(1) The word which came unto Jeremiah . . .—There is obviously a great gap at this point in the collection of the prophet’s utterances, and we enter on a new body or group of prophecies which extends to the close of Jeremiah 33. Thus far we have had his ministry under Jehoiakim, the roll which was read before that king, and formed the first part of his work. Now we pass to the later stage, which forms what has been called the roll of Zedekiah. The judgment predicted in the previous roll had come nearer. The armies of Nebuchadnezzar were gathering round the city. The prophet was now honoured and consulted, and the king sent his chief minister, Pashur (not the priest who had been the prophet’s persecutor, as in the preceding chapter, but the head of the family or course of Melchiah), and Zephaniah, the “second priest,” or deputy of Jeremiah 52:24, to ask his intercession. We learn from their later history that they were in their hearts inclined to the policy of resistance, and ready to accuse Jeremiah of being a traitor (Jeremiah 38:1-4).
The name has been variously interpreted by scholars as “Nebo protects against misfortune,” “Nebo protects the land-marks,” “Nebo protects the crown,” or “Fire, the shining God.”
If so be that the Lord will deal with us . . .—The messengers come to inquire of the prophet, and yet suggest the answer which he is expected to give. Jehovah is to show His wondrous works in the deliverance of the city. The history of Sennacherib’s army (2 Kings 19; Isaiah 37) was probably present to their minds. It was apparently an attempt on the part of the king and his counsellors, under the show of a devout reverence, to entice Jeremiah to change his tone and side with the policy of resistance to the Chaldæans. In Jeremiah 37:3 we have another like mission, coming apparently at a somewhat later date in the reign of Zedekiah
That he may go up from us.—i.e., in modern phraseology, that he may “raise the siege.”
His life shall be unto him for a prey.—The phrase is characteristic of Jeremiah, and forcibly illustrates the misery of the time. Life itself was not a secure possession, but as the spoil which a man seizes on the field of battle, and with which he hastens away, lest another should deprive him of it. It occurs again in Jeremiah 39:18; Jeremiah 45:5.