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Jeremiah, Chapter 37
Introduction to Jeremiah Chapter 37.
This section of the Book places the emphasis on historical events. Jeremiah is crushed and broken by the message which he has had to give to the people and now by its fulfillment as the city that he loves is destroyed and the nation he loves goes into captivity. Jeremiah has been faithful in revealing God and being His faithful witness. Over thirty years of ministry have gone by for Jeremiah. He started as a young man of about twenty, a young priest who was called to be a prophet of Almighty God. Now he is in prison, and the army of Babylon’s king is outside the walls of Jerusalem. They have been there for a long siege of about eighteen months. Jeremiah gives some of this history in Chapter 52, and more is recorded in 2 Kings and in 2 Chronicles.
This is the third and final time that Nebuchadnezzar has come against Jerusalem. The other two times he had taken a number of the people captive and had placed Zedekiah on the throne as his bondsman. Zedekiah wanted out from under the king of Babylon, so he made a offer to Pharaoh of Egypt. Pharaoh came to try to relieve Zedekiah, but what he really planned to do was to put Judah under the rule of Egypt. When Pharaoh came up to Jerusalem, the commanders of Nebuchadnezzar turned aside, and instead of besieging the city, they withdrew. At this point it looked as if the prophecies of Jeremiah might be all wrong. So God gave Jeremiah this very strong word found in this Chapter to encourage the prophet.
This Chapter and the next, record events in the life of Jeremiah during the final days of the siege of Jerusalem in the closing period of the reign of Zedekiah (589 B.C.), which resulted in the destruction of Jerusalem and the deportation of many of its inhabitants to Babylon.
From this Chapter to Jeremiah 44, we have little else except the events relating to the personal history of Jeremiah.
During this final siege of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar, Zedekiah had clearly requested help from Pharaoh-Hophra who had come to the throne of Egypt that very year. He made a move as if to help Zedekiah against the Babylonians, with the result that, but for a short time only, Nebuchadnezzar lifted the siege and devoted his full attention to the forces of Pharaoh-Hophra. Some say that the Egyptian force was defeated by Nebuchadnezzar, and others suppose that Pharaoh-Hophra withdrew without a battle. No matter which, the result was an absolute disaster for Zedekiah and Jerusalem.
It was during that short interval, while the siege had been lifted, that the events of this Chapter took place. Jeremiah 34 gives an account of the Jewish reaction to this temporary interval from the siege. The Jews thought the war was over; and so they re-enslaved the servants whom they had just given their freedom! Bad move!
Nothing worthy of revelation appears to have happened to Jeremiah until the latter period of the reign of Zedekiah. The first two verses of this chapter form the transition. The embassy to Jeremiah mentioned in verse 3 took place after the temporary withdrawal of the Chaldeans from Jerusalem.
This Chapter brings us very close the destruction of Jerusalem by the Chaldeans, for the story of it lies in the latter part of Zedekiah's reign. We have, (1). an over-all idea of the wicked king of that time (vs. 1-2). (2). the message which Zedekiah, sent to Jeremiah to desiring his prayers (vs. 3). (3). the assurance God gave them by Jeremiah (who was now at liberty, (vs. 4). (4). the hopes the people had, that the Chaldeans would quit the siege of Jerusalem (vs. 5). (5). the Chaldean army would renew the siege and take the city (vs. 6-10). (6). the imprisonment of Jeremiah, under pretense that he was a deserter (vs. 11-15). (7). the kindness which Zedekiah showed him when he was a prisoner (vs. 16-21).
Theme: Jeremiah imprisoned but then released; Judah begins captivity.
A General Idea of the Wicked
King of that Time (Jer. 37:1-2)
Jer. 37:1 And king Zedekiah the son of Josiah reigned instead of Coniah the son of Jehoiakim, whom Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon made king in the land of Judah. (KJV)
And King Zedekiah the son of Josiah reigned . . . Zedekiah was the brother of Jehoiakim, whose untimely death, and lack of burial, are prophesied of in Chapter 36. The name of Zedekiah was Mattaniah before he was king; his name was changed by the king of Babylon, who made him king (2 Ki. 24:17).
