Lange Commentary on the Holy Scriptures
2. Jeremiah in the Pit (third stage of his imprisonment), his Conference with the King and Confinement in the court of the guard (fourth stage of prisonment)
1Then Shephatiah the son of Mattan, and Gedaliah the son of Pashur, and Jucal the son of Shelemiah, and Pashur the son of Malchiah, heard the words that Jeremiah 2had spoken unto all the people, saying, Thus saith the LORD [Jehovah]: He that remaineth in this city1 shall die by the sword, by the famine, and by the pestilence: but he that goeth forth to the Chaldeans shall live; for he shall have his 3life for a prey, and shall live. Thus saith the LORD, This city shall surely [or must] be given into the hand of the king of Babylon’s army, which shall take it. 4Therefore the princes said unto the king, We beseech thee, let this man be put to death;2 for thus3 he weakeneth4 the hands of the men of war that remain in this city, and the hands of all the people, in speaking such words5 unto them: for this 5man seeketh not the welfare [lit. peace]6 of this people, but the hurt. Then Zedekiah the king said, Behold, he is in your hand: for the king is not he that can 6do any thing [the king can do nothing]7 against you. Then took they Jeremiah, and cast him into the dungeon [pit, or cistern]8 of Malchiah the son of Hammelech [the king] that was in the court of the prison: and they let down Jeremiah with cords. And in the dungeon there was no water, but mire: so Jeremiah sunk in the 7mire. Now when Ebed-melech the Ethiopian, one of the eunuchs which [who was in the king’s house, heard that they had put Jeremiah in the dungeon; the 8king then sitting in the gate of Benjamin; Ebed-melech went forth out of the 9king’s house, and spake to the king, saying, My lord the king, these men have done evil in all that they have done to Jeremiah the prophet, whom they have cast into the dungeon: and he is like to [or must; lit.: is dead] die for hunger in the 10place where he is9: for there is no more bread in the city. Then the king commanded Ebed-melech the Ethiopian, saying, Take from hence thirty10 men with 11thee,11 and take up Jeremiah the prophet out of the dungeon, before he die. So Ebed-melech took the men with him, and went into the house of the king under the treasury, and took thence old cast clouts,12 and old rotten rags [rags of tattered and worn out clothes], and let them down by cords into the dungeon to Jeremiah. 12And Ebed-melech the Ethiopian said unto Jeremiah, Put now these old cast clouts and rotten rags under thine armholes13 under the cords. And Jeremiah did so. 13So they drew up Jeremiah with cords, and took him up out of the dungeon: and 14Jeremiah remained in the court of the prison [guard]. Then Zedekiah the king sent, and took Jeremiah the prophet unto him into the third [or principal] entry14 that is in [to] the house of the LORD [Jehovah]: and the king said unto Jeremiah, 15I will ask thee a thing;15 hide nothing16 from me. Then Jeremiah said unto Zedekiah, If I declare it unto thee, wilt thou not surely put me to death? and if I 16give thee counsel wilt thou not hearken unto me? So Zedekiah the king swore secretly unto Jeremiah, saying, As the Lord [Jehovah] liveth, that17 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.
17Then said Jeremiah unto Zedekiah, Thus saith the LORD [Jehovah], the God of hosts, the God of Israel: If thou wilt assuredly go forth unto the king of Babylon’s princes, then thy soul shall live, and this city shall not be burned with fire; 18and thou shalt live, and thine house: but if thou wilt not go forth to the king of Babylon’s princes, then shall this city be given into the hand of the Chaldeans, 19and they shall burn it with fire, and thou shalt not escape out of their hand. And Zedekiah the king said unto Jeremiah, I am afraid18 of the Jews that are fallen to the Chaldeans, lest they deliver me into their hand, and they mock me.19.
20But Jeremiah said, They shall not deliver thee. Obey, I beseech thee, the voice 21of the LORD [Jehovah], which20 I speak unto thee: so it shall be21 well unto thee, and thy soul shall live.21 But if thou refuse to go forth, this is the word that the 22LORD [Jehovah] hath showed me: And, behold, all the women that are left in the king of Judah’s house shall be brought forth to the king of Babylon’s princes, and those women [they] shall say, Thy friends [men of thy place]22 have set thee on [over-persuaded] and have prevailed against thee:23 thy feet are sunk in the 23mire,24 and they are turned away back. So they25 shall bring out all thy wives and thy children to the Chaldeans: and thou shalt not escape out of their hand, but shalt be taken by the hand of the king of Babylon: and thou shalt cause this city to be burned with fire.
24Then said Zedekiah unto Jeremiah, Let no man know26 of these words, and thou 25shalt not die. But if the princes hear that I have talked with thee, and they come unto thee, and say unto thee, Declare unto us now what thou hast said unto the king, hide it not from us, and we will not put thee to death; also what the king 26said unto thee: then thou shalt say unto them, I presented my supplication before the king, that he would not cause me to return to Jonathan’s house, to die there.27
27Then came all the princes unto Jeremiah, and asked him: and he told them according to all these words that the king had commanded. So they left off speaking28 28with him [lit.: were silent from him]; for the matter was not perceived. So Jeremiah abode in the court of the prison [guard] until the day that Jerusalem was taken.
EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL
The chapter consists of two parts. In the first part (Jer 38:1–13) it is narrated how the princes prevailed on Zedekiah to give up Jeremiah to them, on account of his continual exhortations to surrender, that they might render him harmless (Jer 38:1–5). They then lower him down into a pit of mud, from which however the king has him drawn up, on the petition of the Cushite Ebed-melech (Jer 38:6–13). In the second part (14–28) it is recorded how the king has the prophet brought from the court of the guard, to which he had returned from the pit, for a secret conference (Jer 38:14, 15). The king desires that Jeremiah disclose the future to him without reserve, and promises him with an oath that his life shall be spared and protected. Jeremiah has, however, nothing else to say to the king, but that surrender is the only way of escape (Jer 38:16–23). Then the king forbids the prophet to communicate the purport of this conference. In accordance with the king’s command, Jeremiah tells the princes, who really come to inquire from him about the conversation, that he only petitioned the king that he might not be taken back to the house of Jonathan, the secretary. The princes have to depart with this answer. Jeremiah, however, remains in the court of the guard till the capture of the city (Jer 38:24–28).
