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Bible Commentaries

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged
Jeremiah 36

 

 

Verse 1

And it came to pass in the fourth year of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah king of Judah, that this word came unto Jeremiah from the LORD, saying,

Fourth year - the command to write the roll was given in the 4th year; but it was not read publicly until the 5th year. As Isaiah subjoined to his predictions a history of events confirming his prophecies (Isaiah 36:1-22; Isaiah 37:1-38; Isaiah 38:1-22; Isaiah 39:1-8), so Jeremiah also in Jeremiah 37:1-21; Jeremiah 38:1-28; Jeremiah 39:1-18; Jeremiah 40:1-16; Jeremiah 41:1-18; Jeremiah 42:1-22; Jeremiah 43:1-13; but he prefaces his history with the narrative of an incident that occurred some time ago, showing that he not only by word, but in writing, and that twice, had beforehand testified all that he is about to state as having subsequently come to pass (Grotius). At the end of Jehoiakim's 3rd year Nebuchadnezzar enrolled an army against Jerusalem, and took it in the end of the 5th or beginning of the 6th year, and carried away captive Jehoiakim, Daniel, etc. Jehoiakim returned the same year and for 3 years was tributary; then withheld tribute. Nebuchadnezzar returned, and took Jerusalem, and carried off Jehoiakim, who was killed on the road. This account harmonizes this chapter with 2 Kings 24:1-20 and Daniel 1:1-21. See note, Jeremiah 22:19.


Verse 2

Take thee a roll of a book, and write therein all the words that I have spoken unto thee against Israel, and against Judah, and against all the nations, from the day I spake unto thee, from the days of Josiah, even unto this day.

Take thee a roll of a book - a book formed of prepared skins made into a roll. Compare "volume of the book" - i:e., the Pentateuch (Psalms 40:7). It does not follow that his prophecies were not before committed to writing; what is implied is, they were now written together in one volume, so as to be read continuously to the Jews in the temple. Against all the nations - (Jeremiah 25:15, etc.) from the days of Josiah - (Jeremiah 25:3), from Josiah's 13th year (Jeremiah 1:2).


Verse 3

It may be that the house of Judah will hear all the evil which I purpose to do unto them; that they may return every man from his evil way; that I may forgive their iniquity and their sin.

It may be that ... Judah will hear - consider seriously.

That they may return every man from his evil way - (Jonah 3:8).


Verse 4

Then Jeremiah called Baruch the son of Neriah: and Baruch wrote from the mouth of Jeremiah all the words of the LORD, which he had spoken unto him, upon a roll of a book.

Baruch wrote ... all the words of the Lord - God specially suggesting what might otherwise have escaped his memory, and directing the choice of "words," as well as the substance (John 14:26; John 16:13).


Verse 5

And Jeremiah commanded Baruch, saying, I am shut up; I cannot go into the house of the LORD:

I am shut up - not in prison, because there is no account of Jeremiah's imprisonment under Jehoiakim, and Jeremiah 36:19; Jeremiah 36:26 are inconsistent with it; but the meaning is, 'I am prevented'-namely, by some hinderance, or through fear of the king, to whose anger Baruch was less exposed, as not being the author of the prophecy.


Verse 6

Therefore go thou, and read in the roll, which thou hast written from my mouth, the words of the LORD Therefore go thou, and read in the roll, which thou hast written from my mouth, the words of the LORD in the ears of the people in the LORD's house upon the fasting day: and also thou shalt read them in the ears of all Judah that come out of their cities.

Go thou - on the following year (Jeremiah 36:9).

Fasting day - (see Jeremiah 36:9). An extraordinary fast in the 9th month, whereas the fast on the great day of atonement was on the 10th day of the 7th month (Leviticus 16:29; Leviticus 23:27-32), appointed to avert the impending calamity, when Nebuchadnezzar, having in the year before (i:e., the 4th year of Jehoiakim) smitten Pharaoh-necho at Carchemish, it was feared would attack Judea as the ally of Egypt (2 Kings 23:34-35). The fast was likely to be an occasion on which Jeremiah would find the Jews more softened, as well as a larger number of them met together.


