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Bible Commentaries

Lange's Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical
Jeremiah 37

 

 

Verses 1-21

II. The Events in the Tenth and Eleventh year of Zedekiah

(chap37–38)

1.The embassy of the King and the Imprisonment of the Prophet in its First and Second Stage

Chap37

1And king Zedekiah the son of Josiah reigned[FN1] instead of Coniah, the son of Jehoiakim, whom Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon made king[FN2] in the land of Judah 2 But neither Hebrews, nor his servants, nor the people of the land, did hearken unto the words of the Lord [Jehovah], which he spake by the prophet Jeremiah.

3And Zedekiah the king sent Jehucal the son of Shelemiah and Zephaniah the 4 son of Maaseiah the priest to the prophet Jeremiah, saying, Pray now unto the Lord [Jehovah] our God for us. Now Jeremiah came in and went out among 5 the people: for they had not put him into prison.[FN3] Then Pharaoh’s army was come forth out of Egypt, and when the Chaldeans that besieged Jerusalem heard tidings of them, they departed from Jerusalem.

6Then came the word of the Lord [Jehovah] unto the prophet Jeremiah, saying, 7Thus saith the Lord, the God of Israel; Thus shall ye say to the king of Judah, that sent you unto me to inquire of me; Behold, Pharaoh’s army, which is come 8 forth to help you, shall return [is returning][FN4] to Egypt into their own land. The Chaldeans shall come gain, and fight against this city, and take it, and burn it 9 with fire. Thus saith the Lord; Deceive not yourselves,[FN5] saying, The Chaldeans 10 shall surely depart from us: for they shall not depart. For though ye had smitten the whole army of the Chaldeans that fight against you, and there remained but wounded men among them, yet should they rise up every man[FN6] in his tent, and burn 11 this city with fire. And it came to pass,[FN7] that when the army of the Chaldeans was 12 broken up [had retired] from Jerusalem for fear of [before] Pharaoh’s army, Then Jeremiah went forth out of Jerusalem to go into the land of Benjamin, to separate 13 himself thence [to raise an inheritance there] in the midst of the people. And when he was in the gate of Benjamin, a captain of the ward [watch] was there, whose name was Irijah, the son of Shelemiah, the son of Hananiah; and he took [seized] Jeremiah the prophet, saying, Thou fallest away [art going over] to the 14 Chaldeans. Then said Jeremiah, It is false [a lie]: I fall not away [am not going 15 over] to the Chaldeans. But he hearkened not to him: so Irijah took Jeremiah, and smote him, and put him in prison in the house of Jonathan the scribe: for 16 they had made that the prison. When[FN8] Jeremiah was entered into the dungeon, 17and into the cabins,[FN9] and Jeremiah had remained there many days; Then Zedekiah the king sent, and took him out: and the king asked him secretly in his house, and said, Is there any word from the Lord? And Jeremiah said, There is: for, said 18 he, thou shalt be delivered into the hand of the king of Babylon. Moreover Jeremiah said unto king Zedekiah, What have I offended against thee, or against thy 19 servants, or against this people, that ye have put me in prison? Where are now[FN10] your prophets which prophesied unto you, saying, The king of Babylon shall not 20 come against you, nor against this land? Therefore hear now, I pray thee, O my lord the king: let my supplication, I pray thee, be accepted[FN11] before thee; that thou cause me not to return to the house of Jonathan the scribe, lest I die there 21 Then Zedekiah the king commanded that they should commit Jeremiah into the court of the prison, and that they should give [and they gave him] him daily a piece of bread out of the bakers’ street, until all the bread in the city were spent. Thus Jeremiah remained in the court of the prison [or guard.]

EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL

This chapter consists of two parts, reporting two events, which had their course or beginning in the pause occasioned by the departure of the Chaldeans. In the first part ( Jeremiah 37:1-10) it is related that Jeremiah replied to an embassy of king Zedekiah, which he sent to the prophet with the request for his intercession ( Jeremiah 37:1-5):—The army of Pharaoh which has come out to your assistance will return again to their own country, the Chaldeans however will resume the siege of Jerusalem and capture the city and burn it ( Jeremiah 37:6-8). Therefore deceive not yourselves! Even were the Egyptians to smite the entire Chaldean army, and there were only a few wounded men left, these would rise from their tents and burn Jerusalem ( Jeremiah 37:9-10).—In the second part the imprisonment of the prophet is described, in Jeremiah 37:10-16 its occasion and first stage, and then in Jeremiah 37:17-21, the (by the favor of Zedekiah) less severe second stage.—Jeremiah had wished, during the pause caused by the temporary withdrawal of the Chaldeans, to leave Jerusalem and go into the land of Benjamin to attend to a little business of inheritance ( Jeremiah 37:11-12). He was however detained at the gate by the commander of the watch, as he entertained the suspicion that Jeremiah wished to go over to the enemy ( Jeremiah 37:13). Jeremiah’s assurance that he had no such intention was of no avail. He was brought before the princes, who caused him to be beaten and closely imprisoned in a dungeon, where he languished for some time ( Jeremiah 37:14-16). From this prison Zedekiah had him secretly brought one day, to inquire whether there was any word from the Lord. Jeremiah could answer in the affirmative, but could only give a revelation of the same tenor as before, Thou wilt be given into the hands of the Chaldeans. Still at the earnest petition of the prophet Zedekiah does not send him back to the prison, but has him confined in the court of the guard, and scantily supplied with bread ( Jeremiah 37:17-21).

Jeremiah 37:1-2. And king Zedekiah … the prophet Jeremiah. With respect to Coniah comp. rems. on Jeremiah 22:24.—People of the land. Comp. rems. on Jeremiah 1:18.—Did not hearken. Comp. Jeremiah 36:31.

Jeremiah 37:3-5. And Zedekiah … from Jerusalem. Jehucal, the son of Shelemiah, is also mentioned among the “princes” in Jeremiah 38:1 coll4. Zephaniah, the son of Maaseiah, was, according to Jeremiah 52:24 coll. Jeremiah 21:1; Jeremiah 29:25 a priest of the second order. The messengers were thus very respectable.—Pray now. The prophet is not merely to inquire, but to intercede. Comp. to inquire of me. Jeremiah 37:7. From this it is apparent that notwithstanding the withdrawal of the Chaldeans the state of mind was not one of perfect confidence. The result of the conflict between the rival forces had still to be expected.—Came in and went out. This is emphasized in antithesis to the subsequent imprisonment and also to the statement in Jeremiah 36:26, that Jeremiah and Baruch had to hide themselves. The freedom in which Jeremiah lived accorded with the respect which the king showed him, and explains at the same time how Jeremiah could think of a journey. Both verses4,5 are to be regarded as a parenthetical and explanatory sentence (Ewald, § 341).—Pharaoh’s army. This Pharaoh was Pharaoh Hophra ( Jeremiah 44:30), successor of Psammuthis, and ascended the throne B. C588. In the first, or at least the second year of his reign, seventeen years after the battle of Carchemish, he undertook to make war on Nebuchadnezzar, occasioned probably by the embassy of Zedekiah ( Ezekiel 17:15). Hophra was slain (comp. Ezekiel 29:1-16; chh30–32) and the hopes excited in the Israelites by the withdrawal of the Chaldeans were shown to be nugatory.

Jeremiah 37:6-10. Then came the word … with fire. Jeremiah does not cease to demonstrate the vanity of their hopes. He might have insinuated himself into the favor of the king and great men by a prophecy correspondent to their wishes, but he does not. With inflexible fidelity he proclaims the word of the Lord as he has received it.—Deceive not your souls. Comp. Jeremiah 29:8; 2 Kings 18:29 coll. 2 Chronicles 32:15. The prophet warns against self-deception. On this meaning of נֶפֶש comp. Naegelsb.Gr., § 81, 2.

