Notes on the Bible, by Albert Barnes, , at sacred-texts.com
It is evident that Zedekiah was well affected toward Jeremiah. In Jer. 37-38, dealing with events during the siege of Jerusalem, we have an account of his relations with Jeremiah and of the prophet's personal history up to the capture of the city.
This embassy is not to be confounded with that Jer 21:1 which took place when Nebuchadnezzar was just marching upon Jerusalem; this was in the brief interval of hope occasioned by the approach of an Egyptian army to raise the siege. The Jews were elated by this temporary relief, and miserably abused it Jer 34:11. Zedekiah seems to some extent to have shared their hopes, and to have expected that the prophet would intercede for the city as successfully as Isaiah had done Isa 37:6. Jehucal was a member of the warlike party Jer 38:1, as also was the deputy high priest Zephaniah, but otherwise he was well affected to Jeremiah.
Then - And. Pharaoh-Hophra Jer 44:30, the Apries of Herodotus, probably withdrew without giving Nebuchadnezzar battle. After a reign of 25 years, he was dethroned by Amasis, but allowed to inhabit his palace at Sais, where finally he was strangled.
Jeremiah's answer here is even more unfavorable than that which is given in Jer 21:4-7. So hopeless is resistance that the disabled men among the Chaldaeans would alone suffice to capture the city and burn it to the ground.
Was broken up for fear of - Or, "had got them up from the face of." It was simply a strategic movement.
To separate himself thence ... - To receive a share thence. When the siege was temporarily raised, the first object would be food, and, accordingly, Jeremiah accompanied by others, who, like himself, had a right to share in the produce of the priests' lands at Anathoth, started there to see whether any stores remained which might be available for their common use.
A captain of the ward - Captain of the watch, whose business was to examine all who went in and out.
The gate of Benjamin - The northern gate, also called the gate of Ephraim.
Thou fallest away ... - His well-known views made Jeremiah a suspected person, though the charge was groundless.
The princes - Not the noblemen trained in the days of Josiah and Jeremiah's friends Jer 26:16, but those described in Jer 24:8. They assumed that the accusation was true; they first scourged and then imprisoned Jeremiah.
The house - Probably the official residence of the secretary of state.
Dungeon - literally, house of a cistern or pit, and evidently underground. In this cistern-like excavation were several cells or arched vaults, in one of which with little light and less ventilation Jeremiah remained a long time.
The prison - the watch (marginal reference).
Piece - literally, a circle, i. e., a round cake.
The bakers' street - It is usual in oriental towns for each trade to have a special place set apart for it. Compare Act 10:6.