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Jer 37:1 And king Zedekiah the son of Josiah reigned instead of Coniah the son of Jehoiakim, whom Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon made king in the land of Judah.
Ver. 1. And king Zedekiah the son of Josiah. ] This also and the next chapter are, as the former, historical, and so easily understood, that to set long notes upon them were, saith one, a rather to obscure them than to explain them.
a A Lapide.
Jer 37:2 But neither he, nor his servants, nor the people of the land, did hearken unto the words of the LORD, which he spake by the prophet Jeremiah.
Ver. 2. But neither he nor his servants did hearken. ] And this was their undoing - scil., that they humbled not themselves before this holy prophet, speaking unto them from the mouth of the Lord. 2Ch 36:12
Jer 37:3 And Zedekiah the king sent Jehucal the son of Shelemiah and Zephaniah the son of Maaseiah the priest to the prophet Jeremiah, saying, Pray now unto the LORD our God for us.
Ver. 3. Pray now unto the Lord our God for us. ] This king would seem to have some more goodness in him than his brother and predecessor Jehoiakim; but he played the hypocrite exceedingly, as in other things, so in this, that he begged the prophet’s prayers, but would not obey his preaching. The like did Pharaoh, Saul, Simon Magus, &c. Hezekiah sent to the prophet Isaiah for prayers, but withal he humbled himself and lived holily, which Zedekiah did not.
Jer 37:4 Now Jeremiah came in and went out among the people: for they had not put him into prison.
Ver. 4. Jeremiah came in and went out. ] He was yet at liberty; as the saints have some halcyons times, yet are never unexercised, as we see in the apostles, but especially in Paul. Act 5:13
For they had not put him in prison. ] Not yet they had. It was in our late wars a like difficult thing to find a wicked man in the enemy’s prisons, or a godly man out of them.
Jer 37:5 Then Pharaoh’s army was come forth out of Egypt: and when the Chaldeans that besieged Jerusalem heard tidings of them, they departed from Jerusalem.
Ver. 5. Then Pharaoh’s army was come out of Egypt.] This, then, seemeth to be the occasion that moved Zedekiah to send to the prophet for his prayers - viz., that God would be pleased to prosper the Egyptians coming to raise the siege, and to keep off the Chaldeans from returning to Jerusalem. But God had before signified his will to the contrary; and the Jews, trusting to human helps, took not a right course for their own preservation. See Jer 34:17-22
Jer 37:6 Then came the word of the LORD unto the prophet Jeremiah, saying,
Ver. 6. Then came the word of the Lord. ] In answer to the messengers that came to request prayers.
Jer 37:7 Thus saith the LORD, the God of Israel; Thus shall ye say to the king of Judah, that sent you unto me to enquire of me; Behold, Pharaoh’s army, which is come forth to help you, shall return to Egypt into their own land.
Ver. 7. To inquire of me. ] Or, To seek to me, to set me to work for you at the throne of grace.
Behold Pharaoh’s army, &c.] The Talmudists tale here of what frightened back the Egyptians is not worth the telling. It may be read in Corn. A Lapide upon Jeremiah 37:5 .
Jer 37:8 And the Chaldeans shall come again, and fight against this city, and take it, and burn it with fire.
Ver. 8. And the Chaldean shall return. ] See Jeremiah 32:12 ; Jeremiah 32:29 .
Jer 37:9 Thus saith the LORD; Deceive not yourselves, saying, The Chaldeans shall surely depart from us: for they shall not depart.
Ver. 9. Deceive not yourselves. ] As far too many do, qui praesumendo sperant, et sperando pereunt. hope beforehand and will die hoping.
For they shall not depart, ] scil., For altogether; not for any space of time, or to any purpose. Like hereunto is that in Matthew 9:24 , "The damsel is not dead."
Jer 37:10 For though ye had smitten the whole army of the Chaldeans that fight against you, and there remained [but] wounded men among them, [yet] should they rise up every man in his tent, and burn this city with fire.
Ver. 10. For though ye had smitten. ] Pro auxesi adiecit hyperbolen; he useth a hyperbolic supposition for illustration.