Instead of Coniah the son of Jehoiakim . . . the same as Jehoiakim, or Jeconiah, called Coniah by way of contempt; he reigned just three months, and so was not considered as a king, not being confirmed by the king of Babylon, but was carried captive by him, and his uncle placed in his stead.
Whom Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon made king in the land of Judah . . . to whom he became tributary, and swore homage and loyalty (2 Chr.36:13).
Jer. 37:2 But neither he, nor his servants, nor the people of the land, did hearken unto the words of the LORD, which he spake by the prophet Jeremiah. (KJV)
But neither he, nor his servants, nor the people of the land . . . the king, his courtiers and subjects the royal family, nobility and common people; they ALL were wicked and corrupt.
Did hearken unto the words of the LORD, which he spake by the prophet Jeremiah . . . neither he, nor his servants, nor the people of the land, paid attention to the words of the LORD, which He spoke by the prophet Jeremiah. Absolute stupidity, that they were not rebuked by the punishment of Jeconiah! (2 Ki.24:10-12, 17).
The Message Zedekiah, sent to Jeremiah
Desiring his prayers (Jer.37:3)
Jer. 37:3 And Zedekiah the king sent Jehucal the son of Shelemiah and Zephaniah the son of Maaseiah the priest to the prophet Jeremiah, saying, Pray now unto the LORD our God for us. (KJV)
And Zedekiah the king sent Jehucal the son of Shelemiah, and Zephaniah the son of Maaseiah the priest . . . that is, Zephaniah the priest, though his father Maaseiah was no doubt a priest too. According to one version, both Jehucal, called Jucal (Jer.38:1); and Zephaniah, were priests; these the king sent as messengers.
To the Prophet Jeremiah, saying, pray now unto the Lord our God for us . . . this message was sent either upon the rumor of the Chaldeans coming against Jerusalem, as some think; or rather when it had departed from the city, and was gone to meet the army of the king of Egypt; so that this petition to the prophet was to pray that the king of Egypt would get the victory over the Chaldean army, and that that might not return to them. So it is, that wicked men always want the prayers of good men in times of trouble, when their words, their cautions, their warnings, their appeals and prayers too, are hated and scorned by them at all other times.
The Assurance God Gave Them by JeremiahWho Was Now at Liberty (Jer. 37:4)
Jer. 37:4 Now Jeremiah came in and went out among the people: for they had not put him into prison. (KJV)
Now Jeremiah came in and went out among the people . . . it seems that he was at full liberty, and could go in and out of the city, when he pleased; or go to any part of it, and speak with the people, and prophesy to them; which he could not do in the latter part of Jehoiakim's reign, who sent persons after him and Baruch to take them, and they were forced to hide, yea! It was the LORD Himself Who hid them (Jer.36:19); but now he was under no restraint, as least, not yet.
For they had not put him into prison . . . not yet; but they did afterwards (verse 15).
Hopes the People Had, that the Chaldeans Would Quit the Siege of Jerusalem (Jer. 37:5)
Jer. 37:5 Then Pharaoh's army was come forth out of Egypt: and when the Chaldeans that besieged Jerusalem heard tidings of them, they departed from Jerusalem. (KJV)
Then Pharaoh's army was come forth out of Egypt . . . at the time the above message was sent to Jeremiah. Zedekiah, although he had taken an oath of honor to the king of Babylon, rebelled against him, and entered into a league with the king of Egypt, to whom he sent for help in his distress; and who, according to agreement, sent his army out of Egypt to break up the siege of Jerusalem; for even though the king of Egypt did not leave Egypt, after his defeat at Carchemish by Nebuchadnezzar, in the fourth year of Jehoiakim (Jer.46:2); yet he sent his army to the relief of Jerusalem.
And when the Chaldeans that besieged Jerusalem . . . it was in the ninth year of Zedekiah's reign when they first besieged it, and is the time here referred to (Jer.39:1).
Heard tidings of them . . . heard news of the Egyptian army, and its coming against them. The rumor which possibly was spread by the Jews themselves, to scare them; or which might come to them by spies they had in all parts to give them intelligence of what was going on; and what they had was good and certain, and on which they acted.
They departed from Jerusalem . . . not through fear, but to meet the Egyptian army, and fight, before they could be joined by any considerable force of the Jews. It was at this time the covenant was broken about the release of servants (Jer.34:10); which conduct did NOT agree with their desire of the prophet's prayer.
