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28

Is this man Coniah a despised broken pot,

a vessel no one wants?

Why are he and his offspring hurled out

and cast away in a land that they do not know?

29

O land, land, land,

hear the word of the Lord!

30

Thus says the Lord:

Record this man as childless,

a man who shall not succeed in his days;

for none of his offspring shall succeed

in sitting on the throne of David,

and ruling again in Judah.

 


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As the Prophet was hardly able to convince the Jews of what he had foretold, he confirms the same thing; but he speaks here as of what was incredible. He assumes the character of one greatly wondering, that others might cease to wonder. He then asks, whether it was possible that Jeconiah should be driven into exile and there miserably perish? We now see the design of the Prophet, that as the Jews thought that the kingdom would be perpetual, it was necessary to shake off such a notion, so that they might know that God had not in vain threatened what we have already noticed. But there is in these questions a kind of irony, for the Prophet might have made a positive assertion in plain words; but from regard to others, he hesitates through wonder, or seems to doubt as of a thing that was monstrous.

Is he a statue? he says; some translate “a vessel;” but it seems to be taken here, as in other places, in its proper sense, a statue. Is, then, this man Coniah a despised and a broken statue? for פוף, puts, is both to fail and to break. 6969     The verb means to loose, to set free; and it is here in a passive sense, to be loosed or set free. It seems to refer to the setting free the idol or statue from its fastenings; therefore, “broken down” would be its best rendering. — Ed. We have said that a part of his name was left out by way of contempt; still, as the Jews were so blinded by the royal dignity that they could not believe the prophecy, he asks respecting it as of a thing incredible. Is he a vessel? etc., he adds. The Hebrew word כלי, cali, we know, is taken for any kind of vessel; for the ancients called all kinds of furniture vessels. He asks, then, Is he a contemptible vessel? Is he a vessel in which there is no delight? He had before said that he was a despised statue. Why are they cast forth, he and his seed, and thrown into a land which they have not known? that is, into a remote land? 7070     It is singular that all the early versions soften down the strong terms used in this verse; not one of them give a faithful translation. The Sept., the Syr., and the Arab. give hardly the half of the verse, and what they give is divested of the tone and spirit of the original. The Vulg. leaves out the word “idol” or statue, and puts “an earthen vessel” in its place. The whole verse I render as follows, —
   28. A contemptible, broken down idol! Is this the man Coniah? Is he a vessel in which there is no delight? Why are they cast out, he and his seed, And sent into a land which they have not known?

   There is the relative which understood after “vessel” in the third line. The Welsh, which in this kind of idiom is exactly the same with the Hebrew, admits of the same sort of ellipsis, —

   Ai llester yw heb hoffder ynddo?

   Which is verbally the Hebrew, “Is he a vessel without delight in it?” The “casting out” was from the land of Canaan, and the “sending” was into the unknown land. — Ed.
And we know that it is a hard lot when one is driven far away from his own country. There is, then, no doubt but that the Prophet enhances the grievousness of the evil when he speaks of an unknown country: for Zedekiah, who was put on the throne, was his uncle; and of his posterity the first was Salathiel, born in exile. It now follows —

The Prophet more fully confirms what I have lately referred to; and the repetition was not superfluous in exclaiming “earth” three times, for as the hardness of iron is overcome by the repeated strokes of the hammer, so the Prophet repeated the word “earth,” that he might subdue that perverseness in which the Jews had so hardened themselves that no threats of God moved them. He did not adopt this vehemence, as rhetoricians do who aim to appear eloquent; but it was necessity that constrained him thus to assail that refractory people, who would have otherwise turned a deaf ear to what we have observed and read. By this preface, then, the Prophet especially shews that he spoke of God’s dreadful judgment, and also reminded the Jews of the certainty of this prophecy, though they were persuaded that the kingdom would never fall. Hence in this repetition we see that there is an implied reproof, as though he had said that they were indeed deaf, but that it was to no purpose, for they would be constrained to see the fulfillment of what they did not then believe. Earth, earth, earth, hear, he says. 7171     It does not appear whether Calvin meant the earth generally or the land of Judea. But the latter most probably is what is intended. The version, then, ought to be, “Land, land, land!” The Sept. and the Arab. have “land” only twice, but the other versions have it three times as in Hebrew. The paraphrase of the Targ. is singular, “From their own land they have made them to migrate to another land; land of Israel! hear the words of the Lord.”
   “Land” means often the inhabitants; and what follows proves that it has this meaning here; for it is added, “Write ye,” etc. — Ed.

