Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

Jeremiah 38:1

Now Shephatiah the son of Mattan, and Gedaliah the son of Pashhur, and Jucal the son of Shelemiah, and Pashhur the son of Malchijah heard the words that Jeremiah was speaking to all the people, saying,
New American Standard Version

Bible Study Resources

Concordances:
Nave's Topical Bible - Gedaliah;   Israel, Prophecies Concerning;   Jehucal;   Malchiah;   Mattan;   Pashur;   Persecution;   Shelemiah;   Shephatiah;  
Dictionaries:
American Tract Society Bible Dictionary - Pashur;   Shephatiah;   Bridgeway Bible Dictionary - Gedaliah;   Jeremiah;   Easton Bible Dictionary - Gedaliah;   Jehucal;   Malchiah;   Mattan;   Pashur;   Shelemiah;   Shephatiah;   Fausset Bible Dictionary - Gedaliah;   Jehucal;   Kings, the Books of;   Malchiah;   Mattan;   Pashur;   Shephathiah;   Holman Bible Dictionary - Gedaliah;   Jehucal;   Jeremiah;   Malchijah;   Mattan;   Pashur;   Prison, Prisoners;   Shephatiah;   Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible - Gedaliah;   Greek Versions of Ot;   Jehucal;   Malchiah;   Malchijah;   Mattan;   Pashhur;   Shephatiah;   Zedekiah,;   Morrish Bible Dictionary - Gedaliah ;   Jehucal ;   Malchiah, Malchijah ;   Mattan ;   Pashur ;   Shelemiah ;   Shephatiah ;   The Hawker's Poor Man's Concordance And Dictionary - Shephatiah;   Smith Bible Dictionary - Ju'cal;   Mat'tan;   Pash'ur;   Shephati'ah;  
Encyclopedias:
Condensed Biblical Cyclopedia - Kingdom of Judah;   International Standard Bible Encyclopedia - Gedaliah;   Jehucal;   Malchijah;   Mattan;   Pashhur;   Shelemiah;   Shephatiah;   The Jewish Encyclopedia - Pashur;   Shephatiah;  

Adam Clarke Commentary

Then Shephatiah - This was the faction - what Dahler terms the Antitheocratic faction - who were enemies to Jeremiah, and sought his life.

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Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Jeremiah 38:1". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/jeremiah-38.html. 1832.

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

Had spoken - Spake; or, was speaking.

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Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Jeremiah 38:1". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/jeremiah-38.html. 1870.

Coffman Commentaries on the Bible

JEREMIAH 38

JEREMIAH'S THIRD IMPRISONMENT

There are some similarities between the imprisonment mentioned in the preceding chapter and the one recounted here; but there is absolutely nothing that can justify the critical nonsense about these two chapters giving variable accounts of the same imprisonment. This was the third imprisonment of Jeremiah. The first was by Pashur (Jeremiah 21); the second is recorded in the preceding chapter, and the third imprisonment is the one recounted in this chapter.

TWO IMPRISONMENTS; NOT ONE

The great Jewish historian Josephus preserved a record of both of these imprisonments, (the two in Jeremiah 37 and Jeremiah 38) adding significant details to each, noting, for example, that, in the imprisonment given in this chapter, "Jeremiah stood in the mire up to his neck," and that, "The intention of the rulers was that he might be suffocated."[1]

The following irreconcilable differences deny that the two chapters refer to a single imprisonment: (1) The one occurred early in Nebuchadnezzar's attack on the city, during that intermission following the approach of the Egyptian army under Pharaoh-Hophra; the other took place almost at the very end of the siege, when supplies were low, defenders were few, and the fall of the city was imminent, about a year or more later than the other.

(2) The charges upon which Jeremiah was seized and imprisoned were different. In the first, he was charged with desertion to the Chaldeans; but in the second, he was charged with treason and with damaging the morale of the people.

(3) The prisons were different. The first was in the house of Jonathan; the second was within the court of the guard and belonged to Malchijah the king's son.

(4) Jeremiah's enemies in the first imprisonment acted without the king's permission; but, in the second, they forced the king to grant permission.

(5) The purposes of the imprisonments were not the same. In the first, they merely wanted to silence Jeremiah; but in the second they intended to destroy his life.

(6) The duration of the imprisonments were not the same. The first lasted "many days"; and the second lasted probably less than a single day.

