Commentary Critical and Explanatory
on the Whole Bible
This chapter consists of two parts: the first describes the capture of
Jerusalem, the removal of the people to Babylon, and the fate of
Zedekiah, and that of Jeremiah. The second tells of the assurance of
safety to Ebed-melech.
1. ninth year . . . tenth month--and on the tenth day of it
"eleventh year . . . fourth month . . . ninth day,"
we know the siege lasted one and a half years, excepting the suspension
of it caused by Pharaoh. Nebuchadnezzar was present in the beginning of
the siege, but was at Riblah at its close
(Jer 39:3, 6;
3. sat--expressing military occupation or encampment.
middle gate--the gate from the upper city (comprehending Mount Zion)
to the lower city (north of the former and much lower); it was into
the latter (the north side) that the Chaldeans forced an entry and
took up their position opposite the gate of the "middle" wall, between
the lower and upper city. Zedekiah fled in the opposite, that is, the
Nergalsharezer, Samgarnebo--proper names formed from those of the
idols, Nergal and Nebo
Rab-saris--meaning "chief of the eunuchs."
Rab-mag--chief of the magi; brought with the expedition in order that
its issue might be foreknown through his astrological skill. Mag is
a Persian word, meaning "great," "powerful." The magi were a sacerdotal
caste among the Medes, and supported the Zoroastrian religion.
4. the king's garden--The "gate" to it from the upper, city above was
appropriated to the kings alone; stairs" led down from Mount Zion and
the palace to the king's garden below
two walls--Zedekiah might have held the upper city longer, but want of
provisions drove him to flee by the double wall south of Zion, towards
the plains of Jericho
in order to escape beyond Jordan to Arabia-Deserta. He broke an opening
in the wall to get out
5. Riblah--north of Palestine (see
Hamath is identified by commentators with Antioch, in Syria, on the
Orontes, called Epiphania, from Antiochus Epiphanes.
gave judgment upon him--literally, "spake judgments with him," that
is, brought him to trial as a common criminal, not as a king. He had
violated his oath
6. slew . . . sons . . . before his
eyes--previous to his eyes being "put out"
literally, "dug out." The Assyrian sculptures depict the delight with
which the kings struck out, often with their own hands, the eyes of
captive princes. This passage reconciles
"his eyes shall behold his eyes"; with
"he shall not see Babylon, though he shall die there."
slew all . . . nobles--
8. burned . . . the houses--
(Jer 52:12, 13).
Not immediately after the taking of the city, but in the month after,
namely, the fifth month (compare
The delay was probably caused by the princes having to send to Riblah
to know the king's pleasure as to the city.
9. remnant--excepting the poorest
who caused Nebuchadnezzar no apprehensions.
those . . . that fell to him--the deserters were distrusted; or
they may have been removed at their own request, lest the people should
vent their rage on them as traitors, after the departure of the
rest . . . that remained--distinct from the previous
"remnant"; there he means the remnant of those besieged in the
city, whom Nebuchadnezzar spared; here, those scattered through
various districts of the country which had not been besieged
10. left . . . the poor . . . which had nothing--The poor have least
to lose; one of the providential compensations of their lot. They who
before had been stripped of their possessions by the wealthier Jews
obtain, not only their own, but those of others.
11. Jeremiah's prophecies were known to Nebuchadnezzar through
also through the Jews carried to Babylon with Jeconiah (compare
Hence the king's kindness to him.
12. look well to him--Hebrew, "set thine eyes upon him"; provide
for his well-being.
13. Nebuzara-dan . . . sent--He was then at Ramah
14. Gedaliah--son of Ahikam, the former supporter of Jeremiah
Gedaliah was the chief of the deserters to the Chaldeans, and was set
over the remnant in Judea as one likely to remain faithful to
Nebuchadnezzar. His residence was at Mizpah
home--the house of Gedaliah, wherein Jeremiah might remain as in a
safe asylum. As in
Jeremiah is represented as "bound in chains" when he came to Ramah
among the captives to be carried to Babylon, this release of Jeremiah
is thought by MAURER to be distinct from that in
Jer 40:5, 6.
But he seems first to have been released from the court of the prison
and to have been taken to Ramah, still in chains, and then committed in
freedom to Gedaliah.
dwelt among the people--that is, was made free.
15-18. Belonging to the time when the city was not yet taken,
and when Jeremiah was still in the court of the prison
This passage is inserted here because it was now that Ebed-melech's
was to be rewarded in his deliverance.
16. Go--not literally, for he was in confinement, but figuratively.
before thee--in thy sight.
17. the men of whom thou art afraid--
(Jer 38:1, 4-6).
The courtiers and princes hostile to thee for having delivered Jeremiah
shall have a danger coming so home to themselves as to have no power to
hurt. Heretofore intrepid, he was now afraid; this prophecy was
therefore the more welcome to him.
18. life . . . for a
put . . . trust in me--
Trust in God was the root of his fearlessness of the wrath of men, in
his humanity to the prophet
The "life" he thus risked was to be his reward, being spared beyond all
hope, when the lives of his enemies should be forfeited ("for a