|<< Jer 25|
Jeremiah 26-29 Listen
1 In the beginning of the reign of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah king of Judah came this word from the LORD, saying,
2 Thus saith the LORD; Stand in the court of the LORD’S house, and speak unto all the cities of Judah, which come to worship in the LORD’S house, all the words that I command thee to speak unto them; diminish not a word:
3 If so be they will hearken, and turn every man from his evil way, that I may repent me of the evil, which I purpose to do unto them because of the evil of their doings.
4 And thou shalt say unto them, Thus saith the LORD; If ye will not hearken to me, to walk in my law, which I have set before you,
5 To hearken to the words of my servants the prophets, whom I sent unto you, both rising up early, and sending them, but ye have not hearkened;
6 Then will I make this house like Shiloh, and will make this city a curse to all the nations of the earth.
7 So the priests and the prophets and all the people heard Jeremiah speaking these words in the house of the LORD.
8 Now it came to pass, when Jeremiah had made an end of speaking all that the LORD had commanded him to speak unto all the people, that the priests and the prophets and all the people took him, saying, Thou shalt surely die.
9 Why hast thou prophesied in the name of the LORD, saying, This house shall be like Shiloh, and this city shall be desolate without an inhabitant? And all the people were gathered against Jeremiah in the house of the LORD.
10 When the princes of Judah heard these things, then they came up from the king’s house unto the house of the LORD, and sat down in the entry of the new gate of the LORD’S house.
11 Then spake the priests and the prophets unto the princes and to all the people, saying, This man IS worthy to die; for he hath prophesied against this city, as ye have heard with your ears.
12 Then spake Jeremiah unto all the princes and to all the people, saying, The LORD sent me to prophesy against this house and against this city all the words that ye have heard.
13 Therefore now amend your ways and your doings, and obey the voice of the LORD your God; and the LORD will repent him of the evil that he hath pronounced against you.
14 As for me, behold, I am in your hand: do with me as seemeth good and meet unto you.
15 But know ye for certain, that if ye put me to death, ye shall surely bring innocent blood upon yourselves, and upon this city, and upon the inhabitants thereof: for of a truth the LORD hath sent me unto you to speak all these words in your ears.
16 Then said the princes and all the people unto the priests and to the prophets; This man is not worthy to die: for he hath spoken to us in the name of the LORD our God.
17 Then rose up certain of the elders of the land, and spake to all the assembly of the people, saying,
18 Micah the Morasthite prophesied in the days of Hezekiah king of Judah, and spake to all the people of Judah, saying, Thus saith the LORD of hosts; Zion shall be plowed like a field, and Jerusalem shall become heaps, and the mountain of the house as the high places of a forest.
19 Did Hezekiah king of Judah and all Judah put him at all to death? did he not fear the LORD, and besought the LORD, and the LORD repented him of the evil which he had pronounced against them? Thus might we procure great evil against our souls.
20 And there was also a man that prophesied in the name of the LORD, Urijah the son of Shemaiah of Kirjathjearim, who prophesied against this city and against this land according to all the words of Jeremiah:
21 And when Jehoiakim the king, with all his mighty men, and all the princes, heard his words, the king sought to put him to death: but when Urijah heard it, he was afraid, and fled, and went into Egypt;
22 And Jehoiakim the king sent men into Egypt, namely, Elnathan the son of Achbor, and certain men with him into Egypt.
23 And they fetched forth Urijah out of Egypt, and brought him unto Jehoiakim the king; who slew him with the sword, and cast his dead body into the graves of the common people.
24 Nevertheless the hand of Ahikam the son of Shaphan was with Jeremiah, that they should not give him into the hand of the people to put him to death.
Jeremiah did not take his calling from God lightly. During the reign of the puppet king, Jehoiakim, God instructed Jeremiah to go prophesy in the temple and tell the folks that certain destruction of Jerusalem was imminent. The reference to Shiloh in verse 6 is to make them realize that, even though Shiloh had been Jerusalem's equivalent during Joshua's tenure and the location of the Tabernacle from the outset when the Israelites came to Canaan, now it was "desolate without an inhabitant" (verse 9). The same fate will befall Jerusalem unless they repent. "Repent?!!!! No way!" they replied. They had a better idea: Kill Jeremiah instead (verse 8). They would have done that, but they had a trial...of sorts, charging Jeremiah with treason. They start to get a little squeamish after Jeremiah's statement of verse 15, "But know ye for certain, that if ye put me to death, ye shall surely bring innocent blood upon yourselves, and upon this city, and upon the inhabitants thereof: for of a truth the LORD hath sent me unto you to speak all these words in your ears." Whoa - better think twice about this execution! After more reasonable minds prevail, they decide it would be the wisest choice to just leave him be.
