JEREMIAH CHAPTER 22.
Against the Wicked Kings of Judah.
WARNING AGAINST UNRIGHTEOUSNESS AND OPPRESSION. — V. 1. Thus saith the Lord, Go down to the house of the king of Judah, from the Temple to the palace, which was situated at a lower level, and speak there this word, not merely in the presence of the king, but as a message to the entire nation, v. 2. and say, Hear the word of the Lord, O king of Judah, that sittest upon the throne of David, a fact which committed him to the high standards set by that friend of God, thou and thy servants, the members of his court, and thy people that enter in by these gates, those of the royal palace: v. 3. Thus saith the Lord, Execute ye judgment and righteousness, as the fundamental principle of Jehovah's nation, cp. chap. 7, 6; 21, 12, and deliver the spoiled out of the hand of the oppressor, rescuing those who were being systematically plundered by the mightier people of the nation; and do no wrong, do no violence to the stranger, the fatherless, nor the widow, in excessive taxation and other unjust exactions, neither shed innocent blood in this place, all of these transgressions having freely been committed by the later kings of Judah; for in the same measure as their standing among the nations lost in prestige, they practiced tyranny at home. V.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, as his successors in a direct line, riding in chariots and on horses, he and his servants and his people. Cp. chap. 17, 25. V. 5. But if ye will not hear these words, disregarding their solemn warning, I swear by Myself, saith the Lord, by the highest instance to which appeal can be made at any time, that this house shall become a desolation, the splendid royal palace becoming a total ruin. V. 6. For thus saith the Lord unto the king's house of Judah, concerning the royal palace with all its inestimable splendor. Thou art Gilead unto Me and the head of Lebanon, the point of comparison being the many pillars and ornaments of costly wood derived from the forests of Gilead and of Lebanon, which made the complex of buildings comprising the royal palace a veritable forest of oaks and cedars; yet surely I will make thee a wilderness, a treeless wilderness, and cities which are not inhabited. V. 7. And I will prepare destroyers against thee, consecrated, as it were, to perform His will in bringing destruction upon Jerusalem and the palace of the king, every one with his weapons; and they shall cut down thy choice cedars and cast them into the fire, the picture of a forest's destruction being maintained to this point. V. 8. And many nations shall pass by this city, the entire capital being destroyed with the Temple and the royal palace, and they shall say every man to his neighbor, in wonder and astonishment over such utter desolation, Wherefore hath the Lord done thus unto this great city? V. 9. Then they shall answer, Because they have forsaken the covenant of the Lord, their God, and worshiped other gods, and served them. Cp. Deut. 29, 23 ff.; 1 Kings 9, 8. 9. Jerusalem is only one of the many cities which, in the course of time, have become spectacles of God's vengeance, as a warning to all men to heed His commands.
PROPHECIES RELATING TO SHALLUM, JEHOIKIM, AND JEHOIACHIN. — V. 10. Weep ye not for the dead, so Jeremiah admonished the people of Judah, neither bemoan him, namely, Josiah, the last good king, who had stayed the doom pronounced upon the reprobate people, but weep sore for him that goeth away, whose departure in this case is truly an occasion for great sorrowing, for he shall return no more nor see his native country, being dragged into a shameful exile, from which there would be no deliverance. V. 11. For thus saith the Lord touching Shallum, or Jehoa-haz, 2 Kings 23, 30. 31, the son of Josiah, king of Judah, which reigned instead of Josiah, his father, which went forth out of this place, having been taken to Egypt by Pharaoh-Nechoh, who placed his older brother Jehoiakim on the throne, much to the dissatisfaction of the people, He shall not return thither any more, v. 12. but he shall die in the place whither they have led him captive, and shall see this land no more. It happened in just this way, as the sacred narrative informs us, 2 Kings 23, 34. V. 13. Woe unto him, so the Lord now proceeds to call out upon Jehoiakim, that buildeth his house by unrighteousness, by unjust measures, and his chambers by wrong, in impressing people into work without right and compensation, that useth his neighbor's service without wages and giveth him not for his work; v. 14. that saith, I will build me a wide house and large chambers, roomy, airy upper chambers, and cutteth him out windows, with wide and high openings, such as were found in the palaces of the rich; and it is ceiled with cedar and painted with vermilion, a costly paint made of sulphur and quicksilver. All this oppressing of poor workmen and the proud show of splendor that went with it was characteristic of the reign of Jehoiakim. V. 15. Shalt thou reign because thou closest thyself in cedar? making a show of wealth which he did not in reality possess and had no right to parade. Did not thy father eat and drink, enjoying the ordinary comforts of life, and do judgment and justice? exercising these two virtues according to the demands of righteousness. And then it was well with him, the blessing of the Lord resting upon him for his upright behavior. V. 16. He Judged the cause of the poor and