Shiur #16: The Rise of Nevuchadnetzar and the Beginning of the Babylonian Era in the Prophecy of Yirmeyahu (Chapters 25-27)

  • Rav David Sabato

Introduction

Chapter 25 opens a new unit in the book of Yirmeyahu. The chapter begins with a note regarding the time period; the prophecy recorded in this chapter is the first dated prophecy in the book. In it, Yirmeyahu summarizes twenty-three years of prophecies through which he tried in vain to bring the people of Israel to repent and mend their ways. Now there begins a new era, in the center of which stands Nevuchadnetzar, king of Babylonia, who will eventually conquer the land of Yehuda. This trend continues in chapter 27, after Tzidkiyahu ascends to the throne, and Yirmeyahu once again warns about rebelling against Babylonia, imploring the kings to accept the yoke of the northern empire. Let us consider these two chapters, focusing on understanding the significance of the new era in Yirmeyahu's prophecy.

The year 605 BCE as a turning point in the book of Yirmeyahu

The prophecy begins with a note regarding the time: "In the fourth year of Yehoyakim the son of Yoshiyahu king of Yehuda, that was the first year of Nevuchadnetzar, king of Babylonia" (25:1). This date is mentioned four times in the book of Yirmeyahu, it being the most prominent and central date in the book.[1] That year, 605 BCE, was a turning point in the history of the ancient world in general, and in the history of Israel in particular. In 609 BCE, an extended conflict began between Egypt and Ashur, on one side, and Babylonia, the rising empire, on the other. Long battles were waged between Egypt and Ashur and Babylonia. The balance of forces in northern Mesopotamia was evenly matched, and it was difficult to know who would emerge victorious. In 605 BCE, a young king named Nevuchadnetzar ascended the throne of Babylonia, replacing his father Nevopolasser. That same year, Nevuchadnetzar captured the northern Egyptian stronghold when his army defeated the armies of Ashur and Egypt and inflicted upon them a decisive blow at the crucial battle at Karkemish on the banks of the Euphrates (in today's Turkey).

This event is briefly described in II Melakhim 24:7:

And the king of Egypt came not again any more out of his land, for the king of Babylonia had taken from the river of Egypt to the Euphrates river all that pertained to the king of Egypt.

It is also described in greater detail in a Babylonian chronicle from the time of Nevuchadnetzar that records his campaigns in the first eleven years of his reign:[2]

In the twenty-first year [605/604], the king of Akkad [Nevopolassar] stayed in his own land, Nevuchadnetzar his eldest son, the crown-prince, mustered the Babylonian army and took command of his troops; he marched to Karkemish, which is on the bank of the Euphrates, and crossed the river to go against the Egyptian army, which lay in Karkemish. They fought with each other and the Egyptian army withdrew before him. He accomplished their defeat and beat them to non-existence… In the month of Ululu, Nevuchadnetzar returned to Babylonia, and on 1 Ululu he sat on the royal throne in Babylonia.

This victory opened the road before him, and he set out on a campaign of conquest to expand the Babylonian empire, in the course of which he also captured Ashkelon. Echoes of Nevuchadnetzar's victory can be heard in Yirmeyahu chapter 46, which opens a collection of prophecies directed at the nations:

Against Egypt, against the army of Pharaoh Nekho, king of Egypt, which was by the Euphrates River in Karkemish, whom Nevuchadnetzar king of Babylonia smote in the fourth year of Yehoyakim the son of Yoshiyahu king of Yehuda.

