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Bible Commentaries

Utley's You Can Understand the Bible

Jeremiah 27

Jeremiah 27:0

PARAGRAPH DIVISIONS OF MODERN TRANSLATIONS

(The parentheses represent poetic literary units)

NASBNKJVNRSVTEVNJB
The Nations To Submit to NebuchadnezzarSymbol of the Bonds and YokesThe Yoke of the King of Babylon(Jeremiah 27:1-17)Jeremiah Wears An Ox YokeThe Symbolic Yoke and the Message to the Neighboring Kings
Jeremiah 27:1-7Jeremiah 27:1-11Jeremiah 27:1-7Jeremiah 27:1-7Jeremiah 27:1-11
Jeremiah 27:8-11Jeremiah 27:8-11Jeremiah 27:8-11
Jeremiah 27:12-15Jeremiah 27:12-15Jeremiah 27:12-15Jeremiah 27:12-15Jeremiah 27:12-15
Jeremiah 27:16-22Jeremiah 27:16-18Jeremiah 27:16-22Jeremiah 27:16-18Jeremiah 27:16-22
Jeremiah 27:19-22Jeremiah 27:19-20
Jeremiah 27:21-22

READING CYCLE THREE (see “Guide to Good Bible Reading”)

FOLLOWING THE ORIGINAL AUTHOR'S INTENT AT PARAGRAPH LEVEL

This is a study guide commentary, which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

Read the chapter in one sitting. Identify the subjects (reading cycle #3). Compare your subject divisions with the five translations above. Paragraphing is not inspired, but it is the key to following the original author's intent, which is the heart of interpretation. Every paragraph has one and only one subject.

1. First paragraph

2. Second paragraph

3. Third paragraph

4. Etc.

CONTEXTUAL INSIGHTS

A. The LXX text of this chapter is much shorter (LXX chapter 34). The question is, “Does the LXX remove the doublets and repetitions or does the MT expand the text for clarity or current stylistic considerations?”

B. Notice Jeremiah addresses several groups.

1. the ambassadors from the surrounding nations (cf. Jeremiah 27:3) who wanted Judah to join their coalition against Babylon

2. the king of Judah, Zedekiah, Jeremiah 27:12-15

3. the priests, Jeremiah 27:16

4. the people, Jeremiah 27:16

C. Notice the number of times and the variety of phrasing that Jeremiah used to assure his audiences that he is speaking the message of YHWH, not his own opinion.

1. this word came to Jeremiah from the LORD, Jeremiah 27:1

2. thus says the LORD to me, Jeremiah 27:2

3. thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, Jeremiah 27:4, Jeremiah 27:21

4. the LORD has spoken to that nation, Jeremiah 27:13

5. v. 15 has two disclaimers of YHWH speaking through the false prophets

6. thus says the LORD, Jeremiah 27:16

7. thus says the LORD of hosts, Jeremiah 27:19

8. declares the LORD, Jeremiah 27:22

D. Jer. 27-29 forms a literary unit.

Verses 1-7

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Jeremiah 27:1-7 1In the beginning of the reign of Zedekiah the son of Josiah, king of Judah, this word came to Jeremiah from the LORD, saying- 2thus says the LORD to me-”Make for yourself bonds and yokes and put them on your neck, 3and send word to the king of Edom, to the king of Moab, to the king of the sons of Ammon, to the king of Tyre and to the king of Sidon by the messengers who come to Jerusalem to Zedekiah king of Judah. 4Command them to go to their masters, saying, 'Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, thus you shall say to your masters, 5”I have made the earth, the men and the beasts which are on the face of the earth by My great power and by My outstretched arm, and I will give it to the one who is pleasing in My sight. 6Now I have given all these lands into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, My servant, and I have given him also the wild animals of the field to serve him. 7All the nations shall serve him and his son and his grandson until the time of his own land comes; then many nations and great kings will make him their servant.

Jeremiah 27:1 “Zedekiah” Most manuscripts of the MT have “Jehoiakim” (JPSOA). However, the Peshitta (Syriac) and the Arabic, along with three Hebrew MSS, have “Zedekiah” because of:

1. Jeremiah 27:3, Jeremiah 27:12; Jeremiah 28:1

2. the internal setting of the chapter fits Zedekiah better

3. the LXX omitted the verse

The date must be after 597 B.C., possibly 594 B.C., because an account in the Babylonian Chronicles tells us of the attempted coalition between small western states against Nebuchadnezzar II (cf. Jeremiah 27:3).

