Jer 37:1-21. Historical
Sections, Thirty-seventh through Forty-fourth Chapters. The Chaldeans
Raise the Siege to Go and Meet Pharaoh-hophra. Zedekiah Sends to
Jeremiah to Pray to God in Behalf of the
Jews: in Vain, Jeremiah Tries to Escape to His Native Place, but Is
Arrested. Zedekiah Abates the Rigor of His Imprisonment.
1. Coniah—curtailed from Jeconiah by way
whom—referring to Zedekiah, not to
Coniah (2Ki 24:17).
2. Amazing stupidity, that they were not
admonished by the punishment of Jeconiah [Calvin], (2Ch 36:12, 14)!
3. Zedekiah … sent—fearing lest,
in the event of the Chaldeans overcoming Pharaoh-hophra, they should
return to besiege Jerusalem. See on Jer 21:1;
that chapter chronologically comes in between the thirty-seventh and
thirty-eighth chapter. The message of the king to Jeremiah here in the
thirty-seventh chapter is, however, somewhat earlier than that in the
twenty-first chapter; here it is while the issue between the Chaldeans
and Pharaoh was undecided; there it is when, after the repulse of
Pharaoh, the Chaldeans were again advancing against Jerusalem; hence,
while Zephaniah is named in both embassies, Jehucal accompanies
him here, Pashur there. But, as Pashur and Jehucal are both
mentioned in Jer 38:1, 2, as hearing Jeremiah's reply, which is
identical with that in Jer 21:9, it
is probable the two messages followed one another at a short interval;
that in this Jer 37:3, and
the answer, Jer 37:7-10, being the earlier of the two.
Zephaniah—an abettor of rebellion
against God (Jer 29:25),
though less virulent than many (Jer 29:29), punished accordingly (Jer 52:24-27).
4. Jeremiah … not put … into
prison—He was no longer in the prison court, as he had been
32:2; 33:1), which passages
refer to the beginning of the siege, not to the time when the Chaldeans
renewed the siege, after having withdrawn for a time to meet
5. After this temporary diversion, caused by
Pharaoh in favor of Jerusalem, the Egyptians returned no more to its
24:7). Judea had the
misfortune to lie between the two great contending powers, Babylon and
Egypt, and so was exposed to the alternate inroads of the one or the
other. Josiah, taking side with Assyria, fell in battle with
Pharaoh-necho at Megiddo (2Ki 23:29).
Zedekiah, seeking the Egyptian alliance in violation of his oath, was
now about to be taken by Nebuchadnezzar (2Ch 36:13; Eze 17:15,
7. shall return—without accomplishing
any deliverance for you.
8. (Jer 34:22).
10. yet … they—Even a few wounded
men would suffice for your destruction.
11. broken up—"gone up."
12. Benjamin—to his own town,
to separate himself—Margin
translates, "to slip away," from a Hebrew root, "to be smooth,"
so, to slip away as a slippery thing that cannot be held. But it is not
likely the prophet of God would flee in a dishonorable way; and "in the
midst of the people" rather implies open departure along with others,
than clandestine slipping away by mixing with the crowd of departing
people. Rather, it means, to separate himself, or to divide
his place of residence, so as to live partly here, partly there,
without fixed habitation, going to and fro among the people [Ludovicus De Dieu]. Maurer translates, "to take his portion thence," to
realize the produce of his property in Anathoth [Henderson], or to take possession of the land which
he bought from Hanameel [Maurer].
13. ward—that is, the "guard," or
Hananiah—whose death Jeremiah
predicted (Jer 28:16).
The grandson in revenge takes Jeremiah into custody on the charge of
deserting ("thou fallest away," Jer 38:19; 52:15; 1Sa
29:3) to the enemy. His
prophecies gave color to the charge (Jer 21:9; 38:4).
15. scribe—one of the court secretaries;
often in the East part of the private house of a public officer serves
as a prison.
16. dungeon … cabins—The prison
consisted of a pit (the "dungeon") with vaulted cells
round the sides of it. The "cabins," from a root, "to bend one's
17. secretly—Zedekiah was ashamed to be
seen by his courtiers consulting Jeremiah (Joh
12:43; 5:44; 19:38).
thou shalt be delivered—Had Jeremiah
consulted his earthly interests, he would have answered very
differently. Contrast Jer 6:14; Isa 30:10; Eze 13:10.
18. What—In what respect have I
19. Where are now your prophets—The
event has showed them to be liars; and, as surely as the king of
Babylon has come already, notwithstanding their prophecy, so surely
shall he return.
20. be accepted—rather, "Let my
supplication be humbly presented" (see on Jer
lest I die there—in the subterranean
dungeon (Jer 37:16),
from want of proper sustenance (Jer 37:21). The prophet naturally shrank
from death, which makes his spiritual firmness the more
remarkable; he was ready to die rather than swerve from his duty [Calvin].
21. court of the prison—(Jer 32:2;
bakers' street—Persons in the same
business in cities in the East commonly reside in the same street.
all the bread … spent—Jeremiah
had bread supplied to him until he was thrown into the dungeon of
Malchiah, at which time the bread in the city was spent. Compare this
verse with Jer 38:9;
that time must have been very shortly before the capture of the city
52:6). God saith of His
children, "In the days of famine they shall be satisfied" (Ps 37:19; Isa
33:16). Honest reproof (Jer 37:17), in the end often gains more
favor than flattery (Pr 28:23).