Matthew Poole's Commentary
Thus saith the LORD; Go down to the house of the king of Judah, and speak there this word,God sendeth the prophet to court with promises, Jeremiah 22:1-4, and threats against the king’s house and Jerusalem, Jeremiah 22:5-9. The judgment of Shallum, Jeremiah 22:10-12; of Jehoiakim, Jeremiah 22:13-19; and of Coniah, Jeremiah 22:20-30.
the king of Judah, here mentioned, understand Jehoahaz. made king upon the death of Josiah by the people, (being the second son of Josiah,) 2 Kings 23:30. Others understand Jehoiakim, whom Pharaoh-necho made king, carrying his elder brother Jehoahaz, after a short reign of three months, with him into Egypt, 2 Chronicles 36:4.
And say, Hear the word of the LORD, O king of Judah, that sittest upon the throne of David, thou, and thy servants, and thy people that enter in by these gates:None is so great but he is obliged to hear the word of the Lord. The prophet’s mentioning him under the notion of him that sat
upon the throne of David, both minds him of God’s faithfulness, who had promised that David should not want one to sit on his throne; and his duty, to walk in the steps of him upon whose throne he sat; and also of his errors, he not walking in David’s steps, though he sat upon his throne. The word of the Lord concerned not the king alone, but all his instruments in places of magistracy, and also all the people of Jerusalem and Judea.
Thus saith the LORD; Execute ye judgment and righteousness, and deliver the spoiled out of the hand of the oppressor: and do no wrong, do no violence to the stranger, the fatherless, nor the widow, neither shed innocent blood in this place.That is, Administer justice to all your subjects.
The stranger, the fatherless, and the widow are particularly named, as persons who have fewest friends, and so are most exposed to the lusts of great men, who have a power to oppress them. Two things are observable:
1. That the terms upon which God promiseth mercy to them are such as were in their power to perform.
2. They are the due performance of relative duties, to teach us how much lieth upon men’s just performance of the duties of their relations, and more particularly, how much God loveth justice and judgment, without the impartial execution of which no princes, no magistrates, can promise themselves security from temporal judgments; which much commendeth the love of God to human society, injustice being the greatest enemy to it, and justice the great foundation and pillar of it.
For if ye do this thing indeed, then shall there enter in by the gates of this house kings sitting upon the throne of David, riding in chariots and on horses, he, and his servants, and his people.If ye do this thing indeed; if ye will not pretendedly, but really, give to every one their due, and look that inferior magistrates acting under you do so. Then, he doth not say, you shall be saved: the promise is only of a secular, temporal nature, of all prosperity, and continuance of the family of David, with great honour and splendour, expressed by those phrases of
riding in chariots and on horses. Though the performance of moral acts of justice and mercy, which men may perform without any special grace of God, be not enough to entitle them to the hopes of spiritual and eternal good things; yet they may entitle them to the hopes of outward prosperity and happiness in this life, Daniel 4:27; which is sufficient to demonstrate that men’s outward infelicities and sufferings under the grievous judgments of God upon themselves is from their selves; they might in a great measure avoid them, by doing such acts as are in their power to do.
But if ye will not hear these words, I swear by myself, saith the LORD, that this house shall become a desolation.By hearing the prophet meaneth hearkening to and obeying. God accounteth us to hear no more than we practise. If (saith the prophet) you will not execute judgment, &c., I give you the greatest assurance imaginable that this noble house of David shall become a desolation. The apostle saith that God, because he could swear by no greater, sware by himself. The end of an oath is, the confirmation of a thing where any doubt of the truth of it, or any have strife about it. Sinners finding in themselves a difficulty to believe God upon his word, revealing his will against the interests of their lusts, the Lord is brought in as swearing, not by a greater, (that is impossible,) but by himself, that the house of David, or the house of Israel, or his own house, the temple, (though the first seems most probable to be here meant, which seemeth to be the house mentioned Jeremiah 22:4, through the gates of which kings should enter, riding in chariots and on horses,) should be made desolate.
