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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.

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Footnotes

  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.

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