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Bible Commentaries

Peter Pett's Commentary on the Bible
Jeremiah 36

 

 

Verses 1-3

YHWH Tells Jeremiah To Write Down His Prophecies (Jeremiah 36:1-3).

Jeremiah 36:1

‘And it came about in the fourth year of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah, king of Judah, that this word came to Jeremiah from YHWH, saying,’

This event is fairly precisely dated, occurring in 605 BC. It may possibly have been just prior to Jerusalem’s enforced submission to Nebuchadnezzar after he had defeated the Egyptians at Carchemish and Hamath, and had sacked Ashkelon (this would explain the calling of a fast day as they may have been deciding what they would do next in the face of the sacking of Ashkelon).

Alternatively others see it as a fast declared after their subjection to Babylon, with it being intended as a sad memorial of it, with a view to stirring up antagonism against the Babylonians. We could then see in this an attempt by Jeremiah to quell that sense of rebellion.

Jeremiah 36:2

“Take you a roll of a written record, and write in it all the words that I have spoken to you against Israel, and against Judah, and against all the nations, from the day that I spoke to you, from the days of Josiah, even to this day.”

Jeremiah was commanded to take ‘a roll of a written record’, a phrase also occurring in Psalms 40:7; Ezekiel 2:9; Ezekiel 3:1; Zechariah 5:1-2. This would probably be made up of papyrus strips glued together to form a scroll of up to ten metres (thirty feet) long and thirty centimetres (ten inches) wide. The scroll would be wound round two ‘rollers’, two suitable pieces of wood, which could be held one in each hand so that the scroll could be unrolled from one piece of wood on to the other while it was being read. The writing would be in columns parallel to the two rods and following one after the other. Thus one or two columns, or even more, could be seen at a time as the scroll was being read.

On it he was to write ‘all the words that I have spoken to you against Israel, and against Judah, and against all the nations, from the day that I spoke to you, from the days of Josiah, even to this day.’ It probably contained a good deal of chapters 1-20 and possibly some of what followed later (prophesied prior to this date).

It is difficult to believe that YHWH only ever suggested this need to write down his prophecies to Jeremiah, and we may therefore see it as probable that most of the prophets followed this tactic (compare Hosea 8:12; Isaiah 30:8; 2 Chronicles 21:12; 2 Chronicles 26:22; Job 19:23). Indeed it is quite probable that Jesus called Matthew (Levi), the public servant and experienced keeper of records, for that very purpose.

Jeremiah 36:3

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

The expressed hope was that Judah would hear of the evils which YHWH purposed to bring on them because of their disobedience, and would repent, ‘returning every man from his evil way’, so that their inward sin and their outward acts of transgression might be forgiven, thus enabling YHWH to alter course. God was still concerned to bring all men to repentance and into a knowledge of the truth.


Verses 1-32

Jeremiah Writes Out His Prophecies In Written Form And Commits Them To Baruch Who Reads Them Out In The Temple. The Scroll Eventually Reaches Jehoiakim Who Demonstrates His Contempt For The Prophet By Slowly Burning It Once It Has Been Read Out, Something That Causes YHWH To Pronounce Judgment On Him. Jeremiah Then Rewrites His Prophecies With Further Additions (Jeremiah 36:1-32).

We have here the third example of the disobedience which was so prevalent in Judah. The first was revealed in their hypocritical attitude to the freeing of their bondmen and bondwomen. The second was revealed in the contrast between the people and the Rechabites. This third brings out the attitude of the leadership towards YHWH.

One great importance of this chapter is that it demonstrates conclusively that it was not unusual for prophets to record their prophecies in writing with a view to them being read out. Jeremiah was at this time in some way under restraint and he therefore calls on his faithful amanuensis Baruch to record his prophecies, and then to read them out in the Temple. His concern was to avert the wrath of YHWH from the people by constraining them to respond to His covenant.