The Chaldean Army Would Renew the
Siege and Take the City (37:6-10)
Jer. 37:6 Then came the word of the LORD unto the prophet Jeremiah, saying, (KJV)
Then came the word of the LORD unto the Prophet Jeremiah . . . at the time when the messengers came to him from the king to pray for them.
Saying . . . as follows: which is an answer to the messengers.
Jer. 37:7 Thus saith the LORD, 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. (KJV)
Thus saith the LORD, the God of Israel . . . these are usual titles and characters the LORD takes to Himself, when He spoke by the prophet (verse 2).
Thus shall ye say to the king of Judah, that sent you unto me, to inquire of me . . . in an prophetic way; for by this it seems that they were not only sent to ask the prophet to pray for them, but also to get a prophecy from the LORD, confirming that the Chaldean army which was gone would not return any more. This they were willing to believe, but wanted to have it confirmed from the LORD, or to ask instruction or doctrine from Jeremiah. These messengers are told to go back and tell the king, his nobles, and all the people of the land, what follows:
Behold, Pharaoh's army, which is come forth to help you, shall return to Egypt, into their own land . . . because they were afraid to face the Chaldean army; or were afraid of being defeated and driven back by it. Josephus says there was a battle fought between the Egyptians and Chaldeans, in which the Chaldeans were conquerors, making the Egyptians flee, and drove them out of all Syria.
Jer. 37:8 And the Chaldeans shall come again, and fight against this city, and take it, and burn it with fire. (KJV)
And the Chaldeans shall come again . . . to Jerusalem, after they have defeated or driven back the Egyptian army.
And fight against this city . . . with fresh rigor and determination; being furious by the methods taken to force them to raise the siege.
And take it, and burn it with fire . . . as they did (Jer.39:8).
Jer. 37:9 Thus saith the LORD; Deceive not yourselves, saying, The Chaldeans shall surely depart from us: for they shall not depart. (KJV)
Thus saith the LORD, deceive not yourselves . . . do not deceive your souls with a false opinion, a vain belief of the departure of the Chaldeans never to return. Self or soul deception is a terrible thing; for so sad is the disappointment when men are excited with a false and vain hope.
Saying, the Chaldeans shall surely depart from us . . . since they had departed from Jerusalem; they were convinced they would depart out of the land of Judea, and go back to their own land of Babylon, from where they came, and never return again.
For they shall not depart . . . they shall NOT leave the land of Judea, into their own land, until they had done the complete work they were sent by the LORD to do.
Jer. 37:10 For though ye had smitten the whole army of the Chaldeans that fight against you, and there remained but wounded men among them, yet should they rise up every man in his tent, and burn this city with fire. (KJV)
For though ye had smitten the whole army of the Chaldeans that fight against you . . . thinking the whole army of the Chaldeans had been defeated and slain by the Egyptians, the confederates of the Jews; or would be slain by them in a second siege of them, except a few mentioned next.
And there remained but wounded men among them . . . and supposing that those that were left, that were not slain, was every one of them wounded, and so disabled for fighting, as might be thought . . . but the LORD’S decision to destroy Judah was such that even if the Egyptians should defeat the Babylonians, only a few surviving, wounded Babylonian soldiers would be sufficient to demolish Jerusalem. But the fact is, the Egyptians were absolutely NO match for the Babylonians. According to Josephus, the Egyptian force was soundly defeated.
Yet should they rise up every man in his tent . . . where he was smitten, and lay wounded; or where he was carried to be cured of his wounds; these would rise up like persons from the dead almost, and fight with such strength and spirit, that they would soon take the city,
And burn this city with fire . . . this being what was determined by the LORD, that nothing would hinder it; for it matters not what the instruments are; though ever so weak and disabled, they would do the work chosen for them. So, all the hopes of the Jews, founded upon the departure of the Chaldean army, were totally vain and useless ones.
*****Jer. 37:7-10. The destruction of Jerusalem was firmly decided by the LORD God. Even though it looked as if Babylon's armies had been scared away, they would be back.
