Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

Jeremiah 38:16

But King Zedekiah swore to Jeremiah in secret saying, "As the Lord lives, who made this life for us, surely I will not put you to death nor will I give you over to the hand of these men who are seeking your life."
New American Standard Version

Bible Study Resources

Concordances:
Nave's Topical Bible - Oath;   Prisoners;   Zedekiah;   Thompson Chain Reference - Oaths;  
Dictionaries:
Bridgeway Bible Dictionary - Prophecy, prophet;   Zedekiah;   Fausset Bible Dictionary - King;   Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible - Greek Versions of Ot;   Zedekiah,;  
Encyclopedias:
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia - Oath;   Zedekiah (2);  

Adam Clarke Commentary

As the Lord liveth, that made us this soul - He is the living God, and he is the Author of that life which each of us possesses; and as sure as he lives, and we live by him, I will not put thee to death, nor give thee into the hands of those men who seek thy life. A very solemn oath; and the first instance on record of the profane custom of swearing by the soul.

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Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Jeremiah 38:16". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/jeremiah-38.html. 1832.

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

That made us this soul - This very unusual addition to the formula of an oath 1 Samuel 20:3 was intended to strengthen it. By acknowledging that his soul was God‘s workmanship Zedekiah also implied his belief in God‘s power over it.

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Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Jeremiah 38:16". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/jeremiah-38.html. 1870.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

So Zedekiah the king swore secretly unto Jeremiah,.... The king not only gave the prophet his word, but also annexed to it his oath, that his life should be in no danger, either from him or his princes; this oath was made secretly, both for the honour of the king, he swearing to a subject, and that it might not be known by the princes, and for fear of them:

saying, as the Lord liveth, that made us this soul; or "these souls", as the Targum: here a superfluous word, את, is used; which, as the Jews observe, is one of the eight words which are written, but not read: he swears by the living God, by whom only men should swear, whenever it is necessary; this is the proper form of an oath; the appeal is to be made to the eternal God, that knows all things, the Father of spirits, the Maker of souls, and giver of the lives of all men, and who can take them away when he pleases. The sense is, may the living God, who has made my soul and yours, and given life to us both, may he take away my soul, my life, from me, if ever I make any attempt upon yours;

I will not put thee to death, neither will I give thee into the hand of those that seek thy life; he not only promises and swears to it, that he would not take awake his life with his own hands, or give orders to take it away; but he would not deliver him into the hands of his princes, who he knew were implacable enemies, and sought all opportunities and advantages against him; but then he makes no promise that he will take any counsel or advice that should be given him; as to this, he would lay himself under no obligation to observe, resolving to take his own way; if he liked it, to follow it; if not, to reject it; he would not be bound by it.

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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 38:16". "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

made us this soul — (Isaiah 57:16). Implying, “may my life (soul) be forfeited if I deceive thee” [Calvin].

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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 38:16". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfb/jeremiah-38.html. 1871-8.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

Jeremiah 38:16 So Zedekiah the king sware secretly unto Jeremiah, saying, [As] the LORD liveth, that made us this soul, I will not put thee to death, neither will I give thee into the hand of these men that seek thy life.

Ver. 16. So the king Zedekiah sware secretly unto Jeremiah.] But what credit was to be given to his oath, who was notoriously known to be a perjured person, as having broken his oath of fidelity to Nebuchadnezzar?

As the Lord liveth, that made us this soul.] Hence the truth of that assertion is cleared up unto us, that men’s souls drop not down from heaven, nor are propagated by their parents, but are created by God, and infused into their bodies.

I will not put thee to death, neither will I, &c.] The former part of the prophet’s condition he sweareth to perform, but saith nothing to the latter, as having no such liking to it. So many come today to hear, who resolve to practise only so far as they see good.

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Trapp, John. "Commentary on Jeremiah 38:16". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/jeremiah-38.html. 1865-1868.

Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible

Jeremiah 38:16. That made us this soul Who hath given us this time to breathe; that is to say, "this intermission from the siege, by the absence of the Chaldeans."

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Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Jeremiah 38:16". 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

Zedekiah saith nothing to the latter part of Jeremiah’s speech, promising nothing as to his hearing and obeying his counsel: as to the former, he gives him the security of his oath, that he would neither himself slay him, by giving any immediate command from himself, nor surrender him up into the hands of those malicious princes who he perceived sought his life. The form of his oath is what was usual,

As the Lord liveth, with an addition, the Lord that gave me my life: If I put thee to death, and if I deliver thee; which form carrieth with it a concealed imprecation, Let the Lord do so to me, and more also; or, Let the Lord that gave me this soul take it from me, if I do either of these things. Thus he secures Jeremiah, as to any hard measure for his telling him the truth, though it should be what might be interpreted a capital crime to publish.

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Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Jeremiah 38:16". 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

16.That made us this soul — An unusual addition to the formula of an oath.

 

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Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Jeremiah 38:16". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/jeremiah-38.html. 1874-1909.

Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable

The king swore to Jeremiah, by the living Lord who gave life, that he would neither kill him nor turn him over to his enemies-who were plotting to kill him. The implication of this oath was that since Yahweh gives life, He could take Zedekiah"s life if he proved unfaithful to his word.

