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Bible Commentaries

Joseph Benson's Commentary of the Old and New Testaments
Jeremiah 22

 

 

Verse 1-2

Jeremiah 22:1-2. Thus saith the Lord — The prophecy which follows to Jeremiah 23:9, was evidently delivered in the reign of Jehoiakim; for it speaks of his immediate predecessor as already gone into captivity, and foretels the death of Jehoiakim himself. Blaney thinks it followed immediately after what is said in the xixth and xxth chapters to have passed in the temple precincts, from whence, as from a higher ground, he supposes the prophet is ordered to go down to the house of the king of Judah. Hear, &c., O king of Judah — Namely, Jehoiakim, (Jeremiah 22:18,) who was established upon the throne by the king of Egypt, in the place of Jehoahaz, in the year of the world 3394, according to Archbishop Usher. That sittest on the throne of David — Thus the prophet puts him in mind of the promises God had made to David’s family, if they would live in obedience to his will, 1 Kings 8:25. Thou, and thy servants, and thy people — Thy courtiers and other officers, who attend continually on thee, comprehending likewise all the people of the city: all whom this word of the Lord concerned; that enter in by these gates — Namely, the gates of the palace, whereby they went in to the king. The king was evidently at the gate of his palace, with his principal officers, when Jeremiah presented himself before him.


Verses 3-5

Jeremiah 22:3-5. Thus saith the Lord, Execute ye judgment, &c. — That is, administer justice to all your subjects. The stranger, the fatherless, and the widow are particularly named, as persons who have the fewest friends, and therefore are the most exposed to the tyranny, injustice, and oppression of the great. And do no wrong, do no violence, &c. — Compare Jeremiah 22:17, where we find Jehoiakim charged with these sins. For if ye do this thing indeed — If ye will, not in pretence, but reality, do what is just and right to every one, and see that inferior magistrates, acting under you do so too; then shall there enter, &c. — See the note on Jeremiah 17:25, where, instead of the gates of this house, the text reads, the gates of this city. And the context here shows, that the prophecy is directed, not only to the king’s court in particular, but likewise to the whole city of Jerusalem, one part of which was called the city of David; and the whole looked upon as a royal city, and the place of their king’s residence. Kings sitting upon the throne of David, &c. — There shall then be a succession of kings, and that uninterrupted, reigning in Judah, of David’s line, kings who shall enjoy a perfect tranquillity, and live in great state and dignity. But if ye will not hear these words — That is, if ye will not so hear as to obey them. I swear by myself, saith the Lord — That is, I resolve absolutely upon it; for God is not in Scripture said to swear, unless as speaking after the manner of men, and according to the actions of men; so that whenever this expression is employed, it is only to signify, that God would not revoke the thing spoken of, but that it should be immutable. Here, therefore, it implies that the sentence pronounced should certainly be executed, and that nothing could reverse it but the people’s sincere repentance, which condition is expressed in the foregoing part of the verse. See Hebrews 6:17. This house shall become a desolation — This palace, of the kings of Judah shall fare no better than other habitations in Jerusalem, sin as certainly effecting the ruin of the houses of princes as those of mean men.


Verses 6-9

Jeremiah 22:6-9. For thus saith the Lord unto, or, concerning, the king’s house: Thou art Gilead unto me, &c.; yet surely, &c. — “Though thou wert never so precious in my sight, as valuable for riches and plenty as the fat pastures of Gilead, and thy buildings as beautiful for their stateliness as the tall cedars of Lebanon, yet unless thy princes and people reform, thou shalt become nothing but ruin and desolation.” Thus Lowth. But Blaney translates the verse, Gilead art thou through me, O summit of Lebanon; surely I will make thee a desert, cities not inhabited. Which he interprets as follows, “Lebanon was the highest mountain in Israel, and was therefore an apt emblem of the reigning family advanced to the highest rank of dignity in the state. Gilead was the richest and most fertile part of the country. The meaning then is plainly this, By my providence thou art not only supreme in rank, but hast been rendered exceedingly wealthy and flourishing. But the same power that raised will likewise be exerted in reducing thee to the lowest state of indigence and distress.” And I will prepare — Hebrew, וקדשׁתי, I will sanctify destroyers against thee — That is, I will solemnly appoint and set them apart for the work of destroying thee. And they shall cut down thy choice cedars — Having compared the king’s palace, or the city of Jerusalem, to Lebanon, Jeremiah 22:6, pursuing the metaphor, he threatens to destroy them and their most beautiful edifices by the Chaldean army. And many nations — Persons of many nations; shall pass by this city, &c. — Namely, when on their travels; and they shall say, Wherefore hath the Lord done thus unto this great city They who have heard that this had been a very strong, rich, and populous city, and that it had been called the city of God, and the place of his especial residence, would be astonished to find it, through his judgments, a scene of ruin and desolation, and would require how such an effect came to be produced. Thus was fulfilled that threatening of Moses, Deuteronomy 28:37, that God would make the Jews an astonishment to other nations. See likewise 1 Kings 9:8. Then shall they answer — Some shall answer, or they shall answer one another. The reason is so obvious that it shall be ready in every man’s mouth. Because they have forsaken the covenant of Jehovah their God; have revolted from their allegiance to him, and from the duty which they had solemnly covenanted to perform, and worshipped other gods and served them — In contempt of him; and therefore he gave them up to this destruction.