Against the background of these events, let us turn to the opening of the prophecy in chapter 25:

(3) From the thirteenth year of Yoshiyahu the son of Amon, king of Yehuda, and until this day, these twenty-three years, the word of the Lord has come to me, and I have spoken to you, from morning till night; but you have not hearkened. (4) And the Lord has sent you all His servants the prophets, sending them from morning till night, but you have not hearkened, nor inclined your ear to hear. (5) They said: Turn back now everyone from his evil way and from the evil of your doings, and dwell in the land that the Lord has given to you and to your fathers forever and ever; (6) and do not go after other gods to serve them, and to worship them, and do not provoke Me to anger with the works of your hands, and I will do you no hurt. (7) Yet you have not hearkened to Me, says the Lord; that you might provoke Me to anger with the work of your hands to your own hurt. (8) Therefore, thus says the Lord of hosts: Because you have not heard My words…

Yirmeyahu opens with a summary of the period of his prophecy from its beginning to the current year. The phrase "you have not hearkened/heard" is repeated five times in this section, and it accentuates the recurring refusal, over an extended period, to accept the words of the prophets. At first, Yirmeyahu speaks only of himself (3), but then he refers to other prophets as well – "all His servants the prophets" – highlighting the absolute refusal on the part of the people – "nor inclined your ear to hear." He closes with the conclusion that the people who have provoked their God and refused to listen to His prophets have brought evil upon themselves.

After twenty-three years of prophecy during which Yirmeyahu and his fellow prophets warned about the impending calamity, the geopolitical situation becomes clarified; the "enemy from the north" about whom Yirmeyahu had warned over the years of his prophecy takes on concrete form in the figure of Nevuchadnetzar, king of Babylonia, serving as God's agent, who will come and punish the people for their refusal to hear His words during those years.[3]

(9) Behold, I will send and take all the families of the north, says the Lord, and Nevuchadnetzar the king of Babylonia, My servant, and will bring them against this land, and against its inhabitants, and against all these nations round about, and will utterly destroy them, and make them an astonishment, and a hissing and perpetual ruins. (10) Moreover, I will take from them the voice of mirth, and the voice of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom, and the voice of the bride, the sound of the millstones, and the light of the lamp. (11) And this whole land shall be a ruin and an astonishment; and these nations shall serve the king of Babylonia for seventy years.

(12) And it shall come to pass, when seventy years are accomplished, that I will punish the king of Babylonia and that nation, says the Lord, for their iniquity, and the land of the Kasdim, and will make it everlasting desolation. (13) And I will bring upon that land all My words which I have pronounced against it, all that is written in this book, which Yirmeyahu has prophesied against all the nations. (14) For many nations and great kings shall enslave them also; and I will recompense them according to their deeds, and according to the works of their own hands.

God refers to Nevuchadnetzar as "My servant" (9) and describes him as the one who will carry out His plans for the conquest and destruction of the land. On the other hand, he describes the harsh punishment that he will receive after seventy years (12-14). How are we to understand the complex attitude toward the Babylonian king that arises from our prophecy?

Seventy years of rule are allocated to Babylonian rule (11-12). This period of time appears to have symbolic meaning. In Tehillim 90:10 it says: "The days of our years are seventy." Thus, seventy years represent a generation. In Yeshayahu 23:15-17, this period of time is mentioned in reference to the exile and redemption of Tzor: "And it shall come to pass on that day, that Tzor shall be forgotten seventy years, according to the days of one king… And it shall come to pass after the end of seventy years, that the Lord will visit Tzor."[4] What this means, then, is that Babylonian rule will extend for a period corresponding to a generation, but at the conclusion of that period, everything will be reversed.

Note should be taken of Babylonia's punishment, measure for measure. Regarding Nevuchadnetzar's conquests it says: "And I will bring them against this land… and will make them… perpetual ruins." And parallel to this it says about Babylonia: "And I will make it everlasting desolation. And I will bring upon that land all My words." The Babylonians will subjugate the nations: "And these nations shall serve the king of Babylonia seventy years," and parallel to this: "For many nations and great kings shall enslave them also." This principle is spelled out explicitly at the end of the prophecy: "And I will recompense them according to their deeds and according to the works of their own hands."

The prophecy of "the wine cup of fury"

In the second part of the chapter (15-38), the calamity expands beyond the borders of Israel: "Take this wine cup of fury at My hand, and cause all the nations to whom I send you to drink it" (15). Yirmeyahu is commanded to perform a symbolic act representing the fall of the nations into the hands of Nevuchadnetzar – giving them to drink a "wine cup of fury," a poisoned cup of wine, which God will give the nations to drink and thereby bring about their collapse.[5] Yirmeyahu sees the Babylonian empire expanding to all these kingdoms. Here Yirmeyahu prophesies, for the first time in the book, about the nations – as he was told he would do in his prophecy of consecration.

