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wounded men among them, yet should they rise up every man in his tent, and burn this city with fire. *
So far, however, from believing this report, or seeking to avert it by humiliation, they chose to take it for granted that they should see no more of the Chaldean army, and as if repenting of the apparent and partial contrition they had shewn, they immediately reduced those servants, whom they had set free in the hour of danger, again into subjection, and reclaimed them for servants and handmaids.t
Wherefore, God instantly denounced a still severer message by the same prophet; Thus saith Jehovah, the God of Israel; I made a covenant with your fathers in the day that I brought them forth out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondmen, saying, at the end of seven years let ye go every man his brother, an Hebrew, which hath been sold unto thee; and when he hath served thee six years, thou shalt let him go free from thee : but your fathers hearkened not unto me, neither inclined their ear. And ye were now turned, and had done right in my sight, in proclaiming liberty every man to his neighbour; and ye had made a covenant before me in the house which is called by my name:
turned and polluted my name, and caused every man his servant, and every man his handmaid, whom he had set at liberty at their pleasure, to return, and brought them into subjection, to be unto you for servants and for handmaids. Therefore, thus saith Jehovah; Ye have not hearkened unto me, in proclaiming liberty, every one to his brother, and every man to his neighbour: behold, I proclaim a liberty for you, saith Jehovah, to the sword, to the pestilence, and to the famine, and I will make you to be removed into all the kingdoms of
Jer. xxxvii. 7-10. “ Strong words! but they shew how fully God was determined to give up this city to fire and sword; and how fully he had instructed his prophet in this point." A. CLARKE.
+ Jer. xxxiv. 11.
the earth. And I will give the men that have transgressed my covenant, which have not performed the words of the covenant which they made before me, when they cut the calf in twain,* and passed between the parts thereof, the princes of Judah, and the princes of Jerusalem, the eunuchs, and the priests, and all the people of the land, which passed between the parts of the calf; I will even give them into the hand of their enemies, and into the hand of them that seek their life: and their dead bodies shall be for meat unto the fowls of the heaven, and to the beasts of the earth. And Zedekiah, king of Judah, and his princes, will I give into the hand of their enemies, and into the hand of them that seek their life, and into the hand of the king of Babylon's army, which are gone up from you. Behold, I will command, saith Jehovah, and cause them to return to this city; and they shall fight against it, and take it, and burn it with fire: and I will make the cities of Judah a desolation without an inhabitant.+
Jeremiah, fully confident of the eventful result, prepared to quit the city, and retire into the land of Benjamin; but as he passed through the gate of that name, he was seized by Irijah, the captain of the ward, as a deserter, and taken before the princes; who, notwithstanding his solemn asseveration of innocence, smote him, and cast him into a dungeon in the house of Jonathan, the scribe.
“This was the ancient and most solemn way of making a covenant. 1. A calf, as sacrifice, was offered to God to secure his approbation and support. 2. The victim was then eractly divided from the nose to the rump; the spinal marrow being divided longitudinally, in the most careful manner, that the half of it might remain on each side. 3. The divided parts were laid opposite to each other, a passage being left between them. 4. The contracting parties entere i this passage at each end, met in the middle, and there took the covenant oath; adjudging themselves to death should they break this covenant. 5. Then they both feasted on the victim." A. Clarke, on Gen. xv. 17, and Jer, xxxiv. 18. Dr. Wall. Burder, 0. C. 774.
+ Jer. xxxiv. 13-22. 1 Jer, xxxvii. 11-16.
