Now these are the words of the letter that Jeremiah the prophet sent from Jerusalem unto the residue of the elders which were carried away captives, and to the priests, and to the prophets, and to all the people whom Nebuchadnezzar had carried away captive from Jerusalem to Babylon;
Unto the residue of the elders - those still surviving from the time when they were carried to Babylon with Jeconiah; the other elders of the captives had died by either a natural or a violent death.
(After that Jeconiah the king, and the queen, and the eunuchs, the princes of Judah and Jerusalem, and the carpenters, and the smiths, were departed from Jerusalem;)
The queen - Nehushta, the queen-mother, daughter of Elnathan (2 Kings 24:8; 2 Kings 24:15). (Elnathan, her father, perhaps is the same as the one Jeremiah 26:22.) She reigned jointly with her son.
The princes. All the men of authority were taken away, lest they should organize a rebellion. Jeremiah wrote his letter, while the calamity was still recent, to console the captives under it.
By the hand of Elasah the son of Shaphan, and Gemariah the son of Hilkiah, (whom Zedekiah king of Judah sent unto Babylon to Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon) saying,
Elasah the son of Shaphan, and Gemariah the son of Hilkiah, (whom Zedekiah king of Judah sent unto Babylon). In Jeremiah 51:59 Zedekiah himself goes to Babylon; here he sends ambassadors. Whatever was the object of the embassy, it shows that Zedekiah only reigned at the pleasure of the king of Babylon, who might have restored Jeconiah, had he pleased. Hence, Zedekiah permitted Jeremiah's letter to be sent, not only as being led by Hananiah's death to attach greater credit to the prophet's words, but also as the letter accorded with his own wish that the Jews should remain in Chaldea until Jeconiah's death.
Son of Hilkiah - the high priest who found the book of the law in the house of the Lord, and showed it to "Shaphan" the scribe (the same Shaphan probably as here), who showed it to King Josiah, (2 Kings 22:8, etc.) The sons of Hilkiah and Shaphan inherited from their fathers some respect for sacred things. So in Jeremiah 36:25, "Gemariah" interceded with king Jehoiakim that the prophet's roll should not he burned.
Thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, unto all that are carried away captives, whom I have caused to be carried away from Jerusalem unto Babylon;
No JFB commentary on this verse.
Build ye houses, and dwell in them; and plant gardens, and eat the fruit of them;
Build ye houses - in opposition to the false prophet's suggestions, who told the captives that their captivity would soon cease, Jeremiah tells them that it will be of long duration, and that therefore they should build houses, as Babylon is to be for long their home.
Take ye wives, and beget sons and daughters; and take wives for your sons, and give your daughters to husbands, that they may bear sons and daughters; that ye may be increased there, and not diminished.
Take ye wives, and beget sons and daughters; and take wives for your sons, and give your daughters to husbands, that they may bear sons and daughters; that ye may be increased there, and not diminished. It was God's will that the seed of Abraham should not fail; thus consolation is given them, and the hope, though not of an immediate, yet of an ultimate return.
And seek the peace of the city whither I have caused you to be carried away captives, and pray unto the LORD for it: for in the peace thereof shall ye have peace.
Seek the peace of the city where I have caused you to be carried away captives, and pray unto the Lord for it - (Ezra 6:10; Romans 13:1; 1 Timothy 2:2). Not only bear the Babylonian yoke patiently, but pray for your masters - i:e., while the captivity lasts. God's good time was to come when they were to pray for Babylon's downfall (Jeremiah 51:35; Psalms 137:8). They were not to forestall that time. True religion teaches patient submission, not sedition, even though the prince be an unbeliever. In all states of life let us not throw away the comfort we may have, because we have not all we would have. There is here a foretaste of Gospel love toward enemies (Matthew 5:44).
For thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; Let not your prophets and your diviners, that be in the midst of you, deceive you, neither hearken to your dreams which ye cause to be dreamed.
Neither hearken to your dreams which ye cause to be dreamed. The Latin adage saith, 'The people wish to be deceived, so let them be deceived.' Not mere credulity misleads men, but their own perverse "love of darkness rather than light." It was not priests who originated priestcraft, but the people's own morbid appetite to be deceived; e.g., Aaron and the golden calf (Exodus 32:1-4). So the Jews caused or made the prophets to tell them encouraging dreams (Jeremiah 23:25-26; Ecclesiastes 5:7; Zechariah 10:2; John 3:19-21).
For they prophesy falsely unto you in my name: I have not sent them, saith the LORD.
