Justice is recommended, and destruction threatened in case of disobedience. (1-9) The captivity of Jehoiakim, and the end of Jeconiah. (10-19) The doom of the royal family. (20-30)
Verses 1-9 The king of Judah is spoken to, as sitting upon the throne of David, the man after God's own heart. Let him follow his example, that he may have the benefit of the promises made to him. The way to preserve a government, is to do the duty of it. But sin will be the ruin of the houses of princes, as well as of meaner men. And who can contend with destroyers of God's preparing? God destroys neither persons, cities, nor nations, except for sin; even in this world he often makes it plain for what crimes he sends punishment; and it will be clear at the day of judgement.
Verses 10-19 Here is a sentence of death upon two kings, the wicked sons of a very pious father. Josiah was prevented from seeing the evil to come in this world, and removed to see the good to come in the other world; therefore, weep not for him, but for his son Shallum, who is likely to live and die a wretched captive. Dying saints may be justly envied, while living sinners are justly pitied. Here also is the doom of Jehoiakim. No doubt it is lawful for princes and great men to build, beautify, and furnish houses; but those who enlarge their houses, and make them sumptuous, need carefully to watch against the workings of vain-glory. He built his houses by unrighteousness, with money gotten unjustly. And he defrauded his workmen of their wages. God notices the wrong done by the greatest to poor servants and labourers, and will repay those in justice, who will not, in justice, pay those whom they employ. The greatest of men must look upon the meanest as their neighbours, and be just to them accordingly. Jehoiakim was unjust, and made no conscience of shedding innocent blood. Covetousness, which is the root of all evil, was at the bottom of all. The children who despise their parents' old fashions, commonly come short of their real excellences. Jehoiakim knew that his father found the way of duty to be the way of comfort, yet he would not tread in his steps. He shall die unlamented, hateful for oppression and cruelty.
Verses 20-30 The Jewish state is described under a threefold character. Very haughty in a day of peace and safety. Very fearful on alarm of trouble. Very much cast down under pressure of trouble. Many never are ashamed of their sins till brought by them to the last extremity. The king shall close his days in bondage. Those that think themselves as signets on God's right hand, must not be secure, but fear lest they should be plucked thence. The Jewish king and his family shall be carried to Babylon. We know where we were born, but where we shall die we know not; it is enough that our God knows. Let it be our care that we die in Christ, then it will be well with us wherever we die, thought it may be in a far country. The Jewish king shall be despised. Time was when he was delighted in; but all those in whom God has no pleasure, some time or other, will be so lowered, that men will have no pleasure in them. Whoever are childless, it is the Lord that writes them so; and those who take no care to do good in their days, cannot expect to prosper. How little is earthly grandeur to be depended upon, or flourishing families to be rejoiced in! But those who hear the voice of Christ, and follow him, have eternal life, and shall never perish, neither shall any enemy pluck them out of his almighty hands.
Jeremiah 22:1-30 . EXHORTATION TO REPENTANCE; JUDGMENT ON SHALLUM, JEHOIAKIM, AND CONIAH.
Belonging to an earlier period than the twenty-first chapter, namely, the reigns of Shallum or Jehoahaz, Jehoiakim, and Jeconiah ( Jeremiah 22:10 Jeremiah 22:13 Jeremiah 22:20 ). Jeremiah often groups his prophecies, not by chronological order, but by similarity of subjects; thus Jeremiah 22:3 corresponds to Jeremiah 21:12 . GROTIUS thinks that Jeremiah here repeats to Zedekiah what he had announced to that king's predecessors formerly (namely, his brother and brother's son), of a similar bearing, and which had since come to pass; a warning to Zedekiah. Probably, in arranging his prophecies they were grouped for the first time in the present order, designed by the Holy Spirit to set forth the series of kings of Judah, all four alike, failing in "righteousness," followed at last by the "King," a righteous Branch raised unto David, in the house of Judah, "the Lord our righteousness" ( Jeremiah 23:6 ). The unrighteousness of Zedekiah suggested the review of his predecessors' failure in the same respects, and consequent punishment, which ought to have warned him, but did not.
1. Go down--The temple (where Jeremiah had been prophesying) was higher than the king's palace on Mount Zion ( Jeremiah 36:10 Jeremiah 36:12 , 2 Chronicles 23:20 ). Hence the phrase, "Go down."
the king of Judah--perhaps including each of the four successive kings, to whom it was consecutively addressed, here brought together in one picture: Shallum, Jeremiah 22: Jeremiah 22:11 ; Jehoiakim, Jeremiah 22: Jeremiah 22:13-18 ; Jeconiah, Jeremiah 22:24 ; Zedekiah, the address to whom ( Jeremiah 21:1 Jeremiah 21:11 Jeremiah 21:12 ) suggests notice of the rest.
