Jer 37: "The gathering crisis faces Judah as the Babylonian
invasion threatens to come closer.  The irresolute rule of Zedekiah: vv 1,2.
 A deputation visits Jeremiah: vv 3,4. On the earlier attack of
Nebuchadnezzar, Zedekiah had sought advice of Jeremiah; now with danger more
imminent, he pleads for the prayers of the prophet, as Hezekiah did of Isaiah
(Isa 37:2). This was probably followed by the covenant referred to in Jer 34,
which was promptly forgotten as soon as the danger had passed.  Egypt
advances, and the Chaldeans retreat: v 5. The news that Egypt was advancing
caused Nebuchadnezzar to raise the siege and move quickly south against Egypt.
 Zedekiah is warned that the city would fall: vv 6-10.  Jeremiah flees the
city: vv 11-15. He acts as Christ exhorted his followers to do (Mat. 24:14,15).
 The king seeks an audience with the prophet: vv 16,17.  Jeremiah seeks
the king's aid: vv 18-21. The order was later reversed at the instigation of the
prophet: Jer 38:9" (GEM).
ZEDEKIAH SON OF JOSIAH WAS MADE KING OF JUDAH BY
NEBUCHADNEZZAR: "Zedekiah was a small man on a great stage, a weakling set
to face circumstances that would have taxed the strongest. He was a youth at his
accession to the throne of a distracted kingdom, and if he had had any political
insight he would have seen that his only chance was to adhere firmly to Babylon,
and to repress the foolish aristocracy who hankered after alliance with the
rival power of Egypt. He was mad enough to form an alliance with the latter,
which was constructive rebellion against the former, and was strongly reprobated
by Jeremiah. Swift vengeance followed; the country was ravaged; Zedekiah in his
fright implored Jeremiah's prayers and made faint efforts to follow his
counsels. The pressure of invasion was lifted, and immediately he forgot his
terrors and forsook the prophet. The Babylonian army was back next year, and the
final investment [encirclement, siege] of Jerusalem began. The siege lasted
sixteen months, and during it, Zedekiah miserably vacillated between listening
to the prophet's counsels of surrender and the truculent nobles' advice to
resist to the last gasp.
"The miseries of the siege live for ever in the Book of
Lamentations. Mothers boiled their children, nobles hunted on dunghills for
food. Their delicate complexions were burned black, and famine turned them into
living skeletons. Then, on a long summer day in July came the end. The king
tried to skulk out by a covered way between the walls, his few attendants
deserted him in his flight, he was caught at last down by the fords of the
Jordan [Jer 39:4,5; 52:8], carried prisoner to Nebuchadnezzar at Riblah away up
in the north beyond Baalbec, and there saw his sons slain before his eyes, and,
as soon as he had seen that last sight, was blinded, fettered, and carried off
to Babylon, where he died [2Ki 25:7; Jer 34:3; 52:9,10]...
"A weak character is sure to become a wicked one. Moral
weakness and inability to resist strong pressure was the keynote of Zedekiah's
character. There were good things in him; he had kindly impulses, as was shown
in his emancipation of the slaves at a crisis of Jerusalem's fate. Left to
himself, he would at least have treated Jeremiah kindly, and did rescue him from
lingering death in the foul dungeon to which the ruffian nobility had consigned
him, and he provided for his being at least saved from dying of starvation
during the siege.
"He listened to him secretly, and would have accepted his
counsel if he had dared. But he yielded to the stronger wills of the nobles,
though he sometimes bitterly resented their domination, and complained that 'the
king is not he that can do anything against you.'
"Like most weak men, he found that temptations to do wrong
abounded more than visible inducements to do right, and he was afraid to do
right, and fancied that he was compelled by the force of circumstances to do
wrong. So he drifted and drifted, and at last was smashed to fragments on the
rocks, as all men are who do not keep a strong hand on the helm and a steady eye
on the compass. The winds are good servants but bad masters. If we do not coerce
circumstances to carry us on the course which conscience has pricked out on the
chart, they will wreck us" (MacL).
THEY WITHDREW FROM JERUSALEM: Thus inspiring high (but
"So when you see standing in the holy place 'the abomination
that causes desolation, spoken of through the prophet Daniel-- let the reader
understand -- then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains" (Mat
HANANIAH: The false prophet whose death Jeremiah
prophesied (Jer 28:1). This explains his motive.
WHICH THEY HAD MADE INTO A PRISON: There had previously
been no need for a prison!
YOU WILL BE HANDED OVER TO THE KING OF BABYLON: Egypt
could not deliver Jerusalem (Eze 17).