The Book of Jeremiah
Chapters 33 to 36
A Biblical Commentary Courtesy of Brit-Am
[Jeremiah 37:1] AND KING ZEDEKIAH THE SON OF JOSIAH REIGNED INSTEAD OF CONIAH THE SON OF JEHOIAKIM, WHOM NEBUCHADREZZAR KING OF BABYLON MADE KING IN THE LAND OF JUDAH.
There is here a jump in time from the fifth year of JEHOIAKIM to towards the end of the reign of Zedekiah. The time gap close to twenty years.
[Jeremiah 37:2] BUT NEITHER HE, NOR HIS SERVANTS, NOR THE PEOPLE OF THE LAND, DID HEARKEN UNTO THE WORDS OF THE LORD, WHICH HE SPAKE BY THE PROPHET JEREMIAH.
[Jeremiah 37:3] AND ZEDEKIAH THE KING SENT JEHUCAL THE SON OF SHELEMIAH AND ZEPHANIAH THE SON OF MAASEIAH THE PRIEST TO THE PROPHET JEREMIAH, SAYING, PRAY NOW UNTO THE LORD OUR GOD FOR US.
[Jeremiah 37:4] NOW JEREMIAH CAME IN AND WENT OUT AMONG THE PEOPLE: FOR THEY HAD NOT PUT HIM INTO PRISON.
[Jeremiah 37:5] THEN PHARAOH'S ARMY WAS COME FORTH OUT OF EGYPT: AND WHEN THE CHALDEANS THAT BESIEGED JERUSALEM HEARD TIDINGS OF THEM, THEY DEPARTED FROM JERUSALEM.
Pharaoh Hofra (589-569 BCE) advanced against the Babylonians and this aroused Jewish anticipations of liberation from the Babylonian siege.
[Jeremiah 37:6] THEN CAME THE WORD OF THE LORD UNTO THE PROPHET JEREMIAH SAYING,
[Jeremiah 37:7] THUS SAITH THE LORD, THE GOD OF ISRAEL; THUS SHALL YE SAY TO THE KING OF JUDAH, THAT SENT YOU UNTO ME TO ENQUIRE OF ME; BEHOLD, PHARAOH'S ARMY, WHICH IS COME FORTH TO HELP YOU, SHALL RETURN TO EGYPT INTO THEIR OWN LAND.
[Jeremiah 37:8] AND THE CHALDEANS SHALL COME AGAIN, AND FIGHT AGAINST THIS CITY, AND TAKE IT, AND BURN IT WITH FIRE.
[Jeremiah 37:9] THUS SAITH THE LORD; DECEIVE NOT YOURSELVES, SAYING, THE CHALDEANS SHALL SURELY DEPART FROM US: FOR THEY SHALL NOT DEPART.
[Jeremiah 37:10] FOR THOUGH YE HAD SMITTEN THE WHOLE ARMY OF THE CHALDEANS THAT FIGHT AGAINST YOU, AND THERE REMAINED BUT WOUNDED MEN AMONG THEM, YET SHOULD THEY RISE UP EVERY MAN IN HIS TENT, AND BURN THIS CITY WITH FIRE.
No matter what would happen the Prophecy would be fulfilled. God can do anything anyway. God prefers to work through natural agencies and therefore even weak insignificant agencies can effect the will of God when necessary.
[Jeremiah 37:11] AND IT CAME TO PASS, THAT WHEN THE ARMY OF THE CHALDEANS WAS BROKEN UP FROM JERUSALEM FOR FEAR OF PHARAOH'S ARMY,
[Jeremiah 37:12] THEN JEREMIAH WENT FORTH OUT OF JERUSALEM TO GO INTO THE LAND OF BENJAMIN, TO SEPARATE HIMSELF THENCE IN THE MIDST OF THE PEOPLE.
Jeremiah was a Cohen (of Priestly Family) descended from Aaron the brother of Moses. He came from Anathoth in the territory of Benjamin.
[Jeremiah 37:13] AND WHEN HE WAS IN THE GATE OF BENJAMIN, A CAPTAIN OF THE WARD WAS THERE, WHOSE NAME WAS IRIJAH, THE SON OF SHELEMIAH, THE SON OF HANANIAH; AND HE TOOK JEREMIAH THE PROPHET, SAYING, THOU FALLEST AWAY TO THE CHALDEANS.