For thus saith the LORD unto the king's house of Judah; Thou art Gilead unto me, and the head of Lebanon: yet surely I will make thee a wilderness, and cities which are not inhabited.Interpreters are not agreed in what sense God saith that
the king’s house of Judah was unto him as
the head of Lebanon. Gilead was a country fertile for pastures; upon which account the Reubenites and Gadites, being men whose estates lay in cattle, begged it of Moses for their portion, Numbers 32:2, and Moses gave it to the sons of Manasseh, Numbers 32:40. It was also famous for spicery, balm, and myrrh, Genesis 37:25. It had in it a famous mountain. Lebanon also was a very pleasant place, famous for cedars, and indeed whatsoever could gratify, the senses; they both were in the lot of Gad and Manasseh. Some think God compareth the king of Judah’s house to these places, in regard of the height and nobleness of the structure; others, for the pleasantness and delightfulness of it. Others consider Gilead as the principal part of the inheritance of the ten tribes, wasted by Tiglath-pileser, 2 Kings 15:29; and that God telleth them, by this comparison, that he would certainly destroy them, and make them as Gilead, which was the head of Lebanon. Though Jerusalem were a noble and pleasant place, yet they might remember so was Gilead, which yet for their sins was wasted and brought to ruin. So also Jerusalem, formerly the garden of Judea, and joy of the whole earth, should be made a wilderness, and the cities of Judah should not be inhabited.
And I will prepare destroyers against thee, every one with his weapons: and they shall cut down thy choice cedars, and cast them into the fire.They shall not only be edged with their own lusts and malice; but commissioned and influenced by me, and shall come sufficiently prepared for their work. And they shall cut down and burn thy buildings, which are made of goodly cedars.
And many nations shall pass by this city, and they shall say every man to his neighbour, Wherefore hath the LORD done thus unto this great city?According to God’s threatenings, Deu 29:24 1 Kings 9:8. Though the Jews would not understand that there was a cause, yet others would understand it, and inquire into it.
Then they shall answer, Because they have forsaken the covenant of the LORD their God, and worshipped other gods, and served them.Some shall answer them, or they shall answer one another, Surely it is because they have broken the Divine law, which the Israelites made a covenant, Exodus 19:8 24:3,7 Deu 5:27, upon which account their sinning was an apostacy, and a forsaking their covenant. Their sinning was not of an ordinary nature, but by idolatry, worshipping images and idols, which indeed were no gods but only in the opinion of those nations that worshipped them.
Weep ye not for the dead, neither bemoan him: but weep sore for him that goeth away: for he shall return no more, nor see his native country.Weep not for Josiah your dead prince, for whom there was a great mourning, 2 Chronicles 35:25, mentioned Zechariah 12:11. Josiah is happy, you need not trouble yourselves for him; but weep for Jehoahaz, who is to go, or is gone, into captivity: Jehoahaz was set up upon his father’s death by the people, 2 Kings 23:30 2 Chronicles 36:1, but, Jeremiah 22:3, put down within three months, and carried into Egypt, Jeremiah 22:4, where he died, 2 Kings 23:34; so as he no more returned into Judah. The participle being in the present tense, inclineth me to think that this prophecy was long before that in the former chapter, soon after the death of Josiah, upon the people’s setting up of Jehoahaz in his stead, or presently after he was carried away. Some interpret this of the people that were dead, and those that were going into captivity; but the next verse makes it the more probable that it is to be understood of Josiah and Jehoahaz.
For thus saith the LORD touching Shallum the son of Josiah king of Judah, which reigned instead of Josiah his father, which went forth out of this place; He shall not return thither any more:Who this
Shallum was is a little doubted. Some think it was Jehoahaz the son of Josiah, 1 Chronicles 3:15, called Johanan: there is also mentioned one Shallum, but he is there mentioned as the fourth son of Josiah. In the Book of Kings we read only of three sons which Josiah had, viz. Jehoahaz, Jehoiakim, and Zedekiah. Most think that this Shallum was Jehoahaz, or Johanan, (as he is called, 1 Chronicles 3:15) who was indeed the second son of Josiah; for it is plain, from 2 Kings 23:31,36, that Jehoiakim was two years older, otherwise he could not have been twenty-five years old when he began to reign after Jehoahaz, who began to reign at twenty-three years of age, and reigned but three months; but, 1 Chronicles 3:15, he is called Josiah’s first-born, because he was first made king; and here he is called Shallum, for the shortness of his reign, in derision to the Jews, who so called him, upon the account of their good hopes of prosperity under him; and in allusion to Shallum the son of Jabesh, one of the last kings of the ten tribes, mentioned 2 Kings 15:13, who reigned but a month: for this, as some think, could not be that Shallum mentioned after Zedekiah, as the fourth son of Josiah, 1 Chronicles 3:15, for that Shallum, they say, never reigned; this, as the text saith, did reign three months
instead of Josiah his father; which phrase seemeth also to conclude that he immediately succeeded his father Josiah.
