Jeremiah 29:3
By the hand of Elasah the son of Shaphan, and Gemariah the son of Hilkiah, (whom Zedekiah king of Judah sent to Babylon to Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon) saying,
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(3) By the hand of Elasah . . .—The names of the messengers are of some interest. Elasah, the son of Shaphan, was the brother of Jeremiah’s protector. Ahikam (Jeremiah 26:24). Gemariah (to be distinguished from his namesake the son of Shaphan in Jeremiah 36:12) was probably the son of Hilkiah, the high-priest under Josiah who found the lost Book of the Law (2Kings 22:4), and took a prominent part in the work of reformation. Each would therefore naturally take his place among the prophet’s friends and supporters. They carried his letter as well as the diplomatic missive of the king. That they had been sent as envoys by Zedekiah indicates that the policy of the weak and vacillating king had been to some extent affected by the counsels of Jeremiah, and that he had at least half abandoned the idea of revolt, and had sent to acknowledge the suzerainty of Nebuchadnezzar. It is hardly likely, at least, that the letter from the prophet, of which they were the bearers, should have been in flagrant antagonism with their mission as envoys from the king. The embassy was probably prior to the personal visit of Zechariah recorded in Jeremiah 51:59.

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.Elasah - Probably brother of Ahikam Jeremiah 26:24, and therefore an acceptable person at the Chaldaean court. As Zedekiah had to go in person to Babylon in his fourth year Jeremiah 51:59, this embassy was probably sent two or three years earlier. Its date, however, was subsequent to the vision in Jeremiah 24:1-10. It is appended therefore to Jeremiah 28, not as later in point of time, but because of the similarity of subject. 3. Zedekiah … sent unto Babylon—In Jer 51:59, Zedekiah himself goes to Babylon; here he sends ambassadors. Whatever was the object of the embassy, it shows that Zedekiah only reigned at the pleasure of the king of Babylon, who might have restored Jeconiah, had he pleased. Hence, Zedekiah permitted Jeremiah's letter to be sent, not only as being led by Hananiah's death to attach greater credit to the prophet's words, but also as the letter accorded with his own wish that the Jews should remain in Chaldea till Jeconiah's death.

Hilkiah—the high priest who found the book of the law in the house of the Lord, and showed it to "Shaphan" the scribe (the same Shaphan probably as here), who showed it to King Josiah (2Ki 22:8, &c.). The sons of Hilkiah and Shaphan inherited from their fathers some respect for sacred things. So in Jer 36:25, "Gemariah" interceded with King Jehoiakim that the prophet's roll should not be burned.

Zedekiah the king of Judah having some occasion to send two messengers, named Elasah and Gemariah, to Babylon, whether to carry his tribute money or upon what other errand is not expressed; Jeremiah, knowing that as there were some false prophets at Jerusalem, who fed people with hopes of a speedy return, so there were some with them in Babylon who did the like, (two of which he afterwards in this chapter reflecteth upon,) writeth the following letter, and sends it by these two messengers, to quiet the people’s minds, and to help to compose their spirits, disturbed by these false prophets, and raised up to vain and idle hopes, for which there was no ground at all. By the hand of Elasah the son of Shaphan,.... Perhaps the brother of Ahikam, and of Jaazaniah, Jeremiah 26:24;

and Gemariah the son of Hilkiah; to distinguish him from Gemariah the son of Shaphan the scribe, Jeremiah 36:10;

whom Zedekiah king of Judah sent unto Babylon, to Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon; as his ambassadors, on what account it is not certain; perhaps to pay the tribute money to him; or to treat with him about the restoration of some of the captives; or to cultivate friendship, and promise submission, and that he would faithfully keep the covenant he had made with him: and perhaps he might be jealous of Jeconiah using his interest with the king of Babylon for his restoration, which could not be acceptable to Zedekiah; and this might be one reason why he admitted his messengers to carry Jeremiah's letter to the captives, if he knew of it, or saw it; since it exhorted them not to think of a returns, but provide for a long continuance where they were; however, by the hand of these messengers Jeremiah sent his letter to them:

saying; as follows:

By the hand of Elasah the son of Shaphan, and Gemariah the son of Hilkiah, (whom Zedekiah king of Judah {c} sent to Babylon to Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon) saying,

(c) To entreat of some equal condition.

3. Elasah] As the son of Shaphan he was probably brother of Ahikam (Jeremiah 26:24) who, taking Jeremiah’s side in political matters, would be well received at Babylon.

Gemariah] Perhaps his father was identical with the chief priest (2 Kings 22:4).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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