And it came to pass, that when Jehudi had read three or four leaves, he cut it with the penknife…
I. THE KING'S MOTIVES IN THIS ACT. Perhaps he was not conscious of any distinct set of motives. He was but a despot, and despots are in many things like spoiled children; they act not from any clear reason, good or bad, so much as from the caprice of the moment. If this act had been a singularity of Jehoiakim's, there would have been less need to attend to it, but unhappily it only illustrates a whole series of acts by those occupying stations of power among men. Putting Jeremiah in prison, burning Baruch's roll, slaying the innocents at Bethlehem, putting apostles in prison, and all the long list of martyrdoms, - what are these but the same essential act all through? Jehoiakim would have been in full sympathy with Roman Catholic priests burning the Scriptures in translations understood of the common people. Jehoiakim was a man buttressed with privileges, pampered with privileges; and here he had a document forced upon his ears which contained assertions by no means compatible with the continuance of his privileges. And there was one thing he could do - he could get rid of the offensive document. He stands before us a great example of those - and how many there are! - who, in their eagerness to get rid of an unpleasant subject, take the first means that comes to hand for getting rid of it.
II. LOOK AT THE ACT IN THE LIGHT OF HISTORY. Jehoiakim burnt Baruch's roll, but he did not destroy Jeremiah's prophecies; nor did he nullify the truth of Jeremiah's predictions; nor did he stop other prophetic utterances. If Jehoiakim can, he may burn, not only Baruch's roll, but Baruch and Jeremiah as well. Suppose this done; yet Ezekiel, Daniel, Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi, and probably many more, of whose words we know nothing, have to be reckoned with. This is the peculiar folly of men like Jehoiakim, that they perform acts monumental of their folly. Jehoiakim might have quietly said, "If these words are true, then we cannot make them false; and if they be false, time will show their falsity, and bring to shame both the dictator and the writer of them." Instead of acting thus with dignified endurance, Jehoiakim, in burning the roll, challenged the attention not only of his own people but of all ages. He did what there was no sort of need for him to do. It may be said - Why not apply the same line of remark to Luther burning the pope's bull? To this the answer is obvious, that Luther's act was a message of renunciation, a summons of the papacy's bondslaves to freedom, an act of sublime trust in God. Looked at from the point of view given in the present, it is seen to have been an inspiration. But what did Jehoiakim's act amount to? Only empty bravado. He had nothing to fear from men. Luther did something when he burnt the bull. Jehoiakim did nothing but proclaim his own shame, and advertise the glory of that God over against whose throne his paltry throne had been set up. - Y.
Parallel VersesKJV: And it came to pass, that when Jehudi had read three or four leaves, he cut it with the penknife, and cast it into the fire that was on the hearth, until all the roll was consumed in the fire that was on the hearth.
WEB: It happened, when Jehudi had read three or four leaves, that [the king] cut it with the penknife, and cast it into the fire that was in the brazier, until all the scroll was consumed in the fire that was in the brazier.