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Bible Commentaries

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged
Jeremiah 26



Verse 1

In the beginning of the reign of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah king of Judah came this word from the LORD, saying,

The prophecies which gave the offence were those given in detail in Jeremiah 7:1-34; Jeremiah 8:1-22; Jeremiah 9:1-26 (cf. Jeremiah 26:6, "I will make this The prophecies which gave the offence were those given in detail in Jeremiah 7:1-34; Jeremiah 8:1-22; Jeremiah 9:1-26 (cf. Jeremiah 26:6, "I will make this house like Shiloh," here, with Jeremiah 7:12; Jeremiah 7:14); and summarily referred to here (Maurer), probably pronounced at one of the great feasts (that of Tabernacles, according to Usher; because the inhabitants of "all the cities of Judah" are represented as present, Jeremiah 26:2). See note, Jeremiah 7:1.

Verse 2

Thus saith the LORD Stand in the court of the LORD's house, and speak unto all the cities of Judah, which come to worship in the LORD's house, all the words that I command thee to speak unto them; diminish not a word:

Stand in the court of the Lord's house - the largest court from which he could be heard by the whole people.

Come to worship - worship and sacrifice are vain without obedience (1 Samuel 15:21-22).

Speak ... all the words - (Ezekiel 3:10).

Diminish not a word - (Deuteronomy 4:2; Deuteronomy 12:32; Proverbs 30:6; Acts 20:27; 2 Corinthians 2:17; 2 Corinthians 4:2; Revelation 22:19). Not suppressing or softening anything for fear of giving offence, nor setting forth coldly and indirectly what can only by forcible statement do good.

Verse 3

If so be they will hearken, and turn every man from his evil way, that I may repent me of the evil, which I purpose to do unto them because of the evil of their doings.

If so be they will hearken - expressed according to human conceptions; not as if God did not foreknow all contingencies, but to mark the obstinacy of the people, and the difficulty of healing them, and to show His own goodness in making the offer which left them without excuse (Calvin).

Verse 4

And thou shalt say unto them, Thus saith the LORD If ye will not hearken to me, to walk in my law, which I have set before you, No JFB commentary on this verse.

Verse 5

To hearken to the words of my servants the prophets, whom I sent unto you, both rising up early, and sending them, but ye have not hearkened;

To hearken to the words of my servants the prophets - the inspired interpreters of the law (Jeremiah 26:4), who adapted it to the use of the people.

Verse 6

Then will I make this house like Shiloh, and will make this city a curse to all the nations of the earth.

Then will I make this house like Shiloh - where the ark was set up at first, and from which it was taken by the Israelites to save them in their battle against the Philistines: but in vain, because it was taken by the latter (note, Jeremiah 7:13-14; 1 Samuel 4:10-12; Psalms 78:60).

I will make this city a curse - (Jeremiah 24:9; Isaiah 65:15).

Verse 7

So the priests and the prophets and all the people heard Jeremiah speaking these words in the house of the LORD.

No JFB commentary on this verse.

Verse 8

Now it came to pass, when Jeremiah had made an end of speaking all that the LORD had commanded him to speak unto all the people, that the priests and the prophets and all the people took him, saying, Thou shalt surely die.

The priests. The captain (or prefect) of the temple had the power of apprehending offenders in the temple, with the sanction of the priests.

The prophets - the false prophets. The charge against Jeremiah was that of uttering falsehood in Yahweh's name, an act punishable with death (Deuteronomy 18:20). His prophecy against the temple and city (Jeremiah 26:11) might speciously be represented as contradicting God's own words (Psalms 132:14). Compare the similar charge against Stephen (Acts 6:13-14).

Verse 9

Why hast thou prophesied in the name of the LORD, saying, This house shall be like Shiloh, and this city shall be desolate without an inhabitant? And all the people were gathered against Jeremiah in the house of the LORD.

No JFB commentary on this verse.

Verse 10

When the princes of Judah heard these things, then they came up from the king's house unto the house of the LORD, and sat down in the entry of the new gate of the LORD's house.

When the princes - members of the Council of State, or great council, which took cognizance of such offences.

Heard these things - the clamour of the popular tumult.

They came up - from the king's house to the temple, which stood higher than the palace.

Sat - as judges, in the gate, the usual place of trying such cases.

The new gate - originally built by Jotham (2 Kings 15:35, "the higher gate"), and now recently restored.

Verse 11

Then spake the priests and the prophets unto the princes and to all the people, saying, This man is worthy to die; for he hath prophesied against this city, as ye have heard with your ears.

No JFB commentary on this verse.

Verse 12

Then spake Jeremiah unto all the princes and to all the people, saying, The LORD sent me to prophesy against this house and against this city all the words that ye have heard.

The Lord sent me - a valid justification against any laws alleged against him.

To prophesy against this house and against - rather, concerning [ 'el (Hebrew #413)]. Jeremiah purposely avoids saying "against," which would needlessly irritate. They had used the same Hebrew word (Jeremiah 26:11), which ought to be translated concerning, though they meant it in the unfavourable sense. Jeremiah takes up their word in a better sense, implying that there is still room for repentance: that his prophecies aim at the real good of the city: for or concerning this house ... city. (Grotius).

