Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Jeremiah And Ebedmelech Freed

Jeremiah 39:1-18

“In the ninth year of Zedekiah king of Judah, in the tenth month, came Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon and all his army against Jerusalem, and they besieged it.  And in the eleventh year of Zedekiah, in the fourth month, the ninth day of the month, the city was broken up.  And all the princes of the king of Babylon came in, and sat in the middle gate, even Nergalsharezer, Samgarnebo, Sarsechim, Rabsaris, Nergalsharezer, Rabmag, with all the residue of the princes of the king of Babylon.” (Jeremiah 39:1-3)

Zedekiah had contacted the Egyptians asking for their assistance in  throwing out the Babylonian occupation army.  Learning of the threat and fearing they could not defeat the combined Egyptian and Israelite forces, the Chaldeans withdrew from Jerusalem to await reinforcements from Babylonian.  Egypt never came to Israel’s rescue, but when the Chaldeans, withdrew, the Jews were able to regain control of the city and mount a defense.  In the tenth month of Zedekiah’s ninth year, the Chaldeans besieged the city again, and a year and a half later were able to take it, establishing Babylonian control.  They set up a military tribunal to decide what would happen to the different people. 

And it came to pass, that when Zedekiah the king of Judah saw them, and all the men of war, then they fled, and went forth out of the city by night, by the way of the king's garden, by the gate betwixt the two walls: and he went out the way of the plain.” (Genesis 39:4)

When he realized Jerusalem was defeated, Zedekiah and the military leaders attempted to escape at night.  They used a small opening between the walls next to the king’s personal garden, and going out into the plain.  Since there were more places to hide in the mountains, they hoped the Babylonians would expect them to go that way and not look for them to go the other way. 

“But the Chaldeans' army pursued after them, and overtook Zedekiah in the plains of Jericho: and when they had taken him, they brought him up to Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon to Riblah in the land of Hamath, where he gave judgment upon him.  Moreover he put out Zedekiah's eyes, and bound him with chains, to carry him to Babylon.  And the Chaldeans burned the king's house, and the houses of the people, with fire, and brake down the walls of Jerusalem.“ (Genesis 39:5-8)

The Chaldeans were not fooled by the subterfuge, quickly finding the trail and overtaking them.   Zedekiah was brought before Nebuchadnezzar at Riblah.  Convicted of rebelling, Zedekiah was forced to watch while his sons were executed, then his eyes were put out, according to II Kings 25:7, and he was taken to Babylon in chains.  The people’s homes were burned and the walls torn down as Jeremiah had warned him in Jeremiah 38:23.
“Then Nebuzaradan the captain of the guard carried away captive into Babylon the remnant of the people that remained in the city, and those that fell away, that fell to him, with the rest of the people that remained.  But Nebuzaradan the captain of the guard left of the poor of the people, which had nothing, in the land of Judah, and gave them vineyards and fields at the same time.” (Jeremiah 39:9-10)

All the middle class and rich people were taken to Babylon as captives.  Some of those who had nothing and offered no threat were allowed to stay behind and were given fields and vineyards to support themselves. 
“Now Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon gave charge concerning Jeremiah to Nebuzaradan the captain of the guard, saying, Take him, and look well to him, and do him no harm; but do unto him even as he shall say unto thee.
So Nebuzaradan the captain of the guard sent, and Nebushasban, Rabsaris, and Nergalsharezer, Rabmag, and all the king of Babylon's princes; Even they sent, and took Jeremiah out of the court of the prison, and committed him unto Gedaliah the son of Ahikam the son of Shaphan, that he should carry him home: so he dwelt among the people.” (Jeremiah 39:11-14)

Jeremiah had been held in prison by Zedekiah for about six years.  Nebuchadnezzar gave orders that he was to be freed and given whatever he asked for.  The Babylonian leaders personally saw to Jeremiah’s release, turning him over to the Governor, Gedeliah to escort him home and see that his property was restored to him.  He was allowed to live among the other Jews that were left behind. 

“Now the word of the LORD came unto Jeremiah, while he was shut up in the court of the prison, saying, Go and speak to Ebedmelech the Ethiopian, saying, Thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; Behold, I will bring my words upon this city for evil, and not for good; and they shall be accomplished in that day before thee.  But I will deliver thee in that day, saith the LORD: and thou shalt not be given into the hand of the men of whom thou art afraid.  For I will surely deliver thee, and thou shalt not fall by the sword, but thy life shall be for a prey unto thee: because thou hast put thy trust in me, saith the LORD.” (Jeremiah 39:15-18)

Ebedmelech the Ethiopian had pulled Jeremiah out of the dungeon, saving his life.  While Jeremiah was still in prison, God sent him a message for Ebedmelech, promising that while the city would be destroyed, Ebedmelech himself would be protected because he had trusted the Lord, and would not be a captive.  

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