Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

Jeremiah 38:15

Then Jeremiah said to Zedekiah, "If I tell you, will you not certainly put me to death? Besides, if I give you advice, you will not listen to me."
New American Standard Version

Bible Study Resources

Concordances:
Nave's Topical Bible - Prisoners;   Zedekiah;  
Dictionaries:
Bridgeway Bible Dictionary - Prophecy, prophet;   Zedekiah;   Fausset Bible Dictionary - King;   Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible - Greek Versions of Ot;   Zedekiah,;   Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament - Septuagint;   Wisdom of Christ;  

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

Wilt thou not hearken … ! - Rather, Thou wilt not hearken.

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Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Jeremiah 38:15". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/jeremiah-38.html. 1870.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

Then Jeremiah said unto Zedekiah,.... Here follows the prophets answer, in which he tacitly desires to be excused saying any thing upon this head, since it might be attended with danger to himself, and be of no service to the king; and therefore prudently thought fit to come into some agreement with the king, to secure himself, if he insisted upon it:

if I declare it unto thee, wilt thou not surely put me to death? this he might fear, from past experience of the king's conduct; for, though he might not slay him with his own hands, or give orders to others to do it; yet he might deliver him up to the will and mercy of his princes, as he had done before; not that the prophet was afraid to die, or was deterred through fear of death from delivering the word of the Lord, and doing his work; but he thought it proper to make use of prudent means to preserve his life; besides, he had no express order from the Lord to say anything concerning this matter at this time:

and if give thee counsel, wilt thou not hearken to me? or, "thou wilt not hearken to me"F26לא תשמע אלי "non audies me", V. L. Schmidt; "non audies ad me", Montanus; "non auscultabis mihi", Piscator. ; so the Targum, Syriac, and Vulgate Latin versions; and therefore it was to no purpose to give him any advice; from all this the king might easily understand the prophet had nothing to say that would be agreeable to him; however, he was very desirous to know what it was, and therefore promises indemnity and security, 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 38:15". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/jeremiah-38.html. 1999.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

wilt thou not hearken unto me — Zedekiah does not answer this last query; the former one he replies to in Jeremiah 38:16. Rather translate, “Thou wilt not hearken to me.” Jeremiah judges so from the past conduct of the king. Compare Jeremiah 38:17 with Jeremiah 38:19.

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These files are a derivative of an electronic edition prepared from text scanned by Woodside Bible Fellowship.
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 38:15". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfb/jeremiah-38.html. 1871-8.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

Jeremiah 38:15 Then Jeremiah said unto Zedekiah, If I declare [it] unto thee, wilt thou not surely put me to death? and if I give thee counsel, wilt thou not hearken unto me?

Ver. 15. If I declare it unto thee.] It is for the sins of a people that a hypocrite reigneth over them. [Job 34:30] Such a one was Zedekiah; and the prophet here freely reproveth him for his hypocrisy.

And if I give thee counsel, will thou not hearken?] Or, And though I advise thee, thou wilt not hearken to me. Thou art set, and hast made thy conclusion beforehand.

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Trapp, John. "Commentary on Jeremiah 38:15". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/jeremiah-38.html. 1865-1868.

Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible

Jeremiah 38:15. If I declare it unto thee, &c.— The prophet had so often experienced the unsteadiness of the king's temper, his backwardness to follow good counsel, and his want of courage to support those who dared to give him proper advice, that he might very reasonably determine not to venture his life to serve a man who was in some measure incapable of being directed: and, although God had shewn the prophet what would be the effect of this advice if it were followed, yet it does not appear that he had commanded him to make it known to Zedekiah. See Lowth. Instead of Wilt thou not hearken? Houbigant reads, Thou wilt not hearken.

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Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Jeremiah 38:15". Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tcc/jeremiah-38.html. 1801-1803.

Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

Jeremiah had reason to caution with the king for his life, considering the easy answer of the king to the princes, moving for his death, Jeremiah 38:4,5. We must imagine Jeremiah at this time under no Divine command to reveal God’s will in this case unto the king.

Wilt thou not? is here as much as thou wilt not hearken unto me. Zedekiah had often been advised by the prophet, but would never take his advice, and the prophet knew it would be the same case still, that the king would be overruled by a corrupt court, and his own aversion, to change his state, as a king, for the state of a prisoner.

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Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Jeremiah 38:15". 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

15.Wilt thou not hearken — The English is wrong in giving the last sentence as a question. The true reading is, thou wilt not hearken unto me.

 

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Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Jeremiah 38:15". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/jeremiah-38.html. 1874-1909.

Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable

Jeremiah replied that if he did give the king a straight answer, Zedekiah would execute him and disregard what he said.

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Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Jeremiah 38:15". "Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/dcc/jeremiah-38.html. 2012.

