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Jeremiah 39:5

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.

5. Et persecuti sunt exercitus Chaldaeorum ipsos, et apprehenderunt Zedechiam in desertis Jericho (alii vertunt, in planicie, et fuit planicies; coeterum ut dixi, inculta, et squalida et vacua etiam incolis;) et tulerunt ipsum, et adduxerunt ad Nebuchadnezer regem Babylonis Riblathah (urbem) in terra Chemath, qui locutus est cum ipso judicia.

 

The Chaldeans pursued the fugitive king, no doubt, through a hidden impulse from above. It is, indeed, probable that he was betrayed by his own people; and this often happens in a disturbed state of things; but however, he might have escaped, had he not been given up by the hand of God. These things are therefore narrated, that we may know that the ungodly, by their evasions, gain no other thing than really to acknowledge that God is true ill his threatenings as well as in his promises. They believe not his word, it is therefore necessary that they should be convinced by actual experience. Zedekiah then is here set before us as an example, so that we may know that as soon as God announces any calamity, we ought to tremble and to humble ourselves under his mighty hand, for he holds us on every side completely shut up, so that if hiding places and refuges be open before us, they can yet avail us nothing.

The Prophet then tells us, that he was taken in the deserts of Jericho This circumstance also is important, for he had gone forth beyond the sight of men, even into solitude; for that plain was not so fruitful as to support many inhabitants, but it was as it were a desert. It is then a wonder how the Chaldeans found him in that solitude, but they had God, as it were, as their guide. Hence then it was, that Zedekiah fell into the hands of the Chaldean army. The Prophet adds, that they brought him into Riblah, which is thought to have been Antioch. It is also called Hemath; but this name designated the country and not the city. And yet in Amos 6:2, it means the city, when it is said,

“Go to Calneh, go to Hemath the great.”

But it may be, that the dignity of the city was the reason why the country was so called; and no doubt Pliny, in his fifth book, calls that part of Syria Antiochean; and as to what he says shortly before, that Antioch was that part of Syria toward Cilicia, that place seems to me to have been corrupted. I rather read thus, that it was a part of Syria, for, as I have said, he calls it Antiochean. And it was not unsuitable that the city should be called Hemath and Riblah, and that the name of the city should be given to the country. Interpreters indeed agree, that Riblah was Antioch. Jerome says, that in his day, the first station towards Chaldea still retained its ancient name, though, by changing some letters, they called it Emmaus. But he doubts not but it was Antioch, which was formerly called Epidaphne, and had also the name of Hemath. There then Zedekiah was brought to Nebuchadnezzar, who spoke judgments with him, that is, who brought him as a criminal before his tribunal, that he might pronounce sentence upon him; for to speak judgments means the same as to minister justice or to pass judgment.

Now this was very inconsistent with royal dignity, for though, as a conqueror, he was angry with his enemy, he might yet have been content with his death alone. Kings are not wont to deal in this way with kings, for they respect themselves, and are not disposed to degrade royal dignity. But Jeremiah says, that Zedekiah was by no means dealt with royally; for he was constrained to plead guilty, and was condemned by a solemn sentence. Then to speak judgments is the same as what we call in French former proces criminel. And this indignity increased the weight of his calamity and his punishment; for Zedekiah not only had to bear many reproaches, while the king of Babylon expostu-lated with him, but he was also brought to judgment, so that punishment, according to the common practice, was allotted to him. For Nebuchadnezzar had made him king, and imposed tribute on him. He therefore condemned him as guilty of perfidy and perjury. This is the degradation which the Prophet points out, when he says, that he spoke judgments with him, or acted towards him judicially; and he repeats the same expression in the last chapter. It follows —

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