Jeremiah 36:17
And they asked Baruch, saying, Tell us now, How did you write all these words at his mouth?
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(17-19) Tell us now, How didst thou write . . .?—The question was clearly put as a judicial interrogatory. The princes were anxious to ascertain how far each of the parties concerned was responsible. Had Baruch exercised any discretion in writing so that the words were his, though the substance was Jeremiah’s? or had he, on his own responsibility, and without the prophet’s will, published what had been written privately? or had every syllable as it was read come from the prophet’s lips? The scribe’s answer showed that the last hypothesis answered to the facts of the case. On hearing this they, obviously with a friendly regard, advise him and the prophet to hide themselves till they should see what effect the report would have on the king’s mind. It would appear from Jeremiah 36:19 that Jeremiah, though “shut up” and unable to go into the house of the Lord (Jeremiah 36:5), was not actually so imprisoned as to hinder him from concealing himself. Either, therefore, we must assume that he was in a “libera custodia,” that gave him facilities for an escape, which the princes connived at, or that by “shut up” he meant only hindered by some cause or other. The latter seems the more probable hypothesis. In the concealment of the prophet we find a parallel to that of Elijah and the other prophets under Ahab (1Kings 17:3; 1Kings 18:4), of Polycarp (Mart. Polyc. c. 5), perhaps also of Luther in the Wartburg.

36:9-19 Shows of piety and devotion may be found even among those, who, though they keep up forms of godliness, are strangers and enemies to the power of it. The princes patiently attended the reading of the whole book. They were in great fear. But even those who are convinced to the truth and importance of what they hear, and are disposed to favour those who preach it, often have difficulties and reserves about their safety, interest, or preferment, so that they do not act according to their convictions, and try to get rid of what they find troublesome.The scroll might have been drawn up by Baruch from memoranda of his own without the prophet's direct authority. The princes therefore did not ask from curiosity, but to obtain necessary information. 17. What they wished to know was, whether what Baruch had read to them was written by him from memory after hearing Jeremiah repeating his prophecies continuously, or accurately from the prophet's own dictation. This now seemed but a reasonable question, considering they were the substance of what he had been prophesying for so many years. The thing seemed strange to the princes, prophets being not used to study and pen their discourses, but to speak them extempore. And they asked Baruch,.... The following question, which may seem at first sight an odd, needless, and trifling one, as some have called it:

saying, tell us now, how didst thou write all these words at his mouth? this question does not regard the manner of writing them, whether with ink or not, for that they could see with their eyes, and yet Baruch's answer seems to have respect to this, as if he so understood them; nor barely the matter of them, as whether it was the substance of what was contained in the roll that Jeremiah dictated, and that only, leaving it to Baruch to use what words he would, or whether the express words were dictated by him; but rather it seems to have regard to the possibility of doing it: by the question it appears, that Baruch had told the princes that the prophet had dictated all these things to him, and he had taken them down in writing from his mouth; now they wanted more satisfaction about the truth of this matter. It was a difficulty with them how it was possible for Jeremiah to recollect so many different discourses and prophecies, delivered at different times, and some many years ago, and so readily dictate them to Baruch, as fast as he could write them; wherefore they desire he would tell them plainly and faithfully the truth of the matter, how it was, that so they might, if they could, affirm it with certainty to the king; since, if this was really fact which he had related, these prophecies originally, and the fresh dictating of them, must be from the Spirit of God, and would certainly have their accomplishment.

And they asked Baruch, saying, Tell us now, How didst thou write all these words at his mouth?
17. How didst thou write] They desired to know how far the words might be Baruch’s own, so as to be able to state to the king to what extent, if any, the prophet’s amanuensis was responsible.

at his mouth] omit with LXX, as a gloss spoiling the sense here, and introduced from Jeremiah 36:17.Verse 17. - How didst thou write all these words at his mouth! Two questions seem to be combined here - "How didst thou write all these words?" and "Didst thou write it all at his mouth?" Baruch's answer is good for both. Micaiah, a son of Gemariah, was also listening to the reading; and he it was who brought the news into the palace. He made of the room, i.e., the office, of Elishama, the secretary of state, where the princes, viz., Elishama, Delaiah the son of Shemaiah, Elnathan the son of Achbor (cf. Jeremiah 26:22), Gemariah the son of Shaphan, and Zedekiah the son of Hananiah, had just met for a consultation; and he mentioned to them what he had heard.
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