Jeremiah 39 - Outline of Jeremiah (Book Notes menu page)
The Fall of Jerusalem, ch. 39
I. The city's final siege and fall (v.1-3)
  1. The duration of the siege and date of the fall (v.1,2)
    • The siege lasted for 18 months.
    • The city was captured on the ninth of Av, which is a day of mourning for Israel to the present time.
           Tisha B'Av, the Fast of the Ninth of Av, is a day of mourning to commemorate the many tragedies that have befallen the Jewish people, many of which coincidentally have occurred on the ninth of Av.
           Tisha B'Av means "the ninth (day) of Av." It usually occurs during August.
           Tisha B'Av primarily commemorates the destruction of the first and second Temples, both of which were destroyed on the ninth of Av (the first by the Babylonians in 586 B.C.E.; the second by the Romans in 70 C.E.).
           Although this holiday is primarily meant to commemorate the destruction of the Temple, it is appropriate to consider on this day the many other tragedies of the Jewish people, many of which occurred on this day, most notably the expulsion of the Jews from Spain in 1492. Tisha B'Av is the culmination of a three week period of increasing mourning, beginning with the fast of the 17th of Tammuz, which commemorates the first breach in the walls of Jerusalem, before the First Temple was destroyed. During this three week period, weddings and other parties are not permitted, and people refrain from cutting their hair. From the first to the ninth of Av, it is customary to refrain from eating meat or drinking wine (except on the Sabbath) and from wearing new clothing.
           The restrictions on Tisha B'Av are similar to those on Yom Kippur: to refrain from eating and drinking (even water); washing, bathing, shaving or wearing cosmetics; wearing leather shoes; and engaging in sexual relations. Work in the ordinary sense of the word is also restricted. People who are ill need not fast on this day. Many of the traditional mourning practices are observed: people refrain from smiles, laughter and idle conversation, and sit on low stools.
           In synagogue, the book of Lamentations is read and mourning prayers are recited. The ark (cabinet where the Torah is kept) is draped in black.
           [quoted from]
  2. The princes of Babylon fulfilled specific prophecy (v.3; cp. 21:4).
    • The names of the princes- Only three men are named in verse three.
      Each man is identified by name and title.
      1. Nergal-sharezer {Prince of Fire} Samgar-nebo
        Nebo, a chief god of Babylon, is afforded a prominent place in the names in this chapter.
        • Nebuchadnezzar {'May Nebo protect the crown'},
        • Nebuzaradan {'Nebo gives seed,' ie., posterity}, v.13
        • Nebushasban {'Nebo delivers me'}, v.13
        Because Israel had turned away from the LORD, He gave them up to serve other gods. cp. 1:16; 2:11,28; 16:9-13
             The difficult work of translating foreign names is compounded by the lack of punctuation in the original. Many scholars believe that the first prince's name should be rendered as: Nergal-sharezer of Samgar, and that "Nebo" is actually part of the second prince's name.
      2. Sarsechim {'Prince of the eunuchs'} Rab-saris {'Chief eunuch'}
        or, Nebo-Sarsechim {'Nebo is ruler of the eunuchs'} Rab-saris {'Chief eunuch'}
        (See the article attached at the end of the notes for this chapter of Jeremiah.)
      3. Nergal-sharezer {'Prince of Fire'} Rab-mag {'Chief magi'}
    • The middle gate- The city was divided into three major sections by interior walls.
      The eastward section was the original city of David, containing the Temple and the king's palace. Solomon and later kings had expanded the city to the west. An interior wall divided this newer part of the city into northern and southern sections. The middle gate was probably in this wall. The fact that the princes of Babylon were sitting in this gate indicated that the lower city had fallen into their hands. They were probably strategizing their final assault of the king's citadel.
II. Zedekiah's futile escape and capture (v.4-10)
  1. His escape (v.4)-
    • when he saw them...- The opportunity for obedience to God's Word had passed (cp. 38:17,18).
    • he, and all the men of war with him, fled (cp. 2Kin 25:4; Jer 52:7).
    • the gate mentioned was in the southeast corner of the city, near the Pool of Siloam. (Neh 3:15)
  2. His capture (v.5; cp. 2Kin 25:5) -
    • in the plains of Jericho...-
      Here Israel's conquest of the land had begun, led by the Captain of the LORD's Host (Josh 5:13-15; 6:2).
      Here Israel's conquest by her enemies was completed, because they had forsaken Him (Deu 28:1,2,7,15,25).
    • brought to Riblah...- This town was about 50 miles north of Damascus, and about halfway from Jerusalem to Babylon.
  3. His fate (v.6-7; cp. Jer 32:4,5; Eze 12:13; 2Kin 25:6-7)-
    Zedekiah's worst fears came upon him, because he had refused the Word of LORD, including the counsel which he had very recently received from Jeremiah (38:18-23).
  4. The fate of the city and people (v.8-10; cp. 2Kin 25:8-12)
    • This marks the beginning of the "Times of the Gentiles" (see Luk 21:24).
III. Jeremiah's deliverance (v.11-14)- a reward for faithfulness.
Nebuchadnezzar gave instructions that Jeremiah should be treated well (v.11,12). Provision was made (v.13) that he should remain with Gedaliah (the newly appointed governor, 40:5). Meanwhile, he dwelt among the people awaiting deportation (v.14). In the confusion of the deportation, the soldiers took him in chains among the captives to Ramah, where the officials identified and released him according to Nebuchadnezzar's instructions (40:1-6). Ramah, five miles north of Jerusalem, was used as a staging area for the deportation (cp. 31:15-17).
IV. Ebed-melech's deliverance (v.15-18)- the reward of faith.
  1. The timing of this promise (v.15)- while Jeremiah was in the court of the prison (ie., during the siege).
  2. The certainty of God's Word regarding the impending fall of the city (v.16).
  3. The promise of personal deliverance -
    1. from the vengeance of the Jewish princes (v.17; cp. 38:7-9)
    2. from the sword of the Babylonian soldiers (v.18a)
  4. The way of salvation: by faith (v.18b)- "Because thou hast put thy trust in Me, saith the LORD."
    • The unbelieving king was taken by his enemies.
    • The believing servant was delivered from all his fears (cp. Psa 34:4).
    • The faithful servant received a reward, like that of the prophet whom he had helped. (cp. Mat 10:41)
    • The reward of faith, alike for prophet and servant, is "life." (cp. Jer 1:19; 15:20; 39:18; 45:5; Joh 5:24)