Notice the reference to Micah in Jeremiah 26:18. Micah had prophesied the destruction of Jerusalem back 100 years or so earlier during the reign of Hezekiah in Micah 3:12 (see notes), "Therefore shall Zion for your sake be plowed as a field, and Jerusalem shall become heaps, and the mountain of the house as the high places of the forest." While Jeremiah is on trial for saying such things, one of the elders here makes reference to the fact that Micah had made the same prophecy during the days of Hezekiah; he had not been executed. But on the other hand, there was another man named Urijah who had prophesied the same (verses 20-23), and great measures were taken to execute him. Hmmmm...what to do, what to do? Do we let Jeremiah go on like Micah, or put him to death like Urijah?
Finally, an influential man named Ahikam is listed in verse 24 as the man who was able to deliver Jeremiah from a guilty verdict and spare Jeremiah's death. This man, Ahikam, was instrumental in several situations leading up to and following the destruction of Jerusalem by the Babylonians.
Note what Easton's Bible Dictionary says about him:
Ahikam: brother of support = helper, one of the five whom Josiah sent to consult the prophetess Huldah in connection with the discovery of the book of the law (2 Kings 22:12-14; 2 Chr. 34:20). He was the son of Shaphan, the royal secretary, and the father of Gedaliah, governor of Judea after the destruction of Jerusalem by the Babylonians (2 Kings 25:22; Jer. 40:5-16; 43:6). On one occasion he protected Jeremiah against the fury of Jehoiakim (Jer. 26:24). It was in the chamber of another son (Germariah) of Shaphan that Baruch read in the ears of all the people Jeremiahs roll.
You just can't beat a good defense attorney when you're in a jam!
Incidentally, there's another invitation to repent in verse 13, "Therefore now amend your ways and your doings, and obey the voice of the LORD your God; and the LORD will repent him of the evil that he hath pronounced against you." Isaiah had prophesied about a century or so earlier that Jerusalem would fall to the Babylonians back in Isaiah 39 (see notes). Moreover, Josiah was told that Jerusalem would fall back in II Kings 23:27 (see notes), but not until after his righteous reign. So...while Jerusalem is offered an opportunity to repent here and be spared from the Babylonians, it had already been prophesied that they would pass on that opportunity. The offer was sincere, but, of course, God already knew what they would do with that opportunity.
1 In the beginning of the reign of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah king of Judah came this word unto Jeremiah from the LORD, saying,
2 Thus saith the LORD to me; Make thee bonds and yokes, and put them upon thy neck,
3 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;
4 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;
5 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.
6 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.
7 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.
8 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.
9 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:
10 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.
11 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.
12 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.
13 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?
14 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.
15 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.
16 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.
17 Hearken not unto them; serve the king of Babylon, and live: wherefore should this city be laid waste?
18 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.
19 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,
20 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;
21 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;
22 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.
The setting for this prophecy is during the reign of King Zedekiak (597-586 B.C.). There's a little confusion in verse 1 with the mention of King Jehoiakim. Every other identification in this chapter is to King Zedekiah. For perspective on the times of their reigns, see above. To reconcile the mention of both in this chapter, it would seem likely that Jeremiah made and wore a yoke during the reign of Jehoiakim, but did not send yokes to the neighboring kings listed until years later, during the reign of Zedekiah. Even though the Hebrew text clearly identifies Jehoiakim in verse 1, most of the modern translations have assumed that Zedekiah was intended there and made the change in the text.
