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Jeremiah 27

PARAGRAPH DIVISIONS OF MODERN TRANSLATIONS

(The parentheses represent poetic literary units)

NASB NKJV NRSV TEV NJB
The Nations To Submit to Nebuchadnezzar Symbol of the Bonds and Yokes The Yoke of the King of Babylon
(27:1-28:17)
Jeremiah Wears An Ox Yoke The Symbolic Yoke and the Message to the Neighboring Kings
27:1-7 27:1-11 27:1-7 27:1-7 27:1-11
27:8-11   27:8-11 27:8-11  
27:12-15 27:12-15 27:12-15 27:12-15 27:12-15
27:16-22 27:16-18 27:16-22 27:16-18 27:16-22
  27:19-22   27:19-20
(parenthesis)
 
      27:21-22  

READING CYCLE THREE (see introductory section)

FOLLOWING THE ORIGINAL AUTHOR'S INTENT AT PARAGRAPH LEVEL

This is a study guide commentary,which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

Read the chapter in one sitting. Identify the subjects (reading cycle #3). Compare your subject divisions with the five translations above. Paragraphing is not inspired, but it is the key to following the original author's intent, which is the heart of interpretation. Every paragraph has one and only one subject.

1. First paragraph

2. Second paragraph

3. Third paragraph

4. Etc.

 

CONTEXTUAL INSIGHTS

A. The LXX text of this chapter is much shorter (LXX chapter 34). The question is, "Does the LXX remove the doublets and repetitions or does the MT expand the text for clarity or current stylistic considerations?

 

B. Notice Jeremiah addresses several groups.

1. the ambassadors from the surrounding nations (cf. v. 3) who wanted Judah to join their coalition against Babylon

2. the king of Judah, Zedekiah, v. 12-15

3. the priests, v. 16

4. the people, v. 16

 

C. Notice the number of times and the variety of phrasing that Jeremiah used to assure his audiences that he is speaking the message of YHWH, not his own opinion.

1. this word came to Jeremiah from the Lord, v. 1

2. thus says the Lord to me, v. 2

3. thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, vv. 4,21

4. the Lord has spoken to that nation (i.e., Babylon), v. 13

5. v. 15 has two disclaimers of YHWH speaking through the false prophets

6. thus says the Lord, v. 16

7. thus says the Lord of hosts, v. 19

8. declares the Lord, v. 22 

 

D. Chapters 27-29 form a literary unit.

 

WORD AND PHRASE STUDY

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 27:1-7
1In the beginning of the reign of Zedekiah the son of Josiah, king of Judah, this word came to Jeremiah from the Lord, saying- 2thus says the Lord to me-"Make for yourself bonds and yokes and put them on your neck, 3and send word to the king of Edom, to the king of Moab, to the king of the sons of Ammon, to the king of Tyre and to the king of Sidon by the messengers who come to Jerusalem to Zedekiah king of Judah. 4Command them to go to their masters, saying, 'Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, thus you shall say to your masters, 5"I have made the earth, the men and the beasts which are on the face of the earth by My great power and by My outstretched arm, and I will give it to the one who is pleasing in My sight. 6Now I have given all these lands into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, My servant, and I have given him also the wild animals of the field to serve him. 7All the nations shall serve him and his son and his grandson until the time of his own land comes; then many nations and great kings will make him their servant.

27:1 "Zedekiah" Most manuscripts of the MT have "Jehoiakim" (JPSOA). However, the Peshitta (Syriac) and the Arabic, along with three Hebrew MSS, have "Zedekiah" because of:

1. vv. 3, 12; 28:1

2. the internal setting of the chapter fits Zedekiah better

3. the LXX omitted the verse

The date must be after 597 b.c., possibly 594 b.c., because an account in the Babylonian Chronicles tells us of the attempted coalition between small western states against Nebuchadnezzar II (cf. v. 3).