Verse 13

Therefore now amend your ways and your doings, and obey the voice of the LORD your God; and the LORD will repent him of the evil that he hath pronounced against you.

Amend ... and the Lord will repent him of the evil - (Jeremiah 26:3; Jeremiah 26:19).

Verse 14

As for me, behold, I am in your hand: do with me as seemeth good and meet unto you.

As for me, behold, I am in your hand: do with me as seemeth good - Jeremiah's humility is herein shown, and submission to the powers that be (Romans 13:1).

Verse 15

But know ye for certain, that if ye put me to death, ye shall surely bring innocent blood upon yourselves, and upon this city, and upon the inhabitants thereof: for of a truth the LORD hath sent me unto you to speak all these words in your ears.

If ye put me to death, ye shall surely bring innocent blood upon yourselves - so far will you be from escaping the predicted evils by shedding my blood, that you will by that very act only incur heavier penalties, (Matthew 23:35, "That upon you may come ... the righteous blood," etc.)

Verse 16

Then said the princes and all the people unto the priests and to the prophets; This man is not worthy to die: for he hath spoken to us in the name of the LORD our God.

Then said the princes and all the people. The fickle people, as they were previously influenced by the priests to clamour for his death (Jeremiah 26:8), so now, under the princes' influence, require that he shall not be put to death. Compare as to Jesus, Jeremiah's antitype, the Hosannas of the multitude a few days before the same people, persuaded by the priests as in this case, cried, "Away with Him, crucify Him" (Matthew 21:1-46; Matthew 27:20-25). The priests, through envy of his holy zeal, were more his enemies than the princes, whose office was more secular than religious. A prophet could not legally be put to death unless he prophesied in the name of other gods (therefore, they say, "in the name of THE LORD"); or after that his prophecy had failed in its accomplishment. Meanwhile, if he foretold calamity, he might be imprisoned. (Compare Micaiah's case, 1 Kings 22:1-28).

Verse 17

Then rose up certain of the elders of the land, and spake to all the assembly of the people, saying,

Then rose up certain of the elders - members of the great council. (Compare Gamaliel's interposition in behalf of Peter and John, Acts 5:34, etc.) Elders - some of the "princes" mentioned (Jeremiah 26:16), those whose age as well as dignity would give weight to the precedents of past times, which they adduce.

Verse 18

Micah the Morasthite prophesied in the days of Hezekiah king of Judah, and spake to all the people of Judah, saying, Thus saith the LORD of hosts; Zion shall be plowed like a field, and Jerusalem shall become heaps, and the mountain of the house as the high places of a forest.

Micah - (Micah 3:12).

Morasthite - called so from a village of the tribe of Judah.

Hezekiah. The precedent in the reign of such a good king proved that Jeremiah was not the only prophet, nor the first, who threatened the city and the temple without incurring death.

The mountain of the house as the high places of a forest - Moriah, on which stood the temple (peculiarly called "the house"), shall be covered with woods instead of buildings. Jeremiah, in quoting previous prophecies, never does so without alteration; he adapts the language to his own style, showing thereby his authority in his treatment of Scripture, as being himself inspired.

Verse 19

Did Hezekiah king of Judah and all Judah put him at all to death? did he not fear the LORD, and besought the LORD, and the LORD repented him of the evil which he had pronounced against them? Thus might we procure great evil against our souls.

Hezekiah, so far from killing him, was led to "fear the Lord," and pray for remission of the sentence against Judah (2 Chronicles 32:26).

The Lord repented - (Exodus 32:14; 2 Samuel 24:16).

Thus - if we kill Jeremiah.

Verse 20

And there was also a man that prophesied in the name of the LORD, Urijah the son of Shemaiah of Kirjath-je'arim, who prophesied against this city and against this land according to all the words of Jeremiah:

As the flight and capture of Urijah must have occupied some time, "the beginning of the reign of Jehoiakim" (Jeremiah 26:1) must not mean the very beginning, but the second or third year of his eleven years' reign.

And there was also - perhaps connected with Jeremiah 26:24, as the comment of the writer, not the continuation of the speech of the elders: "And although there was also a man that prophesied ... Urijah," who was put to death by Jehoiakim (proving how great was the danger in which Jeremiah stood, and how wonderful the providence of God in preserving him); "nevertheless the hand of Ahikam was with Jeremiah, that they should not ... put him to death" (Glassius). The context, however, implies rather that the words are the continuation of the previous speech of the elders. They adduce another instance besides that of Micah, though of a different kind, namely, that of Urijah. He suffered for his prophecies; but they imply, though they do not venture to express it, that thereby sin has been added to sin, and that it has done no good to Jehoiakim, for that the notorious condition of the state at this time shows that a heavier vengeance is impending if they persevere in such acts of violence (Calvin).

Verse 21

And when Jehoiakim the king, with all his mighty men, and all the princes, heard his words, the king sought to put him to death: but when Urijah heard it, he was afraid, and fled, and went into Egypt;

No JFB commentary on this verse.

