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Bible Commentaries

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged
Jeremiah 22

 

 

Verse 1

Thus saith the LORD Go down to the house of the king of Judah, and speak there this word,

Belonging to an earlier period than Jeremiah 21:1-14 - namely the reigns of Shallum or Jehoahaz, Jehoiakim, and Jeconiah (Jeremiah 22:10-11; Jeremiah 22:13; Jeremiah 22:18; Jeremiah 22:20; Jeremiah 22:24). Jeremiah often groups his prophecies, not by chronological order, but by similarity of subjects; thus Jeremiah 22:3, "execute judgments," in this chapter corresponds to Jeremiah 21:12. Grotius thinks that Jeremiah here repeats to Zedekiah what he had announced to that king's predecessors formerly (namely, his brother and brother's son), of a similar bearing, and which had since come to pass-a warning to Zedekiah. Probably, in arranging his prophecies, they were grouped for the first time in the present order-an order designed by the Holy Spirit to set forth the series of kings of Judah, all four alike failing in "righteousness;" followed at last by the "King," a righteous Branch raised unto David, in the house of Judah, "the Lord our righteousness" (Jeremiah 23:6). The unrighteousness of Zedekiah suggested the review of his predecessors' failure in the same respects (cf. Jeremiah 22:3 with Jeremiah 21:12), and consequent punishment, which ought to have warned him, but did not.

Go down - the temple (where Jeremiah had been prophesying) was higher than the king's palace on mount Zion (Jeremiah 36:10; Jeremiah 36:12; 2 Chronicles 23:20). Hence, the phrase, "Go down."

The king of Judah - perhaps including each of the four successive kings, to whom it was consecutively addressed, here brought together in one picture: Shallum, Jeremiah 22:11; Jehoiakim, Jeremiah 22:13-18; Jeconiah, Jeremiah 22:24; Zedekiah, the address to whom (Jeremiah 21:1; Jeremiah 21:11-12) suggests notice of the rest.


Verse 2

And say, Hear the word of the LORD, O king of Judah, that sittest upon the throne of David, thou, and thy servants, and thy people that enter in by these gates:

Thy people that enter in by these gates - of the king's palace.


Verse 3

Thus saith the LORD Execute ye judgment and righteousness, and deliver the spoiled out of the hand of the oppressor: and do no wrong, do no violence to the stranger, the fatherless, nor the widow, neither shed innocent blood in this place.

Execute ye judgment - in which respect Zedekiah had been warned as deficient (Jeremiah 21:12), "Execute judgment in the morning." Jehoiakim is meant here especially: he, by oppression, levied the tribute imposed on him by Pharaoh-necho king of Egypt (2 Chronicles 36:3), who had changed his name from Eliakim to Jehoiakim, and raised him to the throne instead of Jehoahaz. He heavily taxed his people, and took their labour without pay, to build gorgeous palaces for himself (Jeremiah 22:13-17), and shed innocent blood, e.g., that of Urijah the prophet (Jeremiah 26:20-24; 2 Kings 23:35; following in the steps of Manasseh, 2 Kings 24:4).


Verse 4

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.

Upon the throne of David - literally, for David on his throne (see note, Jeremiah 13:13). This verse is repeated substantially from Jeremiah 17:25.

His servants - so the Qeri'. But Kethibh, singular, 'his servant;' i:e., distributively, 'each with his servants;' Jeremiah 17:25, "their princes."


Verse 5

But if ye will not hear these words, I swear by myself, saith the LORD, that this house shall become a desolation.

I swear by myself - (Hebrews 6:13; Hebrews 6:17). God swears, because it seemed to them incredible that the family of I swear by myself - (Hebrews 6:13; Hebrews 6:17). God swears, because it seemed to them incredible that the family of David should be cast off.

This house - the king's, where Jeremiah spake (Jeremiah 22:4).


Verse 6

For thus saith the LORD unto the king's house 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.

