Lange Commentary on the Holy Scriptures
2. THE CONFLICT OF JEREMIAH WITH THE FALSE PROPHETS IN THE FOURTH YEAR OF ZEDEKIAH
CHAPTERS 27 AND 28
1In the beginning of the reign of Jehoiakim [Zedekiah], the son of Josiah, king 2of Judah, came this word unto Jeremiah from the Lord saying, Thus saith the 3Lord to me, Make thee bonds and yokes and put them upon thy neck, and send them to the king of Edom and to the king of Moab, and to the king of the Ammonites, and to the king of Tyrus, and to the king of Zidon, by the hand of the messengers 4which came to Jerusalem unto Zedekiah, king of Judah. And command them to say unto their masters, Thus saith the Lord of hosts [Jehovah Zebaoth] 5the God of Israel, Thus shall ye say unto your masters; I have made the earth, the man and the beast that are upon the ground, by my great power and by my 6out-stretched arm, and have given it to whom it seemed meet unto me. And now have I given all these lands into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, 7my servant; and the beasts of the field have I given him also to serve him. And all nations shall serve him, and his son, and his son’s son, until the very time of his land come: and then many nations and great kings shall serve themselves of 8him. And it shall come to pass, that the nation and kingdom which will not serve the same Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon, and that1 will not put their neck under the yoke of the king of Babylon, that nation will I punish, saith the Lord [Jehovah] with the sword, and with the famine, and with the pestilence, until I 9have consumed2 them by his hand. Therefore hearken not ye to your priests, nor to your diviners, nor to your dreamers, nor to your enchanters, nor to your sorcerers, 10which speak unto you, saying, Ye shall not serve the king of Babylon. For they prophesy a lie unto you, to remove you far from your land; and that I should 11drive you out, and ye should perish. But the nations that bring their neck under the yoke of the king of Babylon, those will I let remain still in their own land, 12saith the Lord; and they shall till it and dwell therein. I spake also to Zedekiah, king of Judah, according to all those words, saying, Bring your necks under 13the yoke of the king of Babylon, and serve him and his people, and live.3 Why will ye die, thou and thy people, by the sword, by the famine, and by the pestilence, as the Lord hath spoken against the nation that will not serve the king of 14Babylon? Therefore hearken not unto the words of the prophets that speak unto you, saying, Ye shall not serve the king of Babylon; for they prophesy a lie unto 15you. For I have not sent them, saith the Lord, [Jehovah] yet they prophesy a lie in my name; that I might drive you out, and that ye might perish, ye and the 16priests that prophesy unto you. Also I spake to the priests and to all this people, saying, Thus saith the Lord [Jehovah]; Hearken not to the words of your prophets that prophesy unto you, saying, Behold the vessels of the Lord’s house shall now shortly be brought again from Babylon; for they prophesy a lie unto you. 17Hearken not unto them; serve the king of Babylon, and live: wherefore should 18this city be laid waste? But if they be prophets, and if the word of the Lord be with them, let them now make intercession to the Lord of hosts [Jehovah Zebaoth] that the vessels which are left in the house of the Lord, and in the house of the king of Judah, and at Jerusalem, go4 not to Babylon.
19For thus saith the Lord of hosts concerning the pillars, and concerning the sea, and concerning the bases, and concerning the residue of the vessels that remain in 20the city, which Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon took not, when he carried away captive5 Jeconiah the son of Jehoiakim king of Judah from Jerusalem to Babylon, 21and all the nobles of Judah and Jerusalem; Yea, thus saith the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, concerning the vessels that remain in the house of the Lord 22[Jehovah] and in the house of the king of Judah and of Jerusalem; they shall be carried to Babylon, and there shall they be until the day that I visit them, saith the Lord; then will I bring them up, and restore them to this place.
