Jeremiah 21

Prophecies in the Last Years of Jerusalem[a]

Chapter 21

God’s Response to Zedekiah’s Prayer. 1 This is the word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord when King Zedekiah sent to him Pashhur, the son of Malchiah, and the priest Zephaniah, the son of Maaseiah, with this request, 2 “Please inquire of the Lord on our behalf, because Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon, is making war against us. Perhaps the Lord will perform one of his wonderful works for us as he has done in the past and force him to withdraw.”

3 However, Jeremiah replied to them, “This is what you are to say to Zedekiah: 4 Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel: I will turn against you the weapons of war with which you are fighting against the king of Babylon and against the Chaldeans who are besieging you outside the walls, and I will gather them together in the center of the city. 5 I myself will fight against you with outstretched hand and mighty arm, in anger, fury, and great rage.

6 “I will strike down the inhabitants of this city, both man and beast. They will die as the result of a terrible plague. 7 After that, says the Lord, I will deliver King Zedekiah of Judah and his servants and the people, all those in this city who have managed to survive pestilence, war, and famine, into the hands of King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon, and into the hands of their enemies and those who are determined to slay them. He will put them to the sword and show them no pity or mercy or compassion.

8 “You are to say further to this people: Thus says the Lord: Behold, I am offering you a choice between the way of life and the way of death. 9 Whoever remains in this city will die by the sword, by famine, or by pestilence, but those who leave and surrender to the Chaldeans who are now besieging you will survive and escape with their lives. 10 For I am determined that this city must endure disaster and not revel in prosperity, says the Lord. It will be handed over to the king of Babylon, and he will burn it to the ground.”

Prophecies concerning the Kings

11 To the royal houses of Judah, say:
Listen to the word of the Lord.
12 O house of David,
thus says the Lord:
Dispense justice each morning
and deliver the victim from his oppressor,
lest my wrath burst forth like fire
that burns and cannot be quenched
because of your evil deeds.
13 [b]Beware! I am against you,
O residents of the valley,
O rock of the plain, says the Lord,
you who say, “Who can possibly attack us and penetrate our places of refuge?”
14 I will punish you, says the Lord,
as your deeds deserve.
I will kindle a fire in your forests,
and it will devour everything around it.


  1. Jeremiah 21:1 While the star of Nebuchadnezzar is rising on the horizon, the death of Josiah in 609 B.C. sounds the death knell for the kingdom of Judah and the monarchy. The corruption, inexperience, or weakness of Josiah’s successors only exacerbate the political and religious crisis. Jeremiah passes a blunt judgment on the successive kings as unfaithful pastors who have allowed their flock to perish (Ezek 34). The only thing left to do is to wait with trust for the day when the Lord takes pity on his flock and installs on the throne the true Son of David, who will see to right and justice in the land.
  2. Jeremiah 21:13 Jerusalem is built on a seemingly impregnable hill. Forests is a picturesque name for a great gallery of cedar columns in the royal palace; the gallery was known as the “Forest of Lebanon” (see 1 Ki 7:2).

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