needy; then it was well with him. Was not this to know Me? saith the Lord. V. 17. But thine eyes and thine heart are not but for thy covetousness, being directed only to the gaining of his own advantage, regardless of the rights of other people, and for to shed innocent blood and for oppression and for violence to do it, Jehoiakim thus proving himself a tyrant in every sense of the word. V. 18. Therefore, thus saith the Lord concerning Jehoiakim, the son of Josiah, king of Judah, the subject of this entire paragraph of denunciation, They shall not lament for him, saying, Ah, my brother! or, Ah, sister! none of the mournful cries such as relatives make at the death of those near and dear to them being heard in this instance. They shall not lament for him, saying, Ah, lord! or, Ah, his glory! that is, "Alas, His Majesty!" his subjects also declining to show any grief over his end. Unpraised, unhonored, and unsung he would pass away from among the living. V. 19. He shall be buried with the burial of an ass, drawn and cast forth beyond the gates of Jerusalem, not interred, but dragged forth and left as carrion to the birds and beasts of prey. V. 20. Go up to Lebanon, so the prophet now bids the people, personified as the daughter of Zion, and cry, and lift up thy voice in Bashan, that is, the mountains of Bashan, in the country east of Jordan, and cry from the passages, rather, "from Aba-rim," the mountain range east of the Dead Sea, to which Nebo belonged, the three highest points being named, from which one could overlook the entire country; for all thy lovers are destroyed, namely, all the kings of the allied nations, upon whom Judah depended for help, together with their people, not only Egypt, but the smaller kingdoms of Syria and of Northern Arabia as well. All of these were brought into subjection by Nebuchadnezzar and his armies. V. 21. I spake unto thee in thy prosperity, while the country was enjoying prosperous, secure, peaceful relations; but thou saidst, I will not hear. This hath been thy manner from thy youth, from the days that He chose Israel to be His people and led them forth from the land of their bondage, Hos. 2, 17, that thou obeyedst not My voice, the Lord being obliged to rebuke them time and again for their rebellious conduct. V. 22. The wind shall eat up all thy pastors, all their rulers and leaders, as the hot desert wind singed off the meadows, and thy lovers shall go into captivity. Surely then shalt thou be ashamed and confounded for all thy wickedness; for with her rulers in captivity, Judah would be helpless before the invaders. V. 23. O inhabitant of Lebanon, that makest thy nest in the cedars, this picture being chosen because, as the birds of Lebanon make their nests in the cedars, so the princes of Judah built their homes of the cedars of Lebanon, how gracious shall thou be, rather, "how shalt thou moan," when pangs come upon thee, the pain as of a woman in travail! After this digression with its warning to the people as a whole the prophet turns to the consideration of Jehoiachin's fate. V. 24. As I live, saith the Lord, though Coniah, abbreviated from Jeco-niah, 1 Chron. 3, 16, the son of Jehoiakim, king of Judah, were the signet upon My right hand, a most costly and valued ornament, which one guards with great care, yet would I pluck thee thence, this being affirmed with a solemn vow, God's most impressive formula of oath, by His own life! V.25. And I will give thee into the hand of them that seek thy life, and into the hand of them whose face thou fearest, deliberately delivering him into the power of his enemies everywhere, even into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, and into the hand of the Chaldeans. V. 26. And I will cast thee out, and thy mother that bare thee, namely, Nehushta, the daughter of Einathan, 2 Kings 24, 8, into another country, where ye were not born, one utterly strange to them in every way; and there shall ye die. V. 27. But to the land whereunto they, Coniah and his mother, desire to return, thither shall they not return. By the change to the third person these two were put out of sight, as unworthy to be addressed directly any longer. The prophet now addresses the country as such with reference to the fate of this favorite king, whom the people idolized. V. 28. Is this man Coniah a despised broken idol? so the people are represented as asking. Is he a vessel wherein is no pleasure? with whom neither God nor men were pleased. Wherefore are they cast out, he and his seed, the presence of minor children at the time when he was led away into captivity being altogether probable, and are cast into a land which they know not? Upon this astonished question the Lord answers with a powerful appeal. V. 29. O earth, earth, earth, the threefold repetition serving to lay particular stress upon the contents of this warning, hear the word of the Lord! V.30. Thus saith the Lord, Write ye this man childless, bereaved of his children, a man that shall not prosper in his days; for no man of his seed shall prosper, sitting upon the throne of David, succeeding to the kingdom, and ruling any more in Judah. According to the list given in 1 Chron. 3, 16. 17, the family of Jeconiah became extinct in the second generation. It is to be noted, however, that, although the succession to the throne failed in the line of this king, still the promise of the Lord to David, Ps. 89, 30-37, was revived in Zerubbabel and thus continued to Christ.