Jer 38:1-6. Then Shephatiah … in the mire. Jeremiah, brought back into the court of the guard, has further opportunity of intercourse with the people, and uses it again and again to counsel voluntary surrender as the only means of escape.—Of the four princes, who hear the prophet’s discourse, Shephatiah, son of Mattan, and Gedaliah, son of Pashur, are not further mentioned; Jucal, son of Shelemiah, is evidently identical with Jehucal, son of Shelemiah, 37:3. Pashur son of Malchiah, has been mentioned in 21:1. Pashur was of sacerdotal (comp. rems. on 21:1), Jucal of Levitic descent (comp. 1 Chron. 26:1, 2, 9, 14). These “princes” were thus neither “raised from a lower rank,” as GRAF supposes (on 37:15), nor do their former relations to the prophet lead us to conclude that they were inimically disposed towards him. We do not send, to present petitions, as is the case in 21:1, 2; 37:3, personas ingratas. The intended departure of Jeremiah (37:12) seems thus to have awakened suspicion against him.—On Jer 38:3 comp. 21:10.—Seeketh not the welfare. On the subject-matter comp. 29:7; Deut. 23:7; Ezr. 9:12.—The charge against the prophet is unjust. He has the true welfare of the people in view, viz. that which is in accordance with the divine will, and the confidence which he seeks to break, is not a fully satisfied heroic courage, founded on genuine trust in God, but carnal obstinacy, which must lead to destruction. It is inconceivable how any one can fail to see this and take the part of the prophet’s opponents. Comp. DUNCKER, I. S. 831. The king, fearing on the one hand the higher power supporting the prophet, and on the other not having the courage openly to oppose the princes standing in corpore before him, delivers the prophet into their hands. That he expected the prophet would be merely taken back to the house of Jonathan (GRAF) I do not believe. The princes had decisively demanded Jeremiah’s death (Jer 38:4). Their not having him executed at once, but thrown into a pit, where his escape would appear possible only by a miracle, may have been due either to their wickedness or to a certain fear of shedding the blood of the prophet. Comp. Gen. 37:22–24.
Jeremiah is now thrown into a cistern, which bears the name of an otherwise unknown prince, Malkiah (comp. rems. on 36:26), probably because he had it dug. The pit may have been often used as the severest imprisonment. The princes in letting down Jeremiah into it may have intended either his most painful death, or an evasion on their part, that they had not shed his blood, but only thrown him into a prison appropriate to such traitors. If he perished there the guilt would not be theirs. In the central point of the theocracy, opposed to prophets and priests who are filled with diabolical hatred and a weak king led by them, this solitary “servant of Jehovah” is at the lowest stage of humiliation and of suffering. All the hatred of Jerusalem, “that killest the prophets and stonest them that are sent unto thee” (Matt. 23:37), culminates at this time in this behaviour to wards Jeremiah, by which the measure of guilt was fulfilled and the sentence of destruction was pronounced over the unhappy city. The fulfilling and completing antitype of this historical event is certainly not what happened to John the Baptist (as HENGSTENBERG supposes, Christol., II. S. 400 [Eng. Tr., II., 403]), but what our Lord Himself suffered, who was also the object of the most intense hatred on the part of carnal Israel, as being the prophet of its final overthrow (Matt. 23 and 24).—Comp. Ps. 69.
Jer 38:7-13. Now when Ebed-melech … court of the guard. The expression “one of the eunuchs” (comp. 52:25) seems to intimate that a real eunuch is here meant. As the Mosaic law forbade such mutilation (comp. Deut. 23:1) and, on the other hand, it is not improbable that eunuchs were then employed in the service of the harem (2 Ki. 24:15), it is not very strange to find a foreign eunuch in the service of a Jewish king, with whom, as we infer from Jer 38:22, 23, the harem occupied an important position. That Ethiopians were preferred for such service seems to be indicated by some traces (comp. Dan. 11:43; TERENT. Eun., I. 2, 85), as at the present day most of these people come from upper Egypt. (Comp. WINER, R.-W.-B. s. v., Verschnittene. [SMITH’SDict., I. 590]). Ebed-melech [servant of the king] (N. B. not הַמֶלֶך) is the proper name of the man, chosen with reference to his function. This name is so purely Hebrew and in accordance with the man’s position at the Jewish court, that it is not to be conceived how EUERST could come to suppose that it is a Hebraized from an Ethiopic name. Comp. H.-W.-B., S. 583.—This Ebed-melech is moreover a proof that the called are not always the chosen, that on the contrary the last are often the first. A stranger, a heathen, a Moor feels compassion for the prophet and horror at the crime committed on him, while in Israel not a hand or tongue is moved in his favor. Comp. Luke 4:25; 19:40; Matt. 8:10.—Who was in the king’s house. A relative sentence which expresses that Ebed-melech received the news, while he was present in the palace, but the king was absent, sitting in the gate of Benjamin. Comp. 37:13.—Have done evil, Jer 38:9. Comp. 44:5; Mic. 3:4; 2 Ki. 21:11.—וימת תחתיו. This may certainly mean grammatically, “and he had died,” etc. But Ebed-melech does not wish to blame them, that instead of death by famine, which he would have suffered without this, they had inflicted on him another death, but that they had placed him in a position in which he must die at any rate, but I must inevitably before all succumb to the famine. As is well known the Imperfect with Vau consecutive may represent any action which is not really past, but only represented as such, while in reality it is present or future, or even merely the wish, command, or assumed possibility of it. So here, that is related as an accomplished fact which is merely undoubtedly to be expected. Comp. NAEGELSB. Gr., § 88, 5; Jer. 8:16; 9:2: 20:17.—Ebed-melech pre-supposes two things, (1) That the detention in the pit is not in itself absolutely fatal; (2) but that Jeremiah must at all events die of hunger in the pit. The latter pre-supposition is evidently founded on this fact, that in the general scarcity of means of subsistence one who was thrown into a pit might least of all expect to be provided for.
Jer 38:14-16. Then Zedekiah … seek thy life. How long after the liberation from the pit the following conference took place, is not stated. HITZIG supposes that Zedekiah sent for the prophet very soon after his liberation, perhaps on the same day, since otherwise the evasion in Jer 38:26 would have lost all probability, for “days or weeks later, being let alone in the meantime, Jeremiah must have been set at rest with respect to the king’s designs.” But with a king of so weak and vacillating character Jeremiah could not, even after weeks, be safe from cruel measures towards his person. All that can be said is, that immediately after showing a favor a contrary treatment was less to be feared than some time afterwards. Nothing more exact can be determined. At all events, in the interval between the deliverance from the pit and the conference no remarkable event occurred.—Third entry. What entrance to the temple this was is unknown. At any rate, it must have afforded a suitable place for a secret conference.—HITZIG, by the use of 2 Ki. 16:18; 23:11; 1 Chron. 26:18, has attempted a clever combination, which is, however, based on too insecure premises to be satisfactory. [The outer entrance (“the king’s entry without,” 1 Ki. 16:18) leading from the citadel and after the time of Ahaz from the temple into the προάστειον, where there was the cell of a royal eunuch, 2 Ki. 23:11.—S. R. A.]—From the prophet’s answer we see that he neither trusted the king with respect to his own person, in spite of the favors he had received from him, nor with respect to the subject in hand did he expect any receptivity to the divine communications. Proudly and boldly he at first declines to answer the question. But the king swears to him that he will neither put him to death himself nor surrender him to his enemies.—Zedekiah swears by the God of life that he will preserve the prophet’s life. Comp. 16:14, 15.