(7) The first was terminated when the king sent for Jeremiah; and the second was terminated by Jeremiah's rescue at the hands of the Ethiopian eunuch Ebel-melech.

(8) There was plenty of water available in the first imprisonment, or Jeremiah could not have survived for "many days"; but there was no water at all in the miry pit which was the scene of the second imprisonment.

(9) The interviews with the king following each imprisonment were utterly unlike each other. Jeremiah spoke freely with Zedekiah in the first; but in the second Jeremiah did not respond at all until Zedekiah had sworn with an oath that he would neither put the prophet to death nor give him into the hands of those who would kill him. Note that this oath, if it had been in the first interview, would have prevented the king's giving Jeremiah into the hands of those who plotted to kill the prophet in this second imprisonment.

(10) The king's delegation leading to the first imprisonment was led by Jehucal; and the delegation seeking the life of Jeremiah was led by Shephatiah.

In this light, how could Thompson write that, "It is tempting to regard Jeremiah 37 and Jeremiah 38 as simply different accounts of the same course of events!"[2] And how could Anthony Ash declare that, "We consider it best to see them (the two chapters) as two accounts of the same series of events!"[3] This writer has found no satisfactory basis for the acceptance of such views as accurate. The text clearly speaks of two events. Significantly, none of the writers with such views attempts to give us the composite account of what really happened; nor do they attempt to reconcile the differences noted above. Our conclusion agrees with that of Green, writing in the Broadman Commentary, who declared that, "Jeremiah 37 and Jeremiah 38 present events in sequence and not in parallel accounts."

Jeremiah 38:1-4

THE DEATH OF JEREMIAH DEMANDED

"And Shephatiah the son of Mattan, and Gedaliah the son of Pashur, and Jucal the son of Shelemiah, and Pashur the son of Malchijah, heard the words that Jeremiah spake unto all the people, saying, Thus saith Jehovah, He that abideth in this city shall die by the sword, by the famine, and by the pestilence; but he that goeth forth to the Chaldeans shall live, and his life shall be unto him as a prey, and he shall live. Thus saith Jehovah, This city shall surely be given into the hand of the army of the king of Babylon, and he shall take it. Then the princes said unto the king, Let this man, we pray thee, be put to death; forasmuch as he weakeneth the hands of the men of war that remain in this city, and the hands of all the people, in speaking such words unto them: for this man seeketh not the welfare of this people, but the hurt."

The leader of this delegation to the king, Shephatiah, is unknown except for what is written here. Pashur is the prince who cast Jeremiah into the stocks in Jeremiah 21. All of these appear to have been bitter enemies of Jeremiah.

"Let this man be put to death ..." (Jeremiah 38:4). From the ordinary viewpoint, this delegation appears to have been justified in their demand for the execution of Jeremiah; because, certainly, they were accurately reporting exactly what Jeremiah had prophesied; and there cannot be any doubt that such prophecies had destroyed the morale of the whole population, including that of the soldiers.

Was Jeremiah, then, a traitor? Did he deserve to be put to death? Indeed, NO. The whole nation of Israel was a theocracy, their first allegiance belonging to God, as revealed by his servants the prophets. Their "sinful kingdom," from its inception was a rebellion against God and was thus foreordained to destruction. The real welfare of the nation lay in their repentance and return to the God of their fathers who had delivered them from slavery in Egypt. The dire extremities in which the nation, at this time, found itself could have been alleviated if the people had heeded Jeremiah.

As Henderson noted, "The princes might have been correct in accusing Jeremiah of rebellion (1) IF he had not provided incontestable evidence that he held a divine commission, (2) and IF the government itself had not been in a false position."[4] Zedekiah himself, as a sworn servant of the king of Babylon, was the real traitor in their current situation; and he had completely betrayed the interests of his own nation by entering into a rebellion against Babylon, contrary to the will of God and totally impractical.