There are five recorded imprisonments of the prophet. Jeremiah’s imprisonment that is described in this chapter was because Jeremiah had said to the king that he was not to make an alliance with Pharaoh but was to surrender to Babylon.
Imprisonment of Jeremiah, Under Pretense That He Was a Deserter (Jer.37:11-15)
Jer. 37:11 And it came to pass, that when the army of the Chaldeans was broken up from Jerusalem for fear of Pharaoh's army, (KJV)
And it came to pass, that when the army of the Chaldeans were broken up from Jerusalem . . . when the siege of Jerusalem was broken up and withdrawn or were gone from it;
For fear of Pharaoh's army . . . or because of Pharaoh's army. They did not they leave Jerusalem for fear of his army, but to meet it, and fight, as they did; but because of this, there was a freer way out and retreat from and to the city.
Jer. 37:12 Then Jeremiah went forth out of Jerusalem to go into the land of Benjamin, to separate himself thence in the midst of the people. (KJV)
Then Jeremiah went forth out of Jerusalem . . . at least he tried to do so, taking the chance of the siege of the city being broken up. What his reasons were are not certain; whether he might not be put into prison, which he might fear for what he had just prophesied of concerning the return of the Chaldean army, that would take the city, and burn it; or to save himself from the destruction which he knew would come upon it; or because he found he could do no good by his preaching and prophesying there. His thought was most likely,
To go into the land of Benjamin . . . his native country, the tribe he belonged to; and very likely to Anathoth in that tribe, where he was born, and had lived. Josephus says it was about twenty furlongs from Jerusalem.
To separate himself thence in the midst of the people . . . or, to slip away from there in the midst of the people. The siege being raised, the people that had fled to Jerusalem for safety, now left again to go into their own countries, which the prophet thought to take the advantage of, and slip away in a crowd unobserved.
Jer. 37:13 And when he was in the gate of Benjamin, a captain of the ward was there, whose name was Irijah, the son of Shelemiah, the son of Hananiah; and he took Jeremiah the prophet, saying, Thou fallest away to the Chaldeans. (KJV)
And when he was in the gate of Benjamin . . . one of the gates of the city so called, either because it stood in the tribe of Benjamin, as part of Jerusalem did; or because it led to the land of Benjamin, where the prophet was going: and just as he got to that gate, and was going through it, he was stopped by,
A captain of the ward there . . . who was placed at this gate, that none should go out to the Chaldeans, but rather he was the keeper of the gate, not at this time only, but always; Josephus calls him one of the rulers.
Whose name was Irijah, the son of Shelemiah, the son of Hananiah . . . the grandson as some think, of that Hananiah the false prophet, of whose death Jeremiah the prophet prophesied (Jer.28:16); and the Jews have a tradition that Hananiah ordered his son Shelemiah, that if he ever had an opportunity to bring Jeremiah to ruin, to do it; and the same charge Shelemiah gave to his son Irijah, who, having this opportunity, laid hold on him; several make mention of it.
And he took Jeremiah the prophet, saying, thou fallest away to the Chaldeans . . . it looks as if, though he might not have a family grudge against him, as the Jews suggest, yet they had a hatred of him for his prophecies, and so fixes this slander on him; or else, why did he allow the people to pass in great numbers without any such charge? For Gates of Jerusalem, see Special Comments at the end of this Chapter.
Jer. 37:14 Then said Jeremiah, It is false; I fall not away to the Chaldeans. But he hearkened not to him: so Irijah took Jeremiah, and brought him to the princes. (KJV)
Then said Jeremiah, it is false . . . or a lie; as no doubt it was;
I fall not away to the Chaldeans . . . for the Chaldean army was gone from the city; nor did Jeremiah want to be with such an idolatrous people; for after the city was taken, when Nebuzaradan the captain of the guard gave him his choice, either to go with him to Babylon, where he promised to take care of him; or to go to Gedaliah (Jer.40:6-7) who was made governor of Judah; he chose rather to be with him, and his poor company.
But he hearkened not to him . . . would not hear his defense, or would not give any credit to it, being unwilling to let slip this opportunity of doing him ill will.
So Irijah took Jeremiah, and brought him to the princes . . . the princes of Zedekiah's court, or the princes of the people, the civil magistrates; or it may be the great Sanhedrim, who he knew had no good feelings towards the prophet.