1And it came to pass the same year, in the beginning of the reign of Zedekiah king of Judah, in the fourth year,6 and in the fifth month, that Hananiah the son of Azur the prophet, which was of Gibeon, spake unto me in the presence of the 2priests, and of all the people, saying, Thus speaketh the Lord of hosts, the God of 3Israel, saying, I have broken the yoke of the king of Babylon. Within two full years7will I bring again into this place all the vessels of the Lord’s house, that Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon took away from this place, and carried them to 4Babylon: And I will bring again to this place Jeconiah the son of Jehoiakim king of Judah, with all the captives of Judah, that went into Babylon, saith the Lord, for I will break the yoke of the king of Babylon.
5Then the prophet Jeremiah said unto the prophet Hananiah in the presence of the priests, and in the presence of all the people that stood in the house of the 6Lord [Jehovah]. Even the prophet Jeremiah said, Amen: 8the LORD do so: the Lord perform thy words which thou hast prophesied, to bring again the vessels of the Lord’s house, and all that is carried away captive, from Babylon into this 7place. Nevertheless hear thou now the word that I speak in thine ears, and in the 8ears of all the people; the prophets that have been before me and before thee of old prophesied both against many countries, and against great kingdoms, of war, 9and of evil, and of pestilence. 9The prophet which prophesieth of peace, when the word of the prophet shall come to pass, then shall the prophet be known, that the Lord hath truly sent him.
10Then Hananiah the prophet took the yoke from off the prophet Jeremiah’s neck, 11and brake it.10 And Hananiah spake in the presence of all the people, saying, Thus saith the Lord; even so will I break the yoke of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon from the neck of all nations within the space of two full years. And the 12prophet Jeremiah went his way. Then the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah, after that Hananiah the prophet had broken the yoke from off the neck of the 13prophet Jeremiah, saying, Go and tell Hananiah, saying, Thus saith the Lord; Thou hast broken the yokes of wood, but thou shalt make for them yokes of iron. 14For thus saith the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel; I have put a, yoke of iron upon the neck of all these nations, that they may serve Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon; and they shall serve him: and I have given him the beasts of the field also.
15Then said the prophet Jeremiah unto Hananiah the prophet, Hear now Hananiah; The Lord hath not sent thee; but thou makest this people to trust in a lie. 16Therefore thus saith the Lord, Behold, I will cast11 thee from off the face of the earth; this year thou shalt die, because thou hast taught rebellion against the 17Lord. So Hananiah the prophet died the same year in the seventh month.
EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL
The two chh. 27 and 28 are so evidently parts of a whole that we do not seem to be justified in separating them. The occurrence here narrated is based entirely on Jer 25. The sending of the yoke to the neighboring nations can indeed be regarded as the fulfilment of the commission received by the prophet in 25:15 only in so far as it may be understood in a double sense; in the sense of proclamation and the sense of the execution of the divine sentence.—The command to acknowledge Nebuchadnezzar as a world-ruler appointed by God is supplemented by the warning not to allow the deceptive promises of the false prophets to deter them from yielding in subjection to him (27:9–22). Notwithstanding this, one of the false prophets, Hananiah, the son of Azur, dares to give the prophet of Jehovah the lie and by breaking the wooden yoke, which the latter bore on his neck, to symbolize his liberation from the dominion of Nebuchadnezzar. Thereupon Jeremiah receives the command to replace the wooden yoke by an iron one, and to predict Hananiah’s speedy death in the course of the year. Hananiah really died two months afterwards. The date of the whole occurrence is the fourth year of Zedekiah (28:1), since the statement in 27:1 (beginning of the reign of Jehoiakim) is at any rate, and the other in 28:1 (beginning of the reign of Zedekiah) is very probably incorrect. Further particulars on this point below.