Joseph Benson's Commentary of the Old and New Testaments

Jeremiah 38:15. Then Jeremiah said, If I declare it unto thee, wilt thou not surely put me to death? — “The prophet had so much experience of the unsteadiness of the king’s temper, of his backwardness in following good counsel, and want of courage to stand by those that durst advise him well, that he might, with good reason, resolve not to venture his life to serve a man that was in a manner incapable of being directed. And although God had showed him what would be the effect of his advice, if it were followed, (Jeremiah 38:17,) yet it doth not appear that he had commanded him to make this known to Zedekiah.” — Lowth. And if I give thee counsel, wilt thou not hearken unto me? — Rather, wilt thou hearken unto me? Which is undoubtedly the sense intended, unless we translate the words, as some do, without an interrogation, thou wilt not hearken unto me. So Jeremiah might well conclude from the king’s former behaviour, for he had often been advised by him, but would never take his advice, and the prophet knew the same would be the case still, that the king would be overruled by a corrupt court and his own aversion to change his state as a king to the state of a prisoner.

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Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on Jeremiah 38:15". Joseph Benson's Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/rbc/jeremiah-38.html. 1857.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

wilt thou not . . . me? = thou wilt not. This second clause is not a question in the Hebrew text.

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Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on Jeremiah 38:15". "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 Jeremiah said unto Zedekiah, If I declare it unto thee, wilt thou not surely put me to death? and if I give thee counsel, wilt thou not hearken unto me?

If I give thee counsel, wilt thou not hearken unto me? Zedekiah does not answer this last query; the former one, "If I declare it unto thee, wilt thou not put me to death?" he replies to in Jeremiah 38:16. Rather translate, 'Thou wilt not hearken to me.' Jeremiah judges so from the past conduct of the king. Compare Jeremiah 38:17 with Jeremiah 38:19.

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Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Jeremiah 38:15". "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

(15) Wilt thou not surely put me to death?—The prophet obviously speaks as if he believed the king to have sanctioned the severe measures that had been taken against him, and having no other “word of the Lord” to speak than that which he had spoken before, fears to provoke his wrath. The latter part of the sentence is better taken with the LXX., Vulg., and Luther, “thou wilt not hearken unto me “; or the form of the question altered so as to imply that answer.

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Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on Jeremiah 38:15". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ebc/jeremiah-38.html. 1905.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

Then Jeremiah said unto Zedekiah, If I declare it unto thee, wilt thou not surely put me to death? and if I give thee counsel, wilt thou not hearken unto me?
Luke 22:67,68
Reciprocal: 1 Kings 1:12 - let me;  Proverbs 12:15 - but;  John 11:53 - put;  Hebrews 1:8 - a sceptre

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Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on Jeremiah 38:15". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/jeremiah-38.html.

Calvin's Commentary on the Bible

THE Prophet seems here to have acted not very discreetly; for when he ought of his own accord to have announced to the king the destruction of the city, being asked he refused to answer, or at least he took care of his life, and secured himself from danger before he littered a word. And the Prophets, we know, disregarding their own life, ought to have preferred to it the commands of God, as we find was often the case with Jeremiah, who frequently at the risk of his life proclaimed prophecies calculated to rouse the hatred of all the people, and to create the greatest danger to himself. It seems, then, that he had made no good progress, since he now fails, as it were, in this hazardous act of his vocation, and dares not to expose himself to danger.

But it ought to be observed, that the Prophets had not always an express command to speak. For had God bidden Jeremiah to declare what we shall hereafter meet with, he would not have evaded the question; for he had been so trained up for a long time, that he feared not for himself so as to turn aside from the straight course of his office. That he now, then, seems to draw back, this he did because God had not as yet commanded him to explain to the king what we shall presently see. For he would have done this without benefit: and he had often admonished the king, and had seen that his counsel was despised. No wonder, then, that he was unwilling to endanger his life without any prospect of doing good. If any one brings this objection, that it is then lawful for us to do the same; to this I answer, that we are not thoughtlessly to cast pearls before swine; but until we try every means, we ought to hope for the best, and therefore to act confidently. But Jeremiah had fully performed his duty: for the king could not have pleaded mistake or ignorance, since the Prophet had so often testified that there was no other remedy for the evil but to pass over to the Chaldeans.

As then the Prophet had so often warned the king, he might now be silent, and thus excuse himself, “Thou wilt kill me, and at the same timethou wilt not believe me, or, thou wilt not obey, if I give thee counsel.” These two clauses ought to be read together; for if Jeremiah had seen that there was a prospect of doing good, he would doubtless have offered his life a sacrifice. But as he saw that his doe-trine would be useless, and that his life was in danger, he did not think it right rashly to expose his life, when he could hope for no benefit. The Prophet then did not regard only his own danger, but was also unwilling to expose heavenly truth to scorn, for it had often been already despised. He then did not answer the king’s question, because he was convinced that he would be disobedient, as he had ever been up to that very time. It follows —

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Calvin, John. "Commentary on Jeremiah 38:15". "Calvin's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/cal/jeremiah-38.html. 1840-57.