Jer 38:17-23. Then said Jeremiah … to be burned with fire. Jeremiah again offers the king the alternative which had been so frequently presented before, either voluntary surrender to the Chaldean generals (שָׂרִים, comp. 39:3, 13, Nebuchadnezzar himself was in Riblah, 39:5) and at least the safety of his life and preservation of the city, or continued resistance and destruction of the city and the endangering of his own person. Observe the negative expression, “thou shalt not escape,” in Jer 38:18. Comp. 32:4, 5; 34:2–5. Zedekiah, however, cannot make up his mind to follow the advice of the prophet. He alleges that he fears ill-treatment from the Jews who had already gone over to the Chaldeans. It can scarcely be supposed that this fear was seriously intended, though those transfugæ might represent a party, which was discontented with the government of Zedekiah and ascribed all the calamities of the State to him. For even the quieting assurance of Jeremiah, Jer 38:20, makes no impression, which would have been the case if the king had had no other reason. There was really no reason to distrust the prophet’s assurance.—In case Zedekiah, from fear of the insults of his fugitive subjects, refuses to follow the admonition of the prophet, the prospect of insult to his wives is set before him.—This is the word that Jehovah hath showed me. This does not logically follow as apodosis to the protasis if thou refuse, etc. A middle clause is wanting expressing the thought, thus shalt thou know, or I have to announce to thee as follows. Further, וְהִנֵּה is the standing formula with which the subject of the vision is introduced, 24:1; Am. 7:1, 4–7; 8:1. Accordingly Jer 38:21b seems to be contracted from “hear now the word which I speak in thine ears, which Jehovah,” etc. (28:7). It is not, however, denied that the expression in itself is admissible as it stands. Comp. Ezek. 11:25.—The prophet’s setting before the king the prospect of the deportation of all his remaining wives, seems to intimate that these were a specially esteemed part of his household, in other words, that he had a large and to him very dear harem. The expression “the women that are left in the king of Judah’s house,” in distinction from “thy wives” in Jer 38:23, indicates that there were still wives of former kings as fixtures in the royal household (comp. 2 Sam. 12:8; MICHAELIS, Mos. Recht., I. S. 207; SAALSCHUETZ, Mos. Recht., S. 85), and that even the deportation under Jehoiachin (2 Ki. 24:15), had by no means exhausted the supply of these fixtures. I do not think that by the “women that are left,” are to be understood the maidens, as distinguished from the wives, as GRAF supposes. For their being taken forth to the princes, points to higher rank and estimation. A satirical speech is placed in the mouths of these women, the first part of which is found verbatim (with the exception of הִשִּׁיאוּך instead of הִסִּיתוּךָ) in the prophecy of Obadiah (Jer 38:7). On the indications that, Jeremiah borrowed from Obadiah, and not the reverse, comp. CASPARI, Obadja, S. 8, and the article Obadja in HERZOG, R.-Enc.—Turned away back. Comp. 46:5; Isa. 42:17; Ps. 35:4; 40:15; 129:5. As in the first clause, so also in the second two verbs are employed to express the thought, of which the second expresses the result of the first. The warrior sinking in the mire must fall back. The words are characteristic of Zedekiah. They represent him distinctly as a weak man, dependent on the influence of others. No wonder then that instead of a victor’s pæan, with which the women usually receive a conqueror (1 Sam. 18:7), a song of mockery awaits him. Observe also, that this satirical song is not put into the mouths of Zedekiah’s own wives, for these (in Jer 38:23) are evidently distinguished from the other occupants of the royal harem.—Taken by the hand. As תָּפַשׂ signifies only “to seize,” the words can mean only: thou wilt be taken by the hand, or into the hand of the king, etc. The former would be a mode of expression foreign to the style of the prophet (comp. 20:4; 21:7; 27:6; 29:21; 32:3, 4; 34:3, etc. The second construction (Constr. prægnans. Comp. NAEGELSB.Gr., § 112, 7) is frequent in Jer. 4:31; 11:7; 14:2; 25:34; 32:20; comp. also infra, Jer 38:24 and 27. The sentence is to be regarded as the contraction of two thoughts into one, according to the example of 34:3.—The following sentence is also strange. For Jeremiah to say to Zedekiah, Thou wilt burn the city, although correct in a certain sense, is contrary to his usual mode of expressing himself. The LXX., Syr., Chald., read תִּשָּׂרֵף. The punctuation תִּשְרֹף may be occasioned by את. The latter is, however, not seldom used to emphasize an antithetical new conception, for which we should say: but as to, etc. Comp. EWALD, § 277, d, and especially the passages Ezek. 17:21; 44:3; Jer. 36:22; 2 Ki. 6:5. So EWALD, HITZIG, GRAF, MEIER and others.
Jer 38:24-28. Then said Zedekiah … was taken. The king feared that if the import of his conversation with Jeremiah were known, he would be regarded as vacillating and be suspected of inclining to the view of the prophet. Though he knew that the fact of the conversation could not remain concealed, he wished, however, that it might be represented as occasioned by Jeremiah himself, and as relating purely to his personal interests.—And thou shalt not die, may be regarded as a threat on the part of the king, but at the same time also as a reference to the danger threatening from the princes. For the king would say: I will have you put to death if you betray me, and the princes will kill you if they learn that you have summoned me again to surrender. In the supposed inquiry of the princes, Jer 38:25, the words hide it not from us, and we will not put thee to death, are a parenthesis, the latter expressing the threat, which Zedekiah presupposes in case the prophet should refuse to make a satisfactory statement.—I presented, etc. Comp. rems. on 36:7. The pit is not mentioned here. Zedekiah seems thus to presuppose that Jeremiah need’ not fear a taking back to the pit, from which he had been liberated at the king’s command, but that a return to the prison of Jonathan (37:15), to avert which he had already offered a petition, might be regarded as possible. The latter seems to have been an ordinary place of confinement, while the pit was only an extraordinary one.—The princes really come to Jeremiah. The fact of the conference thus did not remain concealed, but concerning the import of it, nothing had become known (the matter was not perceived). They must have regarded the declaration of Jeremiah made in accordance with the king’s command as probable, for they do not urge the prophet further, but withdraw in silence. After this Jeremiah remained in the court of the guard till the capture of the city. On that which further occurred between Jeremiah and Zedekiah during this last stage of his confinement comp rems on 32:2–5; 34:1–5.
