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Bible Commentaries

Peter Pett's Commentary on the Bible
Jeremiah 26

 

 

Verses 1-5

SECTION 2 (Jeremiah 26:1 to Jeremiah 45:5).

Whilst the first twenty five chapters of Jeremiah have mainly been a record of his general prophecies, mostly given during the reigns of Josiah and Jehoiakim, and have been in the first person, this second section of Jeremiah (Jeremiah 26:1 to Jeremiah 45:5) is in the third person, includes a great deal of material about the problems that Jeremiah faced during his ministry and provides information about the opposition that he continually encountered. This use of the third person was a device regularly used by prophets so that it does not necessarily indicate that it was not directly the work of Jeremiah, although in his case we actually have good reason to think that much of it was recorded under his guidance by his amanuensis and friend, Baruch (Jeremiah 36:4).

It can be divided up as follows:

1. Commencing With A Speech In The Temple Jeremiah Warns Of What Is Coming And Repudiates The Promises Of The False Prophets (Jeremiah 26:1 to Jeremiah 29:32).

2. Promises Are Given Of Eventual Restoration And Of A New Covenant Written In The Heart (Jeremiah 30:1 to Jeremiah 33:26).

3. YHWH’s Continuing Word of Judgment Is Given Through Jeremiah And Its Repercussions Leading Up To The Fall Of Jerusalem Are Revealed (Jeremiah 34:1 to Jeremiah 39:18).

4. Events Subsequent To The Fall Of Jerusalem (Jeremiah 40:1 to Jeremiah 45:5).


Verses 1-24

A). Jeremiah Declares In The Temple That If Judah Will Not Repent Their Sanctuary Will End Up like That at Shiloh, Which Was Destroyed By The Philistines, And Their City Will Be Subject To YHWH’s Curse. This Results In His Being Brought Before The Authorities For What Were Seen As Treasonable Utterances (Jeremiah 26:1-24).

The chapter commences with a statement of his source of authority, ‘the word of YHWH’. ‘In the beginning of the reign of Jehoiakim -- came this word from YHWH saying --’ (Jeremiah 26:1), and goes on to describe a speech made in the Temple which includes a call to repentance, followed by a warning that if they did not take heed their city would become a curse and their Temple would be made ‘like Shiloh’, which was where the original Temple/Tabernacle had been destroyed, presumably by the Philistines, in the days of Samuel. Subsequent attacks on Jeremiah by the priests and prophets are then described, although ameliorated by a counter-argument put forward by ‘the elders of the people of the land’ who cite the prophecies of Micah in Jeremiah’s defence. A reminder of what happened to another loyal prophet of YHWH named Uriah is then given.

Jeremiah 26:1

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

The prophecy is dated as ‘in the beginning’ of the reign of Jehoiakim. This may be a technical description indicating the initial period after Jehoiakim came to the throne prior to his ‘first (full) year’ which would commence at the new year. Alternately it may just be a general indicator. But we know that it must have been fairly early on in his reign because it is later made clear that relationships with Egypt were still prominent. Babylon had not yet come on the scene. The mention of Jehoiakim’s descent from Josiah is, in context, a reminder of the reforms of that good king, and brings out that what follows was a new state of affairs which Josiah would not have countenanced. It was already therefore an indicator that Judah’s downward slide had openly recommenced.

Jeremiah 26:2

“Thus says YHWH, Stand in the court of YHWH’s house, and speak to all the cities of Judah, which come to worship in YHWH’s house, all the words that I command you to speak to them. Diminish not a word.”

The command came from YHWH that Jeremiah was to stand and proclaim His word in the outer court of YHWH’s house where a large number ‘from all the cities of Judah’ who had come up to the feast would be present. It is apparent that amidst all their idolatry, the regular worship of YHWH still continued, but the problem was that their hearts were not in it, with their loyalties being more directed towards the Baals on the high places.

Jeremiah was to speak what YHWH commanded, and not to hold back from declaring the whole truth, or to relax from declaring all His commandments. He must ‘diminish not a word’ (compare Deuteronomy 4:2; Deuteronomy 12:32). It is the sign of a true man of God that, while not being unwise (courting persecution is never godly), he holds nothing back of what God wants him to say.