Jeremiah 37:11-16. And it came to pass … many days. Jeremiah wishes to use the time, while the ways are free, to do some business in the land of Benjamin, (probably from לַ‍ֽחֲלִק in Anathoth).—To separate, etc. This is a difficult passage. LXX. translates τοῦ ἀγοράσαι ἐκεῖθεν ἐν μέσῳ τοῦ λαοῦ, which Theodoret explains by πρίασθαι ἄρτους. The other ancient translations all express the idea of division of inheritance, in which they are followed by most of the commentators. The different explanations are as follows: Abarbanel takes החליק in the sense of demulcere (to smooth. Comp. Proverbs 29:5) and refers it to the people of Anathoth who were inimical to Jeremiah: Ad demulcendum eos blandis verbis, ut amarent ipsum et inter illos inveniretur, si abirent in exilium. Kimchi, Sanctius: Ad dividendum se et separandum ab Hierosolymis, in quibus fuit in medio populi. Lyranus:Ut agrum emtum (cap32) separaret ab aliis. Luther: To till fields [æcker zu bestellen]. Hitzig: To separate his own from the portions of land which had become common property in the Sabbatical year (which Hitzig regards as B. C588, on the basis of Jeremiah 34:8 sqq.) Tremellius, Piscator, Rosenmueller:Ad lubrificandum se ipsum, i. e, ad subducendum se. Seb. Schmidt: Ut divideret cum populo relicta Chaldæorum spolia, partemque sibi acciperet et in urbem secum sumeret. L. de Dieu:Ut partitim commoraretur nunc hic nunc illic. All these explanations are manifestly forced or grammatically incorrect. The ancient interpretation alone, which understands לַ‍ֽחֲלִיק of a division of inheritance, appears admissible according to the present form of the text. The form of the word is like אַשְׁמִד, Isaiah 23:11. Comp. Olsh, § 78, c. In the midst of the people declares that the prophet had no secret purpose, but wished to transact his business with the usual amount of publicity. Comp. Ruth 4. In this explanation however some points must still be considered unsatisfactory1. That הֶ‍ֽחֱלִיק must be taken in the specific meaning “to divide inheritance ” in which it nowhere else occurs; though חֶלְקָה,חֵלֶקַ, may mean patrimonium ( Numbers 18:20); 2. That to the Hiphil, in order to be able to connect it with מִשָּׁם, must be specially also attributed the meaning of fetching, since primarily it contains only the idea of parting. Meanwhile, as said above, the text as it stands does not afford a satisfactory meaning. It has been attempted to alter the text. J. D. Michaelis would read לְחֶלְקוּ שָם or לְהֶלְקָם שָׁם. This however would not be good Hebrew. The scriptio defectionלַ‍ֽחֲלִק, as well as the similarity of ק and ף renders it easier to read חָלַף .לַ‍ֽהֲלִף מִשָׁם means to change, which meaning appears with various modifications. For not only all kinds of change of place are designated by it (comp. transiit, Job 9:11; transgressus est, Isaiah 24:5; abiit, Song of Solomon 2:11; perrexit, 1 Samuel 10:3; pertransivit, Judges 5:26; periit, Isaiah 2:18, in which meanings it is for the most part synonymous with עָבַר) but change of material (comp. renovari, revivescere, Habakkuk 1:11; Psalm 90:5) and of form (comp. Piel, Genesis 41:14; Hiph, Genesis 31:7; Genesis 31:41; Genesis 35:2; further חֵלֶף and הֲלִיפוֹת). It might then be declared that the prophet’s going to Benjamin had for its object a change of residence. מִשָּׁם might very suitably be referred to Jerusalem. It might however also according to well known usage (comp. Naegelsb. Gr., § 112, 5, d) signify “in that direction, thither” (comp. Isaiah 17:13). It might thus be intimated to us that the prophet had no intention of going over to the Chaldeans, or of fleeing to secure his personal safety, but simply of returning to his native place, because he knew that a residence in Jerusalem no longer afforded him any safety, and because he regarded his ministry there as ended. (Comp. Starke, ad h. l.) It is however declared by the words “in the midst of the people” that he did not take this step alone and secretly, but publicly and in company with many others, perhaps of those who believed in his prophetic utterances. From this as well as from מִשָּׁם (because it indicates that the prophet took his way not to the army of the Chaldeans, but in the opposite direction) it would be clear how unjustifiable the imprisonment of the prophet was. In this however I merely express my own supposition.—On the gate of Benjamin comp. Jeremiah 38:7, and rems. on Jeremiah 20:2.—Thou fallest away to the Chaldeans. The expression נֹפֵל appears to be an allusion to the answer, which Jeremiah, according to Jeremiah 21:9, gave a former embassy of Zedekiah. I say a former. For at the time, to which Jeremiah 21belongs, Jerusalem was besieged by the Chaldeans, but the prophet was at liberty (comp. Jeremiah 21:1-2, and Jeremiah 37:3, with Jeremiah 37:17). After his imprisonment, related in Jeremiah 37:13, however, Jeremiah was not again set at liberty. Chap21. must therefore be placed before the retirement of the Chaldeans related in Jeremiah 37:5. —The princes, before whom Jeremiah was brought, were, as Graf correctly remarks, not the same as those, who had so warmly espoused his cause under Jehoiakim (chh26, 36) These had probably been carried away with Jehoiachin into captivity ( Jeremiah 34:1; Jeremiah 29:2) comp. rems. on Jeremiah 28:1.—The house of the secretary Jonathan, of which we have no further knowledge, was used as a prison, because there were parts of it adapted for such a purpose. These are designated (1) by the word בּוֹר. This word does not necessarily everywhere mean a pit, though it certainly does in Jeremiah 38:6-7; Jeremiah 38:9, as is shown by passages like Genesis 40:15; Exodus 12:29. It is at any rate a subterranean cavity, and בֵּית־הַבּוֹר is a house where there are such cavities, for the word may be taken collectively. Such places are (2) designated as חֲנֻיוֹת. The word occurs here only. In the dialects, according to the radical meaning, it is “to let one’s-self down, to encamp, to turn in,” and “a camp, a place to put up at, a booth, a cell.” (Fuerst). Here it is evidently the subterranean cell of a prison. (Comp. Rosenmuellerad h. l.)

