Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges
Chs. Jeremiah 22:1 to Jeremiah 23:8. Judgements on the kings of Judah of the period
The compiler has brought together Jeremiah’s utterances of various dates on successive kings. They form a mixture of poetic and prose elements, and contain some amount of editorial matter. The section may be subdivided as follows. (i) Jeremiah 22:1-5. Jeremiah is sent to the palace by Jehovah to bid the king and his subjects of all classes to practise justice and to abstain from their various wrong doings. On their compliance the State shall prosper. Otherwise the palace shall be laid in ruins. (ii) Jeremiah 22:6-9. Under the figure of the destruction of noble forests, the overthrow of the monarchy is foretold. Other nations, astonished, shall learn the reason, viz. idolatry. (iii) Jeremiah 22:10-12. Prediction of Jehoahaz’s exile and death. (iv) Jeremiah 22:13-19. Contrast of Jehoiakim’s selfish exactions and luxury with the upright rule of Josiah. Prediction of the fate of the former. (v) Jeremiah 22:20-30. Lament, O people, for the loss of thy lovers. Thy sufferings, the result of thy faithlessness, shall be great. Jehoiachin shall be carried captive to Babylon and shall die in hopeless exile, despised and having no successor. (vi) Jeremiah 23:1-4. Jehovah denounces the rulers of Judah, and promises to raise up faithful rulers in their stead. (vii) Jeremiah 22:5-8. Prosperity shall be attained under a righteous King of David’s line, and there shall be a return of exiles so glorious as to eclipse even the memories of the Exodus.
1–9 form a general introduction to the prophecies concerning individual kings. They bear marks of a later hand, whether that of Baruch or a subsequent editor. Jeremiah 22:2 f. are closely akin to Jeremiah 21:11 f. as well as to Jeremiah 17:19 ff. (see introd. note on the question of the genuineness of that section). Co. considers the commonplace character of the utterance in general, as well as the style of the prediction in Jeremiah 22:4, to be suspicious. Moreover, in Jeremiah 22:1-5 there is still room for the averting of doom. In 6–9 this is no longer the case. Thus the component parts of the passage are not homogeneous as to date. See further in individual notes.
Thus saith the LORD; Go down to the house of the king of Judah, and speak there this word,1. Go down] from the Temple on the eastern hill of Jerusalem to the king’s house, which was S. of it on lower ground. Cp. Jeremiah 36:10-12; 2 Kings 11:19.
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:2. Cp. Jeremiah 17:20.
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.4. Cp. Jeremiah 17:25.
upon the throne of David] lit. as mg. for David upon his throne.
But if ye will not hear these words, I swear by myself, saith the LORD, that this house shall become a desolation.5. I swear by myself] For comment on this as the most solemn and binding form of oath, see Hebrews 6:13-18. The form is repeated in Jeremiah 49:13, and occurs besides in Genesis 22:16; Isaiah 45:23, and a cognate expression is found Jeremiah 51:14; Amos 6:8.
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.6. concerning] if there is any preference, better as mg. unto.
Gilead unto me, and the head of Lebanon] well-wooded regions. Cp. Isaiah 2:13; Isaiah 37:24; Zechariah 11:1 f.
6–9. See introd. summary to section. We may take Jeremiah 22:6-7 (which are in Ḳinah metre) to be in the main genuine, although (Co.) the statement that they concern the palace is somewhat inconsistent with the general tenor of the passage, which evidently refers to the city as a whole. Jeremiah 22:8-9 are generally thought to be inserted by a later hand. They are almost identical with Deuteronomy 29:24 f. and are not in any distinct metre.
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.7. prepare] lit. as mg. sanctify. See on Jeremiah 6:4, and cp. Isaiah 13:3.
thy choice cedars] the chief men of the 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.10–12. See introd. summary to section. After Josiah’s death at the battle of Megiddo (b.c. 608), Jehoahaz, though not the eldest son (see Intr. pp. xiv. f.), was chosen to succeed him, but after three months was dethroned by Pharaoh-necoh, and carried off to Egypt, where he died (2 Kings 23:33 ff.). The passage was evidently written very soon after the dethronement.
