Jeremiah 22:18-19

18. Therefore thus saith the Lord concerning Jehoiakim the son of Josiah king of Judah, They shall not lament for him, saying, Ah my brother! or, Ah sister! they shall not lament for him, saying, Ah lord! or, Ah his glory!

18. Propterea sic dicit Jehova ad Joakim (vel, de, la, capitur pro de, ergo de Joakim) filio Josiae regis Jehudah, Non lugebunt eum, Heus frater mi! et heus soror! non lugebunt eum, Heus domine! heus gloria ejus!

19. He shall be buried with the burial of an ass, drawn and cast forth beyond the gates of Jerusalem.

19. Sepultura asini sepelietur, ad trahendum, et projiciendum ad extra ad portas (ad verbum hoc est, longe extra portas) Jerosolymae.


The Prophet having inveighed against Jehoiakim, now shews what kind of punishment from God awaited him; he would have otherwise despised the Prophet's reproof; but when he heard that a reward was prepared for him, he must have been roused. Inasmuch then as he was seized with a foolish and even a sottish lust for glory, so that he cast aside every care for uprightness, the Prophet declares that disgrace was prepared for him; and hence he compares him after his death to an ass.

Therefore thus saith Jehovah to King Jehoiakim, or concerning King Jehoiakim,1 the son of Josiah the king, etc. He is not called the son of Josiah for honor's sake, but for the purpose of touching him to the quick, because he had degenerated from the piety of his father. But as he hoped that the religion of Josiah would be to him a sort of covering, the Prophet derides and checks this vain confidence. "Thou gloriest in being the son of King Josiah, but thy holy father will avail thee nothing, for thou seemest avowedly to shew that thou art wholly different from him. Though then thou art, descended from Josiah, and though God has raised thee to the royal throne, yet there is no reason for thee to be confident as to thy safety; for these benefits of God will not preserve thee from that ignominious treatment which thou deservest."

He says first, They shall not bewail him, Ah my brother! Ah sister! The Prophet mentions by way of imitation the words of the mourners. That people, we know, were very vehement in expressing their sorrow. And this ought to be borne in mind, because some being persuaded that nothing is related by the Prophets but what ought to be taken as an example, do therefore think that these modes of lamentation were approved by God. But we have before seen what the Prophet said in Jeremiah 22:4,

"Enter through these gates shall the kings
of Judah and their princes in chariots,"

yet we know that kings had been forbidden to make such ostentations; but God did not scrupulously refer to what was lawful or right in speaking of royal splendor; so also when he spoke of funeral rites. We ought not then to make a law of what the Prophet says, as though it were right and proper to bewail the dead with howling. There is indeed no doubt, but these excesses which the Prophet mentions were not only foolish, but also wholly condemnable; for we often vie with one another in our lamentations; and when men intemperately express their grief in funerals, they excite themselves into a sort of madness in crying and bewailing, and then when they compose themselves and simulate grief, they act a part as in a theater. But the Prophet here speaks only according to the common practice of the age, when he says, "They shall not bewail him," etc.; that is, he states what was usually done, when one embraced another, when a sister said, "Ah, my brother!" and when a brother said, "Ah, my sister!" or, when the people said, "Ah, lord, O king, where is thy glory! where is thy honor! where thy crown! where thy scepter! where thy throne! " Very foolish then were the lamentations which the Prophet mentions here. But as I have already said, it is enough for us to know, that he refers to these rites, then commonly practiced, without expressing his approbation of them.

They shall not, he says, bewail King Jehoiakim; they shall not say at his funeral, Ah, my brother! Ah, sister! And, Ah, lord! Ah, his glory!2 There shall be no such thing; and why? because he shall be buried with the burial of an ass. We have before said, that it was justly deemed one of God's curses when a carcass was cast away unburied; for God would have burial a proof to distinguish us from brute animals even after death, as we in life excel them, and as our condition is much nobler than that of the brute creation. Burial is also a pledge as it were of immortality; for when man's body is laid hid in the earth, it is, as it were, a mirror of a future life. Since then burial is an evidence of God's grace and favor towards mankind, it is on the other hand a sign of a curse, when burial is denied.

