Jeremiah 1:3
It came also in the days of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah king of Judah, to the end of the eleventh year of Zedekiah the son of Josiah king of Judah, to the carrying away of Jerusalem captive in the fifth month.
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(3) It came also . . .—The short reigns of Jehoahaz (three months) and Jehoiachin or Jeconiah (three months also) are passed over, and mention made of the more conspicuous reigns of Jehoiakim (eleven years) and Zedekiah (also eleven). Assuming Jeremiah to have been about twenty when the prophetic call came to him, he was sixty or sixty-one at the time of the captivity.

Jeremiah 1:3. It came also — Namely, the word of the Lord, as Jeremiah 1:2; in the days of Jehoiakim — Called at first by Josiah, Eliakim, 2 Kings 23:34. It must be observed, that Jehoahaz, who reigned before him, (2 Kings 28:8,) and Jehoiakim, who succeeded him, are not mentioned here, because each of them reigned only three months, and could hardly be said to be established in the government. Unto the end of the eleventh year of Zedekiah — The meaning is, that he prophesied not only during the reigns of Josiah and Jehoiakim, but also during the whole reign of Zedekiah, which was eleven years: unto the carrying away of Jerusalem captive — That great event of which he had so often prophesied. He continued, indeed, to prophesy after that, (Jeremiah 40:1,) but the computation of the time is here made to end with that event, because it was the accomplishment of many of his predictions: and from the thirteenth year of Josiah to the captivity was just forty years. It is observed from Dr. Lightfoot, that as Moses was forty years a teacher of the Israelites in the wilderness, till they entered into their own land; Jeremiah was so long a teacher in their own land before they were sent into the wilderness of the heathen: and he thinks that therefore a special mark is set upon the last forty years of the iniquity of Judah, which Ezekiel bore forty days, a day for a year, because, during all that time, they had Jeremiah prophesying among them, which was a great aggravation of their impenitency.1:1-10 Jeremiah's early call to the work and office of a prophet is stated. He was to be a prophet, not to the Jews only, but to the neighbouring nations. He is still a prophet to the whole world, and it would be well if they would attend to these warnings. The Lord who formed us, knows for what particular services and purposes he intended us. But unless he sanctify us by his new-creating Spirit, we shall neither be fit for his holy service on earth, nor his holy happiness in heaven. It becomes us to have low thoughts of ourselves. Those who are young, should consider that they are so, and not venture beyond their powers. But though a sense of our own weakness and insufficiency should make us go humbly about our work, it should not make us draw back when God calls us. Those who have messages to deliver from God, must not fear the face of man. The Lord, by a sign, gave Jeremiah such a gift as was necessary. God's message should be delivered in his own words. Whatever wordly wise men or politicians may think, the safety of kingdoms is decided according to the purpose and word of God.The whole period contained in this verse is no less than 40 years and 6 months, namely, 18 years under Josiah, two periods of 11 years each under Jehoiakim and Zedekiah, and 3 months under each of the omitted kings, Jehoahaz and Jeconiah.

In the fifth month - The capture of Jerusalem took place in the fourth month, but its destruction was in the fifth month (see the marginal references), the ninth day of which was subsequently kept as a fast-day Zechariah 7:3.

2, 3. Jehoiakim … Josiah … Zedekiah—Jehoahaz and Jehoiachin are omitted for they reigned only three months each. The first and last of the kings under whom each prophet prophesied are often thus specified in the general title. See on these kings, and Jeremiah's life, my [891]Introduction.

thirteenth … of his reign—(Jer 25:3).

fifth month—(2Ki 25:8).

It, viz. the word of the Lord, as Jeremiah 1:2,

came also in the days of Jehoiakim; called at first by Josiah, Eliakim, 2 Kings 23:34. Jehoahaz and Jehoiachin, whereof the former reigned before him, 2 Kings 23:31, the latter succeeded, 2 Kings 24:8, are conceived not to be mentioned, because they reigned but each of them three months, and therefore not considerable, the Scripture often taking little notice of a small time, as of six months: compare 2 Samuel 5:5, with 1 Kings 2:11: see Jeremiah 1:2.

Zedekiah; of whom read 1 Chronicles 3:15,16.

Unto the carrying away of Jerusalem captive, i.e. the inhabitants of Jerusalem, namely, under Zedekiah, 2 Kings 25:11, during all which time, things standing in that state and condition, Jeremiah prophesied. This doth not terminate the time of his prophecies, for he prophesied also both in Judea, and in Egypt afterwards; but only relates to what he prophesied while the city and temple were standing, the rest seeming rather to be added as a supplement, than to be reduced unto this general title of his prophecies.

In the fifth month, viz. of that present year; for though the year end not at the fifth month, yet it might end the year of Zedekiah’s reign, because he might begin his reign at the fifth month of the year. And it came also in the days of Jehoiakim, the son of Josiah king of Judah,.... In the beginning of his reign, and in the fourth year of his reign; see Jeremiah 25:1, no mention is made of Jehoahaz, who reigned between Josiah and Jehoiakim, because his reign was short, but three months, 2 Kings 23:31, and perhaps no word of the Lord came to Jeremiah in his time, though it did before and after:

unto the end of the eleventh year of Zedekiah the son of Josiah king of Judah; so that Jeremiah must prophesy in the land of Judea upwards of forty years; eighteen under Josiah, 2 Kings 22:11, three months under Jehoahaz, 2 Kings 23:31 eleven years under Jehoiakim, 2 Kings 23:36, three months under Jeconiah, 2 Kings 24:8, and eleven years under Zedekiah, when the city was besieged and taken, 2 Kings 25:2. Josiah had three sons as kings of Judah, Jehoahaz, Jehoiakim, and Zedekiah, under all whom Jeremiah prophesied:

even unto the carrying away of Jerusalem captive in the fifth month: the month Ab, which answers to part of July and part of August; and it was on the ninth or tenth day of this month that the city of Jerusalem was burnt, and the people carried captive, 2 Kings 25:8 the ninth of the said month is now kept by the Jews as a fast on that account.

