Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

Jeremiah 38:7

But Ebed-melech the Ethiopian, a eunuch, while he was in the king's palace, heard that they had put Jeremiah into the cistern. Now the king was sitting in the Gate of Benjamin;
New American Standard Version

Bible Study Resources

Concordances:
Nave's Topical Bible - Benjamin;   Ebed-Melech;   Ethiopia;   Eunuch;   Gates;   Intercession;   Jeremiah;   Minister, Christian;   Prisoners;   Zedekiah;  
Dictionaries:
American Tract Society Bible Dictionary - Ebed-Melech;   Bridgeway Bible Dictionary - Ethiopia;   Zedekiah;   Baker Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology - Persecution;   Easton Bible Dictionary - Benjamin;   Ebed-Melech;   Fausset Bible Dictionary - Eunuch;   Kings, the Books of;   Proselytes;   Holman Bible Dictionary - Benjamin Gate;   Black People and Biblical Perspectives;   Cushite;   Ebed-Melech;   Miphkad Gate;   Prison, Prisoners;   Prophecy, Prophets;   Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible - Cush;   Ebed-Melech;   Eunuch;   Greek Versions of Ot;   Medicine;   Pashhur;   Zedekiah,;   Morrish Bible Dictionary - Benjamin, Gate of ;   Dungeon;   Ebedmelech ;   Ethiopians ;   Eunuch;   The Hawker's Poor Man's Concordance And Dictionary - Ebed-melech;   People's Dictionary of the Bible - Ethiopia;   Smith Bible Dictionary - Ben'jamin, High Gate;   E'bed-Me'lech;   Ethio'pian,;  
Encyclopedias:
Condensed Biblical Cyclopedia - Kingdom of Judah;   International Standard Bible Encyclopedia - Army;   Cushi;   Ebed-Melech;   Ethiopia;   Eunuch;   Gate;   Member;   Pashhur;   Zedekiah (2);   The Jewish Encyclopedia - Ascension;   Baruch;   Ebed-Melech;   Eunuch;   Gate;   Jerusalem;   Pashur;   Well;  

Adam Clarke Commentary

Ebed-melech - The servant of the king one of the eunuchs who belonged to the palace. Perhaps it should be read, "Now, a servant of the king, a Cushite, one of the eunuchs," etc.

The king then sitting in the gate of Benjamin - To give audience, and to administer justice. We have often seen that the gates of cities were the places of public judicature.

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Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Jeremiah 38:7". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/jeremiah-38.html. 1832.

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

Ebed-melech - i. e., the king‘s slave. By “Ethiopian” or Cushite is meant the Cushite of Africa, or negro. It seems (compare 2 Kings 23:11) as if such eunuchs (or, chamberlains) took their names from the king, while the royal family and the princes generally bore names compounded with the appellations of the Deity.

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Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Jeremiah 38:7". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/jeremiah-38.html. 1870.

Coffman Commentaries on the Bible

AN ETHIOPIAN RESCUES JEREMIAH

"Now when Ebel-melech the Ethiopian, a eunuch, who was in the king's house, heard that they had put Jeremiah in the dungeon (the king then sitting in the gate of Benjamin). Ebel-melech went forth out of the king's house, and spake to the king, saying, My lord the king, these men have done evil in all that they have done to Jeremiah the prophet, whom they have cast into the dungeon; and he is like to die in the place where he is, because of the famine; for there is no more bread in the city. Then the king commanded Ebel-melech the Ethiopian, saying, Take from hence thirty men with thee, and take up Jeremiah the prophet out of the dungeon, before he die. So Ebel-melech took the men with him, and went into the house of the king under the treasury, and took thence rags and worn-out garments, and let them down by cords into the dungeon to Jeremiah. And Ebel-melech the Ethiopian said unto Jeremiah, Put these rags and worn-out garments under thine armholes under the cords. And Jeremiah did so. So they drew up Jeremiah with the cords, and took him up out of the dungeon: and Jeremiah remained in the court of the guard."

