Jer 39:1-18. Jerusalem
Taken. Zedekiah's Fate. Jeremiah Cared for. Ebed-melech
This chapter consists of two parts: the first
describes the capture of Jerusalem, the removal of the people to
Babylon, and the fate of Zedekiah, and that of Jeremiah. The second
tells of the assurance of safety to Ebed-melech.
1. ninth year … tenth month—and on
the tenth day of it (Jer 52:4; 2Ki 25:1-4). From Jer 39:2, "eleventh year … fourth month
… ninth day," we know the siege lasted one and a half years,
excepting the suspension of it caused by Pharaoh. Nebuchadnezzar was
present in the beginning of the siege, but was at Riblah at its close
39:3, 6; compare Jer 38:17).
3. sat—expressing military occupation or
middle gate—the gate from the upper
city (comprehending Mount Zion) to the lower city (north of the
former and much lower); it was into the latter (the north side)
that the Chaldeans forced an entry and took up their position opposite
the gate of the "middle" wall, between the lower and upper city.
Zedekiah fled in the opposite, that is, the south direction (Jer 39:4).
names formed from those of the idols, Nergal and Nebo (2Ki 17:30;
Rab-saris—meaning "chief of the
Rab-mag—chief of the magi; brought
with the expedition in order that its issue might be foreknown through
his astrological skill. Mag is a Persian word, meaning "great,"
"powerful." The magi were a sacerdotal caste among the Medes, and
supported the Zoroastrian religion.
4. the king's garden—The "gate" to it
from the upper, city above was appropriated to the kings alone; stairs"
led down from Mount Zion and the palace to the king's garden below
two walls—Zedekiah might have held the
upper city longer, but want of provisions drove him to flee by the
double wall south of Zion, towards the plains of Jericho (Jer 39:5), in order to escape beyond Jordan to
Arabia-Deserta. He broke an opening in the wall to get out (Eze 12:12).
5. Riblah—north of Palestine (see Jer
1:14; Nu 34:11). Hamath is
identified by commentators with Antioch, in Syria, on the Orontes,
called Epiphania, from Antiochus Epiphanes.
gave judgment upon him—literally,
"spake judgments with him," that is, brought him to trial as a common
criminal, not as a king. He had violated his oath (Eze
17:13-19; 2Ch 36:13).
6. slew … sons … before his
eyes—previous to his eyes being "put out" (Jer 39:7); literally, "dug out." The Assyrian
sculptures depict the delight with which the kings struck out, often
with their own hands, the eyes of captive princes. This passage
reconciles Jer 32:4,
"his eyes shall behold his eyes"; with Eze 12:13, "he shall not see Babylon, though he
shall die there."
slew all … nobles—(Jer 27:20).
8. burned … the houses—(Jer 52:12,
13). Not immediately after
the taking of the city, but in the month after, namely, the fifth month
(compare Jer 39:2).
The delay was probably caused by the princes having to send to Riblah
to know the king's pleasure as to the city.
9. remnant—excepting the poorest (Jer 39:10), who caused Nebuchadnezzar no
those … that fell to him—the
deserters were distrusted; or they may have been removed at
their own request, lest the people should vent their rage on them as
traitors, after the departure of the Chaldeans.
rest … that remained—distinct
from the previous "remnant"; there he means the remnant of those
besieged in the city, whom Nebuchadnezzar spared; here, those
scattered through various districts of the country which had not been
10. left … the poor … which had
nothing—The poor have least to lose; one of the providential
compensations of their lot. They who before had been stripped of their
possessions by the wealthier Jews obtain, not only their own, but those
11. Jeremiah's prophecies were known to
Nebuchadnezzar through deserters (Jer 39:9; Jer 38:19), also through the Jews carried to
Babylon with Jeconiah (compare Jer 40:2). Hence the king's kindness to him.
12. look well to him—Hebrew, "set
thine eyes upon him"; provide for his well-being.
13. Nebuzara-dan … sent—He was
then at Ramah (Jer 40:1).
14. Gedaliah—son of Ahikam, the former
supporter of Jeremiah (Jer 26:24).
Gedaliah was the chief of the deserters to the Chaldeans, and was set
over the remnant in Judea as one likely to remain faithful to
Nebuchadnezzar. His residence was at Mizpah (Jer 40:5).
home—the house of Gedaliah, wherein
Jeremiah might remain as in a safe asylum. As in Jer 40:1 Jeremiah is represented as "bound in
chains" when he came to Ramah among the captives to be carried to
Babylon, this release of Jeremiah is thought by Maurer to be distinct from that in Jer 40:5, 6. But he seems first to have been
released from the court of the prison and to have been taken to Ramah,
still in chains, and then committed in freedom to Gedaliah.
dwelt among the people—that is, was
15-18. Belonging to the time when the city was
not yet taken, and when Jeremiah was still in the court of the prison
38:13). This passage is
inserted here because it was now that Ebed-melech's good act (Jer
38:7-12; Mt 25:43) was to be
rewarded in his deliverance.
16. Go—not literally, for he was in
confinement, but figuratively.
before thee—in thy sight.
17. the men of whom thou art
afraid—(Jer 38:1, 4-6). The courtiers and princes hostile to
thee for having delivered Jeremiah shall have a danger coming so home
to themselves as to have no power to hurt. Heretofore intrepid, he was
now afraid; this prophecy was therefore the more welcome to him.
18. life … for a prey—(See on Jer 21:9; Jer 38:2; Jer 45:5).
put … trust in me—(Jer 38:7-9). Trust in God was the root of his
fearlessness of the wrath of men, in his humanity to the prophet (1Ch
5:20; Ps 37:40). The "life"
he thus risked was to be his reward, being spared beyond all hope, when
the lives of his enemies should be forfeited ("for a prey").