This is the first of the passages which treat consecutively of the three immediate predecessors of Zedekiah. The sense of the passage is that even the fate of Josiah, who at any rate reigned in prosperity and uprightness for more than thirty years, was preferable to that of his successor. Jeremiah 22:10 is in Ḳinah metre, while 11 and 12 are not metrical. For this reason, and because their contents would be superfluous information to contemporaries, Du. and Co. consider them a later addition.
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:11. Shallum] See lntr. p. xiv. Shallum was probably the name which he bore before his accession. Other hypotheses to account for the name being here given to Jehoahaz are unlikely, e.g. (i) that it had reference to the shortness of his reign, as alluding to Shallum king of Israel, who was king for one month (2 Kings 15:13), or (ii) that it means the requited one (from the sense of the Hebrew root), him whom God had marked out for punishment.
Jehoahaz had represented the anti-Egyptian policy, which Jeremiah had always urged. This adds point to the prophet’s lament for him.
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;13. that buildeth his house by unrighteousness] Jehoiakim, as though it were not enough to involve the land in a heavy tribute to the king of Egypt (2 Kings 23:35), exacted forced labour from his own subjects that he might have a sumptuous palace built for himself.
chambers] upper chambers, and so in Jeremiah 22:14. They were on the flat roof of the house, had latticed windows (see 2 Kings 1:2), and so enjoyed free circulation of air.
13–19. See introd. summary to section. It probably belongs to the early years of Jehoiakim, but see on Jeremiah 22:18-19.
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.14. There is considerable variance between MT. and LXX in this v., but the general sense is clear.
windows] The Hebrew word is unusual in its form. Michaelis by a different division of words, renders … his windows, cieling it, etc., i.e. covering (it) in, panelling (it), as “cieling” meant when A.V. was made. “Painted” will then become painting.
vermilion] formerly obtained from the kermes insect; hence its name (vermiculus).
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?15. Shalt thou reign] Dost thou think that ostentation and luxury constitute a king?
strivest to excel in cedar] mg. (less well), viest with the cedar. For “cedar” LXX (supported by the Arabic) have Ahaz (the two words resembling one another in Hebrew), but Codex A (Alexandrinus) of the LXX reads Ahab, apparently with a reference to 1 Kings 22:39, and Co. (Heb. p. 62) accepts this as the original, on the ground that the context requires a proper name.
thy father] Josiah.
eat and drink, etc.] enjoyed life, but did not omit the fulfilment of the duties for which, as king, he was responsible.
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.17. covetousness] better as mg. dishonest gain. Jehoiakim “remained fixed in the recollections of his countrymen, as the last example of those cruel, selfish, luxurious princes, the natural product of Oriental monarchies, the disgrace of the monarchy of David.” (Stanley, J. Ch. II. 448.)
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!18. Ah my brother! or, Ah sister!] given as the usual formulae in lamenting a death (see 1 Kings 13:30). The second is here inappropriate, but it satisfies the parallelism of the Ḳinah metre of the whole passage.
Ah lord! or, Ah his glory!] the lamentations of subjects and friends, those outside his family.
18, 19. The prediction of the circumstances attendant upon his death. Cp. Jeremiah 36:30, the similarity of which makes it probable that these were among the “many like words” which were added to the original form of the Roll (Jeremiah 36:32) as read to Jehoiakim, and would thus probably be later than the rest of the passage. The prediction was doubtless fulfilled, or it would not have been included in Jeremiah’s prophecies as edited. It is true that we read 2 Kings 24:6 that Jehoiakim “slept with his fathers,” but mention of his burial is significantly omitted.
He shall be buried with the burial of an ass, drawn and cast forth beyond the gates of Jerusalem.19. buried with the burial of an ass] i.e. as the succeeding words explain, cast forth dishonoured.
Go up to Lebanon, and cry; and lift up thy voice in Bashan, and cry from the passages: for all thy lovers are destroyed.20. Abarim] a range of mountains to the south-east of Palestine. They included Nebo, from which Moses viewed the land (Numbers 27:12; Deuteronomy 32:49).
thy lovers] The reference is not clear. The word may indicate either the false gods worshipped by Israel (cp. Jeremiah 48:7, Jeremiah 49:3), or (see on Jeremiah 4:30) Egypt and the other nations, with whom many of the people were disposed to unite against the Chaldaean power.