2. these gates--of the king's palace.
3. Jehoiakim is meant here especially: he, by oppression, levied the tribute imposed on him by Pharaoh-necho, king of Egypt ( 2 Chronicles 36:3 ), and taxed his people, and took their labor without pay, to build gorgeous palaces for himself ( Jeremiah 22:13-17 ), and shed innocent blood, for example, that of Urijah the prophet ( Jeremiah 26:20-24 , 2 Kings 23:35 , 24:4 ).
4. upon the throne of David--literally, "or David on his throne" Jeremiah 17:25 .
his servants--so the Keri. But Chetib, singular, "his servant;" that is, distributively, "each with his servants;" Jeremiah 17:25 , "their princes."
5. I swear by myself--( Hebrews 6:13 Hebrews 6:17 ). God swears because it seemed to them incredible that the family of David should be cast off.
this house--the king's, where Jeremiah spake ( Jeremiah 22:4 ).
6. Though thou art as beautiful as Gilead, and as majestic in Mine eyes (before Me) as the summit of Lebanon, yet surely (the Hebrew is a formula of swearing to express certainly: "If I do not make thee . . . believe Me not ever hereafter": so "as truly as I live," Numbers 14:28 ; "surely," Numbers 14:35 ). The mention of Gilead may allude not only to its past beauty, but covertly also to its desolation by the judgment on Israel; a warning now to Judah and the house of "David." "Lebanon" is appropriately mentioned, as the king's house was built of its noble cedars.
cities--not other cities, but the different parts of the city of Jerusalem ( 2 Samuel 12:27 , 2 Kings 10:25 ) [MAURER].
7. prepare--literally, "sanctify," or solemnly set apart for a particular work (compare Isaiah 13:3 ).
thy choice cedars--( Isaiah 37:24 ). Thy palaces built of choice cedars ( Solomon 1:17 ).
8. ( Deuteronomy 29:24 Deuteronomy 29:25 ). The Gentile nations, more intelligent than you, shall understand that which ye do not, namely, that this city is a spectacle of God's vengeance [CALVIN].
9. ( 2 Kings 22:17 ).
10, 11. Weep . . . not for--that is, not so much for Josiah, who was taken away by death from the evil to come ( 2 Kings 22:20 , Isaiah 57:1 ); as for Shallum or Jehoahaz, his son ( 2 Kings 23:30 ), who, after a three months' reign, was carried off by Pharaoh-necho into Egypt, never to see his native land again ( 2 Kings 23:31-34 ). Dying saints are justly to be envied, while living sinners are to be pitied. The allusion is to the great weeping of the people at the death of Josiah, and on each anniversary of it, in which Jeremiah himself took a prominent part ( 2 Chronicles 35:24 2 Chronicles 35:25 ). The name "Shallum" is here given in irony to Jehoahaz, who reigned but three months; as if he were a second Shallum, son of Jabesh, who reigned only one month in Samaria ( 2 Kings 15:13 , 2 Chronicles 36:1-4 ). Shallum means "retribution," a name of no good omen to him [GROTIUS]; originally the people called him Shallom, indicative of peace and prosperity. But Jeremiah applies it in irony. 1 Chronicles 3:15 , calls Shallum the fourth son of Josiah. The people raised him to the throne before his brother Eliakim or Jehoiakim, though the latter was the older ( 2 Kings 23:31 2 Kings 23:36 , 2 Chronicles 36:1 ); perhaps on account of Jehoiakim's extravagance ( Jeremiah 22:13 Jeremiah 22:15 ). Jehoiakim was put in Shallum's (Jehoahaz') stead by Pharaoh-necho. Jeconiah, his son, succeeded. Zedekiah (Mattaniah), uncle of Jeconiah, and brother of Jehoiakim and Jehoahaz, was last of all raised to the throne by Nebuchadnezzar.
He shall not return--The people perhaps entertained hopes of Shallum's return from Egypt, in which case they would replace him on the throne, and thereby free themselves from the oppressive taxes imposed by Jehoiakim.
13. Not only did Jehoiakim tax the people ( 2 Kings 23:35 ) for Pharaoh's tribute, but also took their forced labor, without pay, for building a splendid palace; in violation of Leviticus 19:13 , Deuteronomy 24:14 Deuteronomy 24:15 . Compare Micah 3:10 , Habakkuk 2:9 , 5:4 . God will repay in justice those who will not in justice pay those whom they employ.