Thou art Gilead unto me, and the head of Lebanon - though thou art as beautiful as Gilead, and as majestic in mine eyes (before me) as the summit of Lebanon, yet surely (the Hebrew is a formula of swearing to express certainly [ 'im (Hebrew #518) lo' (Hebrew #3808)] - literally, If I do not make thee, etc., believe me not ever hereafter: so "as truly as I live," Numbers 14:28 (in Hebrew, Numbers 14:27); "surely," Numbers 14:35 (in Hebrew, Numbers 14:34), etc). The mention of Gilead may allude not only to its past beauty, but covertly also to its desolation by the judgment on Israel-a warning now to Judah and the house of David. "Lebanon" is appropriately mentioned, as the king's house was built of its noble cedars.

I will make thee ... cities ... not inhabited - not other cites, but the different parts of the city of Jerusalem (2 Samuel 12:27; 2 Kings 10:25, in both which passages "city" is used for a part of the city: Joab had evidently taken but one part of the city of Rabbah, and desired David to come and take the whole city: and "the city of the house of Baal" means that part of the city in which the house of Baal was situated) (Maurer).


Verse 7

And I will prepare destroyers against thee, every one with his weapons: and they shall cut down thy choice cedars, and cast them into the fire.

I will prepare destroyers - the Hebrew for "prepare" is literally, sanctify, or solemnly set apart for a particular work (cf. Isaiah 13:3, "I have prepared my sanctified ones:" not holy in themselves, but consecrated as my instruments.

They shall cut down thy choice cedars - (Isaiah 37:24). Thy palaces built of choice cedars (Song of Solomon 1:17).


Verse 8

And many nations shall pass by this city and they shall say every man to his neighbour Wherefore hath And many nations shall pass by this city, and they shall say every man to his neighbour, Wherefore hath the LORD done thus unto this great city?

Many nations ... shall say ... Wherefore hath the Lord done thus unto this great city - fulfilling to the letter Deuteronomy 29:24-25, to which Jeremiah here alludes. The Gentile nations, more intelligent than you, shah understand that which ye do not-namely, that this city is a spectacle of God's vengeance (Calvin).


Verse 9

Then they shall answer, Because they have forsaken the covenant of the LORD their God, and worshipped other gods, and served them.

Because they have forsaken the covenant of the Lord - (2 Kings 22:17).


Verse 10-11

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.

Weep not for the dead - i:e., not so much for Josiah, who was taken away by death from the evil to come, as God promised to him (2 Kings 22:20; Isaiah 57:1), as for Shallum or Jehoahaz, his son (2 Kings 23:30). who, after a three months reign, was carried off by Pharaoh-necho into Egypt, never to see his native land again (2 Kings 23:31-34). Dying saints are justly to be envied, while living sinners are to be pitied. The allusion is to the great weeping of the people at the death of Josiah, and as a perpetual "ordinance" on each anniversary of it, in which Jeremiah himself took a prominent part (2 Chronicles 35:24-25), having probably written a dirge of "lamentations," to be chanted by "the singing men and the singing women" on the occasion. The name "Shallum" is here given in irony to Jehoahaz, who reigned but three months; as if he were a second Shallum, son of Jabesh, who reigned only one month in Samaria (2 Kings 15:13; 2 Chronicles 36:1-4). Shallum means retribution, a name of no good omen to him (Grotius); originally the people called him Shallom, indicative of peace and prosperity. But Jeremiah applies it in irony. 1 Chronicles 3:15 calls Shallum the fourth son of Josiah. The people raised him to the throne before his brother Eliakim or Jehoiakim, though the latter was the older (2 Kings 23:31; 2 Kings 23:36; 2 Chronicles 36:1); perhaps on account of Jehoiakim's extravagance (Jeremiah 22:13; Jeremiah 22:15). Jehoiakim was put in Shallum's (Jehoahaz) stead by Pharaoh-necho. Jeconiah his son succeeded. Zedekiah (Mattaniah), uncle of Jeconiah, and brother of Jehoiakim and Jehoahaz, was last of all raised to the throne by Nebuchadnezzar.