Jer. 37:15 Wherefore the princes were wroth with Jeremiah, and smote him, and put him in prison in the house of Jonathan the scribe: for they had made that the prison. (KJV)
Wherefore the princes were wroth with Jeremiah . . . for trying to leave the city, and go to the Chaldeans, as Irijah had told them, and to whom they listened; and possibly would not hear what Jeremiah had to say for himself; and if they did, it had no weight with them.
And smote him . . . with their fists, with rods or a whip; maybe he even underwent the punishment of forty stripes save one (Deu.25:3; 2 Cor.11:24) according to the law; and they may say they smote him, because they were ordered to do it.
And put him in prison, in the house of Jonathan the scribe . . . or secretary of state; such a one as Elishama was in Jehoiakim's time, who had a house or apartment at court as he had, who was now dead or removed (Jer.36:12;
For they had made that the prison . . . which had not used to be; but by the courtiers, and with the consent of this scribe, secretary, or chancellor, it was made a prison; not for common malefactors, but for state prisoners; and a very bad prison it seems it was. Most likely this scribe was a very cruel and evil man, who treated very badly those that were his prisoners. IF he had not been of such a wicked man, he would never have allowed his house to have been made a prison.
*****Jer. 37:14-15. Poor Jeremiah was not only put in prison, but he was put in the dungeon, for how long, we are not told. The next verse says only that it was for many days. This was a time of great suffering for Jeremiah, but the LORD had not forgotten His faithful servant. The LORD stirred the king to call for him.
The Kindness which Zedekiah showed Him When he was a prisoner (Jer.37:16-21).
Jer. 37:16 When Jeremiah was entered into the dungeon, and into the cabins, and Jeremiah had remained there many days; (KJV)
When Jeremiah was entered into the dungeon . . . or, into the pit of the house; a dungeon, it was like a pit, dark, dirty or dismal.
And into the cabins . . . not cabins but cells; into a place more inward than the cells, as the Targum; into the innermost and worst part in all the prison, where a man could not comfortably lie, sit nor stand.
And Jeremiah had remained there many days . . . we are not told how many days, but it was in this extremely horrifying condition; very probably until the Chaldean army returned to Jerusalem, as he foretold it would.
Jer. 37:17 Then Zedekiah the king sent, and took him out: and the king asked him secretly in his house, and said, Is there any word from the LORD? And Jeremiah said, There is: for, said he, thou shalt be delivered into the hand of the king of Babylon. (KJV)
Then Zedekiah the king sent and took him out . . . after Jeremiah had been in prison for some time; and the Chaldean army returned, and renewed their siege. The king is afraid; and knowing Jeremiah was in prison, he sends a messenger to take the prophet out of there and bring him to him; which was so done.
And the king asked him secretly in his house . . . he took him into a private apartment, and there talked with him alone, for fear of his princes and courtiers; who he knew bore no good will to the prophet, and would be ready to charge him with fearfulness.
And said . . . unto Jeremiah,
Is there any word from the LORD? . . . . he means any particular word of prophecy, any late one, and that concerned their present circumstances, showing what would be the subject of the return of the Chaldean army; for prophecy did not come according to the will of man, but always according to the will of God, and when he thought fit; this the king knew very well. He wanted some good news of the failure of the present attempt.
And Jeremiah said, there is . . . there is word from the LORD, but not what you wanted; it is the same as before, and confirmed all that the prophet had from time to time told him and his predecessor what would certainly be the case.
For, said he, thou shall be delivered into the hand of the king of Babylon . . . which was boldly and faithfully said, to be said to the face of the king himself, risking his life in so doing; or exposing himself to a more severe treatment, if that could be possible.
Jer. 37:18 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? (KJV)
Moreover, Jeremiah said unto King Zedekiah . . . having this chance with him alone, and maybe seeing the king was softened with what he had said; yet finding liberty in his own mind, he increases his speech, and freely disagrees with him in the following manner:
What have I offended against thee, or against thy servants, or against this people, that ye have put me in prison? . . . what or how have I sinned? Have I been guilty of treason against you, O king? Or of scandal and slander to any of your nobles and courtiers? Have I done any injury to any of the king's subjects? Has there been any lies in my prophecies? Has not everything come true that I have spoken, concerning the coming of the Chaldeans to invade the land, and besiege the city? And concerning the return of the Chaldean army when broken up? Why then should I be cast into prison, and detained there? Is it not clear that what I have said comes from the LORD?
