Jeremiah 39:5
But the Chaldeans' army pursued after them, and overtook Zedekiah in the plains of Jericho: and when they had taken him, they brought him up to Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon to Riblah in the land of Hamath, where he gave judgment on him.
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(5) In the plains of Jericho.—Here again we have the distinctive word, the Araboth of the Jordan, the enlargement of the Jordan valley, three miles wide, near Jericho. The intention of the king was apparently to make his way to the ford near Jericho, cross the river, and escape to the open country of Gilead.

Riblah in the land of Hamath.—The city of Hamath stood on the Orontes, about half-way from its source, near Baalbek, to the bend which it makes at Jisr-hadid, and commanded the whole valley of the river to the defile of Daphne, below Antioch. It was a well-known city at the time of the Exodus (Numbers 13:21; Numbers 34:8), and in that of David was the capital of a kingdom, which became tributary to him and Solomon (2Samuel 8:10; 1Kings 4:21-24). Riblah (still retaining its name, Ribleh), also on the Orontes, and near its source, was a centre from which the great lines of traffic led by the Euphrates to Nineveh, by Palmyra to Babylon, by Lebanon and the coast to Palestine and Egypt, and through the Jordan valley to the Holy Land. It was, therefore, a natural post of observation for the Chaldæan king while his generals were carrying on the sieges of Tyre and Jerusalem. So when Pharaoh-necho was for a time, before the battle of Carchemish, master of the Assyrian territory, it was to Riblah that he summoned Jehoahaz, and there imprisoned him (2Kings 23:33). In this instance Zedekiah was brought before Nebuchadnezzar as a vassal prince who, having received his authority from the Chaldæan king (2Kings 24:17), had rebelled, and met with scant mercy.

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. 5. Riblah—north of Palestine (see Jer 1:14; Nu 34:11). Hamath is identified by commentators with Antioch, in Syria, on the Orontes, called Epiphania, from Antiochus Epiphanes.

gave judgment upon him—literally, "spake judgments with him," that is, brought him to trial as a common criminal, not as a king. He had violated his oath (Eze 17:13-19; 2Ch 36:13).

Thus God by his providence fulfilled his threatening by his prophet Ezekiel, Ezekiel 17:12. Riblah was upon the borders of Canaan, as appeareth from Numbers 34:11; it was in the land of Hamath, of which we read 2 Kings 17:24, being one of those provinces in the dominion of the king of Assyria, from whence he brought men to place them in the land of Israel after that he had conquered the ten tribes. It is not usual for princes upon conquests to sit in judgment upon princes conquered, but the reason of it in this case was because Zedekiah was a tributary to the king of Babylon, and so subject to his power, having made a covenant with him, and secured his allegiance by his oath to him, and then rebelled against him, as we read, Ezekiel 17:13-18. But the Chaldean army pursued after them,.... Being informed of the flight of them, by those who surrendered to them, as Josephus says; or not finding the king, his family, nobles, and guards, at the palace, where they expected them; and, knowing which way they must take, pursued after them; not the whole army, only a part of it; for some must remain at Jerusalem to demolish the city, and take the spoil of it:

and overtook Zedekiah in the plains of Jericho; not far from it, as Josephus says; and who also observes, that when his friends and generals saw the enemy near, they left him, and shifted for themselves, and only a few were with him when overtook:

and when they had taken him they brought him to Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon to Riblah in the land of Hamath: which is generally thought to be Antioch in Syria; whither he had retired from the siege of Jerusalem, having left it to his generals to refresh himself in this pleasant place, as it seems it was; or that he might be nearer his own kingdom, if any troubles should arise in it during his absence; however, here he was, and here the army brought Zedekiah to him, and those they took with him; which must be very agreeable to the king of Babylon to have this perfidious and ungrateful prince in his power:

where he gave judgment upon him: or passed sentence on him, which was to have his eyes put out: or, "spake judgments with him" (i); he severely chide him, and upbraided him for the injury he had done him; the perfidy he had been guilty of in breaking his oath and covenant. So Josephus says,

"after he came to him, Nebuchadnezzar began to call him a wicked man and a covenant breaker, unmindful of promises he had made to preserve the country for him; he reproached him with ingratitude, in receiving the kingdom from him he had taken from Jehoiakim, and given to him, who had used his power against the giver; but, says he, the great God that hates thy manners has put thee into our hands.''

(i) "et locutus est cum eo, vel ipso judicia", Pagninus, Montanus, Cocceius, Schmidt.

But the Chaldeans' army pursued them, and overtook Zedekiah in the plains of Jericho: and when they had taken him, they brought him to Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon to {c} Riblah in the land of Hamath, where he gave judgment upon him.

(c) Which is called Antioch in Syria.

5. the plains of Jericho] the W. side of the Arabah.

Riblah] (Ribleh) between the mountain ranges of Lebanon and Hermon. It was a suitable halting-place for Nebuchadnezzar, as being on the high road between Babylon and Palestine and lying “on the banks of a mountain stream in the midst of a vast and fertile plain yielding the most abundant supplies of forage.” Robinson’s Bible Researches, III. 545.

gave judgement upon him] lit. spake judgements with him. See on ch. Jeremiah 1:16.What the king had supposed actually occurred, and Jeremiah gave the princes, who asked about the conversation, the reply that the king had prepared for him. יחרשׁוּ ממּנּוּ .mih rof deraperp, they went away in silence from him, and left him in peace; cf. 1 Samuel 7:8. כּי לא נשׁמע , for the matter, the real subject of the conversation did not become known. So Jeremiah remained in the court of the prison till the day of the capture of Jerusalem. - The last sentence of Jeremiah 38:28 belongs to the following chapter, and forms the introductory sentence of the passage whose conclusion follows in Jeremiah 39:3.
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