[Jeremiah 37:14] THEN SAID JEREMIAH, IT IS FALSE; I FALL NOT AWAY TO THE CHALDEANS. BUT HE HEARKENED NOT TO HIM: SO IRIJAH TOOK JEREMIAH, AND BROUGHT HIM TO THE PRINCES.
[Jeremiah 37:15] WHEREFORE THE PRINCES WERE WROTH WITH JEREMIAH, AND SMOTE HIM, AND PUT HIM IN PRISON IN THE HOUSE OF JONATHAN THE SCRIBE: FOR THEY HAD MADE THAT THE PRISON.
[Jeremiah 37:16] WHEN JEREMIAH WAS ENTERED INTO THE DUNGEON, AND INTO THE CABINS, AND JEREMIAH HAD REMAINED THERE MANY DAYS;
It was apparently a former residential dwelling and adjacent workshops that had been turned into a prison complex.
[Jeremiah 37:17] THEN ZEDEKIAH THE KING SENT, AND TOOK HIM OUT: AND THE KING ASKED HIM SECRETLY IN HIS HOUSE, AND SAID, IS THERE ANY WORD FROM THE LORD" AND JEREMIAH SAID, THERE IS: FOR, SAID HE, THOU SHALT BE DELIVERED INTO THE HAND OF THE KING OF BABYLON.
[Jeremiah 37:18] MOREOVER JEREMIAH SAID UNTO KING ZEDEKIAH, WHAT HAVE I OFFENDED AGAINST THEE, OR AGAINST THY SERVANTS, OR AGAINST THIS PEOPLE, THAT YE HAVE PUT ME IN PRISON"
[Jeremiah 37:19] WHERE ARE NOW YOUR PROPHETS WHICH PROPHESIED UNTO YOU, SAYING, THE KING OF BABYLON SHALL NOT COME AGAINST YOU, NOR AGAINST THIS LAND"
[Jeremiah 37:20] THEREFORE HEAR NOW, I PRAY THEE, O MY LORD THE KING: LET MY SUPPLICATION, I PRAY THEE, BE ACCEPTED BEFORE THEE; THAT THOU CAUSE ME NOT TO RETURN TO THE HOUSE OF JONATHAN THE SCRIBE, LEST I DIE THERE.
[Jeremiah 37:21] THEN ZEDEKIAH THE KING COMMANDED THAT THEY SHOULD COMMIT JEREMIAH INTO THE COURT OF THE PRISON, AND THAT THEY SHOULD GIVE HIM DAILY A PIECE OF BREAD OUT OF THE BAKERS' STREET, UNTIL ALL THE BREAD IN THE CITY WERE SPENT. THUS JEREMIAH REMAINED IN THE COURT OF THE PRISON.
[Jeremiah 38:1] 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,
[Jeremiah 38:2] THUS SAITH THE LORD, HE THAT REMAINETH IN THIS CITY 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 LIFE FOR A PREY, AND SHALL LIVE.
[Jeremiah 38:3] THUS SAITH THE LORD, THIS CITY SHALL SURELY BE GIVEN INTO THE HAND OF THE KING OF BABYLON'S ARMY, WHICH SHALL TAKE IT.
[Jeremiah 38:4] THEREFORE THE PRINCES SAID UNTO THE KING, WE BESEECH THEE, LET THIS MAN BE PUT TO DEATH: FOR THUS HE WEAKENETH THE HANDS OF THE MEN OF WAR THAT REMAIN IN THIS CITY, AND THE HANDS OF ALL THE PEOPLE, IN SPEAKING SUCH WORDS UNTO THEM: FOR THIS MAN SEEKETH NOT THE WELFARE OF THIS PEOPLE, BUT THE HURT.
[Jeremiah 38:5] THEN ZEDEKIAH THE KING SAID, BEHOLD, HE IS IN YOUR HAND: FOR THE KING IS NOT HE THAT CAN DO ANY THING AGAINST YOU.
[Jeremiah 38:6] THEN TOOK THEY JEREMIAH, AND CAST HIM INTO THE DUNGEON OF MALCHIAH THE SON OF HAMMELECH, 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 MIRE.
