Jeremiah 24:1
The LORD showed me, and, behold, two baskets of figs were set before the temple of the LORD, after that Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon had carried away captive Jeconiah the son of Jehoiakim king of Judah, and the princes of Judah, with the carpenters and smiths, from Jerusalem, and had brought them to Babylon.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
XXIV.

(1) The Lord shewed me . . .—The chapter belongs to the same period as the two preceding, i.e., to the reign of Zedekiah, after the first capture of Jerusalem and the captivity of the chief inhabitants. The opening words indicate that the symbols on which the prophet looked were seen in vision, as in Amos 7:1-4; Amos 7:7; Zechariah 1:8; Zechariah 2:1, and the symbols of Jeremiah 1:11; Jeremiah 1:13; or, if seen with the eyes of the body, were looked on as with the prophet-poet’s power of finding parables in all things. The fact that the figs were set before the Temple of the Lord is significant. They were as a votive offering, first-fruits (Exodus 23:19; Deuteronomy 26:2) or tithes brought to the Lord of Israel. A like imagery had been used by Amos (Amos 8:1-2) with nearly the same formulæ.

The carpenters and smiths.—See 2Kings 24:14. The word for “carpenters” includes craftsmen of all kinds. The deportation of these classes was partly a matter of policy, making the city more helpless by removing those who might have forged weapons or strengthened its defences, partly, doubtless, of ostentation, that they might help in the construction of the buildings with which Nebuchadnezzar was increasing the splendour of his city. So Esar-haddon records how he made his captives work in fetters, in making bricks” Records of the Past, iii. p. 120). So, from the former point of view, the Philistines in the time of Samuel either carried off the smiths of Israel or forbade the exercise of their calling (1Samuel 13:19). The word for “smith” is found in Isaiah 24:22; Isaiah 42:7 in the sense of “prison,” but, as applied to persons, only here and in the parallel passage of 2Kings 24:14; 2Kings 24:16. It has been differently interpreted as meaning “locksmiths,” “gatekeepers,” “strangers,” “hod-carriers,” and “day-labourers.” Probably the rendering of the E.V. is right.

Jeremiah 24:1. The Lord showed me — Probably in a vision; and behold two baskets of figs — Such as used to be offered up for first-fruits; were set before the temple of the Lord — Hebrew, מועדים, appointed, offered according to law, as Blaney renders the word; that is, they were brought and placed before the temple for an offering of first-fruits, as the law had directed. After Nebuchadnezzar had carried away captive Jeconiah — Concerning which, see 2 Kings 24:11-16. This was in the eighth year of Nebuchadnezzar’s reign. With the carpenters and smiths — Or, the artificers and armorers, as Blaney translates the words; the former, חרשׁ, being “a general name for any handicraftsman, whether working in wood or metal;” but the latter, מסגר, from סגר, to shut in, or enclose, meaning properly, “the armorers who made the coats of mail which enclose the body. And it is reasonable to presume that the king of Babylon would be solicitous to carry all these off, with intent, not to employ them in his own service, but to prevent the Jews, who were left behind, from furnishing themselves with arms in case of a revolt.”24:1-10 Good and bad figs represent the Jews in captivity, and those who remain in their own land. - The prophet saw two baskets of figs set before the temple, as offerings of first-fruits. The figs in one basket were very good, those in the other basket very bad. What creature viler than a wicked man? and what more valuable than a godly man? This vision was to raise the spirits of those gone into captivity, by assuring them of a happy return; and to humble and awaken the proud and secure spirits of those yet in Jerusalem, by assuring them of a miserable captivity. The good figs represents the pious captives. We cannot determine as to God's love or hatred by what is before us. Early suffering sometimes proves for the best. The sooner the child is corrected, the better effect the correction is likely to have. Even this captivity was for their good; and God's intentions never are in vain. By afflictions they were convinced of sin, humbled under the hand of God, weaned from the world, taught to pray, and turned from sins, particularly from idolatry. God promises that he will own them in captivity. The Lord will own those who are his, in all conditions. God assures them of his protection in trouble, and a glorious deliverance in due time. When our troubles are sanctified to us, we may be sure that they will end well. They shall return to him with their whole heart. Thus they should have liberty to own him for their God, to pray to him, and expect blessings from him. The bad figs were Zedekiah and those of his party yet in the land. These should be removed for their hurt, and forsaken of all mankind. God has many judgments, and those that escape one, may expect another, till they are brought to repent. Doubtless, this prophecy had its fulfilment in that age; but the Spirit of prophecy may here look forward to the dispersion of the unbelieving Jews, in all the nations of the earth. Let those who desire blessings from the Lord, beg that he will give them a heart to know him.Omit "were." "Set before," i. e put in the appointed place for offerings of firstfruits in the forecourt of the temple.

