Jeremiah 38:1
Then Shephatiah the son of Mattan, and Gedaliah the son of Pashur, and Jucal the son of Shelemiah, and Pashur the son of Malchiah, heard the words that Jeremiah had spoken to all the people, saying,
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
XXXVIII.

(1) Then Shephatiah the son of Mattan . . .—Of the four princes of Judah who are named here, Jucal or Jehucal has been mentioned in Jeremiah 37:3, and would appear, from the frequent occurrence of the name Shelomiah in 1Chronicles 26:1-2; 1Chronicles 26:9; 1Chronicles 26:14, to have been a Levite; Pashur is named in Jeremiah 21:1. Of the other two nothing is known, but the name Shephatiah appears in three or four instances in the royal house of Judah, beginning with a son of David (2Samuel 3:4; 2Chronicles 21:2; Ezra 2:4; Nehemiah 7:9),·and may, perhaps, indicate a connexion with it, like that of Jerahmeel in Jeremiah 36:26. Gedaliah, the son of Pashur (possibly of the man of that name who is mentioned last in the list), must be distinguished from Jeremiah’s protector, the son of Ahikam (Jeremiah 26:24; Jeremiah 40:5). They all belonged obviously to the party of the prophet’s enemies.

Jeremiah 38:1. Then Shephaliah, &c. — Here are four of the great men, counsellors or chief officers to Zedekiah, named, of whom we have no further mention in holy writ; nor do they deserve to have much inquiry made after them. Some of them were sent by Zedekiah to Jeremiah to inquire concerning the event of the siege, Jeremiah 37:3; Jeremiah 21:1-9. “The answer which Jeremiah returned by them to the king, he afterward published to the people; which was the occasion of the new troubles recorded in this chapter.” — Lowth. The fact seems to have been, that, as he was now removed into a little freer air than he had been in, his friends, or such as had a desire to see him, came to him, and being inquisitive concerning the issue of the siege, he could not but tell them what he knew of the mind of God, and advise them the best way he could for their safety. Some of them, it is likely, went to these princes, and informed them of what they had heard from the prophet.38:1-13 Jeremiah went on in his plain preaching. The princes went on in their malice. It is common for wicked people to look upon God's faithful ministers as enemies, because they show what enemies the wicked are to themselves while impenitent. Jeremiah was put into a dungeon. Many of God's faithful witnesses have been privately made away in prisons. Ebed-melech was an Ethiopian; yet he spoke to the king faithfully, These men have done ill in all they have done to Jeremiah. See how God can raise up friends for his people in distress. Orders were given for the prophet's release, and Ebed-melech saw him drawn up. Let this encourage us to appear boldly for God. Special notice is taken of his tenderness for Jeremiah. What do we behold in the different characters then, but the same we behold in the different characters now, that the Lord's children are conformed to his example, and the children of Satan to their master?Had spoken - Spake; or, was speaking. CHAPTER 38

Jer 38:1-28. Jeremiah Predicts the Capture of Jerusalem, for Which He Is Cast into a Dungeon, but Is Transferred to the Prison Court on the Intercession of Ebed-melech, and Has a Secret Interview with Zedekiah.

All this was subsequent to his imprisonment in Jonathan's house, and his release on his interview with Zedekiah. The latter occurred before the return of the Chaldeans to the siege; the similar events in this chapter occurred after it.

1. Jucal—Jehucal (Jer 37:3).

Pashur—(Jer 21:1; compare Jer 21:9 with Jer 38:2). The deputation in Jer 21:1, to whom Jeremiah gave this reply, if not identical with the hearers of Jeremiah (Jer 38:1), must have been sent just before the latter "heard" him speaking the same words. Zephaniah is not mentioned here as in Jer 21:1, but is so in Jer 37:3. Jucal is mentioned here and in the previous deputation (Jer 37:3), but not in Jer 21:1. Shephatiah and Gedaliah here do not occur either in Jer 21:1 or Jer 37:3. The identity of his words in both cases is natural, when uttered, at a very short interval, and one of the hearers (Pashur) being present on both occasions.

unto all the people—They had free access to him in the court of the prison (Jer 32:12).Jeremiah prophesieth; is by the princes, with the king’s permission, cast into a dungeon; but is by Ebed-melech, with the king’s consent, taken out again, Jeremiah 38:1-13. He hath a secret conference with the king, in which he counselleth him by yielding to save his life, Jeremiah 38:14-23. By the king’s command he concealeth the conference from the princes, Jeremiah 38:24-27. He abideth in prison till Jerusalem is taken, Jeremiah 38:28.

Vers. 1. Here are four of the great men, counsellors, or great officers to Zedekiah, named, of whom we have no further mention in holy writ, nor are they worthy of much inquiry after. Jeremiah being now removed into a little freer air, where his friends, or such as had a desire to see him, came to him, and it is very likely were inquisitive to know what God would do with the city, he could not but tell them what he knew of the mind of God in the case, and advise them the best he could. Some of them go to these princes, and inform them of what they had heard from the prophet.

