Matthew Poole's 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,Jeremiah causeth Baruch to write his prophecy, and publicly to read it, Jeremiah 36:1-10. The princes send to fetch the roll and read it, Jeremiah 36:11-18. They advise Baruch and Jeremiah to hide themselves, Jeremiah 36:19. The king Jehoiakim teareth part of the roll, and burneth it, Jeremiah 36:20-26. Jeremiah denounceth his judgment, Jeremiah 36:27-31. Baruch writeth a new copy, Jeremiah 36:32.
Jehoiakim was three years a tributary to Nebuchadnezzar, as we read, 2 Kings 24:1, then he rebelled; which three years are judged to be the sixth, seventh, and eighth years of his reign, for Pharaoh-nechoh set him up, to whom he was first a tributary, as we read, 2 Kings 23:35. Pharaoh-nechoh having conquered him, Jehoiakim became servant to the conqueror three years, then rebelled; upon which the armies of the Chaldeans, with the Syrians, &c., came up against him, and carried him away. This word of the Lord came to Jeremiah the first year that he was tributary to the king of Babylon, which was the fourth year of his reign.
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.By
a roll of a book is to be understood parchments, which anciently were their books, the art of binding books being not then known. The precept is for recording all the revelations he had from God for twenty-two years last past; for he began to prophesy in the thirteenth year of Josiah, who reigned one and thirty years, so as he prophesied eighteen years during Josiah’s life, and this was the fourth year of the reign of Jehoiakim. God would have them recorded, that there might be a memorial of them, that so the truth of them might appear, when God should bring them to pass, the time of which now drew very near.
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.What we translate it may be ylw others translate if perhaps, which better expresseth the sense. God knew what would be, but yet he would not be wanting in means by which they might be informed in his will, and so believe the thing, for believing and reforming are here meant by hearing, as the next words in part expound this term here. Forgiveness of sin in Scripture sometimes signifieth the acquitting of a sinner from the obligation sin layeth the sinner under to eternal death, sometimes the remission of a temporal punishment; it may here well be understood as comprehending both, though I think the latter to be what is here principally intended.
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.We shall find this Baruch, being one of Jeremiah’s disciples, more than once thus employed as Jeremiah’s secretary or amanuensis. None shall need ask how Jeremiah could remember all the prophecies he had prophesied for twenty-two years before past, that considereth who it was that commanded him to do this. God undoubtedly revived the prophet’s memory, or he could not have called all to mind.
And Jeremiah commanded Baruch, saying, I am shut up; I cannot go into the house of the LORD:No text from Poole on this verse.
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.We do not read that Jeremiah was a prisoner in the fourth year of Jehoiakim, and therefore it is very uncertainly guessed in what sense he here saith he was shut up. Some think Jehoiakim had imprisoned him, or at least restrained him to his house, though we do not read of it. Others think he restrained himself; but in what sense he was shut up is not certain; that he was so is certain. He knew that God had not commanded his prophecies to be written for any other end, but that the people might have them recalled to their memories: he being not in a capacity himself at present to speak any thing to the people in so public a place, sendeth Baruch to do it in his stead, choosing for it a day of public fast; not the day of the yearly fast mentioned Leviticus 23:27, but on a fast day (of which we shall read more Jeremiah 36:9) proclaimed by Jehoiakim, probably to avert the vengeance hanging over them from the Chaldeans, or rather from the drought. It was, undoubtedly, because of the concourse of people which the prophet knew would that day be in the temple that he chose that day, when some would be present from all parts of Judah.
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.We had an expression like this Jeremiah 36:3; it teacheth us that the only means to turn away God’s fierce anger ready to fall upon people is prayer and reformation.
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.No text from Poole on this verse.
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.This fast was appointed upon a particular emergency, whether it was for a famine which was then in the land, or to avert the ruin which they justly feared from the king of Babylon, who had lately brought them under his servitude, is not certain; the yearly fast, Leviticus 23:27, was to be kept in the seventh month, nor did God ever ordain any fast to be kept in the ninth month.
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.This verse only attesteth Baruch’s obedience to the command of the prophet Jeremiah, not only as to the thing. his reading it in the temple, but as to the circumstance, in as public a manner as he could,
in the chamber of Gemariah, & c., most likely out of some window, or in some balcony, the people being below, and hearing it.
When Michaiah the son of Gemariah, the son of Shaphan, had heard out of the book all the words of the LORD,No text from Poole on this verse.
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.It is uncertain whether this Michaiah went to make this relation to the princes who sat in the secretary’s chamber, as a piece of news only, or out of a malicious design to accuse the prophet and Baruch for what was done as a seditious practice.
Then Michaiah declared unto them all the words that he had heard, when Baruch read the book in the ears of the people.That is, the substance of all the words, for none can imagine that a hearer could remember every word; which shows the vanity of those who overstrain such universal particles to signify every particular word or person.
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.That is, all the princes that at that time sat there in council sent a messenger with a command to Baruch to appear before them: and to bring the roll which he had read in the ears of the people.
