In the beginning of the reign of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah king of Judah came this word from the LORD, saying,Jeremiah 26:1. In the beginning of the reign of Jehoiakim, &c. — The preceding chapter is dated in the fourth year of the reign of Jehoiakim, but ascribed, with probability, to the early part of that year. This chapter is dated in the beginning of the same reign. Hence it has been concluded, that this must have preceded the former in order of time. “But the conclusion,” says Blaney, “will not hold, if we consider that, (Jeremiah 28:1,) the beginning of Zedekiah’s reign is expressly declared to mean the fourth year and the fifth month of it. The same therefore may be the case here,” and this chapter may be allowed to speak of events subsequent to those of the foregoing one, though taking place immediately after them.
Thus saith the LORD; Stand in the court of the LORD'S house, and speak unto all the cities of Judah, which come to worship in the LORD'S house, all the words that I command thee to speak unto them; diminish not a word:Jeremiah 26:2-3. Stand in the court of the Lord’s house — The great court where both men and women ordinarily worshipped, says Dr. Lightfoot, when they brought no sacrifice; for when they did so, they were to bring it into the inner court, otherwise called the court of Israel, or of the priests, as the same learned author has observed in his treatise concerning the temple service. And speak unto all the cities of Judah — Here it is evident that ערו, cities, are put for their inhabitants; and we may conjecture from hence, that this transaction passed at one of the great festivals, when the people of Judah were assembled, out of all their cities, to worship at Jerusalem. All the words that I command thee — Not in the least varying from them, either to please men or to save thyself harmless. Diminish not a word — Either out of fear, favour, or flattery: declare not only the truth, but the whole truth, and give them faithful warning. Thus must all God’s ambassadors keep close to their instructions, and neither add to, nor diminish from, the word of the truth of the gospel, but must faithfully make known the whole counsel of God. If so be they will hearken and turn, &c. — Not that God was ignorant of their obstinacy, or did not foreknow that they would harden their hearts, and remain impenitent; yet it was for the glory of his justice, mercy, and holiness, to afford them both time for, and the means of, repentance. And he did give them time, for it was at least six years after this before the captivity of Jehoiakim, and seventeen before that of Zedekiah took place; and as for means, God favoured them not only with such as were ordinary, but such as were extraordinary, namely, with the ministry of this prophet.
If so be they will hearken, and turn every man from his evil way, that I may repent me of the evil, which I purpose to do unto them because of the evil of their doings.
And thou shalt say unto them, Thus saith the LORD; If ye will not hearken to me, to walk in my law, which I have set before you,
To hearken to the words of my servants the prophets, whom I sent unto you, both rising up early, and sending them, but ye have not hearkened;
Then will I make this house like Shiloh, and will make this city a curse to all the nations of the earth.
So the priests and the prophets and all the people heard Jeremiah speaking these words in the house of the LORD.Jeremiah 26:7. So the priests and the prophets — Namely, the false prophets; they who pretended to be prophets, though they had received no divine commission. And all the people — Who were present at that time; heard Jeremiah, &c., in the house of the Lord — That is, “In the court before the Lord’s house. The outer courts, being holy ground, and dedicated to God’s worship, are called by the name of the temple. So the treasury, where Christ preached, is called the temple, (John 8:20,) though it stood in the outer court of it. And St. Paul is said to have entered into the temple, Acts 21:26, &c.; that is, into the court of the temple, and the Jews to have laid hold on him there.” — Lowth.
Now it came to pass, when Jeremiah had made an end of speaking all that the LORD had commanded him to speak unto all the people, that the priests and the prophets and all the people took him, saying, Thou shalt surely die.Jeremiah 26:8-10. The priests and prophets took him, &c. — As a disturber of the government, and a discourager of the people from defending their country against the enemy, in prophesying that the temple and city of Jerusalem should become a desolation. When the princes of Judah heard these things — That is, the king’s counsellors, or chief officers of the state, who were also members of the great court of the sanhedrim, first instituted Numbers 11:16, and revived by Jehoshaphat, 2 Chronicles 19:8. They came and sat in the entry of the gate, &c. — This was built by Jotham, as we read 2 Kings 13:35. The intelligent reader will observe a great similarity between the conduct of these priests and false prophets toward Jeremiah, and that of the priests, the scribes, and Pharisees toward Jesus Christ, of whom Jeremiah was a type: see particularly Mark 14:58; Matthew 26:61.
Why hast thou prophesied in the name of the LORD, saying, This house shall be like Shiloh, and this city shall be desolate without an inhabitant? And all the people were gathered against Jeremiah in the house of the LORD.
