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The Message of the Yokes
v. 1. In the beginning of the reign of Jehoiakim (rather, of Zedekiah), the son of Josiah, king of Judah, about 609 B. C. came this word unto Jeremiah from the Lord, saying,
v. 2. Thus saith the Lord to me, Make thee bonds and yokes, the yokes being held in place on the neck by strong cords or thongs, and put them upon thy neck, retaining the one for himself,
v. 3. and send them to the king of Edom, and to the king of Moab, and to the king of the Ammonites, and to the king of Tyrus, and to the king of Zidon, all the smaller nations round about Palestine, by the hand of the messengers which come to Jerusalem unto Zedekiah, king of Judah, ambassadors who were trying to cement the alliance between Judah and their own nations, in order to shake off the yoke of Nebuchadnezzar;
v. 4. and command them to say unto their masters, the rulers of the nations which they represented, Thus saith the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, Thus shall ye say unto your masters:
v. 5. I have made the earth, the man, and the beast that are upon the ground, calling them into being by an act of His will, as the King of the universe, by My great power and by My outstretched arm, symbol of irresistible might, and have given it unto whom it seemed meet unto Me, not on the basis of any one's merits, but according to His good pleasure.
v. 6. And now have I given all these lands, the various countries enumerated above, into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon, My servant, who, in this instance, carried out the Lord's will; and the beasts of the field have I given him also to serve him, so that his authority and power is practically unlimited.
v. 7. And all nations shall serve him and his son and his son's son, three generations being represented in the dynasty of Babylonian emperors, in a total of five rulers, until the very time of his land come, when Babylon would, in turn, be conquered by another nation; and then many nations and great kings shall serve themselves of him, be impressed into service to Nebuchadnezzar and his successors.
v. 8. And it shall come to pass that the nation and kingdom which will not serve the same Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon, and that will not put their neck under the yoke of the king of Babylon, willingly submitting to his power, accepting his overlordship, that nation will I punish, saith the Lord, with the sword and with the famine and with the pestilence, the dreaded exterminators of nations, until I have consumed them by his hand, Nebuchadnezzar being the instrument of the Lord in this instance.
v. 9. Therefore hearken not ye to your prophets, the self-appointed leaders of this class, nor to your diviners, those who insisted that they could uncover the future, nor to your dreamers, literally, "your dreams," to show the vanity of such a reliance, nor to your enchanters, nor to your sorcerers, the last two classes making use of witchcraft to deceive the people, which speak unto you, saying, Ye shall not serve the king of Babylon,
v. 10. for they prophesy a lie unto you to remove you far from your land, that being their object in making deliberate misstatements, and that I should drive you out, for refusing to obey His injunction to submit to the Chaldean king, and ye should perish.
v. 11. But the nations that bring their neck under the yoke of the king of Babylon and serve him, those will I let remain still in their own land, saith the Lord, not subjecting them to the disgrace of deportation; and they shall till it and dwell therein. The Oriental despots were satisfied if nations would but accept their sovereignty and pay their tribute-money, resorting to sterner measures only when a nation stubbornly refused to submit. It is ever thus that misfortune and destruction comes upon those who follow the guidance of false prophets.
The Special Message to Zedekiah
v. 12. I spake to Zedekiah, king of Judah, applying the statements of the first part of the chapter to him and Judah in particular, according to all these words, saying, Bring your necks under the yoke of the king of Babylon and serve him and his people and live, maintaining their national existence.
v. 13. Why will ye die, thou and thy people, by the sword, by the famine, and by the pestilence, deliberately inviting these scourges by their disobedience, as the Lord hath spoken against the nation that will not serve the king of Babylon?
v. 14. Therefore hearken not unto the words of the prophets, those that bore this name by their own choice, not by God's appointment, that speak unto you, saying, Ye shall not serve the king of Babylon; for they prophesy a lie unto you.
v. 15. For I have not sent them, saith the Lord, yet they prophesy a lie in My name, adorning their false doctrine with the tag of His revelation, that I might drive you out, and that ye might perish, ye and the prophets that prophesy unto you, the latter being swept away in the same calamity which their false statements had brought upon Judah.
v. 16. Also I spake to the priests and to all this people, saying, Thus saith the Lord, Hearken not to the words of your prophets that prophesy unto you, saying, Behold, the vessels of the Lord's house, which had been taken to Babylon at the time of Jchoiakim, 2 Chronicles 36:5-7, and Jeconiah, 2 Kings 24:13, shall now shortly be brought again from Babylon, in the near future; for they prophesy a lie unto you, deceiving the people of Judah also in this case.
v. 17. Hearken not unto them; serve the king of Babylon and live, retaining their homes and maintaining their national existence; wherefore should this city be laid waste? Why simply challenge the calamity by their obstinacy?
v. 18. But if they be prophets, servants of the Lord by His appointment, and if the Word of the Lord be with them, as they insisted that it was, let them now make intercession to the Lord of hosts that the vessels which are left in the house of the Lord, which the Chaldeans had not yet carried away, and in the house of the king of Judah and at Jerusalem go not to Babylon, that the final act of the drama might not be staged. If they were true prophets, their intercession would carry enough weight to influence the Lord, so that He would avert the catastrophe which despoiled the nation entirely.
v. 19. For thus saith the Lord of hosts concerning the pillars, the two brass or bronze towers known as Jachin and Boaz, 1 Kings 7:15 ff. and concerning the sea, 1 Kings 7:23 ff. and concerning the bases, 1 Kings 7:27 ff. and concerning the residue of the vessels that remain in this city, the vessels and instruments of worship which had not yet been taken away by the conquerors,
v. 20. which Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, took not when he carried away captive Jeconiah, the son of Jehoiakim, king of Judah, from Jerusalem to Babylon, and all the nobles of Judah and Jerusalem, as related in 2 Kings 25:13 ff.
v. 21. Yea, thus saith the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, concerning the vessels that remain in the house of the Lord and in the house of the king of Judah and of Jerusalem, the repetition serving to increase the impression of inevitable calamity and disaster:
v. 22. They shall be carried to Babylon, as a welcome booty, and there shall they be until the day I visit them, saith the Lord, namely, when Cyrus overthrew the Babylonian power. Then will I bring them up and restore them to this place. This prophecy was fulfilled in every detail, although only a minor prediction, whereas the greater prophecies concerning the Messiah found an even more glorious fulfillment.
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Kretzmann, Paul E. Ph. D., D. D. "Commentary on Jeremiah 27". "Kretzmann's Popular Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/
the Third Week after Epiphany