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Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Jeremiah 38:16". "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 38:16. The king sware, As the Lord liveth, that made this soul — That is, who gave me my life and thee thine, and who, as he is the author, so he is the preserver, of our life and being: who may uphold or take them away as and when he pleases. I will not put thee to death, &c. — Zedekiah says nothing to the prophet as to obeying his counsel, but he gives him the security of his oath that he would neither himself slay him, by giving an immediate command from himself for his being slain, nor surrender him up into the hands of those princes who, he perceived, sought his life.

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Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on Jeremiah 38:16". Joseph Benson's Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/rbc/jeremiah-38.html. 1857.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

As the LORD liveth = By the life of Jehovah.

soul. Hebrew. nephesh (App-13): i.e. May He Who gave us both our life, take mine away if I take thine, or give thee, &c.

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Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on Jeremiah 38:16". "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

So Zedekiah the king sware secretly unto Jeremiah, saying, As the LORD liveth, that made us this soul, I will not put thee to death, neither will I give thee into the hand of these men that seek thy life.

As the Lord ... that made us this soul - (Isaiah 57:16). Implying, 'may my life (soul) be forfeited if I deceive thee.'

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Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Jeremiah 38:16". "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

(16) As the Lord liveth, that made us this soul.—The formula of the oath was obviously intended to be one of unusual solemnity; more so even than the simpler form of “The Lord liveth” (Jeremiah 16:14-15). The king swears by Jehovah as the living God, author and giver of his own life. The two-fold promise shows that the king felt the implied reproof of Jeremiah’s question. He separates himself from those who sought the prophet’s life, and declares that for the future he will not give them even the sanction of acquiescence. It is characteristic of his weakness that even now the oath is given secretly.

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Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on Jeremiah 38:16". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ebc/jeremiah-38.html. 1905.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

So Zedekiah the king sware secretly unto Jeremiah, saying, As the LORD liveth, that made us this soul, I will not put thee to death, neither will I give thee into the hand of these men that seek thy life.
sware
37:17; John 3:2
that made
Numbers 16:22; 27:16; Ecclesiastes 12:7; Isaiah 57:16; Zechariah 12:1; Hebrews 12:9
of these
1-6; 34:20
Reciprocal: 1 Samuel 20:3 - as thy soul;  Job 31:34 - Did I;  Jeremiah 22:25 - I

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Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on Jeremiah 38:16". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/jeremiah-38.html.

Calvin's Commentary on the Bible

The king, desirous of having a new revelation, promised safety to the Prophet by an oath. He then swore that he would not take revenge, though he might be displeased with the Prophet’s answer he might indeed have conjectured, though Jeremiah had not expressly said anything, that the answer would be unfavorable, and by no means agreeable to his wishes. For if some pleasant and joyful oracle had been given to the Prophet, he would not have made a preface respecting his own danger, and the wrath of the king, and also respecting his obstinacy. Zedekiah then could have concluded, that nothing but what was sad could be expected. For this reason he made an oath, that whatever might be the answer, he would not be so offended as to cause any harm to the Prophet.

He said, I will not kill thee, nor deliver thee into the hand of those who seek thy life, that is, who are enemies to thy life: for to seek life is the same thing as to pursue man to death. It is a way of speaking that often occurs, especially in the Psalms. (Psalms 38:12; Psalms 40:14.) Then he refers to the mortal enemies of Jeremiah: and he promises at the same time that he would, with undisturbed mind, receive whatever he might hear from the Prophet.

Let us notice the form of the oath, Live does Jehovah, who made for us this soul He first made an oath by the life of God, that is, by the immortal God. The word חי, chi, when applied to God, denotes a life different from what is in men or in brute animals; for men live by the will of another, that is, while God gives them life. It belongs then to God alone to live, for we do not live, nor move, nor have any being but in him, as Paul says, in Acts 17:28; and hence he teaches us in another place, that God alone is immortal. (1 Timothy 6:16) At the same time comprehended in this word is everything that peculiarly belongs to God; for God does not live to enjoy ease and indulge in idleness, but to govern the universe, to exercise his power throughout heaven and earth, to judge men, to render to every one his own just reward. Then life in God is not an idle life, as ungodly men imagine, but includes his infinite power, justice, wisdom, and all that peculiarly belongs to him. Whenever then we speak of the life of God, let us know that we do not live but through him, and also that he does not sit idly and carelessly in heaven, but that he governs the whole world, and is the judge of men.

According to this meaning, then, Zedekiah said, Live does Jehovah, and then he added, who made for us this soul. He expresses more clearly what I have already stated, and it is the same as though he had offered his own life before God as a pledge. He then prayed for the punishment of perjury on himself; for when he made an oath by God, the giver of life, it was the same as though he had said, “Let my life be forfeited, if I deceive thee, or turn false.” We hence see what is the end of an oath, even that God’s sacred name may be for us a pledge, that our word may be relied on. It hence follows, that God’s name, whenever we swear, cannot be taken with impunity: for we expose our life to his judgement, that he may revenge the wrong done to him; for his name, as it is sufficiently known, is profaned by perjuries. It now follows —

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Calvin, John. "Commentary on Jeremiah 38:16". "Calvin's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/cal/jeremiah-38.html. 1840-57.