Thus speaks the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, saying, Because you have sent letters in your name to all the people that are at Jerusalem, and to Zephaniah the son of Maaseiah the priest, and to all the priests, saying,
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Because thou hast sent letters in thy name . . .—The letters were probably sent through the envoys named in Jeremiah 29:3 on their return from Babylon. Their object was to urge Zephaniah, who appears in 2Kings 25:18 as the Sagan, or second priest, to exercise his authority to restrain Jeremiah from prophesying, and to punish him as a false prophet. It was an attempt to turn the tables on him for the manner in which he had thwarted the plans of the party of revolt at Babylon. The part taken by Zephaniah in acting for the king when he wished to consult Jeremiah (Jeremiah 21:1), and imploring his intercession (Jeremiah 37:3), makes it probable that he endeavoured to maintain a neutral Gamaliel-like position between the two parties, and had seemed so lukewarm and temporising that he was open to the influence of threats. On the capture of Jerusalem by Nebuzaradan he was taken prisoner and slain (Jeremiah 52:24-27).
To Shemaiah - Rather, concerning.
Zephaniah—the second priest, or substitute (Sagan) of the high priest. He was one of those sent to consult Jeremiah by Zedekiah (Jer 21:1). Slain by Nebuchadnezzar at the capture of Jerusalem (2Ki 25:18-21). Zephaniah was in particular addressed, as being likely to take up against Jeremiah the prophet's prediction against his brother Zedekiah at Babylon (Jer 29:21). Zephaniah was to read it to the priests, and in the presence of all the people, in the temple.Jeremiah 29:4;
because thou hast sent letters in thy name unto all the people that are at Jerusalem; not in the name of the captives, whom he consulted not; nor with Ezekiel the prophet of the Lord, who was of the captivity; but in his own name, taking upon him to direct and order what should be done in Jerusalem. These letters were sent, very probably, by the hands of the king's messengers, when they returned, whose names are mentioned, Jeremiah 29:3; some of them were sent to the people, to set them against the prophet of the Lord, Jeremiah, that they might not give any heed and credit to him; and others to the priests, as follows:
and to Zephaniah the son of Maaseiah the priest; not the high, priest, but his sagan or deputy; the second priest, as he is called, Jeremiah 52:24; for Seraiah was high priest, unless he was now become high priest in his room. This Maaseiah was either his immediate parent, or else the head of that course to which Zephaniah belonged, as a common priest, which was the twenty fourth in order, 1 Chronicles 24:18;Thus speaketh the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, saying, Because thou hast sent letters in thy name unto all the people that are at Jerusalem, and to Zephaniah the son of Maaseiah the priest, and to all the priests, saying,
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)25. in thine own name] not, as Jeremiah spoke, in the name of the Lord.
unto all the people that are at Jerusalem] LXX rightly omit.
Zephaniah] See on Jeremiah 21:1 (which however belongs to a somewhat later time than this). In ch. Jeremiah 52:24 = 2 Kings 25:18 he is called “second priest,” i.e. next in rank to the high-priest.
and to all the priests] LXX rightly omit.Jeremiah 29:15. "If ye say: Jahveh hath raised us up prophets in Babylon - Jeremiah 29:16. Yea, thus saith Jahveh of the king that sitteth upon the throne of David, and of all the people that dwelleth in this city, your brethren that are not gone forth with you into captivity, Jeremiah 29:17. Thus saith Jahveh of hosts: Behold, I send amongst them the sword, famine, and pestilence, and make them like horrible figs, that cannot be eaten for badness, Jeremiah 29:18. And hunt after them with the sword, the famine, and the pestilence, and give them to be abused to all the kingdoms of the earth, to be a curse, and an astonishment, and a hissing, and a reproach among all the peoples whither I have driven them; Jeremiah 29:19. Inasmuch as they have not hearkened to my words, saith Jahveh, wherewith I sent to them my servants the prophets, from early morning on sending them, and ye have not hearkened, saith Jahveh. Jeremiah 29:20. But ye, hear the word of Jahveh, all ye captives whom I have sent from Jerusalem to Babylon." - The design with which Jeremiah tells the captives of this judgment may be gathered from the terms of Jeremiah 29:15, with which this prophecy is introduced: God had raised up to us prophets in Babel (בּבלה, lit., as far as Babel, i.e., extending His agency so far beyond the bounds of Judah). Hence it is clear that the announcement of judgment to come on those left in the land is in direct opposition to the predictions of the prophets that had