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Bible Commentaries

John Trapp Complete Commentary
Jeremiah 36

 

 

Verse 1

Jeremiah 36:1 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,

Ver. 1. And it came to pass in the fourth year.] This whole chapter is historical and narrative, as also are some others besides this. Historias lege, ne fias historia.


Verse 2

Jeremiah 36:2 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.

Ver. 2. Take thee a roll (a) of a book,] i.e., A volume. {as Isaiah 8:1} {See Trapp on "Isaiah 8:1"}

And write therein.] Jeremiah had a command to write; so have not our empty scripturients, whose rapes on the innocence of paper, as one phraseth it, make the press almost execrable. Ista prurientis calami scabies potius est, quam scriptio. (a)

All the words that I have spoken unto thee.] The sum and substance of all thy sermons for these twenty-three years past. See Jeremiah 1:2; Jeremiah 25:3.


Verse 3

Jeremiah 36:3 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.

Ver. 3. It may be that the house of Judah will hear, &c.] See here the utility of the Holy Scriptures, and the excellent use that may be made of reading them. A man may be thereby doubtless converted where preaching is wanting, as various were in Queen Mary’s days, when the Word of God was precious; (a) as Augustine was by reading Romans 13:1-14., Fulgentius by the Frophet Jonah, Franciseus Junius by John 1:1-51., &c.; the eunuch, [Acts 8:26-39] and those noble Bereans, [Acts 17:11] were notably prepared for conversion by this ordinance.

That I may forgive their iniquity and their sin,] i.e., Their sins of all sorts, giving them a free and full discharge.


Verse 4

Jeremiah 36:4 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.

Ver. 4. Then Jeremiah calIed Baruch, … and (a) Baruch wrote from the mouth.] Dictantis ab ore pependit. Jeremiah, it seemeth, had either not written his prophecies, or not so legibly, or in loose papers only; now he hath them fair written out into a book, making the same use of Baruch as afterward Paul did of Tertius, [Romans 16:22] who himself wrote no very good hand, as some have gathered from Galatians 6:11; {See Trapp on "Galatians 6:11"}


Verse 5

Jeremiah 36:5 And Jeremiah commanded Baruch, saying, I [am] shut up; I cannot go into the house of the LORD:

Ver. 5. I am shut up.] Or, I am detained, or restrained; haply by some legal pollution that he had contracted, as by touching a dead carcase, &c.; or by some bodily infirmity, or by the lying in wait of his enemies, or by the Spirit of God, {as Acts 16:6-7} for a punishment to the Jews by the prophet’s absence and silence, and for the safety of his servant in those perilous times.


Verse 6

Jeremiah 36:6 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.

Ver. 6. Therefore go thou, and read in the roll.] A minister, when he cannot himself officiate, must provide another in his stead.

Which thou hast written from my mouth.] And which the Holy Ghost hath put into my mouth, both matter and words.

Upon the fasting day.] A very fit time for the reading of the Scriptures, that the people then convened might hear and fear, and supplicate, and convert, and God might heal them. The fast here mentioned was not the ordinary yearly fast, called the day of expiation or atonement, but another that was conceptivum et liberum, kept on some special occasion for the averting of God’s judgment, such as was that at Nineveh. There was afterwards, indeed, a yearly fast kept in November, to bewail this wicked practice of King Jehoiakim in cutting and casting into the fire this blessed book. (a)


Verse 7

Jeremiah 36:7 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.

Ver. 7. It may be they will present their supplication.] Heb., Their supplication will fall before the Lord. Fasting of itself is but a "bodily exercise," and profiteth little. If the soul be not afflicted, rebel flesh tamed, prayers edged, and reformation effected, men fast to no purpose. [Isaiah 58:3; Isaiah 58:5 Zechariah 5:5; Zechariah 5:7]


Verse 8

Jeremiah 36:8 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.

Ver. 8. And Baruch the son of Neriah did according, &c.] Nihil de sua saliva admiscens. He faithfully performed the prophet Jeremiah’s commands, not standing to cast perils, being thereunto heartened and hardened by Jeremiah [Jeremiah 45:5]


Verse 9

Jeremiah 36:9 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.

