Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
Thus saith the LORD; Go down to the house of the king of Judah, and speak there this word,
Jer 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 (Jer 22:10, 13, 20). Jeremiah often groups his prophecies, not by chronological order, but by similarity of subjects; thus Jer 22:3 corresponds to Jer 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" (Jer 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 (Jer 36:10, 12; 2Ch 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, Jer 22:11; Jehoiakim, Jer 22:13-18; Jeconiah, Jer 22:24; Zedekiah, the address to whom (Jer 21:1, 11, 12) suggests notice of the rest.
And say, Hear the word of the LORD, O king of Judah, that sittest upon the throne of David, thou, and thy servants, and thy people that enter in by these gates:
2. these gates—of the king's palace.
Thus saith the LORD; Execute ye judgment and righteousness, and deliver the spoiled out of the hand of the oppressor: and do no wrong, do no violence to the stranger, the fatherless, nor the widow, neither shed innocent blood in this place.
3. Jehoiakim is meant here especially: he, by oppression, levied the tribute imposed on him by Pharaoh-necho, king of Egypt (2Ch 36:3), and taxed his people, and took their labor without pay, to build gorgeous palaces for himself (Jer 22:13-17), and shed innocent blood, for example, that of Urijah the prophet (Jer 26:20-24; 2Ki 23:35; 24:4).
For if ye do this thing indeed, then shall there enter in by the gates of this house kings sitting upon the throne of David, riding in chariots and on horses, he, and his servants, and his people.
4. upon the throne of David—literally, "or David on his throne" (see on Jer 13:13). This verse is repeated substantially from Jer 17:25.
his servants—so the Keri. But Chetib, singular, "his servant;" that is, distributively, "each with his servants;" Jer 17:25, "their princes."
But if ye will not hear these words, I swear by myself, saith the LORD, that this house shall become a desolation.
5. I swear by myself—(Heb 6:13, 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 (Jer 22:4).
For thus saith the LORD unto the king's house of Judah; Thou art Gilead unto me, and the head of Lebanon: yet surely I will make thee a wilderness, and cities which are not inhabited.
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," Nu 14:28; "surely," Nu 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 (2Sa 12:27; 2Ki 10:25) [Maurer].
And I will prepare destroyers against thee, every one with his weapons: and they shall cut down thy choice cedars, and cast them into the fire.
7. prepare—literally, "sanctify," or solemnly set apart for a particular work (compare Isa 13:3).
thy choice cedars—(Isa 37:24). Thy palaces built of choice cedars (So 1:17).
And many nations shall pass by this city, and they shall say every man to his neighbour, Wherefore hath the LORD done thus unto this great city?
8. (De 29:24, 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].
Then they shall answer, Because they have forsaken the covenant of the LORD their God, and worshipped other gods, and served them.
9. (2Ki 22:17).
Weep ye not for the dead, neither bemoan him: but weep sore for him that goeth away: for he shall return no more, nor see his native country.
10, 11. Weep … not for—that is, not so much for Josiah, who was taken away by death from the evil to come (2Ki 22:20; Isa 57:1); as for Shallum or Jehoahaz, his son (2Ki 23:30), who, after a three months' reign, was carried off by Pharaoh-necho into Egypt, never to see his native land again (2Ki 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 (2Ch 35:24, 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 (2Ki 15:13; 2Ch 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. 1Ch 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 (2Ki 23:31, 36; 2Ch 36:1); perhaps on account of Jehoiakim's extravagance (Jer 22:13, 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.
For thus saith the LORD touching Shallum the son of Josiah king of Judah, which reigned instead of Josiah his father, which went forth out of this place; He shall not return thither any more:
But he shall die in the place whither they have led him captive, and shall see this land no more.
Woe unto him that buildeth his house by unrighteousness, and his chambers by wrong; that useth his neighbour's service without wages, and giveth him not for his work;
13. Not only did Jehoiakim tax the people (2Ki 23:35) for Pharaoh's tribute, but also took their forced labor, without pay, for building a splendid palace; in violation of Le 19:13; De 24:14, 15. Compare Mic 3:10; Hab 2:9; Jas 5:4. God will repay in justice those who will not in justice pay those whom they employ.
That saith, I will build me a wide house and large chambers, and cutteth him out windows; and it is cieled with cedar, and painted with vermilion.
14. wide—literally, "a house of dimensions" ("measures"). Compare Nu 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 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.
