Thus saith the LORD; Go down to the house of the king of Judah, and speak there this word,
Go down - i. e., from the temple to the king's house. Compare 2 Chronicles 23:20.
And say, Hear the word of the LORD, O king of Judah, that sittest upon the throne of David, thou, and thy servants, and thy people that enter in by these gates:
Thus saith the LORD; Execute ye judgment and righteousness, and deliver the spoiled out of the hand of the oppressor: and do no wrong, do no violence to the stranger, the fatherless, nor the widow, neither shed innocent blood in this place.
For if ye do this thing indeed, then shall there enter in by the gates of this house kings sitting upon the throne of David, riding in chariots and on horses, he, and his servants, and his people.
But if ye will not hear these words, I swear by myself, saith the LORD, that this house shall become a desolation.
For thus saith the LORD unto the king's house of Judah; Thou art Gilead unto me, and the head of Lebanon: yet surely I will make thee a wilderness, and cities which are not inhabited.
Omit and. "Thou art a Gilead unto me, a summit of Lebanon."
Yet surely - literally, if not, the form of an oath with the imprecation omitted. For the full form see Numbers 14:23.
A wilderness, and cities - Omit and. The meaning is: If the house of David does not hear God's words, though it be now grand as Lebanon, God will make it a wilderness, even uninhabited cities; the house of David being regarded as equivalent to the kingdom of Judah.
And I will prepare destroyers against thee, every one with his weapons: and they shall cut down thy choice cedars, and cast them into the fire.
Prepare - i. e., consecrate, see Jeremiah 6:4 note.
Thy choice cedars - The chief members of the royal lineage and the leading officers of state.
And many nations shall pass by this city, and they shall say every man to his neighbour, Wherefore hath the LORD done thus unto this great city?
Then they shall answer, Because they have forsaken the covenant of the LORD their God, and worshipped other gods, and served them.
Weep ye not for the dead, neither bemoan him: but weep sore for him that goeth away: for he shall return no more, nor see his native country.
In the two foregoing prophecies Jeremiah stated the general principle on which depend the rise and downfall of kings and nations. He now adds for Zedekiah's warning the history of three thrones which were not established.
The first is that of Shallum the successor of Josiah, who probably took the name of Jehoahaz on his accession (see the marginal references notes).
The dead - i. e., Josiah 2 Chronicles 35:25.
That goeth away - Rather, that is gone away.
For thus saith the LORD touching Shallum the son of Josiah king of Judah, which reigned instead of Josiah his father, which went forth out of this place; He shall not return thither any more:
But he shall die in the place whither they have led him captive, and shall see this land no more.
Woe unto him that buildeth his house by unrighteousness, and his chambers by wrong; that useth his neighbour's service without wages, and giveth him not for his work;
Far worse is the second example. Shallum was no heartless tyrant like Jehoiakim, who lived in splendor amid the misery of the nation, and perished so little cared for that his body was cast aside without burial.
His chambers - Really, his upper chambers. From the absence of machinery the raising of materials for the upper stories was a difficult task, especially when massive stones were used.
His work - Giveth him not his wages.
That saith, I will build me a wide house and large chambers, and cutteth him out windows; and it is cieled with cedar, and painted with vermilion.
Large chambers - spacious upper chambers.
It is cieled - Or, roofing it.
Vermilion - The pigment which gives the deep red color still bright and untarnished on many ancient buildings.
Shalt thou reign, because thou closest thyself in cedar? did not thy father eat and drink, and do judgment and justice, and then it was well with him?
i. e., Will thy buildings make thy reign continue? These words imply that Jehoiakim was looking forward to, and taking measures to secure, a long continuance of power (compare Habakkuk 2:9-13. If so, Jeremiah probably wrote this prophecy before Jehoiakim revolted 2 Kings 24:1; and it, therefore, probably belongs to the same date as Jeremiah 36:30, written in the interval between Nebuchadnezzars first conquest of Jerusalem, and Jehoiakim's rebellion, and when Jeremiah was out of the reach of the tyrant's power.
Closest thyself in cedar - Rather, viest "in cedar;" i. e., viest with Solomon.
Did not thy father eat and drink ... - i. e., he was prosperous and enjoyed life. There is a contrast between the life of Josiah spent in the discharge of his kingly duties, and that of Jehoiakim, busy with ambitious plans of splendor and aggrandisement.
He judged the cause of the poor and needy; then it was well with him: was not this to know me? saith the LORD.
But thine eyes and thine heart are not but for thy covetousness, and for to shed innocent blood, and for oppression, and for violence, to do it.
