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Bible Commentaries

Lange's Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical

Jeremiah 39



Verses 15-18


Jeremiah 39:15-18

15Now the word of the Lord came unto Jeremiah, while he was shut up in the court 16 of the prison [guard], saying, Go and speak to Ebed-melech the Ethiopian, saying, Thus saith the Lord of hosts [Jehovah Zebaoth], the God of Israel; Behold, I will bring[FN4] my words upon this city for evil, and not for good; and they shall be[FN5] accomplished 17in that day before thee. But I will deliver thee in that day, saith the 18 Lord [Jehovah]: 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 [Jehovah].


The Cushite Ebed-melech, to whom the words of our Lord may be applied ( Luke 19:40), “if these should hold their peace, the stones would cry out,” is here honored by a special consolatory promise. In the nature of the case this falls into the period after the occurrence related in Jeremiah 37:7-13. The expression shut up, etc., is found besides only in Jeremiah 33:1 (comp. Jeremiah 32:2). As we know from other grounds that chh32. and33. pertain to the last stage of the confinement in the court of the guard ( Jeremiah 38:28, comp. on Jeremiah 37:17), we may place our brief passage in the same period as that great consolatory discourse. This portion might, therefore, be attached to those chapters. It Isaiah, however, evident that the contents are too trifling in comparison with the importance of that great theocratic book of consolation, and that the historical connection seems better preserved in this place. After the prophet had related his own experiences till the capture of the city, he appends this brief prophecy uttered shortly before that epoch. In connection with Jeremiah 45 it would have been neither historically nor topically in the right place.

Jeremiah 39:15-18. Now the word . . . saith Jehovah. Two thoughts lie at the foundation of Jeremiah 39:16. 1. The fulfilment of my threatenings against Jerusalem shall take place before thine eyes. Ebed-melech is to see what he before believed. This Isaiah, as it were, the immanent reward of faith, its crown and corroboration2. Notwithstanding that all Jerusalem with all the people therein perishes the person of Ebed-melech shall remain unimperilled. This is the second physical and palpable reward of faith.—As the import of God’s word cannot be conceived of as indifferent, admitting of fulfilment either in a good or a bad sense, “for evil” must be regarded as dependent on “words.” Comp. Jeremiah 21:10.—In that day, Jeremiah 39:16, refers necessarily to the point of time in “I will bring,” and expresses that the moment of fulfilment will be at the same time the moment of visible perception. There may be a fulfilment which takes place invisibly. Compare what is said under Jeremiah 25:11 of the invisible reality of the beginning of the exile. In the same day Ebed-melech is to experience the power and grace of God in the deliverance of his own person. For he is not to be given into the hand of the men of whom he is afraid ( Jeremiah 39:17). It might be asked whether the Chaldeans are meant, or the Jews who were hostile to him on Jeremiah’s account. The expressions used in the following verse thou shalt not fall by the sword, and especially the contrast to the general destruction, involved in thou shalt have thy life for a prey (comp. Jeremiah 21:9; Jeremiah 38:2; Jeremiah 45:5), favor the former. Ebed-melech believed and trusted in the Lord. He held the word of the Lord, which Jeremiah proclaimed, to be true, he dared to oppose Jeremiah’s enemies; he consequently did not set his hope on the means of escape, on which these foolishly trusted, but on the Lord. In the words put thy trust, then, there is a double point of applause and of confidence.


FN#4 - Jeremiah 39:16.—On מֵבִי. Comp. Olsh, S. 69, 392, 581.

FN#5 - Jeremiah 39:16.—הָיָה is evidently used here in a pregnant sense=to be realized, to attain to a real existence. Comp. Isaiah 7:7; Isaiah 14:24.


1. On Jeremiah 39:11-12. “Elucet inde veritas illius Salomonis ( Proverbs 21:1): Cor regis in manu Dei, quo vult illud inclinat.” Förster.

2. On Jeremiah 39:11-14. “Nebuchadnezzar the king and Ebed-melech the Ethiopian enhanced the guilt of the Jews. For these, although they were heathens, were not shy of the prophet. The Jews, however, who had grown up with the prophetic words, paid no regard to the divine word, but on the contrary subjected the prophet to manifold maltreatment.” Theodoret.

3. On Jeremiah 39:11-14. “Deus ex iisdem hominibus diversa singulis disponit præmia, qui ex iisdem elementis pro meritorum qualitate electis et reprobis diversas impendit remunerationes. Nam aqua maris rubri, quæ cultores Dei illæsos servabat Israelitas, eadem interfecit Ægyptios idololatras. Similiter flamma camini, quæ regis Babylonis juxta fornacem atroces interfecit ministros, eadem laudantes et benedicentes Dominum in medio ignis conservavit pueros, unde vir sapiens in laudibus Dei ait: creatura enim tibi factori deserviens excandescit in tormentum adversus injustos et lenior fit ad benefaciendum pro his, qui in te confidunt (Sap. 16, 24).” Rhabanus Maurus in Ghisler.

4. On Jeremiah 39:15-18. “Well for him, whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the Lord his God ( Psalm 146:5). Well for the people, whose God is the Lord ( Psalm 144:15). For of what avail was it to Zedekiah that he was king? And of what injury was it to Ebed-melech that he was a servant? For the former had to endure all on account of his ungodliness, while the latter on account of his piety suffered no evil.” Theodoret.

5. On Jeremiah 39:15-18. “Ecce principes, qui Jeremiam expetiverunt ad carceris pæ Nahum, Chaldaicæ captivitatis perpessi sunt vindictam. Hic autem Eunuchus, qui prophetam liberavit de carcere, Domino remunerante perfecta potitus est libertate.” Rhabanus Maurus in Ghisler.

6. On Jeremiah 39:15-18. “This pious courtier had interceded for the prophet with the king, but the prophet had again interceded for him with God the Lord. Ebed-melech had drawn him out of the pit, but Jeremiah draws him by his prayer from the jaws of all Chaldean war-vortices. Those who receive a prophet shall receive a prophet’s reward ( Matthew 10:41). Preachers do their patrons more good than they get from them.” Cramer.


1. On Jeremiah 39:11-14. Jeremiah’s deliverance an example of how wonderfully the Lord helps His own. 1. While in Jerusalem his fellow believers hate and persecute him, the heathen king in Riblah thinks of him, and commands to liberate him2. While the city of Jerusalem with all its population perishes, he is protected and brought into safety.

2. On Jeremiah 39:15-18. What can we learn from the example of the believing Ebed-melech? 1. That faith is not connected with limits of any external communion; 2, that assent and confidence pertain to its nature ( Jeremiah 39:18); 3, that there is an internal ( Jeremiah 39:16) and external ( Jeremiah 39:17) reward of faith.


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These files are a derivative of an electronic edition available at Public Domain.

Bibliography Information
Lange, Johann Peter. "Commentary on Jeremiah 39:4". "Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical". 1857-84.

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