Jeremiah 36:16
Now it came to pass, when they had heard all the words, they were afraid both one and other, and said unto Baruch, We will surely tell the king of all these words.
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(16) They were afraid both one and other . . .—The words indicate a conflict of feelings. They were alarmed for themselves and their country as they heard, with at least a partial faith, the woes that were threatened as impending. They were alarmed also for the safety of the prophet and the scribe who had the boldness to utter those woes. They have no hostile purpose in communicating what they had heard to the king, but the matter had come to their official knowledge, and they had no alternative but to report it (Leviticus 5:1; Proverbs 29:24).

Jeremiah 36:16-19. When they heard all the words — It is hardly to be imagined that all these counsellors would sit still till they had heard all the prophecies read which Jeremiah had uttered for the last twenty-two years; but all signifies many, or, the substance of all his prophecies. They were afraid both one and other — That is, they were all of them afraid. The judgments denounced were so terrible as to make the ears of them that heard them tingle. Jeremiah had now been above twenty years a prophet to this people, and doubtless had been in great esteem for eighteen years of that time, while Josiah was alive, and they could not but observe that his prophecies had been often accomplished. They were, therefore, it seems, afraid that they should see these fulfilled also. And they asked Baruch, saying, Tell us now, How didst thou write all these words? — This seemed a reasonable question, considering they were the substance of what he had been prophesying for so many years. The matter seemed strange to the princes, the prophets not being used to study and write their discourses, but to preach them extempore. Baruch answered, He pronounced all these words, and I wrote them, &c. — This could not but add to the princes’ fear that these prophecies would be accomplished, for they must needs conceive that, without a special influence of God, it would have been a thing impossible that Jeremiah should have called to mind all that he had spoken at sundry times for so many years. Then said the princes unto Baruch, Go hide thee, thou and Jeremiah — They thought it their duty to acquaint the king with the matter, and yet were unwilling that Jeremiah and Baruch should feel the effects of his displeasure.

36:9-19 Shows of piety and devotion may be found even among those, who, though they keep up forms of godliness, are strangers and enemies to the power of it. The princes patiently attended the reading of the whole book. They were in great fear. But even those who are convinced to the truth and importance of what they hear, and are disposed to favour those who preach it, often have difficulties and reserves about their safety, interest, or preferment, so that they do not act according to their convictions, and try to get rid of what they find troublesome.They were afraid both one and other - literally, "they trembled each to his neighbor," i. e., they showed their alarm by their looks and gestures one to another. They felt that what he had so consistently prophesied for a period of 23 years would in all probability be fulfilled.

We will surely tell - Rather, We must tell the king. It was their official duty.

16. afraid, both one and other—Hebrew, "fear-stricken," they turned to one another (compare Ge 42:28). This showed, on their part, hesitancy, and some degree of fear of God, but not enough to make them willing to sacrifice the favor of an earthly king.

We will surely tell the king—not the language of threatening but implying that the matter is of such moment that the king ought to be made acquainted with it, so as to seek some remedy against the divine anger.

It is hardly to be imagined that all these counsellors should sit still till they had heard all Jeremiah’s prophecies for twenty-two years read, but all signifies many, or the sense and substance of all the prophecies. They were all of them afraid: Jeremiah had now been above twenty years a prophet to this people, and doubtless in great esteem for eighteen years of it, while Josiah was alive, and one whose prophecies they could not but observe had been oft accomplished; therefore they could not but be afraid that they should see these words also fulfilled, and took themselves bound in duty to acquaint the king with them. Some, if not all, of these probably had been great men in Josiah’s time, which was but four or five years before, and from him sucked in some good and religious principles, which begat some awe of God in them.

Now it came to pass, when they had heard all the words,.... In the roll or book read by Baruch; they heard them read patiently, which was what the king afterwards would not do:

they were afraid both one and another; both good and bad; for there were some of both sorts among them: or, "a man to his friend" (r); they looked at one another, and knew not what to say to each other, as men amazed and astonished; they trembled at what they heard, the threatenings were so terrible, and the calamity threatened so great; and they consulted together what they should do with this roll, or what course they should take to avert the threatened vengeance, and particularly whether they should acquaint the king with it or not; and which they thought the safest and most prudent part to do:

and said unto Baruch, we will surely tell the king of all these words; this they said, not to terrify Baruch, or out of any ill will to him; but partly for their own security, lest they should incur the king's displeasure, should he come to the knowledge of it any other way; and chiefly hoping it might have some effect upon him, to cause a reformation; though of this they were dubious, and rather feared it would exasperate him; and therefore desired that Baruch and Jeremiah would hide themselves, Jeremiah 36:19; this was the sense of some of them, of those that were good men among them, and wished things were otherwise than they were.

(r) "vir ad socium suum", Montanus; "ad proximum suum", Vatablus; "ad amicum suum", Pagninus; "erga socium suum", Schmidt.

Now it came to pass, when they had heard all the words, they were {i} afraid both one and another, and said to Baruch, We will surely tell the king of all these words.

(i) The godly were afraid, seeing God so offended, and the wicked were astonished for the horror of the punishment.

16. they turned in fear one toward another] lit. they trembled every one to his neighbour, i.e. they looked at each other and trembled.

unto Baruch] omit with LXX.

Verse 16. - They were afraid both one and other; rather, they turned shudderingly one to another. Such an announcement as Jeremiah's at such a serious crisis startled them by its boldness. We may infer that the prophet had for some time, by Divine command, kept his sombre anticipations in the background. We will surely tell the king; rather, we have to tell the king. Friendly feeling would have prompted them to hush up the affair (see Jeremiah 27:20, 21), but duty forbade. Jeremiah 36:16When Baruch came, the princes, in token of friendly and respectful treatment, bade him sit down and read to them out of the book he had brought with him. Jeremiah 36:16. But when they heard all the words read, "they were afraid one at another;" i.e., by looks, gestures, and words, they gave mutual expression of their fear, partly because of the contents of what had been read. Although they were generally acquainted with the sense and the spirit of Jeremiah's addresses, yet what had now been read made a powerful impression on them; for Baruch plainly had read, both to the people in the temple and to the princes, not the whole book, but only the main portions, containing the sternest denunciations of sin and the strongest threats of punishment. The statement, "he read in (out of) the book the words of Jeremiah" (Jeremiah 36:10), does not mean that he read the whole book; this would only have wearied the people and weakened the impression made. But they were partly also terrified, perhaps, by the boldness of a declaration which so decidedly opposed the desires and hopes of the king; for the thought of the event mentioned in Jeremiah 26:20. would at once suggest to them the danger that might arise to the live of Jeremiah and Baruch from the despotic character of the king. They said therefore to Baruch, "We must tell the king all these things." For it was clear that the matter could not long remain concealed from the king, after the public reading in the temple. Hence they dared not, agreeably to their official relation to the king, hide from him what had taken place.
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