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When King Zedekiah of Judah and all his soldiers saw them, they tried to escape. They departed from the city during the night. They took a path through the king’s garden and passed out through the gate between the two walls.[a] Then they headed for the rift valley.[b] But the Babylonian[c] army chased after them. They caught up with Zedekiah in the plains of Jericho[d] and captured him.[e] They took him to King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon at Riblah[f] in the territory of Hamath and Nebuchadnezzar passed sentence on him there. There at Riblah the king of Babylon had Zedekiah’s sons put to death while Zedekiah was forced to watch. The king of Babylon also had all the nobles of Judah put to death. Then he had Zedekiah’s eyes put out and had him bound in chains[g] to be led off to Babylon. The Babylonians[h] burned down the royal palace, the temple of the Lord, and the people’s homes,[i] and they tore down the wall of Jerusalem.[j] Then Nebuzaradan, the captain of the royal guard,[k] took captive the rest of the people who were left in the city. He carried them off to Babylon along with the people who had deserted to him.[l] 10 But he[m] left behind in the land of Judah some of the poor people who owned nothing. He gave them fields and vineyards at that time.

11 Now King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon had issued orders concerning Jeremiah. He had passed them on through Nebuzaradan, the captain of his royal guard,[n] 12 “Find Jeremiah[o] and look out for him.[p] Do not do anything to harm him,[q] but do with him whatever he tells you.” 13 So Nebuzaradan (the captain of the royal guard), Nebushazban (who was a chief officer), Nergal Sharezer (who was a high official),[r] and all the other officers of the king of Babylon

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  1. Jeremiah 39:4 sn The king’s garden is mentioned again in Neh 3:15 in conjunction with the pool of Siloam and the stairs that go down from the City of David. This would have been in the southern part of the city near the Tyropean Valley. The location agrees with the reference to the “two walls,” which were probably the walls on the eastern and western hills.
  2. Jeremiah 39:4 sn The rift valley (עֲרָבָה, ʿaravah) extends from Galilee along the Jordan River and descends to the Gulf of Aqaba. In this context the men head to the Jordan Valley near Jericho, intending to escape across the river to Moab or Ammon. It appears from 40:14 and 41:15 that the Ammonites were known to harbor fugitives from the Babylonians.
  3. Jeremiah 39:5 tn Heb “The Chaldeans.” See the study note on 21:4 for explanation.
  4. Jeremiah 39:5 tn The plural form of עֲרָבָה (ʿaravah, rift valley) refers to the sloping plains of the rift valley basin north of the Dead Sea, in this case west of the Jordan in the vicinity of the Jericho (HALOT 880 s.v.). See the note at Num 21:1.
  5. Jeremiah 39:5 sn 2 Kgs 25:5 and Jer 52:8 mention that the soldiers all scattered from him. That is why the text focuses on Zedekiah here.
  6. Jeremiah 39:5 sn Riblah was a strategic town on the Orontes River in Syria at a crossing of the major roads between Egypt and Mesopotamia. Pharaoh Necho had earlier received Jehoahaz there, putting him in chains (2 Kgs 23:33) prior to taking him captive to Egypt. There Nebuchadnezzar had set up his base camp for conducting his campaigns against the Palestinian states, and now he was sitting in judgment on prisoners brought to him.
  7. Jeremiah 39:7 tn Heb “fetters of bronze.” The more generic “chains” is used in the translation because “fetters” is a word unfamiliar to most modern readers.
  8. Jeremiah 39:8 tn Heb “Chaldeans.” See the study note on 21:4 for explanation.
  9. Jeremiah 39:8 tc The reading here is based on an emendation following the parallels in Jer 52:13 and 2 Kgs 25:9. The Hebrew text here does not have “the temple of the Lord” and reads merely “house of the people.” The text here is probably corrupt. It reads וְאֶת בֵּית הָעָם (veʾet bet haʿam, “and the house of the people”), which many explain as a collective use of בַּיִת (bayit). However, no parallels are cited by any of the commentaries, grammars, or lexicons for such a use. It is more likely that the words יְהוָה וְאֶת־בָּתֵּי (yehvah veʾet bate) have fallen out of the text due to similar beginnings. The words וְאֶת בֵּית יהוה (veʾet bet yhwh) are found in the parallel texts cited above. The Greek version is no help here because vv. 4-13 are omitted, probably due to the similarities in ending of vv. 3 and 13 (i.e., homoioteleuton of מֶלֶךְ בָּבֶל, melekh bavel).
  10. Jeremiah 39:8 sn According to the parallels in 2 Kgs 25:8-9 and Jer 52:12-13, this occurred almost a month after the wall was breached and Zedekiah was caught in flight. The destruction took place under the direction of Nebuzaradan, the captain of the king’s special guard who is mentioned in the next verse.
  11. Jeremiah 39:9 tn For the meaning of this phrase see BDB 371 s.v. טַבָּח 2 and compare the usage in Gen 39:1.
  12. Jeremiah 39:9 tc The translation is based on an emendation of the text which leaves out “the rest of the people who were left” as a double writing of the same phrase at the beginning of the verse. Some commentators emend the phrase “the rest of the people who were left” (וְאֵת יֶתֶר הָעָם הַנִּשְׁאָרִים, veʾet yeter haʿam hannishʾarim) to “the rest of the craftsmen who were left” (וְאֵת יֶתֶר הָאָמוֹן הַנִּשְׁאָרִים, veʾet yeter haʾamon hannishʾarim) on the basis of the parallel in Jer 52:15 (which does not have הַנִּשְׁאָרִים, hannishʾarim). However, it is easier to explain the phrase as a dittography of the phrase at the beginning (which is exactly the same except הָעִיר [haʿir] follows it). The text is redundant because it refers twice to the same group of people. The Hebrew text reads, “And the rest of the people who were left in the city and the deserters who had deserted to him and the rest of the people Nebuzaradan, the captain of the guard, carried into exile to Babylon.” The text has also been divided up to create two shorter sentences that better conform with contemporary English style.
  13. Jeremiah 39:10 tn Heb “Nebuzaradan, the captain of the royal guard.” However, the subject is clear from the preceding, and contemporary English style would normally avoid repeating the proper name and title.
  14. Jeremiah 39:11 tn Heb “And Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon commanded concerning Jeremiah by the hand of Nebuzaradan, the captain of the guard, saying.” Since Nebuchadnezzar is at Riblah (v. 6), and Nebuzaradan and the other officers named in the next verse are at Jerusalem, the vav consecutive imperfect should again be translated as a pluperfect (see 38:2 and the translator’s notes there for explanation). For the meaning of “through” or “through the agency of” for the phrase בְּיַד (beyad), see BDB 391 s.v. יָד 5.d. The sentence has been broken up to better conform with contemporary English style.
  15. Jeremiah 39:12 tn Heb “Get [or fetch] him.” The referent is supplied for clarity.
  16. Jeremiah 39:12 tn Or “take care of him”; Heb “set your eyes on him.” For the meaning of this idiom see BDB 963 s.v. שִׂים 2.c and compare 24:6, where the phrase “for good” is added.
  17. Jeremiah 39:12 tn Heb “Don’t do anything evil [= harmful] to him.”
  18. Jeremiah 39:13 tn See the translator’s notes on 39:3, 9 for the names and titles here.

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