New English Translation
Jeremiah Is Set Free A Second Time
40 The Lord spoke to Jeremiah[a] after Nebuzaradan the captain of the royal guard had set him free at Ramah.[b] He had taken him there in chains[c] along with all the people from Jerusalem and Judah who were being carried off to exile to Babylon. 2 The captain of the royal guard took Jeremiah aside and said to him, “The Lord your God threatened this place with this disaster. 3 Now he has brought it about. The Lord has done just as he threatened to do. This disaster has happened because you people sinned against the Lord and did not obey him.[d]Read full chapter
- Jeremiah 40:1 tn Heb “The word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord.” This phrase regularly introduces the Lord’s directions to Jeremiah that immediately follow (cf. 7:1; 11:1; 18:1; 30:1; 34:1; 35:1). In 21:1 and 44:1 it introduces a word of the Lord that Jeremiah communicates to others. However, no directions to Jeremiah follow here, nor does any oracle that Jeremiah passes on to the people. Some commentators explain this as a heading parallel to that in 1:1-3 (which refers to messages and incidents in the life of Jeremiah up to the fall of Jerusalem), introducing the oracles that Jeremiah delivered after the fall of Jerusalem. However, no oracles follow until 42:9. It is possible that the intervening material supplies background data for the oracle that is introduced in 42:7. An analogy to this structure, but in a much shorter form, may be found in 34:8-12. Another possible explanation is that the words of the captain of the guard in vv. 2-3 are to be seen as the word of the Lord to Jeremiah. In that case, it would be a rather ironical confirmation of what Jeremiah had been saying all along. If it seems strange that a pagan soldier would say these words, it should be remembered that foreign soldiers knew through their intelligence sources what kings and prophets were saying (cf. Isa 36:7), and it is not unusual for God to speak through pagan prophets (cf. Balaam’s oracles, e.g. Num 23:7-10) or even a dumb animal (e.g., Balaam’s donkey [Num 22:28, 30]). Given the penchant for the use of irony in the book of Jeremiah, this is the most likely explanation. For further discussion on this view see G. L. Keown, P. J. Scalise, T. G. Smothers, Jeremiah 26-52 (WBC), 235-36.
- Jeremiah 40:1 sn Some commentators see the account of Jeremiah’s release here in 40:1-6 as an alternate and contradictory account to that of Jeremiah’s release in 39:11-14. However, most commentators see them as complementary and sequential. Jeremiah had been released from the courtyard of the guardhouse on orders of the military tribunal there shortly after Nebuzaradan got to Jerusalem and passed on Nebuchadnezzar’s orders to them. He had been released to the custody of Gedaliah, who was to take him back to the governor’s residence and look after him there. However, Jeremiah remained in Jerusalem among the people. He was mistakenly rounded up with them and led off as a prisoner to be deported with the rest of the exiles. However, when he got to Ramah, which was a staging area for deportees, Nebuzaradan recognized him among the prisoners and released him a second time.
- Jeremiah 40:1 tn Heb “when he took him and he was in chains.” The subject is probably Nebuzaradan or the indefinite third singular (GKC 460 §144.d). The Kethib of the word for בָּאזִקִּים (baʾziqqim) is to be explained as a secondary formation with prosthetic א (alef) from the normal word for “fetter” (זֵק, zeq) according to HALOT 27 s.v. אֲזִקִּים (see GKC 70 §19.m and 235-36 §85.b for the phenomenon).
- Jeremiah 40:3 tn Heb “Because you [masc. pl.] sinned against the Lord and did not hearken to his voice [a common idiom for “obey him”], this thing has happened to you [masc. pl.].”