Then the king commanded Ebedmelech the Ethiopian, saying, Take from hence thirty men with you, and take up Jeremiah the prophet out of the dungeon, before he die.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)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.
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).
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.
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.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.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)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 38:1-6. Being confined in the court of the guard attached to the royal palace, Jeremiah had opportunities of conversing with the soldiers stationed there and the people of Judah who came thither (cf. Jeremiah 38:1 with Jeremiah 32:8, Jeremiah 32:12), and of declaring, in opposition to them, his conviction (which he had indeed expressed from the beginning of the siege) that all resistance to the Chaldeans would be fruitless, and only bring destruction (cf. Jeremiah 21:9.). On this account, the princes who were of a hostile disposition towards him were so embittered, that they resolved on his death, and obtain from the king permission to cast him into a deep pit with mire at the bottom. In v. 1 four of these princes are named, two of whom, Jucal the son of Shelemiah, and Pashur the son of Malchiah, are known, from Jeremiah 37:3 and Jeremiah 21:1, as confidants of the king; the other two, Shephatiah the son of Mattan, and Gedaliah the son of Pashur, are not mentioned elsewhere. Gedaliah was probably a son of the Pashur who had once put Jeremiah in the stocks (Jeremiah 20:1-2). The words of the prophet, Jeremiah 38:2, Jeremiah 38:3, are substantially the same as he had already uttered at the beginning of the siege, Jeremiah 21:9 (יחיה as in Jeremiah 21:9). Jeremiah 38:4. The princes said to the king, "Let this man, we beseech thee, be put to death for the construction, see on Jeremiah 35:14; for therefore i.e., because no one puts him out of existence - על־כּן as in Jeremiah 29:28 he weakens the hands of the men of war who remain in this city, and the hands of all the people, by speaking words like these to them; for this man does not seek the welfare of this people, but their ill." מרפּא for מרפּא, to cause the hands of any one to be relaxed, i.e., to make him dispirited; cf. Ezra 4:4; Isaiah 35:3. דּרשׁ with ל htiw , as Job 10:6; Deuteronomy 12:30; 1 Chronicles 22:19, etc., elsewhere with the accusatival את; cf. Jeremiah 29:7 et passim. On this point cf. Jeremiah 29:7. The allegation which the princes made against Jeremiah was possibly correct. The constancy with which Jeremiah declared that resistance was useless, since, in accordance with the divine decree, Jerusalem was to be taken and burnt by the Chaldeans, could not but make the soldiers and the people unwilling any longer to sacrifice their lives in defending the city. Nevertheless the complaint was unjust, because Jeremiah was not expressing his own personal opinion, but was declaring the word of the Lord, and that, too, not from any want of patriotism or through personal cowardice, but in the conviction, derived from the divine revelation, that it was only by voluntary submission that the fate of the besieged could be mitigated; hence he acted from a deep feeling of love to the people, and in order to avert complete destruction from them. The courage of the people which he sought to weaken was not a heroic courage founded on genuine trust in God, but carnal obstinacy, which could not but lead to ruin.
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