Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
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,
Jer 36:1-32. Baruch Writes, and Reads Publicly Jeremiah's Prophecies Collected in a Volume. The Roll Is Burnt by Jehoiakim, and Written Again by Baruch at Jeremiah's Dictation.
1. fourth year—The command to write the roll was given in the fourth year, but it was not read publicly till the fifth year. As Isaiah subjoined to his predictions a history of events confirming his prophecies (Isa 36:1-22; 37:1-38; 38:1-22; 39:1-8), so Jeremiah also in the thirty-seventh through forty-third chapters; but he prefaces his history with the narrative of an incident that occurred some time ago, showing that he, not only by word, but in writing, and that twice, had testified all that he about to state as having subsequently come to pass [Grotius]. At the end of Jehoiakim's third year, Nebuchadnezzar enrolled an army against Jerusalem and took it in the end of the fifth or beginning of the sixth year, carrying away captive Jehoiakim, Daniel, &c. Jehoiakim returned the same year, and for three years was tributary: then he withheld tribute. Nebuchadnezzar returned and took Jerusalem, and carried off Jehoiakim, who died on the road. This harmonizes this chapter with 2Ki 24:1-20 and Da 1:1-21. See on Jer 22:19.
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.
2. roll of a book—a book formed of prepared skins made into a roll. Compare "volume of the book," that is, the Pentateuch (Ps 40:7). It does not follow that his prophecies were not before committed to writing; what is implied is, they were now written together in one volume, so as to be read continuously to the Jews in the temple.
against … nations—(Jer 25:15, &c.).
from … days of Josiah—(Jer 25:3). From Josiah's thirteenth year (Jer 1:2).
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.
3. hear—consider seriously.
return … from … evil way—(Jon 3:8).
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.
4. all … words of … Lord—God specially suggesting what might otherwise have escaped his memory, and directing the choice of words, as well as the substance (Joh 14:26; 16:13).
And Jeremiah commanded Baruch, saying, I am shut up; I cannot go into the house of the LORD:
5. I am shut up—not in prison, for there is no account of his imprisonment under Jehoiakim, and Jer 36:19, 26 are inconsistent with it: but, "I am prevented," namely, by some hindrance; or, through fear of the king, to whose anger Baruch was less exposed, as not being the author of the prophecy.
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.
6. go—on the following year (Jer 36:9).
fasting day—(See Jer 36:9). An extraordinary fast, in the ninth month (whereas the fast on the great day of atonement was on the tenth day of the seventh month, Le 16:29; 23:27-32), appointed to avert the impending calamity, when it was feared Nebuchadnezzar, having in the year before (that is, the fourth of Jehoiakim), smitten Pharaoh-necho at Carchemish, would attack Judea, as the ally of Egypt (2Ki 23:34, 35). The fast was likely to be an occasion on which Jeremiah would find the Jews more softened, as well as a larger number of them met together.
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.
7. present … supplication—literally, "supplication shall fall"; alluding to the prostrate attitude of the supplicants (De 9:25; Mt 26:39), as petitioners fall at the feet of a king in the East. So Hebrew, Jer 38:26; Da 9:18, Margin.
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.
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.
9. they proclaimed … to all the people … to all, &c.—rather, "all the people … all the people proclaimed a fast" [Michaelis]. The chiefs appointed the fast by the wish of the people. In either version the ungodly king had no share in appointing the fast.
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.
10. chamber—Baruch read from the window or balcony of the chamber looking into the court where the people were assembled. However, some of the chambers were large enough to contain a considerable number (Ne 13:5).
Gemariah—distinct from the Gemariah, son of Hilkiah, in Jer 29:3.
Shaphan—the same person as in 2Ki 22:3.
scribe—secretary of state, or he who presided over the public records.
higher court—that of the priests, the court of the people being lower (2Ch 4:9).
new gate—(Jer 26:10). The east gate.
When Michaiah the son of Gemariah, the son of Shaphan, had heard out of the book all the words of the LORD,
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.
12. scribe's chamber—an apartment in the palace occupied by the secretary of state.
princes—holding a counsel of state at the time.
Elnathan—who had already been an instrument of evil in Jehoiakim's hand (Jer 26:22, 23).
Hananiah—the false prophet (Jer 28:10-17).
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.
14. Jehudi—of a good family, as appears from his pedigree being given so fully, but in a subordinate position.
come—Instead of requiring Baruch to come to them, they ought to have gone to the temple, and there professed their penitence. But pride forbade it [Calvin].
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.