"Ebel-melech the Ethiopian ..." (Jeremiah 38:7,10,12). Three times here the fact of Ebel-melech's being an Ethiopian is expressly mentioned. Why? It indicates that in all the land of Judah only a despised foreigner found the grace to intercede for Jeremiah!

"A eunuch ..." (Jeremiah 38:7). There is no need for men to define this as merely "a prominent official in the government." "The Hebrew text shows that the word (eunuch) is to be taken in its proper meaning, and not in the metaphorical sense of an officer of the court."[7] There is nothing strange about a eunuch's being in the court of Zedekiah. "Since the king had many wives, a eunuch was the overseer of the harem; and as the Mosaic law forbade the castration of a Hebrew (Deuteronomy 23:2), Zedekiah's eunuch was an Ethiopian."[8]

"Take thirty men ... and take up Jeremiah ..." (Jeremiah 38:10). The radical critics suppose that was too many men to take, and "Against the authority of all the versions of the Hebrew text, and solely upon the appearance in the Septuagint (LXX) and a single manuscript of the number three in this place have changed the number."[9] The king, knowing what was needed, both for the task itself, and for protection of the rescue group, sent thirty men; and there is no need whatever to allow fallible, unbelieving men, to change the sacred text upon any whim they might have. Why were so many needed? At least four men would have been needed to pull Jeremiah up from a mud-bath reaching up to his neck. One or two men would have been needed to go get the ropes; two more would have been necessary to get the rags and worn-out garments; and one, Ebel-melech the Ethiopian would have commanded the operation. The others, fully armed, would have protected the rescue mission from all interference by the princes. We are still waiting for some radical critic to explain how all of this could have been done with three men!

The providence of God in this rescue of Jeremiah is very evident. "On that day when the greatest of the Benjaminites (Jeremiah) was in his greatest need, the king was already in the Gate of Benjamin, as if waiting to hear his case."[10]

Speaking of the specious arguments vainly proposed in favor of changing the number in this mission from thirty to three, Keil stated that. "The arguments are quite invalid";[11] and Feinberg declared that, "Such slight evidence is insufficient to overrule the MT, and only this kind of hypercriticism would call in question Biblical numbers on such grounds."[12]

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Coffman Commentaries reproduced by permission of Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. All other rights reserved.
Bibliographical Information
Coffman, James Burton. "Commentary on Jeremiah 38:7". "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

Now when Ebedmelech the Ethiopian,.... The Targum renders it,

"a servant of King Zedekiah;'

which Jarchi, and other writers, following, make Zedekiah to be the Ethiopian; so called, because as an Ethiopian differs in his skin, so Zedekiah differed in his righteousness, from the rest of his generation; and this his servant, he, with othersF18Pirke Eliezer, c. 53. Shalshelet Hakabala, fol. 13. 1. , takes to be Baruch the son of Neriah, but without any foundation; but, as Kimchi observes, with whom Abarbinel and Ben Melech agree, had this word "Ebedmelech" been an appellation, the usual article would have been prefixed before the word "king", as in the next clause; and somewhere or other his name would have been given; but it is a proper name, as Ahimelech, and Abimelech. A servant of the king he might be, and doubtless he was; and perhaps had this name given him when he became a proselyte; for such he seems to be, and a good man; who had a great regard to the prophet, because he was one; and had more piety and humanity in him, though an Ethiopian, than those who were Israelites by birth:

one of the eunuchs which was in the king's house; an officer at court; one of the gentlemen of the bedchamber. JosephusF19Antiqu. l. 10. c. 7. sect. 5. says he was in great honour; so the Targum renders it,

"a great man;'

a man in high office, of great authority; taking it to be a name of office, as it sometimes is; though it may be understood, in a proper sense, of a castrated person; for such there were very commonly in kings' palaces, employed in one office or another, and especially in the bedchamber: now this man

heard that they had put Jeremiah in the dungeon; for though the princes did it with all possible secrecy, it was known at court, and came to the ears of this good man; and indeed the dungeon was not far from the court; and some have thought he might have heard the groans of Jeremiah in it; however, he came to the hearing of it, and was affected with the relation of his case, and determined to save him, if possible:

the king then sitting in the gate of Benjamin; the same in which the prophet was taken, Jeremiah 37:13; here he sat to hear and try causes, courts of judicature being held in gates of cities; or to receive petitions; or rather it may be to consult about the present state of affairs, what was best to be done in defence of the city, and to annoy the besiegers; and it may be to have a view of the enemy's camp, and to sally out upon them; for that he was here in order to make his escape is not likely.