It came also in the days of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah king of Judah, to the end of the eleventh year of Zedekiah the {e} son of Josiah king of Judah, to the carrying away of Jerusalem captive in the fifth {f} month.

(e) Meaning the nephew of Josiah: for Jehoahaz was his father, who reigned but three months, and therefore is not mentioned, nor is Jehoiakim that reigned no longer.

(f) Of the eleventh year of Zedekiah, who was also called Mattaniah, and at this time the Jews were carried away into Babylon by Nebuchadnezzar.

3. in the fifth month] See ch. Jeremiah 52:12 ff. The city had been captured in the preceding month (2 Kings 25:4; 2 Kings 25:8-10).Verse 3. - Unto the end of the eleventh year, etc. The limit is accurate with regard to Jeremiah 1-39. The later prophecies have a superscription of their own (see Jeremiah 40:1.). In the fifth month (comp. Jeremiah lit. 12, 27). The latter, having been incorporated into the priestly congregation of Jehovah (Isaiah 61:6), are not even excluded from the priestly and Levitical service of the sanctuary. "And I will also add some of them to the priests, to the Levites, saith Jehovah." Hitzig and Knobel suppose mēhem to refer to the Israelites thus brought home. But in this case something would be promised, which needed no promise at all, since the right of the native cohen and Levites to take part in the priesthood and temple service was by no means neutralized by their sojourn in a foreign land. And even if the meaning were that Jehovah would take those who were brought home for priests and Levites, without regard to their Aaronic or priestly descent, or (as Jewish commentators explain it) without regard to the apostasy, of which through weakness they had made themselves guilty among the heathen; this ought to be expressly stated. But as there is nothing said about any such disregard of priestly descent or apostasy, and what is here promised must be something extraordinary, and not self-evident, meehem must refer to the converted heathen, by whom the Israelites had been brought home. Many Jewish commentators even are unable to throw off the impression thus made by the expression mēhem (of them); but they attempt to get rid of the apparent discrepancy between this statement and the Mosaic law, by understanding by the Gentiles those who had been originally Israelites of Levitical and Aaronic descent, and whom Jehovah would single out again. David Friedlnder and David Ottensosser interpret it quite correctly thus: "Mēhem, i.e., of those heathen who bring them home, will He take for priests and Levites, for all will be saints of Jehovah; and therefore He has just compared them to a clean vessel, and the Israelites offered by their hand to a minchâh." The majority of commentators do not even ask the question, in what sense the prophet uses lakkōhănı̄m lalevayyim (to the priests, to the Levites) with the article. Joseph Kimchi, however, explains it thus: "הכהנים לצורך, to the service of the priests, the Levites, so that they (the converted heathen) take the place of the Gibeonites (cf., Zechariah 14:21), and therefore of the former Cananaean nethı̄nı̄m" (see Khler, Nach-exil. Proph. iii. p. 39). But so interpreted, the substance of the promise falls behind the expectation aroused by מהם וגם. Hofmann has adopted a more correct explanation, viz.: "God rewards them for this offering, by taking priests to Himself out of the number of the offering priests, who are added as such to the Levitical priests." Apart, however, from the fact that ללוים לכהנים cannot well signify "for Levitical priests" according to the Deuteronomic הכהנים, since this would require הלוים לכהנים (inasmuch as such permutative and more precisely defining expressions as Genesis 19:9; Joshua 8:24 cannot be brought into comparison); the idea "in addition to the priests, to the Levites," is really implied in the expression (cf., Isaiah 56:8), as they would say לאשּׁה לקח and not לאשׁה, and would only use לנּשׁים לקח in the sense of adding to those already there. The article presupposes the existence of priests, Levites (asyndeton, as in Isaiah 38:14; Isaiah 41:29; Isaiah 66:5), to whom Jehovah adds some taken from the heathen. When the heathen shall be converted, and Israel brought back, the temple service will demand a more numerous priesthood and Levitehood than ever before; and Jehovah will then increase the number of those already existing, not only from the מובאים, but from the מביאים also. The very same spirit, which broke through all the restraints of the law in Isaiah 56:1-12, is to be seen at work here as well. Those who suppose mēhem to refer to the Israelites are wrong in saying that there is no other way, in which the connection with Isaiah 66:22 can be made intelligible. Friedlnder had a certain feeling of what was right, when he took Isaiah 66:21 to be a parenthesis and connected Isaiah 66:22 with Isaiah 66:20. There is no necessity for any parenthesis, however. The reason which follows, relates to the whole of the previous promise, including Isaiah 66:21; the election of Israel, as Hofmann observes, being equally confirmed by the fact that the heathen exert themselves to bring back the diaspora of Israel to their sacred home, and also by the fact that the highest reward granted to them is, that some of them are permitted to take part in the priestly and Levitical service of the sanctuary.
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