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city were spent. Thus Jeremiah remained in the court of the prison. .. ,
Chap. XXXVIII. 1—6. Zedekiah allows the princes to put Jeremiah again into the dungeon.
Then Shephatiah the son of Mattan, and Gedaliah the 38 son of Pashur, and Jucal the son of Shelemiah, and Pashur the son of Malchiah, heard the words that Jeremiah had spoken unto all the people, saying, Thus saith the Lord, 2 He that remaineth in this city shall die by the sword, by the famine, and by the pestilence: but he that goeth forth to the Chaldeans shall live; for he shall have his life for a prey, and shall live. Thus saith the Lord, This city shall 3 surely be given into the hand of the king of Babylon's army, which shall take it. Therefore the princes said unto the ♦ king, We beseech thee, let this man be put to death: for thus he weakeneth the hands of the men of war that remain in this city, and the hands of all the people, in speaking such words unto them: for this man seeketh not the welfare of this people, but the hurt. Then Zedekiah the king said, s
until all the bread in the city were spent] Compare chap. Hi. 6.
Chap. XXXVIII. 1—6. Zedekiah Allows The Princes To Put Jeremiah Again Into The Dungeon.
1. Tlien Shephatiah] The removal of Jeremiah from prison to the court of the guard was of course favourable to the publication of his message. Hence the princes take alarm and apply to the king for permission to put him to death. There was no doubt truth in their assertion that Jeremiah's words were 'weakening the hands of the men of war,' but the fact, that the words which he spoke were not his own but the Divine message with which he was charged, made all the difference in the case.
Gedaliah] He was probably a son of the Pashur who put Jeremiah in the stocks (chap. xx. 1, 2).
^fa<ra/]=Jehucal of chap. xxxvii. 3.
Pashur the son of Malchiah] the same who is mentioned chap. xxi. 1.
2. lie that remaineth...] This and the following verse occur substantially in the reply of the prophet to the messengers (including Pashur) of chap. xxi. (See verses 8, 9 and notes).
4. for thus] rather, Because.
the men of war that remain] shewing that a good many had gone over to the Chaldaeans, a fact which is implied also in ver. 19.
Behold, he is in your hand: for the king is not he that can « do any thing against you. Then took they Jeremiah, and cast him into the dungeon of Malchiah the son of Hammelech, that was in the court of the prison: and they let down Jeremiah with cords. And in the dungeon there was no water, but mire: so Jeremiah sunk in the mire.
7—13. He is rescued by Ebed-Melech.
7 Now when Ebed-melech the Ethiopian, one of the eunuchs which was in the king's house, heard that they had put Jeremiah in the dungeon; the king then sitting in the gate
8 of Benjamin; Ebed-melech went forth out of the king's
9 house, and spake to the king, saying, My lord the king, these men have done evil in all that they have done to Jeremiah the prophet, whom they have cast into the dungeon; and he is like to die for hunger in the place where he is:
10 for there is no more bread in the city. Then the king com
6. the king is not he..] The literal rendering is, The king cannot as to you (do) a thing. Zedekiah, aware of his own moral weakness, here acknowledges himself powerless in the hands of the princes. If they united in urging anything as requisite for the safety of the state, he declined even to argue the point, but confessed at once that he was but a cypher in the matter.
6. the dungeon of Malchiah] probably meaning that he was in charge of it. We might rather render cistern. See chap. vi. 7 with note. The depth and consequent wretchedness of this place of confinement is shewn by the means employed to place Jeremiah in it.
the son of Hammelech] See note on xxxvi. 26.
7—13. He Is Rescued By Ebed-melech.
7. Ebed-melech the Ethiopian] a negro eunuch, attached to the court or harem after the Eastern custom. See note on xiii. 23.
the gate of Benjamin] See note on chap xxxvii. 13.
9. he is like to die for hunger in the place where he is] literally, he is dead of hunger on the spot. The words are uttered impulsively, and when taken strictly are inconsistent, death by hunger and a speedy death ('on the spot') being incompatible. Ebed-melech's meaning however is clear, viz. that Jeremiah was probably at death's door already, as suffering at once from hunger and from confinement in so dismal a dungeon. The Heb. for 'on the spot' is still more literally under him. The same expression is used of Asahel ("in the same place" Eng. Vers.) 2 Sam. ii. 23.
for there is no more bread in the city] This again is an exaggeration shewing the eagerness of the speaker, and pardonable, as certain to be manded Ebed-melech the Ethiopian, saying, Take from hence thirty men with thee, and take up Jeremiah the prophet out of the dungeon, before he die. So Ebed-melech took the men with him, and went into the house of the king under the treasury, and took thence old cast clouts and old rotten rags, and let them down by cords into the dungeon to Jeremiah. And Ebed-melech the Ethiopian said unto Jeremiah, Put now these old cast clouts and rotten rags under thine armboles under the cords. And Jeremiah did so. So they drew up Jeremiah with cords, and took him up out of the dungeon: and Jeremiah remained in the court of the prison,
14—23. Zedekiah again seeks his counsel.
Then Zedekiah the king sent, and took Jeremiah the prophet unto him into the third entry that is in the house of the Lord: and the king said unto Jeremiah, I will ask thee a thing; hide nothing from me. Then Jeremiah said
understood by the king. If it had been absolutely true, there could have been no object in freeing Jeremiah. As it was, the sense was only that there was so scanty a supply of provision that there was little or no chance of any reaching Jeremiah in the place where he was then confined,
10. thirty meti] This large number seems to have been intended to preclude any attempt at interference on the part of the princes. Zedekiah knew enough of them to see that a strong force would be necessary under such circumstances.
before he die] The words of the king shew that he understood the real sense of Ebed-melech's remark he is dead on the spot of ver. 9.
