Jeremiah 39 COMMENTARY (Pulpit)

Jeremiah 39
Pulpit Commentary
In the ninth year of Zedekiah king of Judah, in the tenth month, came Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon and all his army against Jerusalem, and they besieged it.
And in the eleventh year of Zedekiah, in the fourth month, the ninth day of the month, the city was broken up.
And all the princes of the king of Babylon came in, and sat in the middle gate, even Nergalsharezer, Samgarnebo, Sarsechim, Rabsaris, Nergalsharezer, Rabmag, with all the residue of the princes of the king of Babylon.
Verse 3. - And all the princes, etc.; rather, That all the princes, etc. (see on Jeremiah 38:28). The fact mentioned in this verse is not recorded in 2 Kings 25; ch. 52; and its preciseness is a considerable pledge of its accuracy. The princes are four in number, and two of them have official titles attached. Nergal-sharezer is the Hebraized form of Nirgal-sarra-ucur, i.e. "Nirgal (or Nergal), protect (or perhaps, has created) the king" - the name, as often, is a prayer. Samgar-nebo is probably a modification of Sumgir-nabu, "Be gracious, Nebo;" but it has not yet been found in the inscriptions. Sarsechim has the appearance of being corrupt; the first part, however, may, perhaps, be the Babylonian for "king" ("prince" in Hebrew). Rab-saris has a meaning in Hebrew - "chief of the eunuchs;" but the analogies of "Rab-mag" and "Rab-shakeh" suggest that it is merely the Hebraized form of some Assyrian title. In any case, it would be better to render "the Rab-saris," and to attach it closely to the preceding name, Sarsechim being himself the official called Rab-saris (see, however, ver. 13). Rab-mag. This was "one of the highest titles in the state" (G. Smith). The etymology of the latter half of the phrase is uncertain; for the connection of "mag" with "Magi" is a mistake which has been exposed by Dr. Schrader, in his work, 'Die Keilinschriften und das Alte Testament' (of which a translation is announced). The native form of the name may be rubu emga (Schrader) or rubu makhe (Friedr. Delitzsch), and the whole title will mean "high priest" or "chief of the sorcerers" (comp. Delitzsch, "The Hebrew Language viewed in the Light of Assyrian Research," Lond., 1883, p. 14). "The Rab-mag" would be more accurate, and the title ought to be attached to the preceding name, Nergal-sharezer. As a matter of fact, a Nirgal-sarra-ucur, who held the office of rubu emga, is mentioned in the cuneiform inscriptions, and we may plausibly conjecture that he is the person here mentioned among the "princes." He was afterwards raised to the throne by the conspirators who murdered Evil-merodach, the son of Nebuchadnezzar (he is better known as Neriglissar). It is singular that two Nergal-sharezers should be here mentioned; possibly the first mention is due to a mistake. The names are hardly recognizable in the Septuagint. The "princes" took up their station in the middle gate. The "breach" spoken of in ver. 2 enabled the Babylonians to occupy the whole of the lower city to the northeast of Zion. The "middle gate" probably separated these two parts of Jerusalem, and those who were posted there commanded the temple and the citadel.
And it came to pass, that when Zedekiah the king of Judah saw them, and all the men of war, then they fled, and went forth out of the city by night, by the way of the king's garden, by the gate betwixt the two walls: and he went out the way of the plain.
Verse 4. - Here begins the second parenthesis, to be read apart from the principal, though shorter, narrative (see introduction to chapter). Observe elsewhere in the Book of Jeremiah events known from other sources are only briefly referred to (comp. Jeremiah 29:2; Jeremiah 32:1-5; Jeremiah 34:1, 7; Jeremiah 35:11; Jeremiah 37:5); see 2 Kings 25:4-12.
But the Chaldeans' army pursued after them, and overtook Zedekiah in the plains of Jericho: 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.
Then 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.
And the Chaldeans burned the king's house, and the houses of the people, with fire, and brake down the walls of Jerusalem.
Then Nebuzaradan the captain of the guard carried away captive into Babylon the remnant of the people that remained in the city, and those that fell away, that fell to him, with the rest of the people that remained.
Verse 9. - Nebuzar-adan; i.e. Nabu-zira-iddina, "Nebo gave a seed."
But Nebuzaradan the captain of the guard left of the poor of the people, which had nothing, in the land of Judah, and 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 look well to him, and do him no harm; but do unto him even as he shall say unto thee.
So Nebuzaradan the captain of the guard sent, and Nebushasban, Rabsaris, and Nergalsharezer, Rabmag, and all the king of Babylon's princes;
Verse 13. - Nebushasban. The name occurs in a list of proper names, under the form Nabu-sizibanni, "Nebo, rescue me!" It is remarkable that a different name is given to the Rab-saris in ver. 3; and the conjecture is not unreasonable that Sarsechim is a corruption of the latter part of the name Nebushasban. In ver. 3 the Septuagint has Nabusachar instead of Sarsechim (other copies read Nabusarsechim).
Even they sent, and took Jeremiah out of the court of the prison, and committed him unto Gedaliah the son of Ahikam the son of Shaphan, that he should carry him home: so he dwelt among the people.
Verse 14. - Gedaliah, whose father had already befriended the prophet on a serious occasion (Jeremiah 26:24), and who, according to Jeremiah 40:5, had been appointed (though himself a Jew) Babylonian "governor over the cities of Judah," is directed to carry him (Jeremiah) home, or rather, into the house; obviously some house close by is meant - either Gedaliah's temporary dwelling or the royal palace. This statement conflicts (see introduction) with that in Jeremiah 40:1-5, but only as to the time when Jeremiah was liberated. The latter narrative being more explicit, deserves the preference. Thus Jeremiah dwelt among the people; i.e. could go in and out at his pleasure.
Now the word of the LORD came unto Jeremiah, while he was shut up in the court of the prison, saying,
Verses 15-18. - A prophecy to Ebed-melech is here introduced, which, though uttered previously (see ch. 38.), could not have been mentioned before without breaking the sequence of events. For came, we might render had come.
Go and speak 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.
Verse 16. - Go and speak. Ebed-melech must be supposed to come into the court of the watch, so that Jeremiah might communicate with him.
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 thy trust in me, saith the LORD.
Verse 18. - For a prey unto thee. The same remarkable phrase in Jeremiah 21:9 38:2.

Courtesy of Open Bible