Zedekiah was the last king before the fall of Jerusalem. However, he was king in name only - a vassal king of Babylon. He was a descendant of David (as were all of Judah's kings), but he had no authority of his own. His real name was Mattaniah, but Nebuchadnezzar renamed him Zedekiah. For all effective purposes, Jerusalem is already conquered and has been for years, along with the surrounding nations including Edom, Moab, Ammon, Tyrus and Zidon. Jeremiah is prophesying to the people and telling them to accept their fate. God tells Jeremiah to use a visual aid - a yoke to wear. Later he sends yokes to the king and the leaders of these surrounding nations (they were having a secret rebellion meeting) to illustrate that there is no point in resisting Nebuchadnezzar; he is in control and will remain there until God is finished with him. This takes place in 593 B.C. while Zedekiah and these other national leaders were having a summit to plan their rebellion against Nebuchadnezzar - a suicide mission according to Jeremiah. He even refers to Nebuchadnezzar as a servant of God in verse 6. Don't get carried away with the meaning of that label. It simply means that God used Nebuchadnezzar to perform a service of chastising his people because of their idolatry and pagan worship. He is also referred to in such a manner in Jeremiah 25:9 (see notes) and Jeremiah 43:10 (see notes). Sometimes God uses evil entities to accomplish his purposes. Verse 7 puts it into perspective; his time is coming, but not until "all nations shall serve him, and his son, and his sons son," three generations. That takes us down to Neb's grandson, Belshazzar, the last Babylonian king. I'd say that was a pretty impressive prophecy by ol' Jeremiah, wouldn't you?
Anyway, Jeremiah's message is that there is no point in resisting the inevitable; to fight Nebuchadnezzar is useless and suicidal. Here's the problem - false prophets in Judah. Jeremiah's competitors were telling Zedekiah and the leaders of Judah (and the surrounding nations) that the Babylonian captivity was soon to be over, but Jeremiah was telling them that a return to the land would not happen in their generation (actually not until 535 B.C., see Jeremiah 29:10 below). Resisting Nebuchadnezzar will cause immense bloodshed and devastation of the land, but the false prophets said, "Go for it! You'll succeed!" What actually happened? Zedekiah rebelled against Nebuchadnezzar. Jerusalem was devastated. Zedekiah was taken captive and forced to watch his own children put to death before Nebuchadnezzar gouged his own eyes out (how's that for the last thing you ever see). He was put into chains and carried to Babylon as a prisoner where he remained until his death. I guess he should have listened to Jeremiah and not the false prophets.
Dueling object lessons (Jeremiah 28)
1 And it came to pass the same year, in the beginning of the reign of Zedekiah king of Judah, in the fourth year, and in the fifth month, that Hananiah the son of Azur the prophet, which was of Gibeon, spake unto me in the house of the LORD, in the presence of the priests and of all the people, saying,
2 Thus speaketh the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, saying, I have broken the yoke of the king of Babylon.
3 Within two full years will I bring again into this place all the vessels of the LORD’S house, that Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon took away from this place, and carried them to Babylon:
4 And I will bring again to this place Jeconiah the son of Jehoiakim king of Judah, with all the captives of Judah, that went into Babylon, saith the LORD: for I will break the yoke of the king of Babylon.
5 Then the prophet Jeremiah said unto the prophet Hananiah in the presence of the priests, and in the presence of all the people that stood in the house of the LORD,
6 Even the prophet Jeremiah said, Amen: the LORD do so: the LORD perform thy words which thou hast prophesied, to bring again the vessels of the LORD’S house, and all that is carried away captive, from Babylon into this place.
7 Nevertheless hear thou now this word that I speak in thine ears, and in the ears of all the people;
8 The prophets that have been before me and before thee of old prophesied both against many countries, and against great kingdoms, of war, and of evil, and of pestilence.
9 The prophet which prophesieth of peace, when the word of the prophet shall come to pass, then shall the prophet be known, that the LORD hath truly sent him.
10 Then Hananiah the prophet took the yoke from off the prophet Jeremiah’s neck, and brake it.
11 And Hananiah spake in the presence of all the people, saying, Thus saith the LORD; Even so will I break the yoke of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon from the neck of all nations within the space of two full years. And the prophet Jeremiah went his way.
12 Then the word of the LORD came unto Jeremiah the prophet, after that Hananiah the prophet had broken the yoke from off the neck of the prophet Jeremiah, saying,
13 Go and tell Hananiah, saying, Thus saith the LORD; Thou hast broken the yokes of wood; but thou shalt make for them yokes of iron.
14 For thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; I have put a yoke of iron upon the neck of all these nations, that they may serve Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon; and they shall serve him: and I have given him the beasts of the field also.
15 Then said the prophet Jeremiah unto Hananiah the prophet, Hear now, Hananiah; The LORD hath not sent thee; but thou makest this people to trust in a lie.
