Jeremiah 37:13
And when he was in the gate of Benjamin, a captain of the ward was there, whose name was Irijah, the son of Shelemiah, the son of Hananiah; and he took Jeremiah the prophet, saying, You fall away to the Chaldeans.
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(13) And when he was in the gate of Benjamin . . .—The prophet’s fears were not groundless. He had to leave the city by the entrance known as the gate of Benjamin (Jeremiah 38:7), on the north side (Zechariah 14:10). The officer in command, Irijah, the son of Shelemiah (probably, therefore, the brother of Jehucal, who is named in Jeremiah 37:3, and so probably acquainted with Jeremiah’s last prophetic utterance), charged him with treachery. He was “falling away to the Chaldæans.” It was assumed that, though the Chaldæans had gone, the prophet was about to make his way to their encampment to incite them to return, and so work out the fulfilment of his own prediction. The very phrase “thou fallest away” may have been an allusive reference to Jeremiah’s own words in Jeremiah 21:9, if, with the best critics, we refer those words to an earlier date than the raising of the siege.

Jeremiah 37:13-14. When he was in the gate of Benjamin — The gate leading toward the country of Benjamin; Irijah, the son of Hananiah — Probably of that Hananiah whose death Jeremiah had foretold, Jeremiah 28:17; took Jeremiah the prophet — Apprehended him as one who was about to desert the city, and fall off to the Chaldeans; the ground of which accusation was the prophet’s having foretold that the Chaldeans should take the city, and exhorted the Jews to submit to them. Then said Jeremiah, It is false — Though, as the Lord’s prophet, he had faithfully revealed his will, and foretold the calamity that was about to come upon the nation, by means of the Chaldeans, this did not prove that he took their part, for at the same time he gave advice both to the king and people how they might, in some measure at least, escape the judgments he had denounced against them; nor had he now any design to flee to the Chaldeans; so far from it, that, when the city was taken, and the captain of the guard gave him his choice, either to go along with him to Babylon, or to go back to Gedaliah, whom the king of Babylon had left as deputy governor in Judea, he chose rather to go and live under Gedaliah’s government in a poor condition, than to enjoy protection and plenty in an idolatrous country. But he hearkened not unto him — The captain of the ward would not believe him, but carried him before the princes.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.A captain of the ward - Captain of the watch, whose business was to examine all who went in and out.

The gate of Benjamin - The northern gate, also called the gate of Ephraim.

Thou fallest away ... - His well-known views made Jeremiah a suspected person, though the charge was groundless.

13. ward—that is, the "guard," or "watch."

Hananiah—whose death Jeremiah predicted (Jer 28:16). The grandson in revenge takes Jeremiah into custody on the charge of deserting ("thou fallest away," Jer 38:19; 52:15; 1Sa 29:3) to the enemy. His prophecies gave color to the charge (Jer 21:9; 38:4).

The gate of Benjamin was some gate that looked toward the inheritance of that tribe, or where those used to go out who went that way; we read of it Jeremiah 38:7. Irijah was a captain of the guard that was set to watch at the gates, to keep people from going out, or at least some persons; for it should seem by Jeremiah’s endeavour to go out in the crowd, they suffered many to go out, as is usual in sieges, when victuals grow scarce; and though the Chaldeans were at present gone, yet they were not out of fear of their coming back. This captain apprehends Jeremiah, as one who was about to desert the city, and fall off to the Chaldeans. That Hananiah the grandfather of this Irijah was the false prophet we read of Jeremiah 28, who died according to Jeremiah’s prophecy, and this his grandchild apprehended Jeremiah in some revenge of his grandfather, is but uncertainly guessed. But Jeremiah’s so frequent prophesying that the Chaldeans should take the city exposed him to this suspicion probably. And when he was in the gate of Benjamin,.... One of the gates of the city so called, either because it stood in the tribe of Benjamin, as part of Jerusalem did; or because it led to the land of Benjamin, whither the prophet was going: and just as he had got to that gate, and was going through it, he was stopped by