Yirmeyahu provides a long list of nations and kings who will fall into the hands of Nevuchadnetzar, and he thus highlights the global revolution that will take place in the wake of his conquests. Attention should be paid to the order in which the kings are mentioned. He begins with Jerusalem and Yehuda (18) and moves to the nearby circles: Egypt, Pelishtim, Amon, Moav, and Edom (19-22), and ends with the more distant circles: the kings of Arav, the kings of Eilam and Madai, and others (23-26). The upheaval will begin in Yehuda, and the waves of destruction will then spread to the other kingdoms. This is what Yirmeyahu states explicitly at the end of the prophecy: "For, lo, I begin to bring evil on the city which is called by My name, and should you go utterly unpunished? You shall not go unpunished; for I will call for a sword upon all the inhabitants of the earth, says the Lord of hosts" (29).

The list concludes with an unusual formulation: "And the king of Sheshakh shall drink after them" (26). A kingdom named Sheshakh is not known to us, and it likely that we are dealing with an allusion to the king of Babylonia, as proposed by the Radak: "And the king of Sheshakh – the king of Babylonia, and so in Targum Yonatan. Sheshakh (shin-shin-kof) is Babylonia (Bavel = bet-bet-lamed) in the alef-tof, bet-shin alphabet."

The attempted rebellion against Babylon and Yirmeyahu's prophecy concerning the bonds

(1) In the beginning of the reign of Yehoyakim the son of Yoshiyahu, came this word to Yirmeyahu from the Lord, saying: (2) Thus says the Lord to me: Make bonds and bars for yourself and put them upon your neck, and send them to the king of Edom, and to the king of Moav, and the king of the children of Amon, and the king of Tzor, and the king of Tzidon, by the hands of the messengers which come to Jerusalem to Tzidkiyahu king of Yehuda.

Years have passed since the rise of Nevuchadnetzar; Babylonia has become an empire that controls the Mesopotamian region and Yehuda, and the rest of the countries in the region are subject to its authority. After Tzidkiyahu's rise to power in Yehuda, Egypt begins to lift its head, the countries in the region try to organize themselves once again against the Babylonian empire, and their representatives gather in Jerusalem for this purpose.[6] This international conference serves as the backdrop for Yirmeyahu's prophecies in the chapter to the kings of the nations, to Tzidkiyahu, and to his people. These prophecies are accompanied by symbolic means of illustration – bonds and bars.[7]

The chapter is divided into three parts. The first and longest prophecy in the chapter (4-11) is addressed to the kings of the nations; the second prophecy (12-15) is directed to Tzidkiyahu king of Yehuda; and the third prophecy (16-22) is pointed to the priest and the people. All three prophecies have a similar structure: They open with a positive command – to submit to the king of Babylonia – and then they warn against listening to the words of the false prophets who prophesy just the opposite.

(4) Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: Thus shall you say to your masters: I have made the earth, the man and the beast that are upon the ground, by My great power and by My outstretched arm, and have given it to whom it seemed proper in My eyes. (5) And now have I given all these lands in the hand of Nevuchadnetzar the king of Babylonia, My servant; and the beasts of the field have I given him also to serve him. (7) And all the nations shall serve him, and his son, and his son's son, until the time of his own land come also; and then many nations and great kings shall make him a slave (ve-avdu). (8) And it shall come to pass, that the nations and kingdoms which will not serve this Nevuchatdnetzar the king of Babylonia, and that will not put their neck under the yoke of the king of Babylonia, that nation will I punish, says the Lord, with the sword, and with the famine, and with the pestilence, until I have consumed them by his hand.