Jeremiah 37:17-21. Then Zedekiah … court of the guard. The second stage of imprisonment! The weak king, dependent on his nobles, has the prophet secretly brought from his prison to ask him, whether there is not a word from the Lord which in their desperate condition would give them some light and comfort. From the scarcity of means of subsistence ( Jeremiah 37:21) it is seen that the city was again blockaded. Jeremiah’s prophecy ( Jeremiah 37:8) was thus already fulfilled. This was doubtless the circumstance which filled Zedekiah with so much solicitude, that he determined to have the prophet called, a step which involved humiliation to himself (comp. Jeremiah 37:19), and it might also compromise him with the princes (comp. “secretly,” Jeremiah 37:17).—From the circumstance that Zedekiah has the prophet brought from the prison in the house of Jonathan, it is plainly seen that we have not before us the same conference, as that spoken of in Jeremiah 32:3-5 and Jeremiah 34:2-5. For in this Jeremiah took part voluntarily, and for this as a punishment he was confined in the court of the guard, ( Jeremiah 32:3). For the conference here recorded he was brought from the prison, and afterwards as a favor assigned to the court of the guard. Since now the other conference at all events belongs to the last stage of the siege, as was shown above on Jeremiah 34:1-5, which entire stage Jeremiah spent partly in prison and partly in the guard-court, the conference recorded here must be the earlier of the two.—It is accordingly also clear that the prophecy “thou shalt be delivered into the band of the king of Babylon” cannot be, as Graf supposes, identical with that contained in Jeremiah 32:4-5; Jeremiah 34:2-5 i. e., it is so in subject but not in time. Jeremiah boldly tells the king the truth; but he also uses the opportunity to promote his own personal interest. He does this by giving expression on the one hand to the consciousness of his innocence, which was exhibited with eclat in the shaming of the false prophets ( Jeremiah 37:18-19), and on the other by beseeching earnestly that he may not be taken back to the dungeon ( Jeremiah 37:20).—On let my supplication, etc., comp. Jeremiah 36:7.—On court of the guard, comp. Jeremiah 32:2.—On piece of bread and bakers, street, comp. the articles “Backen” and “Brod” in Herzog, R-Encycl. [Smith, Dict. I, 227].