27:1–11. In the beginning … dwell therein. There are weighty critical suspicions with respect to the first verse. In the first place the name Jehoiakim has long been a stumbling-block. How could the prophet receive a commission in the beginning of the reign of Jehoiakim to the ambassadors who had come to Zedekiah הַבָּאִים, (Jer 27:3)? And how could the prophet execute the same commission to Zedekiah (Jer 27:12), and say in 28:1 that in the same year, in the beginning of the reign of Zedekiah, Hananiah contradicted his prediction? HAEVERNICK indeed [II., 2, S. 217) says “the words הבאים וגו׳ (Jer 27:3) pertain to the compilation of the chapter,—to show how Zedekiah should fulfil that older prophecy of the time of Jehoiakim, and should behave towards the nations which were his allies.” But this would presuppose that Jeremiah received a message to ambassadors who did not come to Jerusalem till from eleven to fifteen years afterwards. Further, according to this the name of Nebuchadnezzar and the Chaldeans would have been mentioned in the beginning of the reign of Jehoiakim, while we have demonstrated that before the battle of Carchemish, in the fourth year of Jehoiakim, Jeremiah did not yet know that the enemies coming from the north would be the Chaldeans under Nebuchadnezzar. Add to this that the compiler must have proceeded very inconsiderately, to substitute the time of receiving the commission for that of its execution. We ought to have read in that case: In the time of Jehoiakim Jeremiah received the commission to declare the following to foreign ambassadors who should come. These ambassadors came in the beginning of the reign of Zedekiah and unto them spake Jeremiah, etc. Instead of this we have: In the beginning of Jehoiakim’s reign Jeremiah received the command to deliver this message to the ambassadors, who are come to Zedekiah, etc. To attribute to the supposed compiler such a violent treatment of the text is truly much worse than to assume an oversight of the copyist. It is, moreover, a wonder to me that, as far as my knowledge extends, no commentator has hit on the idea of taking הַבָּאִים in the sense of the Fut. or Fut., exacti.: who come or will have come. There is unquestionably grammatical authority for this. For the participle, which in itself has no tense, may be taken according to the connection as present, past or future. Comp. NAEGELSB., Gr., § 97; EWALD, § 335, b. Compare especially the same word in Isa. 27:6=temporibus futuris, Eccles. 2:16, הַיָמִים הַבָאִיםdiebus venturis, etc.—Whatever we have already urged is certainly opposed to this rendering of the word, viz. 1, the improbability of the communication of a message not to be delivered for fifteen years; 2, above all the entirely unhistorical mention of Nebuchadnezzar and the Chaldeans in the beginning of the reign of Jehoiakim. The objections to the reading Jehoiakim are of ancient date. JEROME helps himself out of the difficulty by connecting the verse with the previous chapter. It does not disturb him that thus Jer 26 begins and ends with a similar date; yet he supposes that it was this circumstance, which led the Seventy to omit the verse. The Syriac and the unprinted Arabs Oxoniensis read “Zedekiah.” Likewise the Cod. Regiomont, II. KENNICOTT in his Diss. super ratione text. Hebr. V. T., I., p. 503; II., p. 346, Ed.TELLER, decidedly favors the view that a copyist who had forgotten that Zedekiah was also a son of Josiah was moved by 26:1 to alter the name of Zedekiah into Jehoiakim. I also hold the view that 26:1 affected the rendering of 27:1, for as we shall see below at 49:34, chapter 27 has lost its original superscription by the oversight of a diaskenast who added this verse of the prophecy against Elam as a postscript. Hence 27:1 is still wanting in the LXX.; on the other hand the prophecy against Elam has in the. LXX. a superscription and a postscript, in the Hebrew text a superscription which does not correspond to the general purport, and Jer 27 has obtained in the Hebrew a new beginning which was formed after 26:1, while the original text of 27:1, is to be sought nowhere else but in 49:34 (with the omission of אֶל־עֵילָם). So MOVERS and HITZIG, with whom on this point I feel obliged to agree. From 28:1 it is evident that by the beginning of Zedekiah’s reign we are to understand his fourth year. This appears to be entirely suitable in point of fact. For it is not to be imagined that Zedekiah undertook revolutionary projects immediately after his ascension of the throne. As to the mode of expression, “beginning” is a relative idea, and the first half of a period may be designated as the beginning, the latter half as its close. From the words Thus saith Jehovah unto thee, it is moreover apparent that from Jer 27:2 onward the prophet, communicates the words as he spoke them to the people. Comp. “saith Jehovah,” Jer 27:11 and Jer 27:16. The introductory formula in Jer 27:1b, is then not to be referred specially to the moment of revelation, but it has this sense, that all the actions and speeches related in what follows are the result of a revelation to the prophet.