(9) Therefore, hearken not to your prophets, nor to your diviners, nor to your dreamers, nor to your enchanters, nor to your sorcerers, who speak to you, saying: You shall not serve the king of Babylonia; (10) for they prophesy a lie to you, to remove you far from your land, and that I should drive you out, and you should perish. (11) But the nations that bring their neck under the yoke of the king of Babylonian, and serve him, those will I let remain still in their own land, says the Lord; and they shall till (ve-avada) it, and dwell in it.

As stated, this prophecy is divided into two parts: First, Yirmeyahu presents the Divine plan, according to which all the nations must serve the king of Babylonia (5-8), and then he contends with the opposite claim put forward by the pagan sorcerers. In this exceptional prophecy, addressed directly to the kings of the nations, Yirmeyahu adapts the style of his prophecy to the world and language of the pagan kings to whom he turns. Thus, at the beginning of the first part (5), he presents God as He who fashioned the world and everything in it, and at the beginning of the second section (9) he contends with the words of the pagan magicians: the diviners, the dreamers, the enchanters, and the like.

The root ayin-bet-dalet, "serve, slave, work," appears seven times in the prophecy and weaves together its main ideas. Let us trace its various appearances and contexts – in relation to a command, to reward, and to punishment. It first relates to a Divine command – the beasts of the field (6) and all the nations (7) will serve the Babylonian king, and anyone who fails to serve him will be punished with destruction (8). At the same time, the nation that serves him will merit continuing to work their own land (11), and therefore one should not listen to the lies of the prophets and magicians who say not to serve him (9). The principle of measure for measure that was mentioned in chapter 25 is repeated here as well: Just as many nations served Nevuchadnetzar, so when the time comes many nations shall make him a slave (7).

The root ayin-bet-dalet appears one more time: Nevuchadnetzar is called "My servant" (avdi). At the same time, however, it is stated about him that in the end many nations will make him a slave. What is the meaning of this duality in Nevuchadnetzar's standing? Why is he punished for a mission that he is meant to carry out? It seems that this should be understood in light of Yeshayahu's words concerning the king of Ashur. The king of Ashur was also selected to carry out God's plan, but since he did not act out of a sense of mission, but simply in an attempt to glorify his own name, he has no real right to do so, and he will therefore be punished for his actions.

It is worth noting the wording with which the prophecy opens: (5) I have made the earth… by My great power, and by My outstretched arm, and have given it to whom it seemed proper in My eyes." This wording is repeated almost word for word in Rashi's famous remark at the beginning of his commentary to the Torah:

R. Yitzchak said: The Torah should have commenced with the verse: "This month shall be unto you the first of the months" (Shemot 12:1), which is the first commandment given to Israel. What is the reason, then, that it commences with the account of the Creation? Because: "He declared to His people the strength of His works in order that He might give them the heritage of the nations" (Tehilim 91:6). For should the peoples of the world say to Israel: "You are robbers, because you took by force the lands of the seven nations of Canaan," Israel may reply to them: "All the earth belongs to the Holy One, blessed is He; He created it and gave it to whom He pleased. When He willed He gave it to them, and when He willed He took it from them and gave it to us."

Rashi's premise is that the Torah is a book of commandments, and therefore it is not clear why the Torah includes the stories from the account of the Creation until "This month shall be unto you the first of the months." Rashi's answer is that the historical narrative comes to teach a fundamental principle of faith: "He declared to His people the strength of His works" in order to establish His people's right to their land. As stated, Rashi formulates this principle in light of Yirmeyahu's prophecy. The significance of this connection was pointed out by R. M. Breuer in his article, "Lashon Ha-Zahav shel Rashi":[8]

Yirmeyahu's intention is to warn those kings to serve the king of Babylonia, and since they might think they have the power to overcome him, he warns them: King Nevuchadnetzar does not conquer countries by his own power. Rather, God puts them in his hands, and therefore anyone who rebels against Nevuchadnetzer rebels against God who gave him rule over the world. For this reason, Yirmeyahu opens with the creation of the world. God made the earth… and He who made the earth also gives it to whomever He pleases. This leads to the conclusion that God gave these lands to Nevuchadnetzar. This is absolute proof for the words of Rashi. For the opening words of Yirmeyahu are similar to the opening words of the Torah. He too prefaces his words with the creation of the world, but this opening does not come to teach us halakhic minutiae or religious principles, but rather to show us the secret of history. Since God made the earth, He gives it to whom it seems proper in his eyes.

