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A.M. 3397. B.C. 607.
In this chapter,
(1,) by God’s direction, Jeremiah faithfully warns the assembled Jews that, if they did not speedily repent and reform, their city and temple should be destroyed, Jeremiah 26:1-7 .
(2,) Being on this account prosecuted for his life, by the priests and false prophets, he boldly avows the divine authority for what he had done, and his good intent in doing it, and warns them that, if they murdered him, it would be at their peril, Jeremiah 26:8-15 .
(3,) By the prudence of the civil rulers he is protected, (as Micah had been by Hezekiah,) even while King Jehoiakim murdered Urijah, who was less bold, Jeremiah 26:16-24 .
Jeremiah 26:1. In the beginning of the reign of Jehoiakim, &c. The preceding chapter is dated in the fourth year of the reign of Jehoiakim, but ascribed, with probability, to the early part of that year. This chapter is dated in the beginning of the same reign. Hence it has been concluded, that this must have preceded the former in order of time. “But the conclusion,” says Blaney, “will not hold, if we consider that, (Jeremiah 28:1,) the beginning of Zedekiah’s reign is expressly declared to mean the fourth year and the fifth month of it. The same therefore may be the case here,” and this chapter may be allowed to speak of events subsequent to those of the foregoing one, though taking place immediately after them.
Jeremiah 26:2-3. Stand in the court of the Lord’s house The great court where both men and women ordinarily worshipped, says Dr. Lightfoot, when they brought no sacrifice; for when they did so, they were to bring it into the inner court, otherwise called the court of Israel, or of the priests, as the same learned author has observed in his treatise concerning the temple service. And speak unto all the cities of Judah Here it is evident that ערו , cities, are put for their inhabitants; and we may conjecture from hence, that this transaction passed at one of the great festivals, when the people of Judah were assembled, out of all their cities, to worship at Jerusalem. All the words that I command thee Not in the least varying from them, either to please men or to save thyself harmless. Diminish not a word Either out of fear, favour, or flattery: declare not only the truth, but the whole truth, and give them faithful warning. Thus must all God’s ambassadors keep close to their instructions, and neither add to, nor diminish from, the word of the truth of the gospel, but must faithfully make known the whole counsel of God. If so be they will hearken and turn, &c. Not that God was ignorant of their obstinacy, or did not foreknow that they would harden their hearts, and remain impenitent; yet it was for the glory of his justice, mercy, and holiness, to afford them both time for, and the means of, repentance. And he did give them time, for it was at least six years after this before the captivity of Jehoiakim, and seventeen before that of Zedekiah took place; and as for means, God favoured them not only with such as were ordinary, but such as were extraordinary, namely, with the ministry of this prophet.
Jeremiah 26:7. So the priests and the prophets Namely, the false prophets; they who pretended to be prophets, though they had received no divine commission. And all the people Who were present at that time; heard Jeremiah, &c., in the house of the Lord That is, “In the court before the Lord’s house. The outer courts, being holy ground, and dedicated to God’s worship, are called by the name of the temple. So the treasury, where Christ preached, is called the temple, (John 8:20,) though it stood in the outer court of it. And St. Paul is said to have entered into the temple, Acts 21:26, &c.; that is, into the court of the temple, and the Jews to have laid hold on him there.” Lowth.
Jeremiah 26:8-10. The priests and prophets took him, &c. As a disturber of the government, and a discourager of the people from defending their country against the enemy, in prophesying that the temple and city of Jerusalem should become a desolation. When the princes of Judah heard these things That is, the king’s counsellors, or chief officers of the state, who were also members of the great court of the sanhedrim, first instituted Numbers 11:16, and revived by Jehoshaphat, 2 Chronicles 19:8. They came and sat in the entry of the gate, &c. This was built by Jotham, as we read 2 Kings 13:35. The intelligent reader will observe a great similarity between the conduct of these priests and false prophets toward Jeremiah, and that of the priests, the scribes, and Pharisees toward Jesus Christ, of whom Jeremiah was a type: see particularly Mark 14:58; Matthew 26:61.
Jeremiah 26:13-16 . Amend your ways, and the Lord will repent, &c. It appears here again that God’s determination to give up Jerusalem to destruction was conditional: see note on Jeremiah 18:7-10. If the people had repented of their sins, and reformed their conduct, their ruin would have been prevented, and they would have enjoyed a continuance of peace and prosperity. As for me, behold I am in your hand I have neither any power, nor can make any interest to oppose you; do with me as seemeth good in your sight I am content even to lose my life, if God be pleased to permit you to take it. But know ye for certain, &c. Be fully assured; if you put me to death Who, as you well know, am not guilty of any crime; ye shall surely bring innocent blood upon yourselves, and upon this city, &c. You may think that by killing the prophet you will defeat the accomplishment of the prophecy, but you will find yourselves wretchedly deceived: such an act will at once greatly add to your guilt, and aggravate your ruin. Their own consciences could not but tell them that if Jeremiah was (as certainly he was) sent of God to bring them this message, it was at their utmost peril if they treated him for it as a malefactor. For of a truth the Lord hath sent me unto you, &c. Such is Jeremiah’s justification of himself. He reduces all to this, that God had sent him; and his adversaries were able to make no reply. “If God hath sent me, you can have nothing to say against me.” It is upon this that he is declared innocent in the following verse, This man is not worthy to die Which was the sentence pronounced by the princes and all the people: for the people, who before were forward to condemn him, now, upon hearing his apology, were as forward to acquit him.