Many see this Temple speech as paralleling the one in Jeremiah 7:1 ff. with this being simply a summary of that speech. Certainly they contain a similar emphasis, and it is therefore something which can neither be proved nor disproved, in which case we may see the speech in Jeremiah 7:1 ff. as filling in the details here. But as there is little doubt that it contained a message whose content would have been reproduced on a number of occasions (Jeremiah often repeats himself), this may well be a similar message proclaimed at a different time rather than the same one. This could be seen as supported by the fact that here it is the city’s fate which is the prime emphasis whereas in chapter 7 the concentration was on the Temple. Furthermore it will be noted that in Jeremiah 7:1 ff. there is no indication of a violent reaction to his message.

‘Diminish not a word.’ Such a command was very necessary and a reminder of the difficulty and danger surrounding Jeremiah’s ministry. It would have been very tempting for him to take the sting out of some of what he was saying so as to make it more acceptable. But he must not do so. Jeremiah was well aware of the feelings and excitable nature of the people and he knew that he was demolishing what they saw as guaranteed truths, namely that:

1. They believed that the land was their inheritance given to them by YHWH for ever (whilst they had seen it taken away from northern Israel, their view was probably that that was precisely because, unlike Judah, they had not remained faithful to the Temple and to the son of David).

2. They believed that the Temple was the dwelling place of YHWH and therefore inviolate as long as they maintained the proper rituals (as in their view was proved by what had happened when Jerusalem was miraculously delivered under Hezekiah). They were probably even more confident in this fact because they were now tributaries of Egypt who ruled as far north as Carchemish, so that any other enemies would have appeared far away. After all what could the others do against mighty Egypt? (They were not to know at this point in time that within five years Egypt would have been defeated by Babylon, and that its power would then be limited to within its own borders)

3. They believed that the rule of the house of David over Judah was guaranteed for ever unconditionally.

These things being granted, they would have argued, why should they believe that the Temple would be destroyed or that they would be removed from the land? To declare such things was to go against their cherished beliefs, and to attack what they saw as their national and ‘rightful’ heritage.

Jeremiah 26:3

“It may be they will listen, and turn every man from his evil way, that I may repent me of the evil which I purpose to do to them because of the evil of their doings.”

YHWH declares here what His real desire is. It is that they would listen and turn from their evil ways so that He Himself would not have to bring His severe judgment on them. We are reminded of Peter’s words, ‘The Lord -- is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance’ (2 Peter 3:9). It is a reminder that in His love and compassion God desires to give every man a fair opportunity, and that in His heart He longed for Judah’s repentance. This emphasises the fact that while it was true that Manasseh’s behaviour had sealed Judah’s doom (Jeremiah 15:4), it was only so because it was his influence that had stirred up their latent sinfulness and had largely made them unwilling to repent. Had they genuinely repented and maintained that repentance, Manasseh’s sin would have counted for nothing.

We have here a reminder that man was created as a free will being who chooses his own way. It is only the fact that he always chooses the way of sin that makes the sovereign work of God in salvation necessary. For the truth is that while men and women may of themselves repent of particular sins, full repentance is something that is beyond them without God’s gracious working. That is why, at its foundation, ‘salvation is of the Lord’, and why all attempts to be saved apart from Him will fail.

Jeremiah 26:4-6

“And you shall say to them,

Thus says YHWH,

If you will not listen to me,

To walk in my law, which I have set before you,

To listen to the words of my servants the prophets,

Whom I send to you,

Even rising up early and sending them,

But you have not listened,

Then will I make this house like Shiloh,

And will make this city a curse to all the nations of the earth.”

This abbreviated content of what must have been a larger speech sums up his message, which was that if they failed to walk in accordance with the covenant, and refused to listen to the genuine prophets, then in the end their Temple would be made like Shiloh (destroyed and non-existent) and their holy city would become a curse (subjected to the curses of Deuteronomy 28). In other words he was contradicting all that they firmly believed, and suggesting that they were not as secure as they had thought. Their city becoming a curse continued the thought in Jeremiah 25:29; Jeremiah 25:37.