16 Therefore thus saith the LORD; Behold, I will cast thee from off the face of the earth: this year thou shalt die, because thou hast taught rebellion against the LORD.
17 So Hananiah the prophet died the same year in the seventh month.
The year is 593 B.C. during the reign of Zedekiah, the last king of Judah. His name is Hananiah, a false prophet. While Jeremiah is telling the truth to Zedekiah, Hananiah is telling Zedekiah that it's all going to be over within two years. Remember that yoke that Jeremiah wore before Zedekiah and the leaders of those other nations when they were having their rebellion summit? Well, Hananiah pulls that yoke off Jeremiah and breaks it saying that that's how they are going to break the yoke of Nebuchadnezzar from their own necks. He further falsely prophesies that within two years King Jehoiachin (aka Jeconiah aka Coniah) would return from his previous deportation to Babylon along with all of the other exiles. Jeconiah was King Jehoiakim's son (see list above for reference), sometimes called Jehoiachin (II Kings 24:8-16, see notes). He was carried as a captive to Babylon by Nebuchadnezzar along with other influential residents of Judah. Meanwhile, his uncle, Zedekiah, was placed upon the throne of Judah by Nebuchadnezzar (II Kings 24:17-20, see notes).
That had to be humiliating to Jeremiah; he just walked away. I can just visualize the people cheering Hananiah and booing Jeremiah. One BIG problem though: it was a false prophecy - a message they wanted to hear, but false. Sometimes the truth hurts. Jeremiah tells Hananiah that he has caused the people to believe a lie (verse 15) and pronounces that he's going to die within a year; he does just two months later (verse 17), but as a result, Zedekiah and the other leaders of the surrounding nations are emboldened to mount a futile campaign against Nebuchadnezzar which results in their doom, leading up to the final fall of Jerusalem in 586 B.C.
1 Now these are the words of the letter that Jeremiah the prophet sent from Jerusalem unto the residue of the elders which were carried away captives, and to the priests, and to the prophets, and to all the people whom Nebuchadnezzar had carried away captive from Jerusalem to Babylon;
2 (After that Jeconiah the king, and the queen, and the eunuchs, the princes of Judah and Jerusalem, and the carpenters, and the smiths, were departed from Jerusalem;)
3 By the hand of Elasah the son of Shaphan, and Gemariah the son of Hilkiah, (whom Zedekiah king of Judah sent unto Babylon to Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon) saying,
4 Thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, unto all that are carried away captives, whom I have caused to be carried away from Jerusalem unto Babylon;
5 Build ye houses, and dwell in them; and plant gardens, and eat the fruit of them;
6 Take ye wives, and beget sons and daughters; and take wives for your sons, and give your daughters to husbands, that they may bear sons and daughters; that ye may be increased there, and not diminished.
7 And seek the peace of the city whither I have caused you to be carried away captives, and pray unto the LORD for it: for in the peace thereof shall ye have peace.
8 For thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; Let not your prophets and your diviners, that be in the midst of you, deceive you, neither hearken to your dreams which ye cause to be dreamed.
9 For they prophesy falsely unto you in my name: I have not sent them, saith the LORD.
10 For thus saith the LORD, That after seventy years be accomplished at Babylon I will visit you, and perform my good word toward you, in causing you to return to this place.
11 For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.
12 Then shall ye call upon me, and ye shall go and pray unto me, and I will hearken unto you.
13 And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart.
14 And I will be found of you, saith the LORD: and I will turn away your captivity, and I will gather you from all the nations, and from all the places whither I have driven you, saith the LORD; and I will bring you again into the place whence I caused you to be carried away captive.
15 Because ye have said, The LORD hath raised us up prophets in Babylon;
16 Know that thus saith the LORD of the king that sitteth upon the throne of David, and of all the people that dwelleth in this city, and of your brethren that are not gone forth with you into captivity;
17 Thus saith the LORD of hosts; Behold, I will send upon them the sword, the famine, and the pestilence, and will make them like vile figs, that cannot be eaten, they are so evil.
18 And I will persecute them with the sword, with the famine, and with the pestilence, and will deliver them to be removed to all the kingdoms of the earth, to be a curse, and an astonishment, and an hissing, and a reproach, among all the nations whither I have driven them:
19 Because they have not hearkened to my words, saith the LORD, which I sent unto them by my servants the prophets, rising up early and sending them; but ye would not hear, saith the LORD.