“Jeremiah” Jeremiah's name (ירמיהו, i.e., Jeremiah 26:7) is spelled differently in Hebrew (הימרי), reason unknown. Several names in the OT are spelled differently, examples are Joshua, Nebuchadnezzar.

Jeremiah 27:3 “bonds and yokes” This refers to oxen yokes (BDB 557). How many Jeremiah made is uncertain, whether one for himself or one for each ambassador. They symbolized servitude (cf. Jeremiah 27:8; Deuteronomy 28:48). Probably the Hebrew “them” of Jeremiah 27:3 refers to a message, not a yoke.

“by the messengers” This refers to the officials sent by the surrounding nations who were trying to encourage Zedekiah to resist Babylon, along with them.

Jeremiah 27:5 This is the theological assertion that YHWH is the God of creation (cf. Genesis 1:1-3). Verses Jeremiah 27:5-6 also assert His sovereignty over all nations (cf. Deuteronomy 32:8; Job 12:23; Acts 17:26).

“by My great power and by My outstretched arm” This is a repeated anthropomorphic (see Special Topic at Jeremiah 1:9) theme.

1. YHWH's deliverance of Israel from Egypt, Deuteronomy 4:34; Deuteronomy 5:15; Deuteronomy 6:21; Deuteronomy 9:29

2. YHWH as creator, 2 Kings 19:15; Jeremiah 27:5; Jeremiah 32:17

“I will give it to the one who is pleasing in My sight” This phrase also refers to Cyrus II, King of Persia (cf. Isaiah 44:28; Isaiah 45:1-7), but here to Nebuchadnezzar II (cf. Jeremiah 28:14). YHWH is in control of history!

The VERB (BDB 678, KB 733) is used four times in Jeremiah 27:5-8. The emphasis is not on the power of human kings, but on YHWH's control of nations and events for His redemptive purposes!

Jeremiah 27:6 “My servant” This is a honorific title used of (1) the Messiah (cf. Isaiah 52:13) and (2) Nebuchadnezzar II (cf. Jeremiah 25:9; Jeremiah 43:10). God is in control of history, men, nations, and even Satan, who may all be used to accomplish His redemptive purposes!

The footnote of the Expositor's Bible Commentary, vol. 6, p. 545, is very helpful as it outlines the different usages of the title “My Servant.”

1. a servant of God as a prophet, cf. Numbers 12:7-8; Nehemiah 1:7; Daniel 9:11

a. Moses

b. Daniel, cf. Daniel 9:17

2. a servant of God as a military leader (i.e., Joshua), cf. Joshua 24:29; Judges 2:8

3. a servant of God as King (i.e., David), cf. 2 Samuel 7:5, 2 Samuel 7:8; Psalms 18:36; Ezekiel 34:24; Ezekiel 37:24

4. a servant of God as administrator

a. Nehemiah, cf. Nehemiah 1:6

b. Zerubbabel, cf. Haggai 2:23

5. all Israel (or Jacob), cf. Isaiah 42:1, Isaiah 42:19; Isaiah 43:10; Isaiah 44:1, Isaiah 44:21; Isaiah 49:3; Ezekiel 28:25; Ezekiel 37:25

6. the remnant of Israel, cf. Isaiah 41:8-10

7. a godly individual, cf. Job 1:8; Job 2:3; Job 42:8

8. unbelieving rulers who serve YHWH's purposes

a. Cyrus, Isaiah 44:28; Isaiah 45:1

b. Nebuchadnezzar, Jeremiah 25:9; Jeremiah 27:6; Jeremiah 43:10

“also the wild animals of the field to serve him” This is a strange phrase. It apparently relates to Jeremiah 27:5, where it is a way of referring to creation. Here it is used in a series of statements (cf. Jeremiah 28:14).

1. creation given, Jeremiah 27:5

2. lands given, Jeremiah 27:6

3. animals given, Jeremiah 27:6

4. nations given, Jeremiah 27:7

“to serve him” This VERB (BDB 712, KB 773, here used of Nebuchadnezzar) is used eleven times in this chapter.

1. Qal INFINITIVE CONSTRUCT, Jeremiah 27:6

2. Qal PERFECT, Jeremiah 27:7(twice),11(twice)

3. Qal IMPERFECT, Jeremiah 27:8, Jeremiah 27:9, Jeremiah 27:13, Jeremiah 27:14

4. Qal IMPERATIVE, Jeremiah 27:12, Jeremiah 27:17

Jeremiah 27:7 “him, and his son, and his grandson” The LXX omits “grandson.” Historically the throne was seized from Nebuchadnezzar's son by a relative. Remember, modern westerners turn Hebrew prophecy into “historical narrative.” This phrase is a literary way of asserting Babylon's domination for a period of time (i.e., 70 years, cf. Jeremiah 25:11).