When the leading men of Judah, ‘the princes’, learned of this reading out of Jeremiah’s prophecies in the Temple they called on Baruch to come and read the scroll to them, and stirred by the words determined to bring them to the king, as was their duty. But meanwhile, knowing the evil propensities of the king and what might happen once he knew of Jeremiah’s prophecies, some of them advised Baruch and Jeremiah to go into hiding.

When the king learned of the scroll he had it brought to him and read before him, but after every three or four sections, with the approval of most of his nearest courtiers and despite the protests of some, he, or the reader at his command, would take a ‘knife’ and slice off the portion that had been read and throw it into the fire in order to indicate what he thought of it, thereby no doubt hoping to annul the prophecy (compare how Hananiah had broken the symbolic yoke - Jeremiah 28:10). This went on until the whole scroll had been burned. It was indeed an open declaration that he was not willing to listen to the voice of YHWH. But it was a foolish action for by it he brought YHWH’s greater judgment on himself.


Verses 4-8

Jeremiah Calls On Baruch To Act As His Amanuensis And Having Dictated His Prophecies Sends Him To The Temple To Read Them Out To The Crowds Who Are Gathered There On A Special Fast Day (Jeremiah 36:4-8).

One of the purposes of the writing out of the prophecies at this time would appear to be that a special fast day was to be called some months later to which all the people of Judah were to be summoned. The purpose of that fast day was probably in order to persuade the gods who were being worshipped in the Temple along with YHWH to intervene and help Judah in their dealings with the Babylonians. It may well have been part of the build up towards the negotiations which would necessarily follow the defeat of Egypt at Carchemish and Hamath and the sacking of Ashkelon. They may well have thought that Jerusalem would be next. It was an apposite time to bring home to the people the prophecies of Jeremiah which had previously been given (see e.g. chapters 1-20).

Jeremiah thus dictated his prophecies to Baruch who wrote them down on a scroll. In Baruch’s own words, “He proclaimed all these words to me with his mouth, and I wrote them with ink in the scroll” (Jeremiah 36:18). This would, of course, have taken some considerable time. He then even later (on the ninth month of the fifth year of Jehoiakim) sent him to the Temple to read them out to the gathered crowds, in the hope that they would repent and turn from their sin and disobedience. The delay in doing this probably had in mind awaiting the fast day when the prophecies would be especially telling. Jeremiah would be aware of events on the political front and would no doubt have expected such a day to be called.

Jeremiah 36:4

‘Then Jeremiah called Baruch the son of Neriah, and Baruch wrote from the mouth of Jeremiah all the words of YHWH, which he had spoken to him, on a roll of a written record.’

Jeremiah then called on the services of Baruch the son of Neriah who wrote down all the words of Jeremiah’s prophecies, as they were dictated to him, on a scroll. Baruch was apparently a professional scribe and a supporter of Jeremiah. Scribes had an important status and he seemingly came from an important family. His father Neriah was probably also a scribe. His grandfather Maasaiah (Jeremiah 32:12) was apparently the governor of Jerusalem during the reign of Josiah (2 Chronicles 34:8). His brother Seraiah was clearly an important courtier (Jeremiah 51:59). Both Seraiah, and especially Baruch, were loyal to Jeremiah and Baruch regularly suffered along with Jeremiah, even sharing his exile in Egypt.

Jeremiah 36:5

‘And Jeremiah commanded Baruch, saying, ‘I am restricted (or ‘locked up’), I cannot go into the house of YHWH,”

For some reason Jeremiah was unable to go to the Temple at the time of the fast. It may have been because he was going through a period of uncleanness which debarred him from entering the Temple, or he may have been ill or have suffered an accident, or he may have been temporarily detained in order to prevent him going and inciting the people (if so it could only have been temporary for the period of the fast, for he was later able to go into hiding), or it may simply have been that the Temple authorities had barred him from going there to speak.

Jeremiah 36:6

“You therefore go, and read in the roll, which you have written from my mouth, the words of YHWH in the ears of the people in YHWH’s house on the fast-day, and also you shall read them in the ears of all Judah who come out of their cities.”