Verse 22

And Jehoiakim the king sent men into Egypt, namely, Elnathan the son of Achbor, and certain men with him into Egypt.

Jehoiakim the king sent men into Egypt. He had been put on the throne by Pharaoh of Egypt (2 Kings 23:34). This explains the readiness with which he got the Egyptians to give up Urijah to him, when that prophet had sought an asylum in Egypt. Urijah was faithful in delivering his message, but faulty in leaving his work; so God permitted him to lose his life, while Jeremiah was protected in danger. The path of duty is often the path of safety.

Verse 23

And they fetched forth Urijah out of Egypt, and brought him unto Jehoiakim the king; who slew him with the sword, and cast his dead body into the graves of the common people.

Graves of the common people - literally, son of the people (cf. 2 Kings 23:6; Josiah "cast the powder thereof

(i:e., of the grove-idol) upon the graves of the children of the people"). The prophets seem to have had a separate cemetery (Matthew 23:29). Urijah's corpse was denied this honour, in order that he should not be regarded as a true prophet.

Verse 24

Nevertheless the hand of Ahikam the son of Shaphan was with Jeremiah, that they should not give him into the hand of the people to put him to death.

Ahikam - son of Shaphan the scribe, or royal secretary. He was one of those whom King Josiah, when struck by the words of the book of the law, sent to inquire of the Lord (2 Kings 22:12; 2 Kings 22:14). Hence, his interference here in behalf of Jeremiah is what we should expect from his past association with that good king. His son Gedaliah followed in his father's steps, so that he was chosen by the Babylonians as the one to whom they committed Jeremiah for safety after taking Jerusalem, and on whose loyalty they could depend in setting him over the remnant of the people in Judea (Jeremiah 39:14; 2 Kings 25:22).

That they should not give him into the hand of the people to put him to death. Princes often, when they want to destroy a good man, prefer it to be done by a popular tumult, rather than by their own order, so as to reap the fruit of the crime without odium to themselves (Matthew 27:20).


(1) The minister of God must speak unreservedly and faithfully all that God commands him to speak; he must "not diminish a word" (Jeremiah 26:2) through fear or flattery, but, like Paul, be able to say at the end of his ministry, "I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God" (Acts 20:27). Jeremiah's warrant for his boldness in announcing the doom of the tabernacle at Shiloh (Jeremiah 26:9), as about to befall the temple at Jerusalem, was simply (Jeremiah 26:12), "The Lord sent me to prophesy against this house." So long as the minister of God delivers faithfully the message of his Divine Master, there is no just ground for complaint against him, and he may confidently leave results with God.

(2) The threat of putting him to death (Jeremiah 26:8) only made Jeremiah repeat his message from God with the same affectionate earnestness as before, "Amend your ways, and obey the voice of the Lord your God, and the Lord will repent Him of the evil that He hath pronounced against you" (Jeremiah 26:13). Neither their threats could abate the loving tenderness of his appeal, nor his own natural timidity diminish from his faithful statement of the message of God: he suppresses nothing and softens nothing from fear of man. At the same time, without resistance, he gives himself up to the pleasure of the powers that be, as ordained of God (Romans 13:1); but at the same time warns them of the fatal consequences which will result to themselves if, by an unrighteous judgment, they condemn him to death, and so shed innocent blood (Jeremiah 26:15). Herein we have a model for the guidance of ministers under similar circumstances. God will either save them from suffering, or save them in suffering, for His name's sake, "Wherefore let them that suffer according to the will of God commit the keeping of their souls to Him in well-doing, as unto a faithful Creator" (1 Peter 4:19).

(3) God has all hearts in His hands, and can raise up friends and advocates for His people from among the ranks of their opponents. When Jeremiah's life was threatened by the priests, the prophets, and all the people, certain of the elders were moved by God to stand up in his behalf (Jeremiah 26:17). A Gamaliel was raised up to befriend Peter and John in the Jewish Council (Acts 5:34, etc.), even as Nicodemus had claimed even-handed justice and an impartial hearing for their Master before them (John 7:50-51).

(4) The elders pleaded for Jeremiah the parallel cases of Micah and Urijah, who had both prophesied against Jerusalem-the former, under the good King Hezekiah, so far from forfeiting his life by his faithfulness, was the instrument of leading the king to repentance and humiliation before the Lord, so that the Lord repented of the evil which he had threatened; though the latter paid the penalty of his godly boldness with his life, yet the consequences to Jehoiakim were such as to afford but little encouragement to him and his people to repeat such a daring defiance of God again. Jeremiah was therefore spared. Whence we may learn that, if the Lord be on our side, we need not fear what man can do to us. Ungodly men cannot stir one step against us further than God permits. Their hands are tied in regard to the children of God, except so far as God allows, and God will not allow any real or lasting evil to befall His people. Happy therefore are the people that have God for their God!


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These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.

Bibliography Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Jeremiah 26:4". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". 1871-8.

Lectionary Calendar
Friday, October 30th, 2020
the Week of Proper 25 / Ordinary 30
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