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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 38:7". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/jeremiah-38.html. 1999.

Geneva Study Bible

Now when Ebedmelech the Cushite, one of the eunuchs who was in the king's house, heard that they had put Jeremiah in the dungeon; the king then sitting in the e gate of Benjamin;

(e) To hear matters and give sentence.
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Beza, Theodore. "Commentary on Jeremiah 38:7". "The 1599 Geneva Study Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/gsb/jeremiah-38.html. 1599-1645.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

Ebed-melech — The Hebrew designation given this Ethiopian, meaning “king‘s servant.” Already, even at this early time, God wished to show what good reason there was for calling the Gentiles to salvation. An Ethiopian stranger saves the prophet whom his own countrymen, the Jews, tried to destroy. So the Gentiles believed in Christ whom the Jews crucified, and Ethiopians were among the earliest converts (Acts 2:10, Acts 2:41; Acts 8:27-39). Ebed-melech probably was keeper of the royal harem, and so had private access to the king. The eunuchs over harems in the present day are mostly from Nubia or Abyssinia.

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Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Jeremiah 38:7". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfb/jeremiah-38.html. 1871-8.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

Jeremiah 38:7 Now when Ebedmelech the Ethiopian, one of the eunuchs which was in the king’s house, heard that they had put Jeremiah in the dungeon; the king then sitting in the gate of Benjamin;

Ver. 7. Now when Ebedmelech the Ethiopian.] But a proselyte, and a religious prince; a stranger, but (as that good Samaritan in the Gospel) more merciful than any of the Jewish nation, who gloried in their privileges. See Romans 2:26-27.

One of the eunuchs.] And eunuchs, say the Rabbis, are ordinarily more cruel than other men; but so was not this Cushite. Piety is the fountain of all virtues whatsoever.

Which was in the king’s house.] As Obadiah was in Ahab’s, Nehemiah in Artaxerxes’s; some good people in Herod’s; [Luke 8:3] and Nero’s; [Philippians 4:22] Cromwell and Cranmer in Henry VIII’s.

The king then sitting in the gate of Benjamin.] Sitting in judgment, where Jeremiah’s enemies had once apprehended him for a fugitive, but durst not try it out with him, though Ebedmelech there entreated with the king for him in the presence of some of them, as it is probable.

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Trapp, John. "Commentary on Jeremiah 38:7". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/jeremiah-38.html. 1865-1868.

Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible

Jeremiah 38:7. Ebed-melech, &c.— Ebed-melech the Cushite, &c. It may be supposed, that God intended to give some distant hints of his justice in calling the Gentiles to embrace the gospel; for this Ethiopian or Cushite preserves the prophet, whom the Jews would have destroyed; and again the Gentiles believed in Christ, whereas the Jews crucified him. The Lord, who put these sentiments of compassion for Jeremiah into the heart of this officer, afterwards recompensed him, by delivering him from death at the siege of Jerusalem. See chap. Jeremiah 39:15-16., and Calmet.

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Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Jeremiah 38:7". 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

Ebed-melech was unquestionably the name of the person, though some interpret it appellatively a servant of the king. It is particularly noted that he was an Ethiopian or a Cushite, to let us know that this prophet of the Lord found more kindness from a stranger, that was a native heathen, than from his own countrymen. Princes were wont to keep eunuchs in their houses in those countries, 2 Kings 9:32 Daniel 1:9 Acts 8:27. It should seem the princes had privately put Jeremiah into this miserable place, but yet the noise of it came to Ebed-melech’s ear, who was attending in the court. The gates of the city were places where princes were wont to sit to execute justice, and to receive petitions, and give answers, 2Sa xix, 8 Pr 31:23, &c.