His instruction to Baruch was that he should read his prophecies, the words of YHWH, to the people gathered in the Temple on the fast day, and also to people of ‘all Judah’ who would be gathered out of the cities of Judah for the fast. He wanted his prophecies to be heard as widely as possible.

Jeremiah 36:7

“It may be they will present their supplication before YHWH, and will return every one from his evil way, for great is the anger and the wrath that YHWH has pronounced against this people.”

For his longing was to bring the people to repentance. He longed that the people might listen to what was said, take note of it, and turn from their evil ways, and begin to obey YHWH and worship Him alone, for he was very much aware of the antipathy of YHWH towards their sins, that is, of ‘the great anger and wrath that that He had pronounced against His people’ because of His holiness.

Jeremiah 36:8

‘And Baruch the son of Neriah did according to all that Jeremiah the prophet commanded him, reading in the written record the words of YHWH in YHWH’s house.’

So Baruch did what Jeremiah had required of him, and read out from the scroll the words of YHWH, reading them out in YHWH’s house before all the people. It was a courageous act for there was a very good possibility of a hostile reaction from the authorities, and even from the gathered crowds.


Verses 9-15

Baruch’s Reading Of The Words Of Jeremiah In The Temple Comes To The Ears Of The Princes Of Judah Who Summon Him To Read It Before Them (Jeremiah 36:9-15).

Baruch’s (or Jeremiah’s) influence comes out in that he was able to make use of ‘the room of Gemariah the son of Shaphan, the scribe’ from which to proclaim his message, no doubt through a window or balcony. As fellow-scribes connected with the inner circles in Jerusalem they were clearly on friendly terms, and Gemariah was seemingly sympathetic towards Jeremiah. A piece of clay inscribed ‘Gemariah the son of Shaphan the scribe’ has been discovered in investigations around Jerusalem. His father may have been the Shaphan who held an important position under King Josiah (2 Kings 22:3; 2 Kings 22:8-10), and was involved in the repairs to the Temple and the reading of the Book of the Law to Josiah (2 Kings 22:10), and Gemariah must have been important in order to have a room allocated to him in the Temple area. We do in fact discover later that he was one of the king’s circle of scribes and counsellors (Jeremiah 36:12), which would be why he was not present when the scroll was read out. What follows may well have been a carefully thought out strategy for bringing Jeremiah’s words to the king, or it may simply have been YHWH Whose purpose brought it about. Initially, however, his words reached some of the king’s advisers.

Jeremiah 36:9

‘Now it came about in the fifth year of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah, king of Judah, in the ninth month, that all the people in Jerusalem, and all the people who came from the cities of Judah to Jerusalem, proclaimed a fast before YHWH.’

The date was around November/December 604 BC, and the people of Judah had been called to come to Jerusalem for a special fast ‘before YHWH’. With all their idolatry they recognised that in such a situation it was YHWH of Hosts Who was needed.

This was not one of the regular Jewish feasts. It was presumably called because of the dire political situation as they saw that Nebuchadnezzar was about to exert his authority over Judah after his rout of the Egyptians at Carchemish and Hamath and his sacking of the Philistine city of Ashkelon.

Jeremiah 36:10

‘Then Baruch read in the scroll (written record) the words of Jeremiah in the house of YHWH, in the chamber of Gemariah the son of Shaphan, the scribe, in the upper court, at the entry of the new gate of YHWH’s house, in the ears of all the people.’

Taking advantage of the crowds massing into the Temple Baruch read out the words of Jeremiah from the scroll, making use of a window or balcony in the room of Gemariah the Scribe, which was in the upper court (elsewhere called ‘the inner court’) by the New Gate of YHWH’s house, to the waiting crowds below.

We do not know how much of the scroll was read to the people. If we say that someone, ‘read the Bible to the congregation’ we do not thereby indicate that the whole Bible was read to them. It may be that what was read would be selected passages.

