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Messages about the duties of the kings of Judah 21:11-22:9
This group of prophecies begins and ends with oracles concerning the kings’ duties (Jeremiah 21:11-12; Jeremiah 22:1-9). In the middle is an oracle against Jerusalem (Jeremiah 21:13-14).
The Lord told Jeremiah to go down to the king’s palace, evidently from the temple or perhaps from Anathoth, and deliver a prophetic message to him, his servants, and the people who gathered there.
Jeremiah instructed the king and his administrators to practice justice in their decisions regarding civil matters (cf. Jeremiah 21:12). They should protect the weak and vulnerable and should not shed innocent blood. Social justice has always been important to Yahweh.
"Who within our society are represented by the ones robbed by extortioners or by the sojourner, orphan, and widow? Is it the poor, the migrant, the alien? Is it the Third World worker who provides delicacies for our table, or cheap products for our market, but barely ekes out an existence for himself and his family? Is our concern for justice limited to ourselves and those like us? Or do we practice justice even toward those who have no advocate?" [Note: Drinkard, p. 299.]
If they obeyed, God would perpetuate the reign of David’s descendants on Judah’s throne with glory and power.
If they disobeyed, God swore by Himself to destroy the palace.
Jeremiah 22:6-7 appear to be another oracle, in poetic form, against an unnamed Judean king.
The Lord regarded the Davidic palace as a most pleasant and glorious thing, like Gilead and Mount Hermon, areas both famous for their forests and mountains. Again, the House of the Forest of Lebanon may be particularly in view (cf. Jeremiah 21:14). Yet He would turn the king’s residence into a desolation, like a wilderness or an uninhabited town, if the rulers disobeyed.
He would appoint destroyers for the royal residence, and the royal line, who would cut the palaces down like a forest of trees (cf. Psalms 74).
This pericope is very similar to the preceding one, except it is in prose.
Representatives from other nations would pass by Jerusalem and wonder why her God had destroyed her (cf. Matthew 23:38; Luke 13:35).
It would become clear to them, on reflection, that it was because the kings and people had broken covenant with Yahweh. Ancient Near Easterners understood the consequences of covenant unfaithfulness, and they would associate them with Jerusalem’s fate.
Jeremiah instructed the people not to mourn over Josiah, who had died in battle with the Egyptians, as much as they should mourn over those who had gone into captivity. Pharaoh Neco II had deposed Jehoahaz and had taken him captive to Egypt (2 Kings 23:31-35). Jehoahaz was the king’s throne name, and Shallum was his personal name. He was Josiah’s second son, whom the people of the land had placed on Judah’s throne (2 Chronicles 36:1). The fate of the people and Jehoahaz was worse than Josiah’s, because they would remain alive but never be able to return to the Promised Land. In one sense, death is worse than life, but in another sense, life under certain conditions is worse than death.
A prophecy about King Jehoahaz (Shallum) 22:10-12
This section probably contains two originally separate parts (Jeremiah 22:10-12).
King Shallum (Jehoahaz) was a case in point. The Egyptians had taken him captive, and he would never return to the Promised Land. Jeremiah prophesied that he would die in captivity, which he did-as the first ruler of Judah to die in exile (cf. 2 Kings 23:34).
Jeremiah called down woe on the person who advanced his own interests, and built his own royal house (palace, and by implication, dynasty), by abusing the rights of others (cf. Leviticus 19:13; Deuteronomy 24:14; Malachi 3:5).
"This man, who gave his mind to trivialities at a time of crisis, and who saw his subjects only as exploitable, was a vulture at law and a peacock at home." [Note: Kidner, p. 87.]
A prophecy about King Jehoiakim 22:13-19
"Jehoiakim was condemned by Jeremiah more severely than any other king. He seems to have been a typical Oriental despot who rejected Josiah’s reforms." [Note: Thompson, p. 478.]
The measure of a king’s greatness is not really the beauty and cost of his palace but his righteousness and justice. Jehoiakim’s father, Josiah, had been a great king, and God had blessed him because he practiced these virtues (cf. John 4:34).
Josiah had given justice to those who needed it, regardless of who they were. By this he demonstrated that he really knew Yahweh. He behaved like Yahweh.
Jehoiakim had only been interested in acquiring things for himself, even dishonestly. He resorted to oppression, extortion, and even murder to get what he wanted (Jeremiah 26:20-23; 2 Kings 24:3-4).
"Jehoiakim, who was only twenty-five years old when he began to reign and only thirty-six when he died (2 Kings 23:36), was evidently a thoroughly spoiled and self-indulgent young despot." [Note: Thompson, p. 479.]