Shalt thou reign, because thou closest thyself in cedar? did not thy father eat and drink, and do judgment and justice, and then it was well with him?
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.
He judged the cause of the poor and needy; then it was well with him: was not this to know me? saith the LORD.
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 Joh 13:17; contrast Tit 1:16).
But thine eyes and thine heart are not but for thy covetousness, and for to shed innocent blood, and for oppression, and for violence, to do it.
17. thine—as opposed to thy father, Josiah.
Therefore thus saith the LORD concerning Jehoiakim the son of Josiah king of Judah; They shall not lament for him, saying, Ah my brother! or, Ah sister! they shall not lament for him, saying, Ah lord! or, Ah his glory!
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 1Ki 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 Jer 22:13, 14 he describes him in general terms; then, in Jer 22:15-17, he directly addresses him without naming him; at last, in Jer 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."
He shall be buried with the burial of an ass, drawn and cast forth beyond the gates of Jerusalem.
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 2Ch 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 Jer 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. 2Ki 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 (Ps 49:19). The two phrases are found together, as expressing two distinct ideas (2Ki 15:38; 16:20).
Go up to Lebanon, and cry; and lift up thy voice in Bashan, and cry from the passages: for all thy lovers are destroyed.
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 (see on Jer 3:21) the 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 (Ps 68:15).
from the passages—namely, of the rivers (Jud 12:6); or else the borders of the country (1Sa 13:23; Isa 10:29). The passes (1Sa 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 (Nu 27:12; 33:47).
lovers—the allies of Judea, especially Egypt, now unable to help the Jews, being crippled by Babylon (2Ki 24:7).
I spake unto thee in thy prosperity; but thou saidst, I will not hear. This hath been thy manner from thy youth, that thou obeyedst not my voice.
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" (Isa 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 (Jer 7:25; 2:2; Isa 47:12).
The wind shall eat up all thy pastors, and thy lovers shall go into captivity: surely then shalt thou be ashamed and confounded for all thy wickedness.
22. wind—the Chaldees, as a parching wind that sweeps over rapidly and withers vegetation (Jer 4:11, 12; Ps 103:16; Isa 40:7).
eat up … pastors—that is, thy kings (Jer 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.
O inhabitant of Lebanon, that makest thy nest in the cedars, how gracious shalt thou be when pangs come upon thee, the pain as of a woman in travail!
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 (Jer 6:24)! Nay, all thy fine buildings will win no favor for thee from them. Maurer translates, "How shalt thou be to be pitied!"
As I live, saith the LORD, though Coniah the son of Jehoiakim king of Judah were the signet upon my right hand, yet would I pluck thee thence;
24. As I live—God's most solemn formula of oath (Jer 46:18; 4:2; De 32:40; 1Sa 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 (So 8:6; Hag 2:23). Jehoiachin's popularity is probably here referred to.
right hand—the hand most valued.
I would pluck thee thence—(Compare Ob 4); on account of thy father's sins, as well as thine own (2Ch 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 (Jer 52:31-34). But none of his direct posterity ever came to the throne.
And I will give thee into the hand of them that seek thy life, and into the hand of them whose face thou fearest, even into the hand of Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon, and into the hand of the Chaldeans.
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."
And I will cast thee out, and thy mother that bare thee, into another country, where ye were not born; and there shall ye die.
26. thy mother—Nehushta, the queen dowager (2Ki 24:6, 8, 15; see Jer 13:18).
But to the land whereunto they desire to return, thither shall they not return.
27. they—Coniah and his mother. He passes from the second person (Jer 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" (Jer 44:14; Ps 24:4; 25:1). Judea was the land which they in Babylon should pine after in vain.
Is this man Coniah a despised broken idol? is he a vessel wherein is no pleasure? wherefore are they cast out, he and his seed, and are cast into a land which they know not?
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—(Ps 31:12; Ho 8:8). The answer to this is given (Ro 9:20-23; contrast 2Ti 2:21).
his seed—(See on Jer 22:29).
O earth, earth, earth, hear the word of the LORD.
29, 30. O earth! earth! earth!—Jeconiah was not actually without offspring (compare Jer 22:28, "his seed"; 1Ch 3:17, 18; Mt 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 (Mt 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 (Lu 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 (Ps 89:30-37) was revived in Zerubbabel and consummated in Christ.
Thus saith the LORD, Write ye this man childless, a man that shall not prosper in his days: for no man of his seed shall prosper, sitting upon the throne of David, and ruling any more in Judah.