Which went forth out of this place; he was carried away from Jerusalem presently after he was set up, 2 Kings 23:31,33, imprisoned at Riblah, and, 2 Kings 23:34, died in Egypt.
But he shall die in the place whither they have led him captive, and shall see this land no more.So as he returned no more to see his native country, as is there said. But others think this Shallum was Josiah’s fourth son, that Johanan died before his father, and the people made Shallum his youngest son king, calling him Jehoahaz, so as he reigned immediately after Josiah.
Woe unto him that buildeth his house by unrighteousness, and his chambers by wrong; that useth his neighbour's service without wages, and giveth him not for his work;We have not here any certain guidance to let us know whether the prophet intended Jehoahaz or Jehoiakim; both of them did evil in the sight of the Lord, as we read in their story. The sin here reflected upon is manifestly injustice and oppression, but possibly, in the former part of the verse, all unjust and oppressive acts by which either of these princes endeavoured to promote their grandeur may be understood; for we need not take building his house in a strict, literal sense, but signifying the promotion of his family, or establishing his state and dignity. In the latter part, a special oppression, withholding workmen’s wages, is the sin upon which the woe is denounced; a sin contrary to the law, Leviticus 19:13 Deu 24:14,15, and against which the judgment of God is also denounced under the New Testament, Jam 5:4. An evident demonstration of God’s love to mankind, securing by his law just dealings between man and man, and revenging acts of injustice, and particularly where men take advantage of their greatness above and superiority over others, to trample them under their feet, and to withhold their just rights from them: though such persons may be out of the reach of human justice, yet God hath denounced a woe against them.
That saith, I will build me a wide house and large chambers, and cutteth him out windows; and it is cieled with cedar, and painted with vermilion.That is, Woe to that man, who suffering oppression in his government, or making it his business himself to oppress, yet buildeth himself great houses and large chambers, ceiling them with cedar, promising himself prosperity and splendour, notwithstanding his wicked courses! for otherwise, it is lawful enough for princes to build themselves stately houses, &c. Yet some think that Jehoiakim’s pride, and luxury, and magnificence is here blamed, which also may be, considering what fate he was trader, for Judah was reprieved only during Josiah’s life, 2 Chronicles 34:24-28. And this prince had seen Shallum or Jehoahaz his brother carried into captivity, and he still walked in the same wicked courses his brother had done; yet in contempt of the word of the Lord by Huldah in his father’s time, he promiseth himself all prosperity and splendour, and accordingly was building himself stately houses, and adorning them; for this the woe is here denounced.
Shalt thou reign, because thou closest thyself in cedar? did not thy father eat and drink, and do judgment and justice, and then it was well with him?Art thou so vain as to think that brave houses will continue thy kingdom? Thou art mistaken; magnificent buildings are not those things which establish a prince’s throne. How was it with thy father? he lived prosperously, yet had no such stately edifices; his throne was established by justice and judgment; that were the right way for thee to sit sure upon thy throne.
He judged the cause of the poor and needy; then it was well with him: was not this to know me? saith the LORD.He judged the cause of the poor and needy; by himself in person, for the kings of Israel and Judah often sat personally to judge causes; or by setting such judges as did it, administering justice impartially, particularly to such as in respect of their low condition were most exposed to the power of others: and doing thus he prospered.
Was not this to know me? saith the Lord; this was for him truly to own and acknowledge me. They only truly know God who obey him; and men vainly pretend to piety who are notoriously defective in duties of justice and charity.
But thine eyes and thine heart are not but for thy covetousness, and for to shed innocent blood, and for oppression, and for violence, to do it.All that thou lookest after, and that thy heart is set upon, is thy own grandeur and riches. And to make thyself great, thou makest no difficulty to destroy thy subjects that are innocent, and have not deserved death, and to oppress others, using all manner of violence against them. It is not to be thought that Jehoiakim did all this in person, but by such corrupt and unjust judges as he set up; so God accounted that Ahab had killed and taken possession, 1 Kings 21:19, though the elders and nobles were those that did it, 1 Kings 21:11-13. Princes are responsible to God for the sins of their ministers and judges.
