Jeremiah 37 Commentary

Jeremiah imprisoned (37:1-21)

Having dealt with events in the reign of Jehoiakim in the previous two chapters, the story now returns to the reign of Zedekiah. As in the case of Jehoiakim, Zedekiah ignored the warnings of God’s prophets (37:1-2).

During Babylon’s final great siege of Jerusalem, Egypt sent an army to help the Jerusalemites. When the Egyptians approached, the Babylonians lifted the siege and went to deal with the new threat elsewhere. Zedekiah sent a message to Jeremiah, asking him to pray that the Babylonians’ withdrawal would be permanent. Jerusalem would then be able to live in peace (3-5).

Jeremiah replied that the Egyptians would retreat and the Babylonians would return. After laying siege to Jerusalem again, they would then conquer and burn it (6-8). Jerusalem’s defeat was certain. Even if the Babylonians suffered heavy losses and were left with only wounded men lying in tents, they would still take Jerusalem (9-10).

The temporary lift of the siege gave Jeremiah the opportunity to go into the country to attend to some business concerning his family’s property. But a guard at the city gate, suspecting that Jeremiah was going to see the Babylonians, arrested him and charged him with being a traitor (11-13). Jeremiah denied the charge, but it made no difference. He was flogged, then thrown into a temporary prison that had been set up in the house of a government official (14-15).

When the Babylonian army returned (contrary to the predictions of the false prophets) the king sent again to ask Jeremiah what hope there was for Jerusalem. The prophet’s reply was the same as before: the city would be conquered (16-19). Though disappointed at Jeremiah’s reply, Zedekiah at least respected the prophet’s honesty. In response to Jeremiah’s request, Zedekiah gave him better prison accommodation and a better provision of food (20-21).

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