"THE DUNGEON" (in Hebrew "bor") was actually a disused water hole. They would dig a bell-shaped underground storage area for water that was collected from gutters and off roof-tops. The hole was plastered when in use. When out of use the plaster would be allowed to deteriorate and mud and refuse would collect on the floor. Jeremiah was cast into damp mud and darkness. The climate of Jerusalem can be intemperate and the life of Jeremiah was in danger.
[Jeremiah 38:7] NOW WHEN EBEDMELECH THE ETHIOPIAN, ONE OF THE EUNUCHS WHICH WAS IN THE KING'S HOUSE, HEARD THAT THEY HAD PUT JEREMIAH IN THE DUNGEON; THE KING THEN SITTING IN THE GATE OF BENJAMIN;
"EBEDMELECH THE ETHIOPIAN": "EBEDMELECH" (i.e. "Ebed-melech") means "Servant of the King". "THE ETHIOPIAN", in Hebrew the "Cushi". This term could be applied to any dark person from Africa or India. EBEDMELECH was a good man and tried to intercede on behalf of Jeremiah. The word for "eunuch" is "Saris" in Hebrew. This word can also mean official. If however Ebedmelech really was a eunuch he had probably been made so in the land of his origin and then sold as a slave. Israelites were forbidden to castrate themselves or others. It was forbidden to even castrate animals. In former times eunuchs were employed in harems and as slaves in general. They were considered easier to control in some ways. In Saudi Arabia and in the Muslim world eunuch slaves still exist. These slaves are usually of African origin. There were cases of black Muslims making the pilgrimage to Mecca in Arabia and being kept there as slaves. Consequently certain African countries dissuade their subjects from making this pilgrimage.
[Jeremiah 38:8] EBEDMELECH WENT FORTH OUT OF THE KING'S HOUSE, AND SPAKE TO THE KING SAYING,
[Jeremiah 38:9] 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 DIE FOR HUNGER IN THE PLACE WHERE HE IS: FOR THERE IS NO MORE BREAD IN THE CITY.
[Jeremiah 38:10] THEN THE KING COMMANDED EBEDMELECH THE ETHIOPIAN, SAYING, TAKE FROM HENCE THIRTY MEN WITH THEE, AND TAKE UP JEREMIAH THE PROPHET OUT OF THE DUNGEON, BEFORE HE DIE.
"THIRTY MEN" is a large number of men to use to pull one man up out of a pit but possibly they had all been greatly weakened by hunger and so a large number was necessary. Also the "hole" or dungeon and the mud made it physically complicated to pull Jeremiah up.
[Jeremiah 38:11] SO EBEDMELECH TOOK THE MEN WITH HIM, AND WENT INTO THE HOUSE OF THE KING UNDER THE TREASURY, AND TOOK THENCE OLD CAST CLOUTS AND OLD ROTTEN RAGS, AND LET THEM DOWN BY CORDS INTO THE DUNGEON TO JEREMIAH.
[Jeremiah 38:12] AND EBEDMELECH THE ETHIOPIAN SAID UNTO JEREMIAH, PUT NOW THESE OLD CAST CLOUTS AND ROTTEN RAGS UNDER THINE ARMHOLES UNDER THE CORDS. AND JEREMIAH DID SO.
They needed to put the rags under the cords so that the rope would not cut into the flesh of Jeremiah when pulling him out. Hunger had not only weakened everybody but it had also made their bodies much more susceptible to damage from external pressure.
[Jeremiah 38:13] SO THEY DREW UP JEREMIAH WITH CORDS, AND TOOK HIM UP OUT OF THE DUNGEON: AND JEREMIAH REMAINED IN THE COURT OF THE PRISON.
[Jeremiah 38:14] THEN ZEDEKIAH THE KING SENT, AND TOOK JEREMIAH THE PROPHET UNTO HIM INTO THE THIRD ENTRY THAT IS IN THE HOUSE OF THE LORD: AND THE KING SAID UNTO JEREMIAH, I WILL ASK THEE A THING; HIDE NOTHING FROM ME.
[Jeremiah 38:15] THEN JEREMIAH SAID UNTO ZEDEKIAH, IF I DECLARE IT UNTO THEE, WILT THOU NOT SURELY PUT ME TO DEATH" AND IF I GIVE THEE COUNSEL, WILT THOU NOT HEARKEN UNTO ME"
[Jeremiah 38:16] 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.