In the second prophecy, verses 12-15, Yirmeyahu addresses Tzidkiyahu, the king of Israel:

(12) I spoke also to Tzidkiyahu king of Yehuda according to all these words, saying: Bring your necks under the yoke of the king of Babylonia, and serve him and his people, and live. (13) Why will you die, you and your people, by the sword, by the famine, and by the pestilence, as the Lord has spoken against the nation that will not serve the king of Babylonia? (14) Therefore, hearken not to the words of the prophets that speak to you, saying: You shall not serve the king of Babylonia; for they prophesy a lie to you. (15) For I have not sent them, says the Lord, but they prophesy a lie in My name; that I might drive you out, and that you might perish, you, and the prophets that prophesy to you.

Apart from the lack of an introduction, which, as stated, was directed at the kings of the nations, the message to Tzidkiyahu is similar to the message to the kings in content and in style. Attention should be paid, however, to a small difference regarding the prophets. Concerning the prophets of the nations, it says only: "For they prophesy a lie to you." This refers to the pagan prophets, who work together with the magicians and diviners. Here, however, it is explicitly stated: "For I have not sent them, says the Lord, but they prophesy a lie in My name." This is not only false prophesy, but false prophesy in the name of God. Israel's false prophets also pretend to speak on behalf of God. This leads to the second difference. In the previous prophecy, nothing is said about a punishment for the prophets, whereas here it is explicitly states that these prophecies will lead to the punishment of both Israel and their prophets: "And that you might perish, you, and the prophets that prophesy to you," for false prophecy in the name of God is a grave sin in itself.

The third prophecy (15-22) is directed to the priests and the people:

(16) Also I spoke to the priests and to all this people, saying: Thus says the Lord: Hearken not to the words of your prophets that prophesy to you, saying: Behold, the vessels of the Lord's house shall now shortly be brought back from Babylonia, for they prophesy a lie to you. (17) Hearken not to them; serve the king of Babylonia, and live; why should this city be laid waste? (18) But if they are prophets, and if the word of the Lord be with them, let them now make intercession to the Lord of hosts that the vessels which are left in the house of the Lord, and in the house of the king of Yehuda, and at Jerusalem, go not to Babylonia. (19) For thus says the Lord of hosts concerning the pillars, and concerning the sea, and concerning the bases, and concerning the residue of the vessels that remain in this city (20) which Nevuchadnetzar king of Babylonia did not take, when he carried away Yekhonya the son of Yehoyakim king of Yehuda captive from Jerusalem to Babylonia, and all the nobles of Yehuda and Jerusalem; (21) for thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, concerning the vessels that remain in the house of the Lord, and in the house of the king of Yehuda and of Jerusalem; (22) that they shall be carried to Babylonia, and there shall they be until the day that I take heed of them, says the Lord; then will I bring them up and restore them to this place.

Here the order is reversed; Yirmeyahu opens with a rejection of the false prophecy, and then brings the true prophecy. The subject of the prophecy is also different from the subject of the two previous prophecies that were directed at the kings. Here, Yirmeyahu rails against the false prophecies concerning the return of the Temple vessels. There is no point talking here about submitting to the king of Babylonia, for here he speaks to the people and the priests who are not involved in political moves. The priests and the people are focused mainly on the fate of the Temple. The Temple vessels that were taken at the time of Yekhonya's exile represent the honor of the Temple that was desecrated by the king of Babylonia, and they therefore await the fulfillment of the words of the prophets concerning the speedy restoration of those vessels to their rightful place, together with the return of Yekhonya's exile. In his usual manner, however, Yirmeyahu shatters this hope related to the Temple; the Temple vessels will remain in Babylonia for an extended period of time. Instead of thinking about the past, they should concentrate on the dangers of the future. The prophets must intercede with God and pray for the fate of the vessels remaining in Jerusalem, for the current decree relates to the taking of the remaining vessels to Babylonia.

