JEREMIAH CHAPTER 36.
The Prophecies of Jeremiah Preserved.
THE PROPHECIES RECORDED AND READ. — V. 1. And it came to pass in the fourth year of Jehoiakim, the son of Josiah, king of Judah, about in the year 607 B. C., that this word came unto Jeremiah from the Lord, saying, v. 2. Take thee a roll of a book, a long strip of parchment such as was used for manuscripts at that time, 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, chap. 25, 3, even unto this day, a period of twenty-three years. The command was given at that time, but the public reading of the prophecies did not take place until the next year, in the ninth month of the fifth year of Jehoiakim. Meanwhile Nebuchadnezzar had gathered his army and took the city at the end of the fifth or the beginning of the sixth year of Jehoiakim. Jehoiakim was taken captive and brought to Babylon, but upon his promising allegiance was returned to Jerusalem. When he withheld the stipulated tribute, however, he was again carried off and died before the campaign was brought to an end. The prophecies which were here recorded may have been written down before, but they were now brought together in one roll, to be read to the Jews. V. 3. 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, this being the gracious purpose of the Lord in preaching repentance, that I may forgive their iniquity and their sin, for a return to the Lord in true sorrow for sins committed, such grief having been wrought by the power of His Word, will find Him more than ready to dispense forgiveness. V. 4. Then Jeremiah called Baruch, the son of Neriah, who acted as his clerk or secretary; and Baruch wrote from the mouth of Jeremiah, by exact dictation, all the words of the Lord which He had spoken unto him upon a roll of a book, a process which evidently took some time. V. 5. And Jeremiah commanded Baruch, saying, I am shut up, he was prevented at that time from attending to this matter in person; I cannot go into the house of the Lord; v. 6. therefore go thou and read in the roll which thou hast written from say mouth the words of the Lord in the ears of the people in the Lord's house, before the entire congregation assembled for worship, upon the fasting-day, a day specially set apart for this purpose by the king, probably in commemoration of the first capture of the city by Nebuchadnezzar; and also thou shalt read them in the ears of all Judah that come out of their cities, so that the message would be brought to the attention of as many people as possible. V. 7. It may be they will present their supplication before the Lord, literally, "Possibly will fall down their pleadings before the face of Jehovah," as though kneeling before Him in an attitude of begging, 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, because He had threatened a very severe punishment. V. 8. 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, before the entire congregation assembled in the courts. V. 9. 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, the celebration being ordered by those in authority and proclaimed throughout the country for the specified day, the object probably being to arouse the national consciousness against the Babylonian invasion and oppression by combining the religious features of a fast with a public assembly of this magnitude. Jeremiah very likely had Baruch read the words of Jehovah in order to counteract the plans of the king and his counselors. V. 10. Then read Baruch in the book, from the roll, the words of Jeremiah in the house of the Lord, in the chamber of Gemariah, the son of Sha-phan, the scribe, in the higher court, the Court of the Priests, at the entry of the new gate of the Lord's house, in the ears of all the people. The cell of Gemariah was evidently located at or near the outer wall of the Court of the Priests, so that it overlooked the Court of Israel, where the people were assembled. V. 11. When Michaiah, the son of Gemariah, the son of Shaphan, had heard out of the book all the words of the Lord, as Baruch declaimed with a loud voice, v. 12. then he went down into the king's house, into the scribe's chamber, into the office of the chancellor in the royal palace; and, lo, all the princes sat there, the king's counselors sitting in the office of the Secretary of State, even Elishama, the scribe, a political officer of very high standing, and Delaiah, the son of Shemaiah, and Einathan, the son of Achbor, and Gemariah, the son of Shaphan, and Zedekiah, the son of Hananiah, and all the princes. V. 13. Then Michaiah declared unto them all the words that he had heard when Baruch read the book in the ears of the people. He rendered a complete report of the message which had been read in the Temple. V. 14. Therefore all the princes, aroused by the report given them by Michaiah, sent Jehudi, the son of Netha-niah, the son of Shelamiah, 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. V. 15. And they said unto him, Sit down now and read it in our ears. So Baruch read it in their ears. V. 16. Now it came to pass, when they had heard all the words, they were afraid both one and other, that is, their faces and bearing showed the terror which they felt on account of this proclamation with its horrible threats, a message which was, at the same time, so utterly at variance with the wishes and hopes of the king, and said unto Baruch, We will surely tell the king of all these words. They felt that it was their duty as officers of the kingdom to make known what they had now heard, since it affected the whole country. V. 17. And they asked Baruch, saying, Tell us now, How didst thou write all these words at his mouth? They wanted exact information before proceeding any farther in the matter. V. 18. Then Baruch answered them, He, Jeremiah, pronounced all these words unto me with his mouth, and I wrote them with ink in the book. He was very frank in his report, as believers may readily be at all times, knowing that they have the truth on their side.