The Egyptian army having retired before Nebuchadnezzar,t that monarch soon returned, and resumed the
† Jer. xxxvii. 7. Prid. i. 110. It would seein that the dealings of God with the nation of the Jews, were hy no means intended for their own benefit alone, but in order to exbibit, as it were, a grand epitome of his providence and government towards the vast family of man. And the more closely his proceedings are examined and scrutinized, the more equitable his government will appear, although not unfrequently those proceedings are veiled in mysteries, which the feeble comprehension of finite beings cannot fully penetrate. Thus when Zedekiah sent some of the priests to enquire of Jeremiah, and pray unto Jehovah, his God, for them ; in this trying crisis, when the Chaldeans, who were besieging the city, had set out to intercept the Egyptian forces, who were coming to his relief; Jehovah directed the prophet to declare, Thus saith Jehovah, the God of Israel, thus shall ye say to the king of Judah, that sent you unto me to enquire of me; Behold! Pharaoh's army, which is come forth to help you, shall return to Egypt into their own land. And the Chaldeans shall come again, and fight against this city, and take it, and burn it with fire. Jer. xxxvii. 7,8. Nothing can appear more distinctly a preordained purpose of God, than this transaction; and accordingly Pharaoh and his army retired before the Chaldeans, and left them at liberty to resume the siege of Jerusalem, which they destroyed. Still, for this very desertion of his ancient people, in the time of their greatest need, was the prophet Ezekiel commissioned to pronounce a prophetical judgment upon the whole Egyptian nation, which lias been fulfilling almost from that day to this, and under the pressure of which all Mizraim still groans. Ezek. xxix. 2. 7. xxx. xxxi. xxxii. These judgments were executed both upon king and people, during forty years of war, confusion, and desolation ; and not long after the expiration of that period, they were made a province of the Persian empire, and have been governed by strangers ever since ; for on the failure of the Persian empire, they became subject to the Macedonians, and after them to the Romans; subsequently to the Saracens, then to the Mamalukes, and are at present a province of the Turkish empire, and probably very soon are likely to fall under the dominion of Mehemed Ali, who seems to be only waiting for a convenient opportunity to declare himself independent. Prid. i. 111. “The nation and kingdom that will not serve thee shall perish; yea, those nations shall be utterly wasted." Isaiah, 1x. 12.
siege;* when Zedekiah, whose mind seems all along to have misgiven him, sent for Jeremiah to his palace secretly, and asked him, Is there any word from Jehovah? To which the prophet replied, There is : for, said he, thou shalt be delivered into the band of the king of Babylon.
Moreover, Jeremiah said unto king Zedekiah, what have I offended against thee, or against thy servants, or against this people, that ye have put me in prison? Where are now your prophets, which prophesied unto you, saying, the king of Babylon shall not come against you, nor against this land ? Therefore, hear now, I pray thee, O my lord the king: let my supplication, I pray thee, be accepted before thee; that thou cause me not to return to the house of Jonathan, the scribe, lest I die there.t
Moved by this earnest supplication, Zedekiah commanded that they should commit Jeremiah into the court of the prison, and that they should give him daily a piece of bread, out of the baker's street, until all the bread of the city was spent. I
The siege proceeding, and finding his resources gradually cut off, the disquieted monarch sent Pashur and Zephaniah, and Maaseiah, the priest, unto Jeremiah, to enquire of Jehovah, whether he would deal with bis people according to all his wonderous works, that Nebuchadnezzar might go up from them. To which Jeremiah, by command of Jehovah, replied, Thus saith Jehovah, the God of Israel; behold, I will turn back the weapons of war that are in your hands, wherewith ye fight against the king of Babylon, and against the Chaldeans, which besiege you without the walls, and I will assemble them into the midst of this city. And I myself will fight against you with an out-stretched hand, and with a strong arm, even in anger, and in fury, and in great wrath. And I will smite the inhabitants of this city, both man and beast : they shall die of a great pestilence. And afterwards, Jer. xxxvii.8. Prid. i. 111. + Jer. xxxvii. 17-20.
# Jer. xxxvii. 21. $ Jer. xxi, 1, 2.
saith Jehovah, I will deliver Zedekiah, king of Judah, and his servants, and the people, and such as are left in this city from the pestilence, from the sword, and from the famine, into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, and into the hand of their enemies, and into the hand of those that seek their life: and he shall smite them with the edge of the sword; he shall not spare them, neither have pity, nor have mercy.
And unto this people thou shall say, Thus saith Jehovah; behold, I set before you the way of life, and the way of death. He that abideth in this city shall die by the sword, and by the famine, and by the pestilence: but he that goeth out, and falleth to the Chaldeans that besiege you, he shall live, and his life shall be unto him for a prey. For I have set my face against this city for evil, and not for good, saith Jebovah: it shall be given into the hand of the king of Babylon, and he shall burn it with fire.
And touching the house of the king of Judah, say, hear ye the word of Jehovah; O house of David, Thus saith Jehovah, execute judgment in the morning, and deliver him that is spoiled out of the hand of the oppressor, lest my fury go out like fire, and burn that none can quench it, because of the evil of your doings. Behold, I am against thee, * O inhabitant of the valley, and rock of the plain, saith Jehovah; which say, who shall come down against us ! or who shall enter into our habitation? But I will punish you according to the fruit of your doings, saith Jehovah, and I will kindle a fire in the forest thereof, and it shall devour all things round about it.f
Some of the princes and commanders having heard this fearful denunciation, besought Zedekiah to put the prophet
“Meaning Jerusalem, which was built partly on the hill, and partly in the valley; and was compassed about with mountains.". BARKER.
+ Jer. xxi. 4-14.