Jeremiah was no glib supporter of those in political power, supporting "his country right or wrong!" "He so loved his country that he was not content until it became the embodiment of the highest social, moral, and spiritual ideals; and he was a splendid example of the enlightened type of patriotism so badly needed today."[5]

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Coffman Commentaries reproduced by permission of Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. All other rights reserved.
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Coffman, James Burton. "Commentary on Jeremiah 38:1". "Coffman Commentaries on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bcc/jeremiah-38.html. Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. 1983-1999.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

Then Shephatiah the son of Mattan, and Gedaliah the son of Pashur,.... Of these two persons we nowhere else read. Some think that Pashur, whose son Gedaliah was, is the same as is mentioned Jeremiah 20:1; which is not likely, since he was a priest, and this son a prince:

and Jucal the son of Shelemiah, and Pashur the son of Malchiah; these had been sent by the king to Jeremiah, to inquire of the Lord, and to pray for him and his people, Jeremiah 21:1; all four were princes, prime ministers of state, of great power and authority, and to whom the king could deny nothing, or withstand, Jeremiah 38:4; these

heard the words that Jeremiah had spoken to all the people; that is, to as many of them as came to the court of the prison to visit him; some out of good will, and some out of ill will; and others out of curiosity; being desirous to know by the prophet how things would go with them; and by which means what he said was spread all over the city, and came to the ears of the above princes; and no doubt there were persons enough officious enough to carry these things to them:

saying; as follows:

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The New John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible Modernised and adapted for the computer by Larry Pierce of Online Bible. All Rights Reserved, Larry Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario.
A printed copy of this work can be ordered from: The Baptist Standard Bearer, 1 Iron Oaks Dr, Paris, AR, 72855
Bibliographical Information
Gill, John. "Commentary on Jeremiah 38:1". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/jeremiah-38.html. 1999.

Geneva Study Bible

Then Shephatiah the son of Mattan, and Gedaliah the son of Pashur, and Jucal the son of Shelemiah, and Pashur the son of a Malchiah, heard the words that Jeremiah had spoken to all the people, saying,

(a) For Zedekiah had sent these to Jeremiah to enquire at the Lord for the state of the country how when Nebuchadnezzar came, as in (Jeremiah 21:1).
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Beza, Theodore. "Commentary on Jeremiah 38:1". "The 1599 Geneva Study Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/gsb/jeremiah-38.html. 1599-1645.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

Jeremiah 38:1-28. Jeremiah predicts the capture of Jerusalem, for which he is cast into a dungeon, but is transferred to the prison court on the intercession of Ebed-melech, and has a secret interview with Zedekiah.

All this was subsequent to his imprisonment in Jonathan‘s house, and his release on his interview with Zedekiah. The latter occurred before the return of the Chaldeans to the siege; the similar events in this chapter occurred after it.

Jucal — Jehucal (Jeremiah 37:3).

Pashur — (Jeremiah 21:1; compare Jeremiah 21:9 with Jeremiah 38:2). The deputation in Jeremiah 21:1, to whom Jeremiah gave this reply, if not identical with the hearers of Jeremiah (Jeremiah 38:1), must have been sent just before the latter “heard” him speaking the same words. Zephaniah is not mentioned here as in Jeremiah 21:1, but is so in Jeremiah 37:3. Jucal is mentioned here and in the previous deputation (Jeremiah 37:3), but not in Jeremiah 21:1. Shephatiah and Gedaliah here do not occur either in Jeremiah 21:1 or Jeremiah 37:3. The identity of his words in both cases is natural, when uttered, at a very short interval, and one of the hearers (Pashur) being present on both occasions.

unto all the people — They had free access to him in the court of the prison (Jeremiah 32:12).

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This expanded edition of the Jameison-Faussett-Brown Commentary is in the public domain and may be freely used and distributed.
Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Jeremiah 38:1". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfb/jeremiah-38.html. 1871-8.

Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary

CONTENTS

From bad to worse, the history is prosecuted concerning the conduct of the people, Jeremiah continues preaching until their passions are excited, and he is cast into the dungeon. The Lord stirreth up a stranger to intercede for his life with the king. He is taken from the pit; but still preacheth of ruin.

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Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on Jeremiah 38:1". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/pmc/jeremiah-38.html. 1828.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

Jeremiah 38:1 Then Shephatiah the son of Mattan, and Gedaliah the son of Pashur, and Jucal the son of Shelemiah, and Pashur the son of Malchiah, heard the words that Jeremiah had spoken unto all the people, saying,

Ver. 1. Then Shephatiah.] Here was aliud ex alio malum, one affliction on the neck of another. Matters mend with us as sour ale doth in summer, said Bishop Ridley once, when he was prisoner. Poor Jeremiah might well have said so, if ever any, as appeareth by this chapter, where we find him in a worse hole than was that of Jonathan; but his extremity was God’s opportunity.