16. afraid, both one and other—Hebrew, "fear-stricken," they turned to one another (compare Ge 42:28). This showed, on their part, hesitancy, and some degree of fear of God, but not enough to make them willing to sacrifice the favor of an earthly king.
We will surely tell the king—not the language of threatening but implying that the matter is of such moment that the king ought to be made acquainted with it, so as to seek some remedy against the divine anger.
And they asked Baruch, saying, Tell us now, How didst thou write all these words at his mouth?
17. What they wished to know was, whether what Baruch had read to them was written by him from memory after hearing Jeremiah repeating his prophecies continuously, or accurately from the prophet's own dictation.
Then Baruch answered them, He pronounced all these words unto me with his mouth, and I wrote them with ink in the book.
18. his mouth—Baruch replies it was by the oral dictation of the prophet; Jer 36:2 accords with this view, rather than with the notion that Jeremiah repeated his prophecies from manuscripts.
ink—his specification of the "ink" implies: I added nothing save the hand, pen, and ink.
Then said the princes unto Baruch, Go, hide thee, thou and Jeremiah; and let no man know where ye be.
19. Showing that they were not altogether without better feelings (compare Jer 36:16, 25).
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.
20. chamber—There were chambers in the king's palace round the court or great hall, as in the temple (Jer 36:10). The roll was "laid up" there for safekeeping, with other public records.
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.
21. sent Jehudi—Note how unbelievers flee from God, and yet seek Him through some kind of involuntary impulse [Calvin]. Jehudi seems to have been the king's ready tool for evil.
Now the king sat in the winterhouse in the ninth month: and there was a fire on the hearth burning before him.
22. winter house—(Am 3:15).
ninth month—namely, of the religious year, that is, November or December.
fire on … hearth—rather, the stove was burning before him. In the East neither chimneys nor ovens are used, but, in cold weather, a brazen vessel containing burning charcoal; when the wood has burned to embers, a cover is placed over the pot to make it retain the heat.
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.
23. three or four leaves—not distinct leaves as in a book, but the consecutive spaces on the long roll in the shape of doors (whence the Hebrew name is derived), into which the writing is divided: as the books of Moses in the synagogue in the present day are written in a long parchment rolled round a stick, the writing divided into columns, like pages.
pen-knife—the writer's knife with which the reed, used as a pen, was mended. "He" refers to the king (Jer 36:22). As often as Jehudi read three or four columns, the king cut asunder the part of the roll read; and so he treated the whole, until all the parts read consecutively were cut and burnt; Jer 36:24, "all these words," implies that the whole volume was read through, not merely the first three or four columns (1Ki 22:8).
Yet they were not afraid, nor rent their garments, neither the king, nor any of his servants that heard all these words.
24. The king and his "servants" were more hardened than the "princes" and councillors (see on Jer 36:12; Jer 36:14; Jer 36:16). Contrast the humble fear exhibited by Josiah at the reading of the law (2Ki 22:11).
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.
25. (See on Jer 36:16). The "nevertheless" aggravates the king's sin; though God would have drawn him back through their intercession, he persisted: judicial blindness and reprobation!
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.
26. Hammelech—not as Margin, "of the king." Jehoiakim at this time (the fifth year of his reign) had no grown-up son: Jeconiah, his successor, was then a boy of eleven (compare 2Ki 23:36, with 2Ki 24:8).
hid them—(Ps 31:20; 83:3; Isa 26:20).
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,
27. roll, and … words—that is, the roll of words.
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.
28. all the former words—It is in vain that the ungodly resist the power of Jehovah: not one of His words shall fall to the ground (Mt 5:18; Ac 9:5; 5:39).
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?
29. say to Jehoiakim—not in person, as Jeremiah was "hidden" (Jer 36:26), but by the written word of prophecy.
saying, Why—This is what the king had desired to be said to Jeremiah if he should be found; kings often dislike the truth to be told them.
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.
30. He shall have none to sit upon the throne—fulfilled (2Ki 24:8, &c.; 2Ki 25:1-30). He had successors, but not directly of his posterity, except his son Jeconiah, whose three months' reign is counted as nothing. Zedekiah was not the son, but the uncle of Jeconiah, and was raised to the throne in contempt of him and his father Jehoiakim (Jer 22:30).
dead body … cast out—(Jer 22:18, 19).
day … heat … night … frost—There are often these variations of temperature in the East between night and day (Ge 31:40).
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.
32. added besides … many like words—Sinners gain nothing but additional punishment by setting aside the word of Jehovah. The law was similarly rewritten after the first tables had been broken owing to Israel's idolatry (Ex 32:19, 34:1).