Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

Jeremiah 38:27

Then all the officials came to Jeremiah and questioned him. So he reported to them in accordance with all these words which the king had commanded; and they ceased speaking with him, since the conversation had not been overheard.
New American Standard Version

Bible Study Resources

Concordances:
Nave's Topical Bible - King;   Prisoners;   Zedekiah;   Thompson Chain Reference - Jeremiah;  
Dictionaries:
Bridgeway Bible Dictionary - Scribes;   Zedekiah;   Holman Bible Dictionary - Conversation;   Prophecy, Prophets;   Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible - Greek Versions of Ot;   Zedekiah,;  

Adam Clarke Commentary

The matter was not perceived - They did not question him farther; and the king's commandment to remove him from the house of Jonathan being well known, they took for granted that they had all the information that they sought. And he was most certainly not obliged to relate any thing that might embroil this weak king with his factious but powerful princes, or affect his own life. He related simply what was necessary, and no more.

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Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Jeremiah 38:27". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/jeremiah-38.html. 1832.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

Then came all the princes to Jeremiah, and asked him,.... After he had parted with the king, and was come back to the court of the prison; as soon as the princes had been informed of the interview between the king and the prophet, which soon came to their ears, they came in a body to him, to the court of the prison, where he was, and asked him of what passed between him and the king:

and he told them according to all those words that the king had commanded; what he told them, no doubt, was truth; though he did not tell them all the truth; which he was not obliged to do, having no command from God, and being forbid by the king:

so they left off speaking with him; or, "were silent from him"F5ויחרשו ממנו "et tacuerunt ab eo", Pagninus, Montanus; "siluerunt", Calvin. ; went away silent, not being able to disprove what he had said, or object unto it, and finding they could get nothing more out of him:

for the matter was not perceived; or, "was not heard"F6לא נשמע הדבר "quia non auditum est verbum", Pagninus, Montanus, Schmidt. ; though there were persons that saw the king and the prophet together, yet nobody heard anything that passed between them; and therefore Jeremiah could not be confronted in what he had said, or be charged with concealing anything.

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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.
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Bibliographical Information
Gill, John. "Commentary on Jeremiah 38:27". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/jeremiah-38.html. 1999.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

Jeremiah 38:27 Then came all the princes unto Jeremiah, and asked him: and he told them according to all these words that the king had commanded. So they left off speaking with him; for the matter was not perceived.

Ver. 27. So they left off speaking with him.] Indigni utique qui ultra monerentur. The princes were far worse than the king, (a) who yet himself was one of the best. They therefore were slain by the Babylonian princes, when the king’s life was preserved, though with the loss of his eyes, which yet might be a means to open the eyes of his mind.

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Trapp, John. "Commentary on Jeremiah 38:27". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/jeremiah-38.html. 1865-1868.

Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible

Jeremiah 38:27. He told them according to all these words Jeremiah evidently had besought the king not to suffer his being remanded to his former prison, and had thanked him for the favour he had shewn him in drawing him thence; for otherwise, how could he have truly told them that he had made his remonstrances, as in Jeremiah 38:26. I presented my supplication, &c. It is certainly allowable, in various cases, not to tell all one knows, and to conceal the truth; but it is not permitted to speak falsely, or to intermix falsehood with truth, or to deny one part of the truth by affirming another part, on any occasion. All this is an offence against veracity, and cannot be exculpated. See Calmet.

REFLECTIONS.—1st, Jeremiah's troubles are not yet ended. We have,

1. A fresh accusation brought against him by the princes. Though he was a prisoner, many came to him, whom he failed not faithfully to admonish of the determined destruction of Jerusalem, and to counsel them, as the only way of securing their lives, to cast themselves on the mercy of the Chaldeans, who would certainly spare all that surrendered; while those who persisted in a fruitless defence would miserably perish by famine, pestilence, and the sword. Such discourse the princes regarded as highly treasonable, tending to weaken the hands of the people, and betray the city: fain, therefore, would they have the king put him to death as a public enemy, who sought not the welfare of the people, but their hurt. Note; (1.) It is a mercy, in times of calamity, if but our lives be given us for a prey. (2.) The enemies of God's faithful ministers often paint them as traitors and troublers of the state, when, in truth, all their warnings and advice are designed purely for the lengthening of the nation's prosperity.

2. Jeremiah is, by the king's permission put into the dungeon. Unable to resist the authority of the princes in the present distracted state of things, or willing to gratify them, though at the expence of sacrificing a man whom he knew in be innocent, and a prophet of the Lord, he is given up to their hands, and from them he must expect no mercy. They drag the prophet from the court of the prison unto another, over which Malchiah presided; and, intending secretly to destroy him, which they dared not publicly do, they let him down with cords into a deep and noisome dungeon, where was no water, but mire, into which he sunk, says Josephus, up to the neck; and there left him, not doubting but hunger, cold, the damp and the loathsomeness of the place, would soon put an end to his life; and then he would appear to have died a natural death. Here he is supposed to have offered the prayer recorded, Lamentations 3:55-57.

