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Matthew Henry's Commentary – Verses 1–7
Verses 1–7

This prophecy concerning Zedekiah was delivered to Jeremiah, and by him to the parties concerned, before he was shut up in the prison, for we find this prediction here made the ground of his commitment, as appears by the recital of some passages out of it, Jer. 32:4. Observe,

I. The time when this message was sent to Zedekiah; it was when the king of Babylon, with all his forces, some out of all the kingdoms of the earth that were within his jurisdiction, fought against Jerusalem and the cities thereof (Jer. 34:1), designing to destroy them, having often plundered them. The cities that now remained, and yet held out, are named (Jer. 34:7), Lachish and Azekah. This intimates that things were now brought to the last extremity, and yet Zedekiah obstinately stood it out, his heart being hardened to his destruction.

II. The message itself that was sent to him. 1. Here is a threatening of wrath. He is told that again which he had been often told before, that the city shall be taken by the Chaldeans and burnt with fire (Jer. 34:2), that he shall himself fall into the enemy’s hands, shall be made a prisoner, shall be brought before that furious prince Nebuchadnezzar, and be carried away captive into Babylon (Jer. 34:3); yet Ezekiel prophesied that he should not see Babylon; nor did he, for his eyes were put out, Ezek. 12:13. This Zedekiah brought upon himself from God by his other sins and from Nebuchadnezzar by breaking his faith with him. 2. Here is a mixture of mercy. He shall die a captive, but he shall not die by the sword he shall die a natural death (Jer. 34:4); he shall end his days with some comfort, shall die in peace, Jer. 34:5. He never had been one of the worst of the kings, but we are willing to hope that what evil he had done in the sight of the Lord he repented of in his captivity, as Manasseh had done, and it was forgiven to him; and, God being reconciled to him, he might truly be said to die in peace, Note, A man may die in a prison and yet die in peace. Nay, he shall end his days with some reputation, more than one would expect, all things considered. He shall be buried with the burnings of his fathers, that is, with the respect usually shown to their kings, especially those that had done good in Israel. It seems, in his captivity he had conducted himself so well towards his own people that they were willing to do him this honour, and towards Nebuchadnezzar that he suffered it to be done. If Zedekiah had continued in his prosperity, perhaps he would have grown worse and would have departed at last without being desired; but his afflictions wrought such a change in him that his death was looked upon as a great loss. It is better to live and die penitent in a prison than to live and die impenitent in a palace. They will lament thee, saying, Ah lord! an honour which his brother Jehoiakim had not, Jer. 22:18. The Jews say that they lamented thus over him, Alas! Zedekiah is dead, who drank the dregs of all the ages that went before him, that is, who suffered for the sins of his ancestors, the measure of iniquity being filled up in his days. They shall thus lament him, saith the Lord, for I have pronounced the word; and what God hath spoken shall without fail be made good.

III. Jeremiah’s faithfulness in delivering this message. Though he knew it would be ungrateful to the king, and might prove, as indeed it did, dangerous to himself (for he was imprisoned for it), yet he spoke all these words to Zedekiah, Jer. 34:6. It is a mercy to great men to have those about them that will deal faithfully with them, and tell them the evil consequences of their evil courses, that they may reform and live.