Matthew Poole's Commentary
In the beginning of the reign of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah king of Judah came this word unto Jeremiah from the LORD, saying,The prophet sendeth yokes to five neighbour kings, thereby foreshowing their subjection to Nebuchadnezzar, Jeremiah 27:1-7. he exhorteth them to yield, and not to believe false prophets, Jeremiah 27:8-11. The like he doth to Zedekiah, Jeremiah 27:12-18. The remnant of the vessels shall be carried to Babylon, and continue there till the appointed time, Jeremiah 27:19-22.
Here is a difficulty ariseth from this verse, which there have been various attempts to resolve, and whether any hath been fully satisfactory I doubt. It is said this word of the Lord came to Jeremiah in the beginning of the reign of Jehoiakim, and, Jeremiah 27:3, the prophet is bid to send the bonds and yokes by the hand of the messengers which came to Jerusalem unto Zedekiah king of Judah, who began not to reign till about eleven years after the beginning of the reign of Jehoiakim. To solve this difficulty,
1. Some think Jehoiakim was a common name to all the sons of Josiah, and that Zedekiah is here called Jehoiakim, but I see no foundation for that conjecture from holy writ.
2. Others think it is an error in those that copied out the prophecies, but it is dangerous to admit that.
3. Others think that the prophecy came in the beginning of the reign of Jehoiakim, but was to be concealed until the reign of Zedekiah.
4. I had rather agree with those who think that this command came to the prophet first in the time of Jehoiakim, but was to be repeated by the prophet often, and accordingly was so until and in the time of Zedekiah; not that he always went about with bonds and yokes about his neck, but that by times lie put them on, and went about with them, as a type of that bondage which the Jews were suddenly to endure.
Thus saith the LORD to me; Make thee bonds and yokes, and put them upon thy neck,God commandeth the prophet to procure, either by his own labour, or with his money, some yokes, with bonds to make them more fast; and to put some one of them upon his own neck, that therein he might be a type both to his own people, and also the people afterward mentioned, that they should be in bondage to the king of Babylon, and their yoke should be so fastened with bonds, that they should not be able to slip them, or get them from off their necks.
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 which come to Jerusalem unto Zedekiah king of Judah;It was and is the custom of neighbour princes, to send ambassadors into each other’s countries to reside there, and maintain correspondence on the behalf of their masters. These nations were neighbours to the Jews, and their princes had their ambassadors resident at Jerusalem. Jeremiah is directed to carry each of these ambassadors a yoke with a bond, as a present from God to their masters; the meaning he is also ordered to tell them in the following words.
And command them to say unto their masters, Thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; Thus shall ye say unto your masters;The Lord of hosts, who hath therefore a power over all the creatures; who though he be in a special sense
the God of Israel, yet his dominion is extended to your masters’ countries, as well as unto Israel.
I have made the earth, the man and the beast that are upon the ground, by my great power and by my outstretched arm, and have given it unto whom it seemed meet unto me.To evince to them that his dominion extendeth to them, he mindeth them that he was the first efficient cause of all the creatures, and made both all men and all beasts that are upon the earth, and therefore had a special propriety in them, and a universal power over them, it being in his power to dispose of what was at first the work of his hands, and accordingly in the methods and workings of his providence he did daily dispose of kingdoms and nations according to his pleasure, without being for such disposal of them accountable unto any person.
And now have I given all these lands into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon, my servant; and the beasts of the field have I given him also to serve him.By the former words God gave the prophet authority to assert his dominion, and right to dispose of all creatures; by these he authorizeth him to reveal his will, concerning the disposal of the lands of Edom, Moab, Ammon, Tyre, and Zidon, viz. that he had disposed of them to
Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon, whom he calleth his servant, because he did the work which he would have him to do; though, as God said of the Assyrian, Isaiah 10:7, he meaned not so, he had nothing less in his thoughts than to obey any command of God; wicked men being God’s servants, as the hawk is the prudent falconer’s servant, who maketh use of the ravenous quality of the hawk to get game for him. Twice more at least we find Nebuchadnezzar thus called, Jeremiah 25:9 43:10. God further adds that
the beasts should serve him, by which he either means that the cattle which were in the possession of the men of those nations should also come into his power; or that God had also given the horses, and oxen, and other beasts which he should use in his wars for carriages, or conveniency to him, so as they should be really serviceable to him in his conquests of those countries.
