Jeremiah 38:6 MEANING

Jeremiah 38:6
(6) The dungeon of Malchiah the son of Hammelech.--Literally, the pit, or cistern. The LXX. agrees with the marginal reading in describing him as "a son of the king." The same phrase is so translated in 1 Kings 22:26; 2 Chronicles 28:7, and would seem to have been an official or court title, applied to one of the royal house, as distinguished from. others. (See Note on Jerahmeel in Jeremiah 36:26.) We have no data for judging whether this Malchiah is identical with the lather of Pashur in Jeremiah 38:1; but it is not unlikely. In Lamentations 3:53-55 we have probably a reminiscence of these days of horrible suffering. The cistern had been partly dried up (possibly through the supply of water having been cut off during the protracted siege), but there remained a thick deposit, three or four feet deep, of black foetid mud,, and there, it is obvious from Jeremiah 38:9 of this chapter, his enemies meant to leave him to die of hunger. They probably shrank from the odium of a public execution, or thought, with the strange superstition of the Eastern mind, that in this way they could escape the guilt of shedding the prophet's blood. The death by starva-tion might easily be represented, even to themselves, as a death by disease.

Verse 6. - The dungeon; more literally, the cistern. "Every house in Jerusalem was supplied with a subterranean cistern, so well constructed that we never read of the city suffering in a siege from want of water" (Dr. Payne Smith). A grotto bearing the name of Jeremiah has been shown at Jerusalem since the fifteenth century. Under its floor are vast cisterns, the deepest of which professes to be the prison into which the prophet was thrown. The objection is that the sacred narrative proves that the prison was in the city, whereas "the present grotto was not included within the walls until the time of Herod Agrippa" (Thomson, 'The Land and the Book,' 1881, p. 555). The son of Hammelech; rather, a royal prince (as Jeremiah 36:26).

38:1-13 Jeremiah went on in his plain preaching. The princes went on in their malice. It is common for wicked people to look upon God's faithful ministers as enemies, because they show what enemies the wicked are to themselves while impenitent. Jeremiah was put into a dungeon. Many of God's faithful witnesses have been privately made away in prisons. Ebed-melech was an Ethiopian; yet he spoke to the king faithfully, These men have done ill in all they have done to Jeremiah. See how God can raise up friends for his people in distress. Orders were given for the prophet's release, and Ebed-melech saw him drawn up. Let this encourage us to appear boldly for God. Special notice is taken of his tenderness for Jeremiah. What do we behold in the different characters then, but the same we behold in the different characters now, that the Lord's children are conformed to his example, and the children of Satan to their master?Then took they Jeremiah,.... Having the king's leave, or at least no prohibition from him; they went with proper attendants to the court of the prison, and took the prophet from thence:

and cast him into the dungeon of Malchiah the son of Hammelech, that was in the court of the prison; this was a dungeon that belonged to the prison which Malchiah had the care of, or which belonged to his house, which was contiguous to the court of the prison. The Targum renders it, Malchiah the son of the king; and so the Septuagint and Arabic versions; but it is not likely that Zedekiah should have a son that was set over his dungeon, or to whom one belonged, or should be called by his name: here the princes cast the prophet, in order that he should perish, either with famine or suffocation, or the noisomeness of the place; not caring with their own hands to take away the life of a prophet, and for fear of the people; and this being a more slow and private way of dispatching him, they chose it; for they designed no doubt nothing less than death:

and they let down Jeremiah with cords; there being no steps or stairs to go down into it; so that nobody could come to him when in it, or relieve him:

and in the dungeon there was no water, but mire; so Jeremiah sunk in the mire; up to the neck, as Josephus (q) says. Some think that it was at this time, and in this place, that Jeremiah put up the petitions to the Lord, and which he heard, recorded in Lamentations 3:55; and that that whole chapter was composed by him in this time of his distress.

(q) Antiqu. l. 10. c. 7. sect. 5.

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