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Bible Commentaries
Jeremiah 22

Coffman's Commentaries on the BibleCoffman's Commentaries



This is a landmark chapter in God’s Word. The beginning of the Jewish state had been contrary to God’s will (1 Samuel 8:7). It was based entirely upon the people’s rejection of God’s will and their desire to be like the nations around them. Not surprisingly, that “sinful kingdom” became the scandal of antiquity, fully deserving the word of the Lord to Amos when he declared, “Behold, the eyes of the Lord are upon the sinful kingdom; and I will destroy it off the face of the earth” (Amos 9:8). Hosea also was commanded to name his firstborn son Jezreel, which means, “I will cause the kingdom of the house of Israel to cease” (Hosea 1:3). The details of that destruction are all evident in this chapter. (For those interested in a further study of this, see Vol. 1 of my commentaries on the minor prophets, pp. 231-235.) As Halley said, “In Jeconiah and Zedekiah, we have the end of the earthly kingdom of Judah.”(F1)

The chapter naturally falls into four paragraphs: (1) Jeremiah 22:1-9, applicable to the early part of the reign of Jehoiachim; (2) Jeremiah 22:10-12 which speak of the days immediately after the deposition of Jehoahaz and his captivity in Egypt; (3) Jeremiah 22:13-19 applicable to the events near the close of Jehoiachim’s wicked reign; and (4) Jeremiah 22:20-30 relating to the reign of Jeconiah (Coniah, or Jehoiachin).(F2)

Scholars are not unanimous in their opinions regarding the dates of specific verses in the chapter; but there seems to be no doubt that all of the prophecies in this section may be applied to terminal conditions in “the sinful kingdom.” The terminal kings of Judah featured in this section are Josiah, Jehoahaz (Shallum), Jehoiachim (Eliakim), Jehoiachin (Coniah), and Zedekiah. Jehoiachim was actually the firstborn of Josiah; but his evil character was evidently well known in Judah, which probably accounts for the people’s elevation of Jehoahaz to the throne instead of his older brother. This violated the principle of primogeniture. However, the strategy did not work. With the removal of Jehoahaz by the Egyptians, the last hope of Judah’s having a decent king perished.

“Jehoahaz (Shallum) lasted only three months. Eliakim (Jehoiachim) resented what was done, threw himself into the arms of the Egyptians; and Pharaoh-Necho deposed Jehoahaz (Shallum) and enthroned Eliakim (Jehoiachim) as his vassal king in Jerusalem. He deported Jehoahaz (Shallum) to Egypt; and from that time he was heard of no more.”(F3)

The double names here should not be confusing. One name is the family name and the other one is the name assumed when the wearer came to the throne. It makes little difference which was which; but Shallum and Eliakim are usually identified as the family names.

Jeremiah 22:1-5; Jeremiah 22:8 are alleged to be “in the style of Deuteronomy”;(F4) but it would be far better to state that they are in the style of Moses; for it is the whole covenant of God with Israel that is referred to in these verses. There are actually more references in this writer’s Cross-Reference Bible to Exodus, Leviticus, Genesis, and Numbers than there are to Deuteronomy. We should heed the wise words of J. A. Thompson in his analysis of the passage.

“The protection of the orphan, the widow, and the stranger is a part of the covenant stipulation (Exodus 22:21-26; Exodus 23:9; Leviticus 19:33-34, and Deut. 10:18-19; and 24:17). The king was as much under obligation to fulfill the words of the Sinai Covenant as were the people. The Davidic covenant of 2 Samuel 7 was no different in this respect from the Mosaic Covenant.”(F5)

Verses 1-9

“Thus said Jehovah; Go down to the house of the king of Judah, and speak there this word. and say, Hear the word of Jehovah, O king of Judah, that sittest upon the throne of David, thou, and thy servants, and thy people that enter in by these gates. Thus saith Jehovah: Execute ye justice and righteousness, and deliver him that is robbed out of the hand of the oppressor: and do no wrong, do no violence to the sojourner, the fatherless, nor the widow; neither shed innocent blood in this place. For if ye do this thing indeed, then shall there enter in by the gates of this house kings sitting upon the throne of David, riding in chariots and on horses, he, and his servants, and his people. But if ye will not hear these words, I swear by myself, saith Jehovah, that this house shall become a desolation. For thus saith Jehovah concerning the house of the king of Judah: Thou art Gilead unto me, and the head of Lebanon; yet surely I will make thee a wilderness, and cities which are not inhabited. And I will prepare destroyers against thee, everyone with his weapons; and they shall cut down thy choice cedars, and cast them into the fire. And many nations shall pass by this city, and they shall cry every man to his neighbor, Wherefore hath Jehovah done thus unto this great city? Then they shall answer, Because they forsook the covenant of Jehovah their God and worshipped other gods, and served them.”