THE ROLL DESTROYED AND REWRITTEN. — V. 19. Then said the princes unto Baruch, Go, hide thee, thou and Jeremiah; and let no man know where ye be. The reading had made a deep impression upon them, but they had an instinctive feeling that Jeremiah and Baruch were in danger of their lives on account of the message which they proclaimed, especially since a report of the happening had to be made to the king. V. 20. And they went in to the king, into the court, the great hall or throne-room, but they laid up the roll in the chamber of Elishama, the scribe, leaving it in his office for safe-keeping, and told all the words in the ears of the king. V. 21. So the king sent Jehudi, who seems to have been the court messenger, 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, literally, "over the king"; for, since they were standing in his presence, their heads were higher than his. V. 22. Now, the king sat in the winter-house, in one of the inner and sheltered rooms of the palace, where also the great hall was situated, in the ninth month, corresponding roughly to our December; and there was a fire on the hearth burning before him, a brazen vessel with glowing charcoal such as are used in the Orient. V. 23. And it came to pass that, when Jehudi had read three or four leaves, he cut it with the penknife, the writer's knife with which the reed or style used for writing was pointed from time to time, 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. The king had become so enraged on account of the passage which he had heard that he could not contain himself, but laid blasphemous hands upon the sacred roll, slashing it right and left and destroying it completely. V. 24. Yet they were not afraid, they were not terrified by the Lord's threats, nor rent their garments, as they should have done in grief and mourning over their sins and the Lord's impending punishment upon them, neither the king, nor any of his servants that heard all these words. V. 25. Nevertheless, Einathan and Delaiah and Gemariah, three, at least, of the king's counselors, had made intercession to the king that he would not burn the roll, but he would not hear them, he was deaf to all remonstrances. V. 26. But the king commanded Jerahmeel, the son of Hammelech, and Seraiah, the son of Azriel, and Shele-miah, the son of Abdeel, to take Baruch, the scribe, and Jeremiah, the prophet, that is, to arrest them; but the Lord hid them, He did not permit the searchers to find their hiding-place. V. 27. 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, v. 28. Take thee again another roll, a new strip of parchment, and write in it all the former words that were in the first roll, which Jehoiakim, the king of Judah, hath burned. V. 29. 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? The king had evidently given vent to his anger in exclamations of this kind when he destroyed the roll. V. 30. Therefore, thus saith the Lord of Jehoiakim, king of Judah, He shall have none to sit upon the throne of David, for his son Jehoiachin was nothing but a vassal of the foreign emperor and could in no sense call the kingdom his own; and his dead body shall be cast out in the day to the heat and in the night to the frost, namely, in the hardships attending his exile. V. 31. And I will punish him and his seed and his servants for their iniquity, for by following the king they placed themselves in the same condemnation with him; 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. V. 32. 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; for Jeremiah had received other inspired messages, and the Lord took this opportunity of embodying them all in the book which was to be preserved as a testimony against the disobedient nation and its king.