Jeremiah 34:15
And you were now turned, and had done right in my sight, in proclaiming liberty every man to his neighbor; and you had made a covenant before me in the house which is called by my name:
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(15) Ye had made a covenant before me in the house which is called by my name.—The words point to the solemnity with which the new engagements had been contracted. It was not merely that the king had issued an edict, or that judges had given their decisions in accordance with the old law, but princes and people had met together in the courts of the Temple, and there, in the presence of Jehovah, had entered into this covenant, as did their descendants afterwards in the days of Nehemiah (Nehemiah 5:12-13), with Him and with each other. Their sin in breaking their covenant was therefore a sin against Him as well as against their brethren.

Jeremiah 34:15-17. And ye were now turned — That is, reformed in this particular; and had done right in my sight — In proclaiming liberty to your servants. And ye had made a covenant before me — Had entered into solemn engagements in my presence and temple to that purpose. This was probably such a covenant as Josiah and all the people had made formerly, (2 Kings 23:2-3,) whereby they obliged themselves to serve God, and obey his laws in general, and this concerning giving freedom to their servants in particular. But ye turned — Declined from these good beginnings; and polluted my name — That is, profaned it, in swearing, or solemnly promising in and by it, to do that which you have not done. Certainly, whoever uses the name of God, by way of sanction to his promises, that the greater confidence may be placed in them, and afterward does not perform them, profanes or pollutes the name of God. Therefore, behold I proclaim liberty for you to the sword, &c. — I now declare that I give free commission and liberty to my sore judgments, the sword, the famine, and the pestilence, to invade and destroy multitudes of you. See Jeremiah 32:24; Jeremiah 32:36. The expressions here used import, that these calamities come upon men by direction and commission from God, as the executioners of his justice. And to be removed into all the kingdoms of the earth — Those of you who escape destruction shall be dispersed through different nations, where you shall learn by experience how great are the hardships and miseries attendant on a state of servitude. See note on Jeremiah 24:9.34:8-22 A Jew should not be held in servitude above seven years. This law they and their fathers had broken. And when there was some hope that the siege was raised, they forced the servants they had released into their services again. Those who think to cheat God by dissembled repentance and partial reformation, put the greatest cheat upon their own souls. This shows that liberty to sin, is really only liberty to have the sorest judgments. It is just with God to disappoint expectations of mercy, when we disappoint the expectations of duty. And when reformation springs only from terror, it is seldom lasting. Solemn vows thus entered into, profane the ordinances of God; and the most forward to bind themselves by appeals to God, are commonly most ready to break them. Let us look to our hearts, that our repentance may be real, and take care that the law of God regulates our conduct.The house of bondmen - The miserable prison in which, after being worked in the fields all day in gangs, the slaves were shut up at night.15. in the house … called by my name—the usual place of making such covenants (2Ki 23:3; compare 1Ki 8:31; Ne 10:29). Ye were now turned; that is, reformed in this particular, in which you had done the thing which I commanded you,

proclaiming a liberty to your servants. And you

made a covenant in my presence to that purpose, and that in the temple, where it seemeth this covenant was made. And ye were now turned,.... Or, "today indeed ye were turned" (r) some little time ago, indeed, it must be owned, that ye turned from the evil ways of your fathers, for which you were to be commended, as having acted a better part than they:

and had done right in my sight; what was acceptable to the Lord, approved of by him, being agreeably to his law; and it would have been well if they had continued so doing:

in proclaiming liberty every man to his neighbour; for a manservant, or maidservant, was his neighbour, and to be treated as such, and loved as himself, especially a Hebrew one, of the same nation and religion; and not to be used as a slave, or retained for ever in bondage:

and ye made a covenant before me in the house which is called by my name; this circumstance is mentioned as an aggravation of the breach of the covenant they had made, to dismiss their servants according to law; it was made in a very solemn manner, in the presence of God, appealing to him as a witness; it was done in the temple, a sacred place, devoted to him and his worship; which was called by his name, the temple of the Lord, and where his name was called upon, and where were the symbols of his presence.