Verse 10

Jeremiah 22:10. Weep ye not for the dead — This seems to be spoken of King Josiah, killed in battle with the Egyptians: see 2 Kings 23:29-30, concerning whom the prophet here says that he was rather to be rejoiced over than lamented, since, by being taken soon out of life, he escaped the terrible evils which came upon his country. But weep sore for him that goeth away, for he shall return no more — Namely, Jehoahaz, who was carried captive into Egypt by Pharaoh-necho, and never more returned to his country. He is called Shallum in the next verse, but in all other places Jehoahaz. It seems probable that Shallum was his name before he ascended the throne, and that he changed it for Jehoahaz, as his brothers Eliakim and Mattaniah also assumed the names of Jehoiakim and Zedekiah on the like occasion, 2 Kings 23:34; 2 Kings 24:17.


Verses 13-16

Jeremiah 22:13-16. Wo unto him that buildeth his house by unrighteousness, &c. — “The prophet proceeds to denounce God’s judgments against Jehoiakim, (see Jeremiah 22:18,) who, it seems, built himself a stately palace in those calamitous times, and took no care to pay the wages of the workmen; but maintained his own luxury by the oppression of those who were to live by their labour: a crying sin, and too common among the great men of the world, severely prohibited both in the Old and New Testament.” — Lowth. See Deuteronomy 24:14-15; James 5:4. That saith, I will build me a wide house and large chambers — Hebrew, עליות מרוחים, chambers to the wind; that is, exposed, or open, to wind on every side. They used to enjoy the cool air in these chambers; the windows being so placed that they might receive the wind from whatever quarter it came. Shalt thou reign because thou closest thyself in cedar? — Will a house, finely adorned and furnished, be a fortress and defence to thee against thy enemies, that come to deprive thee of thy kingdom? Did not thy father eat and drink, and do justice, &c. — Did not Josiah live, and enjoy comfort in life as well as thou dost, though he did not indulge himself in such delicacies, and had not such magnificent apartments? Did he not live in sufficient plenty, and in a state suitable to his character, and yet strictly observed justice, both in his private and public capacity, and not betake himself to such sordid methods of injustice and oppression for the support of his grandeur? He did no wrong to any of his subjects, never oppressed them, or put any hardship upon them, but was careful to preserve to all their just rights and properties. Nay, he not only did not abuse his power for the support of wrong, but used it for the maintaining of right; he judged the cause of the poor and needy — Was ready to hear the cause of the meanest of his subjects, and do them justice; and then it was well with him — The blessing of God was upon him as the reward of his justice and integrity. He was comfortable in himself, and was useful to and respected by his subjects, and prospered in all that he put his hand to. Was not this to know me, saith the Lord? — Did he not hereby make it appear, that he rightly knew, worshipped, and served me, and consequently was known and owned by me? Observe, reader, the right knowledge of God implies the doing our duty to our fellow-creatures, as well as to God, particularly that duty which our place and station in the world require us to perform.


Verse 17

Jeremiah 22:17. But thine eyes and thy heart are not but for thy covetousness — They are for that, and for nothing else. For this cause Jehoiakim is compared to a lion, by the Prophet Ezekiel 19:6. Observe, reader, in covetousness the heart walks after the eyes, Job 31:7; it is therefore called the lust of the eye, 1 John 2:15 : and the eyes and the heart are then for covetousness when the aims and affections are set upon the wealth of this world; and when they are so the temptation is strong to fraud, oppression, and all manner of violence and villany, even, as it is here said, to shed innocent blood.