Verse 7

It may be they will present their supplication before the LORD, and will return every one from his evil way: for great is the anger and the fury that the LORD hath pronounced against this people.

They will present their supplication - literally, their supplication shall fall; alluding to the prostrate attitude of the suppliants (Deuteronomy 9:25; Matthew 26:39), as petitioners fall at the feet of a king in the East. So Hebrew, Jeremiah 38:26; Daniel 9:18, "Present our supplications;" margin, 'Cause our supplications to fall.'


Verse 8

And Baruch the son of Neriah did according to all that Jeremiah the prophet commanded him, reading in the book the words of the LORD in the LORD's house.

No JFB commentary on this verse.


Verse 9

And it came to pass in the fifth year of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah king of Judah, in the ninth month, that they proclaimed a fast before the LORD to all the people in Jerusalem, and to all the people that came from the cities of Judah unto Jerusalem. They proclaimed a fast ... to all the people in Jerusalem, and to all the people that came ... - rather, 'all the people in Jerusalem, and all the people that came from the cities of Judah unto Jerusalem, proclaimed a fast' (Michaelis). The chiefs appointed the fast by the wish of the people. In either version the ungodly king had no share in appointing the fast.


Verse 10

Then read Baruch in the book the words of Jeremiah in the house of the LORD, in the chamber of Gemariah the son of Shaphan the scribe, in the higher court, at the entry of the new gate of the LORD's house, in the ears of all the people.

In the chamber of Gemariah. Baruch read from the window or balcony of the chamber looking into the court where the people were assembled. However, some of the chambers were large enough to contain a considerable number (Nehemiah 13:5).

Gemariah ... son of Shaphan - distinct from the Gemariah son of Hilkiah in Jeremiah 29:3.

Shaphan - the same person as in 2 Kings 22:3. He is there mentioned as having been employed by the pious King Josiah to communicate with Hilkiah the high priest in the house of God, and afterward to read to him the book of the law found in the temple, and again to inquire the will of the Lord from Huldah the prophetess.

The scribe - secretary of state; or he who presided over the public records.

Higher court - that of the priests, the court of the people being lower (2 Chronicles 4:9).

New gate - (Jeremiah 26:10). The east gate.


Verse 11

When Michaiah the son of Gemariah, the son of Shaphan, had heard out of the book all the words of the LORD,

No JFB commentary on this verse.


Verse 12

Then he went down into the king's house, into the scribe's chamber: and, lo, all the princes sat there, even Elishama the scribe, and Delaiah the son of Shemaiah, and Elnathan the son of Achbor, and Gemariah the son of Shaphan, and Zedekiah the son of Hananiah, and all the princes.

The scribe's chamber - an apartment in the palace occupied by the secretary of state.

The princes - holding a council of state at the time.

Elnathan - who had already been an instrument of evil in Jehoiakim's hand (Jeremiah 26:22-23), to fetch the prophet Urijah out of Egypt, in order that Jehoiakim might kill him.

Hananiah - the false prophet (Jeremiah 28:10-17) visited with death, according to Jeremiah's denunciation from the Lord, in the reign of Zedekiah. Zedekiah the son of Hananiah does not seem to have been much better than his father.


Verse 13

Then Michaiah declared unto them all the words that he had heard, when Baruch read the book in the ears of the people.

No JFB commentary on this verse.


Verse 14

Therefore all the princes sent Jehudi the son of Nethaniah, the son of Shelemiah, the son of Cushi, unto Baruch, saying, Take in thine hand the roll wherein thou hast read in the ears of the people, and come. So Baruch the son of Neriah took the roll in his hand, and came unto them.

Jehudi - of a good family, as appears from his pedigree being given so fully, but in a subordinate position.

All the princes sent ... unto Baruch, saying ... come - instead of requiring Baruch to come to them, they ought to have gone to the temple, and there professed their penitence. But pride forbade it (Calvin).


Verse 15

And they said unto him, Sit down now, and read it in our ears. So Baruch read it in their ears.

No JFB commentary on this verse.


