Jeremiah 34:2-5: Nebuchadnezzar razes Jerusalem

This post is part of my biblical prophecy series.

Context and prophecy

King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon is on the rampage in Judah. God appears to Jeremiah and says:

Go and speak to Zedekiah king of Judah, and tell him, Thus saith the LORD; Behold, I will give this city [Jerusalem] into the hand of the king of Babylon, and he shall burn it with fire:

3 And thou shalt not escape out of his hand, but shalt surely be taken, and delivered into his hand; and thine eyes shall behold the eyes of the king of Babylon, and he shall speak with thee mouth to mouth, and thou shalt go to Babylon.

4 Yet hear the word of the LORD, O Zedekiah king of Judah; Thus saith the LORD of thee, Thou shalt not die by the sword:

5 But thou shalt die in peace: and with the burnings of thy fathers, the former kings which were before thee, so shall they burn odours for thee; and they will lament thee, saying, Ah lord! for I have pronounced the word, saith the LORD. (Jeremiah 34:2-5)

To summarize, the prophecy predicts the following:

– Nebuchadnezzar will burn Jerusalem (it is not clear how thoroughly)

– Zedekiah will see Nebuchadnezzar and speak with him

– Zedekiah will not be slain by the sword but will die in peace

Straightforward Interpretation

In Jeremiah 52, we are told that Zedekiah was indeed captured, brought before Nebuchadnezzar, but not slain, and that the city of Jerusalem was burned. 2 Kings 25 offers an almost verbatim narrative to Jeremiah 52, and indeed the latter is thought to be a retelling of the former. (Jeremiah and Kings were written during the same period: late 7th to early 6th century BCE).

In short, the prophecy appears to be fulfilled as predicted.

Apologist Interpretation

The apologist interpretation is the same as the straightforward interpretation.

Explanation

Ex eventu. Since a single author (the author of Jeremiah) wrote both the prophecy and the description of its fulfillment, the prophecy is easily interpreted as ex eventu.

Interestingly, some scholars believe that the book of Jeremiah was edited by the Deuteronomists, who also wrote the Book of Kings. This might explain why the same passage appears in 2 Kings 25 and Jeremiah 52. In fact, the traditional Jewish view is that the Book of Kings was actually written by Jeremiah himself.

Return to the prophecy index.

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