“Bible History IS Secular History when given the truth, whole truth, and nothing but the truth.”
Instruct the wise and they will be wiser still; teach the righteous and they will add to their learning.
Paul Harvey, during his daily radio broadcasts, made famous the statement “The Rest of the Story.” He would tell the unfamiliar stories behind the familiar stories of men, feats, events and situations. Did you know the same is true of many “bible stories” found in the Old and New Testament scriptures? The following may not be quite the same as Mr. Harvey’s reviews of history, events and people, but they can be just as stunning, revealing, informative, and mind opening.
This publication will look at dozens of these surprising “aha moments” from scripture. Some will startle, some readers will find them particularly satisfying, and some will realize that history and the Bible are the same thing; a review of what was and remains an actuality. The Bible stories in scripture are space-limited and cannot publish everything surrounding, coinciding, or consequential to these stories. Some Bible time events are well-known and others not quite as well known but none the less found in scripture with a correlating “aha moment”. NOTE: The Bible and history are contemporaneous.
Included in this website are messages from others who serve our God; i.e. studied individuals such as ministers and Bible teachers.
Let’s explore some of these aha moments in scripture and have a ton of fun while doing so!!
– Dr. J
The story goes something like this. A man and a woman were going someplace “to get away from things.” They had just been through some trauma of life and wanted to get away from it all but had little funds to support it. She wanted advice too. The man asked the woman, “where would you like to go?” She replied, “why don’t you just ask our travel agent.” So he does. The reports back what the travel agent recommends. He was assured by the highly recommended agent that if they stayed local, he could guarantee their safety, price, enjoyment, and still get away from the trauma. There has been violence in the surrounding areas. However, if they go outside of their home territory, they will pay a great price for so doing and their trauma will simply follow them.
She immediately accused him of being self-serving, it wasn’t what she wanted, (Florida was on her mind) and the agent didn’t understand their circumstances. What does he know anyway? Then she gathers up the family, packs up luggage along with a charge card, tells him to get in the car, and off they go to a Florida.
This is similar to Jeremiah’s situation in chapter 43. The Judean survivors and remaining militia of Judah following, the traumatic invasion of the Babylonians, sought out Jeremiah and begged him to ask God what they should do now. Most of the Judeans, king, rulers, and leaders were taken captive to Chaldea-Babylon. This takes us into chapter 43. In chapter 42 we discovered that Jeremiah was assured by God that if they stayed within their homeland, he would protect them from any further Babylonian trauma and any other enemy, but they must believe and have faith in him [42:10, 11]. In short, go had changed his mind and would protect, provide safety, a life from additional trauma, and at a price of simply worshiping him as their God.
He is accused in verse 2 of chapter 43 [ESV]…”You are telling a lie. The LORD our God did not send you to say, “Do not go to Egypt to live there…” Essentially they accuse Jeremiah of being a turncoat and since the Babylonians had looked favorably upon Jeremiah, he was seen as a traitor to their cause without God. Remember that up until now, these very same “captains of the army (militia)” and the Judean citizens had resisted Jeremiah’s counsel and prophecy.
The army had good reason to continue fearing the Babylonians. In all likelihood, it was these military men who had initially recommended to King Zedekiah to rebel against Nebuchadnezzar and Babylon. Why would they now want to hang around? They even go so far as to accuse Baruch, Jeremiah’s secretary, of setting them up for destruction; a sort of “get even” plot.
JIV NOTE: One of the great mysteries in the bible is why do the Israelites (including Judeans) constantly want to flee to Egypt for protection; the very same place they served as slaves to the Pharaohs for 400 years??? We recall in Exodus 5:2 that the Pharaoh said to Moses…”who is the Lord that I should obey him?” This is a continued explanation as to why God was judging Judah. They wanted help, but they wanted it their way. “Do your job God and protect us but let us serve other gods.”
We must make note of the following few verses. Many times one who reads this passage is left with the impression that all of Judah was not taken into captivity by the Babylonians. A remnant is left behind. This is true however no one is to be left in the former Kingdom of Judah, now a province of Babylon.
[Jeremiah 43: 4-7; ESV] So Johanan the son of Kareah and all the commanders of the forces and all the people did not obey the voice of the LORD, to remain in the land of Judah.
But Johanan the son of Kareah and all the commanders of the forces took all the remnant of Judah who had returned to live in the land of Judah from all the nations to which they had been driven–the men, the women, the children, the princesses, and every person whom Nebuzaradan the captain of the guard had left with Gedaliah the son of Ahikam, son of Shaphan; also Jeremiah the prophet and Baruch the son of Neriah. And they came into the land of Egypt, for they did not obey the voice of the LORD. And they arrived at Tahpanhes.
JIV: Once again contrary to some theologians, this is not the return and again the removal of the ten Northern Tribes to Israel. It is those of Judah who had fled Nebuchadnezzar. Those who returned to Judah were JUDEANS; i.e. Tribe of Judah.
We see that the (Promised) land is now vacated. This is the argument of the Palestinian Arabs today; 2017. They argue that the Israeli’s of the ten tribe Northern Kingdom were totally dispersed by the Assyrians well over 100 years before this time, and never returned. They were forced into and though out the world. Now the remaining remnant of Judeans willingly left the land of the former Kingdom of Judah and fleeing to Egypt. Per modern Arab thought, it was desertion of their Promised Land so it now defaults to the other son of Eber (through Joktan), and Arab descendants of Esau (son of Isaac) and Ishmael (son of Abraham).
If a church or denomination want to believe that the New Testament REPLACES the Israeli covenants of the Old Testament, then even so-called Christian Churches today will take this same stand albeit in their shallow Arab understanding or ignorance of the Word (promises) of God.
Jeremiah now unloads on his remaining countrymen in vocal dynamics probably unmatched in previous prophesies and warnings. He tells the fleeing remnant to ‘Stand ready and be prepared, for the sword shall devour around you.’ God warned them though Jeremiah in chapter 42: if they desert their Promised homeland they would not be protected by their God, or avoid the sword, pestilence, and death.
Here is a very interesting archaeological insight. God tells Jeremiah to bury some large stones in or under the pavement of the entrance to the city of Tahpanhes, Egypt. He is to do this in the full view of these fleeing militia and Jews within this remnant. He does this while prophesying that the Babylonians will not only attack Egypt, but kill those who think they have avoided God’s judgement. The evidence is where Jeremiah buries these large stones. Nebuchadnezzar will set his tent on that very spot when invading Egypt. We can’t avoid God’s judgement! The encyclopedia describes this very event…
A platform of brickwork, which has been tentatively described as the pavement at the entry of Pharaoh‘s palace, has been discovered at this place. “Here,” says the discoverer, William Flinders Petrie, “the ceremony described by Jeremiah 43:8-10; ‘brick-kiln’ (i.e. pavement of brick) took place before the chiefs of the fugitives assembled on the platform, and here Nebuchadnezzar II spread his royal pavilion”. The site was discovered by Sir William Matthew Flinders Petrie in 1886. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tahpanhes)
However, the fleeing Judeans are not the only ones to suffer upon settling in Tahpanhes, Egypt. When the Babylonians do later attack Egypt they utterly destroy much of the land itself including their temples of evil and other god worship.
