A false prophet opposes Jeremiah. (1-9) The false prophet warned of his approaching death. (10-17)
Verses 1-9 Hananiah spoke a false prophecy. Here is not a word of good counsel urging the Jews to repent and return to God. He promises temporal mercies, in God's name, but makes no mention of the spiritual mercies which God always promised with earthly blessings. This was not the first time Jeremiah had prayed for the people, though he prophesied against them. He appeals to the event, to prove Hananiah's falsehood. The prophet who spake only of peace and prosperity, without adding that they must not by wilful sin stop God's favours, will be proved a false prophet. Those who do not declare the alarming as well as the encouraging parts of God's word, and call men to repentance, and faith, and holiness, tread in the steps of the false prophets. The gospel of Christ encourages men to do works meet for repentance, but gives no encouragement to continue in sin.
Verses 10-17 Hananiah is sentenced to die, and Jeremiah, when he has received direction from God, boldly tells him so; but not before he received that commission. Those have much to answer for, who tell sinners that they shall have peace, though they harden their hearts in contempt of God's word. The servant of God must be gentle to all men. He must give up even his right, and leave the Lord to plead his cause. Every attempt of ungodly men to make vain the purposes of God, will add to their miseries.
Jeremiah 28:1-17 . PROPHECIES IMMEDIATELY FOLLOWING THOSE IN THE TWENTY-SEVENTH CHAPTER. HANANIAH BREAKS THE YOKES TO SIGNIFY THAT NEBUCHADNEZZAR'S YOKE SHALL BE BROKEN. JEREMIAH FORETELLS THAT YOKES OF IRON ARE TO SUCCEED THOSE OF WOOD, AND THAT HANANIAH SHALL DIE.
1. in the beginning of the reign of Zedekiah--The Jews often divided any period into two halves, the beginning and the end. As Zedekiah reigned eleven years, the fourth year would be called the beginning of his reign, especially as during the first three years affairs were in such a disturbed state that he had little power or dignity, being a tributary; but in the fourth year he became strong in power.
Hananiah--Another of this name was one of the three godly youths who braved Nebuchadnezzar's wrath in the fear of God ( Daniel 1:6 Daniel 1:7 , 3:12 ). Probably a near relation, for Azariah is associated with him; as Azur with the Hananiah here. The godly and ungodly are often in the same family ( Ezekiel 18:14-20 ).
Gibeon--one of the cities of the priests, to which order he must have belonged.
2. broken the yoke--I have determined to break: referring to Jeremiah's prophecy ( Jeremiah 27:12 ).
3. two full years--literally, "years of days." So "a month of days," that is, all its days complete ( Genesis 29:14 , Margin; Genesis 41:1 ). It was marvellous presumption to speak so definitely without having any divine revelation.
4. bring again . . . Jeconiah--not necessarily implying that Hananiah wished Zedekiah to be superseded by Jeconiah. The main point intended was that the restoration from Babylon should be complete. But, doubtless, the false prophet foretold Jeconiah's return ( 2 Kings 24:12-15 ), to ingratiate himself with the populace, with whom Jeconiah was a favorite
5. the prophet Jeremiah--the epithet, "the prophet," is prefixed to "Jeremiah" throughout this chapter, to correspond to the same epithet before "Hananiah"; except in Jeremiah 28:12 , where "the prophet" has been inserted in English Version. The rival claims of the true and the false prophet are thus put in the more prominent contrast.
6. Amen--Jeremiah prays for the people, though constrained to prophesy against them ( 1 Kings 1:36 ). The event was the appointed test between contradictory predictions ( Deuteronomy 18:21 Deuteronomy 18:22 ). "Would that what you say were true!" I prefer the safety of my country even to my own estimation. The prophets had no pleasure in announcing God's judgment, but did so as a matter of stern duty, not thereby divesting themselves of their natural feelings of sorrow for their country's woe. Compare Exodus 32:32 , Romans 9:3 , as instances of how God's servants, intent only on the glory of God and the salvation of the country, forgot self and uttered wishes in a state of feeling transported out of themselves. So Jeremiah wished not to diminish aught from the word of God, though as a Jew he uttered the wish for his people [CALVIN].
8. prophets . . . before me--Hosea, Joel, Amos, and others.
evil--a few manuscripts, read "famine," which is more usually associated with the specification of war and pestilence ( Jeremiah 15:2 , 18:21 , Jeremiah 27:8 Jeremiah 27:13 ). But evil here includes all the calamities flowing from war, not merely famine, but also desolation, &c. Evil, being the more difficult reading, is less likely to be the interpolated one than famine, which probably originated in copying the parallel passages.
9. peace--Hananiah had given no warning as to the need of conversion, but had foretold prosperity unconditionally. Jeremiah does not say that all are true prophets who foretell truths in any instance (which Deuteronomy 13:1 Deuteronomy 13:2 , disproves); but asserts only the converse, namely, that whoever, as Hananiah, predicts what the event does not confirm, is a false prophet. There are two tests of prophets: (1) The event, Deuteronomy 18:22 . (2) The word of God, Isaiah 8:20 .
10. the yoke--( Jeremiah 27:2 ). Impious audacity to break what God had appointed as a solemn pledge of the fulfilment of His word. Hence Jeremiah deigns no reply ( Jeremiah 28:11 , Matthew 7:6 ).
11. neck of all nations--opposed to Jeremiah 27:7 .
13. Thou hast broken . . . wood . . . thou shalt make . . . iron--Not here, "Thou hast broken . . . wood," and "I will make . . . iron" (compare Jeremiah 28:16 ). The same false prophets who, by urging the Jews to rebel, had caused them to throw off the then comparatively easy yoke of Babylon, thereby brought on them a more severe yoke imposed by that city. "Yokes of iron," alluding to Deuteronomy 28:48 . It is better to take up a light cross in our way, than to pull a heavier on our own heads. We may escape destroying providences by submitting to humbling providences. So, spiritually, contrast the "easy yoke" of Christ with the "yoke of bondage" of the law ( Acts 15:10 , Galatians 5:1 ).
14. I have put--Though Hananiah and those like him were secondary instruments in bringing the iron yoke on Judea, God was the great First Cause ( Jeremiah 27:4-7 ).
15. makest . . . trust in a lie--( Jeremiah 29:31 , Ezekiel 13:22 ).
16. this year . . . die--The prediction was uttered in the fifth month ( Jeremiah 28:1 ); Hananiah's death took place in the seventh month, that is, within two months after the prediction, answering with awful significance to the two years in which Hananiah had foretold that the yoke imposed by Babylon would end.
rebellion--opposition to God's plain direction, that all should submit to Babylon ( Jeremiah 29:32 ).