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,
Verse 1. - In the beginning of the reign of Zedekiah. It seems strange that the fourth year of a reign which only lasted eleven years in all should be called "the beginning. Is it not probable that the clause was interpolated here by a later copyist on account of Jeremiah 27:1, where at present a similar clause (see note) is found? Originally placed in the margin as a gloss upon the words "the same year," it would very easily find its way into the text. Hananiah... the prophet (see on ver. 15). Gibeon. This was a priestly city (Joshua 21:17), so that Hananiah was probably himself a priest like Jeremiah (Jeremiah 1:1) and Pashur (Jeremiah 20:1). The modern El Jib, on an isolated, rocky hill, doubtless represents the ancient Gibeon. In the presence of the priests and of all the people. Apparently the event took place on either a new moon or a Sabbath, when the people would throng to the temple.
Thus speaketh the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, saying, I have broken the yoke of the king of Babylon.
Verse 2. - Hananiah opens his prophecy with the usual formula, claiming Divine inspiration in the fullest sense. His message is short and sweet: I have broken - i.e. I have decreed to break (the perfect of prophetic certitude) - the yoke of the king of Babylon. Had Hananiah stopped here, he might, perhaps, have escaped Jeremiah's indignant rebuke. But with light-hearted arrogance he ventures to fix a time close at hand for the event, which, no doubt, was destined to occur, but after a long interval. Dr. Payne Smith suggests that he probably cherished the belief that the confederacy then on foot (Jeremiah 27:3) would defeat Nebuchadnezzar.
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:
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.
Verse 4. - And I will bring again... Jeconiah. Hananiah thus directly contradicts the assurance of Jeremiah (Jeremiah 22:26, 27) that Jehoiachin would not return, but would die in a foreign land. Has he a political object in his favorable prognostication for the deposed king? Does he, in short, belong to a Jehoiachin party opposed to the friends of Zedekiah? The view is possible, and may seem to be confirmed by the emphatic repetition of the fall of Nebuchadnezzar, the liege lord of Zedekiah. Still there is evidence enough in modern history that the return of an exile is not necessarily tantamount to his reinstatement in his office.
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,
Verses 5-9. - Jeremiah's reply. He heartily wishes that Hananiah's prediction were capable of fulfillment, but it runs directly counter to the declarations of all the older prophets. "War, and evil, and pestilence" was their constant burden, for the people to whom they prophesied were unworthy of the golden age of felicity in which the prophets so firmly believed. Only by a terrible judgment could the people of Israel be purified for the Messianic age. This appears to be what Jeremiah means by ver. 8. True, he speaks of "countries" and "kingdoms" in the plural, but all the great prophets include the nations best known to them within the range of their preaching, and even of their Messianic preaching. Isaiah, for instance, threatens sore judgment upon Egypt and Assyria, and yet he holds out the cheering prospect that Egypt and Assyria will have a part in the Messianic felicity. Thus Hananiah's prediction has probabilities very strongly against it He not only prophesies "peace,' but attaches no condition to his promise, which, therefore, has double need of verification by the event (comp. Deuteronomy 18:22).
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.
Nevertheless hear thou now this word that I speak in thine ears, and in the ears of all the people;
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.
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.
Then Hananiah the prophet took the yoke from off the prophet Jeremiah's neck, and brake it.
Verses 10, 11. - Instead of any rejoinder, Hananiah has recourse to violence, tears off and breaks the yoke on Jeremiah's neck, and repeats his declaration of the fall of Nebuchadnezzar within two years. Jeremiah meekly suffers.
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.
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,
Verses 12-17. - No long time after this the prophet is commissioned to tell the bitter truth more fully than he had done before, and to warn Hananiah of his coming punishment.
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.
Verse 13. - The yokes of wood; rather, a yoke of wood. The word rendered in the Authorized Version" yokes" means properly "poles," two of which, with the "bands," composed a "yoke" (see on Jeremiah 27:2). But thou shalt make; rather, but thou hast made. The sense in which Hananiah is said to have made "a yoke of iron" (we should render in the singular) comes out in ver. 14. The point is that there was a certain justification for Hananiah's violent act, but not that which he supposed. Jeremiah's wooden yoke was really an inadequate symbol; the prophet was too tender to his people. Thus God made the truth appear in still fuller brightness from the very perverseness of its enemy.
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.
Verse 14. - The beasts of the field (see on Jeremiah 27:6).
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.
Verse 15. - The prophet Jeremiah unto Hananiah the prophet. In one sense Hananiah was a prophet as much as Jeremiah. He claimed to have received the prophetic call, and God alone, who searcheth the heart, could pronounce upon the justice of his claim. Whatever training was regarded as necessary for the office he had probably gone through, and now for a number of years he had been universally recognized as a member of the prophetic class. Probably he had those natural gifts, including a real, though dim and not unerring, "second sight," which seems to have formed the substratum of Old Testament prophecy; but he certainly had not the moral backbone so conspicuous in Jeremiah, and he lacked that intimate communion with God (this became dear on the present occasion) which alone warranted the assurance that "Jehovah, the God of Israel, hath sent me."
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.
Verse 16. - I will east thee; rather, I song thee away. Possibly, as Hitzig suggests, there is an allusion to the preceding verse, in which the same verb occurs. Thou hast taught rebellion; literally, thou hast spoken turning aside. To "speak turning aside (or, 'rebellion')" is a phrase of Deuteronomy (Deuteronomy 13:6), where it is used, as here, of opposition, not to Jehovah, but to revealed truth.
So Hananiah the prophet died the same year in the seventh month.