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 him.All nations shall serve him; that is, all these nations; and some think that it is expressed in the article used here demonstratively, though not so taken notice of by our translators. And his son, and his son’s son; and Evil-merodach his son, who succeeded him, Jeremiah 52:31, and Belshazzar his grandchild, Daniel 4:1,11. Until the period of his kingdom shall come, (for nations have their periods,) which was after seventy years, according to Jeremiah 29:10, during which years some say four princes ruled in Babylon, the Scripture mentions but three. After that he shall himself be conquered, as it came to pass in Belshazzar’s time, Daniel 5:30, Darius the emperor of the Medes taking his kingdom.
And it shall come to pass, that the nation and kingdom which will not serve the same Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon, and that will not put their neck under the yoke of the king of Babylon, that nation will I punish, saith the LORD, with the sword, and with the famine, and with the pestilence, until I have consumed them by his hand.That is, that will not, upon Nebuchadnezzar’s coming against them, freely submit to his power, and yield themselves to his subjection. I will humble them by my sore judgments of sword, pestilence, and famine, and make them yield; and they shall not avoid what through their stubbornness they study to avoid, but shall at last be brought under by his power.
Therefore hearken not ye to your prophets, nor to your diviners, nor to your dreamers, nor to your enchanters, nor to your sorcerers, which speak unto you, saying, Ye shall not serve the king of Babylon:It is uncertain whether these words were part of the message which Jeremiah by command from God sent to the kings above mentioned, or the prophet’s words to the Jews; for as those pagan nations had
diviners, dreamers, enchanters, and sorcerers, so the Jews had them also, Isaiah 47:12,13: the meaning is, Hearken to none of them that pretend as from God to foretell your escape from this judgment, and not being brought into servitude to the king of, Babylon, for you shall serve the king of Babylon. By prophets he means such as pretended to some Divine revelations. By diviners he means soothsayers, of which were several sorts. By dreamers, such as pretend to revelations in their sleep. By enchanters and sorcerers, he means their astrologers, and such as used necromancy, or by any unlawful ways and means pretended to know the mind and will of God.
For they prophesy a lie unto you, to remove you far from your land; and that I should drive you out, and ye should perish.Let them come by their pretended knowledge which way they will, what they say is false; and the issue of your belief of what they say will be nothing but your carrying into captivity out of your own country, and your ruin and destruction.
But the nations that bring their neck under the yoke of the king of Babylon, and serve him, those will I let remain still in their own land, saith the LORD; and they shall till it, and dwell therein.Those that upon the first summons, or without making any hostile opposition, shall yield themselves servants to the king of Babylon, they shall remain still, and be left in the land to till the ground, and shall dwell therein. It is the time when God is resolved to put an end to the kingdom of Judah for a time, and to the other nations mentioned for ever: there is therefore no resisting of God’s counsels; those that most quietly yield will be in the best condition.
I spake also to Zedekiah king of Judah according to all these words, saying, Bring your necks under the yoke of the king of Babylon, and serve him and his people, and live.Some think this was at another time, but it is most probable it was the same time.
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 Babylon?That is, Why wilt thou wilfully not only ruin thyself, but thy innocent people, by the sword, the famine, and the pestilence? The word is spoken by the Lord, that all nations who will not willingly yield to the king of Babylon shall be thus destroyed.
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 you.We shall find throughout all the Jewish story that wicked princes never wanted false prophets, ecclesiastical ministers who would entitle God to what they spake in humour to their governors. Such ministers they would have, and usually they proved fatal to them: so did Ahab’s prophets, that encouraged him to go up to Ramoth-gilead, and Zedekiah’s prophets, who persuaded him not to submit to the king of Babylon. Jeremiah persuades Zedekiah not to hearken to them; that is, not to believe them, nor follow their advice; and he giveth him a good reason, because what they said was false.