Jeremiah 36:11

‘And when Micaiah the son of Gemariah, the son of Shaphan, had heard out of the scroll (written record) all the words of YHWH,’

One of those who heard the words, and may have been in the room with Baruch, was Micaiah, who was Gemariah’s son. He listened carefully to all the words which Baruch spoke from the scroll containing all the words of YHWH.

Jeremiah 36:12

‘He went down into the king’s house, into the scribe’s chamber: and, lo, all the princes were sitting there, to wit, 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.’

He then went down from the Temple to the palace-complex where there was a gathering of many of the leading men of Judah in the Scribes’ Room. It was an important gathering made up of many of Jehoiakim’s top advisers. They may well have been sitting there awaiting the king’s summons to a council meeting (a cabinet meeting). If they were all involved in the advice to Jeremiah and Baruch to hide themselves (Jeremiah 36:19), they appear to have been a group sympathetic to Jeremiah. It is noteworthy that Jehoiakim did not send any of them to oversee the arrest of Jeremiah (Jeremiah 36:26).

Elishama is called ‘the Scribe’ and may have been the king’s official scribe, a leading cabinet post (Gemariah was also a Scribe and this was in the Scribes’ Room, thus the title here must be significant). If he can be identified with the Elishama in Jeremiah 41:1; 2 Kings 25:25 he was of royal birth, and his grandson Ishmael would assassinate Gedaliah, Nebuchadnezzar’s appointed Governor of Judah after the destruction of Jerusalem (no doubt seeing him as a traitor). Elnathan was leader of the deputation which, at the king’s command, extradited Uriah the prophet from Egypt (Jeremiah 26:22). His father had been involved in the discovery of the Book of the Law in the Temple (2 Kings 22:12). His family were therefore important courtiers, close to the king. Apart from Gemariah we know nothing about the others. But they were all leading men (princes). Elnathan and Delaiah, along with Gemariah, later pleaded with Jehoiakim not to destroy the scroll.

Jeremiah 36:13

‘Then Micaiah declared to them all the words which he had heard, when Baruch read the book in the ears of the people.’

Micaiah then told the gathering in the Scribes’ Room all he could recall of the words that Baruch had read out in the Temple.

Jeremiah 36:14

‘Therefore all the princes sent Jehudi the son of Nethaniah, the son of Shelemiah, the son of Cushi, to Baruch, saying, “Take in your hand the roll in which you have read in the ears of the people, and come.” So Baruch the son of Neriah took the roll in his hand, and came to them.’

This was enough to make them realise how important Baruch’s scroll was, so they sent a man named Jehudi to Baruch, calling on him to come and read the scroll before them. Baruch accordingly came (they were not the kind of men to be trifled with).

Jehudi may well have been a Sudanese (Ethiopian, Cushite) proselyte. His great-grandfather was named Cushi, and the naming of three generations would indicate that Jehudi (‘the Jew’) was now qualified as a full Israelite. The Cushites may well have been linked with the Egyptians as requiring three generations before this could be so (Deuteronomy 23:7-8). His name (the Jew) probably celebrated that fact. Compare 2 Samuel 18:21 where Cushi was the name of a man who was then called the Cushite. It would appear that Cushi was a name often taken by proselytes from Cush (Northern Sudan).

Jeremiah 36:15

‘And they said to him, “Sit down now, and read it in our ears.” So Baruch read it in their ears.’

Then they called on him to read out the prophecies so that they could hear them. And while they listened carefully, he read it out to them. The fact that they asked him to ‘sit down’ indicated respect for his position. These men were used to other standing in their presence, or even prostrating themselves.


Verses 16-19

The Princes Having Listened To What Was Written In The Scroll Ascertain The Facts About It And Feel It Necessary To Inform The King About Its Contents Meanwhile Advising Baruch and Jeremiah To Go Into Hiding (Jeremiah 36:16-19).

