Jeremiah 29:7
And seek the peace of the city where I have caused you to be carried away captives, and pray to the LORD for it: for in the peace thereof shall you have peace.
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(7) And seek the peace of the city . . .—This was, we may believe, the hardest command of all. To refrain from all curses and imprecations, even from such as came from the lips of those who hung their harps on the willows by the waters of Babylon (Psalms 137), to pray for the peace and prosperity of the city where they were eating the bread of captivity—this surely required an almost superhuman patience. Yet this was the prophet’s counsel. It seems almost to follow—unless we apply Augustine’s rule, Distingue tempora, and refer the psalm to a time prior to Jeremiah’s letter, or nearer the day of vengeance—that those imprecations, natural as they seem, belonged to a lower stage of spiritual progress than that represented by the prophet. He was, to those impatient exiles, as our Lord was to the impatient disciples who sought to call down fire on the village of the Samaritans (Luke 9:54-56). So, we may remember, Christians living under Nero were told to pray for the Emperor (1Timothy 2:2).

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.Seek the peace of the city ... - Not only because their welfare for seventy years was bound up with that of Babylon, but because it would have degraded their whole moral nature to have lived as conspirators, banded together against the country that was for the time their home. 7. (Ezr 6:10; Ro 13:1; 1Ti 2:2). Not only bear the Babylonian yoke patiently, but pray for your masters, that is, while the captivity lasts. God's good time was to come when they were to pray for Babylon's downfall (Jer 51:35; Ps 137:8). They were not to forestall that time. True religion teaches patient submission, not sedition, even though the prince be an unbeliever. In all states of life let us not throw away the comfort we may have, because we have not all we would have. There is here a foretaste of gospel love towards enemies (Mt 5:44). That is, Seek to God for it, or rather live peaceably in it, and by all lawful means seek the welfare of it; do not raise any tumults or seditions, nor take part with those that do. And while your captivity lasts do you pray for it; (from whence those who think that Christ hath added new moral precepts, and reckon this precept of praying for enemies as one, may understand that praying for enemies was but a branch of that love to our neighbour which God required under the Old Testament;) for it was lawful for them to pray against Babylon at other times, Psalm 137:8 Jeremiah 51:35; but when God hath put a yoke upon our necks, we must patiently wait until he takes it off. The lawyers say that protection requireth allegiance to governors. This text lets us know also that it requireth our prayers for them, though they be conquerors and tyrants.

For in the peace thereof shall ye have peace; for God having by his providence cast us under their power, our peace dependeth upon theirs. And seek the peace of the city,.... The prosperity and happiness of Babylon, or any other city in Chaldea, were they were placed: this they were to do by prayer and supplication to God, and by all other means that might be any ways conducive to the good of the state where they were:

whither I have caused you to be carried away captives; and as long as they continued so; for being under the protection of the magistrates of it, though Heathens, they owed them submission, and were under obligation to contribute to their peace and welfare:

and pray unto the Lord for it; the city, where they dwelt; for the continuance, safety, peace, and prosperity of it; and therefore much more ought the natives of a place to seek and pray for its good, and do all that in them lies to promote it; and still more should the saints and people of God pray for the peace of Jerusalem, or the church of God, where they are born, and brought up in a spiritual sense; see 1 Timothy 2:1;

for in the peace thereof shall ye have peace; which is an argument taken from self-interest; intimating, that while the city in which they were was in safety and prosperity, was in a flourishing condition, as to its health and trade, they would partake more or less with them of the same advantages; and on the other hand, should they be distressed with the sword, famine, or pestilence, or any grievous calamity, they would be involved in the same.

And seek the peace of the city where I have caused you to be carried away captives, and {e} pray to the LORD for it: for in the peace of it ye shall have peace.

(e) The prophet does not speak this for the affection that he bore to the tyrant, but that they should pray for the common rest and quietness that their troubles might not be increased, and that they might with more patience and less grief wait for the time of their deliverance, which God had appointed most certain: for not only the Israelites but all the world yea and the insensible creatures would rejoice when these tyrants would be destroyed, as in Isa 24:4.