Also notice that as YHWH used Nebuchadnezzar to punish His unrepentant people, the day is coming when YHWH will use Cyrus to judge Babylon for her sins (cf. Jeremiah 25:12; chapters 50-51; Isaiah 14:4-6).

Verses 8-11

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Jeremiah 27:8-11 8”It will be, that the nation or the kingdom which will not serve him, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, and which will not put its neck under the yoke of the king of Babylon, I will punish that nation with the sword, with famine and with pestilence,” declares the LORD, “until I have destroyed it by his hand. 9But as for you, do not listen to your prophets, your diviners, your dreamers, your soothsayers or your sorcerers who speak to you, saying, 'You will not serve the king of Babylon.' 10For they prophesy a lie to you in order to remove you far from your land; and I will drive you out and you will perish. 11But the nation which will bring its neck under the yoke of the king of Babylon and serve him, I will let remain on its land,” declares the LORD, “and they will till it and dwell in it.”'“

Jeremiah 27:8 “the nation or the kingdom which will not serve him” A good example of this is Jeremiah's words to Zedekiah in Jeremiah 38:17-23.

“sword. . .famine. . .pestilence” This is a common trio used to describe a military takeover and its consequences. See note at Jeremiah 14:12.

Jeremiah 27:9 “do not listen” This VERB (BDB 1033, KB 1570, Qal IMPERFECT used in a JUSSIVE sense) is repeated in Jeremiah 27:14, Jeremiah 27:16, and 17! We have a choice who we listen to!

There is a series of forbidden ways to know God's will and manipulate future events (cf. Deuteronomy 18:9-14).

1. your prophets (BDB 611) - false prophets (cf. Jeremiah 27:9; Jeremiah 2:8; Jeremiah 23:13-15, Jeremiah 23:26; Jeremiah 29:9)

2. your diviners (BDB 890) - This is from the Hebrew root for “divine” (BDB 890, cf. Numbers 22:7; Numbers 23:23; Ezekiel 21:21; 2 Kings 17:17). It is the general term describing several different methods, but all intent on determining the will of a deity by mechanical or natural means (such as examining the livers of sheep or casting arrows). It is based on the pagan worldview that there is information about the future hidden in natural events and that gifted humans (i.e., false prophets, e.g., Jeremiah 27:9; Jeremiah 29:8; Ezekiel 13:9; Ezekiel 22:28) know it and influence this future.

3. your dreamers (BDB 321) - false revelations (cf. Jeremiah 23:25-28; Jeremiah 29:8; Deuteronomy 13:1-3; see good brief article in John Walton, ANE Thought and the OT, p. 243). The REB changes the vowels and translates this as “your women dreamers.” NEB has “wise women.”

4. your soothsayers (BDB 778) - This term (BDB 778 II, KB 857) is related to the term “cloud” (BDB 777). Linguists think the term is related to sound:

a. the hum of insects

b. sound of wind in the trees

c. unknown etymology (if cloud, then related to sight)

The parallel passage in Moses' writings which prohibits these same pagan practices is in Leviticus 19:26-8 (see esp. Leviticus 19:26). This same term is also found in Judges 9:37; 2 Kings 21:6; 2 Chronicles 33:6; Isaiah 2:6; Isaiah 57:3; Jeremiah 27:9; Micah 5:12.

5. your sorcerers (BDB 506, the NOUN occurs only here) - This term (BDB 506, KB 503) basically means “to cut up” (1) as in the shredding of ingredients for a magical potion or (2) cutting oneself as a way of getting the deity's attention (i.e., Syrian usage, cf. 1 Kings 18:28). This term was used to describe Pharaoh's wise men in Exodus 7:11 and Nebuchadnezzar's wise men in Daniel 2:2.

Jeremiah 27:10 “lie” This (BDB 1055) is placed first for emphasis.

Jeremiah 27:11 This verse is illustrated in Jeremiah 40:9-12 and alluded to in Jeremiah 21:9; Jeremiah 38:2. YHWH is true to His promises. Even in judgment, obedience to His word brings its own reward (cf. Numbers 21:4-9 [cf. John 3:14-15])!

