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Jeremiah's Fortunes During The Siege, Chs. Xxxvil-xxxix.
I. His Imprisonment, Ch. Xxxvil
XXXVII. 1. And Zedekiah, the son of Josiah, became king instead of Coniah, the sou of Jehoiakim, whom Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, made king in the land of Judah. 2. But he, like his servants and the people of the land, hearkened not to the words of Yahveh, which he spake by Jeremiah the prophet. 3. And king Zedekiah sent Jehucal son of Shelemiah, and Zephaniah son of Maaseiah the priest, to Jeremiah the prophet, to say: Pray now for us to Yahveh, our God. 4. And Jeremiah still went in and out among the people, and they had not yet put him into the house of confinement. 5. And the army of Pharaoh had marched forth from Egypt; and the Chaldaeans, who were besieging
Ver. 1. Coniah, see on xxii. 24. Nebuchadnezzar, see on xxi. 2. Zedekiah was invested by Nebuchadnezzar with the royal dignity, 2 Kings xxiv. 17. Ver. 2 gives the state of constant disobedience as the reason why the prophet's reply to the king's earnest question must be unfavourable. T3, properly, by the hand, the mediating organ, often in the case of prophetic mediation; cf. l. 1. Ver. 3. Jehucal, mentioned among the princes, xxxviii. 1; cf. ver. 4. Zephaniah, see on xxi. 1, head of the priesthood. As in the former case, xxi. 2, the deputation was an influential one. Pray now for us, i.e. for a favourable answer; cf. ver. 7," to inquire of me." Ver. 4. Descriptive sentence. In contrast with the following period Jeremiah was then free. That he no longer needed to conceal himself, is here assumed as self - evident. This was the case under Jehoiakim.—as in lii. 3 (for which Keri both times has K^>a)= vbji, ver. 15. Ver. 5. The Pharaoh is Hophrah (see on Jerusalem, had heard news of this and withdrew from Jerusalem. 6. Then Yahveh's word came to the prophet Jeremiah as follows: 7. Thus says Yahveh, the God of Israel: Thus shall you say to the king of Judah, who sent you to me to inquire of me: Behold, the army of Pharaoh, which marched forth to your help, turns again to Egypt its own land; 8. and the Chaldaeans shall return and fight against this city, and take it and burn it with fire. 9. Thus says Yahveh: Deceive not your souls, saying: The Chaldaeans shall really depart from us; for they shall not depart. 10. For although you smote the whole army of the Chaldaeans, who fight with you, and only wounded men were left among them, they shall arise, every one in his tent, and consume this city with fire.
11. And it came to pass, when the army of the Chaldasans had withdrawn from Jerusalem, because of the army of Pharaoh, 12. Jeremiah went forth from Jerusalem to go to the land of Benjamin to take up a portion among (his) kindred. 13. And he came to the Benjamin-gate; but there was there a commander of the watch called Irijah, son of
xliv. 30), called Uah-ab-ra on the monuments, the fourth ruler of the twenty-sixth dynasty. He advanced across the Egyptian boundary towards the north. On hearing the news of his march (properly, they heard their news), the besiegers quickly abandoned their work and made head against this more powerful foe. Nothing further is said about the encounter; yet, according to ver. 7, the Egyptians seem to have evaded it. Cf. Ezek. xvii. 15, 17, according to which Zedekiah had asked them for help. r6y, Niphal, to withdraw, as in ver. 11. Ver. 9. Deceive not your souls = yourselves, by thinking: they will really depart. The Chaldaeans were still in the neighbourhood, and their departure was not a final one. Ver. 10. Though only wounded men, i.e. individuals, and these wounded (properly, a stronger word: pierced through, li. 4), remained of the whole hostile army, yet these, each one by himself, of his own instinct, would rise out of their tents to execute the divine judgment on the city. Ver. 12. \hfb, Hiphil, the n having fallen out by a common syncope (xxvii. 20), to divide, to take up a portion, inheritance, is to be understood according to the ancient expositions, which DCO suits, of sharing an inheritance. It is a technical term not occurring elsewhere.— Dyn "pm, to be explained according to 2 Kings iv. 13: in the midst of kindred, see on xvii. 19. Ver. 13. nnpB b]>2 here Shelemiah the son of Hananiah, and he seized Jeremiah, saying: Thou intendest to fall away to the Chaldaeans. 14. Then said Jeremiah: "Falsehood! I do not intend to fall away to the Chaldaeans." But he hearkened not to him, and Irijah seized Jeremiah and led him to the princes. 15. Then the princes were wroth with Jeremiah, and smote him, and put him into prison in the house of the scribe Jonathan, for they had made it a prison. 16. So Jeremiah came into confinement and into the cells; and Jeremiah remained there many days.
17. Then king Zedekiah sent for him, and the king questioned him secretly in his house, and said: Is there any message from Yahveh 1 Then said Jeremiah: Yes. And he said: Thou shalt be delivered into the hand of the king of Babylon. 18. Then said Jeremiah to king Zedekiah: What offence have I done thee, and thy servants, and this people, that you have put me into prison? 19. And where now are your prophets, who prophesied to you the words: "The king of Babylon will not come on you and on this land "?
