|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
37:11-21 There are times when it is the wisdom of good men to retire, to enter into their chambers, and to shut the doors, Isa 26:20. Jeremiah was seized as a deserter, and committed to prison. But it is no new thing for the best friends of the church to be belied, as in the interests of her worst enemies. When thus falsely accused, we may deny the charge, and commit our cause to Him who judges righteously. Jeremiah obtained mercy of the Lord to be faithful, and would not, to obtain mercy of man, be unfaithful to God or to his prince; he tells the king the whole truth. When Jeremiah delivered God's message, he spake with boldness; but when he made his own request, he spake submissively. A lion in God's cause must be a lamb in his own. And God gave Jeremiah favour in the eyes of the king. The Lord God can make even the cells of a prison become pastures to his people, and will raise up friends to provide for them, so that in the days of famine they shall be satisfied.
Verse 12. - As soon as communication with the outside world was possible, Jeremiah took the opportunity of going to his native country, to obtain something or other which he could only obtain "thence." The Authorized Version says that his object was to separate himself thence. But
(1) the rendering is linguistically untenable; and
(2) the assumed object is incongruous with the circumstances and Character of Jeremiah, who was neither inclined to seek safety in isolation nor had any motive at present for doing so. The only safe rendering is, to claim his share thence. Whether there was just then a reallotment of communal lands must be left undecided; this would, however, be the most plausible hypothesis, if we could be sure that the present was a sabbatical year. The additional words, in the midst of the people, would then acquire a special significance. The "people" would be the representatives of families who had an equal right to allotments with Jeremiah.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
Then Jeremiah went forth out of Jerusalem,.... At least he attempted to do so, taking the opportunity of the siege of the city being broke up: what were his reasons for it are not certain; whether that he might not be put into prison, which he might fear for what he had just prophesied of concerning the return of the Chaldean army, that should take the city, and burn it; or to save himself from the destruction which he was sure would come upon it; or because he found he could do no good by his preaching and prophesying in it: however his view was
to go into the land of Benjamin; his native country, the tribe he belonged to; and very likely to Anathoth in that tribe, where he was born, and had lived. Josephus (e) is express for it, which he says was twenty furlongs from Jerusalem:
to separate himself thence in the midst of the people: or, "to slip away thence in the midst of the people" (f); the siege being raised, the people that had fled to Jerusalem for safety crowded out again to go into their own countries, which the prophet thought to take the advantage of, and slip away in a crowd unobserved; though the words may be rendered, "to take part from thence in the midst of the people" (g); either to take part of the spoil left there by the Chaldean army; or with the priests there, of what belonged to them, of whose number he was, Jeremiah 1:1. The Targum is,
"to divide an inheritance which he had there in the midst of the people;''
and to the same sense are the Vulgate Latin and Syriac versions (h).
(e) Antiqu. l. 10. c. 7. sect. 3.((f) "ad lubrificandum seipsum", Montanus; "ad delabendum", Junius & Tremellius; "elabendo", Piscator; "ut subduecret se", Grotius. (g) "Ut partem acciperet ibi in medio populi", Schmidt. (h) Vid. Gloss. in T. Bab. Sota, fol. 42. 1. & Pesikta apud Yalkut in loc.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
12. Benjamin—to his own town, Anathoth.
to separate himself—Margin translates, "to slip away," from a Hebrew root, "to be smooth," so, to slip away as a slippery thing that cannot be held. But it is not likely the prophet of God would flee in a dishonorable way; and "in the midst of the people" rather implies open departure along with others, than clandestine slipping away by mixing with the crowd of departing people. Rather, it means, to separate himself, or to divide his place of residence, so as to live partly here, partly there, without fixed habitation, going to and fro among the people [Ludovicus De Dieu]. Maurer translates, "to take his portion thence," to realize the produce of his property in Anathoth [Henderson], or to take possession of the land which he bought from Hanameel [Maurer].
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