Verses 12-15

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Jeremiah 27:12-15 12I spoke words like all these to Zedekiah king of Judah, saying, “Bring your necks under the yoke of the king of Babylon and serve him and his people, and live! 13Why will you die, you and your people, by the sword, famine and pestilence, as the LORD has spoken to that nation which will not serve the king of Babylon? 14So do not listen to the words of the prophets who speak to you, saying, 'You will not serve the king of Babylon,' for they prophesy a lie to you; 15for I have not sent them,” declares the LORD, “but they prophesy falsely in My name, in order that I may drive you out and that you may perish, you and the prophets who prophesy to you.”

Jeremiah 27:12, Jeremiah 27:17 Jeremiah's words to King Zedekiah have urgency.

1. bring your necks under the yoke - BDB 97, KB 112, Hiphil IMPERATIVE

2. serve him - BDB 712, KB 773, Qal IMPERATIVE

3. live - BDB 310, KB 309, Qal IMPERATIVE

Several of these IMPERATIVES are repeated in Jeremiah 27:17 (i.e., #2, #3). Verse Jeremiah 27:12 is addressed to Zedekiah, while Jeremiah 27:17 is addressed to the priests and people (cf. Jeremiah 27:16).

Jeremiah 27:15 “for I have not sent them” This statement is repeated in Jeremiah 27:1 and 29:9. I wonder if the false prophets thought He had or if they knew in their hearts they were speaking only for themselves (or because of political pressure).

I ask that because all speakers for God who do not receive verbal messages must wonder also! My only consolation is that I seek to communicate revelatory Scripture, not cultural or denominational personal opinions. Even then we face the task of application! I rest in the fact that

1. God knows the heart

2. the message of the NT is priority

3. NT prophets are different from OT prophets (see Special Topic: Prophecy [OT] and Special Topic: Prophecy [NT])

4. the Spirit is present with gospel proclaimers

It is uncertain how the inappropriate means of Jeremiah 27:9 are related to the methods of the false prophets of Judah or the surrounding pagan nations (cf. Jeremiah 27:3).

Verses 16-22

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Jeremiah 27:16-22 16Then I spoke to the priests and to all this people, saying, “Thus says the LORD: Do not listen to the words of your prophets who prophesy to you, saying, 'Behold, the vessels of the LORD's house will now shortly be brought again from Babylon'; for they are prophesying a lie to you. 17Do not listen to them; serve the king of Babylon, and live! Why should this city become a ruin? 18But if they are prophets, and if the word of the LORD is with them, let them now entreat the LORD of hosts that the vessels which are left in the house of the LORD, in the house of the king of Judah and in Jerusalem may not go to Babylon. 19For thus says the LORD of hosts concerning the pillars, concerning the sea, concerning the stands and concerning the rest of the vessels that are left in this city, 20which Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon did not take when he carried into exile Jeconiah the son of Jehoiakim, king of Judah, from Jerusalem to Babylon, and all the nobles of Judah and Jerusalem. 21Yes, thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, concerning the vessels that are left in the house of the LORD and in the house of the king of Judah and in Jerusalem, 22'They will be carried to Babylon and they will be there until the day I visit them,' declares the LORD. 'Then I will bring them back and restore them to this place.'“

Jeremiah 27:16 “the vessels” See Jeremiah 27:18; 1 Kings 7:15-20; Jeremiah 52:17ff. The first deportation had already occurred (i.e., 597 B.C., cf. Jeremiah 27:20). However, the false prophets were asserting these taken items would be returned soon.

Jeremiah 27:18 “if they are prophets” Jeremiah puts them to the test of Deuteronomy 13:1-3!

Jeremiah 27:19 Several of the items of the temple were left.

1. the pillars (cf. 1 Kings 7:15; 2 Kings 25:13, 2 Kings 25:17)

2. the sea (cf. 1 Kings 7:23-26)

3. the stands (cf. 1 Kings 7:27-39)

4. the rest of the vessels

See Jeremiah 52:17-23 where all are taken to Babylon, most placed in Marduk's temple.

Jeremiah 27:20 The exile of Jehoiachin is described in Jeremiah 22:28; Jeremiah 24:1; 2 Kings 24:12, 2 Kings 24:14-16; 2 Chronicles 36:10, 2 Chronicles 36:18.

Jeremiah 27:22 “Then I will bring them back” Here is the hope and promise of Ezra 1:7-11; Ezra 5:13-15; Ezra 7:19! YHWH sends and YHWH brings back (see Jeremiah 1:10; Isaiah 6:9-10)! He is sovereign in world affairs!

See Special Topic: Why are OT Covenant Promises so Different from NT Covenant Promises?

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Bibliographical Information
Utley. Dr. Robert. "Commentary on Jeremiah 27". "Utley's You Can Understand the Bible". https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ubc/jeremiah-27.html. 2021.