Jer 38:2.—The same words as in 21:9. Only here וְנָפַל and הַצָּרִים עֲלֵיכֶם are wanting, and instead we have at the close a repeated וָחָי. The Chethibh יִחְיֶה is here as in 21:9 the more correct reading, agreeing better with the order of the sentence (ימוּת). וָחָי in sense superfluous, but in accordance with the verbose style of the prophet, is construed like Deut. 4:42 coll. 19:4; Ezek. 18:13; 20:11; NAEGELSB. Gr., § 84, i. On the form comp. OLSH., S. 480, 482, 460.
Jer 38:4.—יומת־נא את האישו ׳/he>. Comp. NAEGELSB. Gr. § 100, 2.
Jer 38:4.—On כִּי עַל־כֵּן Comp. rems. on 29:28.
Jer 38:4.—מְרַכֵא for מְרַכּה Comp. OLSH., § 243, a; NAEGELSB. Gr., § 39 Anm.
Jer 38:4.—לדבר. Comp. NAEGELSB. Gr., § 95, e.
Jer 38:4.—The construction with לְ, as in Job 10:6; Deut. 12:30; 1 Chron. 22:19; 2 Chron. 15:13; 17:4, etc.
Jer 38:5.—Since אֶתְכֵם can be only the nota Acc. with suffix (not on account of the meaning, but the form), יוּכַל’ must be taken in the meaning “overpower” (comp. Ps. 13:5), אִין as purely adverbial with emphatic significance (comp. Job 35:15; 1 Sam. 21:9; NAEGELSB. Gr., § 106, 3), דָּבָּר as accusative of more exact definition: the king can not go beyond you in any matter.
Jer 38:6.—On the article’s position in הַבּוֹר מ׳ comp. NAEGELSB. Gr., § 71, 5 Anm. 1, b.
Jer 38:9.—תחתיו. The preposition is to be taken in its original meaning as a substantive, and as accusative of place: in its underspace, i. e. as we say, on the spot. Comp. 2 Sam. 2:23; Exod. 10:23; 16:29; Jud. 7:21; 1 Sam. 14:9; 2 Sam. 7:10; 1 Chron. 17:9.
Jer 38:10.—HITZIG (and alter him EWALD, GRAF, MEIER) would read שְׁלשָׁה; because thirty men is too many and אֲנָשֵׁים is contrary to the syntax, and also in 2 Sam. 23:13 the same correction is made by the Keri. This alteration does not appear to me to be necessary. Zedekiah might not have ordered the larger number for the sake of the drawing up (for which four men would suffice, as HITZIG reckons), but for greater security and to hinder any resistance. The syntax is not opposed to this. Comp. NAEGELSB. Gr., § 76, 4; GESEN. § 120, 2; 2 Sam. 3:20; 2 Ki. 2:16 coll. 17.—In 2 Sam. 23 the text is corrupt in many places.
Jer 38:10.—בידך. Comp. Gen. 30:35; 32:17; Numb. 31:49; Jud. 9:29.
Jer 38:11.—בְּלוֹיִם from בְּלוֹ, vetustate tritum (comp. Josh. 9:4, 5), occurs here only. Comp. OLSH., § 173, 9. So also מְהָבוֹת from סָחַב, to rend, to tear (15:3; 22:19; 49:20). They are shreds, tatters, rags. The article, which the Keri exscinds, is abnormal and probably occasioned by הַמְּחָנוֹת, Jer 38:12. מְלָחִים also is not found elsewhere. The root מָלַח is found only in Isa. 51:6, in the meaning of diffluere, unless we assume another מָלַח, synonymous with מָרַח (Isa. 38:21; Lev. 21:20), to rub, rub away, and מָרַק, to rub, polish (46:4; Lev. 6:21; 2 Chron. 4:16).
Jer 38:12.—From the connection this must be the mean
Jer 38:14.—On the construction comp, NAEGELSB. Gr., § 73, 2 Anm. [The LXX render: εἰς οἰκίαν ̓Ασελεισήλ, regarding it as a proper name, but this is no authority for a punctuation מְבוֹא הֵשָּׁלִישִׁי, entry of the τριστάται—HITZIG
Jer 38:14.—The sense is the same as in the former question, 37:17. The Part. שֹׁאֵל is to be taken as future: quæsiturus sum. Comp. NAEGELSB. GR., § 97, 1 a.
Jer 38:14.—The second ףָבָר (observe that מְּכַחֵד does not stand simply with a suffix) belongs to the negation, in the sense of ne quid. Comp. NAEGELSB. Gr., § 82, 2.
Jer 38:10.—את אשׁר. If the Chethibh is correct, which is favored by the greater difficulty of the reading, these words simply=eum qui. The relative frequently includes the idea of the demonstrative pronoun (comp. 6:18; NAEGELSB. Gr., § 80, 5). Since now הַי יְהוָֹה is in the accusative, the pronoun relating to it must also be in the accusative; since, however, אֲשֶׁר must at the same time be the nominative to עָשָׂה, it evidently involves the double conception of eum qui, which is only rendered possible by the אֶת. In Latin it would be impossible to say quem in such a case.
Jer 38:19.—דאג. Comp. 17:8; 42:16.
Jer 38:19.—והתעללו בי. Comp. Num. 22:29; Jud. 19:25; 1 Sam. 31:4 coll. Lam. 1:22; 2:20; 3:51. In the Hithp. the meanings of “to gratify, indulge one’s self” and “to mock” appear to be united, the LXX. usually rendering the word by ἐμπαίζω, in this place, however, by καταμωκάομαι.
Jer 38:20.—לְ .לאשׁר=in respect to. Comp. NAEGELSB. Gr., S. 227; Gen. 17:20; 27:8.
Jer 38:20.—וְיִיטַּב וּתְחִי are Jussives with the signification of intended effect. Comp. NAEGELSB. Gr., § 89, 3, b, 2.
Jer 38:22.—Comp. 20:10; Ps. 41:10.
Jer 38:22—Comp. 43:3; Isa. 36:18. The two verbs together express the idea of successful seduction.
Jer 38:22.—בֹּץ ἄπ. λεγ. Comp. בִּצָּה Job 8:11; 40:21.—The form רַגְלֶךָ is indeed irregular, but not without analogy. Comp. NAEGELSB. Gr., § 44, 4 Anm.
Jer 38:23.—On the absence of a subject comp. NAEGELSB. Gr., § 97, 2, b.
Jer 38:24.—Comp. Gen. 19:33, 35; 1 Sam. 22:15; Job 35:15. This also seems to be a pregnant construction, the prefix בְּ accordingly being dependent on the idea of penetrating latent in יָדַע. That it would be regarded as partitive I cannot believe. We should then expect מּן.
Jer 38:27.—This inf. (למות) depends on לְבִלְתִּי .הֲשִׁיבֵנִי, and לְ designates here not the subjective purpose, but the objective result. Comp. Gen. 19:21; Num. 11:11.
Jer 38:27.—On the construction comp. rems. on Jer 38:23.