Verse 18-19

Jeremiah 22:18-19. They shall not lament for him, saying, Ah my brother! &c. — “The prophet here repeats part of the funeral ditty or song which the public mourners used to sing at funerals, (see note on Jeremiah 9:17; Jeremiah 20:14, and compare 1 Kings 13:30,) signifying, that neither Jehoiakim, nor his queen or family, should be buried with those solemn lamentations with which the memory of his predecessors, particularly that of his father, had been honoured: see 2 Chronicles 35:25. Saying, Ah Lord! or, Ah his glory! — That is, how is his glory departed and vanished! another burden or chorus of the funeral song. He shall be buried with the burial of an ass — None attending him to his grave, none mourning over him. Or, the meaning is, he shall have no burial: for the carcasses of asses are not buried. Drawn and cast forth, &c. — The expression seems to be taken from the custom of dogs to draw about a carcass before they tear and devour it. Jehoiakim, having been advanced to the kingdom by Pharaoh-necho, king of Egypt, 2 Kings 23:34, followed the fortune of that king, and upon the conquest of Egypt by the Chaldeans, Jeremiah 46:2, after three years’ reign, was taken prisoner by Nebuchadnezzar, and put into irons, Daniel 1:2; 2 Chronicles 36:6. But afterward, it seems, the king of Babylon released him and made him a tributary king. After three years’ obedience, however, Jehoiakim rebelled, in confidence of assistance from Egypt. Soon after which Nebuchadnezzar’s army overran Judea, besieged Jerusalem, and probably took Jehoiakim prisoner in some sally that he made upon them, and killed him, and then cast out his dead body into the highway, denying him the common rites of burial: see 2 Kings 24:1-6. Accordingly, he is said to have slept with his fathers, but not to have been buried with them: see also Joseph. Antiq., lib. 10. cap. 7, 8.


Verse 20

Jeremiah 22:20. Go up to Lebanon, and cry, &c. — The verbs here being in the feminine gender, the city of Jerusalem, or the land of Judea, seems to be addressed and called upon ironically to go to the tops of the high mountains, and to the frontiers of the country, and cry aloud for help to the neighbouring powers, but in vain, since all those who had any inclination to favour her, the Egyptians in particular, were themselves disabled and crushed by the arms of Nebuchadnezzar. Cry from the passages — Hebrew, מעברים, from the borders, or rivers, which are the bounds of your country. For the word signifies, not only the fords, or passages of a river, but the parts along each bank, and the confines or extremities of a country. For all thy lovers are destroyed — Or broken, as נשׁברוsignifies: all thy foreign allies, whose friendship and assistance thou hast sought, and whom thou hast courted, by complying with their idolatries, are humbled.


Verse 21

Jeremiah 22:21. I spake unto thee in thy prosperity — Spake by my servants the prophets, in reproofs, admonitions, counsels; but thou saidst, I will not hear — Didst manifest by thy conduct that thou wouldest not obey. Such is too often the effect of prosperity. It puffs men up with pride and high-mindedness, and makes them despise the word of God, thinking themselves too wise to stand in need of advice, and therefore they defer attending to it, till they are in extremities, when it becomes of little or no benefit to them. The word שׁלוה, however, which we translate prosperity, properly signifies security, and may be spoken of the false security in which the inhabitants of Judah and Jerusalem lived in times when they were threatened with the most grievous calamities, and which had been denounced to them by the prophets, from the time of Hezekiah on account of the idolatries and various other acts of wickedness of their kings and people; who nevertheless continued in their vices without any amendment. This hath been thy manner from thy youth — From thy being first formed into a people. See the margin.


Verse 22

Jeremiah 22:22. The wind shall eat up all thy pastors — Thy kings, princes, priests, and false prophets, who have presided over thy civil and religious affairs, shall be destroyed by my judgments, as plants are blasted by winds. God’s judgments are often compared to a scorching and blasting wind. Thy lovers shall go into captivity — Thy allies shall themselves be made captives by the Chaldeans, and shall not be able to preserve themselves, much less to give any assistance to thee.


