Bible Study, Commentary

Jeremiah 39 – Solitary Man

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Jeremiah 39

Febuary 15, 2024 1:47 PM
Solitary Man


Jer 39:1 In the ninth year of Zedekiah king of Judah, in the tenth month, came Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon and all his army against Jerusalem, and they besieged (tsoor – cramped in, confined) it.

The great crisis is upon the nation of Judah at last. This is a summary of the awful events at the end of this 18 month siege, from 588 to 586 BC. A fuller description will be given in the last chapter, chapter 52.

Jer 39:2 And in the eleventh year of Zedekiah, in the fourth month, the ninth day of the month, the city was broken up (baw-kah – ripped open).

The date is in the month of Tammuz, June/July. Somehow that seems appropriate, as that is the biggest celebration time of Ashteroth. It is also gay pride month, during the summer solstice. The wicked also have their appointed times. It is no coincidence that pride occurs in this most unholy of dates, the celebration of this god of sexual depravity. Everything the devil touches, he corrupts, defiles and destroys.

Jer 39:3 And all the princes of the king of Babylon came in, and sat in the middle gate, even Nergalsharezer, Samgarnebo, Sarsechim, Rabsaris, Nergalsharezer, Rabmag, with all the residue of the princes of the king of Babylon.

The middle gate was sort of a central gate where judgment could be dispensed. We now turn to the exquisitely difficult task of trying to make sense of the following names. Not only should some names be taken together, indicating name and job title, but some should probably be split apart into 2 separate words.

Nergalsharezer – the first half of the name appears as an Assyrian diety in 2 Ki 17:30, and means great hero. It literally meant ‘may nergal protect the king’. Often the name of a god is prefixed to someone’s name. Nebuchadnezzar has the god nebo in its prefix.

Samgarnebo – be gracious, oh Nebo. Jer 48:1 speaks of nebo as a god that Moab worshipped. Because nebo is at the end of this name, it should probably be attached to the next name, Sarsechim. Thus the name should be Nebo-Sarsechim, which could be taken as a general of nebo. The following word, Rabsaris, means eunuch, so this person could be a great or chief eunuch belonging to nebo. In Jer 39:13, Nebushasban appears with the same title of Rabsaris.

Nergalsharezer, Rabmag. The first was a proper name with the god nergal in it. The second name meant chief of the magi, indicating title. Assyrian monuments reference this guy as someone who assassinated Evil-merodach, the son of Nebuchadnezzar, whose sister he had married.

I think that is enough of Babylonian genealogy and job titles. My head hurts. Now you know why God tells us to flee Babylon.

Jer 39:4 And it came to pass, that when Zedekiah the king of Judah saw them, and all the men of war, then they fled, and went forth out of the city by night, by the way of the king’s garden, by the gate betwixt the two walls: and he went out the way of the plain.

This is described again in Jer 52:7. The old wall was the original and the new wall was the one Hezekiah built (2Chr 32:5). This was some sort of a private gate that was probably strictly for the use by royalty, and may not of been known by the Chaldeans.

All those repeated warnings by God. All the rejections of God’s word. Now the bill was due.

Jer 39:5 But the Chaldeans’ army pursued after them, and overtook Zedekiah in the plains (arabah) of Jericho: and when they had taken him, they brought him up to Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon to Riblah in the land of Hamath, where he gave judgment (mish-pat) upon him.

Zedekiah had numerous opportunities to avail himself of God’s mishpat. Now he would experience Babylon’s idea of mishpat. He had not remembered the words of David in 2 Sam 24:14, where he stated:

2Sa 24:14 And David said unto Gad, I am in a great strait: let us fall now into the hand of the LORD; for his mercies are great: and let me not fall into the hand of man.

Why do we continually refuse to learn from history?

The plains of Jericho was an area where the Jordan valley enlarged to 3 miles wide, near Jericho. Riblah was at the borders of Canaan (Num 34:11). It was in the land of Hamath, a province of the former Assyrian kingdom, of which men were brought to repopulate Israel (2 Ki 17:24).

Jer 39:6 Then the king of Babylon slew the sons of Zedekiah in Riblah before his eyes: also the king of Babylon slew all the nobles (khore – white, pure) of Judah.
Jer 39:7 Moreover he put out Zedekiah’s eyes, and bound him with chains, to carry him to Babylon.

Here we go. Judgment day. Every one of us, whether we are found at the judgment seat of Christ, or the great white throne judgment, will face this moment. Except it will be at the hand of our creator, not some man delegated a temporal duty as described here.

Just last chapter God had offered Zedekiah the option of being spared all of this. He wouldn’t take the deal. Was there ever a stronger case of buyer’s regret, I wonder? What he wouldn’t of done on judgment day, to change his past! How many uncounted millions, yea, even billions will cry out in hell for all eternity, wishing they could go back and do it differently.