20–30. See introd. summary to section. Jeremiah 22:20-23 have no direct connexion with those that follow and seem to have been introduced here on account of the reference to the rulers (“shepherds”) in Jeremiah 22:22. The address is to the people, the fem. sing. being used collectively. See on Jeremiah 21:13. They are called upon to wail, ascending (that their cry might be widespread) the heights which the Chaldaean hosts would successively pass in their advance southwards upon Jerusalem, viz. Lebanon in the N., the hills of Bashan (Psalm 68:15 f.) in the N.E., and Abarim in the S.E. For wailing on heights cp. Jeremiah 3:21, Jeremiah 7:29; Isaiah 15:2.
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.
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.22. feed] mg. feed upon, but rather shepherd, so as to preserve the play on words in the Heb.
shepherds] See on Jeremiah 2:8. Thy leaders, in whom thou hast confidence, shall be driven like a flock into exile by the wind of adversity.
thy lovers] perhaps inserted from Jeremiah 22:20, as being here superfluous from the metrical point of view.
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!23. “Judah has been as confident of safety as a bird that had fixed its nest far away from men in the cedars on the heights of Lebanon.” Pe.
inhabitant] For mg. inhabitress see on Jeremiah 21:13.
how greatly to be pitied] The mg. how wilt thou groan is probably the right reading (so LXX, Syr. and Targ. The MT. is a not unnatural corruption arising from a transposition of two consonants).
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;24. Coniah] Cp. Jeremiah 37:1; called also Jeconiah (both names meaning, Jehovah is firm, enduring) Jeremiah 24:1, Jeremiah 27:20, Jeremiah 28:4, Jeremiah 29:2; 1 Chronicles 3:16; Esther 2:6, and Jehoiachin (Jehovah appointeth) Jeremiah 52:31; 2 Kings 24:6, etc.; 2 Chronicles 36:8. The change to Jehoiachin, as in the case of his uncle Jehoahaz (see on Jeremiah 22:11), was probably made on his accession to the throne.
king of Judah] shewing that he was still on the throne.
signet] even though he were as dear to Jehovah as a precious stone, set by way of seal in a signet ring, is to the owner. See 2 Kings 24:9; also Ezekiel 19:5-9, where he is likened to a young lion that “devoured men” and “laid waste their cities.”
24–30. The judgement on Jehoiachin. This part of the sub-section may also be subdivided, inasmuch as in 24–27 he has yet to be taken to Babylon, while in 28–30 that event is spoken of as in the past. The verb in Jeremiah 22:28 can be taken, however, as a prophetic perfect, implying certainty of fulfilment.
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.25. The diffuseness of this v., though somewhat less conspicuous in LXX, renders it rather suspicious. Du., Co. and Gi. all reject it.
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.26. thy mother] See on Jeremiah 13:18.
and there shall ye die] For his history in exile see Jeremiah 52:31 ff.; 2 Kings 25:27 ff.
But to the land whereunto they desire to return, thither shall they not return.27. their soul longeth] For mg. they lift up their soul cp. Jeremiah 44:14; Deuteronomy 24:15; Hosea 4:8. The soul was considered the seat of desire.
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?28. vessel] mg. pot, but rather, “a terra-cotta figurine,” Encycl. Bibl. III. 3818, quoted by Dr.
wherein is no pleasure] For the expression cp. Jeremiah 48:38; Hosea 8:8.
O earth, earth, earth, hear the word of the LORD.29. O earth, earth, earth] better as mg. land. For the threefold repetition cp. Jeremiah 7:4. Du. however rejects this and the following v. on the ground that the emphatic introduction is unnatural, especially as Jeremiah, according to him, would not be further interested as to the king’s fate in exile. Co. also omits 29, but retains most of 30.
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.30. Write ye] For the word in the sense of enter in a register of citizens cp. Isaiah 4:3; Psalm 87:6.
childless] In 1 Chronicles 3:17, etc. he appears to have had children, and Shealtiel (Matthew 1:12) is reckoned as his son. Shealtiel was, however, descended from David through his son Nathan (Luke 3:27-31) and not through the line of the kings (Solomon, Rehoboam, etc.), and thus was only counted to Jehoiachin (“Jechoniah” of Matthew 1:12) according to the legal not the natural line. It was thus at any rate true that no child of Jehoiachin succeeded to the throne.