Jeremiah 26:17-19. Then rose up certain of the elders Either the princes before mentioned, or the more intelligent men of the people, stood up, and put the assembly in mind of a former case, as is usual with us in giving judgment, the wisdom of our predecessors being a direction to us. The case referred to is that of Micah, the book of whose prophecies we have among those of the minor prophets. Was it thought strange that Jeremiah prophesied against this city and the temple? Micah did so before him, even in the reign of Hezekiah, that reign of reformation, Jeremiah 26:18. Micah said as publicly, as Jeremiah had now spoken to the same purpose, Zion shall be ploughed like a field The buildings shall be all destroyed, so that nothing shall hinder but it may be ploughed; Jerusalem shall become heaps Of ruins; and the mountain of the house On which the temple is built; shall be as the high places of the forest Overrun with briers and thorns. This Micah not only spoke, but wrote, and left it upon record, Micah 3:12. Now did Hezekiah and all Judah put him to death? Did the people come together in a body to accuse Micah, and demand sentence against him, as they had now done in the case of Jeremiah? Did they and their king make an act to silence him, or take away his life? No: on the contrary, they took the warning he gave them. Hezekiah, that renowned prince, set a good example before his successors; for he feared the Lord, as Noah, who, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, was moved with fear. He besought the Lord To turn away the judgment threatened, and to be reconciled to them; and he found it was not in vain to do so; for the Lord repented him of the evil Returned in mercy to them, and even sent an angel, who routed the army of the Assyrians that then threatened to destroy Jerusalem. These elders conclude, that it would be of dangerous consequence to the state if they should gratify the importunity of the priests and prophets in putting Jeremiah to death; saying, Thus we might procure great evil against our souls Observe, reader, it is well to deter ourselves from sin, with the consideration of the mischief we should certainly do to ourselves by it, and the irreparable damage we should thereby bring upon our own souls.
Jeremiah 26:20-23. And there was also a man There are three different opinions respecting the following passage. The first ascribes it to an opposite party, who, by a contrary precedent to the foregoing, urged the condemnation of Jeremiah, a precedent in which the speaking such words as he had spoken was adjudged treason. But against this view of the passage it is objected that such a transition of the speakers would have had some mark of distinction prefixed. Others suppose that this instance was alleged by the same persons that adduced the former, and with an intent to mark the different consequences that had ensued, and to caution the people and government against taking another step of a similar kind, and thereby adding sin to sin. As if he had said, Hezekiah, who had protected Micah, prospered; but did Jehoiakim, who slew Urijah, prosper? No: they all saw the contrary: one prophet had been slain already, let them not fill up the measure of national iniquity by slaying another. But Blaney thinks the least exceptionable opinion is, “that the elders concluded their speeches Jeremiah 26:19, and that the writer of the narrative goes on here to observe, in his own person, that notwithstanding the precedent of Micah, there had been a later precedent in the present reign, which might have operated very unfavourably to the cause of Jeremiah, but for the influence and authority of Ahikam the son of Shaphan, which was exerted to save him.”
Who prophesied against this city, &c., according to all the words of Jeremiah The prophets of the Lord agreed in their testimony, and one would have supposed that this circumstance should have caused their word to be regarded. And the king sought to put him to death Being, with his courtiers, greatly exasperated against him on account of the faithful testimony which he bore, and the true predictions of approaching judgments which God commissioned him to utter. But when Urijah heard it, he was afraid, and fled In this, it seems, he was faulty, and that through the weakness of his faith: he was too much under the power of that fear of man which brings a snare, and did not sufficiently confide in the power of God to protect him in the faithful execution of his office. And Jehoiakim sent men into Egypt, &c. One would have thought Jehoiakim’s malice might have been satisfied with driving him out of the country; but they are blood-thirsty that hate the upright, Proverbs 29:10. It was the life, the precious life, that Jehoiakim hunted after, and nothing less would satisfy him. So implacable is his revenge, that he sends a party of soldiers into Egypt, (there being a strict alliance between him and Pharaoh-nechoh,) some hundreds of miles, and they bring him back by force of arms unto Jehoiakim, who slew him with the sword Some think, even with his own hands, but this appears improbable. Neither did even this satisfy the king’s insatiable malice, but he loads the body of the good man with infamy, would not allow it the decent respects usually and justly paid to the remains of persons of distinction, but cast it into the graves of the common people As if he had not been a prophet of the Lord. Thus Jehoiakim hoped both to ruin Urijah’s reputation with the people, that no heed might be given to his predictions, and to deter others from prophesying in like manner: but in vain. Jeremiah bears the same testimony. There is no contending with the word of God. Herod thought he had gained his point when he had cut off John the Baptist’s head, but found himself deceived when, soon after, he heard of Jesus Christ, and said in a fright, This is John the Baptist; he is risen from the dead.
Jeremiah 26:24. Nevertheless, the hand of Ahikam, &c., was with Jeremiah Both he and his father Shaphan were chief ministers under Josiah, 2 Kings 22:12-14. And the brothers of Ahikam, Gemariah, Elasah, and Jaazaniah were considerable men in those days, with Ahikam, and members of the great council; Jeremiah 29:3; Ezekiel 8:11. So Ahikam made use of his interest with them to deliver Jeremiah from the danger that threatened him. Thus God wonderfully preserved Jeremiah, though he did not flee as Urijah did, but stood his ground. Ordinary ministers may use ordinary means, provided they be lawful ones, for their preservation; but they that have an extraordinary mission may expect an extraordinary protection.
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Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on Jeremiah 26". Benson's Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/
the Third Week after Epiphany