a captain of the ward there; who was placed at this gate, that none should go out to the Chaldeans, according to Kimchi; but rather he was the keeper of the gate, not at this time only, but always; Josephus (i) calls him one of the rulers:

whose name was Irijah, the son of Shelemiah, the son of Hananiah: the grandson as some think, of that Hananiah the false prophet, of whose death Jeremiah the prophet prophesied, Jeremiah 28:16; and the Jews have a tradition that Hananiah ordered his son Shelemiah, that if he ever had an opportunity to bring Jeremiah to ruin, to do it; and the same charge Shelemiah gave to his son Irijah, who, having this opportunity, laid hold on him; Jarchi, Kimchi, and Abarbinel, make mention of it:

and he took Jeremiah the prophet, saying, thou fallest away to the Chaldeans; it looks as if, though he might not have a family grudge against him, as the Jews suggest, yet had a hatred of him for his prophecies, and therefore fixes this calumny on him; for otherwise, why did he suffer the people to pass in great numbers without any such charge?

(i) Antiqu. l. 10. c. 7. sect. 3.

And when he was in the {g} gate of Benjamin, a captain of the guard was there, whose name was Irijah, the son of Shelemiah, the son of Hananiah; and he took Jeremiah the prophet, saying, Thou fallest away to the Chaldeans.

(g) By which men went into the country of Benjamin.

13. the gate of Benjamin] in the N. wall of the city, mentioned also Jeremiah 38:7; Zechariah 14:10.

a captain of the ward] lit. a master of the watch, a sentinel, charged with the duty of taking cognisance of those who passed the gate.

Thou fallest away] The views which Jeremiah was known to hold as to the propriety of yielding to the Chaldaeans (e.g. ch. Jeremiah 21:9) would give plausibility to the charge, and of this the princes in their hostility to the policy he advocated would gladly avail themselves to put him under arrest. Evidently there had been a considerable number of such departures (Jeremiah 38:19; cp. Jeremiah 52:15); but there was no real inconsistency between Jeremiah’s counselling others to withdraw, and his conviction that it was his personal duty to remain in the doomed city.Verse 13. - The gate of Benjamin; i.e. the gate looking northwards towards Benjamin (comp. Jeremiah 20:2; Jeremiah 38:7; Zechariah 14:10). It appears to be the same as the gate of Ephraim (2 Kings 14:13; Nehemiah 8:16). Thou fallest away, etc. Perhaps an allusion to Jeremiah's declaration (Jeremiah 21:9) that "he that falleth away to the Chaldeans... he shall live," Then came the word of the Lord to this effect: Jeremiah 37:7. "Thus saith Jahveh, the God of Israel: Thus shall ye say to the king of Judah who hath sent you to me to ask at me, Behold, the army of Pharaoh, which marched out to your help, will return to Egypt, their own land. Jeremiah 37:8. And the Chaldeans shall return and fight against this city, and take it, and burn it with fire. Jeremiah 37:9. Thus saith Jahveh: Do not deceive yourselves by thinking, The Chaldeans will quite withdraw from us; for they will not withdraw. Jeremiah 37:10. For, even though he had beaten the whole army of the Chaldeans who are fighting with you, and there remained of them only some who had been pierced through and through, yet they would rise up, every man in his tent, and burn this city with fire." In order to cut off every hope, the prophet announces that the Egyptians will bring no help, but withdraw to their own land before the Chaldeans who went out to meet them, without having accomplished their object; but then the Chaldeans will return, continue the siege, take the city and burn it. To assure them of this, he adds: "Ye must not deceive yourselves with the vain hope that the Chaldeans may possibly be defeated and driven back by the Egyptians. The destruction of Jerusalem is so certain that, even supposing you were actually to defeat and repulse the Chaldeans, and only some few grievously wounded ones remained in the tents, these would rise up and burn the city." In הלוך ילכוּ the inf. abs. is to be observed, as strengthening the idea contained in the verb: "to depart wholly or completely;" הלך is here to "depart, withdraw." אנשׁים in contrast with חיל are separate individuals. מדקּר, pierced through by sword or lance, i.e., grievously, mortally wounded.
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