Jeremiah 38

CHAPTER XXXVIII

The princes of Judah, taking offense at Jeremiah on account of

his predicting the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple by

the Chaldeans, cause him to be cast into a deep and miry

dungeon, 1-6.

Ebed-melech, an Ethiopian, gets the king's permission to take

him out, 7-13.

Jeremiah advises the king, who consulted him privately, to

surrender to the Chaldeans, 14-23.

The king promises the prophet that he will not put him to

death, and requires him not to reveal what had passed to the

princes; to whom he accordingly gives an evasive answer,

telling them only so much of the conference as related to his

request for his life, 24-28.

NOTES ON CHAP. XXXVIII

Verse 1. Then Shephatiah] This was the faction-what Dahler

terms the Antitheocratic faction-who were enemies to Jeremiah, and

sought his life.

Verse 3. This city shall surely be given] This was a testimony

that be constantly bore: he had the authority of God for it. He

knew it was true, and he never wavered nor equivocated.

Verse 4. Let this man be put to death] And they gave their

reasons plain enough: but the proof was wanting.

Verse 5. He is in your hand] Ye have power to do as you please;

I must act by your counsel. Poor weak prince! you respect the

prophet, you fear the cabal, and you sacrifice an innocent man to

your own weakness and their malice!

Verse 6. So Jeremiah sunk in the mire.] Their obvious design

was, that he might be stifled in that place.

Verse 7. Ebed-melech] The servant of the king, one of the

eunuchs who belonged to the palace. Perhaps it should be read,

"Now, a servant of the king, a Cushite, one of the eunuchs," &c.

The king then sitting in the gate of Benjamin] To give audience,

and to administer justice. We have often seen that the gates of

cities were the places of public judicature.

Verse 9. My lord the king, these men have done evil] He must

have been much in the king's confidence, and a humane and noble

spirited man, thus to have raised his voice against the powerful

cabal already mentioned.

There is no more bread in the city.] They had defended it to the

last extremity; and it appears that bread had been afforded to the

prophet according to the king's commandment, as long as there was

any remaining. See Jer 37:21.

Verse 10. Take from hence thirty men] The king was determined

that he should be rescued by force, if the princes opposed.

Verse 11. Went into the house of the king-and took thence] The

eastern kings had their wardrobes always well furnished; as

garments were a usual present to ambassadors, &c. I cannot think

that, in the proper acceptation of the words, these were in any

part of the king's house.

Old cast clouts, and old rotten rags] The fact seems to be this:

there were several garments that had been used, and would not be

used again; and there were others which, through continuing long

there, had by insects, &c., been rendered useless. These he took,

tied to the cord, let down to the prophet, that he might roll them

round the ropes, and place them under his arm-pits, so that in

being hauled up he might not suffer injury from the ropes, which

in this case must sustain the whole weight of his body.

Verse 14. Into the third entry] A place to enter which two

others must be passed through.

Verse 16. As the Lord liveth, that made us this soul] He is the

living God, and he is the Author of that life which each of us

possesses; and as sure as he lives, and we live by him, I will not

put thee to death, nor give thee into the hands of those men who

seek thy life. A very solemn oath; and the first instance on

record of the profane custom of swearing by the soul.

Verse 17. Wilt assuredly go] On the king's obedience to the

advice of the prophet the safety of the city depended.

Unto the king of Babylon's princes] The generals of the army

then returning to the siege from the defeat of the Egyptians; for

Nebuchadnezzar himself was then at Riblah, in Syria, Jer 39:5, 6.

Verse 19. They mock me.] Insult me, and exhibit me in triumph.

Verse 22. All the women-brought forth] I think this place speaks

of a kind of defection among the women of the harem; many of whom

had already gone forth privately to the principal officers of the

Chaldean army, and made the report mentioned in the end of this

verse. These were the concubines or women of the second rank.

Verse 23. They shall bring out all thy wives and thy children]

These were the women of the first rank, by whom the king had

children. These had no temptation to go out to the Chaldeans, nor

would they have been made welcome; but the others being young, and

without children, would be well received by the Chaldean princes.

Verse 26. I presented my supplication] This was telling the

truth, and nothing but the truth, but not the whole truth. The

king did not wish him to defile his conscience, nor did he propose

any thing that was not consistent with the truth.

Verse 27. The matter was not perceived.] They did not question

him farther; and the king's commandment to remove him from the

house of Jonathan being well known, they took for granted that

they had all the information that they sought. And he was most

certainly not obliged to relate any thing that might embroil this

weak king with his factious but powerful princes, or affect his

own life. He related simply what was necessary, and no more.

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