Historical events connected with the collection of Jeremiah's prophecies into a volume, and with his personal history immediately before and after the siege of Jerusalem Jeremiah 36-44.
Jeremiah 36. Attached to the prophecies relating to Israel and Judah is an account of the circumstances under which very many of them, and also the prophecies concerning the Gentiles, were first formed into one volume. See the introduction of Jeremiah.
And it came to pass in the fourth year of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah king of Judah, that this word came unto Jeremiah from the LORD, saying,In the fourth year of Jehoiakim - See Jeremiah 25:1 note. The present chapter belongs to the very end of that year. The capture of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar took place early in Jehoiakim's fourth year, long before the writing of Jehoiakim's scroll. The humiliation seems to have sunk deeply into the heart of Jehoiakim, and when Jeremiah prophesied extended dominion to the Chaldaeans Jeremiah 36:29, his anger knew no bounds. It was the fact that judgment had begun which made it expedient to gather Jeremiah's predictions into one volume, with the object:
(1) of inducing the people to repent, and
(2) of persuading the king to be a true subject of the Chaldaean empire.
Take thee a roll of a book, and write therein all the words that I have spoken unto thee against Israel, and against Judah, and against all the nations, from the day I spake unto thee, from the days of Josiah, even unto this day.A roll of a book - A parchment-scroll, consisting of several skins sewn together, and cut of an even breadth, with a piece of wood at one end (or, in case of larger volumes, at both ends) on which to roll them up.
Write therein all the words ... - The phrase means that the roll was to contain "all the counsel of God" Acts 20:27 upon the special point mentioned in Jeremiah 36:3; and that the prophet was not to keep anything back.
It may be that the house of Judah will hear all the evil which I purpose to do unto them; that they may return every man from his evil way; that I may forgive their iniquity and their sin.Compare Jeremiah 26:3. In point of date Jeremiah 26:is immediately prior to the present.
Then Jeremiah called Baruch the son of Neriah: and Baruch wrote from the mouth of Jeremiah all the words of the LORD, which he had spoken unto him, upon a roll of a book.
And Jeremiah commanded Baruch, saying, I am shut up; I cannot go into the house of the LORD:Shut up - Hindered from going; perhaps through fear of Jehoiakim.
Therefore go thou, and read in the roll, which thou hast written from my mouth, the words of the LORD in the ears of the people in the LORD'S house upon the fasting day: and also thou shalt read them in the ears of all Judah that come out of their cities.The fasting day - A fasting day. Baruch was to wait for a proper opportunity Jeremiah 36:9.
It may be they will present their supplication before the LORD, and will return every one from his evil way: for great is the anger and the fury that the LORD hath pronounced against this people.They will present their supplication - i. e., humbly. See the margin. The phrase also contained the idea of the prayer being accepted.
And Baruch the son of Neriah did according to all that Jeremiah the prophet commanded him, reading in the book the words of the LORD in the LORD'S house.Reading - To read.
And it came to pass in the fifth year of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah king of Judah, in the ninth month, that they proclaimed a fast before the LORD to all the people in Jerusalem, and to all the people that came from the cities of Judah unto Jerusalem.The ninth month answers to our December, and the fast was probably in commemoration of the capture of Jerusalem by the Chaldaeans in the previous year.
Then read Baruch in the book the words of Jeremiah in the house of the LORD, in the chamber of Gemariah the son of Shaphan the scribe, in the higher court, at the entry of the new gate of the LORD'S house, in the ears of all the people.Gemariah seems to have inherited his father's office of public scribe or secretary of state (see 2 Kings 22:3). As brother of Ahikam, he would be favorable to Jeremiah.
The higher court - The inner court; into which it was not lawful for the people to enter, but the chamber probably itself formed one of its sides, and could be approached from the outer court.
When Michaiah the son of Gemariah, the son of Shaphan, had heard out of the book all the words of the LORD,Probably as his father had lent Jeremiah the hall, Michaiah had been commanded to bring Gemariah Jeremiah 36:12 tidings, as soon as the reading was over, of the nature of the prophet's words, and the effect produced by them upon the people.
Then he went down into the king's house, into the scribe's chamber: and, lo, all the princes sat there, even Elishama the scribe, and Delaiah the son of Shemaiah, and Elnathan the son of Achbor, and Gemariah the son of Shaphan, and Zedekiah the son of Hananiah, and all the princes.The scribe's chamber - The chancery in which the king's business was conducted. Probably Elishama was one of the "principal scribes of the host" Jeremiah 52:25, i. e., the secretary of state for war. The business which had brought together "all the princes" would have reference to the Chaldaean war.
Then Michaiah declared unto them all the words that he had heard, when Baruch read the book in the ears of the people.
