Commentary Critical and Explanatory
on the Whole Bible
CAST INTO A
TRANSFERRED TO THE
COURT ON THE
All this was subsequent to his imprisonment in Jonathan's house, and his
release on his interview with Zedekiah. The latter occurred before the return of the Chaldeans to the siege; the similar events in this
chapter occurred after it.
with Jer 38:2).
The deputation in
to whom Jeremiah gave this reply, if not identical with the hearers of
must have been sent just before the latter "heard" him speaking the
same words. Zephaniah is not mentioned here as in
but is so in
Jucal is mentioned here and in the previous deputation
but not in
Shephatiah and Gedaliah here do not occur either in
The identity of his words in both cases is natural, when uttered, at a
very short interval, and one of the hearers (Pashur) being present on
unto all the people--They had free access to him in the court of the
2. life . . . a prey--He shall escape with his life; though losing
all else in a shipwreck, he shall carry off his life as his gain, saved
by his going over to the Chaldeans.
4. Had Jeremiah not had a divine commission, he might justly have been
accused of treason; but having one, which made the result of the siege
certain, he acted humanely as interpreter of God's will under the
theocracy, in advising surrender (compare
5. the king is not he--Zedekiah was a weak prince, and now in his
straits afraid to oppose his princes. He hides his dislike of their
overweening power, which prevented him shielding Jeremiah as he would
have wished, under complimentary speeches. "It is not right that the
king should deny aught to such faithful and wise statesmen"; the king is
not such a one as to deny you your wishes
6. dungeon--literally, the "cistern." It was not a subterranean
prison as that in Jonathan's house
but a pit or cistern, which had been full of water, but was emptied of
it during the siege, so that only "mire" remained. Such empty cisterns
were often used as prisons
the depth forbade hope of escape.
His son followed in the father's steps, a ready tool for evil.
sunk in the mire--Jeremiah herein was a type of Messiah
(Ps 69:2, 14).
"I sink in deep mire," &c.
7. Ebed-melech--The Hebrew designation given this Ethiopian,
meaning "king's servant." Already, even at this early time, God wished
to show what good reason there was for calling the Gentiles to
salvation. An Ethiopian stranger saves the prophet whom his own
countrymen, the Jews, tried to destroy. So the Gentiles believed in
Christ whom the Jews crucified, and Ethiopians were among the earliest
(Ac 2:10, 41; 8:27-39).
Ebed-melech probably was keeper of the royal harem, and so had private
access to the king. The eunuchs over harems in the present day are
mostly from Nubia or Abyssinia.
8. went forth . . . and spake--not privately, but in public; a proof
of fearless magnanimity.
9. die for hunger in the place where he is; for . . . no
. . . bread in . . . city--(Compare
He had heretofore got a piece of bread supplied to him. "Seeing that
there is the utmost want of bread in the city, so that even if
he were at large, there could no more be regularly supplied to
him, much less now in a place where none remember or pity him, so that
he is likely to die for hunger." "No more bread," that is, no more left
of the public store in the city
or, all but no bread left anywhere [MAURER].
10. with thee--Hebrew, "in thine hand," that is, at "thy
"From hence," that is, from the gate of Benjamin where the king was
thirty men--not merely to draw up Jeremiah, but to guard Ebed-melech
against any opposition on the part of the princes
in executing the king's command. Ebed-melech was rewarded for his
faith, love, and courage, exhibited at a time when he might well fear
the wrath of the princes, to which even the king had to yield
11. cast clouts--"torn clothes" [HENDERSON].
rotten rags--"worn-out garments." God can make the meanest things His
instruments of goodness to His people
under . . . armholes--"under the joints of thine hands," that is,
where the fingers join the hand, the clothes being in order that the
hands should not be cut by the cords [MAURER].
13. court of . . . prison--Ebed-melech prudently put him there to be
out of the way of his enemies.
14. third entry--The Hebrews in determining the position of
places faced the east, which they termed "that which is in
front"; the south was thus called "that which is on the right
hand"; the north, "that which is on the left hand"; the
west, "that which is behind." So beginning with the east
they might term it the first or principal entry; the
south the second entry; the north the
"third entry" of the outer or inner court [MAURER]. The third gate of the temple facing the palace;
for through it the entrance lay from the palace into the temple
(1Ki 10:5, 12).
It was westward
(1Ch 26:16, 18;
[GROTIUS]. But in the future temple it is eastward
(Eze 46:1, 2, 8).
15. wilt thou not hearken unto me--Zedekiah does not answer this last
query; the former one he replies to in
Rather translate, "Thou wilt not hearken to me." Jeremiah judges so
from the past conduct of the king. Compare
with Jer 38:19.
16. Lord . . . made us this soul--
Implying, "may my life (soul) be forfeited if I deceive thee" [CALVIN].
He does not say "to the king himself," for he was at Riblah, in Hamath
"If thou go forth" (namely, to surrender;
God foreknows future conditional contingencies, and ordains not only
the end, but also the means to the end.
19. afraid of the Jews--more than of God
Joh 9:22; 12:43).
mock me--treat me injuriously
22. women--The very evil which Zedekiah wished to escape by disobeying
the command to go forth shall befall him in its worst form thereby. Not
merely the Jewish deserters shall "mock" him
but the very "women" of his own palace and harem, to gratify their new
lords, will taunt him. A noble king in sooth, to suffer thyself to be
so imposed on!
Thy friends--Hebrew, "men of thy peace" (see
Margin). The king's ministers and the false prophets who misled
sunk in . . . mire--proverbial for, Thou art involved
by "thy friends'" counsels in inextricable difficulties. The phrase
perhaps alludes to
a just retribution for the treatment of Jeremiah, who literally "sank
in the mire."
they are turned . . . back--Having involved thee in the calamity, they
themselves shall provide for their own safety by deserting to the
(Jer 39:6; 41:10).
"wives . . . children . . . thou"; an ascending
24. Let no man know--If thou wilt not tell this to the people, I will
engage thy safety.
25. Kings are often such only in title; they are really under the power
of their subjects.
26. presented--literally, "made my supplication to fall";
implying supplication with humble prostration (see on
different from Malchiah's dungeon
This statement was true, though not the whole truth; the princes had no
right to the information; no sanction is given by Scripture here to
Jeremiah's representation of this being the cause of his having come to
the king. Fear drove him to it. Compare
Ge 20:2, 12;
on the other hand,
1Sa 16:2, 5.
left off speaking with--Hebrew, "were silent from him," that is,
withdrawing from him they left him quiet
28. he was there when Jerusalem was taken--These words are made
the beginning of the thirty-ninth chapter by many; but the accents and
sense support English Version.