The whole gathering were stirred by the words, for they were clearly a section of the king’s council who in general supported Jeremiah’s outlook, and filled with apprehension by the words enquired further into their exact source, being determined to bring them to the king’s notice. Baruch explained that they had been dictated to him by Jeremiah, while he recorded them. Then in preparation for what they were about to do they recommended to Baruch that he and Jeremiah should go into hiding.

Jeremiah 36:16

‘Now it came about, when they had heard all the words, they turned in fear one towards another, and said to Baruch, “We will surely tell the king of all these words.”

Having listened carefully to the words that Baruch read out the whole gathering looked at one another, stirred by the words and apprehensive at what the words had prophesied was coming on Judah. Then they turned to Baruch and assured him that they would bring them to the attention of the king. This was not an unfriendly act, but an indication of how seriously they took them. They knew that in the end they were intended for the king, and would have been aware of some of the events mentioned in them (such as the Temple sermon in chapter 7). Furthermore their reading out in the Temple had made them public knowledge and it would not have been safe to withhold them from the king.

Jeremiah 36:17

‘And they asked Baruch, saying, “Tell us now, How did you write all these words at his mouth?”

But before doing so they wanted to be sure of the exact source of the words, and so they asked Baruch to describe the process and the circumstances which had resulted in them being written. It was important to know how far Baruch himself ought to accept responsibility for the words, especially as he had read them out in the Temple, which was not necessarily a scribe’s duty. (Besides so-called prophets had many different ways of obtaining their ‘prophetic words’ and they wanted to know how far these could be relied on).

Jeremiah 36:18

‘Then Baruch answered them, “He proclaimed all these words to me with his mouth, and I wrote them with ink in the scroll (written record).”

Baruch explained that Jeremiah had proclaimed the words to him while he wrote them down on the scroll. Had he simply been acting as a paid scribe he could have argued that he was ‘only doing his job’. But by proclaiming them in the Temple he had undoubtedly implicated himself.

This is the only mention of ‘ink’ in the Old Testament. It was a black carbon (charcoal) mixed with gum or oil and would be brushed on by the stylus which would often be a reed split at the end to form a kind of brush. It would be solidified and kept in the scribe’s palette, being moistened by the reed when required.

Jeremiah 36:19

‘Then the princes said to Baruch, “Go, hide yourself, you and Jeremiah, and let no man know where you are.”

The princes (leading men), who knew only too well what Jehoiakim’s reaction might be, then advised Baruch that he and Jeremiah should hide themselves away and leave no trace of their whereabouts. The implication was that the king would otherwise have them arrested, and even put to death. If this was not long after the death of the prophet Uriah who had also proclaimed Jeremiah’s words (Jeremiah 26:20) we can understand the danger that Baruch was in. Having given this advice the princes then put the scroll in the room of Elishama the Scribe for safe-keeping. It was stored in the Cabinet office.


Verses 20-25

The Scroll Is Brought To The King And Is Read Before Him And On Hearing Each Section He Cuts It Up With A Knife And Burns It After Which He Calls For The Arrest Of Jeremiah And Baruch Who Are, However, In Hiding And Cannot Be Found (Jeremiah 36:20-25).

When the king learned about the scroll he commanded that it be brought to him, and called on Jehudi to read it out before him and his courtiers, many of whom had little sympathy with Jeremiah for on the whole they made no protest when Jehoiakim burned the scroll. And while the reading was in process, every time Jehudi had read four columns Jehoiakim cut them off and burned them. His intention may well have been in order to nullify the prophecy. He then called for the arrest of Jeremiah and Baruch, but they could not be found because ‘YHWH hid them’.

Jeremiah 36:20

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

Having safely deposited the scroll in the room of Elishama the Scribe, a room which would contain many official documents, they went before the king and informed him about the scroll and what it contained.

Jeremiah 36:21

‘So the king sent Jehudi to fetch the roll, and he took it out of the chamber of Elishama the scribe. And Jehudi read it in the ears of the king, and in the ears of all the princes who stood beside the king.’

The king was impressed enough to send Jehudi for the scroll, and called on him to read it out before himself and the courtiers, which, of course, he did. Again we are not told how much he read of it.