Then Shephatiah the son of Mattan, and Gedaliah the son of Pashur,.... Of these two persons we nowhere else read. Some think that Pashur, whose son Gedaliah was, is the same as is mentioned Jeremiah 20:1; which is not likely, since he was a priest, and this son a prince:

and Jucal the son of Shelemiah, and Pashur the son of Malchiah; these had been sent by the king to Jeremiah, to inquire of the Lord, and to pray for him and his people, Jeremiah 21:1; all four were princes, prime ministers of state, of great power and authority, and to whom the king could deny nothing, or withstand, Jeremiah 38:4; these

heard the words that Jeremiah had spoken to all the people; that is, to as many of them as came to the court of the prison to visit him; some out of good will, and some out of ill will; and others out of curiosity; being desirous to know by the prophet how things would go with them; and by which means what he said was spread all over the city, and came to the ears of the above princes; and no doubt there were persons enough officious enough to carry these things to them:

saying; as follows:

Then Shephatiah the son of Mattan, and Gedaliah the son of Pashur, and Jucal the son of Shelemiah, and Pashur the son of {a} Malchiah, heard the words that Jeremiah had spoken to all the people, saying,

(a) For Zedekiah had sent these to Jeremiah to enquire at the Lord for the state of the country how when Nebuchadnezzar came, as in Jer 21:1.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
1. And Shephatiah] The removal of Jeremiah from prison to the court of the guard had facilitated the publication of his message, as we see from this v. Hence the princes take alarm and apply to the king for permission to put him to death.

Gedaliah] He was probably a son of the Pashhur who put Jeremiah in the stocks (ch. Jeremiah 20:1 f.).

Jucal] the Jehucal of ch. Jeremiah 37:3.

Pashhur the son of Malchijah] the same who is mentioned ch. Jeremiah 21:1.Verse 1. - Two Pashurs appear to be mentioned here: one probably the same who put Jeremiah in the stocks (Jeremiah 20:1, 2); the other a member of the first of Zedekiah's two embassies to the prophet (Jeremiah 21:1). On Jucal, see Jeremiah 37:3. Had spoken; rather, kept speaking. Examination of the prophet by the king, and alleviation of his confinement. - Jeremiah 37:16. "When Jeremiah had got into the dungeon and into the vaults, and had sat there many days, then Zedekiah the king sent and fetched him, and questioned him in his own house (palace) secretly," etc. Jeremiah 37:16 is by most interpreters joined with the foregoing, but the words כּי בּא do not properly permit of this. For if we take the verse as a further confirmation of ויּקצפוּ השׂרים, "the princes vented their wrath on Jeremiah, beat him," etc., "for Jeremiah came...," then it must be acknowledged that the account would be very long and lumbering. כּי בּא is too widely separated from יקצפוּ. But the passages, 1 Samuel 2:21, where כּי פּקד is supposed to stand for ויּפקד, and Isaiah 39:1, where ויּשׁמע is thought to have arisen out of כּי, 2 Kings 20:12, are not very strong proofs, since there, as here, no error in writing is marked. The Vulgate has itaque ingressus; many therefore would change כּי into כּן; but this also is quite arbitrary. Accordingly, with Rosenmller, we connect Jeremiah 37:16 with the following, and take כּי as a temporal particle; in this, the most we miss is ו copulative, or ויהי. In the preceding sentence the prison of the prophet is somewhat minutely described, in order to prepare us for the request that follows in Jeremiah 37:20. Jeremiah was in a בּית־בּור, "house of a pit," cf. Exodus 12:29, i.e., a subterranean prison, and in החניּות. This word only occurs here; but in the kindred dialects it means vaults, stalls, shops; hence it possibly signifies here subterranean prison-cells, so that אל־החניּות more exactly determines what בּית־הבּור is. This meaning of the word is, at any rate, more certain than that given by Eb. Scheid in Rosenmller, who renders חניות by flexa, curvata; then, supplying ligna, he thinks of the stocks to which the prisoners were fastened. - The king questioned him בּסּתר, "in secret," namely, through fear of his ministers and court-officers, who were prejudiced against the prophet, perhaps also in the hope of receiving in a private interview a message from God of more favourable import. To the question of the king, "Is there any word from Jahveh?" Jeremiah replies in the affirmative; but the word of God is this, "Thou shalt be given into the hand of the king of Babylon," just as Jeremiah had previously announced to him; cf. Jeremiah 32:4; Jeremiah 34:3. - Jeremiah took this opportunity of complaining about his imprisonment, saying, Jeremiah 37:18, "In what have I sinned against thee, or against thy servants, or against this people, that ye have put me in prison? Jeremiah 37:19. And where are your prophets, who prophesied to you, The king of Babylon shall not come against you, nor against this land?" Jeremiah appeals to his perfect innocence (Jeremiah 37:18), and to the confirmation of his prediction by its event. The interview with the king took place when the Chaldeans, after driving the Egyptians out of the country, had recommenced the siege of Jerusalem, and, as is evident from Jeremiah 37:21, were pressing the city very hard. The Kethib איו is to be read איּו, formed from איּה with the suffix וׁ; the idea of the suffix has gradually become obscured, so that it stands here before a noun in the plural. The Qeri requires איּה. The question, Where are your prophets? means, Let these prophets come forward and vindicate their lying prophecies. Not what these men had prophesied, but what Jeremiah had declared had come to pass; his imprisonment, accordingly, was unjust. - Besides thus appealing to his innocence, Jeremiah, Jeremiah 37:20, entreats the king, "Let my supplication come before thee, and do not send me back into the house of Jonathan the scribe, that I may not die there." For 'תּפּל־נא ת see on Jeremiah 36:7. The king granted this request. "He commanded, and they put Jeremiah into the court of the watch [of the royal palace, see on Jeremiah 32:2], and gave him a loaf of bread daily out of the bakers' street, till all the bread in the city was consumed;" cf. Jeremiah 52:6. The king did not give him his liberty, because Jeremiah held to his views, that were so distasteful to the king (see on Jeremiah 32:3). "So Jeremiah remained in the court of the guard."
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