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Jer 38:1-28. JEREMIAH PREDICTS THE CAPTURE OF JERUSALEM, FOR WHICH HE IS CAST INTO A DUNGEON, BUT IS TRANSFERRED TO THE PRISON COURT ON THE INTERCESSION OF EBED-MELECH, AND HAS A SECRET INTERVIEW WITH ZEDEKIAH.
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.
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 Jer 26:11).
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 [JEROME].
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.
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 converts (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 Jer 37:21). 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 (Jer 37:21); 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
11. cast clouts--"torn clothes" [HENDERSON].
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; 2Ch 9:11) [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 Jer 38:16. Rather translate, "Thou wilt not hearken to me." Jeremiah judges so from the past conduct of the king. Compare Jer 38:17 with Jer 38:19.
17. princes-- (Jer 39:3). He does not say "to the king himself," for he was at Riblah, in Hamath (Jer 39:5; 2Ki 25:6). "If thou go forth" (namely, to surrender; 2Ki 24:12; Isa 36:16), God foreknows future conditional contingencies, and ordains not only the end, but also the means to the end.
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!
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