And they said unto him, Sit down now, and read it in our ears. So Baruch read it in their ears.The courage of Baruch is admirable, he was now before the council, in the king’s house, the substance of the prophecies were threatening both to the king and court, and to all the people. The king, as appears by all history, was of no good temper; we read, Jeremiah 26:23, of his sending for Urijah the prophet out of Egypt; when he had fled thither for fear of the king, and slaying him, and we shall find that at that time the princes advised both Jeremiah and Baruch to hide themselves; yet Baruch is not afraid, but reads the prophecy 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.It is hardly to be imagined that all these counsellors should sit still till they had heard all Jeremiah’s prophecies for twenty-two years read, but all signifies many, or the sense and substance of all the prophecies. They were all of them afraid: Jeremiah had now been above twenty years a prophet to this people, and doubtless in great esteem for eighteen years of it, while Josiah was alive, and one whose prophecies they could not but observe had been oft accomplished; therefore they could not but be afraid that they should see these words also fulfilled, and took themselves bound in duty to acquaint the king with them. Some, if not all, of these probably had been great men in Josiah’s time, which was but four or five years before, and from him sucked in some good and religious principles, which begat some awe of God in them.
And they asked Baruch, saying, Tell us now, How didst thou write all these words at his mouth?This now seemed but a reasonable question, considering they were the substance of what he had been prophesying for so many years. The thing seemed strange to the princes, prophets being not used to study and pen their discourses, but to speak them extempore.
Then Baruch answered them, He pronounced all these words unto me with his mouth, and I wrote them with ink in the book.This could not but add to the princes’ fear and amazement. They must needs conceive that the thing was done from God, for without a special influence of God it had been a thing impossible that Jeremiah should have called to mind all that he had spoken at several times in so many years; and proceeding from the God of truth, they must needs fear that they would have their certain and just accomplishment in their season.
Then said the princes unto Baruch, Go, hide thee, thou and Jeremiah; and let no man know where ye be.This speaketh these princes to have been men of a much gentler temper and better disposition than those who succeeded them in Zedekiah’s time; they were not willing that any harm should come to the prophet, nor to Baruch, and knew the fierce temper of Jehoiakim, and therefore advised Baruch that both he and the prophet should hide. themselves.
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.They were obliged by their office as counsellors to the king to acquaint him with what they heard, which might be prejudicial to him and his nation; and indeed this was the very end why God had commanded the enrolling of these prophecies, that both the king, and princes, and people might take notice of them; but they did not carry the book with them, but laid it up in the secretary’s chamber.
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.It appeareth by Jeremiah 36:14 that this
Jehudi was a messenger commonly employed by the king and council; him the king sends
to fetch the roll, ( before called a book,) then he employeth him to read it.
Now the king sat in the winterhouse in the ninth month: and there was a fire on the hearth burning before him.The ninth month with them answered part of our November and December, which was a time of the year called for fires.
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.He, that is, the king, not having patience to hear above three or four columns, or periods, or titles, took the penknife that (it is like) Jehudi had, and cut it in pieces, and burned it in the fire that was before him, not considering that it was the revelation of the will of God, but exalting himself above all that was called God. This showed both the wickedness and passionate temper of this prince, and his high contempt of God and his prophets.
Yet they were not afraid, nor rent their garments, neither the king, nor any of his servants that heard all these words.So hardened were this people’s hearts, that though they knew that Jeremiah was a prophet of the Lord, upon the experience now of more than twenty years, and the whole scope of his prophecies had been to denounce the just judgments of God that now were coming upon this people, and they could not but understand that God must be greatly assistant to Jeremiah in writing this roll, all the matter of which he could not otherwise have kept in mind so many years, yet they had no serious fear of God upon their hearts, working upon the hearing the dreadful matter of these prophecies, nor showed any sign of remorse, or sense of their sins, or God’s judgments coming upon them as indications of his wrath.
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.These three princes seemed to have had a greater dread of God upon their hearts than the rest, for so far as they durst, they interposed, and besought the king not to burn the roll; but he would not hearken to their advice.
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.The king was not satisfied with burning the roll, but gives order to apprehend both Jeremiah and Baruch, and commandeth the three persons named in this verse to do it; but God by his providence kept them both out of their hands. How the Lord hid them we are not told; the princes (as we read before) advised Baruch that they should both hide themselves. This phrase (probably) imports no more than that God directed them to find such a place of recess as the king’s messengers could by no means find out, nor understand where they were, till the king’s passion was a little over.
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,No text from Poole on this verse.
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.No text from Poole on this verse.
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?It speaketh nothing but the impotency, and passion, and debauchery of human nature, to swell against any revelations of the Divine-will; the counsels of the Lord shall stand, and men only further entangle themselves by struggling in the Lord’s net. Jehoiakim burns one roll, God will have the same thing wrote in another. We learn here both what was the matter of Jeremiah’s prophecy, and the cause of the king’s anger; he had prophesied that the king of Babylon should come, take Jerusalem; and lay the country waste, which, as to Jehoiakim’s part, was fulfilled within six years after this, more fully in eighteen years; but corrupt princes can endure nothing that shall make their lives uneasy.
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.That is, none that shall be king any considerable time; Jeconiah or Jehoiachin his son was set up, but kept his throne but three months, 2 Kings 24:8-10. We no where read of the time or manner of this king’s death, but that he had an ignominious burial, Jeremiah 22:19, like the burial of an ass, none accompanying his corpse, none mourning for him; and it appears from this text, that wherever he died, his body lay for a time unburied.
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.As to the people, God threateneth they should feel, what they were not willing to hear, even all the evil which God by his prophet had pronounced against them.
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.Wicked men get nothing by opposing themselves to the revealed will of God, how ungrateful soever it be to them, but the addition of guilt of their souls, and the increase of Divine wrath; God’s counsels shall stand, and what he speaks shall most certainly be accomplished. Here is another roll, written with additional threatenings, confirmative of what God had before-said.