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Bible Commentaries

John Trapp Complete Commentary
Jeremiah 21

 

 

Verse 1

Jeremiah 21:1 The word which came unto Jeremiah from the LORD, when king Zedekiah sent unto him Pashur the son of Melchiah, and Zephaniah the son of Maaseiah the priest, saying,

Ver. 1. The word that came unto Jeremiah from the Lord.] This history is here set down out of course; (a) for Jerusalem was not besieged till Jeremiah 32:2, and Jehoiakim reigned Jeremiah 25:1 It was in the ninth year of Zedekiah that this present prophecy was uttered. [2 Kings 25:1-2] This Zedekiah was one of those semiperfectae virtutis homines, as Philo calleth some professors, cakes half-baked., [Hosea 7:8] no flat atheist, nor yet a pious prince. Of Galba the emperor, as also of our Richard III, it is recorded that they were bad men but good princes. We cannot say so much of Zedekiah; two things he is chiefly charged with: (1.) That he broke his oath and faith plelged to the King of Babylon; [Ezekiel 17:16] (2.) That he humbled not himself before Jeremiah the prophet, speaking from the mouth of the Lord. [2 Chronicles 36:12-13] Hitherto he had not: but now in his distress he seeketh to this prophet; yea, sendeth an embassy. Kings care not for soldiers, said a great commander, till their crowns hang on the one side of their heads. Sure it is that some of them slight God’s ministers till they cannot tell what to do without them, as here. Kingdoms have their cares, and thrones their thorns. Antigonus cried out of his diadem, O vilis pannus, O base rag, not worth taking up at a man’s feet. Julian complained of his own unhappiness in being made emperor. Dioclesian laid down the empire as weary of it. Thirty of the ancient kings of this our land, saith Capgrave, resigned their crowns; such were their cares, crosses, and emulations. Zedekiah now could gladly have done as much. But since that might not be, he sendeth to Jeremiah, whom in his prosperity he had slighted, and, to gratify his wicked counsellors, wrongfully imprisoned.

He sent unto him Pashur.] Not that Magormissabib, [Jeremiah 20:1] but another of his name, though not much better, as it afterwards appeared, when, seeing Jeremiah’s stoutness for the truth, he counselled the king to put him to death. [Jeremiah 38:4]

And Zephaniah, the son of Maaseiah.] Of whom see further, Jeremiah 29:25-29; Jeremiah 37:3.


Verse 2

Jeremiah 21:2 Enquire, I pray thee, of the LORD for us; for Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon maketh war against us; if so be that the LORD will deal with us according to all his wondrous works, that he may go up from us.

Ver. 2. Inquire, I pray thee, of the Lord for us.] He seeketh now to the Lord, whom in his prosperity he regarded not; so doth a drowning man catch at the tree or twig, which before he made no reckoning of. Rarae fumant felicibus arae. "In their affliction they will seek me early." [Hosea 5:15] "When he slew them, then they sought him, and inquired early after God." [Psalms 78:34] Pharaoh, when plagued, calleth earnestly for Moses to pray for him; and Joab, when in danger of his life, runneth to the horns of the altar.

If so be the Lord will deal with us according to his wondrous works.] Or, It may be the Lord will deal with us, &c. - scil., As he did not long since with Hezekiah, when invaded by Sennacherib. Thus wicked wretches are willing to presume, and promise themselves impunity. See Deuteronomy 29:19. {See Trapp on "Deuteronomy 29:19"}


Verse 3

Jeremiah 21:3 Then said Jeremiah unto them, Thus shall ye say to Zedekiah:

Ver. 3. Then said Jeremiah unto them.] He answereth them modestly, and without insultation; but freely and boldly, as a man of a heroic spirit, and the messenger of the King of kings.


Verse 4

Jeremiah 21:4 Thus saith the LORD God of Israel; Behold, I will turn back the weapons of war that [are] in your hands, wherewith ye fight against the king of Babylon, and [against] the Chaldeans, which besiege you without the walls, and I will assemble them into the midst of this city.

Ver. 4. Behold, I will turn back the weapons of war,] i.e., I will render them vain and useless; as it is God who in battle ordereth the ammunition, [Jeremiah 50:25] and maketh the weapons vain or prosperous. [Isaiah 54:17 Jeremiah 50:9] This was plainly seen at Edgehill fight.


Verse 5

Jeremiah 21:5 And I myself will fight against you with an outstretched hand and with a strong arm, even in anger, and in fury, and in great wrath.

Ver. 5. And I myself will fight against you.] This was heavy tidings to Zedekiah and his courtiers. Optassent sibi prophetas qui dixissent laeta, saith Oecolampadius; they could have wished for more pleasing prophecies; but those that do what they should not must look to hear what they would not. Such bitter answers as this they must look for who seek to God only in a time of necessity. Silence, or else sad answers, they shall be sure of.


Verse 6

Jeremiah 21:6 And I will smite the inhabitants of this city, both man and beast: they shall die of a great pestilence.

Ver. 6. They shall die of a great pestilence.] See Jeremiah 16:4; Jeremiah 18:21. Hippocrates calleth the pestilence το θειον, the divine disease; because there is much of God’s hand in it, like as there was here in the sweating sickness, wherewith the English only were chased, not only in England, but in all countries. (a)


Verse 7

Jeremiah 21:7 And afterward, saith the LORD, I will deliver Zedekiah king of Judah, and his servants, and the people, and such as are left in this city from the pestilence, from the sword, and from the famine, into the hand of Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon, and into the hand of their enemies, and into the hand of those that seek their life: and he shall smite them with the edge of the sword; he shall not spare them, neither have pity, nor have mercy.