11. under the treasury] more fully to (the place) under the treasury, old cast clouts and old rotten rags] rags of torn garments and rags of
worn out garments.
13. court of the prison] court of the guard. See note on xxxii. 2.
14—23. Zedekiah Again Seeks His Counsel.
14. the third entry] The Eng. margin has principal, which however is not likely to be the sense. It was probably a chamber, retired from public observation, and connected with a passage leading from the palace to the Temple, and may have been identical with that which in 2 Kings xvi. 18 is called "the king's entry."
/ will ask thee a thing; hide nothing from me] literally, I am ashing thee a thing (or word); thou shalt not hide from me a thing (or word). Zedekiah's anxiety as to the future led him to take the same course as previously (chap. xxxvii. 17).
unto Zedekiah, If I declare it unto thee, wilt thou not surely put me to death? and if I give thee counsel, wilt
16 thou not hearken unto me? So Zedekiah the king sware secretly unto Jeremiah, saying, As the Lord liveth, that made us this soul, I will not put thee to death, neither will I give thee into the hand of these men that seek thy life.
17 Then said Jeremiah unto Zedekiah, Thus saith the Lord, the God of hosts, the God of Israel; If thou wilt assuredly go forth unto the king of Babylon's princes, then thy soul shall live, and this city shall not be burnt with fire; and thou
18 shalt live, and thine house: but if thou wilt not go forth to the king of Babylon's princes, then shall this city be given into the hand of the Chaldeans, and they shall burn it with
19 fire, and thou shalt not escape out of their hand. And Zedekiah the king said unto Jeremiah, I am afraid of the Jews that are fallen to the Chaldeans, lest they deliver me into their
=0 hand, and they mock me. But Jeremiah said, They shall not deliver thee. Obey, I beseech thee, the voice of the Lord, which I speak unto thee: so it shall be well unto thee, and 21 thy soul shall live. But if thou refuse to go forth, this is =2 the word that the Lord hath shewed me: and behold, all
15. wilt thou not hearken unto me?] thou wilt not hearken onto me.
This clause is not an interrogative one in the Hebrew. Jeremiah knew too well from his experience of the king's recent conduct that he could not be depended upon to carry out even those commands which he might believe to come from God. That Zedekiah was simply swayed by the person in whose presence he happened to be at the moment and had no fixity of purpose or resolution is well illustrated by his words in the next verse, when compared with those he had addressed to the princes a short time before (ver. 5).
16. that made us this soul] an unusual form of oath. The soul or life being God's creation is also in His power to take away, if the speaker should prove false to this his promise.
17. go forth] surrender thyself.
the king of Babylon's princes] an intimation that Nebuchadnezzar was not himself at this time in command of the besieging forces. While the tedious blockade continued, he had no doubt taken up his position at Riblah, where we find him somewhat later (xxxix. 5).
19. / am afraid of the Jews that are fallen to the Chaldeans] See note on ver. 4. These, the king fears, would be severe upon him for not doing himself as they had done at an earlier period, and so sparing the city the miseries of a siege.
the women that are left in the king of Judah's house shall be brought forth to the king of Babylon's princes, and those women shall say, Thy friends have set thee on, and have prevailed against thee: thy feet are sunk in the mire, and they are turned away back. So they shall bring out all thy 23 wives and thy children to the Chaldeans: and thou shalt not escape out of their hand, but shalt be taken by the hand of the king of Babylon: and thou shalt cause this city to be burnt with fire.
24—28. Result of the conference. Then said Zedekiah unto Jeremiah, Let no man know of n these words, and thou shalt not die. But if the princes hear =5 that I have talked with thee, and they come unto thee, and say unto thee: Declare unto us now what thou hast said unto the king, hide it not from us, and we will not put thee to death; also what the king said unto thee: then thou shalt say 26
22. all the women that are left] the women of the harem generally, concubines and their attendants. If Zedekiah prove obstinate, these also shall join in the reproaches that shall be heaped upon him.
Thy friends have set thee on, and have prevailed against thee] This is so like a part of Obad. 7 that either it is adapted from that passage, or both are due to the same original, in the shape perhaps of an ordinary proverb.
friends] The same expression in the Heb. is rendered "familiars" in chap. xx. 10, where see note.
have set thee on] The Heb. in the Obadiah passage is somewhat similar in sound, but there means "deceived." The sense however here comes nearly to this. Thy friends have persuaded thee against thy better judgment, and as soon as thou hast through following their advice become involved in difficulties, they turn back and leave thee.
23. So they] And they, etc. Not only shalt thou be mocked, but those whom thou holdest most dear shall be placed in the enemy's hands.
thou shalt cause this city to be burnt] literally, thou shalt bum this city. Zedekiah through his obstinacy shall be as much the cause, as if he had set fire to Jerusalem with his own hands.
24—28. Result Of The Conference.
24. Let no man know] Zedekiah's feebleness is again conspicuous in this and the two following verses.
26. then thou shalt say unto them] Jeremiah is to mention but one of the subjects of his conversation with the king. This he was quite justified in doing, as the princes had no right to insist on hearing the whole purport of the conversation or even a part of it.