[Jeremiah 38:17] THEN SAID JEREMIAH UNTO ZEDEKIAH, THUS SAITH THE LORD, 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; AND THOU SHALT LIVE, AND THINE HOUSE:
[Jeremiah 38:18] 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, AND THEY SHALL BURN IT WITH FIRE, AND THOU SHALT NOT ESCAPE OUT OF THEIR HAND.
[Jeremiah 38:19] AND ZEDEKIAH THE KING SAID UNTO JEREMIAH, I AM AFRAID OF THE JEWS THAT ARE FALLEN TO THE CHALDEANS, LEST THEY DELIVER ME INTO THEIR HAND, AND THEY MOCK ME.
Zedekiah was afraid of the Jews that had deserted and gone over to the Babylonians. We see from this incident that Zedekiah had already realized that Jeremiah was in the right and that his advice was correct. Zedekiah was playing with the idea of doing what Jeremiah suggested but could not bring himself to overcome the pressures against such acceptance.
[Jeremiah 38:20] BUT JEREMIAH SAID, THEY SHALL NOT DELIVER THEE. OBEY, I BESEECH THEE, THE VOICE OF THE LORD, WHICH I SPEAK UNTO THEE: SO IT SHALL BE WELL UNTO THEE, AND THY SOUL SHALL LIVE.
[Jeremiah 38:21] BUT IF THOU REFUSE TO GO FORTH, THIS IS THE WORD THAT THE LORD HATH SHEWED ME:
[Jeremiah 38:22] 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 SHALL SAY, THY FRIENDS HAVE SET THEE ON, AND HAVE PREVAILED AGAINST THEE: THY FEET ARE SUNK IN THE MIRE, AND THEY ARE TURNED AWAY BACK.
The women from the harem of the king will be brought out and given to the Babylonian princes. They will sing a song of mockery against the king who let himself be misled by his friends and advisors. Buleh (Daat Mikrah) says that such a song already existed and was part of the traditional repertoire and was song at times of defeat. In those times popular songs and sayings and long refrains were known by heart by many people. They did not have television or newspapers and many of the women and common people were probably illiterate. Even if they could read they did so on rare occasions. They developed the powers of memorizing and chanting various ballads and repeated them on appropriate occasions. The ballads could be joyful and exultant or sad and bitter according to the event. A similar culture existed until not long ago in Celtic communities such as those of Ireland and the Scottish Highlands.
Incidentally the romans referred to Britain as "Happy Arabia" and "Arabia" in Roman terms meant that portion of Israel east of the Jordan River.
Zedekiah should have hearkened to Jeremiah. It will be as if the feet of the king were in the mud and he will be unable to move them. In the same was as the king had allowed Jeremiah to be physically thrown into the mud so to will the king be punished in a figurative-psychological sense. "Measure for measure" concerning punishment and reward, "As you have done, so shall it be done unto you", is a recurring theme in scripture. It works both ways, just as one is punished for bad deeds so too is one rewarded for good deeds. Good deeds include refraining from bad ones. The word for mire or Mud is "botz" and for a swamp where the ground is mixed with water is "baitsa". This could be pronounced similarly to the English word "beach" and is probably the source of that word.
For the past few years I have been learning the Book of Jeremiah at a class given once a week by Rabbi Mordecai Machles in Jerusalem. Rabbi Machles suggests that the "mud" or "mire" that was endangering the life of Jeremiah was similar to quicksand and in the darkness of the pit he was interred in Jeremiah was in danger of suffocating in it.
[Jeremiah 38:23] SO THEY 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.
[Jeremiah 38:24] THEN SAID ZEDEKIAH UNTO JEREMIAH, LET NO MAN KNOW OF THESE WORDS, AND THOU SHALT NOT DIE.
[Jeremiah 38:25] 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 SAID UNTO THEE:
[Jeremiah 38:26] 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.
[Jeremiah 38:27] THEN 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 SPEAKING WITH HIM; FOR THE MATTER WAS NOT PERCEIVED.
[Jeremiah 38:28] SO JEREMIAH ABODE IN THE COURT OF THE PRISON UNTIL THE DAY THAT JERUSALEM WAS TAKEN: AND HE WAS THERE WHEN JERUSALEM WAS TAKEN.
[Jeremiah 39:1] 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 IT.
