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Jeremiah 37:11-15

Context
Jeremiah is Charged with Deserting, Arrested, and Imprisoned

37:11 The following events also occurred 1  while the Babylonian forces 2  had temporarily withdrawn from Jerusalem 3  because the army of Pharaoh was coming. 37:12 Jeremiah started to leave Jerusalem to go to the territory of Benjamin. He wanted to make sure he got his share of the property that was being divided up among his family there. 4  37:13 But he only got as far as the Benjamin Gate. 5  There an officer in charge of the guards named Irijah, 6  who was the son of Shelemiah and the grandson of Hananiah, stopped him. He seized Jeremiah and said, 7  “You are deserting to the Babylonians!” 8  37:14 Jeremiah answered, “That’s a lie! I am not deserting to the Babylonians.” 9  But Irijah would not listen to him. Irijah put Jeremiah under arrest and took him to the officials. 37:15 The officials were very angry 10  at Jeremiah. They had him flogged and put in prison in the house of Jonathan, the royal secretary, which they had converted into a place for confining prisoners. 11 

1 tn The words “The following events also occurred” are not in the text. They are a way to introduce the incidents recorded in 37:11-21 without creating a long complex sentence in English like the Hebrew does. The Hebrew of vv. 11-12a reads “And it was/happened while the army of the Chaldeans had taken themselves up from against Jerusalem, Jeremiah set out from Jerusalem to go to the land of Benjamin to take part…” For the rendering “temporarily withdrawn from Jerusalem” see the translator’s note on v. 5. The words “was coming” are not in the text either but are implicit and have been supplied in the translation for clarity and smoothness of English expression.

2 tn Heb “the Chaldeans.” See the study note on 21:4 for the rendering “Babylonian.” The word “forces” is supplied in the translation here for the sake of clarity.

3 map For location see Map5 B1; Map6 F3; Map7 E2; Map8 F2; Map10 B3; JP1 F4; JP2 F4; JP3 F4; JP4 F4.

4 tn The meaning of this last sentence is somewhat uncertain. The Hebrew expression here occurs nowhere else in the Hebrew Bible and its meaning is debated. The verb is pointed as a shortened form of the Hiphil infinitive construct of חָלַק (khalaq; see GKC 148 §53.q for explanation of the phenomenon and other examples). There are, however, no other examples of the use of this verb in the Hiphil. BDB 324 s.v. חָלַק Hiph defines it as “receive a portion” and explains it as a denominative from חֵלֶק (kheleq, “portion”) but says that the form is dubious. KBL s.v. חָלַק Hif defines it as “take part in dividing” but that does not fit the prepositional phrase that follows (מִשָּׁם, misham, “from there”) as well as “to receive a portion.” The Greek version did not understand this of dividing property but of conducting business. Later revisions of the Greek and the Latin version, however, did understand it of “taking a share.” The translation of BDB has been expanded to better reflect the probable situation. For the meaning of “his family” for the noun עַם (’am) compare the usage in Job 18:19. For a fuller discussion of the probable situation see J. A. Thompson, Jeremiah (NICOT), 633-34.

sn Though some commentators disagree, this transaction should not be viewed as subsequent to the transaction recorded in Jer 32 and seen as an attempt to take possession of a field that he had already bought. That transaction took place sometime later after he had been confined to the courtyard of the guardhouse (compare 32:2 with 37:21) and involved his buying a near relative’s field. The word used here refers to “getting one’s own share” (compare 1 Sam 30:24; Josh 15:13, and see also Mic 2:4) not taking possession of someone else’s. “There” refers to the territory of Benjamin just mentioned but more specifically to Jeremiah’s hometown, Anathoth (cf. 1:1).

5 sn The Benjamin Gate would have been a gate in the northern wall leading out toward the territory of Benjamin. It is mentioned only here and in Jer 38:7 and Zech 14:10.

6 sn Nothing further is known about Irijah. It is generally agreed that the Hananiah mentioned here is not the same as the false prophet of the same name whom Jeremiah confronted approximately six years earlier (28:1, 5, 10, 15).

7 tn Heb “And he was in the gate of Benjamin and there was an officer of the guard whose name [more literally, and his name] was Irijah…and he seized the prophet Jeremiah, saying.” The sentence has been broken down and simplified to better conform with contemporary English style.

8 tn Heb “the Chaldeans.” See the study note on 21:4 for explanation.

sn Irijah’s charge was based on the suspicion that Jeremiah was following his own counsel to the people to surrender to the Babylonians if they wanted to save their lives (Jer 21:9).

9 tn Heb “the Chaldeans.” See the study note on 21:4 for explanation.

10 sn The officials mentioned here are not the same as those mentioned in Jer 36:12, most of whom were favorably disposed toward Jeremiah, or at least regarded what he said with enough trepidation to try to protect Jeremiah and preserve the scroll containing his messages (36:16, 19, 24). All those officials had been taken into exile with Jeconiah in 597 b.c. (2 Kgs 24:14).

11 tn Heb “for they had made it into the house of confinement.” The causal particle does not fit the English sentence very well and “house of confinement” needs some explanation. Some translate this word “prison” but that creates redundancy with the earlier word translated “prison” (בֵּית הָאֵסוּר, bet haesur, “house of the band/binding”] which is more closely related to the concept of prison [cf. אָסִיר, ’asir, “prisoner”]). It is clear from the next verse that Jeremiah was confined in a cell in the dungeon of this place.



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