3. God yet remembers him, and raises him up a friend at court, when his case appeared desperate. Ebed-melech, an Ethiopian by birth, but possessed of more humanity and piety than any native Israelite; a great man in office, yet a good man in the worst of times and most corrupted court; not ashamed to own the suffering cause of God and truth, he no sooner heard of the prophet's miserable situation, than he immediately sought the king, who was now sitting in the gate of Benjamin, hearing causes, or holding some council of war or state; and boldly, in the presence of all his nobles, and many of the princes who were probably the authors of Jeremiah's suffering, charges them with a most unjust and cruel procedure, and that the consequence must necessarily be the prophet's death, famished with hunger, unless speedily relieved. Note; Zeal for God makes men bold as lions.

4. Zedekiah gives Ebed-melech orders immediately to draw the prophet from his dungeon, and a guard of soldiers to assist him, if any dared attempt to oppose his release; and, with the greatest humanity and tenderness, he took care to bring some soft rags to put under Jeremiah's arms, that the cords which drew him up might not hurt him: and now, once more brought forth from the dark and dismal pit, he is re-conveyed to the court of the prison. Probably Ebed-melech thought that safer for the prophet than his discharge, as he would be there sheltered from danger, and fed from the king's stores. Note; (1.) When we dare be faithful, we shall frequently find more favour than we expected. (2.) The least circumstances which bespeak the tenderness and humanity of a charitable heart, shall be remembered and recompensed at the resurrection of the just.

2nd, Severe struggles, no doubt, passed in the bosom of this unhappy monarch, halting between two opinions, divided between the fear of man and the fear of God, and perplexed with the warnings of conscience and the strivings of corruption.

1. He seeks another interview with the prophet; appoints the place of meeting, for secresy probably, at the third entry or gate, as it is supposed, of the ascent which went up from the king's house to the temple; and, having ordered the prophet thither, he came to him, earnestly adjuring him to tell him if he had any farther word from the Lord; in hopes, perhaps, that there might be some comfort yet in store for him. Vain expectation! while his heart continued impenitent and unhumbled.

2. Before he answers the king's question, he begs a solemn assurance from him, that he will not put him to death for speaking the truth; and, what was as much his concern as his own preservation, that he would follow the advice he gave him. Note; (1.) Readiness to die in the cause of truth is not at all inconsistent with every prudent precaution to preserve our lives. (2.) True ministers have the most earnest solicitude, that sinners should hear and comply with the advice on which their life, their eternal life, depends.

3. The king solemnly swears to save him harmless; as the Lord liveth, that made us this soul, may he take my life, if ever I attempt to destroy thee. He will not himself put him to death, nor suffer the princes to hurt him. As to obeying the advice, he is silent, designing to follow it only so far it pleased him.

4. Jeremiah fairly sets before him the only step which yet remained to be taken, in order to preserve himself and the city. By an immediate surrender, and casting himself on the clemency of the king of Babylon, the city should be preserved from ruin, himself be permitted to live in peace, if not in splendor, and his family be preserved: but, if he refused, there was no hope; the Chaldeans would infallibly force their way into the city, and burn it with fire; and, though he might attempt to escape, he should certainly be seized. Note; There is but one way in which sinners can be safe, and that is by an entire submission to the righteousness of God, and casting their souls on the mercy of God revealed in the gospel. They who refuse to do this must perish.

5. Zedekiah hesitates, and suggests his fears of the ignominy to which he should be exposed, if the Chaldeans delivered him up to the Jews that had fallen to them, who would now treat him with contempt, or revenge themselves on him for the threatenings that he had uttered against them for deserting him: fears in themselves indeed groundless, and especially when, in obedience to a divine command, he cast himself on the Lord's protection. Note; (1.) When our foolish reasoning is heard, in opposition to God's word, we are sure to act wrong. (2.) For fear of being laughed at, many dare not seek to be saved. (3.) Many terrify themselves with groundless apprehensions of danger, when the path of duty is the only path of safety.