DOCTRINAL AND ETHICAL

1. On Jeremiah 37:2-3. The Lord’s words Zedekiah did not care to hear, but the help of the Lord he would have liked to have. This seeking for help then did not proceed from a truly believing heart. It was merely an experiment, as in time of need one tries everything. Hence Zedekiah did not venture to come to the Lord himself, but Jeremiah was to intercede for him. “It Isaiah, however, in vain for intercession to be made for him, and he himself does not help to pray. Take the example of Pharaoh, Exodus 8:29; Exodus 9:28; Exodus 10:17.” Cramer.

2. On Jeremiah 37:5-10. Nothing is more bitter than in time of greatest need to see apparent help again disappear. Raised from the depths, one is then cast back into a still profounder deep. The Jews had invoked the aid of the Egyptians on their own responsibility. It was a triumph of worldly policy. The Lord disappoints their calculations. He is not to be so easily put out. The Chaldeans withdraw, but only to defeat the Egyptians, and then return. And Jeremiah must be the prophet of this disappointed hope. A few mortally wounded men, he must proclaim, would suffice to execute the Lord’s decree on Jerusalem. Comp. 2 Samuel 5:6.

3. On Jeremiah 37:10. This passage is also adduced as an instance, of the Song of Solomon -called scientia media or de future conditionato (Vide Budde, Inst Dogm, pag. 228), together with 1 Samuel 23:11-12; Jeremiah 38:17; Ezekiel 3:6; Matthew 11:21-22; Matthew 24:22; Acts 27:31. Starke.

4. On Jeremiah 37:11-12. If Jeremiah really wished to leave Jerusalem, because in the city he no longer hoped to secure safety or any success to his ministry (comp. Starke: “It appears that the prophet would betake himself to the country-people, because he hoped from them better results in penitence and the averting of the divine judgments, since hitherto he had been mostly hindered in his office by the priests and the court”), he was in error and took an arbitrary step. For in the first place the servant of God, who is at his post, is under divine protection, and in the second, he had to proclaim the will of God again and again to the stubborn people. There was then still the possibility of their obedient submission to the divine will. Jeremiah did afterwards repeatedly show that deliverance was still possible on the condition of submission ( Jeremiah 38:2-3; Jeremiah 38:17), and also, as he had to proclaim ruin unconditionally ( Jeremiah 32:3-5; Jeremiah 34:2-5), this testimony was necessary, partly as a proof of the inviolability of the divine counsel, partly to cut off all excuse for the Jews afterwards, partly as a foil to the glorious Messianic prophecies (chh32. and33.) which pertain to this last stage before the destruction of the city. If then Jeremiah really had the purpose at that lime to leave the city, it was an arbitrary step, which was not to succeed, and for which his arrest and what followed was a just punishment. In this sense Diedrich also says (S. 120), “The saints also err, and God deals with them punctiliously, so they also must be docile under the divine chastisements.”