We may need to be reminded that the Babylonians still had a score to settle with the Egyptians. When Nebuchadnezzar was laying siege to Jerusalem, just as Jeremiah had prophesied, the Egyptians marched out to engage him in war per a previous agreement or alliance between King Zedekiah of Judah and Egypt. Their armies never engaged. The Egyptians retreated after the Babylonians army pulled out of Judah to fight them. This is probably why so many of the Judean army was still around. They had probably gone out to join the Egyptians and were not in Judea when Nebuchadnezzar attacked. Some undoubtedly were in hiding.
Next article – Chapter 44: How far had the people of Judah turned their hearts from God? Next article is another WOW moment.s
Dr. J. Stark
In our previous article on chapter 40, we pointed out that Gedaliah was appointed governor over the Judean area by Nebuchadnezzar after the failed revolt of King Zechariah. Zechariah himself had been appointed king over Judah by Nebuchadnezzar but power went to his head and God was not in his heart. He had rebelled in hopes of help from Egypt. It never came.
Gedaliah became governor (not king) of the surrounding area of Judah. His capital city was Mizpah since Jerusalem itself had been mostly destroyed by Neb and his Chaldean/Babylonian army. He had a small contingency of Babylonian militia as body guards. Gedaliah was the son of Ahikam (who saved the life of the prophet Jeremiah back in Jeremiah 26) and the grandson of Shaphan. Shaphan is mentioned in relation to the discovery of the Scroll of Teaching that some scholars identify as the core of the Book of Deuteronomy. This is debated.
Ishmael (of all names to use in this pending assassination plan found in Jeremiah 41) was sent by the King of the Ammonites to assassinate Gedaliah. He wanted discord to once again fall upon what remained of the Judean people. The Ammonites, descendants of Lot, were an eternal enemy of all Israel. Using the guise of a friendly supper and drinking party, Ishmael, sent by the Ammonites and ten men with him, invited Governor Gedaliah to a small celebration. After dining and drinking they got up and slew Gedaliah and those (probably unarmed) within his company.
Once again Nebuchadnezzar was going to need a replacement as a ruler in the province of Judah. Since this area was a constant thorn in the side of the Babylonian king, the remaining Judeans feared with good reason the response by Nebuchadnezzar. They packed up and with all haste fled to Egypt. Most Judeans fled but not Ishmael and his murdering men. This was about 582 B.C.E.
Unexpectedly (Jeremiah 41:4) some 80 men from Shechem and Samaria came to Mizpah, in a sense, to welcome Gedaliah as an ally and friend and to pay tribute in the House of Jehovah. They did not know of the assassination of Gedaliah. The last thing Ishmael needed was witnesses from outside who were also under the thumb of Nebuchadnezzar.
Ishmael, was a great actor and met these men outside of the Judean province. He was weeping and look distraught; a deception not all that uncommon in the Middle East even to this day. Jeremiah 41:6 says…he (Ishmael) said unto them, Come to Gedaliah the son of Ahikam. They were emotionally disarmed by the appearance of a great servitude of Ishmael and his men. When they entered the city (Mizpah), Ishmael and his men began another day of assassinations and murders. These visitors were slaughter; all but ten of them. These survivors (all probably without weapons) used the old bargaining chip of hidden values (Jeremiah 41:8) that would remain hidden if they were slain. Gedaliah bought their plea bargain. What happens per these “valuables” we are not told.
“And the pit into which Ishmael had cast all the dead bodies of the men whom he had slain by the side of Gedaliah was the one which Asa the king had made for fear of Baasha king of Israel: Ishmael the son of Nethaniah filled it with his slain.”
In a very real sense this also served as a visual warning to the remaining ten survivors from Samaria and Shechem that a bad move could also make this pit their final resting ground. Then Ishmael makes a retreat back to the King of Ammon. However he does not go alone. He takes the remaining Jews in Mizpah captive and herds them to Ammon.
One might call it a remaining Judean guerrilla force (v11), rose up from their hiding places outside of Judah proper. They heard of the evil deeds of Ishmael and came to their rescue before Ishmael could carrel his captives in Ammon. One might think he was going to sell them as slaves to the King of Ammon. We don’t really know but that was the culture and practice of that day. We get this idea from verse 10 where they are identified as “CAPTIVES.”
Jeremiah 41:13 tells us…
“And it came to pass when all the people that were with Ishmael saw Johanan the son of Kareah, and all the captains of the (remaining Judean) forces that were with him, then they were glad.”
We can determine by close examination of Jeremiah 41:13-15 that Ishmael made a very hasty flight to Ammon leaving his captives standing in view of Johanan and his captains of what once again, we may identify as a guerrilla force of Judah. If one read the non-canonized books of the Maccabees, we see they too were a Judean guerrilla force but very successful in fighting off the Roman rule yet to come after Jeremiah’s time; albeit 300 years later.
This entourage of Judeans, probably under the leadership of Johanan, gathered near Bethlehem. They knew that Nebuchadnezzar was going to seek revenge. Since this was a common problem under the rule of Neb, this time his revenge would be brutal.
So, what are their options? Like most in today’s society, deny God until one gets into a fix s/he cannot get out of unscathed. Their initial design was to flee to Egypt. However they first go to Jeremiah and beg, yes, BEG that he pray to Jehovah-God seeking guidance. The significance of the new problem they all shared, it was not a seeking of God’s forgiveness, but a seeking of safety. We see this in chapter 42; our next article. Chapter 42 is fascinating in that God regrets having sent his people into captivity in Babylon and agrees to protect them but only if they remain in Judah and worship him as their one and only God.
The Treasury of Scriptural Knowledge puts it this way:
The word: This, and the four following chapters, record the events which occurred in Judea from the taking of Jerusalem [by the Babylonians/Chaldeans) to the retreat of the remnant of the people to Egypt; and contain several prophecies of Jeremiah concerning them there; which were “the word which came to Jeremiah from the Lord.”
The next two chapters in Jeremiah are not prophetic but historical events in and around Judah. They are the immediate events as they unfold after Jerusalem falls for the last time to Babylon and what consequently happens to Jeremiah.
Immediately following the fall of Jerusalem/Judah, Jeremiah is treated just as were the rest of the Judean prisoners; harshly and in chain bonds. Nebuchadnezzar’s order to treat him kindly had not yet reached his forces who were busy capturing fleeing and native Judeans Jews. So much happens during the first few days that follow the Chaldeans (Babylonians) invading Jerusalem. Things like robbing the Temple of its gold and silver artifacts and valuables, burning the city, chain-ganging the captives, taking spoils of cattle, and beginning rough treatment of the Jews. God took note of their cruel treatment. We will discuss this later in this Jeremiah series. It has deadly consequences for the Babylonians.
Why would there eventually be bad consequences on the Babylonians. This is actually addressed in verse 2…(ESV) “The captain of the guard took Jeremiah and said to him, “The LORD your God pronounced this disaster against this place.” They somehow KNEW that they conquered the kingdom of Judah because JUDAH’S GOD ALLOWED IT TO HAPPEN. This is the only place in scripture where this is suggested but we need to follow the Babylonians through to their end when the Persians and Medes destroy them when Daniel is very old. But consider the rough treatment of these people originally appointed by God to represent him. We should go back to Genesis 12:3a…[NIV] “I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse.”