‘If you will not listen to me, to walk in my law, which I have set before you.’ YHWH stresses that He had personally spoken to them from Mount Sinai and had made clear to them His requirements. Thus to fall short of obedience to His Instruction (Torah, Law) was to directly disobey Him.

‘To listen to the words of my servants the prophets, whom I send to you, even rising up early and sending them -.’ compare Jeremiah 25:4. They had also refused to listen to Him subsequently when He had sent His servants, the prophets. We know of many of these prophets and ‘men of God’ from the early records (Joshua-Chronicles), and they would have been known to them from their tradition. And He stresses that He had not been backward in sending them. He had, as it were, risen up early in order to send them, demonstrating real effort and determination (a typical Jeremaic phrase).

‘But you have not listened.’ But they had not listened to them either. Their hearts had been set obstinately against obeying YHWH’s covenant requirements. This indeed was why they now came under the curses contained within that covenant (Leviticus 26; Deuteronomy 27-28).

‘Then will I make this house like Shiloh, and will make this city a curse to all the nations of the earth.’ And because of their failure to listen to Him and respond to His covenant He would ‘make their house like Shiloh’ and ‘make their city a curse’. What had happened at Shiloh was proof positive, for those who would listen, that God’s Sanctuary was never seen by Him as inviolable. So let them remember Shiloh where the Tabernacle had been erected after the Conquest, and which, as a result of additional outbuildings, had itself become a kind of Temple. But when His people had been disobedient in the time of Samuel that had been destroyed, and furthermore this fact that YHWH had forsaken His Sanctuary in this way was ironically something that they often sang about (Psalms 78:60). It was precisely because YHWH had forsaken it that it was no more. And the same could therefore happen to their present Temple.

On top of this the covenant had been backed up by curses (Leviticus 26; Deuteronomy 27-28). Thus if they were disobedient to that covenant they should expect their holy city to be cursed in the eyes of all nations, and to suffer the doom described in the curses. That would in itself vindicate the covenant. It is a salutary reminder that in the end God’s truth is in the final analysis demonstrated by judgment.

But we can clearly see why, spoken to an excitable people, made more excitable by the festival atmosphere, these words could cause more than a stir. They had come to the feasts with such confidence that ‘they were doing right by YHWH’, and so full of self-satisfaction at being uniquely ‘the people of God’, that to be informed that that was not sufficient would have appeared to be almost blasphemy. They forgot the words of Samuel, Isaiah, Hosea, Amos and Micah that obedience counted for more than offerings, and to do YHWH’s will was more important than the fat of rams (e.g. 1 Samuel 15:22; Isaiah 1:11-18; Hosea 6:6; Amos 5:21-24; Micah 6:7-8). Like we so often are, they were limited in their spiritual vision. They had eyes but they saw not.

Jeremiah 26:7

‘And the priests and the prophets and all the people heard Jeremiah speaking these words in the house of YHWH.’

It is emphasised that Jeremiah’s words were heard by ‘the priest and the prophets and all the people’. Such was his impact that even the priest and the cult prophets had come to listen to his words, spoken in the outer court of the Temple to the festival crowds. It is a reminder that the same thing happened to our Lord, Jesus Christ, Who was also called to account for what He proclaimed and did in the Temple.

Jeremiah 26:8

‘And it came about, when Jeremiah had made an end of speaking all that YHWH had commanded him to speak to all the people, that the priests and the prophets and all the people laid hold on him, saying, “You shall surely die.”

The whole of the populace who were present were at first aroused against him, ‘the priests, the prophets and all the people’, although excluding the civil authorities. It was a ‘popular’ movement. And when he had finished speaking he was by popular consent, and by the authority of the priests and prophets, arrested, it being declared that he was worthy of death. They were enflamed at the thought of what he had said, and no doubt considered his prophecy to be patently false, making him worthy of death (Deuteronomy 18:20).