▣ "Jeremiah" Jeremiah's name (והימרי, i.e., 26:7) is spelled differently in Hebrew (ירמיה), reason unknown. Several names in the OT are spelled differently, examples are Joshua, Nebuchadnezzar.

27:3 "bonds and yokes" This refers to oxen yokes (BDB 557). How many Jeremiah made is uncertain, whether one for himself or one for each ambassador. They symbolized servitude (cf. v. 8; Deut. 28:48). Probably the Hebrew "them" of v. 3 refers to a message, not a yoke.

▣ "by the messengers" This refers to the officials sent by the surrounding nations who were trying to encourage Zedekiah to resist Babylon, along with them.

27:5 This is the theological assertion that YHWH is the God of creation (cf. Gen. 1:1-2:3). Verses 5-6 also assert His sovereignty over all nations (cf. Deut. 32:8; Job 12:23; Acts 17:26).

▣ "by My great power and by My outstretched arm" This is a repeated anthropomorphic (see Special Topic at 1:9) theme.

1. YHWH's deliverance of Israel from Egypt, Deut. 4:34; 5:15; 6:21; 9:29

2. YHWH as creator, II Kgs. 19:15; Jer. 27:5; 32:17

 

▣ "I will give it to the one who is pleasing in My sight" This phrase also refers to Cyrus II, King of Persia (cf. Isa. 44:28; 45:1-7), but here to Nebuchadnezzar II (cf. 28:14). YHWH is in control of history!

The verb (BDB 678, KB 733) is used four times in vv. 5-8. The emphasis is not on the power of human kings, but on YHWH's control of nations and events for His redemptive purposes!

27:6 "My servant" This is a honorific title used of (1) the Messiah (cf. Isa. 52:13) and (2) Nebuchadnezzar II (cf. 25:9; 43:10). God is in control of history, men, nations, and even Satan, who may all be used to accomplish His redemptive purposes!

The footnote of the Expositor's Bible Commentary, vol. 6, p. 545, is very helpful as it outlines the different usages of the title "My Servant."

1. a servant of God as a prophet, cf. Num. 12:7-8; Neh. 1:7; Dan. 9:11

a. Moses

b. Daniel, cf. Dan. 9:17

2. a servant of God as a military leader (i.e., Joshua), cf. Josh. 24:29; Jdgs. 2:8

3. a servant of God as King (i.e., David), cf. II Sam. 7:5,8; Psalm 18,36; Ezek. 34:24; 37:24

4. a servant of God as administrator

a. Nehemiah, cf. Neh. 1:6

b. Zerubbabel, cf. Hag. 2:23

5. all Israel (or Jacob), cf. Isa. 42:1,19; 43:10; 44:1,21; 49:3; Ezek. 28:25; 37:25

6. the remnant of Israel, cf. Isa. 41:8-10

7. a godly individual, cf. Job 1:8; 2:3; 42:8

8. unbelieving rulers who serve YHWH's purposes

a. Cyrus, Isa. 44:28; 45:1

b. Nebuchadnezzar, Jer. 25:9; 27:6; 43:10

 

▣ "also the wild animals of the field to serve him" This is a strange phrase. It apparently relates to v. 5, where it is a way of referring to creation. Here it is used in a series of statements (cf. 28:14).

1. creation given, v. 5

2. lands given, v. 6

3. animals given, v. 6

4. nations given, v. 7

 

▣ "to serve him" This verb (BDB 712, KB 773, here used of Nebuchadnezzar) is used eleven times in this chapter.

1. Qal infinitive construct, v. 6

2. Qal perfect, vv. 7(twice),11(twice)

3. Qal imperfect, vv., 8,9,13,14

4. Qal imperative, vv. 12,17

 

27:7 "him, and his son, and his grandson" The LXX omits "grandson." Historically the throne was seized from Nebuchadnezzar's son by a relative. Remember, modern westerners turn Hebrew prophecy into "historical narrative." This phrase is a literary way of asserting Babylon's domination for a period of time (i.e., 70 years, cf. 25:11).