Then he adds, Thus saith Jehovah, Write ye this man solitary, or childless. Some think that these words were addressed to angels or to prophets; but I regard not such a notion as well founded: this mode of speaking seems rather to me to have been taken from common practice, for decrees which were to continue in force for a long time were usually written. When an edict was proclaimed, and was to be in force only for a few days, it was not commonly recorded in the public monuments; but when a law was enacted, which was to be binding on posterity, it was written in the public tablets. Then the Prophet intimates that this judgment of God could not be rendered void, nor would be momentary like decrees which in a few days are disregarded and soon forgotten, but that it would be certain and permanent. Write ye, then, this man childless This bereavement is set in opposition to the promise of God, that there would be perpetual successors to David on his throne as long as the sun and moon were in the heavens. (Psalm 89:37.) And the Prophet shews here that this promise as to Jeconiah would not be fulfilled. 7272     The word rendered “childless”“ properly means “wholly stripped,” or destitute, or “quite naked.” It is rendered “banished” by the Sept., but “childless” by the Vulg., the Syr., and the Targ. He was “childless” as a king, having had no son as a successor on the throne of David; but he had children, see 1 Chronicles 3:17, 18. And that this is the meaning appears evident from the end of the verse.
   Scott thinks that Zedekiah, the uncle of Jeconiah, is the person spoken of in these two last verses. He considers that the contents of this chapter were repeated in Zedekiah’s reign as a warning to him. But this view is not consistent with the general tenor of the chapter. See especially Jeremiah 22:13, 14, 15, 17, 18, and 19; these shew evidently that the prophecy was delivered in the time, probably in the latter time of Jehoiakim; then the Prophet proceeds, in Jeremiah 22:24 to the end of the chapter, prophetically to describe the late of his son Jeconiah. And having said that he would be childless as a king, that none of his seed would sit on the throne of David, he introduces in the next chapter, which is connected with this, the “righteous branch,” the Messiah, the King of Zion. The proper division of the chapter is at the ninth verse. According to this view there is a perfect consistency, — Jeconiah was the last reigning prince in the right line (Zedekiah, his uncle, was not in the right line) on the throne of David, as a temporal sovereign; then he, of whom David was a type, came, not to sit and to rule on the visible throne of David, but on that which it represented. — Ed.

And he adds, Write ye this man as one who will not prosper in his days; nay, (for כי, seems to me to be emphatic here,) no one of his seed shall prosper; and then he adds an explanation, sitting on the throne of David, and ruling any more in Judah.

Now, it is no wonder that the Jews regarded this judgment of God with abhorrence, as though it was something monstrous, for God seemed to them to be inconsistent with himself, for he had testified that his covenant would never be rendered void, and had appealed to the sun and moon as witnesses. Hence, when the posterity of David failed, at least when his throne was subverted, and no one appeared as his successor, the truth of the promise seemed to have failed, which was very strange. But it was possible for God, who doeth wonders, to execute such punishment on Jeconiah and on such as were like him, and yet in a secret and incomprehensible manner to bring things about, so that the covenant which he had made should not wholly fail. The grace of God, then, was hidden for a time, but never extinguished; for at length a rod did grow up from the stem of Jesse, as it is said by Isaiah.

However, the words seem to imply otherwise, for Jeconiah is said to be solitary, and then unprosperous; and lastly, the Prophet declares that no one of his seed would sit on the royal throne. But we must bear in mind that these words are to be confined to a temporary punishment, and extend only to the coming of Christ, though the posterity of David, as we shall hereafter see, did begin to arise in Zerubbabel, but this was only an obscure and a small prelude. We must, therefore, come to the time of Christ if we would reconcile these two things which seem repugnant, — that Jeconiah became childless, and that a successor from the seed of David never failed; it was so, because this childlessness was only for a time; and this interruption of God’s grace was something like death; but in course of time it appeared that God was mindful of his covenant, even at a time when he seemed to have forgotten it. And this prophecy, therefore, ought; to be connected with that of Ezekiel,

“Remove ye, remove, remove the crown until he comes whose it is.”
(Ezekiel 21:26, 27.)

There, also, Ezekiel repeats the word “remove” three times, as though he had said that there would be no kingdom of David, not only for a few months or years, but through a series of many ages.

There is no wonder, then, that the Prophet declares here that Jeconiah would be childless, for such a sad calamity for so many ages, as the throne of David trodden under foot with scorn and contempt, might have overwhelmed the faithful with despair. This, then, was the reason why he said that he would be childless, and also that his whole posterity would be under a curse. But we must bear in mind that exception, which is expressed by another Prophet,

“until he comes whose the crown is.” (Ezekiel 21:27)

For it was reserved for the head of Christ, though for a long time it had been exposed to dishonor and to the reproaches of all nations.

Now it is useful to know this, for we are taught that God is ever so consistent with himself, that his covenant, which he has made with Christ and with all his members, never fails, and that yet he punishes hypocrites even unto death. If any one, during a long period, had sought for the Church in the world, there was none in appearance; yet God shewed that he was faithful to his promises, for suddenly there arose a people regenerated by the Gospel, so that his covenant was not dead, but as it were for a time buried. The truth of God, then, was proved by the event; and yet he took a dreadful vengeance on the ingratitude of men when he thus blinded the whole world, now follows —




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