[Jeremiah 39:2] AND IN THE ELEVENTH YEAR OF ZEDEKIAH, IN THE FOURTH MONTH, THE NINTH DAY OF THE MONTH, THE CITY WAS BROKEN UP.
This happened on the 9th of the month of Ab. Enemies of the Jews have often deliberately chosen this day to attack Jews upon. The Jews were expelled from Spain on this day. The Nazis would step up their killing of the Jews and tormenting them on this day.
[Jeremiah 39:3] AND ALL THE PRINCES OF THE KING OF BABYLON CAME IN, AND SAT IN THE MIDDLE GATE, EVEN NERGALSHAREZER, SAMGARNEBO, SARSECHIM, RABSARIS, NERGALSHAREZER, RABMAG, WITH ALL THE RESIDUE OF THE PRINCES OF THE KING OF BABYLON.
[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 BETWIXT THE TWO WALLS: AND HE WENT OUT THE WAY OF THE PLAIN.
[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 UPON HIM.
Hamath was in Northern Syria.
[Jeremiah 39:6] 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.
[Jeremiah 39:7] MOREOVER HE PUT OUT ZEDEKIAH'S EYES, AND BOUND HIM WITH CHAINS, TO CARRY HIM TO BABYLON.
[Jeremiah 39:8] AND THE CHALDEANS BURNED THE KING'S HOUSE, AND THE HOUSES OF THE PEOPLE, WITH FIRE, AND BRAKE DOWN THE WALLS OF JERUSALEM.
[Jeremiah 39:9] THEN NEBUZARADAN THE CAPTAIN OF THE GUARD CARRIED AWAY CAPTIVE INTO BABYLON THE REMNANT OF THE PEOPLE THAT REMAINED IN THE CITY, AND THOSE THAT FELL AWAY, THAT FELL TO HIM, WITH THE REST OF THE PEOPLE THAT REMAINED.
[Jeremiah 39:10] BUT NEBUZARADAN THE CAPTAIN OF THE GUARD LEFT OF THE POOR OF THE PEOPLE, WHICH HAD NOTHING, IN THE LAND OF JUDAH, AND GAVE THEM VINEYARDS AND FIELDS AT THE SAME TIME.
Most of the people of Jerusalem were taken into Exile. Residents of towns in Judah outside of Jerusalem had already been exiled. They were taken to Babylon. A portion of them were to return under Ezra and Nehemiah and later during the time of the Second Temple. Most remained in their places of Exile and this was the real beginning of the Jewish Diaspora. Those Jews who did return and rebuild Jerusalem were ultimately to be exiled and scattered by the Romans. The Jewish people at present may now be divided into two cultural groupings:
1. Sephardic Jews whose spiritual dominance stems from the Jews of Spain. Sephardic Jews were linked more to the leadership of Jewish learning centers in Babylon.
2. Ashkenazic Jews whose leadership had at one stage dwelt in Germany. The Ashkenazic Jews had customs and traditions that were more pertinent to the Jews of the Land of Israel.
[Jeremiah 39:11] NOW NEBUCHADREZZAR KING OF BABYLON GAVE CHARGE CONCERNING JEREMIAH TO NEBUZARADAN THE CAPTAIN OF THE GUARD, SAYING,
Nebuchadnezzar himself commanded his chief military commander to take god care of Jeremiah the Prophet.
[Jeremiah 39:12] TAKE HIM, AND LOOK WELL TO HIM, AND DO HIM NO HARM; BUT DO UNTO HIM EVEN AS HE SHALL SAY UNTO THEE.
[Jeremiah 39:13] SO NEBUZARADAN THE CAPTAIN OF THE GUARD SENT, AND NEBUSHASBAN, RABSARIS, AND NERGALSHAREZER, RABMAG, AND ALL THE KING OF BABYLON'S PRINCES;
[Jeremiah 39:14] EVEN THEY SENT, AND TOOK JEREMIAH OUT OF THE COURT OF THE PRISON, AND COMMITTED HIM UNTO GEDALIAH THE SON OF AHIKAM THE SON OF SHAPHAN, THAT HE SHOULD CARRY HIM HOME: SO HE DWELT AMONG THE PEOPLE.
