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Bible Commentaries

Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible
Jeremiah 36

 

 

Introduction

Jeremiah 27-29. Certain linguistic peculiarities (e.g. the incorrect spelling, Nebuchadnezzar) suggest that these three chapters may have circulated as a separate pamphlet, e.g. in Babylon. They deal with the rebuke of false hopes concerning a speedy return from exile.

Jeremiah 30-31. The Future of Israel and Judah.—These two chapters of prophecy, dealing with the future restoration of Israel and Judah, appear to be a later editorial insertion in the narrative scheme of Jeremiah 26-45, placed here perhaps because Jeremiah 32 and Jeremiah 33 contain narratives and prophecies dealing with the same subject (cf. also Jeremiah 29:10 ff.). In Jeremiah 30 and Jeremiah 31, there are numerous points of contact with Deutero-Isaiah, a fact which, with other features, has suggested to many scholars an exilic or post-exilic date for much that these chapters contain. The contrast with the general "pessimism" of earlier chapters is very noticeable. On the other hand, the internal evidence for Jeremiah 31:2-6, Jeremiah 31:15-22, Jeremiah 31:31-34 entitles us to regard these sections as Jeremianic.

Jeremiah 40-44. The next five chapters continue the biography of Jeremiah, including connected events, after the capture of Jerusalem.

Jeremiah 46-51. The Foreign Prophecies.—These form the third principal division of the Book of Jeremiah. As already seen (Jeremiah 1:5; Jeremiah 1:10, Jeremiah 25:15), Jeremiah's prophetic horizon naturally included the surrounding nations; how far the prophecies that follow are his can be decided only by detailed criticism in each case. They refer, though in somewhat different order, to the several nations enumerated in Jeremiah 25:19-26 (which may be regarded as an introduction to them), except that an oracle on Damascus here replaces the reference to Tyre, Sidon, and the Mediterranean. (The LXX, which places this group of prophecies after Jeremiah 25:13, follows a third order.) It is generally admitted that the long prophecy on Babylon (Jeremiah 50 f.) is not by Jeremiah (see prefatory note). As to Jeremiah 46-49, there is considerable difference of opinion, ranging from Duhm's rejection of the whole, through Giesebrecht's acceptance of Jeremiah 47 (except towards end), with the nucleus of Jeremiah 46:2-12, Jeremiah 49:7-11, up to Cornill's acceptance of most of Jeremiah 46-49 (so also Peake). It is in any case natural to suppose that there are genuine prophecies by Jeremiah which underlie these chapters, though they have been worked over, or incorporated with other non-Jeremianic prophecies (e.g. Jeremiah 48) by later writers. For details, the larger commentaries must be consulted.

Jeremiah 26-45. These chapters, usually ascribed in the main to Baruch, chiefly narrate selected incidents in the life of Jeremiah, often with connected prophecies; they form a second main section of the book, in contrast with 1-25, which consist chiefly of prophecies, with little narrative.


Verses 1-32

Jeremiah 36. The Writing of the Roll.—This chapter narrates how the oral prophecies of Jeremiah were first put into writing (604 B.C.). The account is obviously important for the criticism of this book see Introduction, § 4, for the probable contents of the roll. The circumstances also throw light on the origin of written prophecy in general; the failure of the oral testimony (Jeremiah 36:3 cf. Isaiah 8:1; Isaiah 8:16; Isaiah 30:8) led to its preservation through writing. The pioneers amongst the so-called "literary" prophets are not primarily writers at all; the written records of their work are largely incidental, a fact which helps to explain the fragmentary and complex character of much of the prophetic "literature," due, as it largely is, to the work of disciples. On Hebrew writing materials, see the article, "Writing "by Kenyon, in HDB.

Jeremiah 36:1-8 (The first roll written). Jeremiah is told to write down his prophecies of the last twenty-two years (Jeremiah 25:1; Jeremiah 25:3) relating to Jerusalem (so read with LXX for "Israel" in Jeremiah 36:2), Judah, and the nations, in the hope that Judah may yet repent (Jeremiah 26:3). Accordingly, he dictates them to Baruch (Jeremiah 32:12, and see Introduction), and tells him to read them publicly in the Temple on a fast day (Jeremiah 36:6 mg.), since he is unable to go there himself. Baruch does this (Jeremiah 36:8 summarises the following narrative, Jeremiah 36:9-26).

Jeremiah 36:5. I am restrained, mg.: this cannot mean "imprisoned" in view of Jeremiah 36:19; it may refer to ceremonial uncleanness (cf. 1 Samuel 21:7, Nehemiah 6:10), or, perhaps, to a "restraint" through the prophetic spirit.

Jeremiah 36:9-26 (The roll read and destroyed). In the winter (Nov.-Dec.) of the following year, Baruch uses the opportunity of a fast to read the roll in the room of Gemariah. Its contents are reported to the princes in the secretary's room at the palace (below the Temple, Jeremiah 26:10), and they send for Baruch to read it again to them. They are alarmed by it, and decide that the king must be told. They ask how it came to be written, and Baruch replies that it was dictated to him. They tell him to go into hiding with his master, and they go to Jehoiakim; he sends for the roll, and hears it in his "winter" house (Amos 3:15), sitting by the fire. When three or four columns (Jeremiah 36:23 mg.) of the roll have been read, the king repeatedly cuts them off, and throws them into the fire, till all has been read and burnt. This he does in spite of the entreaty of some of those in attendance ("which stood beside the king," Jeremiah 36:21; cf. Judges 3:19). The king sends in vain to arrest the prophet and his secretary.

Jeremiah 36:9. a fast: some special day of humiliation; cf. 2 Samuel 12:22, 1 Kings 21:27, Zechariah 7:5.

Jeremiah 36:10. Gemariah: son of the Shaphan of 2 Kings 22:3 ff., and brother of the Ahikam of Jeremiah 26:24.

Jeremiah 36:16. Omit "unto Baruch" with LXX.

Jeremiah 36:17. Omit "at his mouth" with LXX.

Jeremiah 36:20. court should perhaps be emended into "chamber" or "cabinet" (cf. 1 Kings 1:15), in view of Jeremiah 36:22.

Jeremiah 36:23. The tenses denote repeated action.

Jeremiah 36:26. king's son: "royal prince".

Jeremiah 36:27-32 (The second roll written). Since the king has destroyed the first roll, owing to its anticipation of a successful Babylonian invasion (Jeremiah 25:9 f.), Yahweh announces that the king shall leave no successor to his throne (as a matter of fact, his son Jehoiachin succeeded him for three months only; cf. Jeremiah 37:1), and shall lie unburied (Jeremiah 22:19), whilst the evils foretold for the people shall come upon them. Jeremiah is to rewrite all that was written; he does this (through Baruch) on a second roll, with many additions.

 


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Bibliography Information
Peake, Arthur. "Commentary on Jeremiah 36:4". "Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible ". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/pfc/jeremiah-36.html. 1919.

Lectionary Calendar
Saturday, October 19th, 2019
the Week of Proper 23 / Ordinary 28
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