10 – Jer 39-45 The City’s Fall & the Captives’ FlightJeremiah & Lamentations
First the end was near; now, the end was here. Two and a half years after the siege began, on July 18, 586 BC, the Babylonian army breached the walls of Jerusalem. The princes of Babylon set up their thrones in the Middle Gate of the city and began to take over and remake the government. Zedekiah and the royal family fled. Those left behind, refusing the LORD’s instructions through Jeremiah, packed up and went to Egypt, forcing the prophet to go with them. What was the cause of this entire disaster? It was sin, unbelief, and the refusal to repent. If only one of these kings had turned around and led the people back to God, this entire horrific tragedy would have been averted.
Jer 39 Death and Life
1-3 Fight A 30-month siege. Blocked access in and out. Drought, famine, disease. Breached walls in 586 BC. Princes set up thrones.
4-7 Flight Zedekiah, family and staff fled. Caught. Riblah – c. 100 mi. north of Jerusalem. Slew his sons and nobles. Blinded Zedekiah. Took him bound to Babylon, where he died. Cf. Ezek 12:13.
8-10 Fire Burned city. Exiled all but the poor to Babylon.
11-14 Free Spared Jeremiah. C/o Gedaliah (son of Ahikam, who helped Jeremiah (26:24). Gedaliah also made governor, 2 Kg 25:22).
15-18 Faith Yahweh’s promise to Ebed-melech due to his faith.
Tables turned: The king and those in power die. The poor, Jeremiah, and Ebed-melech survive and are blessed.
Jer 40 Safety and Danger
1-6 Jeremiah Freed, Chooses to Stay after brief arrest.
Nebuzaradan: captain of the guard. Led 587 BC siege. 2 Kg 25:8-9.
7-12 Gedaliah Assures Army Captains re: surrender.
Note Ishmael’s and Johanan’s involvement below.
“Serve Babylon here. Work the land. I’ll represent you.” Jews return from the various lands to which they had fled. Peace and prosperity.
13-16 Gedaliah Threatened with Assassination
Ignores warnings from Johanan and leaders re: Ishmael.
Baalis, Ammon’s king: destabilize Judah to keep Babylon off his own back. Inside job: sent Ishmael to kill Gedaliah.
False confidence, naïveté.
Jer 41 Slaughter and Salvation
1-10 Ishmael’s Mass Execution
Gedaliah first. “As they ate bread together.” Then political massacre.
80 men. Feast of Booths (?). Mourning temple’s destruction.
Ishmael kills 70, dumps them in cistern. Spares 10 who offer food.
Takes all pro-Babylon people at Mizpah captive – to Ammon.
11-18 Johanan’s Mass Recovery
With army leaders, confronts Ishmael at Gibeon, retrieves captives.
Ishmael escapes to Ammon.
Though innocent, saved group fears retaliation from Babylon and so intends to flee to Egypt, farthest land from Babylon’s controlled territory.
On the cover of Biblical Archaeology Review, March/April 1999: “Seal of an Assassin: Ammonite King Plotted Murder of Judah’s Governor”
Clay Seal of Ba’alis (Image to be shown in class 5/9/21)
Brown agate with white bands. 0.5-inch diameter, 0.2-inch thick. A small hole was drilled through the center of the scarab-shaped seal for the setting.
Three lines of script, separated by double lines:
[Belonging to] Ba’alis // King of // B[nei Ammo]n (sons of Ammon, exactly as in Jer 40:14).
Depicts a winged sphinx wearing an Egyptian-style apron. The sphinx has a tail in the shape of the letter S. This shape is specifically Ammonite.
Clay Cone of Milqom’ur (Image to be shown in class 5/9/21)
Additional confirmation and mention of Ba’alis.
This drawing shows the broad end of a clay cone perhaps used as a stopper for a juglet.
The impression reads “Belonging to Milqom’ur, servant of Ba’alis”.
Milqom’ur likely served as a high royal official.
At center, a winged beetle pushes a ball of dung.
Jer 42 Stay or Stray
1-7 Request: Leaders ask Jeremiah for the word of the LORD.
Small remnant, afraid of Babylon, pleading for God’s mercy.
Commitment to obey, no matter what He says.
7-17 Response: The people are NOT to go to Egypt.
Option 1: Remain. Trust God. Don’t fear Babylon. The LORD will build you and plant you, not pull you down or pluck you up. Cf. 1:10.
Option 2: Depart. Fear Babylon. Disobey God. Trust Egypt to give you peace and prosperity. The LORD will send you the sword, famine, and pestilence that you attempted to escape.
18-21 Reminder: You’ll face God’s wrath just as Judah has.
Jer 43 Gypped in Egypt
1-7 Determination: Jews Rush to Egypt.
Arrogant men defy God, take Jeremiah and all these to Egypt.
Accusation: “You’re lying! Baruch incited you to destroy us!”
“If we stay, Babylon will kill us or exile us! Egypt can save us!”
8-13 Demonstration: Babylon Will Rule Egypt.
Another symbolic act.
Jeremiah buries large stones in clay under the brick pavement that covered the large courtyard at the entrance to Pharaoh’s palace.
He declares that God will place Nebuchadnezzar’s throne on them.
“Shepherd … cloak … vermin.”
Heliopolis: “Temple of the Sun.”
Jer 44 Short Memory
Jeremiah’s last recorded message, given in Egypt, c. 580 BC. Preached and ministered for 46 years, 626-580 BC. Impressive!
Main lesson from history is that we often fail to learn from history.
1-14 The LORD’s Condemnation of Idolatry
Unbelievably, the Jews in Egypt are serving idols again!
15-19 The People’s Commendation of Idolatry
“The Queen of Heaven (likely Ishtar, goddess of fertility) blessed us when we served her and now has punished us for neglecting her!”
20-30 The Promised Consequences of Idolatry
Sign: Pharaoh Hophra’s army revolted against him.
He was executed three years later.
Jer 45 Burdened and Blessed
Fourth year of Jehoiakim: 605/604 BC. Same event as in 36:1-8.
Placed here: the end of Jeremiah’s prophecies to Judah (chs. 2-45).
1-3 Baruch’s Burden
Sorrow, pain, groaning, lack of rest due to heavy message.
“Woe is me!” He focuses on himself and blames the LORD.
4-5 Yahweh’s Blessing
“It’s not about you, but about My doing what I promised.”
“I am breaking down and plucking up.” Cf. 1:10.
“Don’t seek personal greatness for yourself.”
Blessing: “Your life as booty.”
Written by Cory Collins
Cory Collins is a Bible teacher and a minister of the gospel. He serves with Keller church of Christ in Keller, Texas. He and his wife, Tanya, have been married since 1977. They have two children and two grandchildren.