Jer 27:2. Bondsi.e. cords (2:20; 5:5; 30:8), not to hold together the wooden parts of the yokes, for such yokes there are none, but to fix the yoke to the body, are what Jeremiah is to prepare. So with מֹטוֹת. The word (מוּט, tottering above, crooked, broken from the branch, the bough, piece of wood) is in both these chapters used in a material sense, while עֹל always denotes the yoke in a figurative sense (27:8, 11, 12; 28:2, 4, 11, 14 coll. 28:10 sqq.). Jeremiah is to put these yokes on his neck and send them by the messengers to their master. As certainly as the prophet should put a yoke upon his neck, and has really put it on (28:10 sqq. coll. Isa. 20:2; Hos. 1:2 sqq.; Ezek. 12:3 sqq.), so certainly should he really give the yoke to the messengers. This corresponded to oriental customs. If the messengers would not take the yoke with them, that was their affair. The four neighboring nations here mentioned (Edom, Moab, Ammon, Sidon) are named in the same order in 25:1, 2. NIEBUHR (Ass. u. Bab., S. 211) connects this consultation with the diversion, which resulted from Nebuchadnezzar’s pretended expedition against Media after the death of Cyaxares in B. C. 594 (Vid. sup., 25:26). But this connection is altogether uncertain, and we must be content to be ignorant why that epoch was considered adapted for a revolt. At all events the words of the prophet made an impression on the king. For in the same year (593) we find him on a journey to Babylon (51:59), which can have had no other object than renewed homage. When DUNCKER (S. 834, etc.) says the Phœnicians were then left to their fate and subjugated by Nebuchadnezzar, the first part of the statement is correct. But I doubt whether they then immediately revolted on their own account, and were again subjugated. For when Sidon (Ezek. 32:29) is mentioned among the nations which had fallen before the sword of Nebuchadnezzar, before the twentieth year of this king (Ezek. 32:17), therefore before B. C., 585, it does not seem at all necessary to assume that the Phœnicians revolted sooner than Zedekiah himself, who was moved to open revolt by Hophra, the new king of Egypt, in B. C. 589. When also after the destruction of Jerusalem (586) only Tyrus among the Phœnician cities was still to he subdued, the conquest of the rest may have well taken place immediately before the attack on Judah and Jerusalem (588). The Edomites, Moabites and Ammonites, who are mentioned in 2 Kings 24:2 as Chaldean allies against Judah, appear according to our passage in their love of freedom to have momentarily forgotten their ancient enmity towards Judah, as well as their fear of the Chaldeans. But they can scarcely have revolted. According to Ps. 137:7 coll. Lam. 4:21, 22; Ezek. 36:5 the Edomites were zealous co-operators at the destruction of Jerusalem.
Jer 27:5. I have made, etc. The Creator has the right to dispose of His creatures.—As seemed meet unto me. Comp. 18:4.
Jer 27:6. And the beasts of the field. Nebuchadnezzar is declared universal governor de jure divino.