He shall not return - the people perhaps entertained hopes of Shallum's return from Egypt, in which case they would replace him on the throne, and thereby free themselves from the oppressive taxes imposed by Jehoiakim


Verse 12

But he shall die in the place whither they have led him captive, and shall see this land no more.

No JFB commentary on this verse.


Verse 13

Woe unto him that buildeth his house by unrighteousness, and his chambers by wrong; that useth his neighbour's service without wages, and giveth him not for his work;

Woe unto him that buildeth his house by unrighteousness, and his chamber by wrong; that useth his neighbour's service without wages, and giveth him not for his work - not only did Jehoiakim tax the people (2 Kings 23:35) for Pharaoh's tribute, but also took their forced labour, without pay, for building a splendid palace; in violation of Leviticus 19:13; Deuteronomy 24:14-15. (Compare Micah 3:10; Habakkuk 2:9; James 5:4.) God will repay in justice those who will not in justice pay those whom they employ.


Verse 14

That saith, I will build me a wide house and large chambers, and cutteth him out windows; and it is cieled with cedar, and painted with vermilion.

A wide house - literally, a house of dimensions ('measures'). (Compare Numbers 13:32, "Men of a great stature" - margin, 'men of statures.')

Large - rather, as margin, 'airy' [ m


Verse 15

Shalt thou reign, because thou closest thyself in cedar? did not thy father eat and drink, and do judgment and justice, and then it was well with him?

Closest thyself - rather, thou viest [from [ chaaraah (Hebrew #2734)], to be fired with eagerness, to burn with desire]. The same Hebrew verb is translated, in Jeremiah 12:5, "Contend" - i:e., art eagerly emulous to surpass thy forefathers in the magnificence of thy palaces.

Did not thy father eat and drink - did not Josiah, thy father, enjoy all that man really needs for his bodily wants? Did he need to build costly palaces to secure his throne? Nay, he did secure it by "judgment and justice;" whereas thou, with all thy luxurious building, sittest on a tottering throne.

Then - at that time when "justice" was done; or else, on that account, therefore [ `aaz (Hebrew #5794)].


Verse 16

He judged the cause of the poor and needy; then it was well with him: was not this to know me? saith the LORD.

Was not this to know me - namely, to show by deeds that one knows God's will, as was the case with Josiah (cf. John 13:17; contrast Titus 1:16).


Verse 17

But thine eyes and thine heart are not but for thy covetousness, and for to shed innocent blood, and for oppression, and for violence, to do it.

But thine - as opposed to thy father Josiah.


Verse 18

Therefore thus saith the LORD concerning Jehoiakim the son of Josiah 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!

They shall not lament for him, saying, Ah my brother! Ah sister! - Addressing him with such titles of affection as one would address to a deceased friend beloved as a brother or sister (cf. 1 Kings 13:30). This expresses, They shall not lament him with the lamentation of private individuals (Vatablus), or of blood-relatives (Grotius): as "Ah! lord," expresses public lamentation in the case of a king (Vatablus), or that of subjects (Grotius). Henderson thinks "Ah! sister" refers to Jehoiakim's queen, who, though taken to Babylon, and not left unburied on the way, as Jehoiakim, yet was not honoured at her death with royal lamentations, such as would have been poured forth over her at Jerusalem. He notices the beauty of Jeremiah's manner in his prophecy against Jehoiakim. In Jeremiah 22:13-14 he describes him in general terms; then, in Jeremiah 22:15-17 he directly addresses him without naming him; at last in Jeremiah 22:18 he names him, but in third person, to imply that God puts him to a distance from him. The boldness of the Hebrew prophets proves their divine mission: were it not so, their reproofs to the Hebrew kings, who held the throne by divine authority, would have been treason.

Ah his glory! - `Alas! his majesty,'


Verse 19

He shall be buried with the burial of an ass, drawn and cast forth beyond the gates of Jerusalem.