But it has been elsewhere said, that temporal punishments ought not always to be viewed alike; for God has suffered sometimes his faithful servants to be unburied, according to what we read in Psalm 79:2, 3, that their bodies were cast forth in the fields, that they were exposed to be eaten by the beasts of the earth and by the birds of heaven. Those spoken of were the true and sincere worshippers of God. But we know that the good and the bad have temporal punishments in common; and this is true as to famine and nakedness, pestilence and war. The destruction of the city Jerusalem was a just punishment on the wicked; and yet Daniel and Jeremiah were driven into exile together with the wicked, and suffered great hardships; and, in short, they were so mixed with the ungodly, that their external condition was in nothing different. So, then, the state of things in the world is often in such disorder, that we cannot distinguish between the good and the bad by outward circumstances. But still it is right ever to hold this truth, that when burial is denied to a man, it is a sign of God's curse.

Hence, the Prophet says now, He shall be buried with the burial of an ass. He mentions the ass because it is a mean animal; he might have named a horse or an ox, but as the ass is a meaner and more contemptible animal, it is the same thing as though he had said, "Jehoiakim shall be cast away with the dogs." This prophecy no doubt grievously wounded not only the mind of the king himself, but also that of the whole people; for as yet his throne stood, and all highly regarded the family of David, and thought the kingdom sacred, as it was under the guardianship and protection of God. But the Prophet hesitated not to denounce what was afterwards confirmed by the event; for Jehoiakim was buried with the burial of an ass, as he was cast forth far beyond the gates of Jerusalem. Here the Prophet amplifies the disgrace by which the King Jehoiakim would be branded, for he might have been left dead in a journey; but he expresses what is more grievous than the casting forth; Drawn out, he says, and cast forth, etc.; that is, Jehoiakim shall not only be cast forth, but also drawn as an ass or a dog, lest his foetor should infect the city; as though he was unworthy not only of a grave, but also of being seen by men.3

And this is to be especially noticed, for we hence conclude how great his perverseness was in despising the threatenings of God, since the Prophet could not otherwise storm the mind of the king, and terrify the people, than by exaggerating the indignity that was to happen to him. For if there had been any teachable spirit in the king and the people, the Prophet would have been content with making a simple statement, "Jehoiakim shall not be buried;" that is, God will punish him even when dead; the curse of God will not only be upon him while living, but he will also take vengeance on him after his death. He was not content with this kind of statement; but he shall be buried, he says, as an ass, and shall be cast far off; and further still, his carcass shall be drawn or dragged; so that it was to be an eternal mark of infamy and disgrace.


Grant, Almighty God, that as it has pleased thee to perpetuate the memory of the dreadful vengeance which thou hast executed on the descendants of David, so that we may learn by their evils carefully to walk before thee, -- O grant, that the forgetfulness of this example may never possess us, but that we may assiduously meditate on what is set before us, in order that we may thus endeavor to advance and promote the glory of thy name through the whole course of our life, so that we may at length be made partakers of thy celestial glory, which thou hast prepared for us, and which thine only-begotten Son has obtained for us by his own blood. -- Amen.

1 It is "to" in the Sept. and Vulg., and "concerning" in the Syr., Arab., and Targ. The latter is most adopted by commentators. -- Ed.

2 The original is not "his," but "her glory." The lamentation is such as was used for kings, when there was also a condolence expressed for the queens. Ah, my brother! and, Ah, lord! was a lamentation for the king when dead, (Jeremiah 34:5; ) and, Ah, sister! and, Ah, her glory! was sympathy for the surviving queen. Her glory had departed with her husband. This is Blayney's view.

The Versions and the Targum are all different, and not one of them renders the original correctly.

The verse may be thus rendered, --

18. Therefore thus saith Jehovah of Jehoiakim, The son of Josiah, the king of Judah -- They shall not lament for him -- . "Ah, my brother, and, Ah, sister. They shall not lament for him -- "Ah, Lord! and, Ah, her glory!"

To render the w disjunctively "or," as in our version, seems not suitable. The lamentation and the condolence are to be connected together. The "Ah" might be rendered "Alas;" and so it is in many places. See 1 Kings 13:30. -- Ed.

3 The verb, or rather participle, rendered "drawn," means to be dragged along, and not carried. See 2 Samuel 17:13. He was to be dragged out of the city and cast forth beyond the gates of Jerusalem. It is said in 2 Chronicles 36:6, that Nebuchadnezzar "bound him in fetters, to carry him to Babylon." The probability is (for we have no express account) that he died while in fetters at Jerusalem, before he was removed, and that Nebuchadnezzar, from indignation at his rebellion, had him dragged as a dead ass out of the city and exposed as food for rapacious birds and beasts. We find it said in 2 Kings 24:6, that "Jehoiakim slept with his fathers;" but this only means that he died, or that he died a natural death and was not killed; for we find this phrase used, when burial is afterwards mentioned. See 2 Chronicles 12:16; 16:13, l4. -- Ed.