Jer 27:7. This verse is wanting in the LXX. MOVERS and HITZIG regard it as interpolated. Comp. on the other hand GRAF, S. 348, Anm. An interpolator would certainly not have interpolated so incorrectly. For Nebuchadnezzar was succeeded only by his son Evilmerodach, who was murdered by Neriglissar, his father-in-law. He was succeeded by his son Labosoarchad, a child who was killed after a reign of nine months, to make place for Nabonnet, one of the conspirators. The latter was Babylon’s last king. On the contrary the LXX. omitted the verse because it seemed so inaccurate. The prophet does not, however, intend to be exact. The phrase “his son and his son’s son” is to denote an indefinite but brief period (Exod. 20:5; 34:7; Deut. 5:9). The chronicler seems to refer to this passage in 2 Chron. 36:20.—Shall serve themselves of him. Comp. 25:14. The expressions many nations, etc., remind us of 50:9, 41. When we remember that this passage originated at the same time with chh. 50 and 51, this relationship may well have its foundation in the mind of the prophet.
Jer 27:8. The nation which … that will not, etc. At first it seems natural to take the second sentence as the correction of the first: he who will not serve, or rather, he who will not voluntarily submit himself. For all, indeed, will serve. He who has to be compelled may expect the extremity of distress, while he who voluntarily submits will retain at least his land and his life. But unfortunately it is not grammatically allowable to take ו in the meaning of “or rather.” We must therefore make this distinction between “serve” and “put their neck under the yoke,” that the former refers to the nations already subject to the Babylonian dominion, the latter to the others. In warning the heathen nations of their diviners, sorcerers, etc., the prophet puts the false prophets of the Jews afterwards mentioned in the same category with them.
Jer 27:10. To remove. The consequence is represented as the object. Comp. Jer 27:15.—And that I should drive. Observe the return of the discourse from the secondary to the main form. Comp. NAEGELSB. Gr., § 99, 3,
Jer 27:15 and 22.
Jer 27:12-15. I spake also to Zedekiah … prophesy unto you. As in Jer 27:2, the prophet here and in Jer 27:16 sqq. gives an account, not of the reception, but the execution of the divine commission. Comp. EXEG. rems. on 26:2.—By the sword, etc Comp. Jer 27:8.
Jer 27:16-22. Also I spake to the priests … restore them to this place. Jeremiah speaks to the king of political subjection, to the priests and the people of the vessels which were the ornaments of the temple and its worship. These vessels carried away by Nebuchadnezzar (2 Kings 24:13) are according to the words of the false prophets to be brought back in a very brief period. In opposition to this Jeremiah makes the requisition on the false prophets to prove their authority by preventing through their intercession (יפגעו. Comp. 7:16) the deportation of the vessels still in their possession.—The pillars (1 Kings 7:15–22), sea (lb. 23–26), and bases (Jer 27:27 sqq.), were the largest and heaviest vessels, which were not therefore carried away the first time. Comp. EXEG. rems. on 52:17.—All the nobles. Comp. Is. 34:12; Jer. 39:6 and 29:2; 2 Kings 24:11 sqq.—The refutation of MOVERS’ and HITZIG’s assertion that Jer 27:16–21 are interpolated, may be seen in GRAF, S. 351. He has also on pp. 344, 345 shown that the abbreviated name-ending, which prevails in chh. 27–29. (יה instead of יהי) is not to be regarded as the sign of a later date of composition.
28:1–4. And it came to pass … the yoke of the king of Babylon. In the same year, doubtless shortly after the occurrences narrated in Jer 27 came Hananiah from Gibeon (a city of priests, Josh. 21:17) and, therefore, probably himself a priest, in opposition to Jeremiah prophesying that in two years the Lord will break the yoke of Nebuchadnezzar, and bring back the sacred vessels and king Jehoiachin, together with the other captives from Babylon. On the date “in the beginning” comp. Comm. on 27:1. The month is mentioned on account of the statement in Jer 28:17.—The deceptive promise of Hananiah is directly opposed to what Jeremiah has said in 22:26, 27; 27:16.
Jer 28:6-9. Then the prophet Jeremiah said … truly sent him. Jeremiah replies: would that thou wert right! But only prophecies of calamity have the presumption of truth in their favor, for they are connected with danger to their author. Prophecies of good fortune may be flattery. We must, therefore, wait for their result.—On Jer 28:9 comp. Deut. 18:21, 22.