Also notice that as YHWH used Nebuchadnezzar to punish His unrepentant people, the day is coming when YHWH will use Cyrus to judge Babylon for her sins (cf. 25:12; chapters 50-51; Isa. 14:4-6).

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 27:8-11
8"It will be, that the nation or the kingdom which will not serve him, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, and which will not put its neck under the yoke of the king of Babylon, I will punish that nation with the sword, with famine and with pestilence," declares the Lord, "until I have destroyed it by his hand. 9But as for you, do not listen to your prophets, your diviners, your dreamers, your soothsayers or your sorcerers who speak to you, saying, 'You will not serve the king of Babylon.' 10For they prophesy a lie to you in order to remove you far from your land; and I will drive you out and you will perish. 11But the nation which will bring its neck under the yoke of the king of Babylon and serve him, I will let remain on its land," declares the Lord, "and they will till it and dwell in it."'"

27:8 "the nation or the kingdom which will not serve him" A good example of this is Jeremiah's words to Zedekiah in 38:17-23.

▣ "sword. . .famine. . .pestilence" This is a common trio used to describe a military takeover and its consequences. See note at 14:12.

27:9 ▣ "do not listen" This verb (BDB 1033, KB 1570, Qal imperfect used in a jussive sense) is repeated in vv. 14,16, and 17! We have a choice who we listen to!

There is a series of forbidden ways to know God's will and manipulate future events (cf. Deut. 18:9-14).

1. your prophets (BDB 611) - false prophets (cf. v. 9; 2:8; 23:13-15,26; 29:9)

2. your diviners (BDB 890) - This is from the Hebrew root for "divine" (BDB 890, cf. Num. 22:7; 23:23; Ezek. 21:21; II Kgs. 17:17). It is the general term describing several different methods, but all intent on determining the will of a deity by mechanical or natural means (such as examining the livers of sheep or casting arrows). It is based on the pagan worldview that there is information about the future hidden in natural events and that gifted humans (i.e., false prophets, e.g., Jer. 27:9; 29:8; Ezek. 13:9; 22:28) know it and influence this future.

3. your dreamers (BDB 321) - false revelations (cf. 23:25-28; 29:8; Deut. 13:1-3; see good brief article in John Walton, ANE Thought and the OT, p. 243). The REB changes the vowels and translates this as "your women dreamers." NEB has "wise women."

4. your soothsayers (BDB 778) - This term (BDB 778 II, KB 857) is related to the term "cloud" (BDB 777). Linguists think the term is related to sound:

a. the hum of insects

b. sound of wind in the trees

c. unknown etymology (if cloud, then related to sight)

The parallel passage in Moses' writings which prohibits these same pagan practices is in Lev. 19:26-20:8 (see esp. 19:26). This same term is also found in Jdgs. 9:37; II Kgs. 21:6; II Chr. 33:6; Isa. 2:6; 57:3; Jer. 27:9; Micah 5:12.

5. your sorcerers (BDB 506, the noun occurs only here) - This term (BDB 506, KB 503) basically means "to cut up" (1) as in the shredding of ingredients for a magical potion or (2) cutting oneself as a way of getting the deity's attention (i.e., Syrian usage, cf. I Kgs. 18:28). This term was used to describe Pharaoh's wise men in Exod. 7:11 and Nebuchadnezzar's wise men in Dan. 2:2.

27:10 "lie" This (BDB 1055) is placed first for emphasis.

27:11 This verse is illustrated in 40:9-12 and alluded to in 21:9; 38:2. YHWH is true to His promises. Even in judgment, obedience to His word brings its own reward (cf. Num. 21:4-9 [cf. John 3:14-15])!

