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22. Judgment Against Evil Kings

Thus saith the Lord; Go down to the house of the king of Judah, and speak there this word, 2And say, Hear the word of the Lord, O king of Judah, that sittest upon the throne of David, thou, and thy servants, and thy people that enter in by these gates: 3Thus saith the Lord; Execute ye judgment and righteousness, and deliver the spoiled out of the hand of the oppressor: and do no wrong, do no violence to the stranger, the fatherless, nor the widow, neither shed innocent blood in this place. 4For if ye do this thing indeed, then shall there enter in by the gates of this house kings sitting upon the throne of David, riding in chariots and on horses, he, and his servants, and his people. 5But if ye will not hear these words, I swear by myself, saith the Lord, that this house shall become a desolation. 6For thus saith the Lord unto the king’s house of Judah; Thou art Gilead unto me, and the head of Lebanon: yet surely I will make thee a wilderness, and cities which are not inhabited. 7And I will prepare destroyers against thee, every one with his weapons: and they shall cut down thy choice cedars, and cast them into the fire. 8And many nations shall pass by this city, and they shall say every man to his neighbour, Wherefore hath the Lord done thus unto this great city? 9Then they shall answer, Because they have forsaken the covenant of the Lord their God, and worshipped other gods, and served them.

10Weep ye not for the dead, neither bemoan him: but weep sore for him that goeth away: for he shall return no more, nor see his native country. 11For thus saith the Lord touching Shallum the son of Josiah king of Judah, which reigned instead of Josiah his father, which went forth out of this place; He shall not return thither any more: 12But he shall die in the place whither they have led him captive, and shall see this land no more.

13Woe unto him that buildeth his house by unrighteousness, and his chambers by wrong; that useth his neighbour’s service without wages, and giveth him not for his work; 14That saith, I will build me a wide house and large chambers, and cutteth him out windows; and it is cieled with cedar, and painted with vermilion. 15Shalt thou reign, because thou closest thyself in cedar? did not thy father eat and drink, and do judgment and justice, and then it was well with him? 16He judged the cause of the poor and needy; then it was well with him: was not this to know me? saith the Lord. 17But thine eyes and thine heart are not but for thy covetousness, and for to shed innocent blood, and for oppression, and for violence, to do it. 18Therefore 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! 19He shall be buried with the burial of an ass, drawn and cast forth beyond the gates of Jerusalem.

20Go up to Lebanon, and cry; and lift up thy voice in Bashan, and cry from the passages: for all thy lovers are destroyed. 21I spake unto thee in thy prosperity; but thou saidst, I will not hear. This hath been thy manner from thy youth, that thou obeyedst not my voice. 22The wind shall eat up all thy pastors, and thy lovers shall go into captivity: surely then shalt thou be ashamed and confounded for all thy wickedness. 23O inhabitant of Lebanon, that makest thy nest in the cedars, how gracious shalt thou be when pangs come upon thee, the pain as of a woman in travail! 24 As I live, saith the Lord, though Coniah the son of Jehoiakim king of Judah were the signet upon my right hand, yet would I pluck thee thence; 25And I will give thee into the hand of them that seek thy life, and into the hand of them whose face thou fearest, even into the hand of Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon, and into the hand of the Chaldeans. 26And I will cast thee out, and thy mother that bare thee, into another country, where ye were not born; and there shall ye die. 27But to the land whereunto they desire to return, thither shall they not return. 28 Is this man Coniah a despised broken idol? is he a vessel wherein is no pleasure? wherefore are they cast out, he and his seed, and are cast into a land which they know not? 29O earth, earth, earth, hear the word of the Lord. 30Thus saith the Lord, Write ye this man childless, a man that shall not prosper in his days: for no man of his seed shall prosper, sitting upon the throne of David, and ruling any more in Judah.

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 —


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