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Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Jeremiah 38:7". 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

7.Ebed-melech the Ethiopian — The import of the name is “servant of the king.” In 2 Kings 23:11, another eunuch is called Nathan-melech — “gift of the king.” From such examples it would seem not improbable that it was not unusual for slaves to take their names from their masters. He was an Ethiopian, and so it was given to an Ethiopian to be a saviour of the prophet. As he is mentioned, we cannot but think of another Ethiopian, also a eunuch, who became the messenger of salvation to his own country, as related in Acts 8.

 

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Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Jeremiah 38:7". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/jeremiah-38.html. 1874-1909.

George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Eunuch. Officer over 30, ver. 10. (Haydock) --- He was afterwards rewarded, chap. xxxix. 15. (Calmet) --- God moves some to pity the distressed, till he recompense their patience. (Worthington)

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Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on Jeremiah 38:7". "George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hcc/jeremiah-38.html. 1859.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

Ebed-meleoh the Ethiopian. See Jeremiah 39:16; and compare Acts 8:27-38.

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Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on Jeremiah 38:7". "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

Now when Ebed-melech the Ethiopian, one of the eunuchs which was in the king's house, heard that they had put Jeremiah in the dungeon; the king then sitting in the gate of Benjamin;

Ebed-melech. This was the Hebrew designation given to this Ethiopian, meaning king's servant. Already, even at this early time, God wished to show what good reason there was for calling the Gentiles to salvation. An Ethiopian stranger saves the prophet whom his own countrymen, the Jews, tried to destroy. So the Gentiles believed in Christ, whereas the Jews, his own countrymen, crucified Him; and Ethiopians were among the earliest converts (Acts 2:10; Acts 2:41; "A man of Ethiopia, an eunuch of great authority under Candace queen of the Ethiopians, who had the charge of all her treasure, and had come to Jerusalem for to worship," was one of the first Gentile proselytes to Judaism who was brought to Christ through Philip's evangelical exposition of the 53rd chapter of Isaiah, Acts 8:27-39). Ebed-melech probably was keeper of the royal harem, and so had private access to the king. The eunuchs over harems in the present day are mostly from Nubia or Abyssinia.

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Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Jeremiah 38:7". "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

(7) Bbed-melech the Ethiopian.—The name signifies “servant of the king,” but the absence of the article in the Hebrew makes it probable that it had come to be used as a proper name, and so both the LXX. and Vulgate take it. The use of Ethiopian or Cushite slaves in the king’s household, probably as keeping guard over the harem, had been of some standing; perhaps even as early as the time of David, as in the case of Cushr (or the Cushite), in 2 Samuel 18:21. Then, as in other countries and times (Terent., Eunuch, i. 2), there was a fashion which led princes and men of wealth to think that eunuchs were part of their magnificence. The law of Moses, it may be noted, forbade such mutilation in the case of Israelites (Deuteronomy 23:1). In Psalms 87:4, we find probably a record of the admission of such persons on the register of the citizens of Zion. Of the previous history of the Eunuch thus named we know nothing but he appears here as the favourite of the king, using his influence to protect the prophet. The Ethiopian descent of Jehudi (Jeremiah 36:21) may probably have brought him into contact with an officer of the king’s household of the same race, and Ebed-melech’s feelings may have been drawn to the prophet by what he thus heard.

In the gate of Benjamin.—This was on the northern wall of the city, the most exposed to the attack of the invading army, and the king apparently had gone there either to direct the operations of the defence, or, perhaps, to prevent others from following, as they might think, Jeremiah’s example, and either deserting to the enemy or abandoning the defence of the city (Jeremiah 37:13). Ebed-melech had accordingly to leave the palace, and went to seek the king at his post, in order to obtain an order of release in time to save the prophet’s life. He alone, as if inheriting the blessing of Isaiah 56:3-6, has the courage to appear as the friend of the persecuted.

