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 F18, 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 F19 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.
F18 Pirke Eliezer, c. 53. Shalshelet Hakabala, fol. 13. 1.
F19 Antiqu. l. 10. c. 7. sect. 5.