Jeremiah 29:1
Now these are the words of the letter that Jeremiah the prophet sent from Jerusalem to the residue of the elders which were carried away captives, and to the priests, and to the prophets, and to all the people whom Nebuchadnezzar had carried away captive from Jerusalem to Babylon;
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(1) These are the words.—The prophecy in this chapter was addressed to those whom we may describe as the first of the Babylonian exiles who had been carried into captivity with Jeconiah (see Note on Jeremiah 35:2). Among these also, probably in connection with the projects which we have traced in the preceding chapter, there was a restless disquietude, fostered by false prophets, who urged the people to rebel against their conquerors. Against that policy Jeremiah, in accordance with the convictions on which he had all along acted, enters an earnest protest. The letter was sent by special messengers, of whom we read in Jeremiah 29:3, and shows that Jeremiah had been kept well informed of all that passed at Babylon. The spelling of the prophet’s name, in the Hebrew text, as Jeremiah, instead of the form Jeremiahu, which is the more common form throughout the book, is probably an indication that the opening verse which introduces the letter was the work of a later hand. The date of the letter was probably early in the reign of Zedekiah, before the incidents of the previous chapter. It is brought before us as following in almost immediate sequel on the deportation mentioned in Jeremiah 29:2. The term “residue of the elders,” in connexion with “priests and prophets,” points to the fact that the whole body of counsellors, so named, had not been carried into exile, but only the more prominent members. Such “elders” we find in Ezekiel 8:1; Ezekiel 20:1. Ezekiel himself may be thought of as among the priests and prophets.

Jeremiah 29:1. Now these are the words of the letter — Hebrew, דברי הספר, the words of the book, or writing, as both the LXX. and the Vulgate translate it. Although this title announces but one, Blaney gives it as his opinion that this chapter undeniably contains the substance of two writings sent at different times, which, he says, “is evident from comparing Jeremiah 29:28 with Jeremiah 29:4-5, and that the distinction between them is at the end of Jeremiah 29:20. For in the first the prophet exhorts the captives to accommodate themselves to their present circumstances, under an assurance that their captivity would last to the end of seventy years; after which period, and not before, God would visit and restore them. And to prevent their listening to any false suggestions that might flatter them with hopes of a speedier return, he informs them of what would happen to their brethren that were left behind at Jerusalem, for whom a harder fate was reserved than for those that had been carried away. After this, finding, as it should seem, upon the return of the messengers, the little credit the first message had met with, he sends a second to the same persons, denouncing the divine judgments against three of their false prophets, by whose influence chiefly the people had been prevented from hearkening to his good advice.” The time when one or both of these written declarations of the divine will was sent to Babylon is not known, but it is thought to have been at the beginning of Zedekiah’s reign. By the residue of the elders, Lowth thinks that the remnant of the members of the Sanhedrim is intended, who were carried away captive in the third year of Jehoiakim’s reign, (Daniel 1:3,) or in Jeconiah’s captivity, (see 2 Kings 24:14,) many of whom might die by the hardships they suffered in their transportation. These, being persons of authority, were more likely to influence the rest of the people, and induce them to hearken to the prophet’s advice. Houbigant, however, not content with this interpretation, renders it, Unto the principal elders. Instead of prophets, here the LXX. read ψευδοπροφητας, false prophets: but the Chaldee understands by the word the scribes or doctors of the law; while others again think that Ezekiel, (carried away with Jeconiah,) Daniel, and other prophets of the captivity, may be meant.29:1-7 The written word of God is as truly given by inspiration of God as his spoken word. The zealous servant of the Lord will use every means to profit those who are far off, as well as those who are near him. The art of writing is very profitable for this end; and by the art of printing it is rendered most beneficial for circulating the knowledge of the word of God. God's sending to the captives by this letter would show that he had not forsaken them, though he was displeased, and corrected them. If they live in the fear of God, they may live comfortably in Babylon. In all conditions of life, it is our wisdom and duty not to throw away the comfort of what we may have, because we have not all we would have. They are directed to seek the good of the country where they were captives. While the king of Babylon protected them, they must live quiet and peaceable lives under him, in all godliness and honesty; patiently leaving it to God to work deliverance for them in due time.The residue of the ciders - i. e., such of the elders as were still alive. CHAPTER 29

Jer 29:1-32. Letter of Jeremiah to the Captives in Babylon, to Counteract the Assurances Given by the False Prophets of a Speedy Restoration.

1. residue of the elders—those still surviving from the time when they were carried to Babylon with Jeconiah; the other elders of the captives had died by either a natural or a violent death.Jeremiah’s letter to the captives in Babylon, to be quiet there, Jeremiah 29:1-7: not to believe false prophets; nor expect to return till after seventy years, Jeremiah 29:8-14. The destruction of those who remained in Judah for their disobedience, Jeremiah 29:15-19. The fearful end of two lying prophets, Jeremiah 29:20-23. Shemaiah’s letter against Jeremiah, Jeremiah 29:24-29, who readeth his doom, Jeremiah 29:30-32.