Verse 16

Now it came to pass, when they had heard all the words, they were afraid both one and other, and said unto Baruch, We will surely tell the king of all these words.

They were afraid, both one and other - Hebrew 'they were afraid each with his neighbour:' fear-stricken, they turned to one another (cf. Genesis 42:28). This showed, on their part, hesitancy, and some degree of fear of God, but not enough to make them willing to sacrifice the favour of an earthly king.

We will surely tell the kind - not the language of threatening, but implying that the matter is of such moment that the king ought to be made acquainted with it, so as to seek some remedy against the divine anger.


Verse 17

And they asked Baruch, saying, Tell us now, How didst thou write all these words at his mouth?

How didst thou write all these words at his mouth? What they wished to know was, whether what Baruch had read to them was written by him from memory, after hearing Jeremiah repeating his prophecies continuously, or accurately, from the prophet's own dictation.


Verse 18

Then Baruch answered them, He pronounced all these words unto me with his mouth, and I wrote them with ink in the book.

He pronounced all these words unto me with his mouth. Baruch replies, it was by the oral dictation of the prophet: Jeremiah 36:2 accords with this view, rather than with the notion that Jeremiah repeated his prophecies from MSS.

I wrote them with ink - his specification of the "ink" implies, I added nothing except the hand, pen, and ink.


Verse 19

Then said the princes unto Baruch, Go, hide thee, thou and Jeremiah; and let no man know where ye be.

Then said the princes unto Baruch, Go, hide thee - showing that they were not altogether without better feelings (cf. Jeremiah 36:16; Jeremiah 36:25).


Verse 20

And they went in to the king into the court, but they laid up the roll in the chamber of Elishama the scribe, and told all the words in the ears of the king.

In the chamber of Elishama. There were chambers in the king's palace round the court or great hall, as in the temple (Jeremiah 36:10). The roll was "laid up" there for safe keeping, with other public records.


Verse 21

So the king sent Jehudi to fetch the roll: and he took it out of Elishama the scribe's chamber. And Jehudi read it in the ears of the king, and in the ears of all the princes which stood beside the king.

The king sent Jehudi to fetch the roll. Note how unbelievers flee from God, and yet seek Him through some kind of involuntary impulse (Calvin). Jehudi seems to have been the king's ready tool for evil.


Verse 22

Now the king sat in the winterhouse in the ninth month: and there was a fire on the hearth burning before him.

The winter-house - (Amos 3:15, "I will smite the winter-house with the summer-house").

In the ninth month - namely, of the religious year - i:e., November or December.

There was a fire on the hearth - rather, 'the stove [ haa'aach (Hebrew #254)] was burning before him.' In the East neither chimneys nor ovens are used, but in cold weather a brasen vessel containing burning charcoal; when the wood has burned to embers a cover is placed over the pot, to make it retain the heat.


Verse 23

And it came to pass, that when Jehudi had read three or four leaves, he cut it with the penknife, and cast it into the fire that was on the hearth, until all the roll was consumed in the fire that was on the hearth.

Three or four leaves - not distinct leaves as in a book, but the consecutive spaces or columns on the long roll in the shape of doors (whence the Hebrew name [ d


Verse 24

Yet they were not afraid, nor rent their garments, neither the king, nor any of his servants that heard all these words.

Yet they were not afraid ... neither the king, nor any of his servants that heard all these words. The king and his "servants" were more hardened than the "princes" and councilors (Jeremiah 36:12-16, notes). Contrast the humble fear exhibited by Josiah at the reading of the law (2 Kings 22:11; 2 Kings 22:19).


Verse 25

Nevertheless Elnathan and Delaiah and Gemariah had made intercession to the king that he would not burn the roll: but he would not hear them.

Nevertheless Elnathan ... had made intercession to the king that he would not burn the roll; but he would not hear them - (note, Jeremiah 36:16). The "nevertheless" aggravates the king's sin: though (God would have drawn him back through their intercession, he persisted: judicial blindness and reprobation!


Verse 26

But the king commanded Jerahmeel the son of Hammelech, and Seraiah the son of Azriel, and Shelemiah the son of Abdeel, to take Baruch the scribe and Jeremiah the prophet: but the LORD hid them.

