So Zedekiah the king swore secretly to Jeremiah, saying, As the LORD lives, that made us this soul, I will not put you to death, neither will I give you into the hand of these men that seek your life.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)As the Lord liveth, that made us this soul.—The formula of the oath was obviously intended to be one of unusual solemnity; more so even than the simpler form of “The Lord liveth” (Jeremiah 16:14-15). The king swears by Jehovah as the living God, author and giver of his own life. The two-fold promise shows that the king felt the implied reproof of Jeremiah’s question. He separates himself from those who sought the prophet’s life, and declares that for the future he will not give them even the sanction of acquiescence. It is characteristic of his weakness that even now the oath is given secretly.Jeremiah 38:16. The king sware, As the Lord liveth, that made this soul — That is, who gave me my life and thee thine, and who, as he is the author, so he is the preserver, of our life and being: who may uphold or take them away as and when he pleases. I will not put thee to death, &c. — Zedekiah says nothing to the prophet as to obeying his counsel, but he gives him the security of his oath that he would neither himself slay him, by giving an immediate command from himself for his being slain, nor surrender him up into the hands of those princes who, he perceived, sought his life.1 Samuel 20:3 was intended to strengthen it. By acknowledging that his soul was God's workmanship Zedekiah also implied his belief in God's power over it.
As the Lord liveth, with an addition, the Lord that gave me my life: If I put thee to death, and if I deliver thee; which form carrieth with it a concealed imprecation, Let the Lord do so to me, and more also; or, Let the Lord that gave me this soul take it from me, if I do either of these things. Thus he secures Jeremiah, as to any hard measure for his telling him the truth, though it should be what might be interpreted a capital crime to publish.
saying, as the Lord liveth, that made us this soul; or "these souls", as the Targum: here a superfluous word, is used; which, as the Jews observe, is one of the eight words which are written, but not read: he swears by the living God, by whom only men should swear, whenever it is necessary; this is the proper form of an oath; the appeal is to be made to the eternal God, that knows all things, the Father of spirits, the Maker of souls, and giver of the lives of all men, and who can take them away when he pleases. The sense is, may the living God, who has made my soul and yours, and given life to us both, may he take away my soul, my life, from me, if ever I make any attempt upon yours;
I will not put thee to death, neither will I give thee into the hand of those that seek thy life; he not only promises and swears to it, that he would not take awake his life with his own hands, or give orders to take it away; but he would not deliver him into the hands of his princes, who he knew were implacable enemies, and sought all opportunities and advantages against him; but then he makes no promise that he will take any counsel or advice that should be given him; as to this, he would lay himself under no obligation to observe, resolving to take his own way; if he liked it, to follow it; if not, to reject it; he would not be bound by it.So Zedekiah the king sware secretly unto Jeremiah, saying, As the LORD liveth, that made us this soul, I will not put thee to death, neither will I give thee into the hand of these men that seek thy life.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)16. that made us this soul] i.e. that gave us our life (cp. Isaiah 57:16), a form of oath suitable to the occasion when the prophet’s life was in danger.Verse 16. - That made us this soul. A very unusual formula (comp. Isaiah 57:16). 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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