When the princes of Judah heard these things, then they came up from the king's house unto the house of the LORD, and sat down in the entry of the new gate of the LORD'S house.
Then spake the priests and the prophets unto the princes and to all the people, saying, This man is worthy to die; for he hath prophesied against this city, as ye have heard with your ears.
Then spake Jeremiah unto all the princes and to all the people, saying, The LORD sent me to prophesy against this house and against this city all the words that ye have heard.
Therefore now amend your ways and your doings, and obey the voice of the LORD your God; and the LORD will repent him of the evil that he hath pronounced against you.Jeremiah 26:13-16. Amend your ways, and the Lord will repent, &c. — It appears here again that God’s determination to give up Jerusalem to destruction was conditional: see note on Jeremiah 18:7-10. If the people had repented of their sins, and reformed their conduct, their ruin would have been prevented, and they would have enjoyed a continuance of peace and prosperity. As for me, behold I am in your hand — I have neither any power, nor can make any interest to oppose you; do with me as seemeth good in your sight — I am content even to lose my life, if God be pleased to permit you to take it. But know ye for certain, &c. — Be fully assured; if you put me to death — Who, as you well know, am not guilty of any crime; ye shall surely bring innocent blood upon yourselves, and upon this city, &c. — You may think that by killing the prophet you will defeat the accomplishment of the prophecy, but you will find yourselves wretchedly deceived: such an act will at once greatly add to your guilt, and aggravate your ruin. Their own consciences could not but tell them that if Jeremiah was (as certainly he was) sent of God to bring them this message, it was at their utmost peril if they treated him for it as a malefactor. For of a truth the Lord hath sent me unto you, &c. — Such is Jeremiah’s justification of himself. He reduces all to this, that God had sent him; and his adversaries were able to make no reply. “If God hath sent me, you can have nothing to say against me.” It is upon this that he is declared innocent in the following verse, This man is not worthy to die — Which was the sentence pronounced by the princes and all the people: for the people, who before were forward to condemn him, now, upon hearing his apology, were as forward to acquit him.
As for me, behold, I am in your hand: do with me as seemeth good and meet unto you.
But know ye for certain, that if ye put me to death, ye shall surely bring innocent blood upon yourselves, and upon this city, and upon the inhabitants thereof: for of a truth the LORD hath sent me unto you to speak all these words in your ears.
Then said the princes and all the people unto the priests and to the prophets; This man is not worthy to die: for he hath spoken to us in the name of the LORD our God.
Then rose up certain of the elders of the land, and spake to all the assembly of the people, saying,Jeremiah 26:17-19. Then rose up certain of the elders — Either the princes before mentioned, or the more intelligent men of the people, stood up, and put the assembly in mind of a former case, as is usual with us in giving judgment, the wisdom of our predecessors being a direction to us. The case referred to is that of Micah, the book of whose prophecies we have among those of the minor prophets. Was it thought strange that Jeremiah prophesied against this city and the temple? Micah did so before him, even in the reign of Hezekiah, that reign of reformation, Jeremiah 26:18. Micah said as publicly, as Jeremiah had now spoken to the same purpose, Zion shall be ploughed like a field — The buildings shall be all destroyed, so that nothing shall hinder but it may be ploughed; Jerusalem shall become heaps — Of ruins; and the mountain of the house — On which the temple is built; shall be as the high places of the forest — Overrun with briers and thorns. This Micah not only spoke, but wrote, and left it upon record, Micah 3:12. Now did Hezekiah and all Judah put him to death? — Did the people come together in a body to accuse Micah, and demand sentence against him, as they had now done in the case of Jeremiah? Did they and their king make an act to silence him, or take away his life? No: on the contrary, they took the warning he gave them. Hezekiah, that renowned prince, set a good example before his successors; for he feared the Lord, as Noah, who, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, was moved with fear. He besought the Lord — To turn away the judgment threatened, and to be reconciled to them; and he found it was not in vain to do so; for the Lord repented him of the evil — Returned in mercy to them, and even sent an angel, who routed the army of the Assyrians that then threatened to destroy Jerusalem. These elders conclude, that it would be of dangerous consequence to the state if they should gratify the importunity of the priests and prophets in putting Jeremiah to death; saying, Thus we might procure great evil against our souls — Observe, reader, it is well to deter ourselves from sin, with the consideration of the mischief we should certainly do to ourselves by it, and the irreparable damage we should thereby bring upon our own souls.