7. seek the peace of the city] probably referring not to Babylon only, but to any city in which a body of exiles might be planted. LXX have the land, as in Jeremiah 4:29 (see note), perhaps reading here, as they probably did there, the equivalent Hebrew.Verse 7. - Seek the peace of the city, etc. Interest yourselves in the "peace" or welfare of the city, whether Babylon or any other place where ye may be in exile, and pray for its welfare, for your own well-being is inseparable from it. A Letter from Jeremiah to the Captives in Babylon, together with Threatenings against their False Prophets. - As in Jerusalem, so too in Babylon the predictions of the false prophets fostered a lively hope that the domination of Nebuchadnezzar would not last long, and that the return of the exiles to their fatherland would soon come about. The spirit of discontent thus excited must have exercised an injurious influence on the fortunes of the captives, and could not fail to frustrate the aim which the chastisement inflicted by God was designed to work out, namely, the moral advancement of the people. Therefore Jeremiah makes use of an opportunity furnished by an embassy sent by King Zedekiah to Babel, to address a letter to the exiles, exhorting them to yield with submission to the lot God had assigned to them. He counsels them to prepare, by establishing their households there, for a long sojourn in Babel, and to seek the welfare of that country as the necessary condition of their own. They must not let themselves be deceived by the false prophets' idle promises of a speedy return, since God will not bring them back and fulfil His glorious promises till after seventy years have passed (Jeremiah 29:4-14). Then he tells them that sore judgments are yet in store for King Zedekiah and such as have been left in the land (Jeremiah 29:15-20); and declares that some of their false prophets shall perish miserably (Jeremiah 29:21-32).

Heading and Introduction. - The following circular is connected, in point of outward form, with the preceding discourses against the false prophets in Jerusalem by means of the words: "And these are the words of the letter," etc. The words of the letter, i.e., the main contents of the letter, since it was not transcribed, but given in substance. "Which the prophet Jeremiah sent from Jerusalem unto the residue of the elders of the captives, and to the priests and prophets, and to the whole people, which Nebuchadnezzar had carried away from Jerusalem to Babylon." "The residue of the elders," Hitz. and Graf understand of those elders who were not at the same time priests or prophets. On this Ng. pronounces: "It is impossible that they can be right, for then 'the residue of the elders of the captivity' must have stood after the priests and prophets." And though we hear of elders of the priests, there is no trace in the O.T. of elders of the prophets. Besides, the elders, whenever they are mentioned along with the priests, are universally the elders of the people. Thus must we understand the expression here also. "The residue of the elders" can only be the remaining, i.e., still surviving, elders of the exiles, as יתר is used also in Jeremiah 39:9 for those still in life. But there is no foundation for the assumption by means of which Gr. seeks to support his interpretation, namely, that the place of elders that died was immediately filled by new appointments, so that the council of the elders must always have been regarded as a whole, and could not come to be a residue or remnant. Jeremiah could not possibly have assumed the existence of such an organized governing authority, since in this very letter he exhorts them to set about the establishment of regular system in their affairs. The date given in Jeremiah 29:2 : "after that Jechoniah the king, and the sovereign lady, and the courtiers, the princes of Judah and Jerusalem, the workmen and smiths, were gone away from Jerusalem," points to the beginning of Zedekiah's reign, to the first or second year of it. With this the advice given to the captives in the letter harmonizes well, namely, the counsel to build houses, plant gardens, etc.; since this makes it clear that they had not been long there. The despatch of this letter is usually referred to the fourth year of Zedekiah's reign, because in Jeremiah 28:1 this year is specified. But the connection in point of matter between the present chapter and Jeremiah 28 does not necessarily imply their contemporaneousness, although that is perfectly possible; and the fact that, according to Jeremiah 51:59, Zedekiah himself undertook a journey to Babylon in the fourth year of his reign, does not exclude the possibility of an embassy thither in the same year. The going away from Jerusalem is the emigration to Babylon; cf. Jeremiah 24:1, 2 Kings 24:15. הגּבירה, the queen-mother, see on Jeremiah 13:18. סריסים are the officials of the court; not necessarily eunuchs. Both words are joined to the king, because these stood in closest relations to him. Then follows without copula the second class of emigrants, the princes of Judah and Jerusalem, i.e., the heads of the tribes, septs, and families of the nation. The artisans form the third class. This disposes of the objections raised by Mov. and Hitz. against the genuineness of the words "princes of Judah and Jerusalem," their objections being based on the false assumption that these words were an exposition of "courtiers." Cf. against this, 2 Kings 24:15, where along with the סריסים the heads of tribes and families are comprehended under the head of אוּלי הארץ. Jeremiah 29:3. "By the hand" of Elasah is dependent on "sent," Jeremiah 29:1. The men by whom Jeremiah sent the letter to Babylon are not further known. Shaphan is perhaps the same who is mentioned in Jeremiah 26:24. We have no information as to the aim of the embassy.

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