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ANNOTATIONS AND REFLECTIONS. On the retreat of the Egyptians, Nebuchadnezzar again renewed the siege of Jerusalem, It was on this occasion that Zedekiah sent for Jeremiah, and consulted him in private. The prophet confirmed his former prediction : and took the opportunity of remonstrating on the hardships that were so unjustly inflicted upon himself, which Zedekiah was prevailed on to mitigate.

SECTION XXXI. INE CONTINUATION OF THE REIGN OF ZEDEKIAN

KING OF JUDAH.

From Jeremiah, Chap. xxxviii. And the city was besieged until the eleventh year of king Zedekialı.

And Shephatiah the son of Mattad, and Gedaliah the son of Pashur, and Jucal the son of Shelemiah, and Pashur the son of Malchiah, heard the words that Jeremiah bad spoken unto all the people, Saying, Thus saiththe LORD, He that remaineth in this city shall die by the sword, by the famine, and by the pestilence, but he that goeth forth to the Chaldeans shall live: for he shall have his life for a prey, and shall live.

Thus saith the LORD, This city shall surely be given into the hand of the king of Babylon's army, which shall take it.

Therefore the princes said unto the king, We beseech thee, let this man be put to death: for thus he weakeneth the hands of the men of war that remain in this city, and the hands of all the people, in speaking such words unto them: for this man seeketh not the welfare of this people, but the hurt. · VOL. IVA

Then

Then Zedekiah the king said, Behold, he is in your hand: for the king is not he that can do any thing against you.

Then took they Jeremiah and cast him into the dungeon of Malchiah the son of Hammelech, that was in the court of the prison: and they let down Jeremiah with cords, and in the dungeon there was no water, but mire: so Jeremiah sunk in the mire.

Now when Ebed-melech the Ethiopian, one of the eunuchs which was in the king's house, heard that they had put Jeremiah in the dungeon; the king then sitting in the gate of Benjamin ;

Ebed-melech went forth out of the king's house, and spake to the king saying, My lord the king, these men have done evil in all that they have done to Jeremiah the prophet, whom they have cast into the dungeon ; and he is like to die for hunger in the place where he is: for there is no more bread in the city.

Then the king commanded Ebed melech the Ethiopian saying, "Take from hence thirty men with thee, and take up Jeremiah the prophet out of the dungeon before he die.

So they drew up Jeremiah with cords, and took him up out of the dungeon, and Jeremiah remained in the court of the prison.

Then Zedekiah the king sent and took Jeremiah the prophet unto him into the third entry that is in the house of the LORD, and the king said unto Jeremiah, I will ask thee a thing: 'hide nothing from me.

Then Jeremiah said unto Zedekiah, If I declare it unto thee, wilt thou not surely put me to death? and if I give thee counsel, wilt thou not hearken unto me?

So Zedekiah the king sware secretly unto Jeremiah, saying, As the LORD liveth, that made us this soul, I

will not put thee to death, neither will I give thee into the hand of these men that seek thy life.

Then said Jeremiah unto Zedekiah, Thus saith the Lord, the God of hosts, the God of Israel; if thou wilt assuredly go forth unto the king of Babylon's princes, then thy soul shall live, and this city shall not be burnt with fire, and thou shalt live, and thine house.

But if thou wilt not go forth to the king of Babylon's princes, then shall this city be given into the hand of the Chaldeans, and they shall burn it with fire, and thou shalt not escape out of their hand.

And Zedekiah the king said unto Jeremiah, I am afraid of the Jews that are fallen to the Chaldeans, lest they deliver me into their hand, and they mock me.

But Jeremiah said, They shall not deliver thee; obey I beseech thee, the voice of the Lord, which I speak unto thee: so it shall be well unto thee, and thy soul shall live.

But if thou refuse to go forth, this is the word that the LORD hath shewed me: And behold, all the women that are left in the king of Judah's house shall be brought forth to the king of Babylon's princés, and these women shall say, Thy friends have set thee on, and have prevailed against thee: thy feet are sunk in the mire, and they are turned away back.

So they shall bring out all thy wives and thy children to the Chaldeans : and thou shalt not escape out of their hand, but shalt be taken by the hand of the king of Babylon : and thou shalt cause this city to be burned with fire.

Then said Zedekiah unto Jeremiah, Let no man know of these words, and thou shalt not die.

But if the princes hear that I have talked with thee, and they come unto thee, and say unto thee, Declare F2

unto

unto us now what thou hast said unto the king, hide it not from us, and we will not put thee to death: also what the king said unto thee:

Then thou shalt say unto them, I presented my supplication before the king, that he would not cause me to return to Jonathan's house, to die there.

Then came all the princes unto Jeremiah, and asked him: and he told them according to all these words that the king had commanded : so they left off speak. ing with him: for the matter was not perceived.

So Jeremiah abode in the court of the prison until the day that Jerusalem was taken: and he was there when Jerusalem was taken.

ANNOTATIONS AND REFLECTIONS. It is astonishing to read of the inveterate hatred which the princes bore to the good prophet Jeremiah.

The king himself was inclined to be merciful to him; but at such a time of general calamity, his power was nothing, as he himself observed.

Providence again raised up a deliverer for Jeremiah; but for the kindness of Ebed-melech, he would have perished.

It appears that Zedekiah, had some confidence in Jeremiah's prediction; but he suffered his fear of the Jews to influence his actions in contradiction to his own sentiments. • While Jeremiah was uttering his predictions, Ezekiel had many revelations to the same effect; a comparison of these affords a strong confirmation of the authenticity of each, as the prophets could carry on no collusion at that time.

SECTION

SECTION XXXII.

THE CALAMITIES OF THE SIEGE.

From-2 Chron. Chap. xxxvi. Lam. Chap. iii.

AND Zedekiah stiffened his neck, and hardened his heart from turning unto the LORD God of Israel.

Moreover all the chiefs of the priests, and the people transgressed very much, after all the abominations of the heathen, and polluted the house of the LORD: which he had hallowed in Jerusalem.

And the LORD God of their fathers sent to them by his messengers, rising up betimes and sending; because he had compassion on his people, and on his dwellingplace: but they mocked the messengers of Gon, and despised his words, and misused his prophets, until the wrath of the Lord arose against his people, till there was no remedy.

And at length the famine prevailed in the city; and there was no bread for the people to eat. The elders of Zion sat upon the ground, and kept silence; they cast dust upon their heads; they girded themselves with - sackcloth. The virgins of Jerusalem hung down their heads to the ground.

The children and the sucklings swooned in the streets of the city; they asked for bread, and no one breaked it unto them. They said to their mothers, Where is corn and wine? They swooned at the wounded in the city; the tongue of the sucking child cleaved to the roof of his mouth for thirst; their soul was poured out into their mother's bosom!

The young and the old lay on the ground in the streets: they that did feed delicately were desolate in

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