The destruction of the temple and city foretold. (1-6) Jeremiah's life is threatened. (7-15) He is defended by the elders. (16-24)
Verses 1-6 God's ambassadors must not seek to please men, or to save themselves from harm. See how God waits to be gracious. If they persisted in disobedience, it would ruin their city and temple. Can any thing else be expected? Those who will not be subject to the commands of God, make themselves subject to the curse of God.
Verses 7-15 The priests and prophets charged Jeremiah as deserving death, and bore false witness against him. The elders of Israel came to inquire into this matter. Jeremiah declares that the Lord sent him to prophesy thus. As long as ministers keep close to the word they have from God, they need not fear. And those are very unjust who complain of ministers for preaching of hell and damnation; for it is from a desire to bring them to heaven and salvation. Jeremiah warns them of their danger if they go on against him. All men may know, that to hurt, or put to death, or to show hatred to their faithful reprovers, will hasten and increase their own punishment.
Verses 16-24 When secure sinners are threatened with taking away the Spirit of God, and the kingdom of God, it is what is warranted from the word of God. Hezekiah who protected Micah, prospered. Did Jehoiakim, who slew Urijah, prosper? The examples of bad men, and the bad consequences of their sins, should deter from what is evil. Urijah was faithful in delivering his message, but faulty in leaving his work. And the Lord was pleased to permit him to lose his life, while Jeremiah was protected in danger. Those are safest who most simply trust in the Lord, whatever their outward circumstances may be; and that He has all men's hearts in his hands, encourages us to trust him in the way of duty. He will honour and recompense those who show kindness to such as are persecuted for his sake.
Jeremiah 26:1-24 . JEREMIAH DECLARED WORTHY OF DEATH, BUT BY THE INTERPOSITION OF AHIKAM SAVED; THE SIMILAR CASES OF MICAH AND URIJAH BEING ADDUCED IN THE PROPHET'S FAVOR.
The prophecies which gave the offense were those given in detail in the seventh, eighth, and ninth chapters (compare Jeremiah 26:6 here with Jeremiah 7:12 Jeremiah 7:14 ); and summarily referred to here [MAURER], probably pronounced at one of the great feasts (that of tabernacles, according to USSHER; for the inhabitants of "all the cities of Judah" are represented as present, Jeremiah 26:2 ).
2. in the court--the largest court, from which he could be heard by the whole people.
come to worship--Worship is vain without obedience ( 1 Samuel 15:21 1 Samuel 15:22 ).
all the words--( Ezekiel 3:10 ).
diminish not a word--( Deuteronomy 4:2 , 12:32 , Proverbs 30:6 , Acts 20:27 , 2 Corinthians 2:17 , 4:2 , Revelation 22:19 ). Not suppressing or softening aught for fear of giving offense; nor setting forth coldly and indirectly what can only by forcible statement do good.
3. if so be--expressed according to human conceptions; not as if God did not foreknow all contingencies, but to mark the obstinacy of the people and the difficulty of healing them; and to show His own goodness in making the offer which left them without excuse [CALVIN].
5. prophets--the inspired interpreters of the law ( Jeremiah 26:4 ), who adapted it to the use of the people. Jeremiah 7:14
, 1 Samuel 4:10-12
, Psalms 78:60
--( Jeremiah 24:9
, Isaiah 65:15
8. priests--The captain (or prefect) of the temple had the power of apprehending offenders in the temple with the sanction of the priests.
prophets--the false prophets. The charge against Jeremiah was that of uttering falsehood in Jehovah's name, an act punishable with death ( Deuteronomy 18:20 ). His prophecy against the temple and city ( Jeremiah 26:11 ) might speciously be represented as contradicting God's own words ( Psalms 132:14 ). Compare the similar charge against Stephen ( Acts 6:13 Acts 6:14 ).
10. princes--members of the Council of State or Great Council, which took cognizance of such offenses.
heard--the clamor of the popular tumult.
came up--from the king's house to the temple, which stood higher than the palace.
sat--as judges, in the gate, the usual place of trying such cases.
new gate--originally built by Jotham ("the higher gate," 2 Kings 15:35 ) and now recently restored.
12. Lord sent me--a valid justification against any laws alleged against him.
against . . . against--rather, "concerning." Jeremiah purposely avoids saying, "against," which would needlessly irritate. They had used the same Hebrew word ( Jeremiah 26:11 ), which ought to be translated "concerning," though they meant it in the unfavorable sense. Jeremiah takes up their word in a better sense, implying that there is still room for repentance: that his prophecies aim at the real good of the city; for or concerning this house . . . city [GROTIUS].