Jerahmeel the son of Hammelech - not, as margin, 'of the king.' Jehoiakim this time (the 5th year of his reign) had no grown-up son: Jeconiah, his successor, was then a boy of eleven (cf. 2 Kings 23:36 with 24:8).

The Lord hid them - (Psalms 31:20; Psalms 83:3; Isaiah 26:20).


Verse 27

Then the word of the LORD came to Jeremiah, after that the king had burned the roll, and the words which Baruch wrote at the mouth of Jeremiah, saying,

The roll and the words - i:e., the roll of words.


Verse 28

Take thee again another roll, and write in it all the former words that were in the first roll, which Jehoiakim the king of Judah hath burned.

All the former words. It is in vain that the ungodly resist the power of Yahweh; not one of His words shall fall to the ground (Matthew 5:18; Acts 9:5; Acts 5:39).


Verse 29

And thou shalt say to Jehoiakim king of Judah, Thus saith the LORD Thou hast burned this roll, saying, Why hast thou written therein, saying, The king of Babylon shall certainly come and destroy this land, and shall cause to cease from thence man and beast?

Say to Jehoiakim - not in person, as Jeremiah was 'hidden' (Jeremiah 36:26), but by the written word prophecy.

Thou hast burned the roll, saying, Why hast thou written therein ... the king of Babylon shall ... destroy this land. This is what the king had desired to be said to Jeremiah if he should be found: kings often dislike the truth to be told to them.


Verse 30

Therefore thus saith the LORD of Jehoiakim king of Judah; He shall have none to sit upon the throne of David: and his dead body shall be cast out in the day to the heat, and in the night to the frost.

He shall have none to sit upon the throne - fulfilled (2 Kings 24:8, etc; 2 Kings 25:1-30.) He had successors, but not directly of his posterity, except his son Jeconiah, whose three months reign is counted as nothing: Zedekiah was not son, but uncle of Jeconiah, and was raised to the throne in contempt of him and his father Jehoiakim (Jeremiah 22:30).

His dead body shall be cast out. - (Jeremiah 22:18-19).

In the day to the heat ... in the night to the frost. There are often these variations of temperature in the East between night and day (Genesis 31:40)


Verse 31

And I will punish him and his seed and his servants for their iniquity; and I will bring upon them, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and upon the men of Judah, all the evil that I have pronounced against them; but they hearkened not. No JFB commentary on this verse.


Verse 32

Then took Jeremiah another roll, and gave it to Baruch the scribe, the son of Neriah; who wrote therein from the mouth of Jeremiah all the words of the book which Jehoiakim king of Judah had burned in the fire: and there were added besides unto them many like words.

There were added besides ... many like words. Sinners gain nothing but additional punishment by setting aside the word of Yahweh. The law was similarly rewritten, after the first tables had been broken owing to Israel's idolatry (Exodus 32:15-16; Exodus 31:18; Exodus 34:1; Exodus 34:23). God himself wrote them in the first instance, and Moses by his direction wrote the same words on the second tables (Deuteronomy 31:9).

Remarks:

(1) The writing of the Word of God is a most precious safeguard against the uncertainties of oral tradition (Jeremiah 36:4). God so directed the sacred writers that they should be able to remember all that otherwise they might, have forgotten, thereby stereotyping for the Church of all ages the originally spoken "words" of prophecy; God also, while not lettering the individual writer as to style so superintended the choice of the words and modes of expression that nothing should be in the original autographs which would not be suited for the exact revelation of His will, and nothing should be omitted which is necessary for "doctrine, reproof, correction, and instruction in righteousness" (2 Timothy 3:16).

