Then Zedekiah the king sent, and took him out: and the king asked him secretly in his house, and said, Is there any word from the LORD? And Jeremiah said, There is: for, said he, you shall be delivered into the hand of the king of Babylon.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Then Zedekiah the king sent, and took him out . . .—The king seems to have been at once better than his counsellors, and afraid of them. He regrets the severity of the prophet’s treatment, and hopes that there may yet be “a word of the Lord” less harsh than before, and with this view summons him to his palace, as before he had sent asking for his intercession. The prophet is, however, true to his calling, and not even the hope of gaining protection against his persecutors will lead him to change one jot or tittle of his message. He answers with a stern abruptness, and adds the new prediction, that the king himself shall be taken prisoner,—what is now reported being earlier than Jeremiah 32:4-5.Jeremiah 37:17. Then Zedekiah the king sent and took him out — When the vain hopes with which they had fed themselves, and on the ground of which they had re-enslaved their servants, were all vanished away, then they were in a greater consternation than ever: and then the king sent, in all haste, for the prophet, to see if he could give him any hope of their deliverance. When the Chaldeans were withdrawn, he only sent to desire the prophet to pray for him, but now, the city being again invested, he sent for him to consult him: thus gracious will men be when pangs come upon them! He asked him secretly in his house — Being ashamed to be seen in his company: Is there any word from the Lord? — That is, Hath God revealed any thing to thee concerning what will be the issue of the return of the Chaldean army to the siege of the city? Canst thou give us any hopes that they will again retire? What need had Zedekiah to make this inquiry, when God, by this prophet, had so often revealed his will to him in this matter? Observe, reader, those that will not hearken to God’s admonitions when they are in prosperity, would be glad of his consolations when they are in adversity; and expect that his ministers should then speak words of peace to them. But how can they expect it? what have they to do with peace? Jeremiah said, There is, for thou shalt be delivered into the hand of the king of Babylon — Here we have an instance of that freedom and firmness of mind which belong to them who truly live in the fear of God, and put their trust in him. Jeremiah’s life and comfort are in Zedekiah’s hands, and he has now an important petition to present to him; and yet, having this opportunity, he tells him plainly that there is a word from the Lord, but no word of comfort to him, or his people; but that destruction awaits them: see the difference between his spirit and that of Zedekiah. Though a king, Zedekiah dares not run the risk of offending his courtiers, who were his subjects and servants, while the prophet dares denounce the king’s ruin to himself not knowing but such integrity might cost him his life. If he had consulted with flesh and blood, he would have given the king a plausible answer, and not have told him the worst at this time, especially as he had so often told it him before. But Jeremiah was one that had obtained mercy of the Lord to be faithful, and would not, to obtain mercy of man, be unfaithful either to God, or to his prince, or to his people; he therefore tells him the truth, and the whole truth, which to know would be a kindness to the king, in order that, being forewarned of the approaching calamity, he might be the better prepared for it.
thou shalt be delivered—Had Jeremiah consulted his earthly interests, he would have answered very differently. Contrast Jer 6:14; Isa 30:10; Eze 13:10.Is there any word from the Lord? that is, Hath God revealed any thing to thee, concerning what will be the issue of the return of the Chaldean army to the siege of the city? What needed Zedekiah to have asked this, to whom God by this prophet had so often revealed his will in this case? Wicked men are always more curious to know, than careful to believe, observe, and obey the will of God. But God seldom or never speaketh good unto them: Jeremiah tells him there was, but it was a sad word, viz. that God would certainly deliver him into the hand or power of the king of Babylon.
and the king asked him secretly in his house; he took him into some private apartment, and there alone conferred with him, for fear of his princes and courtiers; who he knew bore no good will to the prophet, and would be ready to charge him with timidity;
and said unto him,
is there any word from the Lord? he means any particular word of prophecy, any late one, and what concerned their present circumstances, showing what would be the issue of the return of the Chaldean army; for prophecy did not come at all times, nor even according to the will of man, but always according to the will of God, and when he thought fit; this the king knew very well, and he wanted a comfortable word, some good news of the failure of the present attempt:
and Jeremiah said, there is; but not such an one as he wanted; it was of the same strain with the former, and confirmed all that the prophet had from time to time told him and his predecessor what would certainly be the case:
for, said he, thou shall be delivered into the hand of the king of Babylon; which was boldly and faithfully said, to be said to the face of the king himself, risking his life in so doing; or, at least, exposing himself to severer treatment, if severer could be used.Then Zedekiah the king sent, and took him out: and the king asked him secretly in his house, and said, Is there any word from the LORD? And Jeremiah said, There is: for, said he, thou shalt be delivered into the hand of the king of Babylon.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)17. asked him secretly] This shews us that the prophet was as unpopular as ever. It also points to Zedekiah’s moral weakness, as dreading the interference of the princes in the matter. Cp. Jeremiah 38:5; Jeremiah 38:24 ff.Verse 17. - Meantime the Chaldean army has returned, and reinvested the city. Zedekiah, in his anxiety, sends for Jeremiah privately to his palace. Thou shalt be delivered, etc. (comp. Jeremiah 32:3, 4; Jeremiah 34:2, 3). Jeremiah 3:9; cf. Ewald, 345, b. לחלק is explained in various ways. לחלק for להחליק can scarcely have any other meaning than to share, receive a share; and in connection with משּׁם, "to receive a portion thence," not, to receive an inheritance (Syr., Chald., Vulg.), for משּׁם does not suit this meaning. The lxx render τοῦ ἀγοράσαι ἐκεῖθεν, which Theodoret explains by πρίασθαι ἄρτους. All other explanations have still less in their favour. We must connect בּתוך העם with 'ללכת וגו, since it is unsuitable for לחלק משּׁם.
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