Then Shephatiah the son of Mattan, and Gedaliah the son of Pashur, and Jucal the son of Shelemiah, and Pashur the son of Malchiah, heard the words that Jeremiah had spoken unto all the people, saying,
So Jeremiah abode in the court of the prison until the day that Jerusalem was taken: and he was there when Jerusalem was taken.B. THE EVENTS SUBSEQUENT TO THE CAPTURE OF JERUSALEM (CHS. 39–44)
1. Jeremiah liberated from the court of the guard and given in charge to Gedaliah
28b. And he was there1 [And it came to pass] when Jerusalem was taken, XXXIX. 1 (In the ninth year of Zedekiah king of Judah, in the tenth month, came Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon and all his army against Jerusalem, and they besieged 2it. And in the eleventh year of Zedekiah, in the fourth month, the ninth day 3of the month, the city was broken up. And [that] all the princes of the king of Babylon came in, and sat in the middle gate, even Nergal sharezer, Samgar-nebo, Sarsechim, Rab-saris, [or the chief of the eunuchs] Nergal sharezer, Rab-mag [or the chief of the Magi], with all the residue of the princes of the king of Babylon.
4And it came to pass, that when Zedekiah the king of Judah saw them, and all the men-of-war [or and all the men-of-war saw them], then they fled and went out of the city by night, by the way of [to] the king’s garden, by the gate betwixt the 5two walls: and he went out the way of the plain. But the Chaldeans’ army pursued [hastened] after them, and overtook Zedekiah in the plains of Jericho: and when they had taken him [and took him] they [and] brought him up to Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon to Riblah in the land of Hamath, where he gave 6[held]2 judgment upon him. Then the king of Babylon slew the sons of Zedekiah in Riblah before his eyes: also the king of Babylon slew all the nobles of Judah. 7Moreover he put out Zedekiah’s eyes, and bound him with chains [a double chain], 8to carry [take] him to Babylon. And the Chaldeans burned the king’s house, and the houses of the people, with fire, and brake down the walls of Jerusalem.
9Then Nebuzar-adan the captain of the guard [halberdiers, lit.: executioners carried away captive into Babylon the remnant of the people that remained in the city, and those that fell away, that fell to him [the deserters, who had gone over to 10him], with the rest of the people that remained. But Nebuzar adan the captain of the guard left of the poor of the people, which had nothing, in the land of Judah,11and gave them vineyards and fields3 at the same time. Now Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon gave charge concerning Jeremiah to Nebuzar-adan the captain 12of the guard, saying, Take him, and look well to him, [set thine eyes upon him] 13and do him no harm; but do unto him even as he shall say unto thee. So Nebuzar-adan the captain of the guard sent, and Nebushasban, Rab-saris [chief of the eunuchs] and Nergal-sharezer, Rab-mag [chief of the Magi], and all the king 14of Babylon’s princes: Even they sent, and took Jeremiah out of the court of the prison [guard], and committed him unto Gedaliah the son of Ahikam the son of Shaphan, that he should carry him home [into the house]: so he dwelt among the people.
EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL
The text of this chapter is interwoven with portions from chap. 52 (2 Ki. 25). Immediately after the opening words an abridged account is interpolated from 52:4–7 (2 Ki. 25:1–4), of the capture of the city mentioned in these words (Jer 39:1 and 2). Then after Jer 39:3, Jer 39:4–10 a similarly abridged account of the flight, capture and punishment of the king, and of the burning of the city and deportation of the people is added from 52:7–16 (2 Ki. 25:4–12). What further follows (Jer 39:11–14) is not derived from elsewhere, but with 38:28b, and 39:3, forms the only independent portion of this section, 39:1–14. The question, whether the statements in vers 11–13, agree with Jer 39:3, will be treated in the Exeg. Rems. Here it may simply be observed that after the excision thus made the original constituents of the section are occupied purely with the person of the prophet, informing us that by order of Nebuchadnezzar, the captain of dragoons Nebuzar-adan has the prophet brought out of the court of the guard and given in charge to Gedaliah, son of Ahikam, after which Jeremiah remained “among the people.”
Jer 38:28—39:2. And it came to pass . . . broken up. As the verses 1, 2 cannot in any way be grammatically connected with the preceding and following context, they may be regarded as a parenthesis. The mention of the capture of Jerusalem in 38:28b occasioned the insertion of this chronological notice relating thereto. It is evident that this insertion was not made by the prophet himself, but proceeded from a later source. Even KEIL acknowledges that the account of the destruction of Jerusalem, which is contained in two recensions, Jer. 52 and 2 Ki. 24:18–25:4, cannot have proceeded from the hand of the prophet (comp. Commentar zu den BB. d. Könige, 1865, S. 10, 11 with which, however, what is said in S. 378 Anm., does not quite agree). Since now vers 39:1, 2 are taken from that account of the destruction of Jerusalem which we find in Jer. 52 and 2 Ki. 25, and this account (comp. the narrative of Jehoiachin’s end, Jer. 52:31–34), must necessarily be of later date than Jeremiah, the extract from that account cannot have been made by Jeremiah. These verses are, therefore, to be regarded as a gloss, which probably came into the text, not by the will of the author, but by the fault of the transcriber. Once having entered the text, they pressed back also those words at the close of the previous chapter, since the parenthesis was doubtless then found to be too long and disjointed, and the connection of the words with Jer 39:3 impracticable. What means the oldest commentators took to fit the words to the previous context, we have already seen.