Covetousness - literally, gain. Besides exacting forced labor Jehoiakim, to procure the necessary means for the vast expenses he incurred, put innocent people to death on various pretexts, and escheated their property.
Therefore thus saith the LORD concerning Jehoiakim the son of Josiah king of Judah; They shall not lament for him, saying, Ah my brother! or, Ah sister! they shall not lament for him, saying, Ah lord! or, Ah his glory!
Boldly by name is the judgment at length pronounced upon Jehoiakim. Dreaded by all around him, he shall soon lie an unheeded corpse, with no one to lament. No loving relative shall make such wailing as when a brother or sister is carried to the grave; nor shall he have the respect of his subjects, Ah Lord! or, Ah his glory!
He shall be buried with the burial of an ass, drawn and cast forth beyond the gates of Jerusalem.
The burial of an ass - i. e., he shall merely be dragged out of the way, and left to decay unheeded. Nothing is known of the fulfillment of this prophecy.
Go up to Lebanon, and cry; and lift up thy voice in Bashan, and cry from the passages: for all thy lovers are destroyed.
The third example, Jehoiachin. With him all the best and noblest of the land were dragged from their homes to people the void places of Babylon.
The passages - Really, Abarim, a range of mountains to the south of Gilead, opposite Jericho (see Numbers 27:12; Deuteronomy 32:49). Jeremiah names the chief ranges of mountains, which overlook the route from Jerusalem to Babylon, in regular order, beginning with Lebanon upon the north, then Bashan on the northeast, and lastly Abarim on the southeast.
Thy lovers - i. e., the nations in alliance with Judah, especially Egypt, whose defeat at Carchemish Jeremiah 46:2 gave all western Asia into the power of Nebuchadnezzar.
I spake unto thee in thy prosperity; but thou saidst, I will not hear. This hath been thy manner from thy youth, that thou obeyedst not my voice.
Prosperity - literally, as in the margin. God spake thus not once only, but whenever Judah was at peace.
The wind shall eat up all thy pastors, and thy lovers shall go into captivity: surely then shalt thou be ashamed and confounded for all thy wickedness.
Shall eat up all thy pastors - literally, shall depasture (Jeremiah 2:16 note) thy pastors. Those who used to drive their flocks to consume the herbage shall themselves be the first prey of war. The "pastors" mean not the kings only, but all in authority.
O inhabitant of Lebanon, that makest thy nest in the cedars, how gracious shalt thou be when pangs come upon thee, the pain as of a woman in travail!
Lebanon is the usual metaphor for anything splendid. and is here put for Jerusalem, but with special reference to the kings whose pride it was to dwell in palaces roofed with cedar Jeremiah 22:14.
How gracious shalt thou be - Or, How wilt thou groan!
As I live, saith the LORD, though Coniah the son of Jehoiakim king of Judah were the signet upon my right hand, yet would I pluck thee thence;
The words "king of Judah," belong to Coniah, and prove that he was king regnant when the prophet wrote. The prophet gives him the name by which he was known when in a private station 1 Chronicles 3:16 as he had done previously with Jehoahaz. These two kings bore their royal names for so short a time that they probably never got into general use.
The signet - The badge of office. To part with it, was to part with the royal authority.
And I will give thee into the hand of them that seek thy life, and into the hand of them whose face thou fearest, even into the hand of Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon, and into the hand of the Chaldeans.
And I will cast thee out, and thy mother that bare thee, into another country, where ye were not born; and there shall ye die.
Mother - See Jeremiah 13:18. It was her relationship, not to the dead king, but to the king regnant, which made her powerful.
But to the land whereunto they desire to return, thither shall they not return.
Is this man Coniah a despised broken idol? is he a vessel wherein is no pleasure? wherefore are they cast out, he and his seed, and are cast into a land which they know not?
Idol - Rather, vessel. Is Coniah a mere piece of common earthenware in which the potter has no pleasure, and therefore breaks it? It is a lamentation over Jehoiachin's hard fate, and that of his seed. This and the two following verses may have been written after the king had been carried into captivity.
O earth, earth, earth, hear the word of the LORD.
Earth - On the repetition compare Jeremiah 7:4 note.
Thus saith the LORD, Write ye this man childless, a man that shall not prosper in his days: for no man of his seed shall prosper, sitting upon the throne of David, and ruling any more in Judah.
Childless - No child to sit on David's throne. See 1 Chronicles 3:17 note.
Jeconiah was the last king of David's line. His uncle indeed actually reigned after him, but perished with his sons long before Jeconiah's death (literally 10): and yet from so dead a trunk, from a family so utterly fallen, that spiritual King came forth whose name is "Yahweh our righteousness" Jeremiah 23:5-6.