Carpenters - "Craftsmen" (see the marginal reference).

CHAPTER 24

Jer 24:1-10. The Restoration of the Captives in Babylon and the Destruction of the Refractory Party in Judea and in Egypt, Represented under the Type of a Basket of Good, and One of Bad, Figs.

1. Lord showed me—Am 7:1, 4, 7; 8:1, contains the same formula, with the addition of "thus" prefixed.

carried … captive Jeconiah—(Jer 22:24; 2Ki 24:12, &c.; 2Ch 36:10).

carpenters, &c.—One thousand artisans were carried to Babylon, both to work for the king there, and to deprive Jerusalem of their services in the event of a future siege (2Ki 24:16).Under the type of good and bad figs, Jeremiah 24:1-3, he foreshoweth the return of some from captivity, Jeremiah 24:4-7, and the ruin of Zedekiah and the rest, Jeremiah 24:8-10.

The sum of what God by his prophet revealeth in this chapter is, that he would deal more graciously with those carried into captivity with Jeconiah the son of Jehoiakim, of which read 2 Kings 24:12 2 Chronicles 36:10, than with those that should afterward be carried into captivity with Zedekiah. This the prophet hath revealed to him ill a vision of two baskets of figs, as followeth.

Some think these

two baskets of figs were such as the people had brought for their first-fruits, because they are mentioned as

set before the temple; but this might be no more than a vision, or all appearance of two baskets. The time of this vision was some time betwixt the carrying away of Jeconiah, of which we read 2 Kings 24:12, &c.; 2 Chronicles 36:10, and the carrying away of Zedekiah his uncle, which was eleven years after. In 2 Kings 24:16, there is a particular mention of the king of Babylon’s carrrying away the craftsmen and the smiths a thousand.

The Lord showed me,.... A vision, or in a vision, what follows; for by this it appears that what was seen was not real, but what was exhibited in a visionary way by the Lord, and represented to the mind of the prophet:

and, behold, two baskets of figs were set before the temple of the Lord; or "pots", as Jarchi; these do not signify the law and Gospel, or the synagogue and church, or the Jews and Christians, or hell and heaven, as some have interpreted it, observed by Jerom; but the Jews that were in captivity with Jeconiah, and those that remained in Jerusalem with Zedekiah, as it is explained in some following verses. These baskets are said to be "set before the temple of the Lord", not to be sold there, but to be presented to the Lord; in allusion to the baskets of firstfruits, which, according to the law, were thither brought for that purpose, Deuteronomy 26:2; and signify, that the two people represented by them were before the Lord, in his sight, were known to him, and judged by him;

after that Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon had carried away captive Jeconiah the son of Jehoiakim, king of Judah, and the princes of Judah,

with the carpenters and smiths, from Jerusalem, and had brought them to Babylon: this was done when Jeconiah had reigned but little more than three months, and in the eighth year of Nebuchadnezzar's reign, 2 Kings 24:8. This is mentioned, not only to show the time of this vision, which was a little after this captivity, in the beginning of Zedekiah's reign; but to let us know who the captives were, signified by the good figs. The "carpenters" and "smiths" were carried away with the king and the princes, partly that they might be serviceable to the king of Babylon in his country; and partly that they might not be assisting to their own country in repairing their fortifications, and making instruments of war for them. There were a "thousand" of this sort carried captive, 2 Kings 24:16; where the former of these are called "craftsmen". Jarchi interprets both of the scholars of the wise men; and Kimchi, of counsellors and wise men. The word for "carpenters" is used both of carpenters and blacksmiths; and that for "smiths" may be rendered "enclosers", or "shutters up"; which the Targum understands of porters or shutters of gates; and some think goldsmiths are meant, that set or enclose precious stones in gold; and others are of opinion that masons are intended, so called from the building of walls for the enclosing of places. The Syriac version renders it "soldiers"; but those are distinguished from them, 2 Kings 24:14. The Septuagint version translates it "prisoners"; but so all the captives might be called; and it adds, what is not in the text, "and the rich"; and the Arabic version following that; though it is true they were carried captive; for it is said, "none remained, save the poorest sort of the people of the land", 2 Kings 24:14. This, according to Bishop Usher (x), was in the year of the world 3405, and before Christ 599; and so the authors of the Universal History (y) place it; and Mr. Whiston (z) also; and Mr. Bedford (a) a year later; and in the same year that this captivity began was Cyrus the Persian born, who was the deliverer of the Jews from it.

(x) Annales Vet. Test. p. 123. (y) Vol. 21. p. 60, (z) Chronological Tables, cent. 10. (a) Scripture Chronology, p. 678.

