According to the Masoretic Text, the “word” or message from YHWH came to Jeremiah “in the beginning of the reign of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah, the king of Judah.” Verses 3 and 12, however, indicate that the king was Zedekiah, not Jehoiakim. The Septuagint does not include these words, and a few Hebrew manuscripts read Zedekiah. (27:1)
YHWH instructed Jeremiah to make “bands and yoke bars ” and to “put them on [his] neck.” It appears that Jeremiah was to place one yoke on his neck and to fasten it with the bands. (27:2 [34:2, LXX]) The other bands and yokes he was to send (literally, “send them”) to the king of Edom (Idumea [LXX]), the king of Moab, the king of the Ammonites (“the sons of Ammon”), the king of Tyre, and the king of Sidon “by the hand” or means of the messengers who had “come to Jerusalem to Zedekiah the king of Judah.” The mission of the messengers appears to have been the formation of an alliance with Zedekiah against the king of Babylon. Numerous modern translations render the text according to an emendation that does not represent the words of verses 2 and 3 as indicating that Jeremiah made bands and yoke bars for the kings who had sent their messengers or envoys. “Take the cords and crossbars of a yoke and put them on your neck. Then send to the kings of Edom, Moab, Ammon, Tyre, and Sidon by their envoys.” (REB) “Make a wooden yoke with leather straps, and place it on your neck. Then send a message to the kings of Edom, Moab, Ammom, Tyre, and Sidon.” (CEV) “Make a yoke out of straps and crossbars and put it on your neck. Then send word to the kings of Edom, Moab, Ammon, Tyre and Sidon through the envoys who have come to Jerusalem to Zedekiah king of Judah.” (NIV) (27:3 [34:3, LXX])
To their “masters” or kings, the messengers were instructed to give a charge, with the following content: “Thus says YHWH of hosts [the God with hosts of angels in his service (the Lord [LXX])], the God of Israel, This is what you should say to your masters [27:4 (34:4, LXX)], I [YHWH] have made the earth, with man [the earthling (a collective singular)] and beast [a collective singular] that are on the surface of the earth, by my great power and my outstretched arm, and I give it [the earth (extensive land area over which to exercise dominion)] to whomever it seems right in my eyes.” As the Creator, YHWH has full control over his creation and can do with any part of it whatever suits his purpose. (27:5 [34:5, LXX]) At that time, he had given all the lands of the kings who had sent messengers to Zedekiah “into the hand [or power] of Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon,” his “servant, and also the beast [a collective singular] of the field,” he had given to Nebuchadnezzar “to serve him.” This indicates that YHWH had granted Nebuchadnezzar full control over all these lands, including the animals that had their habitat there. YHWH is quoted as calling Nebuchadnezzar “my servant.” This was because he used this monarch as his instrument for executing punitive judgment on nations and peoples. (27:6 [34:6, LXX]; see the Notes section.) Therefore, the people who resided in the respective lands and their kings needed to submit to the rule of Nebuchadnezzar, a dominion that would continue after the end of his own reign. The words of the charge continued, “And all the nations shall serve him and his son and his grandson [literally, son of his son] until the coming of the time [for judgment] of his own land. And many nations and great kings will make him [the then-reigning monarch] their slave,” depriving him of his lofty position as king. (27:7; see the Notes section.)
Regarding any nation or kingdom that would refuse to “serve” or submit to “Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon” and resist putting “its neck under the yoke of the king of Babylon,” YHWH decreed, “With sword, and with famine, and with pestilence, I will visit [or give attention to] that nation … until I have brought it to an end by his hand” or power. The people of any rebellious nation would face warfare, the accompanying food shortage from siege and conquest, and the spread of infectious disease from lack of potable water and from unsanitary conditions. (27:8 [34:8, LXX])
The kings of the various nations and their subjects were urged not to listen to their prophets (“false prophets” [LXX]), diviners, “dreams” (related to them [“dreamers” (LXX)]), soothsayers, and sorcerers. All these sources conveyed the same message, “You will not serve the king of Babylon.” In the Septuagint, there are two words for “not,” and the quotation may be rendered emphatically, “You will by no means work for the king of Babylon.” (27:9 [34:9, LXX]) Those who were proclaiming this message to the people were prophesying “falsehood” (“lies” [LXX]). If the people heeded their words, they would end up being removed or exiled far from their land. YHWH is quoted as telling them, “I will drive you out, and you will perish.” (27:10 [34:10, LXX]) His promise to any nation that brought “its neck under the yoke of the king of Babylon” and served him was, “I will leave it on its own land.” The people would then continue to “cultivate it and reside in it.” According to the Septuagint rendering, the nation would work for the king of Babylon and reside in its own land. (27:11 [34:11, LXX])