14. wide--literally, "a house of dimensions" ("measures"). Compare Numbers 13:32 , Margin, "men of statures."
large--rather, as Margin, "airy" from Hebrew root, "to breathe freely." Upper rooms in the East are the principal apartments.
cutteth him out windows--The Hebrew, if a noun, is rather, "my windows"; then the translation ought to be, "and let my windows (Jehoiakim speaking) be cut out for it," that is, in the house; or, "and let (the workman) cut out my windows for it." But the word is rather an adjective; "he cutteth it (the house) out for himself, so as to be full of windows." The following words accord with this construction, "and (he makes it) ceiled with cedar," &c. [MAURER]. Retaining English Version, there must be understood something remarkable about the windows, since they are deemed worthy of notice. GESENIUS thinks thinks the word dual, "double windows," the blinds being two-leaved.
vermilion--Hebrew, shashar, called so from a people of India beyond the Ganges, by whom it is exported [PLINY, 6.19]. The old vermilion was composed of sulphur and quicksilver; not of red lead, as our vermilion.
15. closest thyself--rather, "thou viest," that is, art emulous to surpass thy forefathers in the magnificence of thy palaces.
eat and drink--Did not Josiah, thy father, enjoy all that man really needs for his bodily wants? Did he need to build costly palaces to secure his throne? Nay, he did secure it by "judgment and justice"; whereas thou, with all thy luxurious building, sittest on a tottering throne.
then--on that account, therefore.
16. was not this to know me--namely, to show by deeds that one knows God's will, as was the case with Josiah (compare John 13:17 ; contrast Titus 1:16 ).
17. thine--as opposed to thy father, Josiah.
18. Ah my brother! . . . sister!--addressing him with such titles of affection as one would address to a deceased friend beloved as a brother or sister (compare 1 Kings 13:30 ). This expresses, They shall not lament him with the lamentation of private individuals [VATABLUS], or of blood relatives [GROTIUS]: as "Ah! lord," expresses public lamentation in the case of a king [VATABLUS], or that of subjects [GROTIUS]. HENDERSON thinks, "Ah! sister," refers to Jehoiakim's queen, who, though taken to Babylon and not left unburied on the way, as Jehoiakim, yet was not honored at her death with royal lamentations, such as would have been poured forth over her at Jerusalem. He notices the beauty of Jeremiah's manner in his prophecy against Jehoiakim. In Jeremiah 22:13 Jeremiah 22:14 he describes him in general terms; then, in Jeremiah 22:15-17 , he directly addresses him without naming him; at last, in Jeremiah 22:18 , he names him, but in the third person, to imply that God puts him to a distance from Him. The boldness of the Hebrew prophets proves their divine mission; were it not so, their reproofs to the Hebrew kings, who held the throne by divine authority, would have been treason.
Ah his glory!--"Alas! his majesty."
19. burial of an ass--that is, he shall have the same burial as an ass would get, namely, he shall be left a prey for beasts and birds [JEROME]. This is not formally narrated. But 2 Chronicles 36:6 states that "Nebuchadnezzar bound him in fetters to carry him to Babylon"; his treatment there is nowhere mentioned. The prophecy here, and in Jeremiah 36:30 , harmonizes these two facts. He was slain by Nebuchadnezzar, who changed his purpose of taking him to Babylon, on the way thither, and left him unburied outside Jerusalem. 2 Kings 24:6 , "Jehoiakim slept with his fathers," does not contradict this; it simply expresses his being gathered to his fathers by death, not his being buried with his fathers ( Psalms 49:19 ). The two phrases are found together, as expressing two distinct ideas ( 2 Kings 15:38 , 16:20 ).
20. Delivered in the reign of Jehoiachin (Jeconiah or Coniah), son of Jehoiakim; appended to the previous prophecy respecting Jehoiakim, on account of the similarity of the two prophecies. He calls on Jerusalem, personified as a mourning female, to go up to the highest points visible from Jerusalem, and lament there calamity of herself, bereft of allies and of her princes, who are one after the other being cast down.
Bashan--north of the region beyond Jordan; the mountains of Anti-libanus are referred to ( Psalms 68:15 ).
from the passages--namely, of the rivers ( Judges 12:6 ); or else the borders of the country ( 1 Samuel 13:23 , Isaiah 10:29 ). The passes ( 1 Samuel 14:4 ). MAURER translates, "Abarim," a mountainous tract beyond Jordan, opposite Jericho, and south of Bashan; this accords with the mention of the mountains Lebanon and Bashan ( Numbers 27:12 , 33:47 ).
lovers--the allies of Judea, especially Egypt, now unable to help the Jews, being crippled by Babylon ( 2 Kings 24:7 ).