“If ye will do this thing indeed” Thompson translated this clause, “If you scrupulously carry out this commission.”(F6)

“They shall cut down thy choice cedars” “In keeping with the figure of a forest, the destruction of Jerusalem is represented as the hewing down of the choice cedars. The destroyed city will become a monument to God’s wrath against the transgressors of his covenant.”(F7)

Jeremiah 22:8 reflects the promise recorded by Moses in Deut. 29:33ff. Along with the king’s palace, the whole city will be destroyed.

“Because they forsook the covenant of Jehovah” The covenant in view here is the one commonly called the Old Covenant, the Mosaic Covenant, or the Sinaitic Covenant (Exodus 20:3; Deuteronomy 5:7).

“The covenant violated here was not the Davidic covenant of 2 Samuel 7, but the initial covenant at Sinai, referred to recurringly in earlier portions of Jeremiah. The extensive devastation was a lesson to all nations on the perils of idolatry.”(F8)

Although Jellie thought that these first nine verses were addressed to the early days of the reign of Jehoiachim, Harrison assigned them to the times of Zedekiah.(F9) As we have frequently noted, if such distinctions were very important, God would have revealed the exact situation. Here it makes little or no difference, because the words perfectly fit either one of the monarchs mentioned.

Verses 10-12

“Weep ye not for the dead, neither bemoan him; but weep sore for him that goeth away; for he shall return no more, nor see his native country. For thus saith Jehovah touching Shallum the son of Josiah, king of Judah, who reigned instead of Josiah his father, and went forth out of his place: He shall not return thither any more; but in the place where they have led him captive, there shall he die, and he shall see this land no more.”

These words, of course, apply to the brief period following the usurpation of the throne from Shallum by the Egyptians who placed their vassal Jehoiachim on the throne and imposed a heavy tribute of a hundred talents of silver and a talent of gold annually upon the people.

Shallum was the very last chance that Israel had to receive a decent king. Jehoiachim was a carbon copy of Manasseh. “He permitted pagan rites to flourish again, including even those of Egypt.”(F10) The next paragraph will speak of the heartless tyranny, selfishness, extravagance and insatiable greed of this evil ruler.

“Weep not for the dead… but for him that goeth away” This meant “Do not weep for Josiah, but for Shallum.” The latter was the last sad home for Judah.

Shallum was the first king of Israel to be deported and to die in exile.

Verses 13-17

“Woe unto him that buildeth his house by unrighteousness, and his chambers by injustice; that useth his neighbor’s services without wages, and giveth him not his hire; that saith, I will build me a wide house and spacious chambers, and cutteth him out windows; and it is ceded with cedar, and painted with vermilion. Shalt thou reign because thou strivest to excel in cedar? Did not thy father eat and drink, and do justice and righteousness? then it was well with him. He judged the cause of the poor and needy; then it was well, Was not this to know me? saith Jehovah. But thine eyes and thy heart are not but for thy covetousness, and for shedding innocent blood, and for oppression, and for violence, to do it.”

There is little need to catalogue the sins of Jehoiachim. He contrived the dethroning of his own brother, resulting in his captivity and probable death. In addition to the great tribute which he promised Egypt, and which he extorted annually from the people, he initiated a very luxurious and extravagant building program for himself, using forced labor, conscripting his neighbors to work for him without any pay whatever. He was a typical Near-Eastern despot, doing all kinds of violence against any or all hapless victims of his displeasure and murdering many innocent people, including, among countless others the prophet Uriah, who was extradited from Egypt and put to death (Jeremiah 26:20-23). Not only murder, but the type of slavery mentioned in these verses, were offenses against covenant law (Leviticus 19:13). In this man and his hapless son Coniah, the house of David came to its miserable end.

“That useth his neighbor for services without wages” “Here is a democratic idea, `The king and the carpenter or neighbors.’“(F11)

“Did not thy father eat and drink” This means that, “He lived well enough; he was not an ascetic.”(F12)

The same words were used of Jesus by himself in a comparison with John the Baptist (Matthew 11:18-19),

“Shalt thou reign because thou strivest to excel in cedar” Keil’s comment here was, “Kingship does not consist in the erection of splendid palaces, but in the administration of righteousness and justice,”(F13)

“Thine eyes and thine heart are not, but for thy covetousness, etc.” This is a terrible indictment of Jehoiachim, meaning that his heart and eyes did not even exist except for the purpose of helping this evil ruler in the pursuit of wickedness. Everything that fell under his eyesight was only looked at with a view of using what he saw in some way to his advantage; and nothing ever entered his mind but some evil plan or device by which he could defraud or exploit his subjects! Satan must have been well pleased with such a son!