Jeremiah 36:22

Now the king was sitting in the winter-accommodation (house) in the ninth month, and there was a brazier burning before him.’

An explanation is then given of how he had a fire available. It was because he was sitting in his winter accommodation where there was a brazier (a vessel containing burning charcoal, or a hearth containing the same) alight in the room in which there would be a charcoal fire which was there in order to provide warmth (compare John 18:18). Whilst the climate was mild, it was cool in contrast to the hot summers (and there was, of course, no glass in the windows).

Jeremiah 36:23

‘And it came about, when Jehudi had read three or four leaves (or ‘columns’, literally ‘doors’), that he (the king?) cut it with the penknife, and threw it into the fire which was in the brazier, until all the roll was consumed in the fire which was in the brazier.’

This can be taken in one of two ways.

1. It may indicate that the whole scroll was burned once Jehudi had read three or four columns, with that being enough to antagonise Jehoiakim who would know what was coming.

2. It may indicate that he read the whole scroll with a portion of it being destroyed piece by piece as it was read.

The former would indicate acting in a fit of rage, the latter, which may be suggested by the ‘until’, would indicate a slow and calculated insult to Jeremiah, and of course to YHWH.

The scroll may well, when opened, have revealed three or four columns which the reader could read before twisting the rollers to reveal the next three or four columns. This might serve to explain why the king acted after every three or four columns. The word for columns is literally ‘doors’ indicating its oblong nature. And, if this is how we read it, then after the reading of the columns the king (or Jehudi at his command) cut the columns off from the scroll with a ‘pen-knife’ (a sharp instrument normally used for sharpening or splitting the stylus or reed used in writing) and threw them into the charcoal fire where they were burned up. And this continued until the whole scroll had been consumed by the fire.

The aim would be to nullify the prophecy in the same way as Hananiah had broken the symbolic yoke around Jeremiah’s shoulders. But it was not to be nullified so easily. On the other hand, to have left it in written form would have seemed to the king and his courtiers, and to all who heard of it, to be an acceptance of the prophecy. It would also have meant that others could have read it and been influenced by it. Thus the king acted in order to rid himself of the hated Jeremiah’s influence.

Jeremiah 36:24

‘And they were not afraid, nor tore their robes, neither the king, nor any of his servants who heard all these words.’

Meanwhile neither the king nor the courtiers reacted in their hearts to the prophecy. They neither ‘feared’ (unlike those who had been gathered in the scribes’ room who had more confidence in Jeremiah) nor indicated a reaction by tearing their clothes. In other words they did not respond to the prophecy, but mainly (at least outwardly) treated it with contempt, many partly, no doubt, being influenced by the king’s presence.

Jeremiah 36:25

‘Moreover Elnathan and Delaiah and Gemariah had made intercession to the king that he would not burn the roll, but he would not hear them.’

There were, however, three present, who had also been present in the scribes’ room, who pleaded with the king not to destroy the scroll. These were Elnathan, Delaiah and Gemariah. It was a brave act, and indicated their high standing in that they dared to do it, but the king refused to listen to their pleadings.

Jeremiah 36:26

‘And the king commanded Jerahmeel the king’s son, and Seraiah the son of Azriel, and Shelemiah the son of Abdeel, to take Baruch the scribe and Jeremiah the prophet; but YHWH hid them.’

Then the king sent three of his trusted servants to arrest Baruch and Jeremiah. Arresting important people may well have been one of their duties. ‘The king’s son’ would probably not have literally been the king’s son for Jehoiakim was about twenty nine and any son would therefore have been fairly young, (although in those days it is always possible that such a young person acted). It may rather indicate a member of the royal house, a relative of the king. A slab of clay bearing the name ‘Jerahmeel son of the king’, who was presumably the same man, has in fact been excavated. Shelamiah’s son later called for the arrest of Jeremiah under Zedekiah (Jeremiah 38:1-6).