Jeremiah 40:4, 5 are heartwarming verses showing the respect the Babylonians had for Jeremiah. This did not, however, ingratiate him with some of his kin and fellow Jews. Later on they forcibly take him to Egypt as they themselves flee Judah. We will study this in a later chapter of Jeremiah. This is also where legend begins to mix with scripture in per Jeremiah’s life.
Verse 7c gives us a pretty good clue as to who remained in Judah after the fact…”those of the poorest of the land.” When someone is busy trying to keep shelter over his or her head and food to eat, their involvement of current events are shallow. They must take care of their personal needs first. Many of these people knew or cared little about Jeremiah.
At verse 11 of Jeremiah 40, we shift gears. Those who had fled ahead of the Chaldean invasion or had previously left the Kingdom of Judah for whatever reason, heard that Nebuchadnezzar had appointed a new governor and only left a remnant of Judeans in their former country. Some who had fled began returning to occupy their homes or farms and buildings left standing from those who had been taken captive.
When the Babylonians conquered the people of Judah, there were some remaining Judean military captains and their men who escaped into the mountains and outer country side at the time of the invasion. Some were stationed at outposts and only later found out about the fall of their kingdom. They had to choose whether they would continue the fight as an underground resistance or submit to Babylonian rule. Gedaliah tried to persuade them that it would be wise and to their advantage to simply come back into the cities and live in peace serving the Babylonians.
JIV NOTE: There is historical significance of Mizpah where the appointed governor of Judah Gedaliah set up his capital. [To read about this go to Joshua 11:8, Judges 20:1-3, even back in Genesis 31:45-49].
Why would the governor who was appointed by Nebuchadnezzar set up his governorship ij Jerusalem? Simple. The Chaldeans had destroyed it, the temple and the walls. It was burned and little more than rubble at this time.
Sabotage! Insurrection! Plotting! At verse 14 we discover that all is still not well. Once more the Ammonites wish to continue their grudge blood feud with any of the Tribes of Jacob; i.e. this time only against the remnant in Judah and their newly appointed governor Gedaliah. `Dost thou really know that Baalis king of the sons of Ammon hath sent Ishmael son of Nethaniah to smite thy soul?‘ There are many theories but nothing concrete as to why Baalis specifically wanted to target Gedaliah. However, there is something of historical and current value to consider. Whatever it was on the heart of Baalis, it would have kept things stirred up in Judah by assassinating a Babylonian appointed governor. Just as is still true today, the world seems to keep things stirred up either in or about Israel. This is a spiritual war; Satan versus God.
This chapter is the beginning and fulfillment of what Jeremiah had been prophesying for over 20 years to Israel, its people, rulers, and religious sects. There are several components to this chapter:
- The capture of Jerusalem (Last of the cities of Israel to fall)
- Jeremiah protected by the Babylonians
- Removal of Judean people from Israel to Babylon (the first of three transfers)
- The fate of King Zedekiah
- Assurance of and to Ebed-melech
- He was the Ethiopian who rescued Jeremiah from the cistern back in chapter 38
- This may not be his real name as it reads more as a title; Ebed: a servant; Melech: [of the] king.
Zedekiah had originally been put on the throne by Nebuchadnezzar several years earlier when he removed King Jehoiachin after initially conquering Judah/Jerusalem. Zedekiah was a vassal king to Babylon. In short…he owed his allegiance and crown to Nebuchadnezzar. Christians too often seek a truly close relationship with God only in a time of trouble. When the trouble goes away, the tendency is to think one is not needing God until the next trouble pops up. Zedekiah had decided he could rebel as long as Egypt came alongside with its forces against Neb. Pharaoh Necho brought out his forces as agreed between him and Zedekiah, but then changed his mind and returned to Egypt (Jeremiah 37:5-7).
This left Zedekiah all alone without help. A very weak kingdom was Judah. When Zedekiah saw Neb’s men sitting at the city gate (39:4) they panicked and fled Jerusalem. If it was only Zedekiah and a few of his court who fled, they may have escaped. But the minimal armed forces of Jerusalem fled with him. A group this size was not easy to stay stealth and the Chaldean army caught them. We read how he (they) escaped by going back to Ezekiel 12:12…they broke a hole in the outer and inner walls of Jerusalem and fled. The double wall design had two purposes; 1) To specifically provide an egress or escape route if the city was invaded and 2) a type of thermo-pane-wall (double) to keep the enemy at bay once they broke through the outer wall.
JIV NOTE: Personally, this incident fascinates. Israel under the auspices of Joshua entered the Promised lands via Jericho. Now over 800 years later, the last of the vestiges of the former Israel as a nation ends “on the plains of Jericho” [verse 5]. Is there poetic justice, irony, or thought knowing this nation of people came full circle beginning at Jericho then ending at the same location?
Just as under Joshua and centuries earlier the Israelites slaughtered the sinful inhabitants of Jericho, (v6) “The king of Babylon slaughtered the sons of Zedekiah at Riblah before his eyes, and the king of Babylon slaughtered all the nobles of Judah.” History repeated itself!
There is another even more fascinating insight to this event at Jericho. We have often wondered about the Magi and the Star of Bethlehem. Who were they? We know they were astronomers, studied the stars and were of the Zoroastrian religion. Here is what secular history along with the bible tells us:
Rab-mag: chief (Rab) of the magi (mag); was brought along with the Babylonian expedition to Jerusalem in order that its issue might be foreknown through his astrological skill. Mag is a Persian word, meaning “great,” “powerful.” The magi were a sacerdotal caste among the Medes, and supported the Zoroastrian religion. The name Rab-mag is of interest…this chief of the magi was brought along to assure victory. When Israel marched on Jericho centuries earlier, Rahab (very similar name and meaning) was saved and through her came Jesus many years after… in order that its issue might be foreknown. Magi visited Jesus when he was yet a baby. Rahab was the mother of Boaz, the great grandfather of King David. Jesus descended from the line of King David.
Jeremiah 39:9-14 tells us that Jeremiah was released from the prisons of Zedekiah and protected by the Babylonian guards; probably because his many years of prophecy had now come to past, there were a significant number of his fellow Judeans that dispised him. Now that what he had prophesied came true, they had even more reason to hate him as their royal courts, leaders, and religious rulers had been openly slaughtered by Nebuchadnezzar. Verse 39 takes us back to the above indented paragraph concerning the discussion of the RAB-MAGI (saris). They came to the rescue of Jeremiah and honored him just like 600 years later the magi from the east came to the babe Jesus and honored him.
The Babylonian armies initially removed 10,000 of the best people of Judah taking them captive to Babylon. This would include Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-Nego (Book of Daniel). This was only the first of three forced removals of people from Judah/Jerusalem; most likely dates are 605, 597, & 586.
Jeremiah 39:15 takes us a step backward in this historical event recorded in Babylonian records and archaeological discoveries of these records. Jeremiah 39:15-17a… The word of the LORD came to Jeremiah while he was shut up in the court of the guard: “Go, and say to Ebed-melech the Ethiopian, ‘Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: Behold, I will fulfill my words against this city for harm and not for good, and they shall be accomplished before you on that day, but I (God) will deliver you from danger.”
…jumping to verse 18: “I (God) will surely save you (Ebed-Melech), and you shall not fall by the sword, but you shall have your life as a prize of war, because you have put your trust in me, declares the LORD.”