Jer. 37:19 Where are now your prophets which prophesied unto you, saying, The king of Babylon shall not come against you, nor against this land? (KJV)
Where are now your prophets that prophesied unto you . . . what is become of the prophecies of your false prophets? Where is the truth of them, where are they? Can they appear and defend themselves from lying, and being false prophets?
Saying, the king of Babylon shall not come against you, nor against this land? . . . these false prophets said that the king of Babylon would never invade the land of Judea, or besiege the city of Jerusalem, which had proved false; and still they had the boldness to say, that when the siege was raised, he would never come again . . . but he has returned and was now besieging it; so that there were outright lies delivered by them.
Jer. 37:20 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. (KJV)
Therefore hear now, one pray thee, O my lord the king . . . when the prophet spoke in the Name of the LORD, and the Words of the LORD, it was with great boldness and majesty; but when he spoke for himself, and on his own behalf, it was with great obedience, as he became a subject to his earthly king; and whom he owns as his sovereign lord, even though he was a wicked prince, and whose destruction he knew was at hand:
Let my supplication be accepted before thee . . . let my appeal fall before thee; which was as follows:
That thou cause me not to return to the house of Jonathan the scribe . . . but that he might be discharged from his confinement; or be moved to another prison, not so painful and disagreeable as this man's house (prison) was; and which was made worse because of his cruel and ill-natured presence to him; and which endangered his life: wherefore he adds,
Lest I die there . . . for although he had continued there many days, yet the place was so very repulsive, that he thought he would not be able to continue there, if he were sent back to it.
Jer. 37:21 Then Zedekiah the king 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 bakers' street, until all the bread in the city were spent. Thus Jeremiah remained in the court of the prison. (KJV)
Then Zedekiah the king commanded that they should commit Jeremiah into the court of the prison . . . he did not think it suitable to discharge him entirely, lest it would give offence to the princes, who had committed him; but he ordered him to be put in a court belonging to the prison, where he might breathe in a freer air, and have liberty of walking about, and where his friends might come and see him.
And that they should give him daily a piece of bread out of the bakers' street. . . it seems there was a street in Jerusalem so called, where the bakers lived; and maybe they were the king's bakers; who had orders to deliver to the prophet every day a piece or loaf of bread, as much as was sufficient for a man; or, as much as the scarcity of provisions in a siege would allow.
Until all the bread in the city was spent . . . meaning as long as there was any bread left. These were the king's orders.
Thus Jeremiah remained in the court of the prison . . . until the city was taken; unless a small time that he was in the dungeon of Malchiah (Jer.38:6), out of which he was taken again, and restored to the court of the prison, and there continued.
Gates of the City of Jerusalem:
Corner Gate: Location uncertain, although apparently on the northwest corner of the wall. It was destroyed by King Jehoash of Israel (2 Ki.14:13; 2 Chr.25:23) and later rebuilt by King Uzziah (2 Chr.26:9). Jeremiah 31:38 says the Corner Gate will be rebuilt, and Zechariah 14:10 mentions it during a prophecy about the Day of the LORD.
Ephraim Gate: On the north wall, toward Ephraim. Second Kings 14:13 and 2 Chronicles 25:23 say it was near the Corner Gate. The Ephraim Gate isn’t mentioned in Nehemiah’s tour of the walls in Nehemiah 3, but it is mentioned during the Feast of Booths (Neh. 8:16) and the dedication of the wall (Neh.12:39). The latter passage puts it in series with the Old Gate, the Fish Gate, and the Sheep Gate.
Foundation Gate: This gate is mentioned during the coronation of King Joash (2 Chr. 23:5) The parallel passage of 2 Kings 11:6 calls it the Sur Gate. Jeremiah called it the Middle Gate and said it was where the Babylonian officials came and waited for King Zedekiah to declare defeat (Jer.39:3). The Foundation Gate is apparently an interior gate in or leading to the king’s residence. It’s unclear if it is the same as the Horse Gate in 2 Kings 11:16.