[Jeremiah 39:15] NOW THE WORD OF THE LORD CAME UNTO JEREMIAH, WHILE HE WAS SHUT UP IN THE COURT OF THE PRISON, SAYING,
[Jeremiah 39:16] GO AND SPEAK TO EBEDMELECH THE ETHIOPIAN, SAYING, THUS SAITH THE LORD OF HOSTS, THE GOD OF ISRAEL; BEHOLD, I WILL BRING MY WORDS UPON THIS CITY FOR EVIL, AND NOT FOR GOOD; AND THEY SHALL BE ACCOMPLISHED IN THAT DAY BEFORE THEE.
[Jeremiah 39:17] BUT I WILL DELIVER THEE IN THAT DAY, SAITH THE LORD: AND THOU SHALT NOT BE GIVEN INTO THE HAND OF THE MEN OF WHOM THOU ART AFRAID.
Apparently there were those who wished to harm Ebed-Melech either because he had assisted Jeremiah or for some other reason. People in Poland who helped save Jews in the holocaust were in danger of being persecuted and killed by their neighbors after the War.
[Jeremiah 39:18] FOR I WILL SURELY DELIVER THEE, AND THOU SHALT NOT FALL BY THE SWORD, BUT THY LIFE SHALL BE FOR A PREY UNTO THEE: BECAUSE THOU HAST PUT THY TRUST IN ME, SAITH THE LORD.
Ebedmelch had saved the life of Jeremiah. Jeremiah returned the favor.
[Jeremiah 40:1] THE WORD THAT CAME TO JEREMIAH FROM THE LORD, AFTER THAT NEBUZARADAN THE CAPTAIN OF THE GUARD HAD LET HIM GO FROM RAMAH, WHEN HE HAD TAKEN HIM BEING BOUND IN CHAINS AMONG ALL THAT WERE CARRIED AWAY CAPTIVE OF JERUSALEM AND JUDAH, WHICH WERE CARRIED AWAY CAPTIVE UNTO BABYLON.
[Jeremiah 40:2] AND THE CAPTAIN OF THE GUARD TOOK JEREMIAH, AND SAID UNTO HIM, THE LORD THY GOD HATH PRONOUNCED THIS EVIL UPON THIS PLACE.
The Babylonian officer recognized that disaster had befallen Judah due to the sin of Judah against God rather than through the might of Babylon.
[Jeremiah 40:3] NOW THE LORD HATH BROUGHT IT, AND DONE ACCORDING AS HE HATH SAID: BECAUSE YE HAVE SINNED AGAINST THE LORD, AND HAVE NOT OBEYED HIS VOICE, THEREFORE THIS THING IS COME UPON YOU.
[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.
[Jeremiah 40:5] NOW WHILE HE WAS NOT YET GONE BACK, HE SAID, GO BACK ALSO TO GEDALIAH THE SON OF AHIKAM THE SON OF SHAPHAN, WHOM THE KING OF BABYLON HATH MADE GOVERNOR OVER THE CITIES OF JUDAH, AND DWELL WITH HIM AMONG THE PEOPLE: OR GO WHERESOEVER IT SEEMETH CONVENIENT UNTO THEE TO GO. SO THE CAPTAIN OF THE GUARD GAVE HIM VICTUALS AND A REWARD, AND LET HIM GO.
[Jeremiah 40:6] THEN WENT JEREMIAH UNTO GEDALIAH THE SON OF AHIKAM TO MIZPAH; AND DWELT WITH HIM AMONG THE PEOPLE THAT WERE LEFT IN THE LAND.
Jeremiah had advised the people to choose captivity and exile over death and defeat under the circumstances then prevailing. Jeremiah himself when given the choice remained with the Land.
Gedaliah was from an important family of nobles. His grandfather had been the scribe of King Josiah (2-Kings 23;3), and his brother a prince under Josiah and Jehoiakim. His brother had saved the life of Jeremiah (26;24). Seals belonging to Gedaliah and members of his family have been found at Lachish. Gedaliah apparently had been marked for adopting a pro-Babylonian stance in the past as against the pro-Egyptian attitude of the others.