Jer 39:3. That all the princes . . king of Babylon. These words attach themselves as we have shown to 38:28b. How long after the capture of the city this event took place, the words themselves do not inform us. For the connection of the sentence, 38:28b, may designate both an immediate chronological sequence, or a longer interval. Let us first regard more particularly the place and object of the assembly, and the persons assembled. The place is called the gate of the middle. As is well known, David had first conquered and fortified (2 Sam. 5:7, 9) Mount Zion, the city of David, which JOSEPHUS (Antiq. V., 2, 2) calls the καθύπερθεν πόλις in distinction from the κάτω πόλις. The expression seems to denote one of the gates in the wall separating this upper and lower city. It does not occur elsewhere. Perhaps, however, עִיר הַתִּיכֹנָה (Keriחָצֵר הַתִּיכֹנָה) 2 Ki. 20:4 is connected with it. ARNOLD (HERZ.: R.-Enc. XVIII., S. 629) [SMITH, Dict., I. 1027] supposes that the middle gate is to be sought in the middle of the north wall of Mt. Zion. If the gate of the middle is then to be sought, not in the outer city-wall, but in the interior of the city, perhaps as the main entrance to the upper city, it appears to be a central point quite favorable for the commander’s purpose. At the same time the sitting of the commander in this gate, as the central point of the city-life (comp. on the significance of the gate in this regard, HERZOG’SR.-Enc. XIV., S. 721) may have been the signal of the formal and solemn taking possession. In taking their places where the rulers and elders of Jerusalem were accustomed to discharge their office, the Chaldean princes gave it to be understood that they were now masters of the city. That they had “taken up their quarters” in the gate, as GRAF supposes, I do not think. For a gate is no place for living in, least of all for princes. As we perceive from 2 Ki. 25:1 (Jer. 52:4), Nebuchadnezzar himself began the siege, but left its continuation to his generals, he himself being at the time of the capture in Riblah (2 Ki. 25:6; Jer. 25:9; 39:5). These generals are now enumerated. HITZIG has made the ingenious conjecture, that the four names which we here read, are to be reduced to three, of which each is followed by an official title. Thus Nergal-sharezer bears the title Samgar, which in the Persian signifies “he who has the cup,” so that it is equivalent to Rabshakeh (Isa. 36:2) the cup-bearer. Nebo, which in compound names never occurs in the last place (which is certainly correct), is to be connected with the following name. Sar-sechim is identical with Rab-saris (for סָכִי from סָכָה, or שָׂכָהsecare, from which שָׂכִּיןknife, is equivalent to eunuch). This idle, sportive accumulation of designations of a man has now after Nebo supplanted the second half of the real name, Shasban (Jer 39:13). We thus obtain three names, each with a title: 1. Nergal-sharezer, cup-bearer; 2. Nebushasban, chief-eunuch; 3. Nergal-sharezer, chief-magian. This conjecture, on which GRAF has bestowed his approbation, is very plausible, especially as Rabsaris is certainly called Nebushasban in Jer 39:13, and we cannot conceive why the chief-eunuch, of which there cannot well have been more than one, bears a different name in Jer 39:3, from that in Jer 39:13. According to HITZIG the last two names in Jer 39:13 agree with the corresponding ones in Jer 39:3, the only difference being in the first name, which is however fully explained by the circumstance, that during the interval which had elapsed between Jer 39:3 and Jer 39:15, Nebuzar-adan, who was highest in rank of all the princes, had arrived, and is therefore named first in the latter passage instead of the Nergal-sharezer of Jer 39:3. The sense and connection are thus in favor of HITZIG’S conjecture, but it still lacks a secure etymological basis. That Samgar means cupbearer, and Sar-sechim is equivalent to Rab-saris, is not yet sufficiently proved. On the name Nergal-sharezer comp. NIEBUHR, Ass. u. Bab., S. 37, 42, 43, Anm. [On the identification of Nergal-sharezer with Neriglissat, son-in-law of Nebuchadnezzar, see RAWLINSON, Ancient Monarchies, III. 232, 528, and SMITH’SBible Dictionary, s. v.—S. R. A.] On Nebo also, Ib. S. 30, 34.
Jer 39:4-10. And it came to pass . . at the same time. This passage is, as already remarked, taken with abbreviations from 52:7–16 (2 Ki. 25:4–12). The object is evidently to give, in a compressed picture of the general distress, a background to the original representation, relating merely to the fate of the prophet. That this was necessary, together with Jer 52, must be doubted. For what author will unnecessarily write the same thing twice over? Or would not the author of Jer 39 expect that the reader could himself derive the necessary elucidation of this narrative from ch 52? 39:4–10 is however taken from Jer 52, not from 2 Ki. 25. For if we compare 39:4 with 52:7; 39:5 with 52:8, 9; 39:6 with 52:10 (N. B.: the slaughter of the princes is not mentioned in 2 Ki. 25) and 39:7 with 52:11, we shall find that the present, passage contains all which distinguishes the narrative of Jer 52. from that in 2 Ki. 25, while in no point does it agree with 2 Ki. 25 in opposition to Jer 52. In the verses 39:8–10 the narrative in relation both to Jer 52 and 2 Ki. 25 is so much abbreviated, that any special relationship with one of the two passages is not perceptible. They differ in this section however only in single words, which have no bearing on the essential import, so that we may say that the present text is related to Jer 52, as well as to 2 Ki. 25, as extract and elucidation. On this more below. If, now, 39:4–10 is indisputably of later date than Jer 52, so as to presuppose this chapter, we cannot avoid regarding the text as originally a marginal gloss, which was gradually by the fault of the transcriber incorporated into the text. As regards particular points, the words “And it came to pass that when Zedekiah,” Jer 39:4, may be recognized as a skillfully added connecting gloss, for 1, the original text contains nothing of this; but lets the flight follow immediately on the breaking in of the Chaldeans, 52:7; 2 Ki. 25:4; 2, it is also in itself improbable, that Zedekiah deferred his flight till the Chaldean princes had taken their post in the middle gate. The flight was effectuated in a direction opposite to that in which the enemies from the North approached, viz., by the exit to the South “on the way to the garden of the king through the gate between the double wall.” This garden of the king is mentioned only in Neh. 3:15, where it borders on the pool of Siloah. Comp. ARNOLD in HERZOG, R.-Enc., XVIII., S. 630 u. 635; LEYREB in the same, XIV. S. 371. [SMITH,Dict., I., 653]. According to ARNOLD this garden of the king is probably identical with the garden of Uzza (2 Ki. 21:18, 26). The gate between the double walls also is mentioned only here and in the parallel passages. It is to be sought for in the exit of the Tyropæon, and is probably identical with the gate of the fountain (Neh. 2:14; 3:15; 12:37). Comp. ARNOLD, S. 629 et pass.; THENIUS, BB. d. Könige, S. 456; ROBINSON, Pal. II., S. 142.—The double-wall mentioned besides here (and parallel passages) only in Isa. 22:11, appears to have been a double connection between Zion and Ophel. But concerning this there are various views. Comp. THENIUS, The graves of the kings of Judah in ILLGRU’SZeitschr. f. hist. Theol., 1844, I. S. 18 sqq.; HERZOG, R.-Enc., V. S. 157; XIV. S. 374; XVIII. S. 633; KEIL.BB. d. Kön., S. 381.
From this southern exit Zedekiah turned eastward to the עֲרָבָה. This is the general term for the plain or vale of the Jordan, both on its eastern (comp. Deut. 1:1; 3:17; 4:49; Josh. 12:1) and its western shore (comp. Josh. 8:14; 11:2, 16; 2 Sam. 2:29). Yet it seems as though Arabah is not only to be taken in a narrower and wider sense, (in the wider it comprises the entire depression of the lake Gennesaret to the Elamitic gulf, of which the southern half, from the southern end of the Dead Sea, is still called Wady el Araba) but to be generally of a fluctuating character. For in Deut. 11:30 for instance the region of Sichem, where Mts. Ebal and Gerizim are situated, is reckoned to the Arabah. Zedekiah is overtaken in the עַרְבוֹת יְרֵחוֹ. This is a part of the Arabah, the enlargement of the Jordan-valley, three leagues wide, near Jericho, watered by the brook of Elisha.
