Jeremiah 38:10
Then the king commanded Ebedmelech the Ethiopian, saying, Take from hence thirty men with thee, and take up Jeremiah the prophet out of the dungeon, before he die.
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(10) Take from hence thirty men.—The number seems a large one for the purpose, especially when we consider that the men were sent from a post from which they could ill be spared, but the king may have wished to guard against resistance on the part of the princes. Hitzig, however, conjectures that “three men” was the original reading of the Hebrew text.

Jeremiah 38:10-13. Then the king commanded, &c. — The king, who a little while ago durst do nothing against the princes, has now his heart wonderfully and suddenly changed, and will have Jeremiah released in defiance of them; ordering no fewer than thirty men, and those probably of the life-guard, to be employed in fetching him out of the dungeon, lest the princes should raise a party to oppose it. So Ebed-melech took the men — He lost no time, but immediately went about this good work, and used as much tenderness as despatch in accomplishing it; going into the king’s house and fetching thence old soft rags and pieces of cloth, to be put under the prophet’s arm-holes, to prevent the cords, wherewith he was to be drawn up, from hurting him. This circumstance, trivial as it may appear, is here particularly noticed and recorded to the honour of this pious Gentile; for God is not unrighteous to forget any work or labour of love which is shown to his people or ministers; no, nor any circumstance thereof, Hebrews 6:10. Observe, reader, those that are in distress should not only be relieved, but relieved with compassion and marks of respect, all which things will be remembered, and will be found to a good account, in the day of final recompense.

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?Thirty men - So large a number suggests that Zedekiah expected some resistance. (Some read "three" men.) 10. with thee—Hebrew, "in thine hand," that is, at "thy disposal" (1Sa 16:2). "From hence," that is, from the gate of Benjamin where the king was sitting (Jer 38:7).

thirty men—not merely to draw up Jeremiah, but to guard Ebed-melech against any opposition on the part of the princes (Jer 38:1-4), in executing the king's command. Ebed-melech was rewarded for his faith, love, and courage, exhibited at a time when he might well fear the wrath of the princes, to which even the king had to yield (Jer 39:16-18).

There are several guesses why the king commandeth Ebed-melech to take

thirty men for the doing of that for which three or four were sufficient. I think they judge best who think it was to guard him against any opposition. Things were now in a great disorder, the city being upon the matter taken, and the king himself was much in the government of his princes, and, as may easily be judged by what went before, and what we shall hereafter meet with, could not rule them, but was in some fear of them, and he did not know but some of the most boisterous of them might oppose the execution of this command of his. This king in his whole story seemeth to have been of a much better humour than his predecessors, and to have had a kindness for the prophet, though he suffered himself to be miserably overruled by his courtiers, who were of a much fiercer temper, and worse affected to the prophet.

Then the king commanded Ebedmelech the Ethiopian,.... Being affected with the case of the prophet; and repenting of the leave he had given the princes to do with him as they pleased, gave orders as follows:

saying, take from hence thirty men with thee; from the place where the king was, the gate of Benjamin; where very probably at this time was a garrison of soldiers, thirty of which were ordered to be taken; or these were to be taken out of the king's bodyguard, he had here with him. Josephus (w) calls them thirty of the king's servants, such as were about the king's person, or belonged to his household; and so the Syriac version of Jeremiah 38:11 says that Ebedmelech took with him men of the king's household; but why thirty of them, when three or four might be thought sufficient to take up a single man out of a dungeon? Abarbinel thinks the dungeon was very deep, and Jeremiah, ah old man, could not be got out but with great labour and difficulty. Jarchi and Kimchi say, the men were so weakened with the famine, that so many were necessary to draw out one man; but the true reason seems rather to be, that should the princes, whom the king might suspect, or any other, attempt to hinder this order being put in execution, there might be a sufficient force to assist in it, and repel those that might oppose it:

and take up Jeremiah the prophet out of the dungeon before he die; the king speaks honourably of Jeremiah, giving him his title as a prophet, and expresses great concern for him; and orders them to hasten the taking him up, lest he should die before, which he suggests would give him great concern.

(w) Antiqu. l. 10. c. 7. sect. 5.

Then the king commanded Ebedmelech the Ethiopian, saying, Take from hence thirty men with thee, and take up Jeremiah the prophet out of the dungeon, before he die.
10. thirty men] The construction of the Heb. numeral is irregular, and we should read three, as under the circumstances a more likely number for this duty.

Verse 10. - Thirty men. Why so many were sent is not clear. Are we to suppose that the princes would resist Jeremiah's release? But "the king is not he," etc. (ver. 5). Is it not a scribe's error for "three" (so Ewald, Hitzig, and Graf)? Jeremiah 38:10Then the king commanded the Ethiopian, "Take hence thirty men in thine hand, and bring up Jeremiah out of the pit before he dies." בידך, "in thine hand," i.e., under your direction; cf. Numbers 31:49. The number thirty has been found too great; and Ewald, Hitzig, and Graf would read שׁלשׁה, because the syntax requires the singular אישׁ after שׁלשׁים, and because at that time, when the fighting men had already decreased in number (Jeremiah 38:4), thirty men could not be sent away from a post in danger without difficulty. These two arguments are quite invalid. The syntax does not demand אישׁ; for with the tens (20-90) the noun frequently follows in the plural as well as in the singular, if the number precede; cf. 2 Samuel 3:20; 2 Kings 2:16, etc.; see also Gesenius' Grammar, 120, 2. The other argument is based on arbitrary hypotheses; for the passage neither speaks of fighting men, nor states that they would be taken from a post in danger. Ebedmelech was to take thirty men, not because they would all be required for drawing out the prophet, but for making surer work in effecting the deliverance of the prophet, against all possible attempts on the part of the princes or of the populace to prevent them.
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