Ver. 9. They proclaimed a fast.] Haply for fear of the Chaldeans, who, having lately beaten Pharaohnecho, was like enough to invade Judea; or else, because of that great dearth. [Jeremiah 14:1-2; Jeremiah 14:12; Jeremiah 36:6]


Verse 10

Jeremiah 36:10 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.

Ver. 10. Then Baruch read in the book.] He read with a courage, verbis non solum disertis sed et exertis, out of a chamber window, that the people under him might the better hear.

In the chamber of Gemariah.] Who himself, it seemeth, was not present, but his son Micaiah was, and carried his father and the rest of the princes the news. [Jeremiah 36:12]


Verse 11

Jeremiah 36:11 When Michaiah the son of Gemariah, the son of Shaphan, had heard out of the book all the words of the LORD,

Ver. 11. When Micaiah the son of Gemariah had heard.] With what affection he heard the book read by Baruch is uncertain. We have many Herodian hearers before us a second time - such, I mean, as have a Herod’s heart toward the preacher, and little do we know who they are that sit before us; those precious balms we bring break their heads with a witness, and make the blood run about their ears.


Verse 12

Jeremiah 36:12 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.

Ver. 12. Then he went down into the king’s house.] For there was his father and the rest of the princes, suam aulam vel gulam confectantes, following their court delights, while the people were now humbling themselves before the Lord, and trembling at his Word. Great men are, many of them, of that Earl of Westmoreland’s mind, who profanely said, I need not pray to God, since having tenants enough to pray for me.


Verse 13

Jeremiah 36:13 Then Michaiah declared unto them all the words that he had heard, when Baruch read the book in the ears of the people.

Ver. 13. Then Micaiah declared unto them.] See Jeremiah 36:11.


Verse 14

Jeremiah 36:14 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.

Ver. 14. Therefore all the princes sent Jehudi.] Apparitorem regis, ut ex seguentibus constat. - Jun.


Verse 15

Jeremiah 36:15 And they said unto him, Sit down now, and read it in our ears. So Baruch read [it] in their ears.

Ver. 15. And they said, Sit down now] (a) This was some courtesy and token of good respect to Baruch. These princes were not all out so bad as their king.


Verse 16

Jeremiah 36:16 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.

Ver. 16. They were afraid, both one and other,] (a) Expavescunt et sese mutuo respiciunt; they were afraid, and looked one upon another, being much distracted at this new and unexpected occurrence; neither wist they at first what to do, being affected after a sort, and smitten with the weightiness of the business.

We will surely tell the king.] They durst do no otherwise; for if these things should have come to the king’s ear, and they not first tell him, they might come into the danger of his displeasure.


Verse 17

Jeremiah 36:17 And they asked Baruch, saying, Tell us now, How didst thou write all these words at his mouth?

Ver. 17. Tell us, How didst thou write all these words at his mouth?] Praeposteram movent interrogationem; they put an odd question, saith one, when they should rather have bethought themselves of breaking off their sins by repentance. God loves obedience and not questioners, saith Luther.


Verse 18

Jeremiah 36:18 Then Baruch answered them, He pronounced all these words unto me with his mouth, and I wrote [them] with ink in the book.

Ver. 18. And Baruch answered them.] Answerably (a) to the question they asked him. [Jeremiah 36:17] Dignum patella operculum.

And I wrote them with ink in the book.] The use, then, of writing with pen and ink is ancient among the Hebrews.


Verse 19

Jeremiah 36:19 Then said the princes unto Baruch, Go, hide thee, thou and Jeremiah; and let no man know where ye be.

Ver. 19. Go hide thee, thou and Jeremiah.] This was well, but not all. They draw not Baruch before the king to answer what he had done; but why do they not take him to the king with his roll, and plead both for it and him too? Had they been true patriots and hearty friends to the truth, they would have done so; but they knew that this wicked king could not endure the prophets, [Jeremiah 26:21; Jeremiah 36:26] and one of their company had been the king’s agent in bringing Uriah the prophet out of Egypt to be butchered by him. [Jeremiah 26:22]


Verse 20

Jeremiah 36:20 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.

Ver. 20. And they went in to the king.] God by his providence so disposed it, that both king and princes, whether they would or not, should hear their doom; and as for some of the princes, they seem to have some good affections wrought in them, but too weak to work unto true "repentance to salvation."


Verse 21

Jeremiah 36:21 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.