Yirmeyahu’s words contain a twofold critique. The first is against the false prophets, who prophesy about unconditional peace and do not pray or hope for a change in the situation or for internal reform. Not only will such a position not change the past, but it could make matters worse in the future. Second, criticism is apparently also being voiced here against the priests and the people who are preoccupied with the Temple vessels as part of their erroneous perception of the Temple as the house of God that cannot be destroyed, and their mistaking form for content – the idea that the Temple and its vessels are the essential matter, and not the sanctity that depends on human actions.

In light of Yirmeyahu's prophecies in chapter 27, we can understand the significance of the announcement of Nevuchadnetzar's rise in chapter 25. Yirmeyahu's goal is not only to prove that he was right in the past, in the twenty-three years of his prophecies, but to deliver a message about the future. Until the rise of the king of Babylonia, the goal was to bring about the mending of Israel's ways so that they not become subjugated to the people from the north. However, now that this period has come to a close, Yirmeyahu's prophetic message changes. Now he preaches to accept the yoke of the king of Babylonia, and warns of the greater dangers that may fall upon the people should they try to turn back the clock and undo the decree. Now the people must know how to humbly accept their sentence and serve the king of Babylon, God's messenger, with the spirit of accepting God's decree. At the same time, they must keep in mind the future redemption and await their salvation.

 

(Translated by David Strauss)

 


[1] In addition to our chapter, this date is also mentioned in 26:1, which deals with Yirmeyahu's scroll of prophecies. As we will see there, the events occurring in that year and the summary found here are closely connected to Yirmeyehu's committing his prophecies to writing. This date is also mentioned in 45:1 and in the prophecy concerning Egypt in chapter 46, which will be mentioned below.

[2] This chronicle was discovered and published in 1956 by the British scholar Donald Wiseman, and it is named after him.  

[3] Babylonia is located northeast of Jerusalem, but the battle of Karkemish was fought to the north of the city.

[4] The prophecy about the seventy years of exile appears here for the first time, and is repeated in 29:10. It served as the basis for the caluclations regarding the end of days that were made in the exile (Zekharya 1:12). It was fulfilled precisely: The exile occurred in 586 BCE, and the building of the Second Temple took place in 516 BCE. According to another calculation, the seventy years extend from Nevuchadnetzar's rise to power in 605 BCE until Koresh's proclamation in 536 BC.

[5] The calamity that will befall the nations is symbolized by the drinking of a cup of poisoned wine. The symbolic significance of drinking the wine is spelled out explicitly in the verses: "Drink, and be drunk, and vomit, and fall" (25:27). Another meaning of the drinking of the cup of wine emerges from a comparison of the command to drink in our chapter: "And cause all the nations to drink it… you shall certainly drink… and should you go utterly unpunished (hinakeh tinaku)? You shall not go unpunished," to what is stated in the section dealing with a sota (Bamidbar 5:19-24): "And if you have not gone aside… be you free (hinaki)… but if you have gone aside… when the Lord makes your thigh to fall away… and he shall cause the woman to drink." Yirmeyahu (the priest) acts here as a priest who gives the sota water to drink, but in place of the sota, we are dealing here with all the nations. Drinking the wine is a sort of test of their guilt, and it brings their punishment upon them.

[6] This is what the Radak writes in his commentary: "It seems that the kings mentioned here sent to Tzidkiyahu that he should agree with them, so that all of them should rebel against the king of Babylonia. Therefore, God commanded Yirmeyahu to tell these representatives and Tzidkiyahu king of Yehuda that they should all bring their necks under the yoke of the king of Babylonia."

