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7 Now when Ebedmelech the Ethiopian, one of the eunuchs
which was in the king's house, one of his officers, who was a pros
elyte, heard that they had put Jeremiah in the dungeon ; the king then sitting in the gate of Benjamin, where he heard causer ; 8 Ebedmelech went forth out of the king's house, and spake to the 9 king with great courage, saying, My lord the king, as the hand of
God is so awfully against us, these men have done evil in all that they have done to Jeremiah the prophet, whom they have cast into the dungeon ; and he is like to die for hunger in the place
where he is ! for (there is) no more bread in the city, and we 10 are all in danger of dying by famine as well as he. Then the
king commanded Ebedmelech the Ethiopian, saying, Take from hence thirty men with thee to assist, if any should oppose thee,
and take up Jeremiah the prophet out of the dungeon, before he il die. So Ebedmelech took the men with him, and went into the
house of the king under the treasury, and took thence old cast clouts, or clothes, and old rotten rags, and let them down by cords into the dungeon to Jeremiah, that the cords might not
hurt him ; which they probably had done before, being let down 12 roughly. And Ebedmelech the Ethiopian said unto Jeremiah,
Put now (these old cast clouts, and rotten rags under thine 13 arın holes, under the cords. And Jeremiah did so. So they
drew up Jeremiah with cords, and took him up out of the
dungeon ; and Jeremiah remained in the court of the prison. 14 Then Zedekiah the king sent, and took Jeremiah the prophet
unto him into the third entry that [is] in the house of the LORD; into a private room in the third gale between the king's house and
the temple : and the king said unto Jeremiah, I will ask thee a 15 thing; hide nothing from me. Then Jeremiah said unto Zede
kiah, If I declare [it] unto thee, wilt thou not surely put me to death? andif I give thee counsel, wilt thou not hearken unto me?
or, Wilt thou not put me to death, though I give thee such counsel as 16 thou wilt not like to hear. So Zedekiah the king sware secretly
unto Jeremiah, saying, (As) the Lord liveth, that made us this soul, and on whose preservation thy life and mine depend, I will not put thee to death, neither will I give thee into the hand of these
men that seek thy life ; not promising to take his advice, but only 17 that he would not put him to death. Then said Jeremiah into
Zedekiah, Thus saith the LORD, the Gor! of hosts, the God of Israel ; If thou wilt assuredly go forth unto the king of Balr. lon's princes, and treat with them, then thy soul siall live, and
this city shall not be burned with fire ; and thou shalt live, and 18 thine house : But if thou wilt not go forth to the king of Bal.
ylon's princes, then shall this city be given into the hand of the
Chaldeans, and they shall burn it with fire, and thou shalt 19 not escape out of their hand. And Zedekiah the king said unto
Jeremiah, I am afraid of the Jews that are fallen to the Chaldı. ans, those who according 10 thy directions have surrendered them. selves ; I am terribly afraid, lest they deliver me into their hand, Vol. V.
and they mock me. This was very unlikely, as they knew it to be the Lord's command that he should do 80: or if they should nock
him, the dread of that was no sufficient reason for his disobedience. 20 But Jeremiah said, They shall not deliver (thee :) Obey, I be.
seech thee, the voice of the LORD, which I speak unto thee : so 21 it shall be well unto thee, and thy soul shall live. But if thou
refuse to go forth, this is the word that the LORD hath showed 22 me: And, Behold, all the women that are left in the king of
Judah's house [shall be] brought forth to the king of Babylon's princes, and those (women) shall say, Thy friends have set thee on, and have prevailed against thee; even the women shall mock thee for thy folly and obstinacy, which will be worse than if men should do it when they see thee blind and captive ; and upbraid thee with thy folly in hearkening to evil counsellors, who firevailed with thee to thy ruin ; and they shall be the first to farsake thee and go to the Chaldeans : thy feet are sunk in the mire, thou art fallen into difficulties out of which thou knowest not how to escape,
[and] they are turned away back ; thy friends have forsaken 23 Thee and left thee destitute. So they shall bring out all thy
wives and thy children to the Chaldeans: and thou shalt not escape out of their hand, but shalt be taken by the hand of the king of Babylon : and thou shalt cause this city to be burned
with fire. 24 Then said Zedekiah unto Jeremiah, Let no man know of 25 these words, and thou shalt not die. But if the princes hear
that I have talked with thee, and they come unto thee, and say unto thee, Declare unto us now what thou hast said unto the
king, hide it not from us, and we will not put thee to death ; 26 also what the king said unto thee : Then shalt thou say unto
them, I presented my supplication before the king, that he would 27 not cause me to return to Jonathan's house, to die there. Then
came all the princes unto Jeremiah, and asked him: and he told them according to all these words that the king had commanded ; which no doubt was true, 08 he had asked this favour ; so that he told the truth, though not the whole truth,
which he was not obliged 10 do. So they left off speaking with 28 bim ; for the matter was not perceived. So Jeremiah abode in
the court of the prison until the day that Jerusalem was taken : and be was [there) when Jerusalem was taken.
1. T E here see hothe characters of good and useful men
VV may be misrepresented. Jeremiah is described as a person that was serking the hurt of the city, while he was its best friend, and sought its good above any one else, as he would have brought them to God, to duty, and to happiness. The king had a kindness for him, but was so base and cowardly that he would not publicly avow it. It is no marvel if the best men are still reprt.
sented as enemies to the state, and to public peace. The reason is, that men love to go on in their sins, and are displeased with every one who would reform them, or make them uneasy in their wicked practices.
