Jeremiah 39:4
And it came to pass, that when Zedekiah the king of Judah saw them, and all the men of war, then they fled, and went forth out of the city by night, by the way of the king's garden, by the gate between the two walls: and he went out the way of the plain.
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(4) When Zedekiah the king of Judah saw them . . .—The hasty flight is narrated again in Jeremiah 52:7. The gate between the two walls was one apparently that opened from the park-like garden of the palace, near the pool of Siloah (Nehemiah 3:15); probably identical with the garden of Uzza, which was used as a burial-place for Manasseh and Amon (2Kings 21:18-26); and led to the Arabah, the plain (always known by this distinctive name) of the valley of the Jordan (Deuteronomy 1:1; Deuteronomy 3:17; Deuteronomy 4:49; Joshua 12:1, and elsewhere). The “two walls” appear as part of the defence of the city in Isaiah 22:11, and connected Zion with the fortress known as Ophel (2Chronicles 27:3; 2Chronicles 33:14).

Jeremiah 39:4-10. They fled by the gate betwixt the two walls — Betwixt the wall and the outworks, or betwixt the old wall of the city and the new one which Hezekiah built, of which mention is made 2 Chronicles 32:5. See note on 2 Kings 25:4. Blaney thinks it probable that between these two walls there might be a private postern through which the king and his followers might slip out unperceived by the besiegers, who surrounded the city, and undoubtedly kept a strict watch on the principal gates. The Chaldean army pursued, &c. — For an illustration of this and the five following verses, see notes on 2 Kings 25:5-12.39:1-10 Jerusalem was so strong, that the inhabitants believed the enemy could never enter it. But sin provoked God to withdraw his protection, and then it was as weak as other cities. Zedekiah had his eyes put out; so he was condemned to darkness who had shut his eyes against the clear light of God's word. Those who will not believe God's words, will be convinced by the event. Observe the wonderful changes of Providence, how uncertain are earthly possessions; and see the just dealings of Providence: but whether the Lord makes men poor or rich, nothing will profit them while they cleave to their sins.Compare the marginal reference. The differences between the two accounts are slight. 4. the king's garden—The "gate" to it from the upper, city above was appropriated to the kings alone; stairs" led down from Mount Zion and the palace to the king's garden below (Ne 3:15).

two walls—Zedekiah might have held the upper city longer, but want of provisions drove him to flee by the double wall south of Zion, towards the plains of Jericho (Jer 39:5), in order to escape beyond Jordan to Arabia-Deserta. He broke an opening in the wall to get out (Eze 12:12).

It should seem that the city was taken by a surprise; the Chaldeans battering the walls incessantly with their rams and engines of war, on a sudden made such a breach as gave them a liberty to enter in. The king either heard of it, or possibly might be in some place where he might see it; then he begins to think of escaping, but for greater privacy stayeth till he had the covert of the night, and then goeth out towards the plains of Jericho, for there the Chaldeans overtook him, as we read in the next verse. He is said here to have gone by

the way of the king’s garden, by the gate betwixt the two walls. It is very hard for us at this distance of time to pretend to any certainty in determining the way by which he made his escape. They seem to judge most probably that think that the king had prepared for himself a private passage out of his garden betwixt two walls, leading to the wall of the city, which they had before so weakened, as on a sudden they might dig it through. Possibly these particulars are the rather set down, to show us how God verified what he had revealed in this matter to the prophet Ezekiel 12; where God set the prophet, Ezekiel 12:3, to prepare stuff for removing, and to remove by day in the sight of the people from his own place to another place; and, Ezekiel 12:4, to go out at even in their sight, as they that go out into captivity: Ezekiel 12:5, to dig through the wall in their sight, and carry out thereby: Ezekiel 12:6, in their sight to bear it on his shoulders, and carry it forth in the twilight; to cover his face, so as not to see the ground: and he told him, that in all this he was to be a sign; and, Ezekiel 12:10, tells him, this burden concerneth the prince in Jerusalem (who was that Zedekiah). Ezekiel 12:12, And the prince that is among them shall bear upon his shoulder in the twilight, and shall go forth: they shall dig through the wall to go out thereby: he shall cover his face, that he see not the ground with his eyes. And it came to pass, that when Zedekiah the king of Judah saw them, and all the men of war,.... That is, when Zedekiah and his soldiers saw the princes and generals of the Chaldean army enter the city through a breach made in the wall, and take possession of the middle gate; which they might see from some high tower where they were for safety, and to make their observation of the enemy:

then they fled; finding they were not able to keep their posts and resist the enemy:

and went forth out of the city by night; it being the middle of the night, as before observed out of Josephus, that the city was taken; and they took the advantage of the darkness of the night to make their escape: this they chose rather to do than to surrender to the Chaldeans, and lie at their mercy: and they went

by the way of the king's garden, by the gate betwixt the two walls; which lay either between the wall of the city and the outworks, as some; or between the old wall and the new one Hezekiah built, 2 Chronicles 32:5; as others; or rather between the wall of the city and the wall of the king's garden; this being a private way, they took it. The Jews have a fable, and which is related both by Jarchi and Kimchi, that there was a cave or vault underground, from the king's house to the plains of Jericho; and by this way the king went that he might not be seen; but God prepared a hind, which the Chaldean army saw, and pursued, and which went into the cave, add they after it; and when they were at the mouth of the cave they saw Zedekiah coming out of it, and took him:

and he went out the way of the plain; on the south side of the which led to Jericho; and on which side the kings garden was; not that he went alone, but his wives, and children, and princes, and men of war with him; see Jeremiah 52:7.

And it came to pass, when Zedekiah the king of Judah saw them, and all the men of war, then they fled, and went out of the city by night, by the way of the king's garden, by the {b} gate between the two walls: and he went out the way of the plain.

(b) Which was a postern door, read 2Ki 25:4.

4. by the gate betwixt, etc.] “on the S. of the city (the ‘king’s garden’ was near the pool of Siloam, Nehemiah 3:15), probably the fountain gate of Nehemiah 2:14; Nehemiah 3:15; Nehemiah 12:37, the ‘two walls’ (cf. Isaiah 22:11) being those below this gate along the W. side of the E. hill of Jerusalem, and the E. side of the W. hill.” Dr. See further in C.B. (Barnes) 2 Kings 25:4.

Arabah] the deep valley of the Jordan. See Deuteronomy 1:1 R.V. mg.

4–10. See introd. note and summary to ch.Verse 4. - Here begins the second parenthesis, to be read apart from the principal, though shorter, narrative (see introduction to chapter). Observe elsewhere in the Book of Jeremiah events known from other sources are only briefly referred to (comp. Jeremiah 29:2; Jeremiah 32:1-5; Jeremiah 34:1, 7; Jeremiah 35:11; Jeremiah 37:5); see 2 Kings 25:4-12. From the king's weakness of character, and his dependence on his evil counsellors, neither could this interview have any result. Partly from want of firmness, but chiefly from fear of the reproaches of his princes, he did not venture to surrender himself and the city to the Chaldeans. Hence he did not wish that his interview with the prophet should be known, partly for the purpose of sparing himself reproaches from the princes, partly also, perhaps, not to expose the prophet to further persecutions on the part of the great men. Accordingly, he dismissed Jeremiah with this instruction: "Let no man know of these words, lest thou die." But if the princes should learn that the king had been speaking with him, and asked him, "Tell us, now, what thou hast said to the king, do not hide it from us, and we will not kill thee; and what did the king say to thee?" then he was to say to them, "I presented my supplication before the king, that he would not send me back to the house of Jonathan, to die there." As to the house of Jonathan, see on Jeremiah 37:15. On מפּיל תּחנּתי cf. Jeremiah 36:7; Jeremiah 37:20.
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