Micah the Morasthite prophesied in the days of Hezekiah king of Judah, and spake to all the people of Judah, saying, Thus saith the LORD of hosts; Zion shall be plowed like a field, and Jerusalem shall become heaps, and the mountain of the house as the high places of a forest.
Did Hezekiah king of Judah and all Judah put him at all to death? did he not fear the LORD, and besought the LORD, and the LORD repented him of the evil which he had pronounced against them? Thus might we procure great evil against our souls.
And there was also a man that prophesied in the name of the LORD, Urijah the son of Shemaiah of Kirjathjearim, who prophesied against this city and against this land according to all the words of Jeremiah:Jeremiah 26:20-23. And there was also a man — There are three different opinions respecting the following passage. The first ascribes it to an opposite party, who, by a contrary precedent to the foregoing, urged the condemnation of Jeremiah, a precedent in which the speaking such words as he had spoken was adjudged treason. But against this view of the passage it is objected that such a transition of the speakers would have had some mark of distinction prefixed. Others suppose that this instance was alleged by the same persons that adduced the former, and with an intent to mark the different consequences that had ensued, and to caution the people and government against taking another step of a similar kind, and thereby adding sin to sin. As if he had said, Hezekiah, who had protected Micah, prospered; but did Jehoiakim, who slew Urijah, prosper? No: they all saw the contrary: one prophet had been slain already, let them not fill up the measure of national iniquity by slaying another. But Blaney thinks the least exceptionable opinion is, “that the elders concluded their speeches Jeremiah 26:19, and that the writer of the narrative goes on here to observe, in his own person, that notwithstanding the precedent of Micah, there had been a later precedent in the present reign, which might have operated very unfavourably to the cause of Jeremiah, but for the influence and authority of Ahikam the son of Shaphan, which was exerted to save him.”
Who prophesied against this city, &c., according to all the words of Jeremiah — The prophets of the Lord agreed in their testimony, and one would have supposed that this circumstance should have caused their word to be regarded. And the king sought to put him to death — Being, with his courtiers, greatly exasperated against him on account of the faithful testimony which he bore, and the true predictions of approaching judgments which God commissioned him to utter. But when Urijah heard it, he was afraid, and fled — In this, it seems, he was faulty, and that through the weakness of his faith: he was too much under the power of that fear of man which brings a snare, and did not sufficiently confide in the power of God to protect him in the faithful execution of his office. And Jehoiakim sent men into Egypt, &c. — One would have thought Jehoiakim’s malice might have been satisfied with driving him out of the country; but they are blood-thirsty that hate the upright, Proverbs 29:10. It was the life, the precious life, that Jehoiakim hunted after, and nothing less would satisfy him. So implacable is his revenge, that he sends a party of soldiers into Egypt, (there being a strict alliance between him and Pharaoh-nechoh,) some hundreds of miles, and they bring him back by force of arms unto Jehoiakim, who slew him with the sword — Some think, even with his own hands, but this appears improbable. Neither did even this satisfy the king’s insatiable malice, but he loads the body of the good man with infamy, would not allow it the decent respects usually and justly paid to the remains of persons of distinction, but cast it into the graves of the common people — As if he had not been a prophet of the Lord. Thus Jehoiakim hoped both to ruin Urijah’s reputation with the people, that no heed might be given to his predictions, and to deter others from prophesying in like manner: but in vain. Jeremiah bears the same testimony. There is no contending with the word of God. Herod thought he had gained his point when he had cut off John the Baptist’s head, but found himself deceived when, soon after, he heard of Jesus Christ, and said in a fright, This is John the Baptist; he is risen from the dead.
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 Urijah heard it, he was afraid, and fled, and went into Egypt;
And Jehoiakim the king sent men into Egypt, namely, Elnathan the son of Achbor, and certain men with him into Egypt.
And they fetched forth Urijah out of Egypt, and brought him unto Jehoiakim the king; who slew him with the sword, and cast his dead body into the graves of the common people.
Nevertheless 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.Jeremiah 26:24. Nevertheless, the hand of Ahikam, &c., was with Jeremiah — Both he and his father Shaphan were chief ministers under Josiah, 2 Kings 22:12-14. And the brothers of Ahikam, Gemariah, Elasah, and Jaazaniah were considerable men in those days, with Ahikam, and members of the great council; Jeremiah 29:3; Ezekiel 8:11. So Ahikam made use of his interest with them to deliver Jeremiah from the danger that threatened him. Thus God wonderfully preserved Jeremiah, though he did not flee as Urijah did, but stood his ground. Ordinary ministers may use ordinary means, provided they be lawful ones, for their preservation; but they that have an extraordinary mission may expect an extraordinary protection.