There were two carryings into the captivity of Babylon, the latter about eleven or twelve years after the former; the first was in the time of Jehoiachin, of which we read in 2 Kings 24:14, when the princes, and all the mighty men of valour, even ten thousand captives, and all the craftsmen and smiths, were carried away, as we read there, amongst whom were some priests and prophets.

Now these are the words of the letter that Jeremiah the prophet sent from Jerusalem,.... The argument and tenor, the sum and substance, of an epistle, which the prophet Jeremiah, being at Jerusalem, wrote, under the inspiration of God, to his countrymen abroad, afterwards described; so the prophets under the Old Testament instructed the people, sometimes by their sermons and discourses delivered by word of mouth to them, and sometimes by letters and epistles; as did the apostles of the New Testament; and they were both ways useful and profitable to men:

unto the residue of the elders which were carried away captive; some perhaps dying by the way, and others quickly after they came to Babylon; some were left, who had been rulers or civil magistrates in Judea, and perhaps of the great sanhedrim:

and to the priests, and to the prophets: false prophets, as the Syriac version; for we read only of one true prophet that was carried captive, and that was Ezekiel; but of false prophets several:

and to all the people, whom Nebuchadnezzar had carried away captive from Jerusalem to Babylon; which was eleven or twelve years before their last captivity thither. This was a catholic epistle, common to all the captives of every rank and class, age or sex.

Now these are the words of the letter that Jeremiah the prophet sent from Jerusalem to {a} the rest of the elders who were carried away captives, and to the priests, and to the prophets, and to all the people whom Nebuchadnezzar had carried away captive from Jerusalem to Babylon;

(a) For some died in the way.

1. Now these are the words of the letter] The exiles in Babylon were subjected to the same danger from false prophets predicting a speedy return (cp. Ezekiel 13), as were their fellow countrymen who remained at home. Jeremiah earnestly deprecates such a belief, and insists that the punishment would last for seventy years.

the residue] The reference of the word is obscure, but it may allude (so Du.) to some disaster, well known at the time. LXX omit the word, and so Gi.

and to the priests … to Babylon] Du. omits all these words, holding that Jeremiah addressed the letter to the elders alone. Co. agrees. Gi. now (2nd ed.) rejects the latter part (“whom … to Babylon”), which is absent from LXX. Moreover, he and others consider the whole or the greater part of Jeremiah 29:2 to be an expansion.Verse 1. - The residue of the elders; i.e. the surviving elders. Some may, perhaps, have died from natural causes, some by violence, some from grief. The Lord's testimony against Hananiah. - Apparently not long after Jeremiah had departed, he received from the Lord the commission to go to Hananiah and to say to him: Jeremiah 28:13. "Thus saith Jahveh: Yokes of wood hast thou broken, but hast made in place of them yokes of iron. Jeremiah 28:14. For thus saith Jahveh of hosts, the God of Israel: A yoke of iron I lay upon the neck of all these nations, that they may serve Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, and they shall serve him; and the beasts of the field also have I given him." - When the prophet says: Yokes of wood hast thou broken, etc., we are not to understand him as speaking of the breaking of the wooden yoke Jeremiah had been wearing; he gives the deeper meaning of that occurrence. By breaking Jeremiah's wooden yoke, Hananiah has only signified that the yoke Nebuchadnezzar lays on the nations will not be so easily broken as a wooden one, but is of iron, i.e., not to be broken. The plural "yokes" is to be explained by the emblematical import of the words, and is not here to be identified, as it sometimes may be, with the singular, Jeremiah 28:10. Jeremiah 28:14 shows in what sense Hananiah put an iron yoke in the place of the wooden one: Jahveh will lay iron yokes on all nations, that they may serve the king of Babel. Hananiah's breaking the wooden yoke does not alter the divine decree, but is made to contribute to its fuller revelation. With the last clause of Jeremiah 28:14, cf. Jeremiah 27:6. - Hereupon Jeremiah forewarns the false prophets what is to be God's punishment on them for their false and audacious declarations. Jeremiah 28:15. "Hear now, Hananiah: Jahveh hath not sent thee, and thou hast made this people to believe a lie. Jeremiah 28:16. Therefore thus saith Jahveh: Behold, I cast thee from off the face of the earth; this year shalt thou die, for thou hast spoken rebellion against Jahveh." "The year" equals this year, as in Isaiah 37:30. The words "for thou hast spoken," etc., recall Deuteronomy 13:6. They involve an application to Hananiah's case of the command there given to put such a prophet to death, and show how it can with justice be said that the Lord will cast him from off the face of the earth. The verb משׁלּחך is chosen for the sake of the play on לא שׁלחך. God has not sent him as prophet to His people, but will send him away from off the earth, i.e., cause him to die. - In Jeremiah 28:17 it is recorded that this saying was soon fulfilled. Hananiah died in the seventh month of that year, i.e., two months after his controversy with Jeremiah (cf. Jeremiah 28:1).
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