13. ( Jeremiah 26:3 Jeremiah 26:19 ).
14. Jeremiah's humility is herein shown, and submission to the powers that be ( Romans 13:1 ).
15. bring . . . upon yourselves--So far will you be from escaping the predicted evils by shedding my blood, that you will, by that very act, only incur heavier penalties ( Matthew 23:35 ).
16. princes . . . all the people--The fickle people, as they were previously influenced by the priests to clamor for his death ( Jeremiah 26:8 ), so now under the princes' influence require that he shall not be put to death. Compare as to Jesus, Jeremiah's antitype, the hosannas of the multitude a few days before the same people, persuaded by the priests as in this case, cried, Away with Him, crucify Him ( Matthew 21:1-11 , 27:20-25 ). The priests, through envy of his holy zeal, were more his enemies than the princes, whose office was more secular than religious. A prophet could not legally be put to death unless he prophesied in the name of other gods (therefore, they say, "in the name of the Lord"), or after his prophecy had failed in its accomplishment. Meanwhile, if he foretold calamity, he might be imprisoned. Compare Micaiah's case ( 1 Kings 22:1-28 ).
17. Compare Gamaliel's interposition ( Acts 5:34 , &c.).
elders--some of the "princes" mentioned ( Jeremiah 26:16 ) those whose age, as well as dignity, would give weight to the precedents of past times which they adduce.
18. ( Micah 3:12 ).
Morasthite--called so from a village of the tribe Judah.
Hezekiah--The precedent in the reign of such a good king proved that Jeremiah was not the only prophet, or the first, who threatened the city and the temple without incurring death.
mountain of the house--Moriah, on which stood the temple (peculiarly called "the house") shall be covered with woods instead of buildings. Jeremiah, in quoting previous prophecies, never does so without alteration; he adapts the language to his own style, showing thereby his authority in his treatment of Scripture, as being himself inspired.
19. Hezekiah, so far from killing him, was led "to fear the Lord," and pray for remission of the sentence against Judah ( 2 Chronicles 32:26 ).
Lord repented--( Exodus 32:14 , 2 Samuel 24:16 ).
Thus--if we kill Jeremiah.
20. As the flight and capture of Urijah must have occupied some time, "the beginning of the reign of Jehoiakim" ( Jeremiah 26:1 ) must not mean the very beginning, but the second or third year of his eleven years' reign.
And . . . also--perhaps connected with Jeremiah 26:24 , as the comment of the writer, not the continuation of the speech of the elders: "And although also a man that prophesied . . . Urijah . . . (proving how great was the danger in which Jeremiah stood, and how wonderful the providence of God in preserving him), nevertheless the hand of Ahikam," &c. [GLASSIUS]. The context, however, implies rather that the words are the continuation of the previous speech of the elders. They adduce another instance besides that of Micah, though of a different kind, namely, that of Urijah: he suffered for his prophecies, but they imply, though they do not venture to express it, that thereby sin has been added to sin, and that it has done no good to Jehoiakim, for that the notorious condition of the state at this time shows that a heavier vengeance is impending if they persevere in such acts of violence [CALVIN].
22. Jehoiakim sent . . . into Egypt--He had been put on the throne by Pharaoh of Egypt ( 2 Kings 23:34 ). This explains the readiness with which he got the Egyptians to give up Urijah to him, when that prophet had sought an asylum in Egypt. Urijah was faithful in delivering his message, but faulty in leaving his work, so God permitted him to lose his life, while Jeremiah was protected in danger. The path of duty is often the path of safety.
23. graves of the common people--literally, "sons of the people" (compare 2 Kings 23:6 ). The prophets seem to have had a separate cemetery ( Matthew 23:29 ). Urijah's corpse was denied this honor, in order that he should not be regarded as a true prophet.
24. Ahikam--son of Shaphan the scribe, or royal secretary. He was one of those whom King Josiah, when struck by the words of the book of the law, sent to inquire of the Lord ( 2 Kings 22:12 2 Kings 22:14 ). Hence his interference here in behalf of Jeremiah is what we should expect from his past association with that good king. His son, Gedaliah, followed in his father's steps, so that he was chosen by the Babylonians as the one to whom they committed Jeremiah for safety after taking Jerusalem, and on whose loyalty they could depend in setting him over the remnant of the people in Judea ( Jeremiah 39:14 , 2 Kings 25:22 ).
people to put him to death--Princes often, when they want to destroy a good man, prefer it to be done by a popular tumult rather than by their own order, so as to reap the fruit of the crime without odium to themselves ( Matthew 27:20 ).