Therefore all the princes sent Jehudi the son of Nethaniah, the son of Shelemiah, the son of Cushi, unto Baruch, saying, Take in thine hand the roll wherein thou hast read in the ears of the people, and come. So Baruch the son of Neriah took the roll in his hand, and came unto them.Jehudi signifies a Jew and Cushi an Ethiopian, but it seems reasonable to conclude that they are genuine, proper names.
And they said unto him, Sit down now, and read it in our ears. So Baruch read it in their ears.
Now it came to pass, when they had heard all the words, they were afraid both one and other, and said unto Baruch, We will surely tell the king of all these words.They were afraid both one and other - literally, "they trembled each to his neighbor," i. e., they showed their alarm by their looks and gestures one to another. They felt that what he had so consistently prophesied for a period of 23 years would in all probability be fulfilled.
We will surely tell - Rather, We must tell the king. It was their official duty.
And they asked Baruch, saying, Tell us now, How didst thou write all these words at his mouth?The scroll might have been drawn up by Baruch from memoranda of his own without the prophet's direct authority. The princes therefore did not ask from curiosity, but to obtain necessary information.
Then Baruch answered them, He pronounced all these words unto me with his mouth, and I wrote them with ink in the book.He pronounced - He used to say aloud, he dictated. Baruch's office was merely mechanical. He contributed nothing but hand, pen, and ink.
Then said the princes unto Baruch, Go, hide thee, thou and Jeremiah; and let no man know where ye be.
And they went in to the king into the court, but they laid up the roll in the chamber of Elishama the scribe, and told all the words in the ears of the king.The court - i. e., The inner quadrangle of the palace, in which was the royal residence.
They laid up the roll - They left the scroll in charge, i. e., in the care of someone.
So the king sent Jehudi to fetch the roll: and he took it out of Elishama the scribe's chamber. And Jehudi read it in the ears of the king, and in the ears of all the princes which stood beside the king.
Now the king sat in the winterhouse in the ninth month: and there was a fire on the hearth burning before him.The winterhouse - A separate portion of the palace was used for residence according to the season (marginal reference).
And there was a fire on the hearth ... - And the fire-pan burning before them. On the middle of the floor was a brazier containing burning charcoal.
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.Leaves - Columns: literally folding-doors; the word exactly describes the shape of the columns of writing upon the scroll.
Penknife - "Scribe's knife;" used to shape the reed for writing, and to make erasures in the parchment.
On the hearth - Or, in the fire-pan. The conduct of the king shows how violent was his temper.
Yet they were not afraid, nor rent their garments, neither the king, nor any of his servants that heard all these words.
Nevertheless Elnathan and Delaiah and Gemariah had made intercession to the king that he would not burn the roll: but he would not hear them.It is remarkable to find Elnathan interceding for Jeremiah after the office he had discharged toward Urijah Jeremiah 26:22.
But the king commanded Jerahmeel the son of Hammelech, and Seraiah the son of Azriel, and Shelemiah the son of Abdeel, to take Baruch the scribe and Jeremiah the prophet: but the LORD hid them.Hammelech - Either a proper name or a prince of the blood royal (see the margin; Jeremiah 38:6; 1 Kings 22:26).
Then the word of the LORD came to Jeremiah, after that the king had burned the roll, and the words which Baruch wrote at the mouth of Jeremiah, saying,
Take thee again another roll, and write in it all the former words that were in the first roll, which Jehoiakim the king of Judah hath burned.
And thou shalt say to Jehoiakim king of Judah, Thus saith the LORD; Thou hast burned this roll, saying, Why hast thou written therein, saying, The king of Babylon shall certainly come and destroy this land, and shall cause to cease from thence man and beast?The king of Babylon ... - These words do not prove that Nebuchadnezzar had not already come, and compelled Jehoiakim to become his vassal. The force lies in the last words, which predict such a coming as would make the land utterly desolate: and this would be the result of the king throwing off the Chaldaean yoke.
Therefore thus saith the LORD of Jehoiakim king of Judah; He shall have none to sit upon the throne of David: and his dead body shall be cast out in the day to the heat, and in the night to the frost.He shall have none to sit ... - The 3 months' reign of Jehoiakim was too destitute of real power to be a contradiction to this prediction.
And I will punish him and his seed and his servants for their iniquity; and I will bring upon them, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and upon the men of Judah, all the evil that I have pronounced against them; but they hearkened not.
Then took Jeremiah another roll, and gave it to Baruch the scribe, the son of Neriah; who wrote therein from the mouth of Jeremiah all the words of the book which Jehoiakim king of Judah had burned in the fire: and there were added besides unto them many like words.Many like words - The second scroll was thus a more complete record of the main lessons taught by Jeremiah during the long course of his inspired ministry.