Jeremiah 26:9

“Why have you prophesied in the name of YHWH, saying, ‘This house will be like Shiloh, and this city will be desolate, without inhabitant?’

They demanded to know why he had dared to prophesy in the Name of YHWH that the Temple would be destroyed in the same way as Shiloh had been, and that the city would become a deserted city, a ghost town, a place where no one lived. It was the very opposite of what the priests and prophets were telling them They probably did not even think of what Micah had previously said (Jeremiah 26:18), as they may well not have known about it. The ‘princes and elders’ would prove to be better informed.

Jeremiah 26:9

‘And all the people were gathered to Jeremiah in the house of YHWH.’

Thus Jeremiah found himself surrounded by an enflamed people, encouraged on by the priests and the prophets, those who should have been most concerned for the truth of YHWH. What probably saved him from instant death was the sanctity of the Temple. They would not want to shed his blood in the Temple and thus defile it during the feast.

Jeremiah 26:10

‘And when the princes of Judah heard these things, they came up from the king’s house to the house of YHWH, and they sat in the entry of the new gate of YHWH’s house.’

Meanwhile news of the disturbance had reached ‘the princes of Judah’, the tribal leaders and the royal court gathered at the king’s palace, and they came down to the house of YHWH to quell the disturbance and try the case. They consequently sat in session in the entry of ‘the new gate of YHWH’s house’. We do not know which gate this was. Possibly it was the high gate built by Jotham (2 Chronicles 27:3). ‘The gate’ in each city was the place where the elders of the city would meet in order to hold trials. Jerusalem, of course, had a number of gates, but this was the one seemingly seen as the correct site in which to hold a trial

Jeremiah 26:11

‘Then the priests and the prophets spoke to the princes and to all the people, saying, “This man is worthy of death, for he has prophesied against this city, as you have heard with your ears.”

It was the priests and prophets, who recognised that Jeremiah had spoken against them in what he had said, who put forward the case for the prosecution. (It was Jeremiah against those who professed to speak in YHWH’s name). They declared in open court that Jeremiah was worthy of death because he had prophesied the destruction of the city (including the Temple). Note the emphasis on the whole city (unlike in chapter 7). The safety of the city would be of more immediate concern to the secular authorities.

Jeremiah 26:12

‘Then Jeremiah spoke to all the princes and to all the people, saying, “YHWH sent me to prophesy against this house and against this city all the words which you have heard.”

Jeremiah then provided his defence which was that it was YHWH Himself Who had sent him to prophesy against both the Temple and the city with the very words that they had heard. He as thus claiming that it was he who was YHWH’s messenger. Note the exclusion of the mention of the priest and the prophets. They were the main accusers, baying for his blood. There was little point in appealing to them. The very people who should have been supporting his words were the ones most bitterly opposed to him.

Jeremiah 26:13

‘Now therefore amend your ways and your doings, and obey the voice of YHWH your God, and YHWH will repent him of the evil that he has pronounced against you.”

He then boldly called on them to amend their ways and their doings, their attitudes and their actions, and to start obeying the voice of YHWH. Then they could be assured that He would alter His purpose with regard to them and change His mind about the evil that He had pronounced against them. It will be noted that this change of mind by YHWH is not to be seen as describing an arbitrary ‘change of mind’, as though He had previously got it wrong, It was a change of mind based on the fact that they had first changed in their attitude towards Him and His covenant. It was an indication that God would respond to man’s change of heart.

Jeremiah 26:14-15

“But as for me, see, I am in your hand. Do with me as is good and right in your eyes. Only know you for certain that, if you put me to death, you will bring innocent blood on yourselves, and on this city, and on its inhabitants, for of a truth YHWH has sent me to you to speak all these words in your ears.”

He then declares that as far as he was concerned, they could do what they liked with him. He was not important. What mattered was the truth of YHWH. But let them only remember that they would be judged for the choice that they made, so that if they shed his innocent blood, they would bring that blood on themselves, the blood of YHWH’s messenger, both on themselves, and on their city and on its inhabitants. And this was because it was YHWH Who had sent him to speak these words to them.