[Jeremiah 40:7] NOW WHEN ALL THE CAPTAINS OF THE FORCES WHICH WERE IN THE FIELDS, EVEN THEY AND THEIR MEN, HEARD THAT THE KING OF BABYLON HAD MADE GEDALIAH THE SON OF AHIKAM GOVERNOR IN THE LAND, AND HAD COMMITTED UNTO HIM MEN, AND WOMEN, AND CHILDREN, AND OF THE POOR OF THE LAND, OF THEM THAT WERE NOT CARRIED AWAY CAPTIVE TO BABYLON;
[Jeremiah 40:8] THEN THEY CAME TO GEDALIAH TO MIZPAH, EVEN ISHMAEL THE SON OF NETHANIAH, AND JOHANAN AND JONATHAN THE SONS OF KAREAH, AND SERAIAH THE SON OF TANHUMETH, AND THE SONS OF EPHAI THE NETOPHATHITE, AND JEZANIAH THE SON OF A MAACHATHITE, THEY AND THEIR MEN.
[Jeremiah 40:9] AND GEDALIAH THE SON OF AHIKAM THE SON OF SHAPHAN SWARE UNTO THEM AND TO THEIR MEN, SAYING, FEAR NOT TO SERVE THE CHALDEANS: DWELL IN THE LAND, AND SERVE THE KING OF BABYLON, AND IT SHALL BE WELL WITH YOU.
[Jeremiah 40:10] AS FOR ME, BEHOLD, I WILL DWELL AT MIZPAH, TO SERVE THE CHALDEANS, WHICH WILL COME UNTO US: BUT YE, GATHER YE WINE, AND SUMMER FRUITS, AND OIL, AND PUT THEM IN YOUR VESSELS, AND DWELL IN YOUR CITIES THAT YE HAVE TAKEN.
[Jeremiah 40:11] LIKEWISE WHEN ALL THE JEWS THAT WERE IN MOAB, AND AMONG THE AMMONITES, AND IN EDOM, AND THAT WERE IN ALL THE COUNTRIES, HEARD THAT THE KING OF BABYLON HAD LEFT A REMNANT OF JUDAH, AND THAT HE HAD SET OVER THEM GEDALIAH THE SON OF AHIKAM THE SON OF SHAPHAN;
[Jeremiah 40:12] EVEN ALL THE JEWS RETURNED OUT OF ALL PLACES WHITHER THEY WERE DRIVEN, AND CAME TO THE LAND OF JUDAH, TO GEDALIAH, UNTO MIZPAH, AND GATHERED WINE AND SUMMER FRUITS VERY MUCH.
People had fled Judah due to the war with Babylon. After the war the land was relatively empty but it was seen that Gedaliyah had been placed in command and was encouraging refugees from Judah to return.
[Jeremiah 40:13] MOREOVER JOHANAN THE SON OF KAREAH, AND ALL THE CAPTAINS OF THE FORCES THAT WERE IN THE FIELDS, CAME TO GEDALIAH TO MIZPAH,
[Jeremiah 40:14] AND SAID UNTO HIM, DOST THOU CERTAINLY KNOW THAT BAALIS THE KING OF THE AMMONITES HATH SENT ISHMAEL THE SON OF NETHANIAH TO SLAY THEE" BUT GEDALIAH THE SON OF AHIKAM BELIEVED THEM NOT.
[Jeremiah 40:15] THEN JOHANAN THE SON OF KAREAH SPAKE TO GEDALIAH IN MIZPAH SECRETLY SAYING, LET ME GO, I PRAY THEE, AND I WILL SLAY ISHMAEL THE SON OF NETHANIAH, AND NO MAN SHALL KNOW IT: WHEREFORE SHOULD HE SLAY THEE, THAT ALL THE JEWS WHICH ARE GATHERED UNTO THEE SHOULD BE SCATTERED, AND THE REMNANT IN JUDAH PERISH"
[Jeremiah 40:16] BUT GEDALIAH THE SON OF AHIKAM SAID UNTO JOHANAN THE SON OF KAREAH, THOU SHALT NOT DO THIS THING: FOR THOU SPEAKEST FALSELY OF ISHMAEL.
Gedaliah was evidently some sort of righteous individual and refused to receive a bad report about somebody that could not be confirmed. He was mistaken. Ishmael really was going to kill him. King Solomon had foreseen cases like these: "BE NOT RIGHTEOUS OVER MUCH; NEITHER MAKE THYSELF OVER WISE: WHY SHOULDEST THOU DESTROY THYSELF"" [The Preacher 7:16].
|Jeremiah chs. 33 to 36|