No JFB commentary on this verse.
For thus saith the LORD, That after seventy years be accomplished at Babylon I will visit you, and perform my good word toward you, in causing you to return to this place.
After seventy years be accomplished at Babylon I will visit you - (note, Jeremiah 25:11-12; Daniel 9:2). This proves that the seventy years date from Jeconiah's captivity, not from the last captivity. The specification of time was to curb the impatience of the Jews, lest they should hasten before God's time.
I will ... perform my good word - promise of a return.
For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.
I know - I alone, not the false prophets, who know nothing of my purposes, though they pretend to know.
The thoughts that I think - (Isaiah 55:9). Glancing at the Jews, who had no "thoughts of peace," but only of "evil" (misfortune), because they could not conceive how deliverance could come to them. The moral malady of man is two-fold, at one time vain confidence, then, when that is disappointed, despair. So the Jews first laughed at God's threats, confident that they should speedily return; then, when cast down from that confidence, they sank in inconsolable despondency.
Expected end - literally, an end and an expectation; i:e., an end, and that such an end as you wish for. Two nouns joined by and standing for a noun and adjective. So Jeremiah 36:27, "the roll and the words," - i:e., the roll of words; Genesis 3:16, "sorrow and conception," - i:e., sorrow in conception. Compare Proverbs 23:18, where, as here, end means a happy issue.
Then shall ye call upon me, and ye shall go and pray unto me, and I will hearken unto you.
Ye shall go and pray unto me, and I will hearken unto you - fulfilled Daniel 9:3, etc. When God designs mercy, He puts it into the hearts of His people to pray for the mercy designed. When such a spirit of prayer is poured out, it is a sure sign of coming mercy.
Go - to the temple and other places of prayer; contrasted with their previous sloth as to going to seek God.
And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart.
Ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye ... search for me with all your heart - (Leviticus 26:40-42; Leviticus 26:44-45).
And I will be found of you, saith the LORD: and I will turn away your captivity, and I will gather you from all the nations, and from all the places whither I have driven you, saith the LORD and I will bring you again into the place whence I caused you to be carried away captive.
I will be found of you - (Psalms 32:6; Isaiah 55:6).
And I will turn away your captivity - play upon sounds, shabti ... shebith.
Because ye have said, The LORD hath raised us up prophets in Babylon;
Because ye have said - referring not to the preceding words, but to Jeremiah 29:10-11, 'Yahweh saith this to you'
(i:e., the prophecy of the continuance of the captivity seventy years), "because ye have said, The Lord hath raised us up prophets in Babylon," - namely, foretelling our speedy deliverance (this their prophecy is supposed, not expressed; accordingly, Jeremiah 29:16-19 contradicts this false hope again, Jeremiah 29:8-9; Jeremiah 29:21). He, in this 15th verse, turns his address from the godly (Jeremiah 29:12-14) to the ungodly listeners to false prophets.
Know that thus saith the LORD of the king that sitteth upon the throne of David, and of all the people that dwelleth in this city, and of your brethren that are not gone forth with you into captivity;
Thus saith the Lord of the king that sitteth upon the throne of David, and of all the people that dwelleth in this city, and of your brethren that are not gone forth with you into captivity - so far from your returning to Jerusalem soon, even your brethren still left dwelling there shall themselves also be cast into exile. He mentions "the throne of David," lest they should think that, because David's kingdom was to be perpetual, no severe, though temporary, chastisements could interpose (Psalms 89:29-36).
Thus saith the LORD of hosts; Behold, I will send upon them the sword, the famine, and the pestilence, and will make them like vile figs, that cannot be eaten, they are so evil.
Vile figs - Hebrew [sho`ar], 'horrible,' or nauseous, from a root [shaa`ar] to regard with loathing (see Jeremiah 24:8; Jeremiah 24:10).
And I will persecute them with the sword, with the famine, and with the pestilence, and will deliver them to be removed to all the kingdoms of the earth, to be a curse, and an astonishment, and an hissing, and a reproach, among all the nations whither I have driven them:
Removed to all ... kingdoms - (Jeremiah 15:4; Deuteronomy 28:25).
A curse, an astonishment, and an hissing, and a reproach - (Jeremiah 26:6; Jeremiah 18:16; Jeremiah 19:8).
Because they have not hearkened to my words, saith the LORD, which I sent unto them by my servants the prophets, rising up early and sending them; but ye would not hear, saith the LORD.
No JFB commentary on these verses.
Thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, of Ahab the son of Kolaiah, and of Zedekiah the son of Maaseiah, which prophesy a lie unto you in my name; Behold, I will deliver them into the hand of Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon; and he shall slay them before your eyes;
Zedekiah - brother of Zephaniah (Jeremiah 29:25), both being sons of Maaseiah. Probably of the same family as the false prophet Zedekiah, son of Chenaanah, under Ahab in Israel (1 Kings 22:11; 1 Kings 22:24).
And of them shall be taken up a curse by all the captivity of Judah which are in Babylon, saying, The LORD make thee like Zedekiah and like Ahab, whom the king of Babylon roasted in the fire;
Of them shall be taken up a curse - i:e., a formula of imprecation.
Lord make thee like Zedekiah - (cf. Genesis 48:20; Isaiah 65:15, "Ye shall leave your name for a curse unto my chosen").
Roasted in the fire - a Chaldean punishment (Daniel 3:6).
Because they have committed villany in Israel, and have committed adultery with their neighbours' wives, and have spoken lying words in my name, which I have not commanded them; even I know, and am a witness, saith the LORD.
They have committed villany - literally, sinful folly (Isaiah 32:6).
Thus shalt thou also speak to Shemaiah the Nehelamite, saying,
A second communication which Jeremiah sent to Babylon after the messengers who carried his first letter had brought a letter from the false prophet Shemaiah to Zephaniah, etc., condemning Jeremiah, and reproving the authorities for not having apprehended them.
Shemaiah the Nehelamite - a name derived either from his father or from a place: alluding at the same time to the Hebrew meaning, 'a dreamer' (cf. Jeremiah 29:8).
Verse 25. Thou hast sent letters in thy name - without sanction of "the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel," which words stand in antithesis to thy name (John 5:43).
Zephaniah - the second priest, or substitute (sagan) of the high priest. He was one of those sent to consult Jeremiah by Zedekiah (Jeremiah 21:1). Slain subsequently by Nebuchadnezzar at the capture of Jerusalem (2 Kings 25:18; 2 Kings 25:21; Jeremiah 52:24-27). Zephaniah was in particular addressed, as being likely to take up against Jeremiah the prophet's prediction against his brother Zedekiah at Babylon (Jeremiah 29:21). Zephaniah was to read it to the priests, and in the presence of all the people, in the temple.
Verse 26. The Lord hath made thee priest in the stead of Jehoiada. Zephaniah's promotion as second priest, owing to Jehoiada's being then in exile, was unexpected. Shemaiah thus accuses him of ingratitude toward God, who had so highly exalted him before his regular time.
That ye should be officers in the house of the Lord, for every man that is mad - ye should, as bearing rule in the temple (Jeremiah 20:1, note), apprehend every false prophet like Jeremiah.
Mad - inspired prophets were often so called by the ungodly (2 Kings 9:11; Acts 26:24; Acts 2:13; Acts 2:15; Acts 2:17-18). Jeremiah is in this a type of Christ, against whom the same charge was brought (John 10:20).
Put him in prison - rather, the stocks (Jeremiah 20:2, note).
Stocks, [ hatsiynoq (Hebrew #6729)] - from a root [tsaanaq], to confine; hence, rather, a narrow dungeon. According to Deuteronomy 17:8-9, the priest was judge in controversies, but had no right to put into the stocks: this right he had assumed to himself in the troubled state of the times.
Verse 27. Jeremiah of Anathoth - said contemptuously, as "Jesus of Nazareth."
Maketh himself a prophet - as if God had not made him one, but himself.
Verse 28. Therefore he sent unto us in Babylon, saying ... build ye houses - referring to Jeremiah's first letter to Babylon (Jeremiah 29:5).
Verse 29. Zephaniah the priest read this letter in the ears of Jeremiah. He seems to have been less prejudiced against Jeremiah than the others; hence, he reads the charge to the prophet, that he should not be condemned without a hearing. This accords with Shemaiah's imputation against Zephaniah for lack of zeal against Jeremiah (Jeremiah 29:25; Jeremiah 29:27). Hence, the latter was chosen by King Zedekiah as one of the deputation to Jeremiah (Jeremiah 21:1; Jeremiah 37:3).
Verse 30. Then came the word of the Lord unto Jeremiah, saying. This resumes the thread of the sentence which began at Jeremiah 29:25, but was left there not completed. Here, in Jeremiah 29:30, it is completed, not, however, in continuity, but by a new period. The apodosis, or consequent member of the sentence, answering to the "Because," etc., first occurring in Jeremiah 29:25, and then resumed in Jeremiah 29:31, is given at Jeremiah 29:32, "Behold I will punish Shemaiah," etc. The same construction occurs Romans 5:12-15.