Verse 23

Jeremiah 22:23. O inhabitant of Lebanon — O thou that inhabitest the city which for pleasantness and delight may be compared to Lebanon. Or he alludes to the stately buildings of Jerusalem, elsewhere compared to the tall cedars of a forest: see note on Jeremiah 21:14. That makest thy nest in the cedars — Who livest in houses built of cedars. How gracious shalt thou be — Or rather, how humble, or suppliant, wilt thou be, when pangs come upon thee — Those pangs of affliction which shall suddenly oppress thee, whereas before thou wast too proud to hearken to any advice that was offered. The Hebrew, מה נחנתי, is rendered by Buxtorff, quam gratulaberis tibi, How wilt thou gratulate thyself when pangs, &c., understanding it as spoken ironically.


Verses 24-28

Jeremiah 22:24-28. As I live, saith the Lord, though Coniah were the signet, or, rather, the ring, upon my right hand — By Coniah he means Jehoiachin, whose name was Jeconiah, 1 Chronicles 3:16, (for all Josiah’s sons had two names, and so had his grandchild Jeconiah,) here, in contempt, called Coniah; yet would I pluck thee thence — Though he were never so near and dear to me, as dear as a signet, or ring, which every man keeps safe, yet his wickedness would make him forfeit all my favour toward him. “The ring was anciently worn as a mark of sovereignty. When Alexander was dying, he gave his ring to Perdiccas, thus, as it were, marking him out for his successor.” And I will cast thee out, and thy mother that bare thee — We are informed, (2 Kings 24:15,) that Nebuchadnezzar carried away Jehoiachin, that is, Jeconiah or Coniah, to Babylon, and his mother, and his wives, &c. Is this man Coniah a despised broken idol, &c. — Blaney renders the verse more literally, thus: “A contemptible, broken idol is this man Coniah? Or a vessel in which none delighteth? Wherefore are they cast forth, he and his seed, and thrown upon a land which they knew not?” As if he had said, “Would any one have thought that this man, who was invested with royal dignity, should be rendered no better than a broken image of royalty, a mere potsherd, utterly contemptible and useless?”


Verse 29-30

Jeremiah 22:29-30. O earth, &c. — The word earth, or land rather, as ארצmay be properly rendered, is repeated three times by way of emphasis, to engage the deeper attention. The prophet speaks to the land of Judea, which he commands to write down the following prediction, that it might be remembered by them, and the truth of it be thereby made manifest. Write ye this man childless — Hebrew, ערירי, solitary, deprived, destitute. The LXX. render it εκκηρυκτον αυθρωτον, an ejected, or expelled man; a man that shall not prosper in his days — This latter clause seems explanatory of the former; and that again is further explained in the following: “For no man of his seed shall prosper, sitting upon the throne of David, and ruling any more in Judah.” That Jeconiah had children appears both from this verse and Jeremiah 22:28; but according to this prophecy, no man of his seed sat upon the throne of David. This seems the true exposition of this passage, which has been considered as attended with considerable difficulty. “I cannot,” says Blaney, “agree with the generality of commentators, who suppose that God hereby declares it as a thing certain, and, as it were, orders it to be inserted among the public acts of his government, that Jeconiah should die absolutely childless. Other parts of Scripture positively assert him to have had children, 1 Chronicles 3:17-18; Matthew 1:12. Both Jeremiah 22:28, and the subsequent part of this verse, imply that he either had, or should have, seed. But the historians and chroniclers of the times are called upon, and directed to set him down childless; not as being literally so, but yet the same to all intents and purposes of public life, for he was to be the last of his race that should sit upon the throne of David; and his descendants were no more to figure as kings, but to be reduced to the rank and obscurity of private persons. And in this sense the prophecy was actually fulfilled, for, allowing Zerubbabel, who is called governor of Judah, (Haggai 1:1,) to have been a lineal descendant of Jeconiah, yet he could not be said to sit upon the throne of David, and reign, or rule, in Judah, seeing he was but a provincial governor, a mere servant of the king of Persia, in whom the sovereignty resided; nor were any of those persons kings who afterward reigned in Judah, even of the family of David, until the time of Christ.”

 


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Bibliography Information
Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on Jeremiah 22:4". Joseph Benson's Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/rbc/jeremiah-22.html. 1857.

Lectionary Calendar
Wednesday, September 18th, 2019
the Week of Proper 19 / Ordinary 24
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