JEREMIAH CHAPTER 39.
The Capture and Plunder of Jerusalem.
JERUSALEM TAKEN. — V. 1. In the ninth year of Zedekiah, king of Judah, in the tenth month, the day of the month being the tenth, chap. 52, 4; 2 Kings 25, 1-4, came Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, and all his army against Jerusalem, and they besieged it. V. 2. And in the eleventh year of Zedekiah, in the fourth month, the ninth day of the month, the city was broken up, the enemies gained an entry into the city by battering down a part of the wall. The siege thus lasted eighteen months, if we except the suspension of it caused by the coming of Pharaoh-hophrah. Nebuchadnezzar was present at the beginning of the siege, but was in Riblah at its close. V. 3. And all the princes of the king of Babylon came in, the generals entering through the breach in the wall, and sat in the middle gate, they occupied that part of the city by encamping in a gate of Zion, in the wall which separated the upper city from the lower, a position which gave them control of the capital, even Nergal-sharezer, Samgar-nebo, Sarsechim, Rabsaris, Nergal-sharezer, Rabmag, Rabsaris being chief of the chamberlains and the second Nergal-sharezer chief of the magi, with all the residue of the princes of the king of Babylon, an imposing array of mighty men. V. 4. And it came to pass that, when Zedekiah, the king of Judah, saw them, and all the men of war, that is, when Zedekiah and his soldiers noted the pomp and the warlike appearance of the Chaldean generals at close range, then they fled and went forth out of the city, the upper city, where the royal palace was situated, by night, by the way of the king's garden, by the gate betwixt the two walls, those on the western edge of Ophel and on the eastern edge of Zion, for the royal gardens were situated southeast of the city, on the slopes of the Kidron Valley; and he went out the way of the plain, the meadows of the Jordan near Jericho. There may have been a gap in the lines of the besieging army at this point, since the upper city was almost impregnable from the east and southeast; so this plan was the only one which promised success. V. 5. But the Chaldeans' army pursued after them, the attempt of Zedekiah and his soldiers to escape being noticed very soon and the alarm accordingly given, and overtook Zedekiah in the plains of Jericho, for his intention evidently was to escape into the country of the Moabites beyond the river; and when they had taken him, they brought him up to Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, to Riblah, in the land of Hamath, beyond the northern border of Canaan, where the headquarters of the Chaldean king had been established during his campaign of conquest of the countries along the Mediterranean, where he gave judgment upon him, Zedekiah now receiving evidence of the truth of Jeremiah's prophecy. V. 6. Then the king of Babylon slew the sons of Zedekiah in Riblah before his eyes, for they were guilty, with their father, of the revolt against the Babylonian supremacy; also, the king of Babylon slew all the nobles of Judah, who really had been the chief rebels against his authority. V. 7. Moreover, he put out Zedekiah's eyes, commanding that he be blinded, probably by passing a heated metal rod before his open eyes, and bound him with chains, doubly fettered hand and foot, to carry him to Babylon, in a most shameful captivity. V. 8. And the Chaldeans burned the king's house, the beautiful royal palace, and the houses of the people, with fire, destroying all the finer residences of the city, and brake down the walls of Jerusalem, the fortifications of the city, which, in the past, had rendered it almost impregnable. V. 9. Then Nebuzar-adan, the captain of the guard, the commander of the royal Chaldean body-guard, one of the chief officers of Nebuchadnezzar, carried away captive into Babylon the remnant of the people that remained in the city, the few who had escaped the ravages of the sword and of famine, and those that fell away, that fell to him, those who had deserted and come over into the camp of the enemy during the siege, with the rest of the people that remained, those of any importance who had not yet been led away into exile. V. 10. But Nebuzar-adan, the captain of the guard, left of the poor of the people, which had nothing in the land of Judah, no landed possessions, and gave them vineyards and fields at the same time, at that time, namely, when he led the others captive. They received orders to cultivate the vineyards and fields, lest the country revert to its wild state and yield no revenue. Thus the threatening words of the Lord concerning the fate of the disobedient Jews were fulfilled in every detail, as an example of warning to the unbelievers of all times.
CONCERNING THE FATE OF JEREMIAH AND OF EBED-MELECH. — V. 11. Now Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, gave charge concerning Jeremiah, whose prophecies and warning were known to him through deserters and through Jews carried to Babylon with Jeconiah, to Nebuzar-adan, the captain of the guard, saying, v. 12. Take him and look well to him, literally, "thine eyes set upon him," in providing for, and watching over, his well-being, and do him no harm, the protection against the wiles of others being included in this care; but do unto him even as he shall say unto thee, as he might request to safeguard his person. V. 13. So Nebuzar-adan, the captain of the guard, sent, and Nebu-shasban, Bab-saris, and Nergal-sharezer, Rab-mag, that is, the chief of the magi, and all the king of Babylon's princes, all the commanders of the army which made the campaign against Judah; v. 14. even they sent and took Jeremiah out of the court of the prison, gave him his liberty after the shameful imprisonment which he had suffered, and committed him unto Gedaliah, the son of Ahikam, the son of Shaphan, Ahikam being the man who had protected him on a former occasion, chap. 26, 24, that he should carry him home; so he dwelt among the people, as a free man, not as a captive under restraint. The apparent contradiction between this statement and that of chap. 40, 1 is very easily adjusted if we remember that Jeremiah, although transported to Ramah with the prisoners among his own countrymen, was still technically their prisoner, for he had not been released from his place in the court of the prison in Jerusalem. Nebuzar-adan separated Jeremiah from the other captives and gave him his choice of places to dwell. V. 15. Now the word of the Lord came unto Jeremiah, while he was shut up in the court of the prison, before the Jews of the city were taken down to Ramah and the prophet was given his liberty, saying, v. 16. Go and speak to Ebed-melech, the Ethiopian, who had befriended Jeremiah when his life was in the greatest danger, chap. 38, 7-14, 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, cp. Dan. 9, 12; and they shall be accomplished in that day before thee, so that the threatened misfortune would strike the city in its full force, Ebed-melech being a witness of this calamity. V. 17. But I will deliver thee in that day, saith the Lord, as a reward of his goodness in rescuing the Lord's prophet; and thou shalt not be given into the hand of the men of whom thou art afraid, for the Ethiopian shared the fear of the other inhabitants of the city. V. 18. For I will surely deliver thee, and thou shalt not fall by the sword, but thy life shall be for a prey unto thee, a precious treasure to be carried away and safely hidden, because thou hast put thy trust in Me, saith the Lord. Jehovah, the true God, is the Hope and Refuge of all those who put their trust in Him, and He delivers them from all the evil which may threaten and overwhelm them.