Therefore thus saith the LORD concerning Jehoiakim the son of Josiah king of Judah; They shall not lament for him, saying, Ah my brother! or, Ah sister! they shall not lament for him, saying, Ah lord! or, Ah his glory!Jehoiakim the son of Josiah king of Judah; a very bad son of a good father, whose name was Eliakim, by Pharaoh-nechoh turned to Jehoiakim, 2 Kings 23:34, and by him set up. He reigned wickedly, and infinitely oppressed the people for money for Pharaoh-nechoh, that made him king, 22:35. He reigned but eleven years; but rebelling against Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, we read, 2 Kings 24:1,2, he was carried by him into Babylon in fetters, 2 Chronicles 36:6, where, for aught we read, he died. Jehoiachin, or Jeconiah, his son, succeeded him, Jeremiah 22:9, reigning only three months and ten days.
They shall not lament for him; he died not lamented; for as it is not probable his enemies would lament him, so he had disobliged his own people by violence and oppression to that degree, that it is not likely that those of them that were in Babylon made any great lamentation for him.
He shall be buried with the burial of an ass, drawn and cast forth beyond the gates of Jerusalem.He shall be buried with the burial of an ass; that is, he shall not be buried at all, or he shall be buried in an indecent and contemptible manner, none attending him to his grave, none mourning for him. The last words of this verse incline some to think that Jehoiakim was buried near to Jerusalem; but the Scripture, which mentioneth his being carried into Babylon, saith nothing of his being brought back; nor is that very probable which some say, that the king of Babylon thought to have carried him to Babylon, but upon second thoughts altered his purposes, and caused him to be slain at Jerusalem, and his body to be ignominiously dragged out of the gates. The Scripture saith expressly he was carried to Babylon, 2 Kings 24:15; and if he died there, yet this text remaineth true, the scope of which seemeth to be to show the vanity of this prince in his great and stately buildings, which he was not like long to enjoy, nor to be buried nigh to them, nor in any degree of honour proportionate to the splendour of them.
Go up to Lebanon, and cry; and lift up thy voice in Bashan, and cry from the passages: for all thy lovers are destroyed.The Hebrew verb being feminine, lets us know that Jerusalem was the place to which this speech is directed; to the inhabitants of which the prophet here calleth to
go up to Lebanon; and to Bashan. Both Lebanon and Bashan were hills or places that looked towards Assyria, from whence the Jews looked for help, and had it sometimes, as 2 Kings 16:7: he calls to them ironically to go up to the mountainous parts of them, where standing and crying they might be soonest and best heard. What we translate from the passages, others translate from the borders, or from the sides; others, from Abarim, which is the name of a mountain, as well as Lebanon and Bashan; see Numbers 27:12 33:47; which seemeth to me the best interpretation: the meaning is, Go and cry for help from all places, but it will be in vain;
for all thy lovers are destroyed; the Egyptians and Assyrians, to whom thou wert wont heretofore to fly, choosing rather to trust to them than in me, are themselves in the power or danger of the Chaldeans, who shall also destroy them.
I spake unto thee in thy prosperity; but thou saidst, I will not hear. This hath been thy manner from thy youth, that thou obeyedst not my voice.I, by my prophets, spake to thee while all things went well with thee, so as thou hast not sinned ignorantly or without warning; I have not surprised thee with my judgments, but thou refusedst to hearken and obey my admonitions and precepts. From the time that I brought thee out of the land of Egypt, thou hast been thus a rebellious people.
The wind shall eat up all thy pastors, and thy lovers shall go into captivity: surely then shalt thou be ashamed and confounded for all thy wickedness.Either a vain hope and presumption shall destroy thy rulers and governors who flatter time with promises of prosperity; or a judgment shall seize them, that shall be like a violent wind, which presently scattereth the clouds and the smoke; or they shall be blasted by my judgments, as plants are blasted and eaten up by winds. And those that have been thy friends and allies, Syria and Egypt, in whom thou hast trusted, shall themselves be made captive. Surely when thou seest this, thou wilt be convinced, and ashamed of thy wicked courses.
