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Jeremiah 39:15-18

Context
Ebed Melech Is Promised Deliverance because of His Faith

39:15 1 Now the Lord had spoken to Jeremiah while he was still confined in the courtyard of the guardhouse, 2  39:16 “Go 3  and tell Ebed-Melech the Ethiopian, ‘The Lord God of Israel who rules over all says, “I will carry out against this city what I promised. It will mean disaster and not good fortune for it. 4  When that disaster happens, you will be there to see it. 5  39:17 But I will rescue you when it happens. 6  I, the Lord, affirm it! 7  You will not be handed over to those whom you fear. 8  39:18 I will certainly save you. You will not fall victim to violence. 9  You will escape with your life 10  because you trust in me. I, the Lord, affirm it!”’” 11 

1 sn Jer 39:15-18. This incident is out of chronological order (see Jer 38:7-13). It is placed here either due to a desire not to interrupt the sequential ordering of events centering on Jeremiah’s imprisonment and his release (38:1439:14) or to contrast God’s care and concern for the faithful (Ebed-Melech who, though a foreigner, trusted in God) with his harsh treatment of the faithless (Zedekiah who, though informed of God’s will, was too weak-willed in the face of opposition by his courtiers to carry it out).

2 tn Heb “Now the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah while he…saying.” The form of this clause is disjunctive showing that it does not follow the preceding events in either chronological or logical sequence. For a discussion of the form and function of such disjunctive clauses see IBHS 650-52 §39.2.3. This example most closely fits the description and function of example 12, Ruth 4:18, 21-22 on p. 652.

3 sn Even though Jeremiah was confined to the courtyard of the guardhouse, he was still free to entertain visitors (32:2, 8). Moreover, Ebed-Melech was an official attached to the royal court and would have had access to the courtyard of the guardhouse (38:7, 13). Jeremiah would not have had to leave the courtyard of the guardhouse to “go and tell” him something.

4 tn Heb “Behold, I will bring to pass my words against this city for evil/disaster and not for good/good fortune.” For the form of the verb מֵבִי ([mevi] Kethib, מֵבִיא [mevi’] Qere) see GKC 206-7 §74.k, where the same form is noted for the Kethib in 2 Sam 5:2; 1 Kgs 21:21; Jer 19:15 all of which occur before a word beginning with א. For the nuance “carry out” (or “bring to pass”) see BDB 99 s.v. בּוֹא Hiph.2.b.

5 tn Heb “And they [= my words for disaster] will come to pass [= happen] before you on that day [i.e., the day that I bring them to pass/carry them out].”

6 tn Heb “But I will rescue you on that day” (referring to the same day mentioned in the preceding verse).

7 tn Heb “Oracle of the Lord.”

8 sn Some commentators see this as a reference to the princes from whose clutches Ebed-Melech delivered Jeremiah (38:7-13). However, it is clear that in this context it refers to those that he would fear when the Lord brings about the threatened disaster, i.e., the Babylonians who are attacking the city.

9 sn Heb “you will not fall by the sword.” In the context this would include death in battle and execution as a prisoner of war.

10 tn Heb “your life will be to you for spoil.” For the meaning of this idiom see the study note on 21:9 and compare the usage in 21:9; 38:2; 45:4.

11 tn Heb “Oracle of the Lord.”



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