20 Hear ye therefore the word of the LORD, all ye of the captivity, whom I have sent from Jerusalem to Babylon:
21 Thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, of Ahab the son of Kolaiah, and of Zedekiah the son of Maaseiah, which prophesy a lie unto you in my name; Behold, I will deliver them into the hand of Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon; and he shall slay them before your eyes;
22 And of them shall be taken up a curse by all the captivity of Judah which are in Babylon, saying, The LORD make thee like Zedekiah and like Ahab, whom the king of Babylon roasted in the fire;
23 Because they have committed villany in Israel, and have committed adultery with their neighbours’ wives, and have spoken lying words in my name, which I have not commanded them; even I know, and am a witness, saith the LORD.
Jeremiah's letter to the exiles from Judah now living in Babylon directs them to build a life for themselves there. His message is simple, "You're not coming home anytime soon despite what the false prophets are telling you." The King Jeconiah here is Jehoiachin (II Kings 24:8-16, see notes), the 18-year-old king who reigned in Judah for only 100 days before being carried away to Babylon and replaced by the last king of Judah, his uncle Zedekiah, by Nebuchadnezzar. See the list of the last five kings above for reference.
In verse 10 Jeremiah says it again, just as he had in Jeremiah 25:1-12 (see notes): the Jewish exile to Babylon will last 70 years - until 535 B.C. Therefore, get used to living there. Then he continues, "You wouldn't want to live here in Jerusalem anyway; times will be bad here!" The return of the exiles 70 years later is found beginning in Ezra 1 (see notes).
Let's review Jeremiah's prophecies concerning the 70-year exile:
Jeremiah 25:11 And this whole land shall be a desolation, and an astonishment; and these nations shall serve the king of Babylon seventy years.
Jeremiah 25:12 And it shall come to pass, when seventy years are accomplished, that I will punish the king of Babylon, and that nation, saith the LORD, for their iniquity, and the land of the Chaldeans, and will make it perpetual desolations.
Jeremiah 29:10 For thus saith the LORD, That after seventy years be accomplished at Babylon I will visit you, and perform my good word toward you, in causing you to return to this place.
Ahab and Zedekiah in verses 21-23 were two prophets against whom Jeremiah uttered an oracle because they prophesied falsely in the name of Jehovah, and for immoral conduct. They are to come to a blazing demise (verse 22).
A special word to the false prophet Shemaiah (Jeremiah 29:24-32)
24 Thus shalt thou also speak to Shemaiah the Nehelamite, saying,
25 Thus speaketh the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, saying, Because thou hast sent letters in thy name unto all the people that are at Jerusalem, and to Zephaniah the son of Maaseiah the priest, and to all the priests, saying,
26 The LORD hath made thee priest in the stead of Jehoiada the priest, that ye should be officers in the house of the LORD, for every man that is mad, and maketh himself a prophet, that thou shouldest put him in prison, and in the stocks.
27 Now therefore why hast thou not reproved Jeremiah of Anathoth, which maketh himself a prophet to you?
28 For therefore he sent unto us in Babylon, saying, This captivity is long: build ye houses, and dwell in them; and plant gardens, and eat the fruit of them.
29 And Zephaniah the priest read this letter in the ears of Jeremiah the prophet.
30 Then came the word of the LORD unto Jeremiah, saying,
31 Send to all them of the captivity, saying, Thus saith the LORD concerning Shemaiah the Nehelamite; Because that Shemaiah hath prophesied unto you, and I sent him not, and he caused you to trust in a lie:
32 Therefore thus saith the LORD; Behold, I will punish Shemaiah the Nehelamite, and his seed: he shall not have a man to dwell among this people; neither shall he behold the good that I will do for my people, saith the LORD; because he hath taught rebellion against the LORD.
You have to read this one closely because of the quote inside the quote. Shemaiah (among the exiles in Babylon) sends a letter to Zephaniah, the priest in Jerusalem, to be read in the presence of Jeremiah. In verse 28 Shemaiah's letter accuses Jeremiah of being responsible for the exile in Babylon. Jeremiah didn't make the news; he just reported it. As a result of Shemaiah's rebellion, Jeremiah pronounces a pretty tough prophecy on him (you might even call it a curse) in verse 32. This is the only mention of Shemaiah; we don't get the details of his eventual fate.