Shephatiah the son of Mattan, and Gedaliah, &c.] These four princes here named to their eternal infamy were no small men, as appeareth in that the king was not he that could do anything against them. [Jeremiah 38:5] The grandees of the world are greatest enemies usually to the truth. Little they had to say against his doctrines; they quarrel with his affection, as a perturber of the public peace. [Jeremiah 38:4]

Ahab charged the like crime upon Elijah; the Jews upon Christ, and afterwards upon Paul; the heathen persecutors upon the primitive Christians; the heretics still upon the orthodox, that they were seditious, antimonarchical, &c.

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Trapp, John. "Commentary on Jeremiah 38:1". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/jeremiah-38.html. 1865-1868.

Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

JEREMIAH CHAPTER 38

Jeremiah prophesieth; is by the princes, with the king’s permission, cast into a dungeon; but is by Ebed-melech, with the king’s consent, taken out again, Jeremiah 38:1-13. He hath a secret conference with the king, in which he counselleth him by yielding to save his life, Jeremiah 38:14-23. By the king’s command he concealeth the conference from the princes, Jeremiah 38:24-27. He abideth in prison till Jerusalem is taken, Jeremiah 38:28.

Vers. 1. Here are four of the great men, counsellors, or great officers to Zedekiah, named, of whom we have no further mention in holy writ, nor are they worthy of much inquiry after. Jeremiah being now removed into a little freer air, where his friends, or such as had a desire to see him, came to him, and it is very likely were inquisitive to know what God would do with the city, he could not but tell them what he knew of the mind of God in the case, and advise them the best he could. Some of them go to these princes, and inform them of what they had heard from the prophet.

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Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Jeremiah 38:1". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mpc/jeremiah-38.html. 1685.

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

1.Had spoken — The original is less restricted, was speaking. The present participle here implies that Jeremiah continued to speak thus.

 

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Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Jeremiah 38:1". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/jeremiah-38.html. 1874-1909.

Joseph Benson's Commentary of the Old and New Testaments

Jeremiah 38:1. Then Shephaliah, &c. — Here are four of the great men, counsellors or chief officers to Zedekiah, named, of whom we have no further mention in holy writ; nor do they deserve to have much inquiry made after them. Some of them were sent by Zedekiah to Jeremiah to inquire concerning the event of the siege, Jeremiah 37:3; Jeremiah 21:1-9. “The answer which Jeremiah returned by them to the king, he afterward published to the people; which was the occasion of the new troubles recorded in this chapter.” — Lowth. The fact seems to have been, that, as he was now removed into a little freer air than he had been in, his friends, or such as had a desire to see him, came to him, and being inquisitive concerning the issue of the siege, he could not but tell them what he knew of the mind of God, and advise them the best way he could for their safety. Some of them, it is likely, went to these princes, and informed them of what they had heard from the prophet.

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Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on Jeremiah 38:1". Joseph Benson's Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/rbc/jeremiah-38.html. 1857.

George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

And Phassur, the violent priest, chap. xx. 1. --- People, who might come to the entry of the prison.

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Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on Jeremiah 38:1". "George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hcc/jeremiah-38.html. 1859.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

Pashur. See note on Jeremiah 20:1.

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Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on Jeremiah 38:1". "E.W. Bullinger's Companion bible Notes". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bul/jeremiah-38.html. 1909-1922.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

Then Shephatiah the son of Mattan, and Gedaliah the son of Pashur, and Jucal the son of Shelemiah, and Pashur the son of Malchiah, heard the words that Jeremiah had spoken unto all the people, saying,

All this was subsequent to his imprisonment in Jonathan's house, and his release on his interview with Zedekiah (Jeremiah 37:15; Jeremiah 37:21). The latter occurred before the return of the Chaldeans to the siege; the similar events in this chapter occurred after it.

Jucal - Jehucal (Jeremiah 37:3).

Pashur - (Jeremiah 21:1 : cf. Jeremiah 21:9 with Jeremiah 38:2); the deputation in Jeremiah 21:1, to whom Jeremiah gave this reply, if not identical with the hearers of Jeremiah in Jeremiah 38:1, must have been sent just before the latter "heard" him speaking the same words. Zephaniah is not mentioned here as in Jeremiah 21:1, but is so in Jeremiah 37:3. Jucal is mentioned here and in the previous deputation (Jeremiah 37:3), but not in Jeremiah 21:1. Shephatiah and Gedaliah here do not occur either in Jeremiah 21:1 or Jeremiah 37:3. The identity of his words in both cases is natural, when uttered at a very short interval, and one of the hearers (Pashur) being present on both occasions.

