New English Translation
The Lord Responds to Zedekiah’s Hope for Help
3 King Zedekiah sent[a] Jehucal[b] son of Shelemiah and the priest Zephaniah[c] son of Maaseiah to the prophet Jeremiah to say, “Please pray to the Lord our God on our behalf.” 4 (Now Jeremiah had not yet been put in prison.[d] So he was still free to come and go among the people as he pleased.[e] 5 At that time the Babylonian forces[f] had temporarily given up their siege against Jerusalem. They had had it under siege, but withdrew when they heard that the army of Pharaoh had set out from Egypt.[g])Read full chapter
- Jeremiah 37:3 sn This is the second of two delegations that Zedekiah sent to Jeremiah to ask him to pray for a miraculous deliverance. Both of them occurred against the background of the siege of Jerusalem instigated by Zedekiah’s rebelling against Nebuchadnezzar and sending to Egypt for help (cf. Ezek 17:15). The earlier delegation (21:1-2) was sent before Nebuchadnezzar had clamped down on Jerusalem, for the Judean forces at that time were still fighting against the Babylonian forces in the open field (see 21:4 and the translator’s note there). Here the siege has been lifted because the Babylonian troops have heard a report that the Egyptian army is on its way into Palestine to give Judeans the promised aid (vv. 5, 7). The request is briefer here than in 21:2, but the intent is no doubt the same (see also the study note on 21:2).
- Jeremiah 37:3 sn Jehucal was one of the officials who later sought to have Jeremiah put to death for what they considered treason (38:1-4).
- Jeremiah 37:3 sn The priest Zephaniah son of Maaseiah, a member of the earlier delegation (21:2), was the chief of security in the temple to whom the Babylonian false prophet wrote a letter complaining that Jeremiah should be locked up for his treasonous prophecies (29:25-26). See the study notes on 21:2 and 29:25 for further details.
- Jeremiah 37:4 sn This statement anticipates v. 15. Verses 3-4 are parenthetical to the narrative thread, which is picked up in v. 5. They provide background information necessary for understanding the situation at the time the delegation comes to Jeremiah.
- Jeremiah 37:4 tn The words “as he pleased” are not in the text but are implicit in the idiom, both in Hebrew and in English. They have been supplied in the translation for clarity and the sake of English idiom.
- Jeremiah 37:5 tn Heb “the Chaldeans.” See the study note on 21:4 for the rendering “Babylonian.” The word “forces” is supplied in the translation for clarity.
- Jeremiah 37:5 tn Heb “And the army of Pharaoh had set out from Egypt, and the Chaldeans who were besieging Jerusalem heard a report about them, and they went up from besieging them.” The sentence has been restructured and reworded to give greater emphasis to the most pertinent fact, i.e., that the siege had been temporarily lifted. The word “temporarily” is not in the text but is implicit from the rest of the context. It is supplied in the translation here to better show that the information in vv. 4-5 is all parenthetical, providing a background for the oracle that will follow. For the meaning “given up their siege against” (Heb “had taken themselves away from against”) see BDB 749 s.v. עָלָה Niph.1.c(2); 759 s.v. עַל IV.2.b.sn The Pharaoh referred to here is Pharaoh Hophra, who is named in Jer 44:30. He ruled from 589-570 b.c. Shortly after he began to rule, Zedekiah was enticed by some of the officials in his court to appeal to him for aid. This act of rebellion quickly brought Nebuchadnezzar’s wrath, and he invaded Judah, blockading Jerusalem and reducing the fortified cities of Judah one by one. According to Jer 39:1, the siege began in Zedekiah’s ninth year (589/88 b.c.) and lasted until his eleventh year, when Jerusalem fell (587/86 b.c.). The army of Pharaoh likely came sometime during 588 b.c.