All That Fall (40:1–45:5)
The story of Jeremiah continues. In chapters 40 to 44, we are offered an account of his fate after the fall of Jerusalem. (By common agreement, we owe much of this to his friend Baruch.)
The Babylonian captain arrived in Jerusalem one month after its fall (2 Kings 25:8). His charge is an ominous one; he is to put the city to the torch, and to organize the caravans of those marked for exile.
With regard to Jeremiah, we have a notable exception to the common fate. The king has learned of the “doctrine of submission” on which Jeremiah had vainly insisted. (In verses 2 and 3 the scribe quite remarkably places a summary of the teaching on the lips of the military officer.) In consequence, Nebuchadnezzar issues an extraordinary order of exception. The prophet is to be dealt with humanly; he is left free to choose his own future.
Will he accompany the officer to Babylon (not, to be sure, as an exile, rather in the way of an honored guest)? Or would he prefer to remain in his own land? “You have the whole country to choose from; you may go wherever you wish.” Astonishing, an utterly unheard of courtesy. He is offered, of all things, choices.
For years, his people have disowned him, repeatedly and with fervor. To the end, to the last letting of blood, they have feinted and dodged and disobeyed his commands.