And there remained but wounded men among them. ] God cannot be without a staff to beat a rebel. Virum malum vel mus mordet, saith the proverb; A mouse will bite a bad man. Milez Cobelitz, a Christian soldier, sore wounded and all bloody, seeing Amurath, the great Turk, viewing the dead bodies after a victory, rose up out of a heap of slain men, and making toward the conqueror, as if he would have craved his life of him, suddenly stabbed him in the bottom of his belly with a short dagger which he had under his coat, and so slew him. a
Yet should they rise every man in his tent. ] It is God who strengtheneth or weakeneth the arm of either party. Eze 30:24 Those that fight against spiritual wickedness in their own strength are sure to be foiled; and although the unclean spirit may seem to be cast out, yet he will return to his old house, and bring seven worse with him. Mat 12:43-45
a Turkish History, 200.
Jer 37:11 And it came to pass, that when the army of the Chaldeans was broken up from Jerusalem for fear of Pharaoh’s army,
Ver. 11. For fear of Pharaoh’s army.] Or rather, Because of Pharaoh’s army, whom now they drew off to encounter.
Jer 37:12 Then Jeremiah went forth out of Jerusalem to go into the land of Benjamin, to separate himself thence in the midst of the people.
Ver. 12. Then Jeremiah went forth out of Jerusalem. ] Where he saw there was so little good to be done by his ministry. This, some think, was an infirmity in him. Mr Greenham, upon such a ground as this, was persuaded to leave his charge at Dry Drayton, in Cambridgeshire, and to go to live at London, where he died of the plague; and, as some reported, repented on his death bed of having so done.
To go into the land of Benjamin. ] To Anathoth, his own home; and if he went thither for his own safety or convenience sake, why might he not?
To separate himself thence in the midst of the people. ] Ut lubricificaret exinde in medio populi; a that he might slide or slip away thence in the throng undiscerned.
a Pagnin., Vatab.
Jer 37:13 And when he was in the gate of Benjamin, a captain of the ward [was] there, whose name [was] Irijah, the son of Shelemiah, the son of Hananiah; and he took Jeremiah the prophet, saying, Thou fallest away to the Chaldeans.
Ver. 13. Irijah, the son of Shelemiah, the son of Hananiah. ] Of that Hananiah, say the Rabbis whose death Jeremiah foretold. Jer 28:16-17 This Hierias ferox adogescens, as Josephus calleth him, a fierce young man, bearing Jeremiah a grudge, layeth hold on him in the gate, and layeth treachery to his charge; unicum crimen eorum qui crimine vacabant. a
Saying, Thou fullest away to the Chaldeans. ] Jeremiah had spoken much of the Chaldeans’ power, and foretold their victory. Hence he is here falsely accused of falling away to them, and being false to his country. Indeed, if the Chaldees could have fetched off Jeremiah, as the French King Louis did Philip de Comines from the Duke of Burgundy - whose affairs thereupon declined immediately - they might have made very good advantage of him; but he was far enough from any such compliance with them, and could better have said than ever Cicero did, Ne immortalitatem contra temp. aceiperem, I would not be false to my country for more than all this world’s good.
Jer 37:14 Then said Jeremiah, [It is] false; I fall not away to the Chaldeans. But he hearkened not to him: so Irijah took Jeremiah, and brought him to the princes.
Ver. 14. Then said Jeremiah, It is false. ] Satanae pectus mendaciis faecundissimum est. a It is no news for innocence to be slandered, and to go with a scratched face.
But he hearkened not unto him. ] Right or wrong, he must come before the princes, who do also handle the good prophet very coarsely.
Jer 37:15 Wherefore the princes were wroth with Jeremiah, and smote him, and put him in prison in the house of Jonathan the scribe: for they had made that the prison.
Ver. 15. Wherefore the princes were wroth with Jeremiah. ] Upon the captain’s false suggestion, which they should better have sifted into first before they had believed it; for pellucet mendacium, nec per omnia quadrat, a lie is oft so thin, that it may be seen through and soon found out.
And smote him. ] Perhaps with their own hands, as bloody Bonner buffeted some of the martyrs, pulling off part of their beards.
And put him in prison. ] Causa nondum cognita; before they had heard his defenee. These princes were worse than Jehoiakim’s, Jer 36:19 or, if they were the same men, they were now grown worse; and here was, as Bernard a hath it, sedes prima, et vita ima; ingens authoritas, et nutans stabilitas.