The LORD showed me, and, behold, two {a} baskets of figs were set before the temple of the LORD, after Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon had carried away captive Jeconiah the son of Jehoiakim king of Judah, and the princes of Judah, with the craftsmen and smiths, from Jerusalem, and had brought them to Babylon.

(a) The good figs signified them that were gone into captivity and so saved their life, as in Jer 21:8, and the bad figs them that remained, who were yet subject to the sword, famine and pestilence.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
1. For the symbol, as probably indicating not a mental picture but actual baskets to which Jeremiah’s attention was directed, cp. note on Jeremiah 1:11 f. See also the kindred symbol in Amos 8:1.

Nebuchadrezzar] See on Jeremiah 21:2.

Jeconiah] See on Jeremiah 22:24.

smiths] The exact meaning of the Hebrew is unknown.Verse 1. - Two baskets of figs were set before, etc. (comp. Amos 8:1-3). The description is apparently based on the law of firstfruits (comp. Deuteronomy 26:2), where the "basket" is mentioned, though not the word here used. The baskets were set down in readiness to be examined by the priests, who rigorously rejected all fruit that was not sound. The princes of Judah. A short phrase for all the leading men, whether members of the royal family or heads of the principal families (comp. Jeremiah 27:20). The carpenters and smiths; rather, the craftsmen and smiths ("craftsmen" includes workers in stone and metal as well as wood; the Hebrew word is rendered "smith" in 1 Samuel 13:19). A rebuke of their mockery at Jeremiah's threatening predictions. - Jeremiah 23:33. "And when this people, or the prophet, or a priest ask thee, saying: What is the burden of Jahveh? then say to them: What the burden is - now I will cast you off, saith Jahveh. Jeremiah 23:34. And the prophet, the priest, and the people that shall say: burden of Jahveh, on that man will I visit it and on his house. Jeremiah 23:35. Thus shall ye say each to the other, and each to his brother: What hath Jahveh answered, and what hath Jahveh spoken? Jeremiah 23:36. But burden of Jahveh shall ye mention no more, for a burden to every one shall his own word be; and ye wrest the words of the living God Jahveh of hosts, our God. Jeremiah 23:37. Thus shalt thou say to the prophet: What hath Jahveh answered thee, and what hath He spoken? Jeremiah 23:38. But if ye say: burden of Jahveh, therefore thus saith Jahveh: Because ye say this word: burden of Jahveh, and yet I have sent unto you, saying, Ye shall not say: burden of Jahveh; Jeremiah 23:39. Therefore, behold, I will utterly forget you, and cast away from my face you and this city that I gave you and your fathers, Jeremiah 23:40. And will lay upon you everlasting reproach, and everlasting, never-to-be-forgotten disgrace."

The word משּׂא, from נשׂא, lift up, bear, sig. burden, and, like the phrase: lift up the voice, means a saying of weighty or dread import. The word has the latter sig. in the headings to the prophecies of threatening character; see on Nahum 1:1, where this meaning of the word in the headings is asserted, and the widespread opinion that it means effatum is refuted. Jeremiah's adversaries - as appears from these verses - used the word "burden" of his prophetic sayings by way of mockery, meaning burdensome prophecies, in order to throw ridicule on the prophet's speeches, by them regarded as offensive. Thus if the people, or a prophet, or a priest ask: What is the burden of Jahveh, i.e., how runs it, or what does it contain? he is to answer: The Lord saith: I will cast you off, i.e., disburden myself of you, as it were - the idea of "burden" being kept up in the answer to the question. The article on the word prophet is used to show that the word is used generally of the class of prophets at large. The את in the answering clause is nota accus., the following phrase being designedly repeated from the question; and hence the unusual combination את־מה. The sense is: as regards the question what the burden is, I will cast you away. There is no reason to alter the text to fit the lxx translation: ὑμεῖς ἐστὲ τὸ λῆμμα, or Vulg.: vos estis onus, as Cappell., J. D. Mich., Hitz., Gr., etc., do. The lxx rendering is based, not on another reading, but on another division of the words, viz., אתם המשׂא. - In Jeremiah 23:34 the meaning of this answer is more fully explained. On every one that uses the word "burden" in this sneering way God will avenge the sneer, and not only on his person, but on his house, his family as well. In Jeremiah 23:35 they are told how they are to speak of prophecy. Jeremiah 23:36. They are no longer to make use of the phrase "burden of Jahveh," "for the burden shall his word be to each one," i.e., the word "burden" will be to each who uses it a burden that crushes him down. "And ye wrest," etc., is part of the reason for what is said: and ye have equals for ye have wrested the words of the living God. The clause is properly a corollary which tells what happens when they use the forbidden word.

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