nergal-Sharezer regarded as the same man as the first and the information on the two combined as he does. The first Nergal-Sharezer is generally identified on the basis of Babylonian records as the man who usurped the throne from Nebuchadnezzar’s son, Awel-Marduk or Evil-Merodach as he is known in the OT (Jer 52:31; 2 Kgs 25:27). The present translation renders the two technical Babylonian terms “Rab-Saris” (only in Jer 39:3, 13; 2 Kgs 18:17) and “Rab-Mag” (only in Jer 39:3, 13) as “chief officer” and “high official” without knowing precisely what offices they held. This has been done to give the modern reader some feeling of their high position without specifying exactly what their precise positions were (i.e., the generic has been used for the [unknown] specific).

[39:3]  4 tn Heb “sat.” The precise meaning of this phrase is not altogether clear, but J. Bright (Jeremiah [AB], 243) is undoubtedly correct in assuming that it had to do with setting up a provisional military government over the city.

[39:3]  5 tn The Hebrew style here is typically full or redundant, giving a general subject first and then listing the specifics. The Hebrew text reads: “Then all the officers of the king of Babylon came and sat in the Middle Gate, Nergal-Sharezer…and all the rest of the officers of the king of Babylon.” In the translation the general subject has been eliminated and the list of the “real” subjects used instead; this eliminates the dashes or commas typical of some modern English versions.

[39:3]  sn The identification of the location of the Middle Gate is uncertain since it is mentioned nowhere else in the OT.

[39:4]  6 sn The king’s garden is mentioned again in Neh 3:15 in conjunction with the pool of Siloam and the stairs that go down from the city of David. This would have been in the southern part of the city near the Tyropean Valley which agrees with the reference to the “two walls” which were probably the walls on the eastern and western hills.

[39:4]  7 sn Heb “toward the Arabah.” The Arabah was the rift valley north and south of the Dead Sea. Here the intention was undoubtedly to escape across the Jordan to Moab or Ammon. It appears from 40:14; 41:15 that the Ammonites were known to harbor fugitives from the Babylonians.

[39:5]  8 tn Heb “The Chaldeans.” See the study note on 21:4 for explanation.

[39:5]  9 map For location see Map5 B2; Map6 E1; Map7 E1; Map8 E3; Map10 A2; Map11 A1.

[39:5]  10 sn 2 Kgs 25:5 and Jer 52:8 mention that the soldiers all scattered from him. That is why the text focuses on Zedekiah here.

[39:5]  11 sn Riblah was a strategic town on the Orontes River in Syria. It was at a crossing of the major roads between Egypt and Mesopotamia. Pharaoh Necho had earlier received Jehoahaz there and put him in chains (2 Kgs 23:33) prior to taking him captive to Egypt. Nebuchadnezzar had set up his base camp for conducting his campaigns against the Palestinian states there and was now sitting in judgment on prisoners brought to him.

[39:7]  12 tn Heb “fetters of bronze.” The more generic “chains” is used in the translation because “fetters” is a word unfamiliar to most modern readers.

[39:8]  13 tn Heb “Chaldean.” See the study note on 21:4 for explanation.

[39:8]  14 tc The reading here is based on an emendation following the parallels in Jer 52:13 and 2 Kgs 25:9. The Hebrew text here does not have “the temple of the Lord” and reads merely “house of the people.” The text here is probably corrupt. It reads וְאֶת־בֵּית הָעָם (vÿet-bet haam, “and the house of the people”), which many explain as a collective use of בַּיִת (bayit). However, no parallels are cited by any of the commentaries, grammars, or lexicons for such a use. It is more likely that the words יְהוָה וְאֶת־בָּתֵּי (yÿhvah vÿet-bate) have fallen out of the text due to similar beginnings. The words וְאֶת־בֵּית יהוה (vÿet-bet yhwh) are found in the parallel texts cited in the marginal note. The Greek version is no help here because vv. 4-13 are omitted, probably due to the similarities in ending of vv. 3, 13 (i.e., homoioteleuton of מֶלֶךְ בָּבֶל, melekh bavel).

[39:8]  15 sn According to the parallels in 2 Kgs 25:8-9; Jer 52:12-13 this occurred almost a month after the wall was breached and Zedekiah’s failed escape. It took place under the direction of Nebuzaradan, the captain of the king’s special guard who is mentioned in the next verse.

[39:9]  16 tn For the meaning of this phrase see BDB 371 s.v. טַבָּח 2 and compare the usage in Gen 39:1.

[39:9]  17 tc The translation is based on an emendation of the text which leaves out “the rest of the people who were left” as a double writing of the same phrase at the beginning of the verse. Some commentators emend the phrase “the rest of the people who were left” (הַנִּשְׁאָרִים וְאֶת יֶתֶר הָעָם, hannisharim vÿet yeter haam) to read “the rest of the craftsmen who were left” (וְאֶת יֶתֶר הָאָמוֹן הַנִּשְׁאָרִים, vÿet yeter haamon hannisharim) on the basis of the parallel in Jer 52:15 (which does not have הַנִּשְׁאָרִים, hannisharim). However, it is easier to explain the phrase as a dittography of the phrase at the beginning (which is exactly the same except הָעִיר [hair] follows it). The text is redundant because it refers twice to the same group of people. The Hebrew text reads: “And the rest of the people who were left in the city and the deserters who had deserted to him and the rest of the people Nebuzaradan, the captain of the guard, carried into exile to Babylon.” The text has also been divided up to create two shorter sentences to better conform with contemporary English style.

[39:10]  18 tn Heb “Nebuzaradan, the captain of the royal guard.” However, the subject is clear from the preceding and contemporary English style would normally avoid repeating the proper name and title.



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