So King Zedekiah finally throws Jeremiah in jail – for treason, it sounds like, since Jeremiah keeps insisting that Jerusalem will fall and Zedekiah will be taken as a prisoner to Babylon. (Which is exactly what happened, as we know).
The rest of the chapter is about a land transaction, and here’s the gist of it – Jeremiah is offered a deal on some land, and Yahweh tells him he should buy it. But why bother, since the land will be soon captured by Babylon? And the answer is: because Yahweh promises that the destruction and exile are only temporary, and that after all the violence is over, the Jews can return to their homes and reclaim their land, and previous property deals will be honored. This passage (v 37-40), as well as other verses from the Book of Jeremiah, are still used by some to justify land claims in the Middle East.
Yahweh is spouting off again about how he will restore Jerusalem. Listen to his ego in v 9 – “The people of the world will see all the good I do for my people, and they will tremble with awe at the peace and prosperity I provide for them.” And he goes on like that for a while… Then we get more Messianic prophesy in v 14-16, and another false prediction about the Davidian line of kings in v 16-26.
There are some interesting discrepancies in v 3-5. Jeremiah receives a message from god telling him that King Zedekiah will be captured and taken to Babylon, and that his “eyes shall behold the eyes of the king of Babylon” (KJV). Then King Zed is promised a peaceful death. However – check back to 2 Kings 25:5-7 for the real story. Zed’s eyes are “put out” before he dies a violent death. Interesting that in the NLT of v 3, the wording is changed to “meet the king of Babylon face to face” (leaving out the reference to actually ‘seeing’ him). Perhaps to avoid that contradiction?
The last section of the chapter features god’s over-reaction when the people disregard his orders to free the slaves. Heaven only knows why they would first free them and then recant and re-enslave them, but Yahweh’s anger is a little over the top, considering he condoned slavery in the first place. He says “I will give you to your enemies, and they will kill you. Your bodies will be food for the vultures and wild animals.” (v 20) So loving and merciful.