The captured king is taken to Riblah, the northern boundary city of Palestine, at the source of the Orontes, (Numb. 34:11) the point of juncture for the roads eastward to the Euphrates, southward to Damascus and the Jordan, and westward to Phœnicia, which had previously been the head-quarters of Pharaoh Necho (2 Ki. 23:33). Here Nebuchadnezzar held judgment over him. Nebuchadnezzar had made him king (2 Ki. 24:17), Zedekiah was therefore a rebel against him (52:3; 2 Ki. 24:20).
The punishment which Zedekiah had to suffer for his revolt was a cruel one: his children were slain before his eyes, likewise all the great men of Judah (הֹרֵי for שָׂרֵי52:10 probably as a reminiscence from 27:30); he himself was blinded and carried in chains to Babylon. From to carry, ver 7, onwards, the abridgement is great and in so far unfortunate that one main point is Omitted, viz., the circumstance that Nebuchadnezzar on the news of the capture of Jerusalem sent the captain of his body-guard, Nebuzaradan, to Jerusalem, who arrived there four weeks after the capture. The mention of this circumstance was important, because without it the appearance of Nebuzar-adan, from 39:9 onwards, is wholly unaccounted for. One consequence of this omission is also that in Jer 39:8 it is not Nebuzar-adan who burns the city, but the Chaldeans. Why the temple is not mentioned among the objects burned is not clear. In Jer 39:4 the obscure and superfluous words “the poor of the people,” found in 52:15, are omitted, and instead of “that fell to the king of Babylon,” we have simply “that fell to him,” עָלָיו (2 Ki. 25:11, עַל מֶלֶךְ ב׳, almost the only point in which Jer 39 approaches more nearly to 2 Ki. 25 than Jer 52). Since the king of Babylon has not been named just before (comp Jer 39:6fin.) “to him” can refer only to the Nebuzar adan mentioned in the following verse; a reference which cannot be historically justified, since by the deserters mentioned are to be understood such only as went over before the conquest. After the deserters our text mentions besides “the remnant of the people.” In antithesis to the “remnant of the people that remained in the city” can be understood only the inhabitants remaining in the country. In the place of the second הָעָם we find in 2 Ki. 25:11הֶהָמֹן, in Jer. 52:15הָאָמֹן. The former denotes “tumult, multitude of people” (comp. Isai. 13:4; 17:12) and our text takes the latter doubtless in the same sense. Whether correctly is another question. Comp. rems. on 52:15. Nebuzar-adan, the “captain of the guard,” is here named for the first time. Sent by the king to Jerusalem on receipt of the news that Jerusalem is taken (comp. 52:12; 2 Ki. 25:8), he immediately assumes the chief command, as is evident from this passage, and the following (39:10–12; 40:1–6). The nature of his office, as well as the expression “who stood before the king” in 52:12, indicate that he took precedence of all other princes.—The tenth verse, in this differing from the rest, contains an extension of the original text, the expression “the poor” being explained by the addition “which had nothing,” wanting in Jer 52 and 2 Ki. 25. The author evidently held it to be desirable (though unnecessary), to call attention to the fact that דַּל is not here to be taken in the sense of “afflictus, miser.” The brief phrase “for vine-dressers and for husbandmen” in 52:16; 2 Ki. 25:12 (Keri) he extends into a sentence.—The words “at the same time” (in the same day) are to mark the difference in time between what was last narrated and what follows. It might otherwise have seemed as if the events narrated in Jer 39:11 occurred contemporaneously with those in Jer 39:9, 10.
Jer 39:11-14. Now Nebuchadnezzar . . . among the people. STRUENSEE, MOVERS, GRAF, MEIER, dispute the genuineness of Jer 39:11–13, HITZIG only of Jer 39:13. The objections to the authenticity appear to be the following: 1. The commission given to Nebuzar-adan is, according to 40:1, not executed. Only in Rama (40:1) does Nebuzar-adan (comp. 40:4) what according to 39:11, 12 he was commanded to do. 2. If Nebuzar-adan, who according to 52:12 came to Jerusalem four weeks after its capture, first ordered the liberation of Jeremiah from the court of the guard, Jeremiah had remained there four weeks after the capture, which is in contradiction to 38:28. 3. The three vers. are wanting in the LXX. 4. As to Jer 39:13 in particular, it is a mere connecting clause, rendered necessary by the insertion of Jer 39:11, 12. For Jer 39:14 could not be connected directly with Jer 39:12; for the subject of “sent” would then be obscure. By the mention of Nebuzar-adan the connection with Jer 39:12 and the previous context, and by the mention of the other princes the connection with Jer 39:13 is established. I do not think that these arguments are conclusive. As to the first point, Nebuzar-adan certainly made the necessary arrangements for the execution of his commission. He liberated the prophet from the court of the guard, and entrusted him to Gedaliah for his further maintenance. But he seems not to have been in a condition to keep the prophet specially in view, so that he might be preserved from any personal malignity. In the confusion which was necessarily connected with the destruction of the city, the prophet, who voluntarily or involuntarily had been included in the multitude of the people, was treated like the rest. He was bound like the others. It was only in Ramah, where probably the first halt was made, and the arrangement of the caravan was definitely adjusted, that the captain of the halberdiers remembered his commission with respect to the prophet. There he liberated him from the chains, which he had borne “among all that were carried away captive” (40:1) and committed him the second time to Gedaliah (40:6). With regard to the second point it should first of all be remarked that “day,” 38:28, must not necessarily be understood in the most restricted sense. This word, as is well known, frequently designates the period of an historical event in general, without any thought of a day of twenty-four hours. Comp. 7:25; 11:7; Jud. 18:30, etc. If now we consider that the princes who, according to 39:3, sat down in the middle gate, thus took possession of Jerusalem in the name of the Chaldean king, but could not undertake further measures with respect to the fate of the city till they had heard from him, it cannot truly be surprising that for four weeks, till the arrival of Nebuzar-adan (52:12) things remained essentially as before, and that thus Jeremiah could not be removed from the court of the guard. The absence of the Jer 39:11–13 in the LXX. (which moreover omits the whole section 4–13, while it has Jer 39:1, 2) is of no significance, the reasons for it being apparent. The translator wished by the omission of Jer 39:11, 12 to avoid an apparent contradiction, by the omission of Jer 39:13 a repetition. As to the fourth argument it falls to pieces of itself, in so far that Jer 39:13 seems necessary in any case, whether we regard Jer 39:11, 12 as genuine or not. The names of the princes might indeed be named together after וַיִּשְׁלְחוּ. But we see that the author’s thoughts (after Jer 39:11, 12) were so much occupied with Nebuzar-adan that he names him first and as the chief personage (hence וַיִּשְׁלַח Jer 