Jeremiah 22:16
He judged the cause of the poor and needy; then it was well with him: was not this to know me? said the LORD.
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(16) Was not this to know me?—The prophet, as a true witness of the law of righteousness, proclaims that the religious fame of Josiah rested not on his restoration of the Temple worship, nor on his suppression of idolatry, but much more on his faithfulness in his kingly work to the cause of righteousness and mercy. They only could know Him who, in this respect, strove to be like Him (1John 3:2).

22:10-19 Here is a sentence of death upon two kings, the wicked sons of a very pious father. Josiah was prevented from seeing the evil to come in this world, and removed to see the good to come in the other world; therefore, weep not for him, but for his son Shallum, who is likely to live and die a wretched captive. Dying saints may be justly envied, while living sinners are justly pitied. Here also is the doom of Jehoiakim. No doubt it is lawful for princes and great men to build, beautify, and furnish houses; but those who enlarge their houses, and make them sumptuous, need carefully to watch against the workings of vain-glory. He built his houses by unrighteousness, with money gotten unjustly. And he defrauded his workmen of their wages. God notices the wrong done by the greatest to poor servants and labourers, and will repay those in justice, who will not, in justice, pay those whom they employ. The greatest of men must look upon the meanest as their neighbours, and be just to them accordingly. Jehoiakim was unjust, and made no conscience of shedding innocent blood. Covetousness, which is the root of all evil, was at the bottom of all. The children who despise their parents' old fashions, commonly come short of their real excellences. Jehoiakim knew that his father found the way of duty to be the way of comfort, yet he would not tread in his steps. He shall die unlamented, hateful for oppression and cruelty.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.

16. was not this to know me—namely, to show by deeds that one knows God's will, as was the case with Josiah (compare Joh 13:17; contrast Tit 1:16). He judged the cause of the poor and needy; by himself in person, for the kings of Israel and Judah often sat personally to judge causes; or by setting such judges as did it, administering justice impartially, particularly to such as in respect of their low condition were most exposed to the power of others: and doing thus he prospered.

Was not this to know me? saith the Lord; this was for him truly to own and acknowledge me. They only truly know God who obey him; and men vainly pretend to piety who are notoriously defective in duties of justice and charity. He judged the cause of the poor and needy,.... Who could not defend themselves against the rich and the mighty; he took their cause in hand, and, having heard it, determined it in their favour, and did them justice, as princes and civil magistrates ought to do:

then it was well with him; this is repeated, not only to show the certainty of it, but that it might be observed, and his example followed:

was not this to know me? saith the Lord; it is not by words only, but by deeds, that men show that they know the Lord; for some in words profess to know him, who in works deny him; when princes do the duty of their office, they thereby declare that they know and own the Lord, by, and under whom, they reign; that they have the fear of him before their eyes; this is a practical knowledge of him, and is well pleasing to him. The Targum is,

"is not this the knowledge with which I am well pleased? saith the Lord.''

He judged the cause of the poor and needy; then it was well with him: was not this to know me? saith the LORD.
On Jehoahaz. - Jeremiah 22:10. "Weep not for the dead, neither bemoan him; weep rather for him that is gone away, for he shall no more return and see the land of his birth. Jeremiah 22:11. For thus saith Jahveh concerning Shallum, the son of Josiah king of Judah, who became king in his father Josiah's stead, and who went forth from this place: He shall not return thither more; Jeremiah 22:12. but in the place whither they have carried hi captive, there shall he die and see this land no more." The clause: weep not for the dead, with which the prophecy on Shallum is begun, shows that the mourning for King Josiah was kept up and was still heartily felt amongst the people (2 Chronicles 35:24.), and that the circumstances of his death were still fresh in their memory. למת without the article, although Josiah, slain in battle at Megiddo, is meant, because there was no design particularly to define the person. Him that goes or is gone away. He, again, is defined and called Shallum. This Shallum, who became king in his father Josiah's place, can be none other than Josiah's successor, who is called Joahaz in 2 Kings 23:30., 2 Chronicles 36:1; as was seen by Chrysost. and Aben-Ezra, and, since Grotius, by most commentators. The only question is, why he should here be called Shallum. According to Frc. Junius, Hitz., and Graf, Jeremiah compares Joahaz on account of his short reign with Shallum in Israel, who reigned but one month (2 Kings 15:13), and ironically calls him Shallum, as Jezebel called Jehu, Zimri murderer of his lord, 2 Kings 9:31. This explanation is unquestionably erroneous, since irony of such a sort is inconsistent with what Jeremiah says of Shallum. More plausible seems Hgstb.'s opinion, Christ. ii. p. 401, that Jeremiah gives Joahaz the name Shallum, i.e., the requited (cf. שׁלּם, 1 Chronicles 6:13, equals משׁלּם, 1 Chronicles 9:11), as nomen reale, to mark him out as the man the Lord had punished for the evil of his doings. But this conjecture too is overthrown by the fact, that in the genealogy of the kings of Judah, 1 Chronicles 3:15, we find among the four sons of Josiah the name שׁלּוּם instead of Joahaz. Now this name cannot have come there from the present passage, for the genealogies of Chronicles are derived from old family registers. That this is so in the case of Josiah's sons, appears from the mention there of a fourth, Johanan, over and above the three known to history, of whom we hear nothing more. In the genealogical tables persons are universally mentioned by their own proper names, not according to "renamings" or surnames, except in the case that these have received the currency and value of historical names, as e.g., Israel for Jacob. On the ground of the genealogical table 1 Chronicles 3 we must accordingly hold that Joahaz was properly called Shallum, and that probably at his accession he assumed the name יואחז, "Jahveh sustains, holds." But Jeremiah might still have used the name Shallum in preference to the assumed Joahaz, because the former had verified itself in that king's fate. With Jeremiah 22:11 and Jeremiah 22:12, cf. 2 Kings 23:33-35. - The brief saying in regard to Joahaz forms the transition from the general censure of the wicked rulers of Judah who brought on the ruin of the kingdom, to the special predictions concerning the ungodly kings Jehoiakim and Jehoiachin, in whose time the judgment burst forth. In counselling not to weep for the dead king (Josiah), but for the departed one (Joahaz), Jeremiah does not mean merely to bewail the lot of the king carried prisoner to Egypt, but to foreshadow the misery that awaits the whole people. From this point of view Calv. well says: si lugenda est urbis hujus clades, potius lugendi sunt qui manebunt superstites quam qui morientur. Mors enim erit quasi requies, erit portus ad finienda omnia mala: Vita autem longior nihil aliud erit quam continua miseriarum series; and further, that in the words: he shall no more return and see the land of his birth, Jeremiah shows: exilium fore quasi tabem, quae paulatim consumat miseros Judaeos. Ita mors fuisset illis dulcior longe, quam sic diu cruciari et nihil habere relaxationis. In the lot of the two kings the people had to recognise what was in store for itself.
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