21. I admonished thee in time. Thy sin has not been a sin of ignorance or thoughtlessness, but wilful.
prosperity--given thee by Me; yet thou wouldest not hearken to the gracious Giver. The Hebrew is plural, to express, "In the height of thy prosperity"; so "droughts" ( Isaiah 58:11 ).
thou saidst--not in words, but in thy conduct, virtually.
thy youth--from the time that I brought thee out of Egypt, and formed thee into a people ( Jeremiah 7:25 , 2:2 , Isaiah 47:12 ).
22. wind--the Chaldees, as a parching wind that sweeps over rapidly and withers vegetation ( Jeremiah 4:11 Jeremiah 4:12 , Psalms 103:16 , Isaiah 40:7 ).
eat up . . . pastors--that is, thy kings ( Jeremiah 2:8 ). There is a happy play on words. The pastors, whose office it is to feed the sheep, shall themselves be fed on. They who should drive the flock from place to place for pasture shall be driven into exile by the Chaldees.
23. inhabitant of Lebanon--namely, Jerusalem, whose temple, palaces, and principal habitations were built of cedars of Lebanon.
how gracious--irony. How graciously thou wilt be treated by the Chaldees, when they come on thee suddenly, as pangs on a woman in travail ( Jeremiah 6:24 )! Nay, all thy fine buildings will win no favor for thee from them. MAURER translates, "How shalt thou be to be pitied!"
24. As I live--God's most solemn formula of oath ( Jeremiah 46:18 , 4:2 , Deuteronomy 32:40 , 1 Samuel 25:34 ).
Coniah--Jeconiah or Jehoiachin. The contraction of the name is meant in contempt.
signet--Such ring seals were often of the greatest value ( Solomon 8:6 , Haggai 2:23 ). Jehoiachin's popularity is probably here referred to.
right hand--the hand most valued.
I would pluck thee thence--(Compare Obadiah 1:4 ); on account of thy father's sins, as well as thine own ( 2 Chronicles 36:9 ). There is a change here, as often in Hebrew poetry, from the third to the second person, to bring the threat more directly home to him. After a three months' and ten days' reign, the Chaldees deposed him. In Babylon, however, by God's favor he was ultimately treated more kindly than other royal captives ( Jeremiah 52:31-34 ). But none of his direct posterity ever came to the throne.
25. give . . . into . . . hand--"I will pluck thee" from "my right hand," and "will give thee into the hand of them that seek thy life."
26. thy mother--Nehushta, the queen dowager ( 2 Kings 24:6 2 Kings 24:8 2 Kings 24:15 ; see Jeremiah 13:18 ).
27. they--Coniah and his mother. He passes from the second person ( Jeremiah 22:26 ) to the third person here, to express alienation. The king is as it were put out of sight, as if unworthy of being spoken with directly.
desire--literally, "lift up their soul" ( Jeremiah 44:14 , Psalms 24:4 , 25:1 ). Judea was the land which they in Babylon should pine after in vain.
28. broken idol--Coniah was idolized once by the Jews; Jeremiah, therefore, in their person, expresses their astonishment at one from whom so much had been expected being now so utterly cast aside.
vessel . . . no pleasure--( Psalms 31:12 , Hosea 8:8 ). The answer to this is given ( Romans 9:20-23 ; contrast 2 Timothy 2:21 ).
29, 30. O earth! earth! earth!--Jeconiah was not actually without offspring (compare Jeremiah 22:28 , "his seed"; 1 Chronicles 3:17 1 Chronicles 3:18 , Matthew 1:12 ), but he was to be "written childless," as a warning to posterity, that is, without a lineal heir to his throne. It is with a reference to the three kings, Shallum, Jehoiakim, and Jeconiah, that the earth is thrice invoked [BENGEL]. Or, the triple invocation is to give intensity to the call for attention to the announcement of the end of the royal line, so far as Jehoiachin's seed is concerned. Though Messiah ( Matthew 1:1-17 ), the heir of David's throne, was lineally descended from Jeconiah, it was only through Joseph, who, though His legal, was not His real father. Matthew gives the legal pedigree through Solomon down to Joseph; Luke the real pedigree, from Mary, the real parent, through Nathan, brother of Solomon, upwards ( Luke 3:31 ).
no man of his seed . . . upon the throne--This explains the sense in which "childless" is used. Though the succession to the throne failed in his line, still the promise to David ( Psalms 89:30-37 ) was revived in Zerubbabel and consummated in Christ.