39:13), adding the rest only by way of supplement. When now after the long series of names and titles he repeated the principal verb once more, and in the plural, this is evidently done purely in the interest of perspicuity. We cannot then regard the arguments against the genuineness of Jer 39:11–13 as valid. On the other hand the following positively favor the genuineness: 1. In point of idiom there is nothing which is foreign to the prophet’s usage. It is worth notice that in Jer 39:11 the name of the Chaldean king is Nebuchadrezzar (as Jeremiah is always accustomed to write it) while in Jer 39:5 we read Nebuchadnezzar. The expression בְּיַד is one current in Jeremiah. It is found thirty-eight times, more frequently than in any of the other prophets. The expression שִׂים עֵינֶיךָ is found besides here and 40:4 only in Gen. 44:21. The phrase “do him no harm” (on the Dag. f. in רָּע comp. OLSH. § 83, f.) is not indeed specifically Jeremian, but by no means as GRAF asserts, an unnecessary explanatory addition. Could it have been unnecessary to enjoin on Nebuzar-adan that no harm should be done to Jeremiah? Was this beyond the reach of possibility? The actual fate of the prophet gives the answer to this question. Or could the רָּע be omitted? Then we should have an ambiguous expression. For, strictly taken, the sentence without רָע would make it Nebuzar-adan’s duty to behave indifferently towards Jeremiah. 2. It is in favor of the authenticity that the passage (Jer 39:11–13) is shown to be neither a foreign property, borrowed from elsewhere (like Jer 39:1, 2; 4–10), nor an interruption of the connection, but on the contrary as necessary to furnish a perfectly clear picture of the occurrences. That the passage is not borrowed is acknowledged by all. That the course of Nebuzar-adan, as it is related in 40:1–6 presupposes a commission of Nebuchadnezzar is involved in the nature of the case. For how could Nebuzar-adan dare to distinguish a single person with such favors if he had not been sure of the approval of his master? And is it then improbable that this approval was assured to him by a positive commission? Must an interpolator have invented this commission when Nebuchadnezzar may have heard a thousand times from the mouth of deserters that there was a prophet in Jerusalem who incessantly and with constant danger to his life had designated Nebuchadnezzar as an instrument in the hand of the Lord and submission to him as the only way of escape? And if Nebuchadnezzar had heard this, is there any reason for regarding the commission as the idle, unhistorical conjecture of a later editor? I believe that the narrative in Jer 39:11–14, in most intimate connection with Jer 39:3, presents us with the events in a perfectly natural manner, both as to form and contents. It is not at all necessary to take וַיְצַו, Jer 39:11, as pluperfect. For this command was actually given after the event related in Jer 39:3, which we have regarded above as the act of solemn taking possession. After Nebuchadnezzar had received the news of the capture of Jerusalem he sent Nebuzar-adan with his further orders. Among these was one respecting the person of the prophet. This alone is here mentioned, as the subject of the verses 39:3, 11–14, is simply the personal experiences of Jeremiah. In the execution of this commission, the princes, at whose head no longer stood Nergalsharezer but Nebuzar-adan, had the prophet taken out of the court of the guard. This could not be done before, because till the arrival of Nebuchadnezzar all had to remain in general the same as it had been at the capture of the city. Jeremiah was now given in charge to Gedaliah, the son of Ahikam. This Ahikam, of a noble family (comp. 2 Ki. 22:12, 14), had already favored the prophet (26:24). Gedaliah evidently belonged to that small party, who having taken Jeremiah’s prophecies as the rule of their political course, had gone over to the Chaldeans (38:19). Gedaliah was to bring the prophet from the court of the guard אֶל־הַבַּיִת. By this some have understood the temple (HITZIG), others the king’s house (GRAF, et al.). But according to 52:13 (2 Ki. 25:9), both these were burned down by Nebuzar-adan, together with the other houses of Jerusalem, directly on his arrival. And assuredly those large public buildings were not the last to which the Chaldeans applied the destroying hand. It is credible that some private dwellings might be preserved to the last, to afford shelter to some privileged persons. “Into the house” may thus designate the genus, private dwelling in general, in contrast to “quarters at the public expense,” such as the court afforded, it thus remaining undecided whether the private dwelling in which Jeremiah was taken were Gedaliah’s own house, or some other. In this private dwelling Jeremiah was not placed under confinement. He could freely go in and out. And so he had intercourse with the people, doubtless warning and comforting them with his prophetic words, and was thus in the vast confusion of the destruction, plundering and deportation, treated by the soldiers who had charge of the details like the mass of the populace, i.e., bound in chains, and placed in the trains of captives. Nebuchadnezzar’s order thus remained unobeyed, without any fault of Nebuzar-adan and Gedaliah, till they reached the station of Ramah.
Jer 39:28 b.—These words cannot either logically or grammatically be connected with the previous context. The Vulg. and Chald. translate ungrammatically: et factum est, ut caperetur Hierosolyma. The Syr. omits the words altogether. The LXX. translate merely וְהָיָה, connecting it immediately with 39:1. On the other hand, an entirely appropriate sense and connection is furnished, if the words are connected with Jer 39:3. On וְהָיָה, comp rems. on 37:11. The Masoretes, moreover, objected to the present division of the text, as may be seen from their פִסְקָא בְּאֶמְצַע פְסוּקָא (lacuna in medio versu). Comp. GESEN.: Lehrgeb., S. 124; HUPFELD, Stud. u. Krit., 1837, S. 835. Similar cases are found in Gen. 35:22; Num. 25:19; Josh. 4:1; Ezek. 3:16, etc. Comp. FUERST, Propylæa Masoræ, § 29 in the Concordance, p. 1369.—In Jer 39:1 בֶּעָשׂוֹר לַחדֶֹשׁ wanting in our text, possibly through the oversight of the transcriber; הוּא is likewise wanting before וְכָל־חֵילוֹ; וַיָּצֻרוּ עָלֶיהָ is contracted from the longer sentence “and pitched against it, and built forts against it round about, so the city was besieged.” Finally הָבְקְעָה הָעְיר is contracted from “the famine prevailed (was sore) in the city, and there was no bread for the people of the land, and the city was broken up.” It is evident that the author of this text was concerned only to present the main thoughts.
Jer 39:5.—The expression דַּבֵּר מִשְׁפָטִים אֵת פ׳ for “to hold judgment,” occurs only in Jeremiah: 1:16; 4:12; 12:1. The present account also has the form hero only, while in 2 Ki. 25:6 we find מִשְׁכָּט. Moreover the expression is not found elsewhere with the following אֵת and with the meaning “litigare, hold judgment,” but it signifies elsewhere (Ps. 37:30; Isa. 32:7) simply “to speak justice.”—This is a point which would favor the Jeremian origin of Jer 52 (comp. HAEVERNICK, Einl., II. 3, S. 233), if this grammatical agreement might not be due to other causes.
Jer 39:10.—יְגֵבִים is ἅπ. λεγ.