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the Week of Proper 11 / Ordinary 16
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Bible Commentaries
Jeremiah 37

Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New TestamentsSutcliffe's Commentary

Verses 1-21

Jeremiah 37:5 . Pharaoh’s army was come forth out of Egypt. The Chaldeans were afraid of them, and raised the siege. But this joy to Jerusalem was of short continuance; the Chaldeans returned after the retreat of the Egyptian army, which had no object but to compel them to retire.

Jeremiah 37:13 . Irijah took Jeremiah, saying, thou fallest away to the Chaldeans. Irijah, being captain of the guard at the gate, hated Jeremiah for what had happened to his grandfather, Hananiah, the false prophet. But Jeremiah’s motive in trying to go to Anathoth, where his lands lay, was to get some subsistence. Here Irijah covered his malice with the cloak of zeal, as a soldier for the safety of the public.

Jeremiah 37:15 . In prison, in the house of Jonathan the scribe. Jonathan was a secretary of state. In the East, as anciently in England, great men sometimes had prisons adjacent to their houses. The Lollards’ Tower subsists to this day, adjacent to the palace of the archbishop of Canterbury at Lambeth, where martyrs and reputed heretics have been confined.


Jeremiah, knowing his inspiration, was not elated with joy when the Chaldeans ceased to besiege Jerusalem to pursue the Egyptians: he knew they would return, and therefore warned them against security. Vain was their help from the reed of Egypt. But how absurd it is for persons to desire the prayers of ministers, when they will not regard their exhortations. So Zedekiah did; and this is too common a case in times of distress. Men are then glad of the prayers of their friends and ministers, whom they before slighted; they are desirous to receive consolation from those, from whom they never would receive advice. But there is little reason to hope for any success from such prayers, and ministers have no consolation to administer to the disobedient; for they must still say, as God says, There is no peace to the wicked.

The delay and suspension of divine judgments too often harden sinners in their evil ways. While the Chaldeans besieged Jerusalem, there were some signs of remorse among the people; when they retired, the Israelites grew bad again. This is often the case with sinners, because sentence against an evil work is not speedily executed; and when judgments are at a distance, they go on to do wickedly. When God afflicts them, they entertain some serious thoughts and good resolutions; but when the affliction is gone, their goodness is gone also, and they return again to folly. Thus they deceive themselves. But the determination of God is peremptory, that except men repent they shall perish.

See the power of God over all creatures, Jeremiah 37:10. He is the supreme commander of all armies, and can do what he pleases with them. He is never at a loss for instruments; they may be weak and unlikely, but they shall execute his purposes. Whether we hope for nothing from them, or fear nothing from them, if God directs them they shall prosper. Without him, vain is the help of man: with him, sufficient is the power of the weakest. How much more reasonable then is it to fear Him, than any human power. The principal reflection here is, how wretched is the state of a sinner, who is always contending with his own conscience. There is something strangely unaccountable in the conduct of Zedekiah. He had seen the death of his brother, and the captivity of his nephew and sister, exactly answering the divine prediction by Jeremiah. He began his reign with these awful objects in view; he saw God’s judgments on others, and felt them himself; yet he continued unhumbled. Sometimes he was under strong convictions; then infatuated by his evil counsellors. Sometimes he desired Jeremiah’s prayers; then he consented to put him in prison. Then he sent for him to know what the Lord said; and yet rejected his commands. This is the case with many now: they show some reverence to God’s ministers, and attend upon ordinances, yet continue unaffected and unsanctified. Often uneasy in their own minds, sometimes full of alarms and fears; then settle in a false peace. The wicked are like the troubled sea that cannot rest. If we desire to be easy and happy, let us reverence the word of God, hearken to the voice of his ministers, and keep a conscience void of offence towards God and towards man.

Bibliographical Information
Sutcliffe, Joseph. "Commentary on Jeremiah 37". Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jsc/jeremiah-37.html. 1835.
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