Unto all the people. They had free access to him in the court of the prison (Jeremiah 32:12).

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Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Jeremiah 38:1". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/jeremiah-38.html. 1871-8.

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

XXXVIII.

(1) Then Shephatiah the son of Mattan . . .—Of the four princes of Judah who are named here, Jucal or Jehucal has been mentioned in Jeremiah 37:3, and would appear, from the frequent occurrence of the name Shelomiah in 1 Chronicles 26:1-2; 1 Chronicles 26:9; 1 Chronicles 26:14, to have been a Levite; Pashur is named in Jeremiah 21:1. Of the other two nothing is known, but the name Shephatiah appears in three or four instances in the royal house of Judah, beginning with a son of David (2 Samuel 3:4; 2 Chronicles 21:2; Ezra 2:4; Nehemiah 7:9),·and may, perhaps, indicate a connexion with it, like that of Jerahmeel in Jeremiah 36:26. Gedaliah, the son of Pashur (possibly of the man of that name who is mentioned last in the list), must be distinguished from Jeremiah’s protector, the son of Ahikam (Jeremiah 26:24; Jeremiah 40:5). They all belonged obviously to the party of the prophet’s enemies.

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Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on Jeremiah 38:1". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ebc/jeremiah-38.html. 1905.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

Then Shephatiah the son of Mattan, and Gedaliah the son of Pashur, and Jucal the son of Shelemiah, and Pashur the son of Malchiah, heard the words that Jeremiah had spoken unto all the people, saying,
Shephatiah
Ezra 2:3; Nehemiah 7:9
Jucal
37:4
Jehucal
Pashur.
21:1-10
Melchiah
1 Chronicles 9:12
Malchijah
Nehemiah 11:12
heard
Acts 4:1,2,6-10; 5:28
Reciprocal: 1 Chronicles 6:40 - Baaseiah;  Jeremiah 11:21 - thou;  Jeremiah 25:2 - GeneralJeremiah 36:16 - We;  Jeremiah 37:13 - Hananiah;  Jeremiah 38:9 - these;  Jeremiah 38:16 - of these;  Jeremiah 39:17 - of whom

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Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on Jeremiah 38:1". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/jeremiah-38.html.

Calvin's Commentary on the Bible

The Prophet now shews that he was again dragged from the court of the prison to the inner part, which was dark, filthy, and like a grave. The cause of this he states: it was because four of the princes had heard his words. It is probable that many of the people had come there for the purpose of hearing the Prophet, and that he, having received a message, delivered it to every one that came to him. Though then he was shut up in prison, yet the word of God could not be bound, as Paul says, who gloried in the fact, that though he was in chains, yet the truth spread far and wide. (2 Timothy 2:9.) Such was the case as to Jeremiah; though he was retained as a prisoner, he yet ceased not to discharge his office; and yet there is no doubt but that the purpose of the king was in this way to restrain him. The prison was, as it were, the captivity of prophetic truth. But the king and his counselors were mistaken; for Jeremiah was not less free in the court of the prison, than if he had walked through the city all the day, nay, he had many heralds.

But the four princes mentioned here watched him, even Shephatiah, Gadaliah, Jucal, and Pashur. Then the four princes he names, having insidiously watched what he said, immediately made a commotion. They had, no doubt, contrived the ruin of the Prophet before they came to the king; for the unprincipled and wicked, we know, discuss matters together when intent on mischief, and their courtly arts must be taken to the account. As, then, the four were in authority, they must, doubtless, have influenced the greatest part of the king’s council, and led astray easy men, or such as were not of themselves bent on evil. The matter was at length brought before the king; and therefore he adds, that theycame to the king But he first explains the doctrine, on account of which these unprincipled men created so much ill-will to him, and endangered his life. Hence he says that the accusation was, that he had not only threatened with ruin all the inhabitants of Jerusalem, but that he had also pro-raised life to all that would go out to the Chaldeans: Every one who abides in the city shall die by the sword, famine, or pestilence; but every one who goeth out to the Chaldeans shall live This was the accusation.

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Calvin, John. "Commentary on Jeremiah 38:1". "Calvin's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/cal/jeremiah-38.html. 1840-57.