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New American Bible

2002 11 11
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Chapter 21


1 The message which came to Jeremiah from the LORD when King Zedekiah sent him Pashhur, son of Malchiah, and the priest Zephaniah, son of Maaseiah, with this request:


Inquire for us of the LORD, because Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, is attacking us. Perhaps the LORD will deal with us according to all his wonderful works, so that he will withdraw from us.


But Jeremiah answered them: This is what you shall report to Zedekiah:


Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel: I will turn back in your hands the weapons with which you intend to fight the king of Babylon and the Chaldeans who besiege you outside the walls. These weapons I will pile up in the midst of this city,


and I myself will fight against you with outstretched hand and mighty arm, in anger, and wrath, and great rage!


I will strike the inhabitants of this city, both man and beast; they shall die in a great pestilence.


After that, says the LORD, I will hand over Zedekiah, king of Judah, and his ministers and the people in this city who survive pestilence, sword, and famine, into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, into the hands of their enemies and those who seek their lives. He shall strike them with the edge of the sword, without quarter, without pity or mercy.


And to this people you shall say: Thus says the LORD: See, I am giving you a choice between life and death.


Whoever remains in this city shall die by the sword or famine or pestilence. But whoever leaves and surrenders to the besieging Chaldeans shall live and have his life as booty.


2 For I have turned against this city, for its woe and not for its good, says the LORD. It shall be given into the power of the king of Babylon who shall burn it with fire.


3 To the royal house of Judah: Hear the word of the LORD,


O house of David! Thus says the LORD: Each morning dispense justice, rescue the oppressed from the hand of the oppressor, Lest my fury break out like fire which burns without being quenched, because of the evil of your deeds.


4 Beware! I am against you, Valley-site, Rock of the Plain, says the LORD. You who say, "Who will attack us, who can penetrate our retreats?"


5 I will punish you, says the LORD, as your deeds deserve! I will kindle a fire in its forest that shall devour all its surroundings.



1 [1] Zedekiah: brother of Jehoiakim, appointed king by Nebuchadnezzar after he had carried Jehoiachin away to captivity ( 2 Kings 24:17). Pashhur: different from the one in Jeremiah 20:1-3 but also one of Jeremiah's enemies; cf Jeremiah 38:1, 4.

2 [10] Jeremiah consistently pointed out the uselessness of resistance to Babylon, since the Lord had delivered Judah to Nebuchadnezzar ( Jeremiah 27:6). Because of this the prophet was denounced and imprisoned as a traitor ( Jeremiah 37:13-14).

3 [ 21:11- 23:8] This section contains an editor's collection of Jeremiah's oracles against the kings of Judah. They are placed in the chronological order of the kings, and are prefaced by the oracles against the kings of Judah in general ( Jeremiah 21:11- 22:9).

4 [13] Valley-site, Rock of the Plain: Mount Zion, surrounded by valleys, was regarded by the royal house as impregnable. Despite this natural fortification, God shows derisively that it is no more than a rock rising from the plain, undefendable against the attack of his fury.

5 [14] Its forest: probably the royal palace, built of cedar wood; cf Jeremiah 22:14; in 1 Kings 7:2 the armory of Solomon's palace is called "the house of the forest of Lebanon."

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