Consequently when Jehoiakim died, people would not feel sorry for him or mourn over his departure. They would not lament for him or for the splendor he left behind. The Hebrew word hoy, usually translated "woe" but here rendered "alas," occurs four times in this verse-stressing the dire judgment that would befall this king.
Rather, the people would treat his corpse with great disrespect. They would give him a burial similar to that of a donkey (or Jezebel), which people dragged outside the city gate and left to rot (cf. Jeremiah 36:30; 1 Kings 21:23-24). Josephus wrote that Nebuchadnezzar had his body thrown before the walls without any burial (cf. 2 Kings 24:6). [Note: Flavius Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews, 10:6:3.]
Of some people the Bible says nothing bad, but of Jehoiakim it says nothing good. [Note: Goddard, p. 100.]
The prophet spoke of Jerusalem as a young woman in this oracle. He called on her to go up on the surrounding mountains to bewail the loss of her lovers (political allies and pagan gods). The Lebanon mountains were to Judah’s north, Bashan was to the northeast, and the Abarim range was to the east of Jerusalem (cf. Numbers 27:12; Deuteronomy 32:49).
An oracle of Jerusalem’s doom 22:20-23
When Jerusalem was prosperous, in the days of David and Solomon, the Lord had appealed to the people to obey His covenant, but they would not listen. That had been their practice since early in their history as a nation.
The Lord would remove her nobles and leaders, and all the people she had trusted in to supply her needs would go into captivity. Then Jerusalem would feel ashamed because she had behaved wickedly. This happened in 597 B.C. when Nebuchadnezzar deported many of the nobles (2 Kings 24:10 to 2 Kings 25:7).
The cedar paneling of the people’s houses demonstrated their trust in Lebanon, since it came from there. Their homes were like little nests made of cedar (cf. Ezekiel 13:10-15). In this sense they dwelt in Lebanon, even though their homes were in Jerusalem. Sometimes Lebanon is a metonym for Israel. Yet these comfortable surroundings would not be able to protect Jerusalem from the pain that was going to come on her, pain as excruciating and inevitable as the agony of childbirth. Jerusalem was a city in the mountain heights, figuratively enthroned in Lebanon and nested in her cedars, but God would bring her down.
The Lord affirmed that even if Coniah (Jehoiachin) was the signet ring on His hand, He would still remove him. The signet ring of a king was something a king did not part with, because it was the instrument with which he conducted business and manifested his authority.
Prophecies about King Jehoiachin (Coniah) 22:24-30
This section contains two prophecies about this king (Jeremiah 22:24-30). The historical setting is the three-month reign of eighteen-year-old Jehoiachin in 598-597 B.C. (cf. 2 Kings 24:8-17). Coniah was a shortened form of Jeconiah (cf. Jeremiah 24:1; Jeremiah 27:20; Jeremiah 28:4; Jeremiah 29:2), the same man.
Yahweh was going to give Coniah over to King Nebuchadnezzar. The transfer of the signet ring symbolized the transfer of authority. Now Babylon would control the affairs of Judah.
But Yahweh would not reluctantly hand over Coniah; He would hurl him into a foreign country where he would die. His mother, the powerful queen mother, Nehushta, would go with him (cf. Jeremiah 13:18; 2 Kings 24:8; 2 Kings 24:11-12). They would not be able to return to their native land (cf. Jeremiah 52:31-34; 2 Kings 25:27-30). Mordecai and Ezekiel traveled to Babylon in the same group of exiles (Esther 2:5-7; Ezekiel 1:1-2).
Why would Yahweh treat Coniah like a piece of broken pottery that people tossed on the garbage heap? The answer, not given in this verse, is that he proved to be an unfaithful servant of the Lord, a covenant-breaker (cf. Jeremiah 19:1-13; 2 Kings 24:9).
Jeremiah called on the land of Judah to hear a very important prophecy from Yahweh. The threefold repetition of "land" indicates how important it was for the people of the land to listen.
The Lord promised that none of Coniah’s sons would sit on Judah’s throne. It was a shame and a disgrace for a king to have no son to succeed him. Coniah had seven sons (1 Chronicles 3:17-18; Matthew 1:12), but none of them ruled as Davidic kings. Zerubbabel, his grandson (1 Chronicles 3:19), returned to the land as one of the foremost leaders of the restoration community (cf. Ezra 1-6), but he was not a king.
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Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Jeremiah 22". "Dr. Constable's Expository Notes". https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 15 / Ordinary 20