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Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on Jeremiah 38:7". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ebc/jeremiah-38.html. 1905.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

Now when Ebedmelech the Ethiopian, one of the eunuchs which was in the king's house, heard that they had put Jeremiah in the dungeon; the king then sitting in the gate of Benjamin;
Ebed-melech
39:16-18
Ethiopian
13:23; Psalms 68:31; Matthew 8:11,12; 20:16; Luke 10:30-36; 13:29,30; Acts 8:27-39
eunuchs
29:2; 34:19; 2 Kings 24:15; *marg:
the king
37:13; Deuteronomy 21:19; Job 29:7-17; Amos 5:10
Reciprocal: Joshua 20:4 - at the entering;  2 Kings 5:13 - his servants;  2 Chronicles 18:25 - and carry him back;  Proverbs 31:8 - Open;  Isaiah 56:3 - neither;  Jeremiah 20:2 - in the high;  Jeremiah 26:16 - GeneralZechariah 14:10 - from Benjamin's;  Luke 10:33 - Samaritan;  Hebrews 13:3 - them that

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Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on Jeremiah 38:7". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/jeremiah-38.html.

Calvin's Commentary on the Bible

Jeremiah relates here how he was delivered from death; for he could not have lived long in the mire; partly, because he must have died through want; and partly, he must have been starved through cold and suffocated with the filth of the dungeon. But God rescued him in a wonderful manner through the aid of Ebedmelech, an Ethiopian. He was an alien, and this is expressly said, that we may know, that among the king’s counselors there was no one who resisted so great a wickedness. But there was one found, an Ethiopian, who came to the aid of God’s Prophet.

There is then implied here a comparison between an Ethiopian, an alien, and all the Jews, who professed themselves to be the holy seed of Abraham, who had been circumcised, and boasted loudly of God’s law and covenant; and yet there was not one among them, who would stretch forth his hand to the holy servant of God! It may be there were some who pitied him, but courage was wanting; so that no one dared to open his mouth, for it was a reproach to patronize the holy man. They, then, preferred the favor of the ungodly to their own duty. But there was an Ethiopian so courageous, that he dared to accuse all the king’s couriers and the other princes. There is, then, no doubt but that the Spirit by the mouth of the Ethiopian brought a perpetual disgrace on the king’s princes, who passed themselves as the children of Abraham, and boasted in high terms of God’s covenant. A similar case is represented by Christ in a parable, when he says that a Levite and a priest passed by a wounded man and disregarded him, but that help was brought to him by a Samaritan. (Luke 10:30.) His purpose, no doubt, was to condemn the Jews, even the Levites and the priests, for their barbarity in caring nothing for the life of a miserable man in his extremity. So also, in this place, the Ethiopian is set forth to us as an example, for he alone had the feeling of kindness and humanity, so as to bring help to the holy Prophet, and to rescue him, as it were, from immediate death and the grave: but we see all the king’s couriers either wholly torpid or influenced by the same spirit of rage and cruelty, as to be mortal enemies to the holy man, because he freely and openly declared to them the command of God.

And Jeremiah says that Ebed-melech heard, etc. We may hence conclude, that he was anxious about the safety of the holy Prophet, and that he had his friends who watched the proceedings. It is then added, that he was in the palace, but that the king was sitting in the gate of Benjamin; for kings were wont to administer justice in the gates, and to have there their tribunal; and it was there that the people held their regular assemblies. The king, then, was sitting in the gate of Benjamin But, in the meantime, his palace was a place of execution and the den of robbers. We hence see that the sloth of the king is here denoted, for he apparently performed the proper office of a king, but neglected the principal part of it, for he suffered a holy man to be east into a pit. As, then, he thus exposed the Prophet’s life to the will of the princes, it is evident that he was but an empty shadow, though he stood there as the judge of the people, and had there a sacred tribunal.

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Calvin, John. "Commentary on Jeremiah 38:7". "Calvin's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/cal/jeremiah-38.html. 1840-57.