Judgment day. Much, much too late to change your fate on judgment day.

Not sure if there is a special nuance of meaning for the nobles. It means white or pure. Perhaps it simply meant the best of the best in Judah. Perhaps a second meaning is that there will be many of the pure in Christ, clothed with white robes, who will be martyred by the final Babylon that has been unleashed upon the earth today.

Zedekiah, who refused to see the truth of God’s word, now was given an appropriate reward for his obstinacy. He would never see again.

Jer 39:8 And the Chaldeans burned the king’s house, and the houses of the people, with fire, and brake down the walls of Jerusalem.

All this and more could of been avoided with repentance. Why won’t man repent? Why is it the last thing we ever do?

This is one reason why marxists are so eager to erase all our history, and have us only live in the now, careening from one supposed crisis to another, always hating something or someone. Never being given the chance to reflect on our situation, to go back to the past and see if there are any lessons there that are worth remembering.

This is why the old testament is such a large volume, compared to the new. Obviously, it covers a much longer time period. But that simply means that there are many more lessons to be gleaned thereof. History is useless if it doesn’t teach us what is good for man, and what is not. Sin, stubbornness, rejecting God and his word, these things are not good. Repentance, humility, contriteness, brokenness, and yes, even humiliation, is very good, if it leads us back to our creator.

It took so long to build all these wonderful things – the temple, the walls, the houses, the streets. It took no time at all to tear it all down. That is why the takedown of western civilization, which you may want to trace back to hundreds of years before Christ, is seemingly happening all at once. It does not take long.

Jer 39:9 Then Nebuzaradan the captain (rab – master, chief) of the guard (taw-bawkh – butcher, slaughterer) carried away captive into Babylon the remnant (residue) of the people that remained in the city, and those that fell away (naphal), that fell (naphal) to him, with the rest of the people that remained.

What an ominous description of this man. He belonged to nebo, a pagan god. He was described as chief of the slaughterers. Would Bill Gates fit this man’s shoes today? I am sure other names come to mind.

Sounds like he carried away all deserters and traitors, as they couldn’t be trusted anymore. Once a traitor, always a traitor. Who knows if they wouldn’t switch sides again if it seemed convenient to do so? Once you’ve lost trust, it is exceedingly difficult to get it back.

He also grabbed the residue of useful people who had escaped the first 2 major deportations. This would virtually clean out the city of anyone with any leadership ability or useful skill. Nothing would be left that could form an effective resistance.

Jer 39:10 But Nebuzaradan the captain (rab – master, chief) of the guard (taw-bawkh – butcher, slaughterer) left of the poor of the people, which had nothing, in the land of Judah, and gave them vineyards and fields at the same time.

Even in harsh pagan judgment, the mishpat of God is evident in this verse. The poor, who had nothing, because the cabal over the years had told them that they would own nothing and be happy, had only the first part fulfilled in their life. The poor have always been exploited and robbed from by the rich. Anyone who had anything was in turn robbed from by the Chaldeans. Those who had nothing, and had no means to effect any sort of opposition to the new rulers, were given lands and fields to till, so that some revenue would accrue to the king, as it made no sense to let the fields go to waste. In God’s providence, those who had nothing now were given grace and provision. Not only did they now have a means of supporting themselves, but they got to stay in the land while the elite were cast out and destroyed.

Still, this is a scene of unmitigated tragedy and disaster. There is nothing in this story of joy, or healing, or restoration, or victory. It is simply the brutal, final consequence of unrepented sin.

Jer 39:11 Now Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon gave charge concerning Jeremiah to Nebuzaradan the captain of the guard, saying,
Jer 39:12 Take him, and look well to him, and do him no harm; but do unto him even as he shall say unto thee.

God’s ways are certainly not our ways. God’s people rejected Jeremiah. They mocked him, they beat him, they imprisoned him, they starved him, they slandered him.

The enemies of God’s people now raise Jeremiah up, and give him special status, status that no one in the land enjoys. He is given complete freedom to do what he pleases, and to go anywhere he likes. He has an unrestricted travel pass. He is taken under the wing of the chief of the slaughterers. I don’t think Jeremiah had to worry about his safety anymore. What a spectacular turn of events!

Yet no matter how well he was going to be treated, there is no way in the world that Jeremiah was going to live happily ever after. He would be free to walk around the ruined city. To see all the looting and the destruction. The bodies piled high in the streets beyond count. He took no pleasure in his current situation. It would of been during this time that he would of drawn inspiration to create the book of Lamentations. Notice how there is no book of Joy in the bible? Or book of Victory? But there is an entire book dedicated to lamenting. Food for thought.

