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Bible Commentaries

Peake's Commentary on the Bible

Jeremiah 38

Verses 1-13

Jeremiah 38:1-13 . Four of the princes ( Jeremiah 37:15) hear Jeremiah (confined in the guard-court, Jeremiah 37:21) foretelling the fall of the city and advising individual surrender ( cf. Jeremiah 21:9 f.). They denounce him to the king as a source of weakness to the defence, and Zedekiah gives him over to them. They lower him into the mud of a waterless cistern in the guard-court, belonging to a royal prince ( Jeremiah 36:26, note). This is reported to the king by a negro eunuch called Ebed-melech ( Jeremiah 39:15-18), who points out that he will die on the spot for want of food (he would lose the special court rations of Jeremiah 37:21). The king authorises Ebed-melech to take men (“ thirty” should probably be “ three” ) to draw Jeremiah up; this is carefully done, “ torn and tattered rags” (Driver) being first lowered to protect the armpits from the ropes.

Jeremiah 38:5 . LXX reads “ for the king was not able to do anything against them” .

Jeremiah 38:7 . eunuch: in charge of the harem, Jeremiah 38:22.

Verses 14-28

Jeremiah 38:14-28 . Zedekiah asks Jeremiah about the future, swearing immunity to him, whatever his answer ( Jeremiah 38:16). Jeremiah urges him to save himself and the city by surrender to Nebuchadrezzar’ s princes (Nebuchadrezzar being absent, Jeremiah 39:3; Jeremiah 39:5); promises that the Jews who have already deserted shall not illtreat him; declares a Divine vision of the end, contingent on the king’ s refusal to surrender. Jeremiah has seen the women of the harem being brought out for the Babylonian victors, and as they go he has heard them singing a dirge ( Jeremiah 38:22) for Zedekiah. The king bids him conceal the true nature of this interview from the princes, which he does; he is allowed to return to (the relatively favourable conditions of) the guard-court.

Jeremiah 38:14 . third entry: not otherwise known.

Jeremiah 38:19 . mock: i.e. work their will on.

Jeremiah 38:22 . The terms of the dirge sung by the mocking women may have been suggested by Jeremiah’ s recent experience in the cistern. With the reference to the “ friends” , cf. Obadiah 1:7, which depends on this. Read with LXX, “ they have made thy feet to sink” .

Jeremiah 38:23 . Read with VSS, “ this city shall be burned” .

Jeremiah 38:26 . Jonathan’ s house: Jeremiah 37:15.

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Bibliographical Information
Peake, Arthur. "Commentary on Jeremiah 38". "Peake's Commentary on the Bible ". 1919.