In the house of Jonathan the scribe. ] As bad as Lollard’s tower to our martyrs, or the Bishop of London’s coal house, which Mr Philpot thought to be the worst prison about London. b
a De Consider., lib. ii.
b Acts and Mon.
Jer 37:16 When Jeremiah was entered into the dungeon, and into the cabins, and Jeremiah had remained there many days;
Ver. 16. When Jeremiah was entered into the dungeon. ] a Heb., Into a place or house of the pit or hole, where the prophet could neither walk nor handsomely lie down, when worse men a great deal had what liberty they listed.
And into the cabins. ] Or, Cells, where they scarce put any but traitors, and similar foul offenders. Such they had at Athens, called barathrum, the infernal region, at Rome, tullianum, underground execution chamber, or profundum maris, &c., deep sea into which whosoever was put could hardly be put to more misery.
And Jeremiah had remained there many days. ] Till the return of the Chaldees likely. Canes lingunt ulcera Lazari. Dogs licked the sores of Lazarus.
a In domum cisternae.
Jer 37:17 Then Zedekiah the king sent, and took him out: and the king asked him secretly in his house, and said, Is there [any] word from the LORD? And Jeremiah said, There is: for, said he, thou shalt be delivered into the hand of the king of Babylon.
Ver. 17. Then Zedekiah the king. ] Being now in distress because of the Chaldees come again, and willing to hear from the prophet some word of comfort, which yet might not be, unless he had been better. If comfort be applied to a graceless person, the truth of God is falsified.
Is there any word from the Lord? ] Any new oracle, and different from that of destruction, which thou hast so often rung in our ears, ad ravim et nauseam usque?
And Jeremiah said, There is, ] scil., A word from the Lord, but the same as before; for thou must mend ere the matter will mend with thee.
Jer 37:18 Moreover Jeremiah said unto king Zedekiah, What have I offended against thee, or against thy servants, or against this people, that ye have put me in prison?
Ver. 18. What have I offended against thee? ] As I know mine own innocence, so I would thou shouldst know that I am no stoic, or stock, indolent, or insensible of my grievous sufferings through the cruelty of thy princes, who have committed me to this ugly prison.
Jer 37:19 Where [are] now your prophets which prophesied unto you, saying, The king of Babylon shall not come against you, nor against this land?
Ver. 19. Where are now your prophets? ] Let them appear now if you please, and upon trial made let truth take place. To this most equal motion when the king said nothing, the prophet proceedeth to move again for himself, that he might be removed at least to a more convenient place, unless they meant an end of him.
Jer 37:20 Therefore hear now, I pray thee, O my lord the king: let my supplication, I pray thee, be accepted before thee; that thou cause me not to return to the house of Jonathan the scribe, lest I die there.
Ver. 20. Therefore hear now I pray thee, O my lord the king. ] As stout as he was and impartial in delivering God’s message, in supplicating for himself he is very submiss and humble to his sovereign, not daring to "speak evil of dignities," though he had wrongfully suffered much from them.
Jer 37:21 Then Zedekiah the king commanded that they should commit Jeremiah into the court of the prison, and that they should give him daily a piece of bread out of the bakers’ street, until all the bread in the city were spent. Thus Jeremiah remained in the court of the prison.
Ver. 21. Then Zedekiah the king commanded. ] For this courtesy of his to the prophet, God granted him a natural death, and an honourable burial in Babylon.
That they should commit Jeremiah into the court of the prison. ] Where he might have more liberty and better accommodations, and where his friends, eum adire et audire possent, might come and hear him. See Jeremiah 22:2 .
And that they should give him daily a piece of bread. ] And a piece of a cake, we say, is better than no bread. I read of a gracious woman who said that she had made many a meal’s meat upon the promises when she wanted bread. But Jeremiah, besides the promises, Jer 1:8 and elsewhere was here, by a sweet providence, sustained in the prison during that extreme famine in the city, whereof we read in the Lamentations, when it was no small mercy to have a morsel of bread to keep him alive. Sic amara interdum dulcescunt. Who would not trust so good a God?
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Trapp, John. "Commentary on Jeremiah 37". Trapp's Complete Commentary. https://studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 21 / Ordinary 26