5. On Jeremiah 37:15. “Jeremiah’s prophecies applied to the whole situation (political), and he thus could not avoid the appearance, which his disposition to recommend to the king the surrender of the city occasioned. God be praised! our Lord’s kingdom is not of this world. His servants may renounce the matters, which pertain thereto, with full freedom, and this the more because the Lord raises the instruments who are to labor for the amelioration of the State and the circumstances of mankind also from this kingdom, but gives the prophets of the New Testament a complete dispensation therefrom; of which we have a living example in Jesus and all His Apostles, who did not meddle by a word in any of the civil matters of the authorities, under whom they taught. Justice and chastity were Paul’s themes with the procurator Felix, which were matters of the interior, and that is enough.” Zinzendorf.

6. On Jeremiah 37:17. The king was commanded to put the book of the law before him, and always have it with him, Deuteronomy 17:19. As now he did not do this, he must be in awe even of his own servants: sometimes he must look at his counsellors through his fingers and let them do as they will, and though he might have been a master, he must be a servant. For God poureth contempt upon princes and looseth the covenant of the mighty ( Job 12:21).” Cramer.

7. On Jeremiah 37:18-20. In the consciousness of his official dignity the prophet proudly appears before the king, saying, Although it has come out clearly that I was right and your prophets wrong, you have done me injustice. Nevertheless he applies with humble and earnest petition to the king in behalf of his person, that he may not betaken back again to the dreadful prison. “After Jeremiah’s example, one may well petition tyrannical magistrates for a mitigation of persecution, but not speak to please them for the sake of the mitigation.” Cramer.

8. On Jeremiah 38:1-4. Jeremiah is like a running spring, which has an abundance of water. The mouth of the tube may be stopped. But no sooner is a slight temporary opening afforded, than the water breaks forth with full power. Although he knew what was before him, he was not silent. For he could not be silent ( Jeremiah 20:9). Even if they had beaten him to death on the spot with clubs, yet dying he would have cried: he that goeth forth shall live. Jeremiah was, however, no arch traitor, but the truest patriot in all Israel. Is not this proved by the courage, with which he inflexibly repeated his apparently so unpatriotic counsel? Certainly his opponents regard him as the most dangerous man among the people, just as Ahab accused. Elijah of troubling Israel ( 1 Kings 18:18), Amaziah Amos ( Jeremiah 7:10), the Jews Paul ( Acts 16:20).

9. On Jeremiah 38:5. Legal right to carry out their will, in opposition to that of the king, the princes had none. Zedekiah’s speech, therefore, displays only his individual weakness. He also shows by it how little he was subject to God. For had he been faithful to God, he would have found means to compel the obedience of his princes. He who has the right, has also the Lord on his side. If this was manifest in the case of the poor priest Jeremiah, how much more so in that of the king. But this king was no Jeremiah.

10. On Jeremiah 38:6. No prophet was ever maltreated so pitiably as Jeremiah. He represents the culminating point in the humiliation of the servant of Jehovah, but also the extreme point in the alienation from God of the theocracy, which was immediately followed as a merited punishment by the deepest outward decline. Therefore in Jeremiah also must “Christ’s resurrection become visible (Diedrich).”

11. On Jeremiah 38:7-13. A Moor, a heathen, must have compassion and raise his voice against. the enormity. while all Israel was silent. Thus is completed the testimony to Israel’s decline, and the guilt appears to be a common one.

12. On Jeremiah 38:14-15. This seems to be the manner of princes. They say: I wish to hear the truth, the truth only, the whole truth. And when one tells them the truth, he draws upon himself their highest displeasure. For these lords, accustomed to a Homeric life of the gods (θεοὶ ῥεῖα ζοῶντες), do not like to be disturbed in this their bliss. Nothing, however, affects them more rudely than the truth. Zedekiah even does not seem to have been in earnest with his “pray, hide nothing from me,” for otherwise he would at least have done what he could to follow the prophet’s counsel.

