Jeremiah 21 – Zedekiah’s Prayer: God’s Answer & The Desire for Justice in the Eloquent Peasant

Finger Pointing UpThat sounds like a good idea, but that would never happen in America.  When the Bush’s, Clinton and Obama were presidents nothing good ever happened in America.  Since Trump was elected good things are happening.

Yesterday we looked at how horrible the cites of the United States and around the world are.  Was it always like that? 

1 ceramic cylinder
This ceramic cylinder is inscribed in cuneiform script with the name of the Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar II, who is referred to in the Bible more than any other foreign king (e.g. 2 Kings 24:1). The cylinder enumerates his building activities and was made in c. 604-562 BC. The artifact is 8.38 inches long.


Jeremiah 21
Zedekiah’s Prayer: God’s Answer

1 The word which came unto Jeremiah from the LORD, when king Zedekiah sent unto him Pashur the son of Melchiah, and Zephaniah the son of Maaseiah the priest, saying,

21:1-23:7 – the rulers of Judah, who bear the primary responsibility for the nation’s economic, social and spiritual ills, are the first to be denounced by Jeremiah.

“Pashur the son of Melchiah” – not the same as the Pashur in 20:1-6.

“Zephaniah the son of Maaseih the priest” – not the same as the prophet Zephaniah.

2 Enquire, I pray thee, of the LORD for us; for Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon maketh war against us; if so be that the LORD will deal with us according to all his wondrous works that he may go up from us.

2 Stele
This portion of a stele depicts King Nebuchadnezzar II standing beside a ziggurat he built at Babylon, a tower dedicated to the god Marduk. It is one of only four known depictions of Nebuchadnezzar known to exist, and the best preserved. The ziggurat, visible as a step pattern on the left side of the stele, may serve as a parallel to the biblical “Tower of Babel.”

“Nebuchadnezzar” – the name means “O Nabu [a god], protect my son/boundary!”  he was the most famous ruler (605-562 B.C.) of the Neo-Babylonian empire (612-539 B.C.).

3 Then said Jeremiah unto them, Thus shall ye say to Zedekiah:

4 Thus saith the LORD God of Israel; Behold, I will turn back the weapons of war that are in your hands, wherewith ye fight against the king of Babylon, and against the Chaldeans, which besiege you without the walls, and I will assemble them into the midst of this city.

5 And I myself will fight against you with an outstretched hand and with a strong arm, even in anger, and in fury, and in great wrath.

“I myself will fight against you” – the Lord, usually His people’s defender, will now destroy them and seal their doom.

6 And I will smite the inhabitants of this city, both man and beast: they shall die of a great pestilence.

7 And afterward, saith the LORD, I will deliver Zedekiah king of Judah, and his servants, and the people, and such as are left in this city from the pestilence, from the sword, and from the famine, into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, and into the hand of their enemies, and into the hand of those that seek their life: and he shall smite them with the edge of the sword; he shall not spare them, neither have pity, nor have mercy.

8 And unto this people thou shalt say, Thus saith the LORD; Behold, I set before you the way of life, and the way of death.

9 He that abideth in this city shall die by the sword, and by the famine, and by the pestilence: but he that goeth out, and falleth to the Chaldeans that besiege you, he shall live, and his life shall be unto him for a prey.

3 Chaldean Patriarch
The first Chaldean Patriarch was Yohana (John) Sulaqa, who was given the title of “Patriarch of Assur” by Pope Julius III in 1551. His successors were later on given the title of “Patriarch of the Chaldeans of Babylon”.

The word Catholic was not known in the plain of Nineveh till the 18th century B.C. when the Western missionaries started arriving in the area.

10 For I have set my face against this city for evil, and not for good, saith the LORD: it shall be given into the hand of the king of Babylon, and he shall burn it with fire.

11 And touching the house of the king of Judah, say, Hear ye the word of the LORD;

12 O house of David, thus saith the LORD; Execute judgment in the morning, and deliver him that is spoiled out of the hand of the oppressor, lest my fury go out like fire, and burn that none can quench it, because of the evil of your doings.

13 Behold, I am against thee, O inhabitant of the valley, and rock of the plain, saith the LORD; which say, Who shall come down against us? or who shall enter into our habitations?

14 But I will punish you according to the fruit of your doings, saith the LORD: and I will kindle a fire in the forest thereof, and it shall devour all things round about it.

The Desire for Justice
in the Eloquent Peasant

4 A scene in the now destroyed tomb of Kenamun
A scene in the now destroyed tomb of Kenamun depicting the judgement scene from the Book of the Dead Spell 125.

Desire for justice was a major theme in many ancient writings.  The Egyptian tale of the Eloquent Peasant (from the Middle Kingdom) is a prime example. 

An impoverished man, traveling to Egypt in search of food, was beaten an d robbed of his provisions by a landholder named Nemty-nakht.  When Nemty-nakht refused to return the poor man’s possessions, the peasant appealed to the high steward of the district.

The peasant’s eloquent remarks concerning justice and equality were subsequently reported to the king, who, hoping to prompt more speeches from the peasant, ordered the high steward to make no reply to him but to secretly record all of his orations praising justice and admonishing against partiality.

Taking the steward’s silence as a sign of corruption, the peasant delivered nine beautifully crafted speeches regarding the duties of a righteous judge and the malignancy of corrupt officials. 

The king was so pleased with the peasant’s articulate description of justice that he not only ordered the return of the man’s stolen goods but apparently awarded him Nemty-nahkt’s possession as well.

5 Kenamuns grave
Kenamun’s grave complex is located in Sheikh Abd el-Korna.

The cry for justice was also a common theme among the prophets of Israel.  Jeremiah warned the king’s house to deliver the poor from the oppressor who was robbing them (Jer 21:11-14).  Refusal to execute justice would be met by the wrath of God.

But God also promised a remedy for the corrupt rulers of his people: he would raise up a righteous branch from David’s line to reign as king and to administer justice).  This promised savior would be called “The Lord Our Righteousness” (Jer 23:6).

God fulfilled His promise with Jesus Christ.

What about Ramat Rahel?  Does it still exist?


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