Jeremiah 40:4
And now, behold, I loose thee this day from the chains which were upon thine hand. If it seem good unto thee to come with me into Babylon, come; and I will look well unto thee: but if it seem ill unto thee to come with me into Babylon, forbear: behold, all the land is before thee: whither it seemeth good and convenient for thee to go, thither go.
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40:1-6 The captain of the guard seems to glory that he had been God's instrument to fulfil, what Jeremiah had been God's messenger to foretell. Many can see God's justice and truth with regard to others, who are heedless and blind as to themselves and their own sins. But, sooner or later, all men shall be made sensible that their sin is the cause of all their miseries. Jeremiah has leave to dispose of himself; but is advised to go to Gedaliah, governor of the land under the king of Babylon. It is doubtful whether Jeremiah acted right in this decision. But those who desire the salvation of sinners, and the good of the church, are apt to expect better times from slight appearances, and they will prefer the hope of being useful, to the most secure situations without it.As what follows is mainly a historical narrative, it seems that the title "The word ..." was appropriate not merely to a prediction of the future, but to an account of the past, if written by a prophet. The Jews regarded history as inspired if written by a seer, and thus their historical books are called "the early prophets."

Ramah - Probably all the prisoners of note were collected at Ramah indiscriminately, and examined there.

Bound in chains - The prisoners were probably fastened together in couples by one hand, and a rope passed down the center to bind them in a long line, and prevent attempts at escape.

4. look well unto thee—the very words of Nebuchadnezzar's charge (Jer 39:12).

all the land is before thee … seemeth good—(Ge 20:15, Margin). Jeremiah alone had the option given him of staying where he pleased, when all the rest were either carried off or forced to remain there.

Nebuzar-adan, like a faithful servant, remembers his master’s orders to him about the prophet, Jeremiah 39:11, and offers Jeremiah greater favour than to any others of his prisoners; he determined others by his right of conquest to what they should do, but he giveth the prophet a liberty to choose whether he would go to Babylon, or stay at Jerusalem in his own country; he promised him that if he would go to Babylon, he would take a particular care of him.

And now, behold, I loose thee this day from the chains which were upon thine hands,.... Or rather are; for, when he said these words, it is highly probable they were on him, though now ordered to be taken off; these were not what were put upon him by the Jews, when in the court of the prison; for rather his legs, than his hands, would have had fetters on them there; but what were put upon him by the Chaldeans, when he fell into their hands; though inadvertently done by the inferior officers, and without the knowledge of the princes, or of this captain, who loosed them; with these he came manacled to Ramah, with the rest of the captives, but now were loosed in the sight of them:

if it seem good unto thee to come with me unto Babylon, come, and one will look well unto thee; or, "I will set mine eyes upon thee" (r); as the king of Babylon had ordered him to do, Jeremiah 39:12; would favour him, protect him, provide for him, and use him in the most kind and generous manner:

but if it seem ill unto thee to come with me to Babylon, forbear; if it was not agreeable to him to leave his native country, and to go into Babylon, he would not urge it, but leave him to his liberty; yea, would advise him to continue where he was, and not take one step out of it:

behold, all the land is before thee; the land of Judea, which was at the disposal of the king of Babylon; and Jeremiah has a grant from him, by his officer, to settle where he pleased:

whither it seemeth good and convenient for thee to go, thither go; he left him to take his own way, and do as he thought fit; and this agrees with his master's orders to him, Jeremiah 39:12.

(r) "ponam oculos meos super te", Schmidt; "et ponam oculum meum super te", Pagninus, Montanus.

And now, behold, I loose thee this day from the chains which were upon thine hand. If it seem good unto thee to come with me into Babylon, come; and I will look well unto thee: but if it seem ill unto thee to come with me into Babylon, forbear: behold, all the land is before thee: whither it seemeth good and convenient for thee to go, thither go.
4. I will look well unto thee] See on Jeremiah 39:12.

convenient] lit. as mg. right.

but if it seem ill … (5) Go back then, said he] The LXX have simply, “but, if not, depart, return,” and, as giving a much smoother sequence, preserve what is probably the original form. The latter part of Jeremiah 40:4 in MT. may have been suggested by Genesis 13:9, while the words “Now while … back” are also a gloss.

Jeremiah 40:4Nebuzaradan then declared him free: "And now, behold, I free thee this day from the shackles on thine hands. If it please thee to come with me to Babylon, then come, and I will set mine eye upon thee (i.e., take thee under my protection, cf. Jeremiah 39:12). But if it please thee not to come with me to Babylon, then let it be so. See, the whole country is before thee (cf. Genesis 13:9; Genesis 20:5, etc.); whithersoever it pleases thee, and seems right to thee to go, go." Jeremiah 40:5. And because Jeremiah had not yet returned, he said, "Go back to Gedaliah,...whom the king of Babylon hath set over the cities of Judah, and remain with him among the people; or go wherever it seemeth right to thee to go." And the commander of the guard gave him what provisions he required and a present, and sent him away; thereafter Jeremiah went to Gedaliah to Mizpah, and remained there among the people who had been left behind in the land (Jeremiah 40:6). The words ועדנּוּ were certainly misunderstood by the old translators, who made various conjectures as to their meaning; even yet, Dahler, Movers, Graf, and Nהgelsbach are of opinion that "it is impossible to understand" this sentence, and that the text is plainly corrupt. Luther renders: "for no one will any longer return thither." Hitzig considers this translation substantially correct, and only requiring to be a little more exactly rendered: "but there, no one returns home again." Apart, however, from the consideration that on this view עדנּוּ, which stands at the head of the sentence, does not get full justice paid to it, the thought does not accord with what precedes, and the reference of the suffix to the indefinite "person" or "one" is extremely forced. According to what goes before, in which Nebuzaradan gives the prophet full liberty of choosing whether he would go with him to Babylon or remain in the country, in whatever part he likes, and from the following advice which he gives him, "Go, or return, to Gedaliah," the words עדנּוּ לא ישׁוּב, on account of the third person (ישׁוּב), cannot certainly be an address of the chief captain to Jeremiah, and as little can they contain a remark about going to Babylon. The words are evidently, both as to their form and their contents, a circumstantial clause, containing a statement regarding the relation of Jeremiah to the proposal of the chief captain (and this is the view taken long ago by Kimchi), i.e., a parenthetical remark of the narrator, according to which Nebuzaradan demands that he shall remain with Gedaliah, in the sense, "and yet he was not going back," or, still better, on account of the imperfect ישׁוּב, "because he was still unwilling to go back," namely, to this or that place indefinitely; then Nebuzaradan further said, "Return, then, to Gedaliah." If we supply ויּאמר before 'ושׁוּבה וגו, with which Nebuzaradan brings the matter to a close, the meaning is quite clear. It is evident from Jeremiah 40:4 that Nebuzaradan stopped a little in order to let Jeremiah decide; but since the prophet did not return, i.e., neither decided in the one way nor the other, he adds 'ושׁוּבה וגו, and thereby puts an end to the indecision. ארחה means a portion of food, or victuals; cf. Jeremiah 52:34 and Proverbs 15:17. Mizpah, where Gedaliah had taken up his position, is the Mizpah of the tribe of Benjamin, where Samuel judged the people and chose Saul to be king (1 Samuel 7:15., Jeremiah 10:17); doubtless the modern Neby Samwil, five miles north-west from Jerusalem, a short distance south-west from Ramah; see on Joshua 18:26.
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