Here is an overall look at chapter 38 of Jeremiah. More detailed discussion will follow these four briefs.
38:1-13 Jeremiah was cast into a miry dungeon because he advised the people to leave the city and turn themselves over to the Babylonians. Zedekiah openly expressed his weakness: he could not thwart the will of the princes by protecting the prophet. An Ethiopian eunuch succeeded in having him pulled out if the cistern prison with ropes, old clothes and rags thenhe was returned to the court of the prison.
38:14-20 When King Zedekiah sought advice from Jeremiah, promising him immunity, he was told to surrender to the invaders and was assured that the Jews who had defected would not abuse him.
38:21-23 If Zedekiah refused to go over to the invaders, the palace women would taunt him in the presence of their Babylonian captors, reminding him how his close friends had misled him, then had forsaken him. Also the king’s wives, children, and the king himself would be taken captive by the invaders, Jerusalem would be burned, and they personally would never return.
38:24-28 Zedekiah asked Jeremiah not to tell what had been discussed asking him to simply say that he had requested not to go back to the dungeon of Jonathan. The princes did come and ask, and Jeremiah answered as Zedekiah had directed. Obviously there is a question here concerning the ethics of Jeremiah’s reply. Was it the truth, a half-truth or a complete falsehood? What he said was probably true, but he did not feel obligated to tell all that he knew. Jeremiah remained in the court of the prison until the fall of Jerusalem. He was then released by the Babylonians somewhat as an ally.
Now for some insights:
Some supposed theologians and commentaries want to us believe that this chapter is discussing the same imprisonment of Jeremiah as in chapter 37. Why s/he would wish to deceive is beyond me when these two trips to prison are individually identified. Jeremiah himself in chapter 37 asked King Zedekiah to not send him back to the dungeons at the House of Jonathan in 37:20. Miry dungeon does not fit the descriptions of the palace prisons. The fact that it was not a prison but an unused and deep well tells us so.
Jeremiah actually had three imprisonments. Jeremiah 20 records him being held in stocks after being beaten; Jeremiah 21 tells us of prison in Pashur; Jeremiah 32 finds him in two different prisons but only to go from one to the other with no release time between them.
We might be wise to return to Jeremiah 21:8 “And to this people you shall say: ‘Thus says the LORD: Behold, I set before you the way of life and the way of death.” Jeremiah’s warning is in a similar fashion found in the New Testament; path of life and one of a second death. Jeremiah is telling the people that there is but two choices in life. To stay put is certain judgement and death. In End Time the people of Israel/Judah will be told to run and to run quickly for the enemy is at the gate. Flee to the mountains of refuge (Matthew 24:16). Verse 2 of Jeremiah 38 also parallels End Time Prophecies for Jerusalem:
Mat 24:16 then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains.
Mat 24:17 Let the one who is on the housetop not go down to take what is in his house,
Mat 24:18 and let the one who is in the field not turn back to take his cloak.
Mat 24:19 And alas for women who are pregnant and for those who are nursing infants in those days!
Just as a warning is heeded by some in our times, the officials of the King’s Court worried about the prophecies of Jeremiah. Jeremiah’s prophecies were not simple warnings. However, what he was saying had an effect on the soldiers and population of Judah. Their ranks were thinning. We find this in verse 4…”Let this man be put to death for he is weakening the will of the soldiers who still remain in the city and the populace” (Paraphrased: some must have already left). In this case, the royal court and princes were correct. Some were beginning to believe Jeremiah after 20 plus (626 B.C. to 606 B.C.; the first Babylonian attack on Jerusalem) years of prophesying the same things. This is especially so when they saw Babylonian forces at their gates.
Coffman’s Commentary puts it this way. “Let this man be put to death …” (Jeremiah 38:4). From the ordinary viewpoint, this delegation appears to have been justified in their demand for the execution of Jeremiah; because, certainly, they were accurately reporting exactly what Jeremiah had prophesied; and there cannot be any doubt that such prophecies had destroyed the morale of the whole population, including that of the soldiers.
We find here that King Zedekiah is limited in both his powers and respect from and for the princes. Jeremiah 38:5 is similar to the trial of Jesus when Pilot “washed his hands of the deal.” He had the power to thwart the demands of the princes but opted to simply back out. It is no wonder Zedekiah was consider a weak king of Judah. Jeremiah was cast into an old cistern with a bottom of mud. No longer was it a place of water reserves. Verse 6 tells us that he sank deep into the mud.
Now, as it periodically so states in the Bible, we have an Ethiopian to the rescue. His name is Ebed-melech. Jumping ahead to Jeremiah 39:18, we find what God rewards this one man who desired to rescue Jeremiah. He is never mentioned again in scripture.
“For I will surely save you, and you shall not fall by the sword, but you shall have your life as a prize of war, because you have put your trust in me, declares the LORD.”
It appears that the only one other than Jeremiah who has a living faith and trust in God is NOT even a Judean (Israeli). JIV: Ethiopians are mentioned here and there in the bible. We could do a study on this and ask ourselves why is this so? However, what 400 years earlier King Solomon began with Ethiopia and the Queen of Sheba gave rise to a God fearing and loving people outside of the descendants of Jacob, Isaac, and Abraham. Amazing study, but not here. We will revisit this topic once we begin our study of “Noah’s DNA; Which Way Did They Go.”
Ebed-melech is told by this constantly shifting of positions King of Judah to “take 30 men with him and go lift Jeremiah out of the cistern.” Why take 30 men? Simply accepted, one would expect a eunuch of the king to not be able to stand against the princes of the royal court.
We have an interesting detail in Jeremiah’s rescue. Ebed-melech collected some old clothing to take with him to the cistern rescue. WHY? He knew that the tugging and pulling to get Jeremiah out of the suction and grips of the cistern mud would require significant force. Ebed-melech told Jeremiah to use the old cloth and clothing as arm-pit cushions.
Once again in the next few verses we find this wishy-washing king seeking Jeremiah’s counsel. Again we find it is in secret. Zedekiah wants to again know his options. 38:17, 18 gives us Jeremiah’s reply.
Jeremiah 38:17 Then Jeremiah said to Zedekiah, “Thus says the LORD, the God of hosts, the God of Israel: If you will surrender to the officials of the king of Babylon, then your life shall be spared, and this city shall not be burned with fire, and you and your house shall live.
Jeremiah 38:18 But if you do not surrender to the officials of the king of Babylon, then this city shall be given into the hand of the Chaldeans, and they shall burn it with fire, and you shall not escape from their hand.”
Same song; just another verse. Jeremiah has told Zedekiah and the previous three kings the same thing over a twenty, perhaps 40 year period of time. Now comes some true confession. Zedekiah tells Jeremiah that he fears his own people, especially those who have already deserted to the Babylonians. Recall that Jeremiah was accused of desertion too, but now we find out that he was not the only one siding with the Babylonians. Correction! Jeremiah never sided with the Babylonians but he did do as God said to prophecy.
