Snuggle up to the weak (2)Jeremiah 34:1-22Ⅰ The end of the King
In an article relating to King Zedekiah, this chapter has become the extremely special contents called "the emancipation of slaves and its cancellation". It is a middle of the Jerusalem siege war by the Babylon forces. We will look it.
Because there is it, "The word which came to Jeremiah from the Lord, when Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon and all his army, with all the kingdom of the earth that were under his dominion and all the peoples were fighting against Jerusalem and against all its cities," (1); this is a message talked about at that point that a wish to be saved in the Judah kingdom lost. "Behold, I am giving this city into the hand of the king of Babylon, and not escape from his hand, for you will surely be captured and delivered into his hand; and you will see the king of Babylon eye to eye, and he will speak with you face to face, and you will go to Babylon" (2-3) "You will not die by the sword. You will die in peace; and as spices were burned for your fathers, the former kings who were before you, so they will burn spices for you; and they will lament for you, 'Alas, lord!' For I have spoken the word." (4-5)
When ｔimid Zedekiah looked at the army of Babylon surrounding Jerusalem, he was worried about fear of death, but also seemed to be worried about whether people pay tribute to his death as a king. "Behold, I set before you the way of life and the way of death. He who dwells in this city will die by the sword and by famine and by pestilence; but he who goes out and falls away to the Chaldeans who are besieging you will live, and he will have his own life as booty." (21:8-9); you should go down to the camp gate of Babylon at the earliest possible time, it was the message of Jeremiah. However, if trapped, must be prepared for death. This is a principle of war. Jeremiah might be trying to rid the fear of king. It is said, "You will die in peace.". People mourn the death of the king and "burn incense" and lament for him "Alas, lord!"; these would have been a comfort for Zedekiah. However, as a result, the fate of the king was not like it. He was hollowed out eyes by Nebuchadnezzar, became blind, and was linked to the fetters of bronze; and he was pulled to Babylon, and he died there. Because after all, the heart of the king which was swinging inclined to the militarism group had chosen the road of disobedience to Babylon.
Ⅱ Calculation to the judgment
Zedekiah who swung between the claim of the militarism group and the advice of the prophet came up with one thing, with possibly he might get the pity of the Lord. Alternatively, it might have been the allusion of someone. That was the liberation of slaves. It is here, "each man should set free his male servant and each man his female servant, a Hebrew man or a Hebrew woman; so that no one should keep them, a Jew his brother, in bondage. And all the officials and all the people obeyed, who had entered into the covenant that each man should set free his male servant and each his female servant, so that no one should keep them any longer in bondage; they obeyed, and set them free." (9-10). Why it is repeating slave and slave woman? Because slave had be seen to be in the bottom of hierarchy, but also it was not seen as human beings, and it had received equal treatment with cattle and donkeys; probably, slave woman would had seen as a bottom than it. It was the trend of the world at the time. After it passed several hundred years, as it has been used the word of freedmen, those who went to the top of the important job of the nation was coming out, but with some exceptions, such trend was not yet born. The word of God had repeated in the law, "You should put mercy to such people"; even though it could not keep long-lasting, such attitude of Israel deserves admiration from the world at that time.
There is it the word of "covenant"; because this slave was "debt slavery" of a debt for poverty. To release them, it must ensure the debt is taken over; but because it has not be touched here, it is considered the release of Jubilee (Leviticus Chapter 25). Since the "Jubilee" means the corners of the male sheep, and it was known by blowing the horn when that year came, so it came to be called so. There is it in this way. "I made a covenant with your forefathers in the day that I brought them out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage, saying, 'At the end of seven years each of you shall set free Hebrew brother, who has been sold to you and has served you six years, you shall send him out free from you;'" (13-14) It is said here, "all the officials and all the people", but a matter of fact, it seems that freed slaves were slaves of the officials of few who were in the palace. However, the covenant that king and they had exchanged was private law, but since the year of Jubilee had been kept in their mind certainly, the center of that covenant will be God. However, it was performed in Israel just only few times (?), though it was the matter that God established; it had become mere facade. The abolition of slavery in the year of the jubilee that has not been done a long time, why do they need to do it now? I have thought, there might have been a pale thought to relieve the wrath of God in Zedekiah (and some nobility), by showing such position (the repentance). Does it not seem that a calculation of Zedekiah is transparent? Already, it must say that it has separated remarkably from the Israeli traditional style called "the covenant of God". In fact, he withdrew this covenant almost immediately. "I will give into the hand of their enemies, ... into the hand of the army of the king of Babylon which has gone away from you." (21); it is because Babylon army solved the siege of Jerusalem temporarily. So, this is not from an intention to want to meet a will of God heartily, but it is only a "liberation of slaves" which came up with for the sake of convenience to survive a predicament merely. Zedekiah king and nobles of slave holders thought their own escape from Jerusalem, and would have thought that it was not in the case to emancipate slave.
Ⅲ Snuggle up to the weak
Baruch would have seen it seriously. "But afterward they turned around and took the male servant and the female servants, whom they had set free, and brought them into subjection for make servants and for female servants." (11) "Yet you turned and profaned My name, and each man took back his male servant and each man his female servant, whom you had set free according to their desire, and you brought them into subjection to be your male servants and female servants." (16); he repeated it twice. And God has condemned it. "You have not obey Me in proclaiming release each man to his brother, and each man to his neighbor. Behold, I am proclaiming a release to you,' declares the Lord, 'to the sword, to the pestilence, and to the famine; and I will make you a terror to all the kingdoms of the earth." (17) God also Jeremiah and Baruch have been furious. "And I will give the men who have transgressed My covenant, who have not fulfilled the words of the covenant which they made before Me, ..." (18-20, 21-23); here, it seems to be well known in the Orient, Greece, and around Rome, but it touched the old ritual that was enforced at the time of the contract (Genesis 15:17); at the time of concluding a covenant, it is said that the man who broke the covenant must meet the stringent punishment. The sad, regrettable thought of God which says "These people are My people, but", seems to come through, even more than the sorrow of oppressed slaves and of poor people suffering in the bottom of society. It is thought that the thought of Jeremiah and Baruch would have been superimposed on there.
Last week, from Chapter 21, I have mentioned that such a prophet, king, and priest are an important ministry of God to be snuggled up the weak; but Baruch seems to have received it as the matter of his faith. Pouring a gentle eyes to those poor and weak. It is also the eyes of Jesus. However, another one step steps must be said. For us who believe Jesus, it is the matter whether would not we look such weak in under one stage. There should be never it there, I think. Because we ourselves got the mercy of Jesus as weak. Jesus said "Do not be anxious for your life, as to what you shall eat, or what you shall drink; nor for your body, as to what you shall put on. Is not life more than food, and the body than clothing? Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they? ... But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added to you." (Matthew 6:25-34). We want to remember this blessing as a thing which has been directed to us own.