Verses 27-32

YHWH Commands Jeremiah To Rewrite The Scroll And Declares The Punishment That He Will Bring On King Jehoiakim Because Of What He Has Done (Jeremiah 36:27-32).

Jeremiah is consequently told to prepare a second scroll containing details of his prophecies, to replace the one that had been burned, and he took the opportunity that this presented to expand on the previous scroll. Meanwhile YHWH assured Jehoiakim that His wrath was coming on him in that the king of Babylon would certainly come and destroy the land, and in that the succession would not be maintained by his descendants. Furthermore, because of his action in rejecting the scroll and treating it ignominiously, his body too would be treated ignominiously on death. He had cast YHWH’s words on the fire. His own body would be cast on the ground outside the walls of Jerusalem, open to the fiery heat of the sun by day and to the frost by night.

Jeremiah 36:27

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

As a result of Jehoiakim burning the scroll YHWH sent a further word to Jeremiah about him. Note the emphasis on Jehoiakim’s actually having burned the words. This was his crime, that he had burned the words of YHWH.

Jeremiah 36:28

“Take yourself again another roll, and write in it all the former words which were in the first roll, which Jehoiakim the king of Judah has burned.”

Jeremiah was then told to take another roll of papyri and write on it all the words that had been written on the earlier scroll which Jehoiakim had burned.

Jeremiah 36:29

‘And concerning Jehoiakim king of Judah you shall say, “Thus says YHWH, You have burned this roll, saying, ‘Why have you written in it, saying, ‘The king of Babylon will certainly come and destroy this land, and will cause to cease from within it man and beast?’ ”

‘You have burned this roll’ does not necessarily mean that Jehoiakim had burned it himself. It simply suggests that he was responsible for its burning, although it may in fact be that he did actually burn it himself in order to demonstrate his contempt for Jeremiah’s prophecies. The reason for his actions is given. It was because he took objection to the suggestion that the king of Babylon would come and destroy the land to such an extent that man and beast would cease from it.

Jeremiah 36:30

‘Therefore thus says YHWH concerning Jehoiakim king of Judah, “He will have none to sit on the throne of David, and his dead body will be cast out in the day to the heat, and in the night to the frost.”

Jehoiakim himself would receive a twofold punishment. Firstly he would have no one to sit on the throne of David once he was gone, and secondly his dead body would be humiliated by being cast out to face the ravages of the weather. He had cast YHWH’s words into the heat, he himself would be cast to both heat and cold.

The first was fulfilled in that Jehoiachin, while ruling for king for three months, was possibly never crowned, (certainly not in the time honoured way for the resources necessary were partly in Babylonian hands), and definitely never ruled over the land. For the whole three months he was shut up in Jerusalem under siege. He was then followed by his uncle. We do not have details of how the second was fulfilled (the ignominious treatment of his body) but it is clear elsewhere that he suffered ignominiously on his death (compare Jeremiah 22:18-19), and unusually nothing is said about his burial in 2 Kings.

Jeremiah 36:31

“And I will punish him and his seed and his servants for their iniquity, and I will bring on them, and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and on the men of Judah, all the evil which I have pronounced against them, but they did not listen.”

Furthermore YHWH’s judgments on Judah as written about in the scroll would be fulfilled. He, his family and his ruling men would all be punished for their iniquity, and all the evil that YHWH had declared would be brought on them. And it was all because theywould not listen.

Jeremiah 36:32

‘Then took Jeremiah another roll, and gave it to Baruch the scribe, the son of Neriah, who wrote in it 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 to them many similar words.’

So Jeremiah did what YHWH had commanded, took another scroll and handed it to Baruch, who wrote down in it all that had been written in the previous book, together with a number of additions along the same lines.

 


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Bibliography Information
Pett, Peter. "Commentary on Jeremiah 36:4". "Peter Pett's Commentary on the Bible ". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/pet/jeremiah-36.html. 2013.

Lectionary Calendar
Wednesday, October 23rd, 2019
the Week of Proper 24 / Ordinary 29
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