Zedekiah succeeds Coniah, the son of Jehoiakim, in the Jewish throne, and does that which is evil in the sight of the Lord, Jeremiah 37:1, Jeremiah 37:2. The king sends a message to Jeremiah, Jeremiah 37:3-5. God suggests an answer; and foretells the return of the Chaldean army, who should most assuredly take and burn the city, Jeremiah 37:6-10. Jeremiah, in attempting to leave this devoted city, and retire to his possession in the country, is seized as a deserter, and cast into a dungeon, Jeremiah 37:11-15. The king, after a conference with him, abates the rigour of his confinement, Jeremiah 37:16-21.
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.And king Zedekiah the son of Josiah - Of the siege and taking of Jerusalem referred to here, and the making of Zedekiah king instead of Jeconiah, see 2 Kings 24:1 (note), etc., and the notes there.
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.
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.Zedekiah - to the prophet Jeremiah - He was willing to hear a message from the Lord, provided it were according to his own mind. He did not fully trust in his own prophets.
Now Jeremiah came in and went out among the people: for they had not put him into prison.Now Jeremiah came in and went out - After the siege was raised, he had a measure of liberty; he was not closely confined, as he afterwards was. See Jeremiah 37:16.
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.Then Pharaoh's army - This was Pharaoh-hophra or Apries, who then reigned in Egypt in place of his father Necho. See Ezekiel 29:6, etc. Nebuchadnezzar, hearing that the Egyptian army, on which the Jews so much depended, was on their march to relieve the city, suddenly raised the siege, and went to meet them. In the interim Zedekiah sent to Jeremiah to inquire of the Lord to know whether they might consider themselves in safety.
Then came the word of the LORD unto the prophet Jeremiah, saying,
Thus saith the LORD, the God of Israel; Thus shall ye say to the king of Judah, that sent you unto me to inquire of me; Behold, Pharaoh's army, which is come forth to help you, shall return to Egypt into their own land.Pharaoh's army - shall return to Egypt - They were defeated by the Chaldeans; and, not being hearty in the cause, returned immediately to Egypt, leaving Nebuchadnezzar unmolested to recommence the siege.
And the Chaldeans shall come again, and fight against this city, and take it, and burn it with fire.
Thus saith the LORD; Deceive not yourselves, saying, The Chaldeans shall surely depart from us: for they shall not depart.
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.For though ye had smitten the whole army - Strong words; but they show how fully God was determined to give up this city to fire and sword, and how fully he had instructed his prophet on this point.
And it came to pass, that when the army of the Chaldeans was broken up from Jerusalem for fear of Pharaoh's army,
Then Jeremiah went forth out of Jerusalem to go into the land of Benjamin, to separate himself thence in the midst of the people.Jeremiah went forth - At the time that Nebuchadnezzar had raised the siege, and gone to meet the Egyptian army.
Go into the land of Benjamin - To Anathoth, his native city.
To separate himself thence - "To receive a portion thereof among the people;" - Blayney: who supposes that Jeremiah went to receive a portion of the proceeds of his patrimony at Anathoth, which had, previously to the siege, been in the hands of the Chaldeans. The siege being now raised, he thought of looking thus after his own affairs. The Chaldee is to the same sense. "He went that he might divide the inheritance which he had there among the people." Dahler translates, 'He went to withdraw himself from the siege, as many others of the inhabitants." I believe he went to withdraw himself from a city devoted to destruction, and in which he could no longer do any good.
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.Thou fallest away to the Chaldeans - Thou art a deserter, and a traitor to thy country. As he had always declared that the Chaldeans should take the city, etc., his enemies took occasion from this to say he was in the interest of the Chaldeans, and that he wished now to go to them, and betray the place.
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.
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.And smote him - Without any proof of the alleged treachery, without any form of justice.
In prison to the house of Jonathan - In Asiatic countries there is an apartment in the houses of the officers of the law, to confine all the accused that are brought before them. Jonathan was a scribe or secretary, and had a prison of this kind in his house.
When Jeremiah was entered into the dungeon, and into the cabins, and Jeremiah had remained there many days;Entered into the dungeon, and into the cabins - The dungeon was probably a deep pit; and the cabins or cells, niches in the sides, where different malefactors were confined. See Blayney.
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.Is there any word from the Lord? - Is there any farther revelation?
There is: - thou shalt be delivered - What bold faithfulness! And to a king, in whose hands his life now lay.
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?
Where are now your prophets which prophesied unto you, saying, The king of Babylon shall not come against you, nor against this land?Where are now your prophets - They told you that the Chaldeans should not come; I told you they would. According to my word the Chaldeans are come, and are departed only for a short time.
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.Cause me not to return to the house of Jonathan - He had been ill used in this man's custody, so as to endanger his life, the place being cold, and probably unhealthy.
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.Then Zedekiah - the court of the prison - Was contiguous to the king's house, where the prisoners could readily see their friends.
Give him daily a piece of bread out of the bakers' street - From the public stores; which he received till all the provisions were spent.