“Was not this to know me, saith Jehovah” Knowing God, whether in the times of Jeremiah, or at the present time, does not consist merely of having heard of him, or having read his word, or having been associated with God-fearing people. It is the kind of knowledge that is exhibited in a pious and godly life, and in the strict obedience of his holy commandments.

Verses 18-19

“Therefore thus saith Jehovah concerning Jehoiachim the son of Josiah, the king of Judah; They shall not lament for him, saying, Ah my brother! or, Ah sister! They shall not lament for him, saying, Ah lord! or Ah his glory! He shall be buried with the burial of an ass, drawn and cast forth beyond the gates of Jerusalem.”

We wonder at so many writers expressing concern that “We have no confirmation of this prophecy.” None is needed. God said it would happen, and it did. There’s not a line to the contrary anywhere in the Bible; and we can see no purpose in noting that when the death of Jehoiachim was mentioned in 2 Kings 24:6 there was no reference to what happened. The passage merely states that, “Jehoiachim slept with his fathers, and his son Jehoiachin reigned in his stead.” Nevertheless, the passage bears witness to the fulfillment of this prophecy, because, “The complete formula for describing the death of a king of Judah was: `He slept with his fathers, and was buried with his fathers in the city of David.’ “(F14) There is no doubt whatever that the omission of the usual line, `He was buried with his fathers,’ means, absolutely, that he was not so buried.

This prophecy is repeated in Jeremiah 36:30; but of its fulfillment we know nothing. However, the prophet would not have inserted it in Zedekiah’s roll, unless the circumstances of Jehoiachim’s death had been such as to give full weight to this warning.(F15)

It is believed that the fulfillment of this prophecy came as the Babylonian invaders approached Jerusalem. “The pro-Babylonian party within the city organized an assassination of Jehoiachin in a palace revolt.”(F16) Under pressure of the siege, the assassins merely dragged the body of Jehoiachim, as they would have dragged a dead animal out of the city and disposed of it “beyond the gates.”

Verses 20-23

“Go up to Lebanon and cry; lift up thy voice in Bashan, and cry from Abarim; for all thy lovers are destroyed. I spake to thee in thy prosperity; but thou saidst, I will not hear. This hath been thy manner from thy youth, that thou obeyest not my voice. The wind shall feed all thy shepherds, and thy lovers shall go into captivity: surely then shalt thou be ashamed and confounded for all thy wickedness. O inhabitant of Lebanon, that makest thy nest in the cedars, how greatly to be pitied shalt thou be when pangs come upon thee, the pain as of a woman in travail.”

Both Bashan and Abarim were beyond the strict borders of Palestine, Abarim is the chain of mountains east of Jordan in which is located Mount Nebo, from which Moses viewed the Promised land. The thought seems to be that the whole land of Palestine, along with its surrounding areas, should moan, and weep and bewail the devastation coming upon Judah.

“All thy lovers are destroyed” “These were Judah’s political allies.”(F17)

“The wind shall feed all thy shepherds” “This means, `the wind shall round them up and drive them away.’ “(F18)

“How greatly to be pitied shalt thou be” The prophet loved his native land and his sinful people; and his heart was filled with pity as he delivered the tragic message regarding Judah’s destruction.

Verses 24-30

“As I live, saith Jehovah, though Coniah the son of Jehoiachin king of Judah were the signet upon my right hand, yet would I pluck thee thence; and I will give thee into the hand of them that seek thy life, and into the hand of them of whom thou art afraid, even into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, and into the hand of the Chaldeans. And I will cast thee out, and thy mother that bare thee, into another country, where ye were not born; and there shall ye die. But to the land whereunto their soul longeth to return, thither shall they not return. Is this man Coniah a despised broken vessel? is he a vessel wherein none delighteth? wherefore are they cast out, he and his seed, and are cast into the land which they know not? O earth, earth, earth, hear the word of Jehovah, Write this man childless, a man that shall not prosper in his days; for no more shall a man of his seed prosper, sitting upon the throne of David, and ruling in Judah.”

The prophecy here is that both Jeconiah (Coniah) and the queen mother shall go into Babylonian captivity and die in that land. This indeed came to pass; and Coniah lived thirty-seven years in captivity.