[7] The prophecy opens with a notation of the time relating to the kingdom of Yehoyakim, "In the beginning of the reign of Yehoyakim," but the historical background which it addresses is the period of Tzidkiyahu, and it also appeals directly to Tzidkiyahu. How, then, are we to understand the prophecy's heading? The Radak explains that this prophecy was delivered in the days of Yehoyakim, but it refers to the future: "This prophecy was stated to Yirmeyahu in the first year of the reign of Yehoyakim, and God said to him that when Tzidkiyahu will rule after the kingdoms of Yehoyakim and Yehoyakhin, he should make bonds and bars, and send them to the various kings by way of the messengers that will come to Jerusalem to Tzidkiyahu… And he should command them to say to the kings their masters who will send them to Tzidkiyahu, and they should say to them all the things mentioned in the section, and Yirmeyahu should also say to them: 'I spoke also to Tzidkiyahu king of Yehuda according to all these words….' And Chazal said that when the king of Babylonia crowned him as king, he gave him rule over these kings. And the fact that this prophecy was told to him at the beginning of the reign of Yehoyakim and the prophecy was not yet for another eleven years, this was so that Yehoyakim should know that Nevuchadnetzer would rule in the future, and that Yehoyakim should not put his trust in the king of Egypt who crowned him." Ibn Ezra proposes an original interpretation in his commentary to Daniel 1:1. According to him, after the death of Yoshiyahu, the nations thought that Tzidkiyahu would rule in his place: "For it was known among all the nations that Tzidkiyahu was crowned as king. And the proof is the verse in Yirmeyahu: 'In the beginning of the reign of Yehoyakim son of Yoshiyahu kign of Yehuda.' God tells Yirmeyahu to make bonds and send them to the kings of Edom, Moav, Amon, and Tzor in the hands of the messengers who come to Jerusalem to Tzidkiyahu king of Yehuda, becaue those kings heard that Yoshiyahu was killed and they thought that Tzidkiyahu, who was crowned when he was twenty-one years old, would rule in his place." Ibn Ezra also deals with what is stated later in the section, where Yirmeyahu prophesies about Tzidkiyahu himself after he became king. In his opinion, this prophecy was indeed delivered at a later date: "And something is left in the section that requires explanation, namely: 'I spoke also to Tzidkiyahu king of Yehuda.' Here Yirmeyahu relates to the matter of the bars to Tzidkiyahu when he becomes king after the exile of Yehoyakhim, and says to him: 'Bring your necks under the yoke of the king of Babylonia." Ibn Ezra brings a third resolution of this difficulty in the name of R. Yona Ibn Janach, a leading grammarian of the eleventh century, in chapter 28 of Sefer Ha-Rikma: "And there was a great commentator in Spain, and he explained [various] books with precision, and he explained that 'Tzidkiyahu' is written in place of 'Yehoyakim.'" Ibn Ezra himself sharply rejects this explanation: "… And similarly many words, about two hundred, and all of them will be carried away by the wind. For how is it possible that a person should say one word and mean a different one? Anyone who speaks like that is considered crazy. I have already explained all of them, and it would be better for him to say, 'I do not know,' rather than alter the words of the living God." A similar argument is sounded in modern biblical research, according to which the heading is in error and "Yehoyakim" was erroneously written in place of "Tzidkiyahu," under the influence of the heading of the previous chapter: "In the beginning of the reign of Yehoyakim son of Yoshiyahu king of Yehuda." (It should be noted that Ibn Janach himself never argued that we are dealing with a mistake, but rather with a kind of metonymy for internal reasons.) We will conclude with another resolution proposed by M. Bula in his Da'at Mikra commentary to Yirmeyahu. According to him, "it seems that the prophecy was delivered twice in similar circumstances. In the beginning of the reign of Yehoyakim when the nations in the region wished to unite against Nevuchadnetzar following his victory over Pharaoh Nekho at Karkemish… In the beginning of the reign of Tzidkiyahu, when he too wanted to make a pact with those same nations against Nevuchadnetzar. Apparently, the prophecy was written twice: Once with the name of Yehoyakim, and once with the name of Tzidkiyahu. But only once did it enter into the book of Yirmeyahu and the heading relating to the days of Yehoyakim remained in its place."

[8] In his book, Pirkei Bereishit I (Alon-Shevut 5758), p. 25.