appeared in Babylon. these prophesied a swift end to Chaldean domination and an immediate return of the exiles to their fatherland. So long as one of David's posterity sat on his throne in Jerusalem, and so long as the kingdom of Judah was maintained, the partial captivity of the people and removal of the plundered treasures of the temple would appear as a calamity which might soon be repaired. The false prophets in Babylon laid, therefore, great stress on the continued existence of the kingdom, with its capital and the temple, in their efforts to obtain belief amongst the exiles. As Ng. justly remarks, it was to take this ground from beneath their feet that Jeremiah predicted expulsion and destruction against the people of Jerusalem. The prophecy does indeed bear upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, "but not in the first reference; its immediate purpose was to overthrow the foundations on which the false prophets of the exile stood" (Ng.). Taken thus, these verses form and integral part of the message sent by Jeremiah to the exiles, which was of no small weight for quieting the excitement, nourished by the false prophets, which reigned amongst them. One is struck by the want of connection between Jeremiah 29:15 and Jeremiah 29:16. The beginning of Jeremiah 29:16, "Yea, thus saith," comes directly after the end of Jeremiah 29:15 without any joining link. Ng. holds the כּי to be the pleonastic כּי which often introduces a saying. But its position before the "thus saith" makes this impossible. Here it serves to strengthen the asseveration: yea, thus fitly introducing what Jahveh says to the contrary; and Jeremiah 29:15 and Jeremiah 29:16 are, tersely and immediately, set over against one another. "If ye say" means: as regards your saying that Jahveh hath raised you up prophets in Babylon, the answer is: Thus hath Jahveh said. This is the connection of Jeremiah 29:16 with Jeremiah 29:15.
(Note: By the above exposition of the connection and progress of the thought, are disposed of all the objections that have been brought by Houb., Lud. Capp., Ven., etc., against the genuineness of these verses, or, at least, against the true position for them. The fact of their being wanting in the lxx, on which Hitz. mainly grounds his charge of spuriousness, proves nothing more than that these translators were unable to understand the train of thought in the verses, especially seeing that the substance of them has several times been expressed by Jeremiah, particularly Jeremiah 29:17 and Jeremiah 29:18; Jeremiah 24:9-10, cf. Jeremiah 15:4; Jeremiah 19:8; with Jeremiah 29:19 cf. Jeremiah 7:13, Jeremiah 7:25. Against the attempts to alter the text, Graf's remarks are admirable: "It is much easier to explain how the passage was omitted as out of place by the lxx than to show how it could have been introduced as an interpolation. It is too long for a mere marginal gloss that had at a later time found its way into the text; and why it should have been placed here, would remain all the more incomprehensible if it were so wholly unconnected with the body of the text. We cannot admit that it is merely an erroneous displacement of b. 15, which originally stood before Jeremiah 29:21; since it is less likely that Jeremiah 29:16 could have come directly after Jeremiah 29:14. In respect of form, Jeremiah 29:16-20 is connected with and forms a continuation of what precedes. Jeremiah 29:20 implies the presence of Jeremiah 29:16 as an antithesis, and at the same time completes again the connection that had been interrupted with Jeremiah 29:15, and leads on to Jeremiah 29:21. Connection in thought seems to be wanting only because Jeremiah 29:16 does not express the connecting idea, and because the contrast is so abrupt." - The other arguments adduced by Hitz. to throw suspicion on the passage, we can afford to pass over as wholly without force.)
"Your brethren that," etc., is co-ordinate with "all the people." The words: "I make them like horrible figs," make allusion to the vision in Jeremiah 24:2., but do not imply that this vision was known to the exiles, for they are quite intelligible to him who knows nothing of Jeremiah 24:1-10 (Ng.). The adject. שׁער is found only here, from שׁער, shudder; horrible, that on tasting which one shudders. With Jeremiah 29:18, cf. Jeremiah 24:9. "Wherewith I sent my servants," i.e., commissioned them. This verb construed with double accus. as in 2 Samuel 11:22; Isaiah 55:11. "Ye have not hearkened," the 2nd pers. instead of the 3rd, is hardly to be explained by the fact that the prophet here cites in full an often quoted saying (Hitz., Ng., etc.). The reason is that the prophet is thinking of the exiles also as having been equal to their brethren remaining in Judah in the matter of not hearkening. Thus the way is prepared for the summons: But ye, hear, Jeremiah 29:20.
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