Ver. 21. So the king sent Jehudi.] See on Jeremiah 36:14.


Verse 22

Jeremiah 36:22 Now the king sat in the winterhouse in the ninth month: and [there was a fire] on the hearth burning before him.

Ver. 22. Now the king sat in the winter house.] There sat he, in that his stately and sumptuous palace built by iniquity, [Jeremiah 22:13-14] curans cuticulam ad focum, keeping himself warm in his winter chamber, and careless of calling upon God; while the people, cold and empty, were fasting and praying in the temple, and hearing the Word read by Baruch.

In the ninth month,] sc., Of the sacred year, which month was part of our November and part of December, a cold season; but that thing of naught, his body, which he now made so much of, was shortly after to be cast out unburied, in the day to the heat, and in the night to the frost. [Jeremiah 36:30]


Verse 23

Jeremiah 36:23 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.

Ver. 23. When Jehudi had read three or four leaves.] Vespasian is said to have been patientissimus veri, (a) very patient of truth; so was good Josiah, whose heart melted at the hearing of the law; [2 Chronicles 34:27] but so was not this degenerate son of his, Jehoiakim, but more like Tiberius, that tiger, who tore with his teeth all that displeased him; or like Vitellius the tyrant, of whom Tacitus (b) saith, Ita formatae principis aures, ut aspera quae utilia: nec quidquam nisi iucundum et non laesurum acciperet, That his ears were of that temper that he could hear no counsel, though never so profitable, unless it were pleasant, and did suit with his humours.

He cut it with the penknife.] Why? what could he dislike in that precious piece? Of Petronius’s Satyricon one said well, Tolle obscaena et tollis omnia; of Jeremiah’s prophecies I may safely say, Tolle sancta, et tollis omnia. But this brutish prince could not away with downright truth, &c.

And cast it into the fire.] O stultitiam! quid innocentes chartae commeruerant? (c) O madness! what evil had those innocent papers deserved that they nmst die this double death, as it were? Those magical books at Ephesus were worthily burned; [Acts 19:19] Aretine’s love-books are so lascivious that they deserve to be burned, saith Boissard, (d) together with their author; many seditious pamphlets are now committed to Vulcan to be corrected, and more should be; but, O sancta Apocalysis! as that martyr once said when he took up the book of the Revelation, cast into the same fire with himself; so, O holy Jeremiah! what hast thou said or written to be thus slashed, and then cast into the fire? Jehoiakim is the first we read of that ever offered to burn the Bible. Antiochus, indeed, did the like afterwards, and Dioclesian the tyrant, and now the Pope. But though there were not a Bible left upon earth, yet "for ever, O Lord, thy Word is stablished in heaven," saith David. [Psalms 119:89]

Until all the roll was consumed.] So far was he from repenting of his wickedness, that he fed his eyes with such a sad spectacle, and was ready to say, as Solon did when he burned the usurers’ bonds in Athens, that he never saw a fairer or clearer fire burn in all his life.


Verse 24

Jeremiah 36:24 Yet they were not afraid, nor rent their garments, [neither] the king, nor any of his servants that heard all these words.

Ver. 24. Yet they were not afraid.] Ne paulum quidem perculsi sunt. The king and his servants, those court parasites, were not stirred at all at such a Bible bonfire, but jeered when they should have feared, &c.

Nor rent their garments.] Such was their stupor seu non-curantia, their security and insensibleness of that high offence, for which their posterity keep a yearly fast. See on Jeremiah 36:6. Rending of garments in token of grief was in use also among the heathens. Homer saith Priamus rent his clothes when he heard of the death of his son Hector. The like hath Virgil of his Aeneas:

Tum pater Aeneas humeris abseindere vestem

Auxilioque vocare deos. ”

Suetonius {a} saith the like of Julius Caesar, &c.


Verse 25

Jeremiah 36:25 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.

Ver. 25. Nevertheless Elnathan.] Who had before been active for the king in apprehending and slaughtering the prophet Uriah, [Jeremiah 26:22] but now haply touched with some remorse for having any hand in so bloody an act.

Had made intercession to the king.] Verum frigide admodum, but very coldly; and such cold friends the truth hath still not a few, at kings’ courts especially.


Verse 26

Jeremiah 36:26 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.