Verse 32. He shall not have a man to dwell among this people - (Deuteronomy 28:18, "Cursed shall be the fruit of thy body").
Neither shall he behold the good - as he despised the lawful time, and wished to return before the time God had expressly announced, in just retribution he should not share in the restoration from Babylon at all.
Thou hast taught rebellion - going against God's revealed will as to the time (Jeremiah 29:10; Jeremiah 28:16). Remarks:
(1) Jeremiah's two letters to the Jewish captives in Babylon were a pledge to assure them that, thought chastised sorely, they were not utterly forsaken by the Lord, nor given over to death. Even in Babylon they may be comparatively happy (Jeremiah 29:5-6), if they be obedient to the Lord's will concerning them, and, instead of complaining, make the best of existing circumstances. Fretfulness in trials only makes matters worse, whereas godly contentment can give cheerfulness amidst the most adverse circumstances. If things are not as favourable to us as we might wish, still they are better than we deserve, and not nearly so bad as they might be: above all, they are as God ordains them, and the child of God will say:
`My times are in Thy hands: Corroding care or calm repose, Spring's balmy breath or wintry snows, Whate'er betide, if God provide, 'Tis for the best-I wish no lot beside.'
(2) Religion teaches us to "pray for" the powers that be, as they are ordained of God (Jeremiah 29:7). God in His own good time will deliver His people from their oppressors. But meanwhile let not believers, by sedition, take their cause out of His hand, but pray for their enemies, and especially for those of them who are in rule and authority (Romans 13:1; 1 Timothy 2:2).
(3) Diviners misled the Jews in Babylon with prophecies, which they spake "in the name of the Lord" (Jeremiah 29:9), and as if by His commission, teaching a very different doctrine from that of Jeremiah, and promising the captives a speedy deliverance and restoration. But if the people themselves had not been predisposed to error there would have arisen no such deceivers. The people lent a ready ear to illusory dreams of restoration, "which they caused to be dreamed" themselves. The wish was parent of the thought. Instead of studying to be quiet, and "seeking the peace of the city where God had caused them to be carried away captives" (Jeremiah 29:7), they gave way to a restless spirit, and so listened to every impostor whom their own credulity and discontent raised up. When once we substitute our own perverse will for the will of God, there are no bounds to the extravagances and miseries into which we may be carried.
(4) On the other hand, "unto the upright there ariseth light in the darkness." The believing Jews among the captives had a gracious promise to cheer them, in their patient waiting on and for the Lord. Though the captivity was to be long, it would cease after seventy years. The unbelieving Jews, from presumptuous confidence of a speedy restoration at first, passed at last to despair of a restoration at all. Both feelings alike flowed from unbelief of the "good word" and the good-will of God (Jeremiah 29:10). Lest His people should be tempted to the same hard thoughts of God, He gives them, in order to sustain their faith and patience, a gracious promise resting on His gracious character - "I know the thoughts that I think toward you-thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end" (Jeremiah 29:11). This promise was designed to quicken their prayers. It is a sure token that God is about to visit in mercy when He puts it into our hearts to pray for that mercy (Jeremiah 29:12). When such a spirit of prayer is poured upon us, we not merely seek the Lord, but we also "search for Him with all our heart" (Jeremiah 29:13); and then we are sure to find Him, because He is waiting to be gracious to us.
(5) Not only were the captives at Babylon not to return to Jerusalem soon, as their false prophets assured them, but their brethren, then free at Jerusalem, were soon to suffer all the horrors of the sword, famine, pestilence, and captivity. The false prophets would be made a special example of; because they not only lied, which is bad enough of itself, but they also lied to "Israel," the people of the Lord, and, worst of all, they uttered their lies "in the name" of the God of truth (Jeremiah 29:21-23). They who "teach rebellion against the Lord" shall be "punished" by the Lord: they and their seed can have no dwelling place among the people of God, nor shall they be permitted to "behold the good which God will do for His people" (Jeremiah 29:32). Be our prayer, "Remember me, O Lord, with the favour that thou bearest unto thy people: O visit me with thy salvation; that I may see the good of thy chosen, that I may rejoice in the gladness of thy nation, that I may glory with thine inheritance" (Psalms 106:5).
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Jeremiah 29". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/
the Second Week after Epiphany