Jeremiah tells Zedekiah to surrender to the enemy and be spared his life and that of his family. Zedekiah believes in a shallow sort of way what Jeremiah tells him. Then he swears Jeremiah to a secret. He tells Jeremiah to not confess to the reason for the meeting between him and Jeremiah. He says to tell inquiring minds that he pleaded with the king to not send him back to the house of Jonathan. In a sense this is true, but this was what Jeremiah requested of the king back in one chapter in 37:20. This was found in the previous chapter; Jeremiah 37:20.
The final verse in chapter 38 tells us that Jeremiah remained in the custody of the king until the Babylonians overthrew the city. The next chapter tells us of what happens after three years of a Jerusalem siege. It becomes a game of flee, flee, flee, but it is too late.
The last king of the Kingdom of Judah (including any part of the former nation of Israel, is identified in the first verse; Zedekiah, the uncle to the disposed King Coniah ; aka Jehoiachin. In this chapter he appears to be more sympathetic to Jeremiah’s pleas and prophecies, but for all the wrong reasons. Sometime we need to consider and be introspective of our own prayers as to the real motives for our requests, petitions, and pleas to God.
Nebuchadnezzar was the king of Babylon. He appointed Zedekiah son of Josiah to be the king of Judah in the place of Jehoiachin son of Jehoiakim. (ERV)
We can read that Zedekiah’s motives were not to serve God but to serve his own interests. We find this in verse 2 of Jeremiah 37. He requested that Jeremiah “Pray to the Lord our God for us.”
A bit of knowledge goes a long way in helping us determine Zedekiah’s motives per his request of and for Jeremiah to pray for “us.” First, it was not a request of forgiveness. He wanted reprieve, but offered no request for a prayer of confession. This is what we call in modern times, a fox hole prayer request.” Get me out of this mess!
Second: the words of his request seem to be okay; i.e. “the Lord our God” but the word God in this sense is ‘ĕlôhı̂ym. This can mean one of many gods. As Strong’s translation puts it…”the plural of gods in the ordinary sense.” King Zedekiah was leaving open the possibilities of other gods but wanted Jeremiah to claim “our God” as the protector, not the one of sole worship.
Third: Jeremiah 37:5 reads (ESV)… The army of Pharaoh had come out of Egypt. And when the Chaldeans who were besieging Jerusalem heard news about them, they withdrew from Jerusalem.
It appears that Zedekiah’s concerns were alleviated due to the armies of Egypt coming out of Egypt and the Babylonians (Chaldeans) changing courses to confront them. The next few verses make it clear that there is more to this than meets the normal read-through of chapter 37. With the withdrawal of Nebuchadnezzar’s armies Zedekiah figured he didn’t really need “the Lord our God” for the problem resolved itself. This again shows the motive behind King Zedekiah’s request that Jeremiah pray for them. He wanted relief from the pending doom but did not include any confession of his or the people’s sins.
Zedekiah had rebelled against being subservient to the Babylonians. That is why Nebuchadnezzar was at the gates of Jerusalem. Recall that previously Zedekiah was put on the throne of Judah by Nebuchadnezzar. This was about 10 or 11 years later. So how do we conclude these possible thoughts of Zedekiah? The next two verses tell us. God tells Jeremiah to go to the king and tell him that Pharaoh’s armies were going to retreat and never confront the Babylonians. This is opportunity spent. God had the solution to Judah’s predicaments. It was on its way out of Egypt. BUT!!!! Rather than appreciate what God was preparing to do for Judah by confessing HIM as their real and only God, they only saw that the armies of Babylon had pulled back. No longer was Babylon an immediate threat. In fact, the princes of Judah hoped it was a done deal. They deluded themselves into thinking the Babylonians thought it unwise to attack Jerusalem/Judah.
JIV: If the people and leadership of Judah had accepted that this possible reprieve was God preparing a potential escape; a way out for them if they confess their sins, God would have not turned the armies of Egypt back to their home. It is like getting out of personal trouble only to return to one’s selfish motives.
God tells Jeremiah to inform Zedekiah that the armies of Egypt will retreat and the Babylonians will return to Judah (Jeremiah 37:7-9). “Do not deceive yourselves” (v9). Not only did King Zedekiah now think he didn’t need God to resolve the (albeit temporary) siege by the Babylonians, he figured he didn’t need Jeremiah either. He had him arrested on false charges of desertion. He was accused of deserting to the Chaldeans when he left Jerusalem to return to his homeland in the territory of Benjamin (Jeremiah 37:13). He had purchased land in his home town and was simply returning to it. Find this in our chapter 32 article.
Jeremiah is very blunt. He denied the false charges and told them that God would allow the Babylonians to destroy Jerusalem “even if every Babylonian solder was dead or wounded.” This made the royal leaders of Judah really angry. They thought or better stated, the retreat of the Babylonians was permanent and Jeremiah was now a traitor and false prophet. Two very poor assumptions, but they once again it provides us with insight per the motives of Judeans at this time. It isn’t a factual assumption but more of a “this is what we want to believe” position.
King Zedekiah still had a few reservations about Jeremiah’s original prophecies regarding Judah. We find in verse 17 that the king takes Jeremiah aside to inquire if there is additional “…word for them from the Lord.” Jeremiah tells him the same thing; Jerusalem and Judah is doomed. This is a great example of us today. We know what is right and make allowance for it but go right ahead and do what our human nature desires; not what is good for our souls and relationship with God (or Jesus in N.T.). We want to make God in our image instead of the way it was from the creation of Adam and Eve.
Here is what we read in the ESV:
Jeremiah 37:9 ”…Thus says the LORD, Do not deceive yourselves, saying, “The Chaldeans will surely go away from us,” for they will not go away.
Jeremiah 37:10 For even if you should defeat the whole army of Chaldeans who are fighting against you, and there remained of them only wounded men, every man in his tent, they would rise up and burn this city with fire.”
This got Jeremiah put into prison once again but this time it was the palace or court prison under relatively kinder conditions. A few verses earlier (v15) when he was judged by the “princes” of the land he had been put in a dungeon called the house of Jonathan. He remained there several days but Zedekiah’s curiosity and deep-down awareness of the true God got the best of him. He had Jeremiah brought to him for questioning but in secret.
Isn’t this so much like humans through the ages? We know the truth but refuse it and hope for our selfish or personal preferences. Jeremiah remained in the Palace Prison until chapter 38. Soon things go from not-so-good to a tough time for Jeremiah when Zedekiah releases him into the hands of the Judean princes.
Several things happen in this chapter of which we did not know in the previous 35 chapters. One thing to keep in mind, Jeremiah is going back to the reign of Jehoiakim; his 4th year out of his 11 years on the throne of the Kingdom of Judah. Jeremiah reminds the King that since the days of his father Josiah, the last God-fearing king on the throne, he has been warning Judah of their pending and irreversible doom. His prophecies didn’t only include Judah, but verse 2 informs us that he also prophesied about Israel (Kingdom of) and other nations as regards End Time; God’s judgement on those who are His chosen and those who are Gentile.
God tells Jeremiah to get a scroll and begin writing all that HE has told him. Baruch now enters the picture. Jeremiah calls upon him to take the dictations and write for him. God tells Jeremiah to not only write it all down, but to read it to the people and the leadership of Judah. Jeremiah 36:4 is where we finally find out about Baruch being the one to actually write what Jeremiah had experienced and was told by God per his constant message and prophecy. This is simple to understand. God needed Jeremiah through the Holy Spirit to recall all that had happened up to this point; not spend a great deal of time actually writing.