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 27:12-15
12I spoke words like all these to Zedekiah king of Judah, saying, "Bring your necks under the yoke of the king of Babylon and serve him and his people, and live! 13Why will you die, you and your people, by the sword, famine and pestilence, as the Lord has spoken to that nation which will not serve the king of Babylon? 14So do not listen to the words of the prophets who speak to you, saying, 'You will not serve the king of Babylon,' for they prophesy a lie to you; 15for I have not sent them," declares the Lord, "but they prophesy falsely in My name, in order that I may drive you out and that you may perish, you and the prophets who prophesy to you."

27:12,17 Jeremiah's words to King Zedekiah have urgency.

1. bring your necks under the yoke - BDB 97, KB 112, Hiphil imperative

2. serve him - BDB 712, KB 773, Qal imperative

3. live - BDB 310, KB 309, Qal imperative

Several of these imperatives are repeated in v. 17 (i.e., #2, #3). Verse 12 is addressed to Zedekiah, while v. 17 is addressed to the priests and people (cf. v. 16).

27:15 "for I have not sent them" This statement is repeated in 23:21 and 29:9. I wonder if the false prophets thought He had or if they knew in their hearts they were speaking only for themselves (or because of political pressure).

I ask that because all speakers for God who do not receive verbal messages must wonder also! My only consolation is that I seek to communicate revelatory Scripture, not cultural or denominational personal opinions. Even then we face the task of application! I rest in the fact that

1. God knows the heart

2. the message of the NT is priority

3. NT prophets are different from OT prophets (see Special Topic at 1:4 and NT Prophets in Special Topic list online)

4. the Spirit is present with gospel proclaimers

It is uncertain how the inappropriate means of v. 9 are related to the methods of the false prophets of Judah or the surrounding pagan nations (cf. v. 3).

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 27:16-22
16Then I spoke to the priests and to all this people, saying, "Thus says the Lord: Do not listen to the words of your prophets who prophesy to you, saying, 'Behold, the vessels of the Lord's house will now shortly be brought again from Babylon'; for they are prophesying a lie to you. 17Do not listen to them; serve the king of Babylon, and live! Why should this city become a ruin? 18But if they are prophets, and if the word of the Lord is with them, let them now entreat the Lord of hosts that the vessels which are left in the house of the Lord, in the house of the king of Judah and in Jerusalem may not go to Babylon. 19For thus says the Lord of hosts concerning the pillars, concerning the sea, concerning the stands and concerning the rest of the vessels that are left in this city, 20which Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon did not take when he carried into exile Jeconiah the son of Jehoiakim, king of Judah, from Jerusalem to Babylon, and all the nobles of Judah and Jerusalem. 21Yes, thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, concerning the vessels that are left in the house of the Lord and in the house of the king of Judah and in Jerusalem, 22'They will be carried to Babylon and they will be there until the day I visit them,' declares the Lord. 'Then I will bring them back and restore them to this place.'"

27:16 "the vessels" See v. 18; I Kgs. 7:15-20; Jer. 52:17ff. The first deportation had already occurred (i.e., 597 b.c., cf. v. 20). However, the false prophets were asserting these taken items would be returned soon.

27:18 "if they are prophets" Jeremiah puts them to the test of Deut. 13:1-3!

27:19 Several of the items of the temple were left.

1. the pillars (cf. I Kgs. 7:15; II Kgs. 25:13,17)

2. the sea (cf. I Kgs. 7:23-26)

3. the stands (cf. I Kgs. 7:27-39

4. the rest of the vessels

See Jer. 52:17-23 where all are taken to Babylon, most placed in Marduk's temple.

27:20 The exile of Jehoiachin is described in Jer. 22:28; 24:1; II Kgs. 24:12,14-16; II Chr. 36:10,18.

27:22 "Then I will bring them back" Here is the hope and promise of Ezra 1:7-11; 5:13-15; 7:19! YHWH sends and YHWH brings back (see 1:10; Isa. 6:9-10)! He is sovereign in world affairs!