Jeremiah 38:7 MEANING

Jeremiah 38:7
(7) Bbed-melech the Ethiopian.--The name signifies "servant of the king," but the absence of the article in the Hebrew makes it probable that it had come to be used as a proper name, and so both the LXX. and Vulgate take it. The use of Ethiopian or Cushite slaves in the king's household, probably as keeping guard over the harem, had been of some standing; perhaps even as early as the time of David, as in the case of Cushr (or the Cushite), in 2 Samuel 18:21. Then, as in other countries and times (Terent., Eunuch, i. 2), there was a fashion which led princes and men of wealth to think that eunuchs were part of their magnificence. The law of Moses, it may be noted, forbade such mutilation in the case of Israelites (Deuteronomy 23:1). In Psalm 87:4, we find probably a record of the admission of such persons on the register of the citizens of Zion. Of the previous history of the Eunuch thus named we know nothing but he appears here as the favourite of the king, using his influence to protect the prophet. The Ethiopian descent of Jehudi (Jeremiah 36:21) may probably have brought him into contact with an officer of the king's household of the same race, and Ebed-melech's feelings may have been drawn to the prophet by what he thus heard.

In the gate of Benjamin.--This was on the northern wall of the city, the most exposed to the attack of the invading army, and the king apparently had gone there either to direct the operations of the defence, or, perhaps, to prevent others from following, as they might think, Jeremiah's example, and either deserting to the enemy or abandoning the defence of the city (Jeremiah 37:13). Ebed-melech had accordingly to leave the palace, and went to seek the king at his post, in order to obtain an order of release in time to save the prophet's life. He alone, as if inheriting the blessing of Isaiah 56:3-6, has the courage to appear as the friend of the persecuted.

Verse 7. - Ebed-melech the Ethiopian. The name means "the king's slave." Ebers remarks that the eunuchs employed are those on whom the shameful operation has been performed by Copts in Upper Egypt. Zedekiah's harem is referred to in vers. 22, 23.

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?Now when Ebedmelech the Ethiopian,.... The Targum renders it,

"a servant of King Zedekiah;''

which Jarchi, and other writers, following, make Zedekiah to be the Ethiopian; so called, because as an Ethiopian differs in his skin, so Zedekiah differed in his righteousness, from the rest of his generation; and this his servant, he, with others (r), takes to be Baruch the son of Neriah, but without any foundation; but, as Kimchi observes, with whom Abarbinel and Ben Melech agree, had this word "Ebedmelech" been an appellation, the usual article would have been prefixed before the word "king", as in the next clause; and somewhere or other his name would have been given; but it is a proper name, as Ahimelech, and Abimelech. A servant of the king he might be, and doubtless he was; and perhaps had this name given him when he became a proselyte; for such he seems to be, and a good man; who had a great regard to the prophet, because he was one; and had more piety and humanity in him, though an Ethiopian, than those who were Israelites by birth:

one of the eunuchs which was in the king's house; an officer at court; one of the gentlemen of the bedchamber. Josephus (s) says he was in great honour; so the Targum renders it,

"a great man;''

a man in high office, of great authority; taking it to be a name of office, as it sometimes is; though it may be understood, in a proper sense, of a castrated person; for such there were very commonly in kings' palaces, employed in one office or another, and especially in the bedchamber: now this man

heard that they had put Jeremiah in the dungeon; for though the princes did it with all possible secrecy, it was known at court, and came to the ears of this good man; and indeed the dungeon was not far from the court; and some have thought he might have heard the groans of Jeremiah in it; however, he came to the hearing of it, and was affected with the relation of his case, and determined to save him, if possible:

the king then sitting in the gate of Benjamin; the same in which the prophet was taken, Jeremiah 37:13; here he sat to hear and try causes, courts of judicature being held in gates of cities; or to receive petitions; or rather it may be to consult about the present state of affairs, what was best to be done in defence of the city, and to annoy the besiegers; and it may be to have a view of the enemy's camp, and to sally out upon them; for that he was here in order to make his escape is not likely.

(r) Pirke Eliezer, c. 53. Shalshelet Hakabala, fol. 13. 1.((s) Antiqu. l. 10. c. 7. sect. 5.

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