He shall be buried with the burial of an ass - i:e., he shall have the same burial as an donkey would get-namely, he shall be left a prey for beasts and birds (Jerome). This is not formally narrated; but 2 Chronicles 36:6 states that "Nebuchadnezzar bound him in fetters to carry him to Babylon:" his treatment there is nowhere mentioned. The prophecy here and in Jeremiah 36:30 harmonizes these two facts. He was slain by Nebuchadnezzar who changed his purpose of taking him to Babylon, on the way there, and left him unburied outside Jerusalem. 2 Kings 24:6, Jehoiakim slept with his father, does not contradict this; it simply expresses his being gathered to his fathers by death, not his being buried with his fathers (Psalms 49:19); The two phrases ("slept with his fathers," and "was buried with his fathers") are found together as expressing two distinct ideas (2 Kings 15:38; 2 Kings 16:20).


Verse 20

Go up to Lebanon, and cry; and lift up thy voice in Bashan, and cry from the passages: for all thy lovers Go up to Lebanon, and cry; and lift up thy voice in Bashan, and cry from the passages: for all thy lovers are destroyed.

Go up to Lebanon and cry - Delivered in the reign of Jehoiachin (Jeconiah or Conia), son of Jehoiachim; appended to the previous prophecy respecting Jehoiachim, on account of the similarity of the two prophecies. He calls on Jerusalem, personified as a mourning female, to go up to the highest points visible from Jerusalem, and lament there (Jeremiah 3:21, note) the calamity of herself, bereft of allies and of her princes, who are one after the other being cast down.

In Bashan - north of the region beyond Jordan; the mountains of Antilibanus are referred to (Psalms 68:15).

Cry from the passages - namely, of the rivers (Judges 12:6); or else the borders of the country (1 Samuel 13:23, "the passage of Michmash"): the passes between the rocks of the mountains (1 Samuel 14:4). Maurer translates 'Abarim' a mountainous tract beyond Jordan, opposite Jericho, "before Nebo," and south of Bashan; this accords with the mention of the mountains Lebanon and Bashan (Numbers 27:12; Numbers 33:47).

All thy lovers are destroyed - the allies of Judea, especially Egypt, now unable to help the Jews, being crippled by the King of Babylon, who "had taken, from the river of Egypt unto the river Euphrates, all that pertained to the king of Egypt" (2 Kings 24:7).


Verse 21

I spake unto thee in thy prosperity; but thou saidst, I will not hear. This hath been thy manner from thy youth, that thou obeyedst not my voice.

I spake unto thee in thy prosperity - I admonished thee in time. Thy sin has not been a sin of ignorance or thoughtlessness, but willful.

Prosperity - given thee by me; yet thou wouldest not hearken to the gracious Giver. The Hebrew is plural, to express 'in the height of thy prosperity;' so "droughts" (Isaiah 58:11).

But thou saidst - not in words, but in thy conduct virtually.

Thy manner from thy youth - from the time that I brought thee out of Egypt, and formed thee into a people (Jeremiah 7:25; Jeremiah 2:2; Isaiah 47:12).


Verse 22

The wind shall eat up all thy pastors, and thy lovers shall go into captivity: surely then shalt thou be ashamed and confounded for all thy wickedness.

The wind - the Chaldees, as a parching wind that sweeps rapidly over and withers vegetation (Jeremiah 4:11-12; Psalms 103:16; Isaiah 40:7).

Shall eat up all thy pastors - i:e., thy kings (Jeremiah 2:8). There is a happy play on words. The pastors, whose office it is to feed the sheep, shall themselves be fed on. They who should drive the flock from place to place for pasture shall be driven into exile by the Chaldees.


Verse 23

O inhabitant of Lebanon, that makest thy nest in the cedars, how gracious shalt thou be when pangs come upon thee, the pain as of a woman in travail!

O inhabitant of Lebanon - namely, Jerusalem, whose temple, palaces, and principal habitations were built of cedars of Lebanon.