6. Jeremiah silences the objection, with an assurance that his fears were without foundation. They shall not deliver thee up, but treat thee with respect and kindness: it shall be well unto thee, and thy soul shall live. But, as each moment of delay was dangerous, he urges him to an immediate compliance with the voice of the Lord; otherwise, the reproach that he feared would come more bitterly upon him from his own house, who would upbraid his folly for hearkening to the false prophets, those pretended friends, but real enemies, to his peace, when he might have prevented their ruin and his own by hearkening to Jeremiah; for the city shall be taken, his wives and children dragged forth to the tents of the Chaldeans, himself unable to escape, and made prisoner by the king of Babylon; and he will cause Jerusalem to be burnt with fire through his folly and obstinacy. Note; (1.) They who seek by sin to avoid shame, will but expose themselves more bitterly to the reproach which they desire to shun. (2.) Wicked rulers are chargeable with all the evils that they bring upon their unhappy subjects.

7. They part hereupon; Zedekiah not being persuaded to yield to his advice, and, for the sake of his reputation, willing to keep the subject of this conference a secret from the princes, who would probably hear of it, and be curious to know what passed: he therefore confirms his promise of protecting him, if he concealed the conversation; but charges him not to divulge to them any thing that he said, except his request not to be sent back again to Jonathan's house, to die there; which request, no doubt, the prophet had made: and when the princes came to Jeremiah, with this he easily put them off, and thus abode in safety in the court of the prison till Jerusalem was taken. Note; (1.) Many testify greater concern for their worldly reputation than for their salvation. (2.) We are not always obliged to tell all that we know to every impertinent inquirer. Though we must never utter an untruth, we may safely conceal what others have no right to know, and it would be dangerous to ourselves to discover. The wisdom of the serpent is commendable, when joined to the harmlessness of the dove.

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Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Jeremiah 38:27". 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

As the king suspected, so it came to pass; the king’s private discourse with the prophet took wind, and all the princes then at court came and inquired of Jeremiah what was the substance of his discourse. Jeremiah answered them according as the king had directed. A man is not bound in all cases to speak the whole truth, much less to those who have nothing to do to inquire of us, which these princes had not. By this means the princes never knew the matter of this discourse.

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Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Jeremiah 38:27". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mpc/jeremiah-38.html. 1685.

Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable

Sure enough, the state officials asked Jeremiah about his conversation with the king, but Jeremiah responded as Zedekiah had instructed him. He only told the nobles what was necessary and no more.

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Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Jeremiah 38:27". "Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/dcc/jeremiah-38.html. 2012.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

he told them, &c. In Holy Scripture we have an inspired record of what was said and done by others, but it does not follow that all that was so said and done was inspired.

commanded. Some codices, with Septuagint, Syriac, and Vulgate, add "him".

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Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on Jeremiah 38:27". "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 came all the princes unto Jeremiah, and asked him: and he told them according to all these words that the king had commanded. So they left off speaking with him; for the matter was not perceived.

They left off speaking with him - Hebrew, 'were silent from him' - i:e., withdrawing from him, they left him quiet, (1 Samuel 7:8, margin).

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Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Jeremiah 38:27". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/jeremiah-38.html. 1871-8.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

Then came all the princes unto Jeremiah, and asked him: and he told them according to all these words that the king had commanded. So they left off speaking with him; for the matter was not perceived.
and he told
1 Samuel 10:15,16; 16:2-5; 2 Kings 6:19; Acts 23:6
left off speaking with him
Heb. were silent from him.
Reciprocal: Proverbs 11:13 - he;  Jeremiah 38:25 - General

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Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on Jeremiah 38:27". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/jeremiah-38.html.

Calvin's Commentary on the Bible

Here, indeed, the Prophet confesses that he did as the king had commanded him; but he does not commend what he had done. There is no doubt but that on the one hand he placed before his eyes the timidity of the king, who, being forgetful of plain dealing, slavishly feared his own counselors; and that., on the other hand, he manifested that he was not sufficiently discreet, for when the princes came, even if he wished not to deceive them, he yet concealed the main thing, and said that he went to the king to pray for his own life, which was not true. Though then what he said was in part true, that he prayed not. to be sent back to prison, yet he could not by this evasion be wholly exempted from blame.

In short, we see that even God’s servants have sometimes spoken evasively, when oppressed with extreme fear; and thus we are reminded to seek of God magnanimity of mind and resolute firmness; for he alone can strengthen and sustain us when we are terrified by any fear of danger.

He says, that he did as the king had commanded him; but he ought rather to have hearkened to God’s word, in which simplicity is enjoined. It is also said, that the princes were silent, that is, departed in silence; for no one had been a witness to the conference, and the matter had not spread farther; for the king was silent through fear, and the Prophet also had not made known the secret interview. Hence it was that the princes departed, and thought that the matter was as represented. In short, Jeremiah intimates that they were deceived by this pretext. It follows at last, —

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Calvin, John. "Commentary on Jeremiah 38:27". "Calvin's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/cal/jeremiah-38.html. 1840-57.