O inhabitant of Lebanon, that makest thy nest in the cedars, how gracious shalt thou be when pangs come upon thee, the pain as of a woman in travail!Jerusalem, which is called an
inhabitant of Lebanon, either because their houses were built of wood cut down out of the forest of Lebanon, or because they lived in as great plenty and delight as if they lived in Lebanon, or because they thought the mountain of Lebanon was a certain refuge to them. They are said to
make their nest in the cedars, either because their houses were built of the cedars of Lebanon, or because of the security they promised themselves from that forest and mountain, so full of and famous for cedars. What favour wilt thou find when my judgments shall come upon thee, as suddenly and as smartly as the pains of a woman in travail come upon her! a similitude often made use of by this prophet, to express the suddenness, unavoidableness, and greatness of judgments, Jeremiah 4:31 6:24 13:21 30:6 49:24 50:43; and so in other scriptures, Psalm 48:6 Micah 4:9 1 Thessalonians 5:3.
As I live, saith the LORD, though Coniah the son of Jehoiakim king of Judah were the signet upon my right hand, yet would I pluck thee thence;By
Coniah he meaneth Jehoiachim, 2 Kings 24:8, whose name was Jeconiah, 1 Chronicles 3:16, (for all Josiah’s sons had two names, and so had his grandchild Jeconiah,) here in contempt called Coniah. He saith, that though this Coniah were as dear to him as his signet, which every man keepeth safe, yet this should not secure him from Divine vengeance.
And I will give thee into the hand of them that seek thy life, and into the hand of them whose face thou fearest, even into the hand of Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon, and into the hand of the Chaldeans.That is, into the power of the Chaldeans and Babylonians, whom they were afraid of, and justly, for they thirsted after their blood and ruin.
And I will cast thee out, and thy mother that bare thee, into another country, where ye were not born; and there shall ye die.Jeconiah’s mother was Nehushta, the daughter of Elnathan of Jerusalem, 2 Kings 24:8 Jeremiah 22:12, the fulfilling of this prophecy is recorded; and it is said that Jehoiachin the king of Judah went out to the king of Babylon, he, and his mother, and his servants, &c., so Jeremiah 22:15, together with eight thousand prisoners of the meaner sort, besides princes and nobles.
But to the land whereunto they desire to return, thither shall they not return.That is, they shall never come again to Jerusalem; though they be fond of it as their native country, and may promise themselves such favours from the king of Babylon, yet there shall no such thing be their portion.
Is this man Coniah a despised broken idol? is he a vessel wherein is no pleasure? wherefore are they cast out, he and his seed, and are cast into a land which they know not?The prophet either speaketh this in the person of God. or of the people, who are here brought in, affirming that this prince, who was the idol of the people, was now, through the just judgment of God, become like a broken idol; or like a vessel which men care not for, being either so cracked, or so tainted, that they can make no use of it; and admiring at this catastrophe, and inquiring the cause why it so came to pass. He and his seed. It is said, Jeremiah 22:30, that no man of his seed should prosper, sitting upon the throne of David, and ruling any more in Judah; nor is there any mention made of any of his children where his carrying into captivity is recorded, 2 Kings 24:12, which makes some think that by his seed here is meant the posterity of his grandfather Josiah; but others think that he had children, either before he went into captivity, or born while he was in Babylon: and Matthew 1:12, it is said, that after they were brought to Babylon, Jeconiah begat Salathiel.
O earth, earth, earth, hear the word of the LORD.By earth he either means the land of Judah, to which he calls thrice, to signify the deafness of this people, and unwillingness to hear and believe what God spake by him; or else he calls to the whole earth, as he calls heaven and earth to witness, Deu 30:19 32:1 Isaiah 1:2 34:1 Jeremiah 6:19.
Thus saith the LORD, Write ye this man childless, a man that shall not prosper in his days: for no man of his seed shall prosper, sitting upon the throne of David, and ruling any more in Judah.The word translated
childless is but thrice read in holy writ, and by various interpreters translated barren, not increasing, empty, full of sorrow, wanting children, &c. It is thought to be interpreted by the next words,
no man of his seed shall prosper, sitting upon the throne of David, and ruling any more in Judah; for there are seven of his sons named 1 Chronicles 3:17,18. So that he is said to be childless, either because all hies children died before their father, or (which is most probable) because he had no child that sat upon the throne, or ever had any ruler’s place in Judah, but only some that lived in a mean condition in captivity, amongst whom Salathiel is named, Matthew 1:12, as a progenitor of Christ.