Jeremiah 26:16

‘Then the princes and all the people said to the priests and to the prophets, “This man is not worthy of death, for he has spoken to us in the name of YHWH our God.”

How quickly the mood of a crowd can change. Shortly before ‘all the people’ had been clamouring for his blood. Now they were siding with the judges in recognising his innocence. His defence had impressed the hearers, and so much so that they turned on his accusers and declared that Jeremiah was not worthy of death because he had spoken to them ‘in the Name of YHWH our God’. In their view he was a true prophet. And Israel/Judah had a history of accepting such prophets (although usually too late for their own good).

Jeremiah 26:17

‘Then certain of the elders of the land rose up, and spoke to all the assembly of the people, saying,’

The ‘elders of the land’ were probably the leaders of the people from around the country, in contrast with those who dwelt in Jerusalem. We can compare the phrase, ‘the people of the land’ which often meant the landed gentry who were not so caught up in high level politics. And it was some of them, visitors to Jerusalem for the festival, who now spoke up on Jeremiah’s behalf. We have here the memory of an eye-witness who remembered who said what. There is also here an indication that, unlike in Jerusalem (Jeremiah 5:1), among the wider people were those who still feared YHWH, at least to a certain extent.

Jeremiah 26:18

“Micah the Morashtite prophesied in the days of Hezekiah king of Judah, and he spoke to all the people of Judah, saying, ‘Thus says YHWH of hosts, Zion will be ploughed like a field, and Jerusalem will become heaps, and the mountain of the house as the high places of a forest’.”

Jeremiah’s sterling defence had brought to mind the words of previous prophets, and they consequently pointed back to the prophecy of Micah 3:12, an interesting indication that the writings of the early prophets were already available to them and were seen as carrying authority. They brought out that he too had prophesied the destruction of Jerusalem in the days of Hezekiah (and thus in the latter part of his ministry). Indeed he had declared that it would be so emptied that it came under the plough, with Jerusalem being turned into heaps of rubble and the Temple mount becoming overgrown. He had been no less emphatic than Jeremiah.

Jeremiah 26:19

“Did Hezekiah king of Judah and all Judah put him to death? Did he not fear YHWH, and entreat the favour of YHWH, and YHWH repented him of the evil which he had pronounced against them? Thus would we commit great evil against our own souls.”

And what had the then king done with Micah? Had he and all Judah sought to put him to death? No, rather they had listened to what he had said and had ‘feared YHWH,’ responding to the covenant positively and reforming their lives. They had then called on YHWH’s mercy with the result that YHWH’s anger against them was stayed. He had changed His mind with regard to His judgment that he was bringing on them. (If only they had gone a stage further and had themselves truly repented, the history of Judah might have been different). The argument was important as indicating the decision of the house of David in regard to a similar situation. It suggested that the present king Jehoiakim, and his courtiers, should have the same attitude.

This may have in mind the special deliverance of Jerusalem mentioned in 2 Kings 18-19, or it may simply have in mind an earlier occasion in the early days of Hezekiah’s reign of which we are unaware. Or indeed both. It is a reminder that there were genuine ‘revivals’ of which we are not told elsewhere. But the main point was that a prophet of YHWH had been listened to by both king and people, even though he had warned of dire things, with no attempt being made to silence the prophet.


Verses 1-32

Section 2 Subsection 1 Commencing With A Speech In The Temple Jeremiah Warns Of What Is Coming And Repudiates The Promises Of The False Prophets, And While Opposed By The Hierarchy, Has His Own Status As A Prophet Recognised by Many Of The People (Jeremiah 26:1 to Jeremiah 29:32).

The danger of dividing the prophecy up into sections and subsections, as we have done, is that we can lose something of the continuity of the prophecy. Thus while the divisions in this case are seemingly clear, the continuity must not be overlooked. What follows in Jeremiah 26:1 to Jeremiah 29:32 must be seen in fact as a subsequent explanation expanding on what Jeremiah has already said in chapter 25 concerning both the evil coming on Jerusalem and the seventy year period of Babylonian domination. And we now discover that this was in direct contrast with what was being currently declared by the cult prophets mentioned so prominently in chapter 23.