13. On Jeremiah 38:19-23. Zedekiah gives as a pretext his dread of mocking and maltreatment from the fugitive Jews. For these, the malcontents, who attributed all the blame to his government and had therefore fled, might possibly have him delivered over to them, and then take their revenge on him. Jeremiah assures him that he has no insult to fear from them. But he will be exposed to the most sensible insults from a quarter where he would least expect it, viz., from the women of his own harem. To be received by his own wives with insulting Song of Solomon, instead of songs of victory—what greater disgrace could be conceived for a man and a prince? Incidit in Scyllam qui vult vitare Charybdim.

14. On Jeremiah 38:24-27. Did Jeremiah participate in a prevarication, or not? The opinions on this point are divided. Förster says: Non quidem disertis verbis mentitus est Jeremias; interim tamen hoc ejus factum speciem quondam mendacii habet, vel carte est dissimulatio, quæ non omni ex parte excusanda. Others on the other hand call attention to two points: 1. Although in Jeremiah 38:15-17, no such request is mentioned as, according to Jeremiah 38:26, Jeremiah is said to have made, it is yet implied, both in the words of the prophet in Jeremiah 38:15, and in the answer of the king, Jeremiah 38:16. It follows from what is said by both of them, that Jeremiah wished that he might neither be put to death nor brought into such a condition as would inevitably involve his death. Consequently, he at any rate, cherished the same wish, which he expressed to the king in Jeremiah 38:20. 2. If then the declaration of Jeremiah 38:26 does not contain the whole truth, it contains no untruth. The princes, however, had no right to demand the whole truth from Jeremiah. For they were simply murderers. No one, however, is bound to a murderer to expose himself to his knife, by the confession of the truth. This latter view may well be the correct one. [Comp. Wordsworth and Stanley, Jewish Church, p524.—S. R. A.]

HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL

1. On Jeremiah 37:3. To supplicate the Lord or to intercede with the Lord is indeed right, but it is useless and wrong to desire the help, but not the Lord Himself. [Sinners contradict their prayers, and thus render them unsuccessful, by their lives. Lathrop.—S. R. A.]

2. On Jeremiah 37:5-10. Instructive example of the difference between man’s help and God’s help. Man’s help self-sought, self-made, shows at first indeed a joyous hopeful countenance, but it is hollow and vacuous, and confidence therein is self-deception. In due course it shows itself perfectly powerless, indeed it turns to the contrary, to destruction. God’s help on the other hand is announced at first under gloomy aspects and hard conditions (surrender to the Chaldeans), but these hard conditions are wholesome chastisement, from which proceed life and salvation.

3. On Jeremiah 37:11-13. “It is the manner of God’s enemies, that they shamefully misinterpret the acts of His servants, when these indeed justify themselves, but when they find no hearing they suffer and are silent; only from the confession of the truth they will not forbear.” The Major Prophets, by Heim and Hoffmann.

4. On Jeremiah 38:4. “Worldly people are still disposed to reproach the preachers of the Gospel with the injury which they inflict on the commonwealth, because they seek to hinder the God-forgotten course of the commonwealth, as the worldly people wish it to be. One must not be put out by this, but go on.” Heim and Hoffmann.

5. On Jeremiah 38:4-13. As at the time of Christ the external theocracy was approaching its final overthrow, so at the time of Jeremiah it was its precursory overthrow. Christ was the prophet of the former, Jeremiah of the latter. As Christ was accused of being an arch-traitor and corrupter of the people ( John 11:48; John 11:50), so also Jeremiah. The true ground here, as there, was diabolical hatred to the divine truth and carnal dependence on outward supports and their own excellence. The princes, who threw Jeremiah into the pit, correspond to the rulers of the people at the time of Christ, the weak Zedekiah to the weak Pontius Pilate, Ebed-melech to those believers from the heathen (the ruler of Capernaum, the Canaanitish woman, the Samaritans) who put Israel to shame by their faith. And as Jeremiah is delivered from the pit, so Christ after three days rises from the grave.

