Jeremiah 21

The Word Made Fresh

1King Zedekiah sent Pashhur son of Malkijah and the priest Zephaniah son of Maaseiah to Jeremiah with a request: 2They said, “Speak to the LORD for us. Babylon’s King Nebuchadnezzar has come against us. Perhaps the LORD will perform some mighty deed and force him to retreat.”

3Jeremiah told them, “Inform Zedekiah 4that the LORD, the God of Israel, says, ‘I am going to turn your own weapons, the ones you are using to fight the king of Babylon and his people who have surrounded you, against you. I will gather them in the center of the city. 5And then I myself will make war on you with an outstretched hand and a mighty arm in fierce rage. 6I will strike down all the people and animals inside the city, and they will die of a terrible plague. 7Then,” says the LORD, “I will deliver King Zedekiah, along with his servants and everyone in the city who have survived plagues and wars and famines to Babylon’s king Nebuchadnezzar and their other enemies as well. They will be put to the sword without pity or mercy and without compassion.

8“This is what you should say to these people: ‘The LORD is putting before you the way of life and the way of death. 9Whoever remains in the city will die by the sword or by famine and disease. But whoever leaves the city to surrender to the Babylonians will live, for their lives will be spared. 10I have turned against this city and it will be handed over to the king of Babylon, and he will burn it down.’”

11Descendants of Judah, this is what the LORD says!
12Family of David, the LORD commands you to begin each morning
upholding justice in the land,
and rescuing those who have been robbed.
“If you refuse because of your evil activities
my anger will become like a wildfire that no one can put out.
13I am against all of you who live in the valley
like rocks on the plain,” says the LORD.
Those who say “Who would dare come and attack us?
Who can breach our defenses,” the LORD is against you!
14“I will punish you according to your deeds,” says the LORD,
“and set your forests afire
until everything around you is engulfed in flames.”


1-2: King Zedekiah, son of Josiah (his Babylonian name – his Jewish name was Mattaniah see 2 Kings 24:17), sends envoys to beseech Jeremiah for help. This is a different Pashhur, not the one who put him in the stocks, who is sent to Jeremiah along with the priest Zephaniah to ask him to ask God to turn the armies of Nebuchadnezzar back from their attack on Judah. This is not the first time Nebuchadnezzar has besieged Jerusalem. The first siege resulted in the surrender of Zedekiah’s brother, Jehoiakim, who subsequently rebelled and was taken captive by the Babylonians. His son Jehoiachin became king, but that idiot rebelled also, and Nebuchadnezzar placed his uncle, his father’s brother Mattaniah (aka Zedekiah) on the throne. Now Zedekiah has rebelled, demonstrating his rather questionable grasp of reality, and Nebuchadnezzar is on the way (see 2 Kings 24, 25 for the story of the fall of Judah and Jerusalem).

3-7: In response to their request, Jeremiah tells them to tell Zedekiah that God will fight against him. The city will be overrun — Nebuchadnezzar’s patience stretched beyond its limits — and the people will be killed. At first glance it appears he is predicting the death of Zedekiah as well, but in 2 Kings we are told that Zedekiah tried to escape the city but was captured and Nebuchadnezzar put all his sons to death and then put out his eyes and took him to Babylon in chains (2 Kings 25:2-7).

8-10: Jeremiah advises the people of the city to surrender to Nebuchadnezzar, for that is the only way they will save their lives.

11-14: Another word of judgment from the LORD against Judah, the “house of David.”


Pray that the sins of our leaders today will not provoke God’s anger against us. Ask God what you can do to balance the ledger, so to speak.