(2) The occasion chosen by Jeremiah for his solemn appeal in the words of God Himself, read by Baruch in the hearing of the people, was one in which, if ever, they were likely to be in a humble susceptible state, and open to serious impressions. A public fast, appointed for national humiliation under national calamities, some of which had already overtaken the state, and others were evidently impending, was surely a season wherein men might be expected to be in a softened frame. But outward circumstances cannot of themselves change men inwardly. The people themselves seen to have gotten the fast appointed: so far their conduct seemed promising (note, Jeremiah 36:9). Jeremiah and Baruch did their part, declaring to the vast assemblage in the Lord's house that great was the fury that the Lord had pronounced against Israel (Jeremiah 36:7), if so be that the people might be collectively and individually moved to "return from their evil way" (Jeremiah 36:7), and that so the Lord might abate the fierceness of His threatened anger. What temporary effect the reading of the words of the Lord produced on the people we are not told: that it did not produce a lasting effect we know from their subsequent impenitence and ruin.

(3) The princes, instead of penitently going to the temple, where Baruch was, as they ought, when they heard of what he had read, from Michaiah, summoned Baruch to come to them to the chamber where they were all seated in council (Jeremiah 36:11-14). Pride prevents many a man from doing what conscience suggests. The fear of the opinion of his fellow-men deters him from acting as one who fears God. It is true, on Baruch's reading, they turned in fear one to the other (Jeremiah 36:16, note), and said that they would inform the king of the threats of God. Influenced also by kindly feeling to Baruch and Jeremiah, they advised them to hide themselves from the vengeance of the king. But they evidently thought more of the vengeance of the king, who could kill the body, than of the vengeance of the King of kings, who can kill both body and soul in hell. Hence, when the king, who was altogether hardened in impenitence, cut with his penknife, and cast into the fire, the successive columns of the roll, of prophecies, until the whole was consumed (Jeremiah 36:23), but three out of the whole number of princes remonstrated (Jeremiah 36:25), and this but faintly. We read not of one of them humbling himself before God because of the coming judgments. And as for the servants immediately about the person of the king, they did not even evince the temporary alarm which the princes had at first evinced on hearing the prophecies (Jeremiah 36:24).

(4) As to the king, observe first how the ungodly, though they would gladly flee from God, are yet moved by a kind of involuntary impulse to wish to hear His threatenings. Guilty Jehoiakim must hear what will condemn him, and what cannot but strike a secret thrill of terror into his heart, in spite of all his hardihood. Bad kings never want unscrupulous agents like Jehudi, to execute their evil purposes. Had he listened to God speaking to him once more through the intercession of Elnathan, Delaiah, and Gemariah (Jeremiah 36:25), he might even yet have been saved: but no! in judicial blindness, he hardens himself to his temporal and eternal ruin. No wonder that reprobates dislike the Word of God, which condemns their impenitence and unbelief. It cannot alter its tone toward them until they alter their course so as to accord with its precepts. As the threatening word of the Lord, when heard by godly Josiah, produced fear in him, humility, and a tender heart; so, on the contrary, when heard by ungodly Jehoiakim, it brought out all his latent hatred of it, and of God's messengers who proclaimed it.

This two-fold effect on opposite sides the double-edged sword of the Word has in all ages produced (2 Corinthians 2:15-16). But abortive was his rage against it and them. If he could, he would have burned them, as he did the roll of God's word written by them; a treatment which the Bible and its followers have often since experienced at the hands of pagan and pagan Rome. The Lord hid Baruch and Jeremiah in the secret of His presence from the pride of man (Jeremiah 36:26; Psalms 31:20). Jehoiakim could not touch a hair of their head. And, so far from making the word of God of none effect by his impotent act of profanity in destroying the written word, he only brought its curse upon himself with redoubled weight. As he had cast the roll into the heat of the fire, so the freshly-written roll doomed "his dead body to be cast out (in righteous retribution) to the heat in the day, and to the frost in the night." Not one word of all the threatened evil was abated on the writing of the roll, but, "there were added besides many like words." O, how hard it is for the sinner "to kick against the pricks"! He gains nothing, and cannot set aside one tittle of the Word of God, by fighting against it, but only adds to his own condemnation. Who ever hardened himself against the Lord and prospered?

 


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Bibliography Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Jeremiah 36:4". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/jeremiah-36.html. 1871-8.

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Sunday, October 20th, 2019
the Week of Proper 24 / Ordinary 29
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