(r) "jam, vel et quidem conversi fuistis hodie", Schmidt; "reversi quidem vos hodie", Junius & Tremellius, Piscator.

And ye had now turned, and had done right in my sight, in proclaiming liberty every man to his neighbour; and ye had made a covenant before me in {f} the house which is called by my name:

(f) Meaning in the temple to declare that it was a most solemn and straight covenant made in the name of the Lord.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Verse 15. - Ye were now turned; or, ye returned (the primary meaning is simply "to turn;" hence

(1) to turn away, as in ver. 16;

(2) to return, as here; comp. (Jeremiah 8:4). Threatening because of the Re-enslavement of the Liberated Hebrew Men-and Maid-servants. - Jeremiah 34:8-11 describe the occasion of the word of the Lord, which follows in Jeremiah 34:12-22. It came to Jeremiah "after King Zedekiah had made a covenant with all the people in Jerusalem, to proclaim liberty to them, that every one should send away his man-servant, or his maid-servant, being a Hebrew or Hebrewess, so that none should impose servitude on any one of them who was a Jew, his brother. Jeremiah 34:10. And all the princes and all the people who entered into the covenant obeyed, each one setting free his man-servant and his maid-servant, and not imposing servitude on them any more: they obeyed and each one set them free. Jeremiah 34:11. But they turned round afterwards, and brought back the servants and the handmaids whom they had set free, and brought them under subjection, for servants and for handmaids." The covenant which Zedekiah concluded with all the people at Jerusalem, according to what follows, consisted in a solemn vow made before the Lord in the temple, probably confirmed by sacrifices, to set free the male and female slaves of Hebrew descent, in conformity with the law, Exodus 21:1-4; Deuteronomy 15:12.

The law required the gratuitous manumission of these after seven years of service. This time, indeed, is not mentioned in our verses, but it is assumed as well known through the law. But, in the general departure of the people from the Lord and His commandments, the observance of this law had probably long been intermitted, so that, in consequence of the solemn engagement to obey it once more, a great number of Hebrew male and female slaves received their freedom, inasmuch as very many had served longer than seven years; however, we need not suppose that all bond men and women were liberated at once. The resolution, Jeremiah 34:9, that every one should liberate his Hebrew man-or maid-servant, and that no one should continue to impose servitude on a Jew, his brother, i.e., compel him any longer to serve as a slave, is conditioned by the law, which is assumed as well known: this also accords with the expression לבלתּי עבד־בּם, which is used in a general way of the treatment of Hebrew men-and maid-servants, Leviticus 25:39. However, it is also possible that a liberation of all bond men and women took place without regard to the duration of their servitude, partly for the purpose of averting, by such obedience to the law, the calamity now threatening the city, and partly also to employ the liberated slaves in the defence of the city; for, according to Jeremiah 34:21., the emancipation took place during the siege of Jerusalem, and after the departure of the Chaldeans the solemn promise was revoked. The expression קתא דרור, "to proclaim liberty," is taken from Leviticus 25:10, but it does not prove that the manumission took place on a sabbath-or jubilee-year. להם refers ad sensum to those who were bondmen and had a right to be set free. The general expression is explained by שׁלּח חפשׁים, and this again is more closely defined by לבלתּי עבד־בּם (cf. Leviticus 25:39). אישׁ בּיהוּדי אחיהוּ, (that no one should labour) "though a Jew, who is his brother," i.e., a fellow-countryman; i.e., that no one should impose servitude on a Jew, as being a compatriot. "To enter into a covenant" is to assume its obligation; cf. 2 Chronicles 15:12; Ezekiel 16:8. The Kethib יכבישׁום receives, in the Qeri, the vowels of the Kal, since the Hiphil of this verb does not occur elsewhere, only the Kal, cf. 2 Chronicles 28:10; but the alteration is unnecessary - the Hiphil may intensify the active meaning.

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