6. On Jeremiah 38:19-23. Our ways and God’s ways 1. Our ways: (a) preserve us not from that which we feared ( Jeremiah 38:22): (b) they lead to destruction ( Jeremiah 38:23). God’s ways: (a) preserve us from that which we feared ( Jeremiah 38:19-20): (b) they lead to safety and life ( Jeremiah 38:20)

Footnotes:

FN#1 - Jeremiah 37:1.—Naegelsb.: And Zedekiah became king. The phrase וַיִמְלָך־מֶלֶך (instead of the simple וִיִמְלָך, as is especially common in the book of Kings. Comp. 1 Kings 11:43; 1 Kings 12:17; 1 Kings 14:20; 1 Kings 14:31, etc.), does not occur except in Jeremiah 23:5 where, however, there is more reason for the מְלֶךְ. We must not, however, find a parallel, as Kimchi does, with such expressions as בָּנַר בֶּנֶר נָדַר נֶרֶר, where the noun stands in the accusative, nor with Hitzig attract צִדְקִהוּ מֶלֶךְ, and translate: and a king, Zedekiah, came to the government, etc., for Zedekiah was not king when he came to the government. מֶלֶך is rather to be taken as more exact definition of the predicate: and Zedekiah came to the government as king, etc. The pleonasm seems to accord with Jeremiah’s more diffuse style.

FN#2 - Jeremiah 37:1.—אשׁר before הִמְלִיךְ is accus, and to be referred to Zedekiah. Comp. 2 Kings 24:17.

FN#3 - Jeremiah 37:4.—בית הכליא. Here, as in Jeremiah 52:31, in which passages alone the word occurs, the Masoretes would alter without any necessity to כּלוּא. Comp. Gesen, § 84, 13, etc.

FN#4 - Jeremiah 37:7.—שׁב לארצו. The participle, having itself no tense can, from the context, signify only that they are in the act of returning.

FN#5 - Jeremiah 37:9.—[Literally: your souls.—S. R. A.]

FN#6 - Jeremiah 37:10.—Hitzig correctly remarks that אֲנָשִׁים, in antithesis to כָּל־הֵיל denotes individuals, and that therefore it is more correct to connect אִישׁ בְאָהְָלוֹ with what follows, as the punctuation denotes, since it is evidently intended to express that these individuals, without any previous agreement, would arise, moved by a divine impulse, to perform the work of destruction.

FN#7 - Jeremiah 37:11.—והיה. This form stands here, a trace of the later usage, for וַיהִי. Comp. Jeremiah 3:9; Jeremiah 38:28 b; Ewald, § 345 b; Naegelsb. Gr., § 88, 7, Anm.

FN#8 - Jeremiah 37:16.—כִּ at the beginning of the verse is surprising. Neither its causal nor its temporal signification is suitable here. The LXX translate καὶ ἥλθεν, Hitzig, Ewald, Graf and others read ויבֹא with reference to 1 Samuel 2:21, and 2 Kings 20:12 coll. Isaiah 39:1.

FN#9 - Jeremiah 37:16.—[Or: cells; Naegelsbach has: vaults. “Some suppose it to mean bent bars, by which the prisoner was confined, and in which he sat as in a cage in a distorted position, (Gesen, Graf).” Wordsworth.—S. R. A.]

FN#10 - Jeremiah 37:19.—With respect to the form וְאַיֵו, the question Isaiah, how the Chethibh is to be pronounced אַיּוֹ or אַיּוֹ Usually the former is adopted, an obscuration of the suffix-meaning being maintained as in יַחְדָּו. Fuerst on the other hand (Vid. H. W. B. S. 66) is of opinion that we are to read אַיּוְּ which stands for אַיּוּן with the old plural termination, the traces of which are preserved in verbs and particles (Comp. Olsh, § 16, b). The decision is difficult, as the form is a solitary one with either punctuation.

FN#11 - Jeremiah 37:20.—[Literally: fall].

 


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Bibliography Information
Lange, Johann Peter. "Commentary on Jeremiah 37:4". "Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/lcc/jeremiah-37.html. 1857-84.

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