How gracious shalt thou be - irony [ neechant (Hebrew #2603), from chaanan (Hebrew #2603), to pity, to be gracious to]. How gracious thou shalt be to thyself: how thou shalt congratulate thyself (Buxtorf). How graciously thou wilt be treated by the Chaldees, when they come on thee suddenly, as pangs on a woman in travail (Jeremiah 6:24). Nay, all thy fine buildings will win no favour, for thee from them. Maurer, etc., translate, 'How thou shalt be to be pitied.'


Verse 24

As I live, saith the LORD, though Coniah the son of Jehoiakim king of Judah were the signet upon my right hand, yet would I pluck thee thence;

As I live - God's most solemn formula of oath (Jeremiah 46:18; Jeremiah 4:2; Deuteronomy 32:40).

Coniah - Jeceoniah or Jehoiachim. The contraction of the name is meant in contempt.

Though Coniah ... were the signet upon my right hand - such ring-seals were often of the greatest value (Song of Solomon 8:6; Haggai 2:23) Jehoiachin's popularity is probably here preferred to.

Right hand - the hand most valued.

I would pluck thee thence - (cf. Obadiah 1:4.) On account of thy father's sins, as well as thine own (2 Chronicles 36:9). There is a change here, as often in Hebrew poetry, from the third to the second person, to being the threat more directly home to him. After a three months and ten days' reign, the Chaldees deposed him. In Babylon, however, by God's favour, he was ultimately treated more kindly than other royal captives (Jeremiah 52:31-34). But none of his direct posterity ever came to the throne.


Verse 25

And I will give thee into the hand of them that seek thy life, and into the hand of them whose face thou fearest, even into the hand of Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon, and into the hand of the Chaldeans.

And I will give thee into the hand of them that seek thy life - "I will pluck thee" from "my right hand," and will "give thee into the hand of them that seek thy life."


Verse 26

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.

Thy mother - Nehushta, the queen dowager (2 Kings 24:6; 2 Kings 24:8; 2 Kings 24:15; see Jeremiah 13:18).


Verse 27

But to the land whereunto they desire to return, thither shall they not return.

They - Coniah and his mother. He passes from the second person (Jeremiah 22:26) to the third person here, to express the alienation. The king is as it were put out of sight, as if unworthy of being spoken with directly.

The land where unto they desire - literally, lift up their soul (Jeremiah 44:14; Psalms 24:4; Psalms 25:1). Judea was the land which they in Babylon should pine after in vein.


Verse 28

Is this man Coniah a despised broken idol? is he a vessel wherein is no pleasure? wherefore are they cast out, he and his seed, and are cast into a land which they know not?

Is this man Coniah a despised broken idol? Coniah was idolized once by the Jews; Jeremiah therefore, in their person, expresses their astonishment at one from whom so much had been expected being now so utterly cast aside.

A vessel wherein is no pleasure - (Psalms 31:12, "I am like a broken vessel;" Hosea 8:8. "Israel ... shall be among the Gentiles as a vessel wherein is no pleasure"). The answer to this is given Romans 9:20-23 (contrast 2 Timothy 2:21).

His seed - (see note, Jeremiah 22:29).


Verse 29-30

O earth, earth, earth, hear the word of the LORD.

O earth! earth! earth! ... Write ye this man childless. Jeconiah was not actually without offspring (cf. Jeremiah 22:28, "his seed;" 1 Chronicles 3:17-18; Matthew 1:12, "Jeconias begat Salathiel"), but he was to be written "childless," as a warning to posterity - i:e., without a lineal heir to his throne. It is with a reference to the three kings, Shallum, Jehoiachim, and Jeconiah, that the earth is thrice invoked (Bengel). Or the triple invocation is to give intensity to the call for attention to the announcement of the end of the royal line, so far as Jehoiachim's seed is concerned. Though Messiah (Matthew 1:1-25), the heir of David's throne, was lineally descended from Jeconiah, it was only through Joseph, who, though his legal, was not His real father. Matthew gives the legal pedigree, through Solomon, down to Joseph; Luke the real pedigree, from Mary, the real parent, through Nathan, brother of Solomon, upwards (Luke 3:31).

