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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 of reproach.

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 (Jer 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which passages refer to the beginning of the siege, not to the time when the Chaldeans renewed the siege, after having withdrawn for a time to meet Pharaoh.

5. After this temporary diversion, caused by Pharaoh in favor of Jerusalem, the Egyptians returned no more to its help (2Ki 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, 17).

7. shall return—without accomplishing any deliverance for you.

8. (Jer 34:22).

9. yourselvesHebrew, "souls."

10. yet … they—Even a few wounded men would suffice for your destruction.

11. broken up—"gone up."

12. Benjamin—to his own town, Anathoth.

to separate himselfMargin 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 "watch."

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 self."

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 offended?

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 36:7), [Henderson].

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; 38:13, 28).

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 (Jer 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).

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