Jer 39:13 So Nebuzaradan the captain of the guard sent, and Nebushasban, Rabsaris, and Nergalsharezer, Rabmag, and all the king of Babylon’s princes;

We are not going to go over the meaning of the names of this motley crew. Please see the section at the start of this chapter, if you are so inclined (and I am sure you are not).

This Jeremiah guy had street cred in Babylon! No doubt the king and his court had heard of some of these prophecies from the deserters and the previous captives. They must of marvelled that one of Judah’s own prophets were preaching defeat and urging them to surrender. There would of been a large pro Jeremiah fan club and facebook following in Babylon. Who was this guy that was right in the midst of Jerusalem, preaching death and destruction to his own side? If anything would give a prophet credibility, it would be speaking against the grain like this, when there would be absolutely no personal benefit in doing so, and would even lead to much adversity.

Jer 39:14 Even they sent, and took Jeremiah out of the court of the prison, and committed him unto Gedaliah the son of Ahikam the son of Shaphan, that he should carry (bring) him home: so he dwelt among the people.

Jer 40:1 will show that there was a moment that Jeremiah was in chains, but was recognized as who he was, and was set free at Ramah. The story in that chapter was that Jeremiah was given complete freedom as to whether or not he wanted to go back to Jerusalem along with Gedaliah, the new puppet king. Gedaliah would take him home back to Jerusalem or Anathoth, as Jeremiah saw fit. Jeremiah was probably in some sort of loose temporary custody in Ramah. When he decided to go with Gedaliah, then once Gedaliah was ready to go, Jeremiah accompanied him. This is not surprising, since it would be a very dangerous time to try and travel alone in a land that had just been overrun. Babylonian soldiers would be roaming the land, raping and pillaging and murdering at will. Desperate survivors would do who knows what to lone travellers. It was far safer to be under guard at the Babylonian’s temporary headquarters in Ramah until a formal, protected party was sent back to try and set up some form of governance.

Gedaliah was a logical choice to be made governor. Shaphan was the scribe in the early years of Josiah (2 Kin 22:3-7). Ahikam had a positive testimony (2 Ki 22:8-14, Jer 26:24). His brother Gemariah let Jeremiah use his chamber at the temple (Jer 36:10), and also tried to turn aside the king’s wrath (Jer 36:25). Now the son of Ahikam appears as the prophet’s friend and protector.

God does take care of his own, even in the midst of great tribulation.

Jer 39:15 Now the word of the LORD came unto Jeremiah, while he was shut up in the court of the prison, saying,

While temporarily in what I believe was in Ramah, with all the turmoil going on around him, in a foreign place, run by people whose language you don’t know, watching people most likely being tortured, raped, and killed, yet God speaks to Jeremiah. How he managed to hear God in this kind of circumstance, I will never know. This would still apply if this insert is meant to jump back in time a little bit, perhaps just before the city fell. It still would not be a place conducive to hear the clear voice of God.

Jer 39:16 Go and speak to Ebedmelech the Ethiopian, saying, Thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; Behold, I will bring my words upon this city for evil, and not for good; and they shall be accomplished in that day before thee.

God does not forget his own. Nor does he ignore acts of kindness to those who truly seek him. Think of Cornelius in the book of Acts. God noticed his piety and his actions. He ensured that someone was sent to him to show him the more perfect and sure way of salvation.

God will never forget your labor of love and kind deeds. Do not become weary in well doing. You shall reap in due time if you faint not.

First, God reminds the eunuch that indeed, everything that I said will come to pass, so buckle up and brace yourself.

Jer 39:17 But I will deliver thee in that day, saith the LORD: and thou shalt not be given into the hand of the men of whom thou art afraid.

Ebedmelech may of been afraid of the princes, whom he opposed in speaking on behalf of Jeremiah, or the Chaldeans, who when they broke into the city may find no use for him and kill him out of hand.

Jer 39:18 For I will surely deliver (maw-lat, maw-lat – rescue rescue) thee, and thou shalt not fall by the sword, but thy life shall be for a prey unto thee: because thou hast put thy trust (baw-takh – your place of refuge) in me, saith the LORD.

You can never go wrong in trusting God.

Two lessons here. First, you never need fear again if you truly trust the Lord. Second, your reward may not be exactly what you expect. It may be less than your expectations. He may of felt that he was owed something more than his life. There was no promise of riches, comfort, freedom, or any kind of further blessing. Only his life. It was up to him to be grateful for what God did provide.

Considering the fact that the vast majority of people were slaughtered, this was a great gift.

As we begin to observe the great depopulation scheme pick up steam in the months and years ahead, we may also come to the place that we will be overjoyed simply to still be alive.

Let us strive to find and remain in the proper attitude of gratefulness and thanksgiving. This is truly meet for a son or daughter of God.

Solitary Man

Photos courtesy Depositphotos


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