No man of his seed shall prosper, sitting upon the throne of David. This explains the sense in which "childless" is used. Though the succession to the throne failed in his line, still the promise to David (Psalms 89:30-37) was revived in Zorobabel, and consummated in Christ.

Remarks:

(1) However highly exalted as to privileges men may be, as were the Jews of old, God will cast them from Him if they neglect His law of justice, righteousness, mercy, and truth (Jeremiah 22:3; Jeremiah 22:6). Sin can turn regions fertile as Gilead or Lebanon into a wilderness (Jeremiah 22:6). God has His instruments of judgment "prepared" for executing His holy will upon transgressors (Jeremiah 22:7), and in due time the stroke shall fall.

(2) Even in this world His retributive justice has often been so plainly marked in his dealings with highly-favoured nations which have forsaken His laws, that the most thoughtless have been constrained to see and acknowledge God's hand. But the full manifestation of God's righteousness in the government of the world is reserved for the general judgment.

(3) Dying saints are not objects of pity-their lot is earnestly to be desired; whereas the lot of living sinners, like Shallum, can only be mourned. It is a gracious boon from God, not a mark of displeasure, when by an early death He removes His faithful servants, such as Josiah was, from the evil to come (Jeremiah 22:10-11).

(4) God takes strict cognizance of acts of oppression done by the rich and great to their poor servants and labourers; wages kept back by fraud bring no gain in the end, but fearful retribution to the short-sighted perpetrator of the wrong. The great God who is above us all will give justice without mercy to him who not only showed no mercy, but even withheld common justice from those beneath him (Jeremiah 22:13).

(5) It much aggravates guilt when men have had, as Jehoiakim had in Josiah, the example of a godly parent or relative before them, and yet have turned aside from the path of righteousness (Jeremiah 22:15). How blind to their true interests such men are! Josiah in his pious course enjoyed all the temporal blessings which a man needs here below for happiness. He did not need to build gorgeous palaces by wrong, and at the cost of misery to thousands, in order to enjoy life; "it was well with him" in the practical knowledge of the Lord (Jeremiah 22:16). The way of duty was found by him to be the way of pleasantness, whereas the way of injustice proved to Jehoiakim the way to a dishonoured life and violent and ignominious death. Josiah died amidst a nation's lamentations; Jehoiakim died hated by all and lamented by none. Let us so live that we may be hereafter remembered by those who survive us as benefactors to our fellow-men, and faithful to our God.

(6) How sad, and yet how common it is, that prosperity, which comes from God, seldom draws men to God; nay, it is in prosperity especially that men are apt to turn a deaf ear to God's loving voice (Jeremiah 22:21). Judah was as haughty in prosperity as she was subsequently abject and fearful in adversity (Jeremiah 22:23; Jeremiah 22:25). God grant us grace to be humble and thankful when all is outwardly well with us, and cheerful, trusting, and hopeful in calamity.

(7) Coniah was once idolized by the people, but God brake their idol because of sin, and changed him from being an honoured vessel into "a vessel wherein is no pleasure" (Jeremiah 22:28). Such will be the fate of all our earthly confidences which we rest on, rather than upon the all-satisfying God. If the hollow professor were as near to God in spiritual privileges as "the signet" is to him upon whose "right hand" it rests (Jeremiah 22:24), yet would God "pluck" him away. But the sincere believer is "set as a seal upon the heart" of his Lord (Song of Solomon 8:6); "neither shall any pluck him out of Christ's and the Father's hand" (John 10:28-29). Though Coniah be written without lineal heir to the throne of David (Jeremiah 22:30), still the promise of God to King Messiah, the son and heir of David, shall not fail, and His spiritual "seed, too, shall endure forever" (Psalms 89:36).

 


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Bibliography Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Jeremiah 22:4". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/jeremiah-22.html. 1871-8.

Lectionary Calendar
Sunday, September 22nd, 2019
the Week of Proper 20 / Ordinary 25
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