“Coniah” This man was named Jeconiah (Jeremiah 24:1) and Coniah (here and in Jeremiah 37:1); and he came to the throne under the name of Jehoiachin. Keil cited two other variations of the name which correspond to two of the three names cited here.(F19)

Payne Smith stated that Coniah was king of Judah at the time Jeremiah wrote these words, basing his opinion upon the construction, “Coniah the son of Jehoiachim king of Judah.”(F20)

“Thee and the mother that bare thee” “The queen mother had some official status in Judah of that period and may have worn a crown and sat on a throne adjacent to that of the king… Jehoiachin was eventually released in Babylon by Evil-Merodach; but he was required to remain in Babylon.”(F21)

“They are cast out, he and his seed” Some find a problem here, because Jeremiah 22:30 states that Jeconiah would die childless. The problem is solved either (1) by throwing out the last four words here as not belonging to the text (And this is supported by the LXX), or (2) by making Jeremiah 22:30 the full explanation of what is meant by “write Coniah childless.” It meant merely that he would not have a successor on the throne of Judah. Either solution appears to be adequate.

Practically all present-day scholars accept solution (2), above. Some very learned men of an earlier generation insist that he died, literally, without any children. Payne Smith insisted that, “There is no proof that Jehoiachin ever had any children. None are mentioned in 2 Kings 24:15; and the fact that when his father Jehoiachim died the harem of that ruler passed to Coniah, suggests that the “children” mentioned in 2 Chronicles 3:17 might merely have been his adopted children through that inheritance.”(F22)

Matthew Henry also took the same view, offering as proof the fact, the oldest son of Jehoiachin was Shealtiel; but in the Lukan genealogy of Christ, Shealtiel is listed as the son of Neil, not Jehoiachin, indicating that Jehoiachin was only his adopted father.

We do not attach a great deal of importance to the question; but we prefer the views presented by the Dean of Canterbury and by Matthew Henry. There is nothing in their exegesis of this problem that is in any manner unreasonable.

Certainly, there is no Jehoiachin, Coniah, or Jeconiah in the Lukan account of the lineage of the Son of God which goes back to David, not through Solomon, but through Nathan.

Those who try to find Coniah in the ancestry of Christ will find it in Matthew 1:12; but that is only the legal ancestry of Christ through his foster father Joseph, making him the legal heir to the throne that was once held by Jeconiah.

Yes, it states in Matthew 1:12 that Jeconiah “begat Shealtiel”; but in genealogical tables distinctions such as real sons or adopted sons were not distinguished. In fact there are not even any distinctions between sons and grandsons, actual sons or Levirate sons, etc. Since Coniah was childless, Shealtiel an adopted son, inherited the non-existent throne of Judah; but Luke, unconcerned about legal rights to a throne traced Shealtiel’s ancestry through his actual father Neri.

Both Ezekiel and Jeremiah regarded Jeconiah (Coniah) as the last king of Judah; but some writers insist that Zedekiah was the last king.(F23) Of course, in a sense he was the last king; but in none of the eleven years that he reigned between 598 and 587 B.C. was he ever really “king of Judah,” but a vassal of the Babylonians who had deposed and deported Jeconiah (Coniah) and placed Zedekiah on the throne as a puppet. Besides that, Nebuchadnezzar captured Zedekiah and blinded him after killing his sons before his eyes; and he was outlived many years by Jeconiah, who lived some thirty-seven years in captivity until he was released by Evil-Merodach. The Jews of Jerusalem never recognized Zedekiah as king and continually longed for the return of Jehoiachin. Therefore we follow the position of Ezekiel and of Jeremiah in considering Coniah as the last of Israel’s kings.

It has been objected to Jeremiah’s prophecy here that no one descended from Coniah would ever sit upon the throne of David; because, as premillennial advocates insist, “This would exclude Christ from sitting on David’s throne.”(F24) Such an objection, however is worthless, since Luke’s genealogy makes no mention of any son of Jehoiachin in the ancestry of Christ. However, even if it was otherwise, the prohibition was not against such a descendant “sitting on David’s throne,” but against his doing so “in Jerusalem!” Also, the scriptures flatly declare that the reference to some Great One to sit on David’s throne was a reference to the resurrection of Jesus Christ (Acts 2:31). The fulfillment of the Messianic promise was complete when Jesus Christ, “sat down at the right hand of the majesty On High.”

Bibliographical Information
Coffman, James Burton. "Commentary on Jeremiah 22". "Coffman's Commentaries on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/bcc/jeremiah-22.html. Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. 1983-1999.
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