The news article below is quoted from:
Notes in {brackets} are mine.

- Tiny Tablet Provides Proof for Old Testament -
by Nigel Reynolds, Arts Correspondent,
The Telegraph, London, July 11, 2007

The sound of unbridled joy seldom breaks the quiet of the British Museum's great Arched Room, which holds its collection of 130,000 Assyrian cuneiform tablets, dating back 5,000 years.

But Michael Jursa, a visiting professor from Vienna, let out such a cry last Thursday. He had made what has been called the most important find in Biblical archaeology for 100 years, a discovery that supports the view that the historical books of the Old Testament are based on fact.

Searching for Babylonian financial accounts among the tablets, Prof Jursa suddenly came across a name he half remembered - Nabu-sharrussu-ukin, described there in a hand 2,500 years old, as "the chief eunuch" of Nebuchadnezzar II, king of Babylon.

Prof Jursa, an Assyriologist, checked the Old Testament and there in chapter 39 of the Book of Jeremiah, he found, spelled differently, the same name - Nebo-Sarsekim. {Jeremiah 39:3}

Nebo-Sarsekim, according to Jeremiah, was Nebuchadnezzar II's "chief officer" and was with him at the siege of Jerusalem in 587 BC, when the Babylonians overran the city.

The small tablet, the size of "a packet of 10 cigarettes" according to Irving Finkel, a British Museum expert, is a bill of receipt acknowledging Nabu-sharrussu-ukin's payment of 0.75 kg of gold to a temple in Babylon.

The tablet is dated to the 10th year of the reign of Nebuchadnezzar II, 595BC, 12 years before the siege of Jerusalem. { cp. dating in Jeremiah 25:1; 32:1; 2Kings 25:8 }

Evidence from non-Biblical sources of people named in the Bible is not unknown, but Nabu-sharrussu-ukin would have been a relatively insignificant figure.

"This is a fantastic discovery, a world-class find," Dr Finkel said yesterday. "If Nebo-Sarsekim existed, which other lesser figures in the Old Testament existed? A throwaway detail in the Old Testament turns out to be accurate and true. I think that it means that the whole of the narrative [of Jeremiah] takes on a new kind of power."

Cuneiform is the oldest known form of writing and was commonly used in the Middle East between 3,200 BC and the second century AD. It was created by pressing a wedge-shaped instrument, usually a cut reed, into moist clay.

The full translation of the tablet reads: (Regarding) 1.5 minas (0.75 kg) of gold, the property of Nabu-sharrussu-ukin, the chief eunuch, which he sent via Arad-Banitu the eunuch to [the temple] Esangila: Arad-Banitu has delivered [it] to Esangila. In the presence of Bel-usat, son of Alpaya, the royal bodyguard, [and of] Nadin, son of Marduk-zer-ibni. Month XI, day 18, year 10 [of] Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon.

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