Jeremiah 29:4
Thus said the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, to all that are carried away captives, whom I have caused to be carried away from Jerusalem to Babylon;
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(4) Thus saith the Lord of hosts . . .—We have here the nearest parallel in the Old Testament to the Epistles which make up so large a portion of the New, the very text of a written letter sent to those with whom the teacher was no longer able to hold personal communication. It obviously furnished the type which was followed by the writer of the apocryphal letter from Jeremiah in Baruch 6.

Jeremiah 29:4-7. Thus saith the Lord, Build ye houses, and plant gardens, &c. — It appears by the advice which the prophet here gives, that many of the captive Jews neglected to cultivate and plant the places allotted to them about Babylon; because they were not willing to bestow cost and pains for the advantage of others; since they flattered themselves that they were soon to return into Judea: and therefore, Jeremiah here admonishes them that their continuance in their captivity would be long enough for them, their sons and their grandsons, to enjoy the fruit of their labours there; and that, therefore, if they regarded their own ease and accommodation, they should set about making the places of their captivity as convenient and agreeable to them as they could. And seek the peace of the city, &c. —

Pray and desire, and do all that lies in your power, that Babylon may enjoy peace, and remain in safety, because you yourselves must be partakers of its prosperity or adversity, as it is appointed by God for you to remain there seventy years. The word peace here, as elsewhere, signifies safety and plenty of all things. Observe here, reader, it is the duty of all private persons to submit to the government that protects them, and to pray for the prosperity of it: see Ezra 6:10; 1 Timothy 2:1-2. And if the governing powers are persecutors or enemies to the truth, it must be left to God to execute upon them the judgments he has denounced against tyrants and oppressors; which judgments the Jews expected that God would execute upon Babylon in due time, Psalm 137:8-9.29:1-7 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.As the exile was God's doing for their good, they were to make the best of their position, and acquire wealth and influence; whereas if they were always restlessly looking out for the opportunity of returning home, they would rapidly fall into poverty and dwindle away.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.

So as this letter was not wrote from himself, advising them charitably, but he had commission from God, by whom he mindeth them, as the principal efficient cause they were ordered to be carried away by, though their own sins were the meritorious cause, and Nebuchadnezzar with his captains and soldiers where the instrumental cause. Thus saith the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel,.... For the letter was written by the order of the Lord, was endited by him, and was sent in his name, the prophet was only his amanuensis; and the titles which the Lord here takes are worthy of notice: "the Lord of hosts": of the armies above and below, that does according to his pleasure in heaven and in earth, with whom nothing is impossible; who could easily destroy the enemies of his people, and deliver them, either immediately by his power, or mediately by means of armies on earth, whom he could assemble, and send at pleasure; or by legions of angels at his command: "the God of Israel"; their covenant God; who still continued to be so, notwithstanding their sins and transgressions, and though in captivity in a foreign land; and a good him this, to preserve them from the idolatry of the country they were in, and to observe unto them that he only was to be worshipped by them:

unto all that are carried away captives: or, "to all of the captivity"; or, "to the whole captivity" (r); high and low, rich and poor; this letter was an interesting one to them all:

whom I have caused to be carried away from Jerusalem unto Babylon; for though their sins and iniquities were the moving, meritorious, and procuring causes of their captivity; and Nebuchadnezzar and his army the instruments; yet God was the efficient cause: the Chaldeans could never have carried them captive, if the Lord had not willed it, or had not done it by them; for there is no "evil of this kind in a city, and the Lord hath not done it", Amos 3:6.

(r) "universae migrationi", Schmidt; "omni transmigrationi", Pagninus, Montanus.

Thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, to all that are carried away captives, whom I have {d} caused to be carried away from Jerusalem to Babylon;

(d) That is, the Lord whose work this was.

4–9. See introd. note to section. Instead of looking for an immediate return to Palestine, which would cause the exiles to sit loose to the country where they found themselves, they were to be interested in its welfare and to make homes for themselves. Otherwise they would not only fail to obtain any influence, but would soon dwindle away.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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