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Bible Commentaries
Jeremiah 39

Coke's Commentary on the Holy BibleCoke's Commentary



Jerusalem is taken. Zedekiah is made blind, and sent to Babylon. The city ruined. The people made captive. Nebuchadrezzar's charge for the good usage of Jeremiah. God's promise to Ebed-melech.

Before Christ 588.

THIS chapter begins with an account of the taking of Jerusalem, and relates the flight of Zedekiah, and the particulars of his punishment, after that he was taken and brought before the king of Babylon; and also the burning of the city, and removal of the people, a few of the poorest only excepted, to Babylon, Jeremiah 5:1-10. Jeremiah is released, and kindly treated in consequence of a special charge from Nebuchadnezzar, Jeremiah 5:11-14.

Verse 3

Jeremiah 39:3. The princes—came in, and sat in the middle gate The gate between the wall which encompassed the city, and that which inclosed the temple. It was customary among the Chaldeans to give the names of their idols, as an additional title or mark of honour to persons of distinction. We may render the names thus: Nergal-Sharezer, keeper of the temple of Nebo; Sarsechim, prince of the eunuchs; Nergal-Sharezer, prince of the Magi, &c.

Verse 4

Jeremiah 39:4. By the gate betwixt the two walls That is, betwixt the wall and the outworks, or betwixt the old wall of the city and the new one which was built by Hezekiah. See 2Ch 32:5 and Ezekiel 12:4; Ezekiel 12:28.

Verse 5

Jeremiah 39:5. To Riblah in the land of Hamath Most interpreters suppose this city to be the same which was called Antioch in after-times, when it was taken by Seleucus: in this sense the Jerusalem Targum upon Numbers 34:0 understands the words. See Lowth and Calmet.

Verse 7

Jeremiah 39:7. He put out Zedekiah's eyes See chap. Jer 52:11 where it is added, that he put him in prison till the day of his death. Thus two prophesies were fulfilled, which seemed at first hearing to contradict each other: the first, that of our prophet, ch. Jer 32:4 that Zedekiah's eyes should behold the eyes of the king of Babylon; and the other, that of Ezekiel, that he should not see Babylon, though he should die there, chap. Jeremiah 12:13. The Jews to this day keep a solemn fast in memory of this misfortune of Zedekiah. See Calmet.

Verse 11

Jeremiah 39:11. Now Nebuchadrezzar—gave charge, &c.— Nebuchadrezzar had evidently been informed of the advice which Jeremiah had given both to king and people; and which, if it had been hearkened to, would have prevented the charge and labour of so long a siege, and the bloodshed which attended it. The king did not give these orders till some time after the taking of the city; for it appears that Jeremiah was carried with the rest of the captives as far as Ramah. See the first verse of the next chapter.

Verse 13

Jeremiah 39:13. Nebushasban, &c.— Nebushasban, prime minister, or prince of the eunuchs, and Nergal-Sharezer, prince of the Magi.

REFLECTIONS.—1st, At last the threatened judgment is executed. Vengeance against sinners, though slow, is sure.

1. The devoted city is taken by storm, after sustaining a siege of eighteen months, begun by the king of Babylon in person, in the midst of winter, and carried on with implacable resentment by his orders for Zedekiah's perfidy, Nebuchadnezzar himself having retired to Riblah, but on what account is uncertain. The names of the princes who took possession of the middle gate are recorded, with their several offices. These, with their companions, sat in the gate in triumph as victors, or to secure the entrance for their troops, till the city was thoroughly possessed; and thus was fulfilled the prophesy, chap. Jeremiah 1:15.

2. Zedekiah is seized. Under covert of the night, in which the assault was made, when he found the city taken, he attempted to make his escape, and had got as far as the plains of Jericho; but his enemies, being apprized of his flight, quickly pursued and overtook him, and brought him prisoner to Nebuchadnezzar at Riblah, where sentence, grievous as death, is pronounced upon him: his infant children are murdered before his eyes, the nobles of Judah slain; and then, as if to leave him all his miserable days to reflect on this horrid spectacle, the last objects he ever should behold, his eyes are put out, and, bound in fetters of brass, he is led a wretched captive to Babylon, 2 Kings 25:4-7. Note; (1.) There is no flying from God. (2.) They who will not believe the warnings of God must, in their sufferings, be convinced of the truths which they despised.

3. Shortly after this the city and temple were burnt, the walls razed, the people carried away captives, and none left but the poor to till the ground and cultivate the vineyards, from whom the Chaldeans had nothing to fear, and who were probably put under a heavy tribute. And this was a strange alteration, and a just retaliation upon the cruel masters who had so enslaved their brethren; themselves are now captives, while their poor and oppressed servants are made proprietors of their estates. So surely will it appear, sooner or later, that there is a righteous God who judgeth the earth.
2nd, They who entrust their all with God, shall never have cause to regret the confidence they repose in him. We have,

1. The great care taken of Jeremiah, as God had promised him, chap. Jeremiah 15:11. Even the king of Babylon, who, no doubt, had heard the prophesies that he had delivered, the advice which he had given, and his sufferings on that account, interests himself for him, and charges Nebuzar-adan, the captain of the guard, either before the city was taken, or immediately thereupon, to use Jeremiah with particular kindness; release him from his confinement, and not only save him from harm, but do for him whatever he should request; which orders he obeyed, as more fully appears in the next chapter. Note; (1.) They who suffer in our cause are entitled to a suitable recompence. (2.) Infidels and idolaters have often shewn more regard to God's servants than faithless professors.

2. Ebed-melech's kindness to the prophet is remembered and rewarded. By an express revelation from God, he is assured, that though he should see the calamities pronounced on the people executed, himself should survive them; and, however much he feared for his safety, God will surely deliver him from the sword of the Chaldeans, and give him his life for a prey, when all seemed devoted to death; and this because thou hast put thy trust in me, saith the Lord. Note; (1.) Good men may have their fears in the day of danger. But, (2.) They who trust in God shall never be confounded.

Bibliographical Information
Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Jeremiah 39". Coke's Commentary on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/tcc/jeremiah-39.html. 1801-1803.
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