At this time, Jeremiah is “shut up” as it says in the king James. There are a few translations that differ enough with this comment that it begs additional explanation. Some say “shut up;” a few say “restrained;” some translate “detained, banned, or not allowed to go there” It is simple enough to put it the way it was; Jeremiah was sequestered from preaching in the synagogue and not allowed to venture anywhere. He had made enemies of his own kindred Tribe of Judah and its spiritual and secular leadership.
Then, by the direction of Jeremiah, Baruch took the scroll/manuscript to the Temple and read it aloud to the spiritual leadership. This reading of the Jeremiah scroll had such an influence on the Temple leadership that they declared a fasting. Not only had the leadership heard what Baruch wrote then read, but so did many of the populace who were in the Temple at that time. Most of the “princes” and officials were not at the Temple. They were conversing in the King’s Court or Palace. They heard about Baruch reading the scroll and sent someone to fetch him. At first glance they were simply wanting to hear what had been read by Baruch even though it was something they had heard for years from the mouth of Jeremiah; the scrolls author.
Upon hearing what Jeremiah dictated to Baruch and after Baruch read to them in the King’s Palace, they suddenly felt a fear come upon them. These officials questioned Baruch as to where he had gotten the information to put on the scroll. He told them “from Jeremiah.” They felt it necessary to inform the King (Jehoiakim). We don’t know if it was a tattle-tail forwarding of information to the king or if they had a fear since the word came to them from someone other than Jeremiah. However, knowing King Jehoiakim’s hate for Jeremiah and the “surrender to Babylon message” Jeremiah kept repeating, the royal officials told Baruch to get Jeremiah and go hide in a secret place. They already knew how Jehoiakim would react. However, the royal officials kept the scroll in their possession.
Here is where so many get the history of this event wrong. It was neither Jeremiah nor Baruch who read the scroll to the King. It was his servant Jehudi who read the words from the scroll. Since it was winter time in Judah, the King was in his heated winter rooms of the palace. We know this as verse 22 tells us this is so. There was a fire in the fireplace in which Jehoiakim was sitting. AS Jehudi read from the scroll, the King would grab it, cut off the section Jehudi had read, than toss the scrap into the fire place. He had total contempt for the Word of God.
Here is another HOWEVER… those in the room did hear the prophecy so they KNEW what was coming. Somehow they and Jehoiakim figured by destroying the message, it would not come true as they were “not afraid.” Some of the leaders from the Temple tried to get King Jehoiakim to not tear up and burn the scroll. He refused them. As it reads in Jeremiah 36:26…the king ordered both Jeremiah and Baruch arrested. But… these men sent to arrest Baruch and Jeremiah came back empty handed. They could not find the men.
So still being free of the clutches of the King, God told Jeremiah to re-dictate the message to Baruch and write it once again. There is a sever consequence for having burned the scroll. God tells Jeremiah that after re-writing the book to go and tell Jehoiakim the penalty for having done so. It is a brutal commandment from God and punishment to Jehoiakim.
“So this is what the LORD says about King Jehoiakim of Judah: Jehoiakim’s descendants will not sit on David’s throne. When Jehoiakim dies, he will not get a king’s funeral, but his body will be thrown out on the ground. His body will be left out in the heat of the day and the cold frost of the night.” [Jeremiah 36:30]
This warning should have brought Jehoiakim to his knees. It didn’t. We find out later on that this is precisely what happened to King Jehoiakim. Nebuchadnezzar and the Babylonians were less than honoring to their captors. There are exceptions but this will not be one of them. During the rewrite of the Book of Jeremiah, the final verse in chapter 36 tells us that some additional information was added at this time…”And many other words like those messages were added to the second scroll.” We do not know what was added and what was in the original scroll text before Jehoiakim burned it piece by piece. We do know that all in the original text was rewritten and “some additional words were added.”
Immediately in the next chapter (C37) we find that Nebuchadnezzar removed Jehoiakim from the throne and installed his uncle to the throne of Judah, albeit a puppet king at best. We should be reminded that during this history of Judah, they were pawns of Egypt and then Babylon. Jehoiakim’s older brother had only ruled for three months when Necho II, Pharaoh of Egypt, had him removed and Jehoiakim installed.
“Rabbinical literature describes Jehoiakim as a godless tyrant who committed atrocious sins and crimes. He is portrayed as living in incestuous relations with his mother, daughter-in-law, and stepmother, and was in the habit of murdering men, whose wives he then violated and whose property he seized. He also had tattooed his body” [Jewish Encyclopedia].
JIV: Tattooed? Is this God’s feeling about such a practice?
In short, Jehoiakim was a bottom of the barrel ruler in Judah. He paid a severe price for it. There was another prophet during this time by the name of Uriah Ben Shemaiah. He apparently told the king the same things as did Jeremiah per his evil living style. Uriah suffered death at the hands of Jehoiakim for it. We find this information back in Jeremiah 26:20-23. Uriah Ben Shemaiah fled to Egypt to avoid the wrath of King Jehoiakim but was soon sought out and arrested. Upon his being returned to Judah, Jehoiakim had him executed. This is all we hear of and know about this “other prophet.”
Recall that back in Jeremiah 1 God told Jeremiah he would suffer for being a prophet but he would protect him from being executed.
How fitting it was to be that King Jehoiakim had slaughtered then tossed this minor prophet into the slums of a pit to rot and be exposed to the heat and wild animals. This is precisely what Jeremiah told Jehoiakim would be his own death treatment. It should have scared him but it only showed his contempt for prophets of God and God himself.
Noah’s DNA Fall Term – 2017
Let’s begin with a review of the two times waters covered the earth. The first time found earth without form and void. The second time was the global flood 1,657 years later after the first time. If there was no second flood, then there was no need for a Noah. Noah is the ancestor of today’s 7 billion people.
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters. Genesis 1:1–2
This verse suggests that the land and water had yet to be divided. It isn’t until Genesis 1:6 & 7 that God (Father, Son and Holy Spirit) separated the land from the waters. Verse 1:7 is actually telling us that this is when God created the atmosphere with clouds and tons of moisture. The surface of the earth was UNDER WATER. In verse 9 we read that DRY EARTH appeared. This explains why in so many places on earth tour guides will tell visitors about huge but now missing seas. How about considering Noah’s Flood to their explanation?
Upon closely reading verse 9 & 10 we read that the waters on earth at this time were “gathered together into one place.” I.E. There was an expanse of waters and an expanse of dry land; one mass of land. Continents had not yet been separated. This division of the lands on earth does not happen until the birth of Eber’s son Peleg. His name means, “When the firmament was separated or divided.”
1,657 years later upon the death of Methuselah the NOATIC FLOOD occurred. After the flood the world was repopulated by the passengers on the Ark. The animals were probably all juveniles within their species. The three other men aboard the Ark men were of Noah’s DNA (Y chromosome). The three wives are of unknown background, other than related to or in the line of Adam and Eve. They gave Noah at least 16 known grandsons. It is not uncommon for the bible to add or ignore that there are or may be other “sons and daughters” not mentioned in any list of descendants.
