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Bible Commentaries

Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible
Jeremiah 38

 

 

Introduction

Jeremiah 27-29. Certain linguistic peculiarities (e.g. the incorrect spelling, Nebuchadnezzar) suggest that these three chapters may have circulated as a separate pamphlet, e.g. in Babylon. They deal with the rebuke of false hopes concerning a speedy return from exile.

Jeremiah 30-31. The Future of Israel and Judah.—These two chapters of prophecy, dealing with the future restoration of Israel and Judah, appear to be a later editorial insertion in the narrative scheme of Jeremiah 26-45, placed here perhaps because Jeremiah 32 and Jeremiah 33 contain narratives and prophecies dealing with the same subject (cf. also Jeremiah 29:10 ff.). In Jeremiah 30 and Jeremiah 31, there are numerous points of contact with Deutero-Isaiah, a fact which, with other features, has suggested to many scholars an exilic or post-exilic date for much that these chapters contain. The contrast with the general "pessimism" of earlier chapters is very noticeable. On the other hand, the internal evidence for Jeremiah 31:2-6, Jeremiah 31:15-22, Jeremiah 31:31-34 entitles us to regard these sections as Jeremianic.

Jeremiah 40-44. The next five chapters continue the biography of Jeremiah, including connected events, after the capture of Jerusalem.

Jeremiah 46-51. The Foreign Prophecies.—These form the third principal division of the Book of Jeremiah. As already seen (Jeremiah 1:5; Jeremiah 1:10, Jeremiah 25:15), Jeremiah's prophetic horizon naturally included the surrounding nations; how far the prophecies that follow are his can be decided only by detailed criticism in each case. They refer, though in somewhat different order, to the several nations enumerated in Jeremiah 25:19-26 (which may be regarded as an introduction to them), except that an oracle on Damascus here replaces the reference to Tyre, Sidon, and the Mediterranean. (The LXX, which places this group of prophecies after Jeremiah 25:13, follows a third order.) It is generally admitted that the long prophecy on Babylon (Jeremiah 50 f.) is not by Jeremiah (see prefatory note). As to Jeremiah 46-49, there is considerable difference of opinion, ranging from Duhm's rejection of the whole, through Giesebrecht's acceptance of Jeremiah 47 (except towards end), with the nucleus of Jeremiah 46:2-12, Jeremiah 49:7-11, up to Cornill's acceptance of most of Jeremiah 46-49 (so also Peake). It is in any case natural to suppose that there are genuine prophecies by Jeremiah which underlie these chapters, though they have been worked over, or incorporated with other non-Jeremianic prophecies (e.g. Jeremiah 48) by later writers. For details, the larger commentaries must be consulted.

Jeremiah 26-45. These chapters, usually ascribed in the main to Baruch, chiefly narrate selected incidents in the life of Jeremiah, often with connected prophecies; they form a second main section of the book, in contrast with 1-25, which consist chiefly of prophecies, with little narrative.


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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Bibliography Information
Peake, Arthur. "Commentary on Jeremiah 38:4". "Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible ". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/pfc/jeremiah-38.html. 1919.

Lectionary Calendar
Friday, November 15th, 2019
the Week of Proper 27 / Ordinary 32
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