Benjamin Gate: Probably the same location as the later Muster Gate or possibly the Sheep Gate. Jeremiah was put into stocks at the Benjamin Gate after Pashhur the priest beat him (Jer.20:2).
New Gate: Jeremiah was put before an inquiry at the entrance of the New Gate of the LORD’s house, which was apparently in the courtyard of the Temple (Jer.26:10; 36:10).
While Nehemiah served King Artaxerxes in Babylon, he heard of the ruined state of Jerusalem. He was given authorization and supplies to go there and restore the walls and the gates. When Nehemiah arrived, he made a detailed inspection of the walls and gates (Neh.2:11–16) and organized the people to start the rebuilding effort (Neh.2:17–3:32). When the wall was rebuilt, it probably encompassed the same area as before, except it may have excluded the king’s gardens in the southeast. Starting from the east corner of the north wall, Nehemiah went counterclockwise.
Sheep Gate (Benjamin Gate?): North central, just north of the Temple Mount. Near where the sheep market was for the Temple sacrifices. The priests rebuilt and dedicated it (Neh.3:1). Possibly the entrance from the road to Jericho. It may be the same Sheep Gate of John 5:2 near the Pool of Bethesda, but that identification is unclear.
Fish Gate (Ephraim Gate): Northwest, just northwest of the Temple. The main entrance for fish mongers from the Mediterranean Sea and the Sea of Galilee. The Fish Gate was one of Jerusalem’s main entrances. King Manasseh had built it after God sent the Assyrians to capture him and teach him humility (2 Chr.33:14). Nehemiah had the sons of Hassenaah rebuild it (Neh.3:3). Zephaniah prophesied that a cry will come from the Fish Gate on the Day of the LORD (Zep.1:10).
Old Gate (Gate of Yeshanah/Jeshanah, which means of the old or possibly the gate of the new quarter: The location of this gate is uncertain. Nehemiah 3:6 suggests it is near the northwest corner of the wall, west of the Fish Gate.
Valley Gate: West central, south of the present wall of Old City. The gate that Nehemiah used when he did his inspection of the walls (Neh.2:13, 15).
Dung Gate (Potsherd Gate?): Very southern tip, facing southwest. There was a walled section around the Pool of Shelah (or Siloam, John 9:6–7), then the Dung Gate (Neh. 3:13–14) exited out to a garbage dump in the Hinnom Valley where, in the days of King Manasseh, child sacrifices took place (2 Chr.33:6). One of two great choirs went to the Dung Gate during the dedication of the wall (Neh.12:31).
Fountain Gate: Southern tip, facing east. The east gate that led out from the Pool of Shelah to the king’s gardens and the stairs that went down the eastern slope (Neh.3:15; 12:37).
Water Gate: Facing east, south of the current Old City walls (Neh.3:26). It is near the start of the tunneled waterway that was fed by a spring, possibly Enrogel (Jos.15:7; 18:16) or Gihon (2 Chr.32:30; 33:14). The eastern wall on the south end apparently was abandoned and a new wall built farther west, turning the southern section into more of a tail. The new wall excluded the tomb of David and most of the water tunnel that fed the Pool of Shelah by the Dung Gate. But the narrow confines included the upper house of the king, the home of the high priest, and the ascent to the armory. After the wall was built, Ezra read the people the Law from a square by the Water Gate (Neh.8:1).
Horse Gate: East side, just east of the royal palace and southeast of the Temple Mount. It was near where the priests had their homes (Neh.3:28). Not the same horse gate of 2 Kings 11:16 and 2 Chronicles 23:15; that gate was between the palace and the Temple and was the site where Queen Athaliah was killed (2 Ki.11:20).
East Gate (Golden Gate or Temple Gate): Just north of the Horse Gate, it led to the Temple. Around 600 BC, Ezekiel prophesied that a gate facing east would be sealed (Eze.44:1–3), but this is not the same East Gate mentioned by Nehemiah.
Muster Gate (Inspection Gate; Benjamin Gate?): Between the East Gate and the northeast corner of the wall. Possibly the same as the Benjamin Gate (Jer.20:2) where Jeremiah was imprisoned in stocks.
Book of Jeremiah
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