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26. Jeremiah Threatened With Death

In the beginning of the reign of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah king of Judah came this word from the Lord, saying, 2Thus saith the Lord; Stand in the court of the Lord’S house, and speak unto all the cities of Judah, which come to worship in the Lord’S house, all the words that I command thee to speak unto them; diminish not a word: 3If so be they will hearken, and turn every man from his evil way, that I may repent me of the evil, which I purpose to do unto them because of the evil of their doings. 4And thou shalt say unto them, Thus saith the Lord; If ye will not hearken to me, to walk in my law, which I have set before you, 5To hearken to the words of my servants the prophets, whom I sent unto you, both rising up early, and sending them, but ye have not hearkened; 6Then will I make this house like Shiloh, and will make this city a curse to all the nations of the earth. 7So the priests and the prophets and all the people heard Jeremiah speaking these words in the house of the Lord.

8Now it came to pass, when Jeremiah had made an end of speaking all that the Lord had commanded him to speak unto all the people, that the priests and the prophets and all the people took him, saying, Thou shalt surely die. 9Why hast thou prophesied in the name of the Lord, saying, This house shall be like Shiloh, and this city shall be desolate without an inhabitant? And all the people were gathered against Jeremiah in the house of the Lord.

10When the princes of Judah heard these things, then they came up from the king’s house unto the house of the Lord, and sat down in the entry of the new gate of the Lord’S house. 11Then spake the priests and the prophets unto the princes and to all the people, saying, This man is worthy to die; for he hath prophesied against this city, as ye have heard with your ears.

12Then spake Jeremiah unto all the princes and to all the people, saying, The Lord sent me to prophesy against this house and against this city all the words that ye have heard. 13Therefore now amend your ways and your doings, and obey the voice of the Lord your God; and the Lord will repent him of the evil that he hath pronounced against you. 14As for me, behold, I am in your hand: do with me as seemeth good and meet unto you. 15But know ye for certain, that if ye put me to death, ye shall surely bring innocent blood upon yourselves, and upon this city, and upon the inhabitants thereof: for of a truth the Lord hath sent me unto you to speak all these words in your ears.

16Then said the princes and all the people unto the priests and to the prophets; This man is not worthy to die: for he hath spoken to us in the name of the Lord our God. 17Then rose up certain of the elders of the land, and spake to all the assembly of the people, saying, 18Micah the Morasthite prophesied in the days of Hezekiah king of Judah, and spake to all the people of Judah, saying, Thus saith the Lord of hosts; Zion shall be plowed like a field, and Jerusalem shall become heaps, and the mountain of the house as the high places of a forest. 19Did Hezekiah king of Judah and all Judah put him at all to death? did he not fear the Lord, and besought the Lord, and the Lord repented him of the evil which he had pronounced against them? Thus might we procure great evil against our souls. 20And there was also a man that prophesied in the name of the Lord, Urijah the son of Shemaiah of Kirjathjearim, who prophesied against this city and against this land according to all the words of Jeremiah: 21And when Jehoiakim the king, with all his mighty men, and all the princes, heard his words, the king sought to put him to death: but when Urijah heard it, he was afraid, and fled, and went into Egypt; 22And Jehoiakim the king sent men into Egypt, namely, Elnathan the son of Achbor, and certain men with him into Egypt. 23And they fetched forth Urijah out of Egypt, and brought him unto Jehoiakim the king; who slew him with the sword, and cast his dead body into the graves of the common people. 24Nevertheless the hand of Ahikam the son of Shaphan was with Jeremiah, that they should not give him into the hand of the people to put him to death.

But what follows in the next verse ought to be especially observed; for these two things are necessarily connected, — that God required nothing but obedience to his Law, — and that his will was that his prophets should be heard, — To hearken, he says, to the words of my servants, the prophets, whom I send to you, (it is in the second person.) Here there seems to be some inconsistency; for if God’s Law was sufficient, why were the prophets to be heard? But these two things well agree together: the Law alone was to be attended to, and also the prophets, for they were its interpreters. For God sent not his prophets to correct the Law, to change anything in it, to add or to take away; as it was an unalterable decree, not to add to it nor to diminish from it. What then was the benefit of sending the prophets? even to make more manifest the Law, and to apply it to the circumstances of the people. As then the prophets devised no new doctrine, but were faithful interpreters of the Law, God joined, not without reason, these two things together, — that his Law was to be heard and also his prophets; for the majesty of the Law derogated nothing from the authority of the prophets; and as the prophets confirmed the Law, it could not have been that they took away anything from the Law.

Nay, this passage teaches us, that all those who repudiate the daily duty of learning, are profane men, and extinguish as far as they can the grace of the Spirit; many such fanatics among the Anabaptists have been in our time, who despised learning of every kind. They boasted that the doctrine of the Law was the Alphabet; and they also indulged in this dream, that wrong is done to the Holy Spirit when men attend to learning. And some dare, in a grosser manner, to vomit forth their blasphemies; they say that Scripture is enough for us, yea, even these two things, “Fear God and love thy neighbor.” But as I have already said, we must consider how God has spoken by his Law; whether he has closed up the way, so as not to explain his will more clearly by the prophets, nor to apply to present use what would have otherwise been less effectual? or that he purposed to draw continually by various channels the doctrine which flows from that fountain? But now, since God had given his own Law, and had added to the Law his prophets, every one who rejected the prophets must surely ascribe no authority to the Law. Even so now, they who think it not their duty at this day to seek knowledge in the school of Christ, and to avail themselves of the hearing of his word, no doubt despise God in their hearts, and set no value either on the Law, or on the prophets, or on the Gospel. Remarkable then is this passage; it shews that the Lord would have his Law to be our leader and teacher, and yet he adds his own prophets.

He says further, Whom I have sent to you, rising early and sending Here he upbraids the Jews with their slowness and insensibility; for he roused them early, and that not once but often, and yet he spent his labor in vain. Rising early, when applied to God, means that he called these men in due time, as though he had said, that it was not his fault that the Jews had departed from the right way of safety, for he had been sedulously careful of their well-being, and had in due time warned them. We hence see how the Prophet condemned their tardiness and indifference, and then their hardness, by saying, and sending; for this intimates a repetition or assiduity. He had said before, “whom I sent to you, rising early;” now, when he says and sending, he means that he had not sent one prophet, or many at one time, but one after another continually, and that yet it had been without any benefit. The end of the verse I read in a parenthesis, (but ye have not hearkened.) Indeed what follows stands connected with the previous verses. 162162     It is better to commence the parenthesis after the word “prophets;” the three verses I render thus, —
   4. And say to them, Thus saith Jehovah, If ye will not hear me, so as to

   5. walk in my law, which I have set before you, by hearkening to the words of my servants the prophets, (whom I have been sending to you, even rising up early and sending; but ye did not hearken;)

   6. then will I make this house like Shiloh, and this city will I make a urse to all the nations of the earth.

   The Vulg. and the Syr. are in effect the same as above. — Ed.


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