20. And now hearken, I pray thee, my lord and king, let my supplication fall before thy face, that thou bring me not back into the house of Jonathan the scribe, lest I die there.
21. Then king Zedekiah gave command, and they confined Jeremiah in the court of the guard, and brought him daily a
only; properly, holder of the watch.—ijS3, see on xxi. 9. Ver. 15. The princes friendly to Jeremiah, who took his part under Jehoiakim (chs. xxvi., xxxvi.), were no longer present; •without doubt they had been carried into captivity with Jehoiachin (Graf;. Those now in office were worse than the king himself. Ver. 15. The scribe's house had been converted into a prison, because it was perhaps specially suited thereto, having underground cells; and in a time of siege such places were needed in order to restrain obstinate or suspicious individuals. Ver. 16. Instead of K3 '3 read as conversely in Isa. xxxix. 1 yDC '3 is to be read instead of yrxr\, after 2 Kings xx. 12 (Hitzig, Ewald, Graf); LXX the same.—DV3n, after analogy of Syriac and Arabic, from a singular iron, cell. Ver. 19. Instead of i'K (properly with suffix = where is it ?), Keri puts the more simple n»K. Ver. 20. i>EJ3, see on xxxvi. 7. Ver. 21. \m\ infin. abs, in the case of a daily-repeated action. This provision loaf of bread from the bakers' street, until all the bread was consumed from the city. So Jeremiah remained in the court of the guard.
was, of course, implied in the king's order. A loaf of bread for the day. In Syria still the bread is baked in thin, round, plateshaped loaves, Herzog, ii. 54. The portion given the prisoner was scanty, but still an improvement in the circumstances. Of course it only lasted as long as bread was to be got in the city, which at last was not the case (xxxviii. 9, Hi. 6). The passage shows that there was a bakers' street, a bakers' bazaar, in Jerusalem.
The section chs. xxxvii.-xxxix., recounting the fortunes of the prophet during the siege of Jerusalem under Zedekiah, belongs to the more historical part added as a sort of appendix to Jeremiah's book. Ch. xxxvii. first relates his imprisonment, falling within the pause in the siege caused by the advance of the Egyptian army. a. In this intermediate period, vv. 1-10 give an oracle of the prophet imparted to the king in answer to his inquiry; b. Close on this followed the arrest of Jeremiah by a military officer, vv. 11-16; c. Later, when the Chaldreans had again approached, an interview with the king took place, which led to Jeremiah's transference to the " court of the guard," vv. 17-21.
King Zedekiah sent (xxxvii. 3) a similar embassy aa at the beginning of the siege (xxi. 1 ff.) to the prophet while he was yet at liberty. It was the time when the approach of an Egyptian army gave the anxious Jerusalemites a breathing space, causing the Chaldasans hastily to break up the siege and hasten to meet this more dangerous foe. Was this not obvious assistance from the Lord? So, without doubt, it was explained by the popular prophets, who saw in it a glorious confirmation of their optimistic oracles (cf. ver. 19). The king, too, cherished the hope that even the gloomy Jeremiah would not this time give one of his comfortless answers. He sent some of the most influential men to him and appealed to his priestly heart, longing for prophetic information (ver. 3). Bat the inexorable, iron prophet, neither to be terrified by threats nor softened by entreaty, again shattered all hope by the oracle that the Egyptians (defeated or discouraged) would return home and the foe come back. It was not political sagacity, but prophetic insight into the inner causes (ver. 2) necessitating the coming judgment (ver. 10), which again made him a prophet of evil. Nor was it moral reflection, but the gift of the real seer, which told him that now and in no other form than the threatened one (conquest by the Chaldaeans) judgment would come on the city (vv. 8-10).
At this time, when free movement was again possible to the inhabitants of the city, Jeremiah desired one day to go to Anathoth, his native town, to arrange his affairs at home, probably to divide an inheritance that had accrued during the siege, when he found himself stopped at the Benjamin-gate, which led in that direction. Despite protestations of innocence, he was arrested by the commander to whom the keeping of the gate was entrusted. The real ground was plainly the bitter hatred cherished by the leaders of the nation, especially the military ones, against the man who was constantly counselling surrender and discouraging many (cf. xxxviii. 1 ff.).
In the harsh confinement imposed on him, where he had to pine long with hunger, the prophet would have perished miserably unless there had arisen again in King Zedekiah a longing to hear his words whose truth had been recently impressed on him by the return of the dreaded invaders. The weak prince arranged a secret interview with the prophet in his palace, in order once more to hear from his lips in bare words the fate of the city. But the prophet, unbending in executing the divine command while not insensible to the illxisage he suffered, used the occasion to remind the king that he was only suffering for the truth's sake, as would be seen at last, and begged for more humane treatment. This request was granted him. He received a more tolerable abode in the