“God has left us ample evidence to confirm that these 16 grandsons of Noah really lived, that the names the Bible gives were their exact names, and that after the Babel dispersion (Genesis 11:1-32) *their descendants fanned out over the earth and established the various nations of the ancient world.” [Creation Magazine]
*Their descendants did not “occupy the earth” until God intervened confusing their languages forcing them to segregate in other parts of the earth. It is only then that they occupied the earth as God had commanded Noah and his sons (Genesis 1:28). Some daring individuals may have “occupied the earth” outside of their babel community, but for the most part, they stayed together. “Those of a feather….”
For our knowledge and understanding, Noah lived 350 after the flood (Genesis 9:28); Shem lived another 500 years (Genesis 11:10, 11); the ages of Ham and Japheth go unmentioned. However, they lived long lives since there is much mentioned of their feats, offspring and migrations after the deluge.
For this study, keep these three things in mind:
- People in history past, living in various areas, called themselves by the name of the man who was their common ancestor. Just as men do today with their surname. We still name villages and streets after individuals as a mark of identity or in-common heritage.
- They called their land, and often their major city and major river, by his name or some form of that name.
- Sometimes the various nations fell off into ancestor worship. When this happened, it was natural for them to name their god after the man who was ancestor of all of them, or to claim their long-living ancestor as their god.
- “…and they had other sons and daughters.” This means the descendants listed in the Bible does not include all of their sons and/or daughters.
Great empires of the past: Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, and Persia all have strong historical links to the Biblical figures connected with the sons of Noah. Most, if not all, tribes and nations can be traced to these men through their descendants. This in no way means these people remained within the culture of their founder or continued to recognize their ancestries. The big “HOWEVER” is that all mankind descended from Noah, Japheth, Shem, and Ham…NO EXCEPTIONS.
We must be cautious as to the origination of supposed historians or writer’s data or suppositions. Too often they have hidden and often not so hidden agendas when they record their take of lineage. Historical revisionists are the death of truth. This is very much an End Time trait. Even this website’s author’s insights should be challenged per the facts. We teach – You decide.
One more thing for which we need to be mindful; one can get his or her DNA traced backward to a nationality or mix of nationalities. This does NOT mean one’s DNA has been traced backward to its origination be it Noah (after the flood), Japheth, Shem or Ham. For this we need a study like this. Using linguistics, migrations, names of nations and peoples, and a grasp of the same groupings called by different names in different countries and languages. There is no way this short study intends to bring all of that detail forward. We will look at the obvious trends, migrations, name chasing, and the like as discussed in the bible (primarily Genesis 10 & 11) and recorded by reliable historians of the past.
Here is an example: the Iberian Peninsula is in and of its very name is reflective of the name Eber, Noah’s great-great grandson through Shem. The obvious question is why would it be referred to by such a name? Using tradition it would be named after a people or progenitor of a given peoples. When the Northern Kingdom of Israel’s ten northern tribes were forced out of their land by the Assyrians around 720 B.C. They had to go somewhere.
Solomon had trade routes to Tarshis (Spain) back in the 900’s B.C. Spain (Iberian Peninsula) was an active territory with Solomon. He had many Israelites settled there to conduct business of mine the natural resources. He often had Phoenician sailors (I Kings 9:27).
When in 1492 Columbus sailed the ocean blue King Ferdinand of Spain and his vengeful queen Isabel, devout Catholics, first chased out the Muslims in Spain who had previously overran someone else in their conquest of that same land. At this time the Spanish inquisitions began against a huge and significant population of Israelites (Jews) in this Iberian Peninsula. His policy was, convert to Catholicism, leave the land, or be killed. What peoples are in-common here to both the Muslim Arabs and the Catholics of King Ferdinand? The answer is Israelites. Thus, the land was called *Iberian Peninsula after the original progenitor of these Israelites through Shem.
*Eber is from where we get the identity and name “Hebrew, Iber, Uber or Iberian.“
How does this serve as an example? Spain is a mix of peoples from Arabic, Japheth, and Israeli blood. So if one’s DNA inquiry results say “SPANISH by ‘X’ percent,” then one must also know which brand of Spanish s/he might be: Arabic mix, Japheth mix, or Israeli mix? Eber means “the land beyond” or affixed to “wanderers.” This is highly suggestive of the original peoples in this once unpopulated land being Israelites; ever since Solomon’s time and when they were expelled and dispersed from their Northern Kingdom Israel by the Assyrians. Not conclusive but certainly inclusive. There is more to this but this is good enough for an introduction.
Let me add one more supporting piece of interesting research information. Since many places are named after the founder, especially in old times, the Iberian Peninsula has one more undeniable fact. The River Ebro (Eber) cuts right through the center of Spain in a north west to south east direction. This is another linguistic clue as to the original people who occupied and gave name to this land after the flood, Solomon’s trade routes, and the Assyrian dispersion of the Kingdom of Israel.
We will find that linguistic studies are a fairly solid platform of origination of people, places, and things in our continuing studies of Noah’s DNA; which way did they go. Today the name may not reflect the current occupants of a given land, but it is historically reflective of the name of its founders; i.e. Alexandria, Egypt… a city built by Alexander the Great and named after its founder. Add to this as to why God had so many “BEGATS LISTED” in His Holy Bible. We can trace global events and people through a bible study such as this course. “Study to show one’s self approved.”
Rev. Dr. Jstark September, 2017
Jeremiah is the only prophetic book in the Bible that records the fulfillment of its main prophecy: the fall of Jerusalem and the captivity of the Jews in Babylon. Chapters 34 through 44 tell that part of the story; the siege of Jerusalem is in chapters 34—38, its fall in chapter 39, and the events after the fall are found in chapters 40—44. We are now in chapter 35.
Once again Jeremiah takes a step back in Judean history under King Jehoiakim, to bring to the forefront another example of a willing and faithful heart by contrast to that of the chosen people; i.e. Judah. He is told (35:2) “Go to the Recabite family and invite them to come to one of the side rooms of the LORD’S Temple. Offer them wine to drink.”
What is unusual about this? The Racabites were not even a Hebrew people. They were Kenites first mentioned in I Chronicles 2:55…
“...and the clans of scribes who lived at Jabez: the Tirathites, Shimeathites and Sucathites. These are the Kenites who came from Hammath, the father of the house of Recab.”
However, they were nomadic but followers of Yahweh/Israel’s God as far back as Israeli captivity in Egypt; long faithful to Yahweh. In a shorter way of remembering them, they were related to Jethro the Midianite who was the father-in-law of Moses. As a people they had taken the a similar Judaism vow of a Nazarite. Strong opposition to cutting of hair or drinking strong drink of any kind. They had been and remained more faithful to God than any of the twelve Tribes of Israel.
“Chapter 35 has one purpose: to contrast the remarkable obedience of the Recabites with the consistent disobedience of Judah. The Recabites had come to Jerusalem at this time seeking refuge from the Babylonian armies. Under the direction of God, Jeremiah was to go to the Recabites, offer them sanctuary in one of the rooms in the Temple and a drink of wine” (email@example.com). These were a tent-dwelling desert people who had a concern per the advancing Babylonian armies.
NOTE: Some denominations use the Recabites as an example and reason for complete abstinence per strong drink. This is a false pretense for forcing such a practice of total abstinence on others. They took a vow by choice, like the Nazarites of that time; just as they vowed to follow Jehovah-God and to be independent desert tent-dwellers. The fact that Jeremiah is about to offer them “strong drink” points to the fact it was available to Jeremiah IN THE TEMPLE.
