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Those who stay in this city will die in battle or of starvation or disease. Those who leave the city and surrender to the Babylonians who are besieging it will live. They will escape with their lives.[a] 10 For I, the Lord, say that[b] I am determined not to deliver this city but to bring disaster on it.[c] It will be handed over to the king of Babylon and he will destroy it with fire.’”[d]

Warnings to the Royal Court

11 The Lord told me to say[e] to the royal court[f] of Judah:

“Listen to the Lord’s message,

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  1. Jeremiah 21:9 tn Heb “his life will be to him for spoil.”sn Spoil was what was carried off by the victor (see, e.g., Judg 5:30). Those who surrendered to the Babylonians would lose their property, their freedom, and their citizenship but would at least escape with their lives. Jeremiah was branded a traitor for this counsel (cf. 38:4), but it was the way of wisdom since the Lord was firmly determined to destroy the city (cf. v. 10).
  2. Jeremiah 21:10 tn Heb “oracle of the Lord.”
  3. Jeremiah 21:10 tn Heb “I have set my face against this city for evil [i.e., disaster] and not for good [i.e., well-being].” For the use of the idiom “set one’s face against/toward” see, e.g., 1 Kgs 2:15; 2 Kgs 2:17; Jer 42:15, 17, and note the interesting interplay of usage in Jer 44:11-12.
  4. Jeremiah 21:10 tn Heb “he will burn it with fire.”
  5. Jeremiah 21:11 tn The words “The Lord told me to say” are not in the text. They have been supplied in the translation for clarity. This text has been treated in two very different ways depending upon how one views the connection of the words “and to/concerning the household of the King of Judah, ‘Hear the word of the Lord:…’” with the preceding and following. Some treat the words that follow as a continuation of Jeremiah’s response to the delegation sent by Zedekiah (cf. vv. 3, 8). Others treat this as introducing a new set of oracles parallel to those in 23:9-40, which are introduced by the heading “to/concerning the prophets.” There are three reasons why the latter is the more probable connection: (1) there is parallelism in expression with 23:9; (2) the other introductions in vv. 3, 8 use the preposition אֶל (ʾel) instead of ל (lamed) used here, and they have the formal introduction “you shall say…”; (3) the warning or challenge here would mitigate the judgment pronounced on the king and the city in vv. 4-7. Verses 8-9 are different. They are not a mitigation but an offer of escape for those who surrender. Hence, these words are a title “Now concerning the royal court.” (The vav [ו] that introduces this is disjunctive = “Now.”) However, since the imperative that follows is masculine plural and addressed to the royal house, something needs to be added to introduce it. Hence the translation supplies “The Lord told me to say” to avoid confusion or mistakenly connecting it with the preceding.
  6. Jeremiah 21:11 tn Heb “house” or “household.” It is clear from 22:1-6 that this involved the king, the royal family, and the court officials.

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