For I have not sent them, saith the LORD, yet they prophesy a lie in my name; that I might drive you out, and that ye might perish, ye, and the prophets that prophesy unto you.They make use of my name, and pretend to say what they say by commission from me, saith the Lord; but there is no such thing, I never gave them authority to speak any such things. And though possibly they do not design your ruin by these practices, for none can be thought to design their own ruin, yet that will be the end of it; for by this means your hearts are hardened against the revelations of my will, by which I shall be provoked to give you up to ruin; nor shall they escape, for they shall be ruined with you.
Also I spake to the priests and to all this people, saying, Thus saith the LORD; 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.The prophet, like God’s faithful servant, spared none, but faithfully gave warning to all sorts, to take heed of the false prophets that undertook to foretell that the vessels of the temple carried away in the time of Jehoiakim, and his son Jehoiachin or Jeconiah, of which we read 2 Chronicles 36:7,10, should be brought back again to Jerusalem in a short time.
Hearken not unto them; serve the king of Babylon, and live: wherefore should this city be laid waste?Believe them not, but satisfy yourselves as to God’s providence with respect to you, and be content to be subject to the king of Babylon, so may you have your lives for a prey; though you be straitened as to your accommodations and plenteous and splendid way of life: if you do not, your city will certainly be laid waste; and why should you pull such a judgment upon your own heads?
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, that the vessels which are left in the house of the LORD, and in the house of the king of Judah, and at Jerusalem, go not to Babylon.If they be true prophets, End have any communion with God, instead of foretelling the bringing back of the vessels carried away, let them apply themselves to hinder the carrying away of what vessels yet remain, and that either in the house of the Lord, or the king’s house, or in Jerusalem; which is to be done no other way than by pleading with God to turn away his wrath, and not to bring those sore judgments which he is most certainly bringing upon you.
For 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 this city,These were all parts of the temple, or vessels used in it. See 1 Kings 7.
Which Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon took not, when he carried away captive Jeconiah the son of Jehoiakim king of Judah from Jerusalem to Babylon, and all the nobles of Judah and Jerusalem;Concerning the persons and things which the king of Babylon then carried away, see 2 Kings 24:13-15.
Yea, thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, concerning the vessels that remain in the house of the LORD, and in the house of the king of Judah and of Jerusalem;The prophet enlargeth his prophetical threatening, and makes it extend to all other vessels of price, in the houses of the king, the nobles, or more wealthy citizens.
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.They shall be carried to Babylon, and there shall they be: see the fulfilling of this prophecy, 2 Kings 25:13-15,2 Chronicles 36:18; and that they abode in Babylon till the end of the captivity, appeareth from Daniel 5:2, where we read of Belshazzar’s sending for them to drink wine in at his fatal feast.
Until the day that I visit them; that is, until the expiration of the time of the Jewish captivity, which was seventy years.
Then will I bring them up, and restore them to this place; the fulfilling of that part of the prophecy we have Ezra 1:7-11, in these words, Also Cyrus the king brought forth the vessels of the house of the Lord, which Nebuchadnezzar had brought forth out of Jerusalem, and had put them in the house of his gods; even those did Cyrus king of Persia bring forth by the hand of Mithredath the treasurer, and numbered them unto Sheshbazzar, the prince of Judah. And this is the number of them: thirty chargers of gold, a thousand chargers of silver, nine and twenty knives, thirty basons of gold, silver basons of a second sort four hundred and ten, and other vessels a thousand. All the vessels of gold and of silver were five thousand and four hundred. All these did Sheshbazzar bring up with them of the captivity that were brought up from Babylon to Jerusalem. So punctually was Jeremiah’s prophecy in this place fulfilled, and so exactly doth one part of holy writ agree with another, which are great arguments to prove the Divine authority of the Holy Scriptures.