[ESV] But they answered, “We will drink no wine, for Jonadab the son of Rechab, our father, commanded us, ‘You shall not drink wine, neither you nor your sons forever. (Jeremiah 35:6)
Keep this comment per wine within context. The Racabites were also told to not live in cities, build houses, plant vineyards (or juice or otherwise), or grow crops. How many denominations with which one might recall this too being an all-inclusive edict or statute from God?
What was or could be God’s reasoning behind this? At first swipe one might think it a test of the Racabites, but that would be a false supposition. Jeremiah 35:12-17 gives us the answer. God wanted this to be a LIVING EXAMPLE of obedience. The Racabites were not even people of the “chosen,” but outsiders who none the less listened and obeyed God.
The power within the “If you ____, then I (God) will ____” covenant between God and man is found throughout the bible (Old and New Testaments). It is again so apparent. God rewards the outsiders (Racabites) for their obedience. This chapter closes with God telling the Racabites:
Jer 35:18 “Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: Because you have obeyed the command of Jonadab your father and kept all his precepts and done all that he commanded you,
Jer 35:19 therefore thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: Jonadab the son of Rechab shall never lack a man to stand before me.”
Lack a man to stand before me???? This means God promised this clan of people that there will always be Racabites’ descendants until End Time. Their clan will never die out
What a fix! According to Jeremiah 34, the world’s armies under the command of King Nebuchadnezzar are aligned against Jerusalem and the other cities in the Kingdom of Judah. “Nebuchadnezzar had with him all his army and the armies of all the kingdoms and peoples in the empire he ruled” (34:1b). It is easy to see how this is another two-fold bible prophecy; one is the matter at hand and other is the End Time (Tribulation) alignment of nations against Israel.
Jeremiah is told once again to go to King Zedekiah of Judah and declare the end results; Babylon will trample the city, burn it, and take King Zedekiah a captive to Babylon. Recall in a previous article, it was Nebuchadnezzar who originally replaced King Jeconiah (aka: Coniah/Jehoiakim) with his uncle Zedekiah. Even secular records from the Babylonian Chronicles themselves reflect the same historical event- [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zedekiah]. This event happened around 597 B.C. The Babylonian Chronicles were published in 1956, after extensive research and archeological exploration.
Soon to be disposed King Zedekiah is assured by Jeremiah that God promises to let him die peaceably by something other than the sword but he will never again set foot in Jerusalem and languish in the hands of the Babylonians. His sons were not so lucky. They all were killed in the sight of Zedekiah. Then he lost his sight [2 Kings 25:1-7]. Zedekiah was the last king in the line of King David to sit on any throne in Judah or Israel, for all that matters. The next king to sit on that throne will be Jesus himself.
NOTE: Some people and theologians want to point to King Herod sitting on the throne in Judah however he was appointed through the Romans and was not in the line of David. [Herod the Great then Herod Antipas; the latter in the time of John the Baptist and Jesus].
Jeremiah 34:5 is something of assurance to Zedekiah. God promises through Jeremiah royal regalia upon Zedekiah’s death in Babylon. However, he remained under the authority of another.
There wasn’t much of a kingdom left by this time. Only three cities were even fortified in Judah; Jerusalem, Lachish, and Azekash. All were taken at the same time by Nebuchadnezzar’s armies.
In a desperate move as in chess, Zedekiah decided to order all of his citizenry to “release all slaves and bondsmen.” Jeremiah 34:9 “Everyone was supposed to free their Hebrew slaves. All male and female Hebrew slaves were to be set free. No one was supposed to keep another person from the tribe of Judah in slavery” [ERV]. However in a sense, a way to underscore the selfishness of all the Jews in Judah, verse 11 tells us that they didn’t like it being without bond servants so they put each one back into servitude.
God reminds his people through Jeremiah that even when one Jew had another under servitude, every seventh year s/he was to be released, debt forgiven, and able to return to his or her home. They could be held as servants for six years but MUST be released on the seventh year. God points out that HE took them out of bondage in Egypt but not so they could hold a fellow Jew in bondage forever. God did not order that no slave be held, but he did instruct them on the conditions and then their release.
In a way, this may have been an out from the Babylonian oppression. God says through Jeremiah that it was a good thing to let them go, but since they almost immediately re-servitude then, HE was going to allow Nebuchadnezzar to do the same to them; times 10; i.e. 70 years captivity in Babylon. Note that there is nothing said about non-Hebrew slaves in Judah. The God-agreement was only to release all fellow Hebrews. Nothing God said was honored by these Judeans at this time and God finally called them on it.
There was a solemn practice [Genesis 15: 9-11, 17-18] back then that was God sanctioned; actually it was God initiated. Cut a calf in half and walk between the two parts as a blood agreement. Nothing was to be exempt. It was the same thing as taking an oath in the name of God himself. The second commandment is misunderstood by far too many today. They read “Thou shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain.” This is not just in reference to one swearing as an outburst, but also in taking an oath such as in court, “so help me God?” To take an oath of office or make a promise to another in the name of Lord God is a solemn or serious matter. To break it is not only an affront to one’s worthiness, but an affront to God [Matthew 5:33-37]. God initiated this way to take a solemn oath; one that cannot be broken.
Since there were the haves and the have-nots in Judah, the ones considered the “haves” were the elite. It is these to whom God states in Jeremiah 34:19…These are the people who walked between the two pieces of the calf when they made the agreement before me: the leaders of Judah and Jerusalem, the important officials of the court, the priests, and the people of the land.
34:20…”these are the Jews I will give to the Babylonians” (Chaldeans); “to be taken as captives.” Note that this does leave an out from being removed from Judah. If one did not have Hebrew slaves or did not return them to servitude, HE (God) by default did not forcibly have them removed.
NOTE: Think back about 1,500 years from this point in time. Abraham was originally from the Land of UR, Chaldean (another name for what we now read as Babylon) country.
The Babylonians had (temporarily) withdrawn by this time. It is speculation but probable because the Hebrew slaves had been freed, God backed off the armies of Babylon and its allies. When the Hebrew slave owning Jews saw this, they re-enslaved their fellow Hebrew people. Consequently, God brought back the Babylonians.
I recall one time as another pastor told me when a man came to him wanting earnest prayer for a certain predicament in which he found himself. He wanted a way out of it. We began to pray and I believe at the time the man was not only desperate but willing to do whatever to defer the problem. They began to pray together beseeching God to intervene. Suddenly, and without notice, he stopped praying and told us that he had figured out what to do so he didn’t need our prayers or God this time around. HMMMMMM? I wonder from where the answer came to him?
Thus was the fate of Judah, its kings, sovereignty and independence. They saw the Babylonians fall back from their gates and they in turn fell back from an oath taken in the name of God. The last verse in Jeremiah 34 is the conclusion. We should take personal note of this in our lives. Verse 22 states that “God gave the order for the Babylonians (or personal issue) to return and finish the consequences” [paraphrased]. Not only did he call them (the problem) back, but this time around they destroyed the very existence and essence of a kingdom or we might say one’s personal existence.
The Learning Pyramid: Awareness – Knowledge – UNDERSTANDING.