In the beginning of the reign of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah king of Judah came this word unto Jeremiah from the LORD, saying,
Verse 1. - In the beginning of the reign of Jehoiakim. The Syriao substitutes for, "Jehoiakim" "Zedekiah," to bring the passage into conformity with Jeremiah 28:1, where the fourth year of the reign of Zedekiah is expressly mentioned. But is this emendation sufficient? Can the fourth year be called the beginning of the reign of Zedekiah," When that reign lasted altogether only eleven years? Is it not probable that the transcriber has inadvertently copied the heading of Jeremiah 26, which corresponds verbally with Jeremiah 27:1, except that "unto Jeremiah" is wanting?
Thus saith the LORD to me; Make thee bonds and yokes, and put them upon thy neck,
Verse 2. - Make thee bends and yokes; rather, bands and poles; i.e. the bands which secured the two pieces of wood placed respectively above and beneath the neck of the ox, so forming a yoke. Hence, in Leviticus 26:13, we find the phrase, "the poles [Authorized Version wrongly, 'the bands'] of your yoke." It is clear from Jeremiah 28:10 that this account is to be taken literally.
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;
Verse 3. - And send them, etc. The letter of the text certainly suggests that Jeremiah actually delivered a separate yoke to each of the five ambassadors. Some commentators, however, finding such an act almost incredible, suppose the statement to be allegorical, and the "sending of the yoke" to mean the declaration of the subjection of the nations to Nebuchadnezzar which follows, somewhat as in Jeremiah 25:15 the "causing all the nations to drink "means the utterance of a prophecy of woe to the various peoples concerned. But we can hardly pronounce upon this passage by itself. We have to consider whether a whole group of similar statements is or is not to be taken literally. It may be enough to instance Jeremiah 13:1-7. Which come; rather, which are come.
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;
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.
Verses 5, 6. - Jehovah is the Creator and Proprietor of the earth and all that is therein. Therefore he can give any part of it to whomsoever he will. Therefore, Jeremiah being his trustworthy prophet, the kings are called upon to take notice that Jehovah has transferred their kingdoms to Nebuchadnezzar. Observe, in Jeremiah 27-29. the form employed is not "Nebuchadnezzar," but "Nebuchadnezzar" (so also Jeremiah 34:1; Jeremiah 39:5). (See on Jeremiah 21:7.)
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.
Verse 6. - My servant (see on Jeremiah 25:9). The Beasts of the field; i.e. the wild beasts. This last feature indicates the unlimited character of Nebuchadnezzar's power.
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.
Verse 7. - Him, and his son, and his son's son. This is intelligible only if the seventy years predicted by Jeremiah in Jeremiah 25:11, 12, 29:10, are a round number. Nebuchadnezzar died in B.C. 561, and was succeeded by his son Evil-Merodach, who, after two years, was put to death by Neriglissar. In B.C. 555 Laberosoarchod (?) became king, but after nine months a usurper belonging to another family, Nabonedus or Nabunita, ascended the throne, which he occupied till B.C. 538, the year of the fall of Babylon. "Seventy years," taken literally, only brings us to B.C. 555, seventeen years short of the conquest of Babylon by Cyrus. Until the very time of his land come; rather, until the time of his own land come. Nebuchadnezzar cannot ensure his realm against captivity. Shall serve themselves of him (For the meaning of the phrase, see on Jeremiah 25:14.)
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.
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:
Verse 9. - Your dreamers; rather, your dreams. So in Jeremiah 29:8 the "dreams" of the people are expressly distinguished from the utterances of the prophets and soothsayers. In our passage the "dreamers" are appropriately mentioned between the "diviners" and the "enchanters," because the skill of the soothsayers partly lay in the interpretation of dreams (comp. Genesis 41:8; Daniel 2:2).
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.
Verse 10. - To remove you far; or, more distinctly, that I may remove you far. So Isaiah 6:12, "(Until) Jehovah have removed men afar off." The deportation policy of the Assyrians and Babylonians was overruled by God for his own deep purposes.
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.
Verse 11. - The nations that bring their neck, etc. The Hebrew has, "The nation that shall bring its neck," etc.
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.
Verses 12-15. - But the warnings of Jeremiah were not confined, far from it, to the neighboring kings. Zedekiah had received a precisely similar message. Bring your necks. The plural is used, for Zedekiah was but an individual among a number of much more vigorous personalities (comp. on Jeremiah 22:2).
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?
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.
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.
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.
Verses 16-22. - The warning to the priests and to the rest of the people. The last four verses of this section appear in a much shortened form in the Septuagint, and it must be admitted that the description is singularly lengthy. It is, therefore, quite conceivable that this is one of the cases in which the Hebrew text has been disfigured by willful interpolation. On the other hand, it is also possible that the description was filled out by an editor, e.g., by Baruch, conscientiously for the benefit of later readers. Verse 16. - The vessels of the Lord's house; i.e. the golden vessels which Solomon had made, and which Nebuchadnezzar had taken away (1 Kings 7:48-50; 2 Kings 24:13). Now shortly. These words are wanting in the Septuagint, and, considering that the Greek is also without the prediction in ver. 22, that the vessels of the temple and of the palace should be brought back in the day of visitation (which seems inconsistent with Jeremiah 52:17), the question arises whether the words "now shortly" here are not due to a hasty copyist.
Hearken not unto them; serve the king of Babylon, and live: wherefore should this 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, 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.
Verse 18. - But if they be prophets, etc. The "false prophets," so Jeremiah declares, have neglected one of the principal functions of a prophet, viz. intercessory prayer (comp. on Jeremiah 7:16). Seeing that a part of the sacred vessels had been carried to Babylon, ell true prophets ought to intercede with Jehovah that those still left might be spared. The end was that the remaining vessels were carried off on the capture of Jerusalem (2 Kings 25:13).
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,
Verse 19. - This and the two following verses are thus given in the Septuagint: "For thus saith the Lord... and the rest of the vessels which the king of Babylon took not, when he carried Jeconiah captive from Jerusalem; they shall come to Babylon, saith the Lord." This shortened form throws a light on the fact of the absence of "now shortly" in ver. 16 (see note). The pillars, etc.; i.e. the two bronze pillars called Jachin and Boaz (1 Kings 7:21). The sea; i.e. the molten "sea," or basin (1 Kings 7:23). The bases (1 Kings 7:27).
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;
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;
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.