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Jer 39:1-18. JERUSALEM TAKEN. ZEDEKIAH'S FATE. JEREMIAH CARED FOR. EBED-MELECH ASSURED.
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 (Jer 52:4; 2Ki 25:1-4). From Jer 39:2, "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; compare Jer 38:17).
3. sat--expressing military occupation or encampment.
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
5. Riblah--north of Palestine (see
Hamath is identified by commentators with Antioch, in Syria, on the
Orontes, called Epiphania, from Antiochus Epiphanes.
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."
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 Jer 39:2). 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.
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 deserters (Jer 39:9; Jer 38:19), also through the Jews carried to Babylon with Jeconiah (compare Jer 40:2). 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 (Jer 40:1).
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
15-18. Belonging to the time when the city was not yet taken, and when Jeremiah was still in the court of the prison (Jer 38:13). This passage is inserted here because it was now that Ebed-melech's good act (Jer 38:7-12; Mt 25:43) was to be rewarded in his deliverance.
16. Go--not literally, for he was in confinement, but figuratively.
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