0. Maoz Tzur:
the first stanza to recall the Chanukah holiday that just ended,
and the third stanza as a review of the twilight of Judah in 586 BCE.
Jeremiah experiences the siege of Jerusalem
1. Question: What Makes a Person's Legacy?
In our passage, we will consider the legacies of Jeremiah and a number of people.
Nebuchadnezzar’s siege of Jerusalem. Jeremiah mourning below, Miscellaneous texts, Add MS 11695. Artist: Petrus of Santo Domingo de Silos, c. 10th century. British Library
Found at https://www.thetorah.com/article/the-babylonian-officials-who-oversaw-the-siege-of-jerusalem. Visited 12/2021
2. Introduction to our Texts
3. A Chronology of Destruction
Year 9, Month 10, Day 10 acc. to 52:4]: The Babylonians begin their siege of Jerusalem in Tevet (January) ~588 BCE [39:1, 52:4]
Year 11, Month 4, Day 9: The Babylonians breach the walls of Jerusalem in Tammuz (July) 586 BCE [39:2]
Year 11, Month 5, Day 10: Babylonians burned the Temple in Av [52:12]
[Year 11], Month 7, [Day ?]: Gedaliah son Ahikam, Judean Governor, is assassinated in Tishri [41:1]
4. Our Texts
38:6-13, 14-21; 39:11-12, 15-18; 40:1-6
5. Enemy Leader(s) Enthroned at the Gate
Sennacherib on his throne overseeing the siege of Lachish in 701 BCE. Source: British Museum, BM 124911
Jack R. Lundbom, Jeremiah 37-52 (Anchor Bible Commentary), Note to 39:3 (p. 84)
The city gate is where judgment takes place, and now instead of Judah's elders occupying the benches, it is ranking officers of the Babylonian army.
6. Ebed-Melech the Cushite
From the Paraleipomena of Jeremiah ("Supplement of Jeremiah", also know as 4th Baruch)
Written by a Jew in the land of Israel ca. 136 CE, according to Jack R. Lundbom (p. 73)
~3.12. And Jeremiah spoke again, saying: I beseech you, Lord, what should I do for Abimelech the Ethiopian [i.e. Ebed-Melech the Cushite], for he has done many kindnesses to your servant?
~3.13. For he drew me up out of the miry pit where they threw me, and I do not wish that he should see the destruction and spoiling of the city because he is little-souled.
~3.14. And the Lord said to Jeremiah: Send him to the vineyard of Agrippa, and I will hide him in the shadow of the mountain until the people are about to return from the captivity.
7. Nebuzaradan, the chief of the guards
Dalit Rom-Shiloni, Jewish Study Bible, comment to Jeremiah 40:1-6
This Babylonian commander [Nebuzaradan] has a correct theological understanding of the events (Deut. 29:23-27), and knows other important biblical literature (Josh. 2:9; 2 Kings 18:25). According to [Talmud] Gittin 57b, Nebuzaradan's statements indicate that he converted to Judaism in remorse for the suffering he caused.