The whole subsection thus brings out the threat under which Judah was standing, and the direct rivalry existing between Jeremiah and his supporters, and the cult prophets, a rivalry which was caused by their deeply contrasting views about the future. It commences with the fact that the cult prophets combined with the priests in arraigning Jeremiah and seeking his death in chapter 26, something which is followed by examples of their activities and their continued opposition to Jeremiah, thus illustrating what was described in Jeremiah 23:9-40. This section too could have been headed ‘concerning the prophets’, were it not that its tentacles reached out further.

The subsection is a unity. It commences at the beginning of the reign of Jehoiakim bringing out the new situation that had arisen with the death of Josiah and the advent of a new king who ‘did what was evil in the eyes of YHWH’ (2 Kings 23:37), continues by showing that from that time on Jeremiah wore a yoke about his neck as an indication that Judah was no longer an independent nation, something which goes on until things are brought to a head during the reign of Zedekiah when the yoke is broken from his neck by a prophet who prophesies falsely and dies as a result. Meanwhile Jeremiah has sent duplicates of his yoke to the kings of surrounding nations who are contemplating rebellion against Babylon, to warn them against such rebellion. And the subsection closes with a letter from him to the exiles in Babylonia warning them against expecting a swift return, resulting in a return letter from a prominent prophet calling for the arraignment of Jeremiah.

The subsection itself divides up as follows:

A) ‘In the beginning of the reign of Jehoiakim -- came this word from YHWH saying --’ (Jeremiah 26:1). The chapter commences in the Temple with a call to repentance, which is followed by a warning that their Temple would otherwise be made like Shiloh, (which was where the original Temple/Tabernacle was destroyed by the Philistines in the days of Samuel), and their city would become a curse among the nations (compare Jeremiah 25:29; Jeremiah 25:37). The resulting persecution of Jeremiah, especially by the priests and the cult prophets, is then described, although ameliorated by a counter-argument put forward by ‘the elders of the people of the land’ who clearly accepted Jeremiah as a genuine prophet and cited the prophecies of Micah in his support.

B) ‘In the beginning of the reign of Jehoiakim -- came this word to Jeremiah from YHWH saying --’ (Jeremiah 27:1). This chapter commences with Jeremiah, at the command of YHWH, starting to wear symbolic instruments of restraint on his neck as an illustration of the bondage that has come on them from Egypt and is coming at the hands of Babylon. Then during the reign of Zedekiah he is commanded to send these same instruments of bondage among the surrounding nations because of a planned rebellion against Babylon, conveying a similar message to them, that they must accept being subject nations, and warning them against listening to those who say otherwise. Meanwhile Zedekiah and Judah are given the same message together with the assurance, contrary to the teaching of the cult prophets, that rather than experiencing deliverance, what remains of the vessels of YHWH in the Temple will also be carried off to Babylon.

C) ‘And it came about in the same year at the beginning of the reign of Zedekiah --’ (Jeremiah 28:1). In this chapter the false prophets, and especially Hananiah, prophesy that within a short time subservience to Babylon will be over and Jehoiachin and his fellow exiles will return in triumph from Babylon together with all the vessels of the Temple. Jeremiah replies that it will not be so. Rather ‘all these nations’ will have to serve Babylon into the known future. He then prophesies the death of Hananiah because of his rebellion against the truth of YHWH, something which occurs within the year.

D) ‘Now these are the words of the letter that Jeremiah the Prophet sent from Jerusalem to the residue of the elders of the captivity, -- etc. (Jeremiah 29:1). In a letter sent to the exiles in Babylonia Jeremiah advises the exiles not to listen to false prophets but to settle down in Babylonia and make the best of a bad situation, because their exile is destined by YHWH to last for ‘seventy years’. Furthermore he emphasises the dark shadows of the future for those who are left behind, although promising that once His exiled people have been dealt with in judgment, YHWH will bring them back again to the land and cause them to acknowledge Him once again. He then prophesies against the false prophets, especially the prominent one who had put pressure on for him to be arrested.