“According to all these words” or in like manner, Jeremiah spoke to Zedekiah the king of Judah, saying to him, “Bring your necks under the yoke of the king of Babylon and serve him and his people, and live.” (27:12 [34:12, (LXX)]; see the Notes section.) “Why will you and your people die by sword, by famine, and by pestilence, as YHWH has spoken about any nation that will not serve the king of Babylon?” To disregard the word of YHWH would mean coming under attack, suffering from food shortage on account of siege and conquest, or dying from infectious disease that spread in the confined space and unsanitary conditions of cities under siege. (27:13; see the Notes section.) Jeremiah continued, “Do not listen to the words of the prophets who are saying to you, ‘You shall not serve the king of Babylon,’ for falsehood they are prophesying to you.” (27:14 [34:14, LXX]; see the Notes section.) YHWH had not sent these prophets, and they were prophesying falsehood in his name or as men claiming to represent him. Their prophesying would result in punitive action from YHWH. He would use the Babylonian forces under the command of Nebuchadnezzar to drive the people out of their own land, and they and the prophets who were proclaiming lies would perish. (27:15 [34:15, LXX[)
To the priests and all the people whom he could reach with the message YHWH had revealed to him, Jeremiah said, “Thus says YHWH, Do not listen to the words of your prophets who are prophesying to you, saying, Look, the vessels of the house [temple] of YHWH will be brought back from Babylon shortly now.” “They are prophesying falsehood to you.” These vessels had been taken to Babylon at the time King Jehoiachin, members of the royal household, princes or high officials, warriors, and skilled workers were taken as captives into exile (2 Kings 24:11-16), and many years would pass before the sacred vessels were returned to Jerusalem. (27:16 [34:16, LXX]) Jeremiah urged the priests and the people not to listen to the prophets but to serve, or remain subject to, the king of Babylon and thus be able to continue to live. Rebellion against the king of Babylon would lead to disaster, as Jeremiah pointed out with a rhetorical question, “Why should this city [Jerusalem] become a desolation?” (27:17 [34:17, LXX]; see the Notes section.) If the prophets who were relating a message that was the very opposite of the one Jeremiah proclaimed truly were prophets and the “word of YHWH” was “with them,” they should then petition “YHWH of hosts” (the God with hosts of angels in his service) that the precious vessels still remaining “in the house [temple] of YHWH,” in the “house” or palace of the “king of Judah,” and in Jerusalem would not be taken to Babylon. According to the Septuagint, these prophets should “meet” or confront Jeremiah (literally, “meet me”). (27:18 [34:18, LXX])
Regarding the “pillars” or columns (the large copper or bronze columns, Jachin and Boaz, at the entrance of the temple [1 Kings 7:15-22]), the “sea” (the large copper or bronze basin that contained water used for cleansing [1 Kings 7:23-26]), the “stands” (the ten movable copper or bronze stands on each of which a copper or bronze basin was placed [1 Kings 17:27-38]) and the precious vessels or utensils that still remained in Jerusalem, “YHWH of hosts” (the God with hosts of angels in his service) declared (27:19 [34:19, LXX]; see the Notes section) that they would be taken to Babylon. The remaining vessels are identified as the ones that Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon “did not take away when he took Jeconiah [Jehoiachin] the son of Jehoiakim, the king of Judah, from Jerusalem to Babylon,” along with “all the nobles of Judah and Jerusalem.” (27:20 [34:20, LXX]; see the Notes section.) “YHWH of hosts, the God of Israel,” said that the vessels remaining “in the house of YHWH and in the house of the king of Judah and in Jerusalem” (27:21) would be taken to Babylon and “remain there until the day” or the time he would direct his attention to them. YHWH would then bring them up from Babylon (or have them transported from there) back to Jerusalem. (27:22 [34:22, LXX]; see the Notes section.)
In verse 6 of chapter 34 in the Septuagint, the expression “my servant” is not included. It says, “I have given the earth to Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon to serve him and the beasts of the field to work for him.”
There are no corresponding words in the Septuagint for the Hebrew text of verse 7. The reference to “son” and “grandson” (or “son of his son”) may simply be a way of indicating that Babylonian dominance would not end with King Nebuchadnezzar. Historically, the dynasty included more than two other kings and men who were not direct descendants of Nebuchadnezzar.
In the Septuagint, the words of verse 12 are followed by those of verse 14 of chapter 34. The rendering is, “And to Zedekiah the king of Judah I spoke according to all these words, saying, Bring your neck, and work for the king of Babylon, for they are prophesying corrupt things to you.” There are no corresponding words for the Hebrew text of verse 13.
Verse 17 of chapter 34 in the Septuagint says, “I did not send them,” indicating that YHWH did not send the prophets who were prophesying corrupt things to the people. In Rahlfs’ printed text of the Septuagint, these words are part of verse 16, and there is no text for verse 17.
The wording of verses 19, 20 and 22 of chapter 34 in the Septuagint is shorter than that of the Hebrew text. There is no corresponding rendering for the Hebrew text of verse 21. The Septuagint says, “For thus says the Lord, And [a portion] of the remaining vessels [34:19] that the king of Babylon did not take when he exiled Jechonias from Jerusalem [34:20] will enter into Babylon, says the Lord.” (34:22)