Ver. 7. And afterward, saith the Lord.] This is noted by the Hebrew critics for a very long verse - as having in it forty-two words, which consist of one hundred and sixty letters - and it sounds very heavily all along, to the courtiers especially. Potentes potenter torquebuntur. Power torments powerfully.


Verse 8

Jeremiah 21:8 And unto this people thou shalt say, Thus saith the LORD Behold, I set before you the way of life, and the way of death.

Ver. 8. Behold, I will set before you the way of life and the way of death.] They should have their option, but a very sad one. Saved they could not be from their enemies but by their enemies, nor escape death but by captivity, which is a kind of living death, and not much to be preferred before death. Only life is sweet, as the Gibeonites held it, and therefore chose rather to be "hewers of wood and drawers of water" than to be cut off with the rest of the Canaanites.


Verse 9

Jeremiah 21:9 He that abideth in this city shall die by the sword, and by the famine, and by the pestilence: but he that goeth out, and falleth to the Chaldeans that besiege you, he shall live, and his life shall be unto him for a prey.

Ver. 9. His life shall be unto him for a prey.] And lawful prey or booty is counted good purchase. [Isaiah 49:24] He shall save his life, though he lose his goods. And it should not be grievous to any man to sacrifice his estate to the service of his life. Why else did Solomon make so many hundreds of targets and shields of gold?


Verse 10

Jeremiah 21:10 For I have set my face against this city for evil, and not for good, saith the LORD: it shall be given into the hand of the king of Babylon, and he shall burn it with fire.

Ver. 10. For I have set my face against this city.] I have looked this city to destruction. I have decreed it, and will do it. When our Saviour set his face to go towards this city, [Luke 9:51] he was fully resolved on it, and nothing should hinder him. See Leviticus 17:10; Leviticus 20:5.


Verse 11

Jeremiah 21:11 And touching the house of the king of Judah, [say], Hear ye the word of the LORD

Ver. 11. And touching the house of the king of Judah, say,] i.e., His courtiers and his counsellors. which probably were now as bad or worse than they had been in his father Josiah’s days. "Her princes within her were roaring lions, her judges evening wolves." [Zephaniah 3:3] {See Trapp on "Zephaniah 3:3"}


Verse 12

Jeremiah 21:12 O house of David, thus saith the LORD Execute judgment in the morning, and deliver [him that is] spoiled out of the hand of the oppressor, lest my fury go out like fire, and burn that none can quench [it], because of the evil of your doings.

Ver. 12. O house of David.] But much degenerated from the piety of David. So Micah 2:7, "O thou that art named the house of Jacob - are these his doings," &c. {See Trapp on "Micah 2:7"} To be a degenerate plant of so noble a vine is no small discommendation.

Thus saith the Lord.] After that the court had sent to him, he is sent to the court with these instructions.

Execute justice in the morning.] As David your progenitor and pattern did. [Psalms 101:8] Be up and at it early, and make quick despatch of causes that poor men may go home about their businesses who have other things to do besides going to law. It is a lamentable thing that a suit should depend ten or twenty years in some courts, Quo saturentur avarissimi rabulae, omnia bona pauperum exugentes, (a) through the avarice of some pleaders, to the utter undoing of their poor clients. This made one such (when he was persuaded to patience by the example of Job) to reply, What do ye tell me of Job? Job never had any suits in chancery. Jethro adviseth Moses [Exodus 18:14-23] to dismiss those timely, (b) whom he cannot despatch presently.


Verse 13

Jeremiah 21:13 Behold, I [am] against thee, O inhabitant of the valley, [and] rock of the plain, saith the LORD which say, Who shall come down against us? or who shall enter into our habitations?

Ver. 13. Behold, I am against thee.] I, who alone am a whole army of men, van and rear both, [Isaiah 52:12] and may better say than any other, how many reckon you me at?

O inhabitant of the valley,] i.e., Of Jerusalem, called elsewhere the valley of vision. It stood high, but yet was compassed about with mountains that were higher. [Psalms 125:2]

And rock of the plain.] The bulwark and beauty of the whole adjacent country. Pliny saith that it was the most famous of all the cities of the east; he might have said of the whole world, if he had known all.

Which say, Who shall come down against us? or who, &c.] This they said out of carnal confidence in the natural strength of the place, increased by their fortifications. The Jebusites had done so, [2 Samuel 5:6] and were unroosted. Security ushereth in destruction.

Who shall enter into our habitations?] Which we hold impregnable. Such like vaunts precede and presage ruin. See Jeremiah 49:16, Obadiah 1:3.


Verse 14

Jeremiah 21:14 But I will punish you according to the fruit of your doings, saith the LORD: and I will kindle a fire in the forest thereof, and it shall devour all things round about it.

Ver. 14. But I will punish you.] (a) And if I take you once to do, you are sure of your full payment. Heb., I will visit upon thee according to the fruit of your actions, i.e., I will lay upon you a punishment answerable to your sins; the sin being as the seed, and the punishment as the fruit that cometh of it - q.d., " Ye have sown the wind, and ye shall reap the whirlwind."

And I will kindle a fire in the forest thereof,] i.e., In the streets, which stand as thick with houses as the forest of Lebanon doth with trees, and are built with timber fetched from that forest.

 


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Bibliography Information
Trapp, John. "Commentary on Jeremiah 21:4". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/jeremiah-21.html. 1865-1868.

Lectionary Calendar
Sunday, November 17th, 2019
the Week of Proper 28 / Ordinary 33
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