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Jeremiah 36:20-21

20. And they went in to the king into the court, but they laid up the roll in the chamber of Elishama the scribe, and told all the words in the ears of the king.

20. Et venerunt ad regem in atrium, et volumen deposuerunt in cubiculo Elisamae scribae, et nuntiarunt in auribus regis omnes sermones.

21. So the king sent Jehudi 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.

21. Et misit Rex Jehudi ad tollendum volumen, et accepit ex cubiculo Elisama scribae, et legit illud Jehudi in auribus regis et in auribus cunctorum principum, qui stabant a conspectu regis.


The Prophet now relates that the princes went to the king, after having first deposited the roll with Elishama the scribe; for as the king’s ears were tender, they were unwilling to perform at once so odious an office. And thus they who are with kings, and engage their attention, fascinate them with their flatteries; for there is in courts no independence, for the greatest flatterer is the highest in favor. As, then, all courtiers seek eagerly to find out how they may please kings, so they carefully beware lest they should offend them. This was the reason why the princes deposited the roll with Elishama. We hence learn that their regard for God was small and frigid; for if they believed that Jeremiah had dictated to his scribe what he had received from the Spirit of God, the offending of the king ought not certainly to have been deemed by them of so much moment. Why, then, did they not venture immediately to bring forward the roll, and to exhort the king to hear, except that adulation, as I have said, is always timid. Hence then it was that they ventured not to shew the roll to the king, but only told him that they had read some dreadful things, so that the king did not find fault with them, as they had not too boldly brought before him what he was unwilling to hear. This, then, is one thing.

It now follows, that the king sent Jehudi to fetch the roll from the chamber of Elishama the scribe In the person of Jehoiakim we see how the unbelieving shun and seek God at the same time, but with a confused mind, as they know not what they seek. The king might have heedlessly despised what had been related to him, for if he wished to be free from all trouble, why did he order the roll to be brought to him, and a part of it to be read? We hence see that the unbelieving, though they wish to go as far as possible from God, yet run to him in a sort of blind manner; but this they do not of their own accord; for God by his secret impulse draws them to himself, so as to render them more inexcusable. Hence it comes, that curiosity leads many to hear the truth, and some madly ask, what is the truth to them? like wild beasts when they run against swords. Such was the disposition of Jehoiakim, for he wished all the prophecies of Jeremiah to be buried; and yet he could not restrain himself, but would know the substance or some part of them. He therefore sent Jehudi to fetch the roll

It is then added, that Jehudi read the roll before the king and before his counsellors. Hence it was that his impiety became more evident, as he was not moved by the predictions read to him. He could not indeed endure the recitation, but after some chapters had been finished, he became so enraged, as we shall see, that he threw the roll into the fire and burnt it. It was, however, God’s purpose to take away from the king as well as from his counsellors every pretext, that they might not afterwards allege that they had fallen through ignorance, for after the roll had been presented to them, it was their own fault if they were not restored to that state of safety from which they had fallen. He now adds —

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