Verses 20-24

The Case Of Uriah, The Son Of Shemaiah, Another Faithful Prophet (Jeremiah 26:20-24).

It is quite clear that this was not a part of the defence put forward by the elders, for it presents the opposite picture to that of Micah, and seeks a different verdict. In the case of Uriah, the king and his courtiers did not hear and repent, they remorselessly hunted him down. It may thus be that this was the counter-argument put forward by Jeremiah’s opponents, countering the argument of the elders. However, as Jeremiah’s trial appears to have occurred at the beginning of Jehoiakim’s reign it is probable that the incident with respect to Uriah had not yet happened. And so alternately we may see this simply as an example introduced by the writer paralleling Jeremiah’s own case and illustrating the danger that he was in, for that also happened during the reign of Jehoiakim. It may thus be seen as basically passing judgment on Jehoiakim who had behaved in a way which was so unlike Hezekiah. It illustrates therefore the very real danger that Jeremiah was in, but also the fact that Jeremiah was not ‘alone among the prophets’ in his ministry. There were other men of God who stood with him.

Jeremiah 26:20

“And there was also a man who prophesied in the name of YHWH, Uriah the son of Shemaiah of Kiriath-jearim; and he prophesied against this city and against this land according to all the words of Jeremiah,”

Uriah had, in the Name of YHWH, prophesied in precisely the same way as Jeremiah. he too had prophesied ‘against the city and against the land’. ‘According to all the words of Jeremiah’ may simply indicate similarity of message, or it may be an indication that he obtained much of his message from Jeremiah and his prophecies. Uriah is otherwise unknown but came from Kiriath-jearim which was a priestly city on the Benjamin-Judah border and had previously been a chief city of the Gibeonites in the days of Joshua. It is one of the comparatively few sites that have been definitely identified without doubt.

Jeremiah 26:21

“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 Uriah heard it, he was afraid, and fled, and went to Egypt,”

Uriah’s words had especially upset Judah’s fighting arm (if we take ‘mighty men’ as soldiers) or Judah’s rich aristocracy (if we take ‘mighty men’ as signifying men of great wealth). Both alternatives would have seen their positions as undermined by Uriah’s words. And the result was that they had sought to put him to death, at which Uriah had, in alarm, fled to Egypt (just as Jeremiah himself would at one stage go into hiding - Jeremiah 36:26).

Jeremiah 26:22

“And Jehoiakim the king sent men to Egypt, namely, Elnathan the son of Achbor, and certain men with him, to Egypt, and they fetched forth Uriah out of Egypt, and brought him to Jehoiakim the king, who slew him with the sword, and cast his dead body into the graves of the common people.”

But he had not been safe there, because Jehoiakim was a vassal of Egypt, and sent his men there to obtain Uriah’s extradition. And they brought Uriah to the king who had him executed and then buried ‘among the common people’ that is in the graveyard where the poor were buried (2 Kings 23:6) in unmarked graves. He was determined that Uriah would not be remembered. (It is of interest to note that Jehoiakim himself would subsequently suffer worse ignominy on his death - Jeremiah 22:18-19).

Elnathan may have been Jehoiakim’s father-in-law (2 Kings 24:8). He was one of the princes who had listened to Jeremiah’s scroll being read and had responded from his heart, seeking to dissuade Jehoiakim from burning it (Jeremiah 36:12. ff).

Jeremiah 26:24

‘But 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.’

In contrast Jeremiah was protected from the king’s wrath and the wrath of the people as a result of the activity of Ahikam the son of Shaphan. He was clearly someone in high authority who took Jeremiah’s side and arranged for his protection. God often has His representatives in high places. He was one of the five who, as a young man, went with his father to Huldah the prophetess on behalf of Josiah when the law book was found in the Temple (2 Kings 22:12). He was also the father of Gedaliah who would later become governor of Judah after Jerusalem was destroyed.

 


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Bibliography Information
Pett, Peter. "Commentary on Jeremiah 26:4". "Peter Pett's Commentary on the Bible ". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/pet/jeremiah-26.html. 2013.

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