Ver. 26. But the king commanded Jerahmeel the son of Hammelech.] Or, The king’s son, whom he might employ against these two servants of God; as once the King of France sent his son and heir with an army against the Waldenses. It is not for nothing, therefore, that the curse is denounced against Jehoiakim and his posterity. [Jeremiah 36:30-31]

But the Lord hid them,] i.e., He provided for them a hiding place in some good man’s house, and there safeguarded them from these bloodhounds who hunted after their precious lives. There is no fence but flight, nor counsel but concealment, to secure an innocent subject against an enraged sovereign.


Verse 27

Jeremiah 36:27 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,

Ver. 27. Then the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah.] Jehoiakim took an ill course to free himself from trouble, as he counted it, by burning the roll; for God’s Word cannot be burnt, no more than it can be bound. [2 Timothy 2:9] And "shall they thus escape by iniquity?" No, verily; for it followeth, and is not more votum than vaticinium, a wish than a prophecy, "In thine anger cast down the people, O God." [Psalms 56:7]


Verse 28

Jeremiah 36:28 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.

Ver. 28. Take thee again another roll.] Revertere, accipe. God’s ministers must be steadfast and unweariable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as they know that their labour is not in vain in the Lord. [1 Corinthians 15:58]

And write in it all the former words.] If all the tyrants on earth should fight against the very paper of the Scriptures, striving to abolish it, yet they could not possibly do it. There will be Bibles when they shall be laid low enough in the slimy valley, where are many already like them, and more shall come after them. [Job 21:31-32]


Verse 29

Jeremiah 36:29 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?

Ver. 29. And thou shalt say to Jehoiakim,] i.e., Add this doleful doom of his to the new written roll, and direct it to Jehoiakim. Some think the prophet told him these things to his face, like as Eliah presented himself to Ahab, whom before he had fled from, and dealt freely with him; but that is not so likely.


Verse 30

Jeremiah 36:30 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.

Ver. 30. He shall have none to sit upon the throne of David,] i.e., None to make any reckoning of, for his son Jeconiah reigned but three months and ten days. And Zedekiah is not looked upon as his lawful successor, because he was his uncle, and set up likely by Nebuchadnezzar for a reproach to Jehoiakim aud Jeconiah; and in as great spite as once Attilus, King of Suesia, made a dog king of the Danes, in revenge of a great many injuries received by them, appointing counsellors to do all things under his title.

And his dead body shall be cast out in the day to the heat.] This was that infamous burial of an ass wherewith he had formerly been threatened. [Jeremiah 22:19] His father Josiah was one of those few that lived and died with glory; but he did nothing less. Of Jehoiakim it may be said, as was afterwards of Ethelred, King of England, Eius vitae cursus saevus in principio, miser in medio, turpis in exitu asseritur. (a) It was said of his life that is was savage at the start, wretched in the middle and replusive at the end.


Verse 31

Jeremiah 36:31 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.

Ver. 31. And I will punish him and his seed.] See on Jeremiah 36:26. The like is threatened to Zedekiah, [Jeremiah 21:7] who was therefore the worse, because he should have been warned by his brother’s miseries.

And I will bring upon them.] See Jeremiah 35:17. Malis horrendis adobruentur omnes.


Verse 32

Jeremiah 36:32 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.

Ver. 32. Then took Jeremiah.] Who is therefore famous for his obedience; which is then only right, when it is prompt and present, ready and, speedy, without delays and consults, as here.

And there were added besides unto them many like words.] So little is gotten by relucting against the Word of God, and persecuting his messengers. What do wicked men hereby but entangle themselves more and more, as one that goeth among briers? (a) "Did not my word take hold of your fathers?" [Zechariah 1:6] {See Trapp on "Zechariah 1:6"} What do they else, but as she in the history, who, disliking her looking glass for showing her truly the wrinkles in her old withered face, broke it in displeasure; and then she had for one glass many, every piece thereof presenting to her the decay of her beauty, which she was so loath to take notice of. The best way is to pass into the likeness of the heavenly pattern. See Micah 2:7. {See Trapp on "Micah 2:7"}

 


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Bibliography Information
Trapp, John. "Commentary on Jeremiah 36:4". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/jeremiah-36.html. 1865-1868.

Lectionary Calendar
Thursday, June 20th, 2019
the Week of Proper 6 / Ordinary 11
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