Jer 28:10 and 11. Then Hananiah … went his way. Hananiah has the audacity to answer Jeremiah’s speech by taking the yoke from his neck and breaking it, at the same time repeating his previous prediction (Jer 28:3 and 4). Jeremiah goes away for the time without uttering a word in reply. On מוֹטה and עֹל comp. EXEG. rems. on 27:2
Jer 28:12-17. Then the word … seventh month. After some time Jeremiah received from the Lord a double message to Hananiah: 1. By the breaking of the wooden yoke all that he has effected is that an iron one takes its place, for iron will be the yoke, which Nebuchadnezzar will put upon the nations, according to the will of God; 2. Hananiah, who misuses the name of God and has misled the people into vain confidence, is to die this year. This also came to pass, for he died two months afterwards.—Yokes of wood. The plural is generic, as was remarked on 27:2. Comp. NAEGELSB. Gr., § 61, 2 d.—Yoke of iron. The prophet appears to have had Deut. 28:48 in mind. On Jer 28:14 comp. 27:6.—Rebellion (סרה), comp. 29:32. It is=revolt, rebellion, on account of the following אל־י׳.—In the seventh month corresponds to fifth month, Jer 28:1.
27:8.—The construction here is not an anacoluthon, but הגוי ו׳ is accusative, and את אשׁר is not co-ordinate to the first אשׁר but to הגוי ו׳: as to the nation which will not serve, and as to that which will not how the neck, etc. Hence the singular יִתֵּן stands properly also in the second relative clause. The sign of the accusative stands before the second אשׁר to distinguish it as an accusative from the first, which is nominative, (comp. EWALD, § 277 d, 2, and Gen. 47:21; 2 Ki. 8:31), and thus at the same time to indicate that אשׁר does not stand parallel to הגוי ו׳.
Jer 27:8—עד־תמי. תמם in a transitive sense, as in Ps. 64:7.
Jer 27:12.—וחיו. Comp. TEXTUAL NOTE on 25:5.
Jer 27:18.—לבלתי כאו. The form באו as a perfect is abnormal. In 50:5 it is to he taken as imperative. It is therefore not improbable, as HITZIG, OLSHAUSEN and GRAF suppose, that we are to read לְבִלְתִּ יָבֹאוּ.
Jer 27:20.—בגלותו. Comp. Exod. 13:21; Isa. 23:11; Ps. 78:17; OLSH. § 78 c.
28:1—Instead of בּשְׁנַת הרביעית as the Chethibh is to be read, the Masoretes would here have בַּשָּׁנַה ה׳ as in 32:1. The reading of the Chethibh is found unimpeached by the Masoretes in 46:2; 51:59. Probably the Masoretes wished, here as in 32:1, the same punctuation for the word occurring twice in the verse, while in 46:2 and 51:59, no occasion was given for such an effort at conformity. On the St. const. in this connection, comp. NAEGELSB. Gr., § 65, 2, c.
Jer 28:3.—שׁנתים ימים. On the construction comp. NAEGELSB. Gr., § 70, g. Comp. besides Gen. 41:1; 1 Sam. 13:23, etc.
Jer 28:6.—אָמֵן occurs besides in Jeremiah, only in 11:5.
Jer 28:8.—On the construction in this verse, comp. NAEGELSB. Gr., § 88, 7; 111, 1, b, 10.
Jer 28:10.—The masc. suffix in וישׁברהו refers to the idea of עֹל. Comp. NAEGELSB. Gr., § 60, 4.
Jer 28:16.—The word משלחך, I cast thee off, must, as HITZIG has remarked, contain an allusion to שׁלחך, to Jer 28:15.
In the beginning of the reign of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah king of Judah came this word unto Jeremiah from the LORD, saying,