2. God can raise up friends for his people where they least expect it. Who would have thought of Jeremiah's finding a friend at court? and that an Ethiopian proselyte ; while the Israelites persecuted him. This friend acted with great zeal and courage, dealt plainly with the king, and ventured his place and head to have the prophet. Thus can God at any time, and in any place, raise up friends to his servants, and deliver them out of their troubles.
3. How absurd and impious is it to disobey God, from a fear of being mocked or bantered by men. How meanly and ridiculously did Zedekiah act, in being more afraid of the jests of a few of his subjects, than of the displeasure of the Almighty. This fear goes a great way with many persons now, especially with the young : they are disposed to do their duty, and to be firm in it; but they are afraid their acquaintance should laugh at them. These fears are often groundless ; and there is, as in the case of Zedekiah, a secret reverence for those who are good in such as will not imitate them. How weak and childish a spirit is that, which cannot bear to be laughed at, rather than give up faith and a good conscience. Such, as the prophet tells Zedekiah, will be worse laughed at here. after : wicked men and devils will severely mock them, for loving the praise of men more than the praise of God.
4. Amidst our greatest zeal for God and religion, we ought prudently to consult our own welfare. While we are harmless as doves, as to giving offence, and bold as lions in the cause of God, we ought to be wise as serpents. This affair was prudently concerted between the king and the prophet ; there was no lie nor equivocation. He spoke the truth, but not the whole truth ; and this he was not obliged to tell. It is wrong to expose ourselves to danger, when no good can be answered by it. We should walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise.
In which we have an account of Jerusalem being taken ; of Zedekiah
being made blind, and sent 10 Babylon ; of the city being ruined, and the people taken captive.
TIN the ninth year of Zedekiah king of Judah, in the tenth
1 month, came Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon and all his 2 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 ; after two years siege a
3 breach was made, and the city was taken by storm. 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. 4 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 5 plain. But the Chaldeans' army pursued after them, and over
took 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, which lay to the nort of Jerusalem, and where he waited to hear of the success of the sirge, where he gave judgment upon him ; that is, called a council, bu
which Zedekiah was condemned as a rebellious subject, and a trai. 6 tor to the king of Babylon, he having violated his oath. Then
the king of Babylon slew the sons of Zedekiah in Riblah before his eyes; who must have been young, as Zedekiah was but
thirty two years old : also the king of Babylon slew all the no7 bles of Judah that were taken prisoners. Moreover he put out
Zedekiah's eyes; he first slew his children, and then put out his eyes, that no other object might thrust out the idea of that bloody scene; and bound him with chains, to carry him to Babylon, where he had time to reflect on his guilt in bringing these calamities
on his friends and himself by his obstinacy. 8 And the Chaldeans burned the king's house, and the houses
of the people, with fire, and brake down the walls of Jerusalem. 9 Then Nebuzaradan the captain of the guard carried away cap
tive into Babylon the remnant of the people that remained in the city, and those that fell away, that fell to him, who took Jere.
miah's advice and surrendered, with the rest of the people that 10 remained. 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, that the
land might not grow quite wild and be overrun by beasts, 11 Now Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon, gave charge concern
ing Jeremiah to Nebuzaradan the captain of the guard, saying, 12 Take him, and look well to him, and do him no harm; but do
unto him even as he shall say unto thee : having been informed, by some who had gone over to the Chaldeans of what Jeremiah had
foretold, what he had advised Zedekiah to do, and what he had suf. 13 fered on these accounts. So Nebuzaradan the captain of the
guard sent, and Nebushasban, Rabsaris, and Nergalsharezer, 14 Rabmag, and all the king of Babylon's princes ; 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 Shapban, that he should carry him home: so he dwelt among the people ; and thus, while the false prophets were destroyed by those judg.
· ments which they said would never come, Jeremiah was secured
from those which he foretold would actually come. 15 Now the word of the LORD came unto Jeremiah, while he 16 was shut up in the court of the prison, saying, 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 (accom17 plished) in that day before thee; or, in thy sight. But I will de
liver thee in that day, saith the LORD ; and thou shalt not be 18 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 ; having delivered my prophet, from good principles and with great courage, this act of kindness shall preserve thy life. No doubt the Chaldeans heard of this, and were thereby inclined to spare Ebedmelech amidst the general desolation.
T E here see how punctual and awful God is in fulfilling
V his threatenings. Zedekiah and his princes would not believe them, because the false prophets had deceived them ; but at length the direful judgment came, and the word was fulfilled in all its terrors. So sinners promise themselves impunity, and harden their hearts ; but God will bring his words upon them for evil, and not for good. An awful standing lesson of the evil of sin, and a cau. tion to us that we do not make light of it.
2. See how ill men judge of the value of earthly things. Amidst the calamities of Judah, the rich men were driven from their fine houses and large estates, and the poor, who had nothing, were put into possession of them. The rich, who had been cruel oppressors, were carried captive ; and the poor of the land, who had been oppressed, were now possessed of large estates, and lived in plenty. The poor perhaps had envied the rich, and the rich despised the poor ; but the condition of the poor proved to be most eligible. Such surprizing revolutions are often seen in the course of providence, and therefore it becomes us to rejoice as though we rejoiced not, and toweep as though we wept noi, since nothing below is certain and stable."
3. We see that God can secure his servants amidst general desolations. When a man's ways please the Lord, he can make even his enemies to be at peace with him. The prophet found better usage among enemies and heathens, than among his own countrymen, the princes, nobles, and priests of Israel. Thus the Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of their tribulation, and reserves the unjust to be punished. So will it be in the future judgment : while the wicked are overwhelmed with speedy destruction, God will take care of his servants ; and give his angels charge to look well to them : for