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Bible Commentaries
Jeremiah 39

Smith's Bible CommentarySmith's Commentary

Verses 1-18

Chapter 39

Now in the ninth year of Zedekiah king of Judah, in the tenth month, Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon and all his army came against Jerusalem, and began their siege. And in the eleventh year of Zedekiah, in the fourth month ( Jeremiah 39:1-2 ),

Or sixteen months later.

the ninth day of the month, the city was destroyed ( Jeremiah 39:2 ).

They were under siege for sixteen months. When the disease began to ravage the city, the pestilence, many died from the disease. Famine began to grip them. Many died of starvation. It was sixteen months of horror. And then the walls were broken down. The Babylonian army came in with the sword and began to slay the people.

And all the princes of the king of Babylon came in, and sat in the middle gate, even Nergalsharezer, [and the names of these] princes of the king of Babylon. And it came to pass, that when Zedekiah the king of Judah saw them, and all the men of war, then they fled, and they went forth out of the city by night, by the way of the king's garden, by the gate between the two walls: and he went out the way of the plain ( Jeremiah 39:3-4 ).

So Zedekiah tried to escape. Seeing that all was lost, he, with some of his men, sought to escape. Now there are some legends that he escaped through what is known as Solomon's Quarries. And there are some stories, though unconfirmed, that Solomon's Quarries go for several miles and have an exit out in the Judaean wilderness. That has never been confirmed, but there are persisting stories that this indeed is so. However it was, Zedekiah did try to escape going down towards Jericho.

But the Chaldeans' army pursued after them, and overtook Zedekiah in the plains of Jericho ( Jeremiah 39:5 ):

Some seventeen, eighteen miles from Jerusalem.

and when they had taken him, they brought him up to Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon to Riblah in the land of Hamath, where he gave judgment upon him ( Jeremiah 39:5 ).

So they brought him to Nebuchadnezzar. Now Nebuchadnezzar had set him up as the king. He was a vassal king under Nebuchadnezzar. Now, of course, he had rebelled against Nebuchadnezzar so now Nebuchadnezzar pronounced his judgments.

So the king of Babylon slew the sons of Zedekiah in Riblah before his eyes: also the king of Babylon slew all the nobles of Judah. Moreover he put out Zedekiah's eyes, and bound him with chains, to carry him to Babylon ( Jeremiah 39:6-7 ).

So the tragic end of Zedekiah. He watched his children being slain by the Babylonians. Watched them slay his nobles. All of this could have been averted. Jeremiah said, "If you'll just surrender, your family will be saved." The man would not hearken to the Word of the Lord. He was rebelling against God's warnings. And thus, what God declared did happen.

Now there was an interesting prophecy concerning Zedekiah that he would go to Babylon but not see it. Of course, it says, "Thou shalt not see Babylon." That prophecy, interestingly enough, was fulfilled. People thought that they were saying, you know, "You won't go to Babylon." But the prophecy says, "You won't see Babylon." He went to Babylon, but Nebuchadnezzar had put out his eyes so he never saw it.

And the Chaldeans burned the king's house, and the houses of the people, with fire, and broke down the walls of Jerusalem ( Jeremiah 39:8 ).

It is very interesting that at the present time, an archaeologist, Dr. Shiloh, is excavating now the ruins of Jerusalem at the time of Jeremiah when Zedekiah was the king, those ruins that were destroyed by the Babylonian army. They were actually uncovering the very houses that were destroyed by this siege. And they find the houses, like the scripture says, burned with fire. They find the walls broken down and the rubble within. And when they came back from the seventy years of Babylonian exile, they did not rebuild the old houses but just covered them over and built on top of them. So the old houses are still lying as they are digging now, lying in ruins. The walls broken in, signs of the fire and so forth, and the archaeologist's spade under the direction of Dr. Shiloh is graphically proving the story that we are reading tonight here in Jeremiah.

And you maybe read the little flap lately about the rabbis, the orthodox rabbis in Israel who were objecting to the diggings that are going on saying that they were digging in a graveyard. And on the news the other night they showed the police chasing some of these guys with the curls, the orthodox and radicals from the site of the excavations where Dr. Shiloh is excavating. This is the very spot. He is excavating now the very houses that were destroyed by the Babylonian army.

The interesting thing, that as they are uncovering these houses, they are finding in each of these houses multitudes of little gods, idols. The very thing for which God said His judgment was coming upon the people because they had turned to him and were worshipping idols. And they are uncovering just troves of these idols in these little... and the houses that they are uncovering now there in Jerusalem. I talked with Dr. Shiloh concerning these excavations. Hope to visit the sites when I take the pastors over to Israel in December and then again when we go in February with you that would like to go to Israel with us.

So God's Word came to pass. "The Chaldeans burned the king's house." Of course, they're looking for the palace now. They haven't found it yet. "The houses of the people, with fire, they broke down the walls of Jerusalem."

Then Nebuzaradan the captain of the guard carried away the captives into Babylon the remaining of the people that remained in the city [the remnant that remained], and those that had fallen away, that fell to him, and the rest of the people that remained. But Nebuzaradan the captain of the guard left of the poor of the people, which had nothing, in the land of Judah, and he gave them vineyards and fields at the same time. Now Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon gave charge concerning Jeremiah to Nebuzaradan the captain of the guard, saying, Take him, and treat him well, don't do him any harm; but do unto him whatever he asks you ( Jeremiah 39:9-12 ).

Now Nebuchadnezzar was aware that Jeremiah was telling these people to surrender. He was aware that he was speaking God's truth to the people, so Nebuchadnezzar gave an order, he said, "Treat him well. Let him do whatever he wants. If he wants to come to Babylon, we'll set him up in a nice home. We'll take care of him there. If he wants to stay in the land, let him remain in the land. Let him do whatever he wants, but treat him right."

So Nebuzaradan the captain of the guard sent, and Nebushasban, Rabsaris, and [these other princes], they took Jeremiah out of the court of the prison, and committed him unto Gedaliah the son of Ahikam the son of Shaphan, that he would carry him home: so he dwelt among the people ( Jeremiah 39:13-14 ).

Actually, he had been taken already in chains, but they came and they got him and brought him back.

Now the word of the LORD came unto Jeremiah, while he was shut up in the court of the prison, saying, Go and speak to Ebedmelech the Ethiopian ( Jeremiah 39:15-16 ),

Remember this is the guy that lifted him out of the miry mud, the mire in the bottom of that dungeon. "Go to Ebedmelech the Ethiopian."

saying, Thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; Behold, I will bring my words upon this city for evil, and not for good; and they shall be accomplished in that day before thee. But I will deliver thee in that day, saith the LORD; and thou shalt not be given into the hand of the men of whom thou art afraid. For I will surely deliver thee, and thou shalt not fall by the sword, but thy life shall be for a prey unto thee; because thou hast put your trust in me, saith the LORD ( Jeremiah 39:16-18 ).

So here was this Ethiopian eunuch who had helped Jeremiah out of that pit, dungeon, and Jeremiah went to him and said, "Look, the Lord says that you don't have to be afraid of the Babylonians. Your life is going to be spared because you put your trust in the Lord." So his life indeed was spared.


Bibliographical Information
Smith, Charles Ward. "Commentary on Jeremiah 39". "Smith's Bible Commentary". https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/csc/jeremiah-39.html. 2014.
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