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The Scroll Read in the Temple


In the fourth year of King Jehoiakim son of Josiah of Judah, this word came to Jeremiah from the L ord: 2Take a scroll and write on it all the words that I have spoken to you against Israel and Judah and all the nations, from the day I spoke to you, from the days of Josiah until today. 3It may be that when the house of Judah hears of all the disasters that I intend to do to them, all of them may turn from their evil ways, so that I may forgive their iniquity and their sin.

4 Then Jeremiah called Baruch son of Neriah, and Baruch wrote on a scroll at Jeremiah’s dictation all the words of the L ord that he had spoken to him. 5And Jeremiah ordered Baruch, saying, “I am prevented from entering the house of the L ord; 6so you go yourself, and on a fast day in the hearing of the people in the L ord’s house you shall read the words of the L ord from the scroll that you have written at my dictation. You shall read them also in the hearing of all the people of Judah who come up from their towns. 7It may be that their plea will come before the L ord, and that all of them will turn from their evil ways, for great is the anger and wrath that the L ord has pronounced against this people.” 8And Baruch son of Neriah did all that the prophet Jeremiah ordered him about reading from the scroll the words of the L ord in the L ord’s house.

9 In the fifth year of King Jehoiakim son of Josiah of Judah, in the ninth month, all the people in Jerusalem and all the people who came from the towns of Judah to Jerusalem proclaimed a fast before the L ord. 10Then, in the hearing of all the people, Baruch read the words of Jeremiah from the scroll, in the house of the L ord, in the chamber of Gemariah son of Shaphan the secretary, which was in the upper court, at the entry of the New Gate of the L ord’s house.

The Scroll Read in the Palace

11 When Micaiah son of Gemariah son of Shaphan heard all the words of the L ord from the scroll, 12he went down to the king’s house, into the secretary’s chamber; and all the officials were sitting there: Elishama the secretary, Delaiah son of Shemaiah, Elnathan son of Achbor, Gemariah son of Shaphan, Zedekiah son of Hananiah, and all the officials. 13And Micaiah told them all the words that he had heard, when Baruch read the scroll in the hearing of the people. 14Then all the officials sent Jehudi son of Nethaniah son of Shelemiah son of Cushi to say to Baruch, “Bring the scroll that you read in the hearing of the people, and come.” So Baruch son of Neriah took the scroll in his hand and came to them. 15And they said to him, “Sit down and read it to us.” So Baruch read it to them. 16When they heard all the words, they turned to one another in alarm, and said to Baruch, “We certainly must report all these words to the king.” 17Then they questioned Baruch, “Tell us now, how did you write all these words? Was it at his dictation?” 18Baruch answered them, “He dictated all these words to me, and I wrote them with ink on the scroll.” 19Then the officials said to Baruch, “Go and hide, you and Jeremiah, and let no one know where you are.”

Jehoiakim Burns the Scroll

20 Leaving the scroll in the chamber of Elishama the secretary, they went to the court of the king; and they reported all the words to the king. 21Then the king sent Jehudi to get the scroll, and he took it from the chamber of Elishama the secretary; and Jehudi read it to the king and all the officials who stood beside the king. 22Now the king was sitting in his winter apartment (it was the ninth month), and there was a fire burning in the brazier before him. 23As Jehudi read three or four columns, the king would cut them off with a penknife and throw them into the fire in the brazier, until the entire scroll was consumed in the fire that was in the brazier. 24Yet neither the king, nor any of his servants who heard all these words, was alarmed, nor did they tear their garments. 25Even when Elnathan and Delaiah and Gemariah urged the king not to burn the scroll, he would not listen to them. 26And the king commanded Jerahmeel the king’s son and Seraiah son of Azriel and Shelemiah son of Abdeel to arrest the secretary Baruch and the prophet Jeremiah. But the L ord hid them.

Jeremiah Dictates Another

27 Now, after the king had burned the scroll with the words that Baruch wrote at Jeremiah’s dictation, the word of the L ord came to Jeremiah: 28Take another scroll and write on it all the former words that were in the first scroll, which King Jehoiakim of Judah has burned. 29And concerning King Jehoiakim of Judah you shall say: Thus says the L ord, You have dared to burn this scroll, saying, Why have you written in it that the king of Babylon will certainly come and destroy this land, and will cut off from it human beings and animals? 30Therefore thus says the L ord concerning King Jehoiakim of Judah: He shall have no one to sit upon the throne of David, and his dead body shall be cast out to the heat by day and the frost by night. 31And I will punish him and his offspring and his servants for their iniquity; I will bring on them, and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and on the people of Judah, all the disasters with which I have threatened them—but they would not listen.

32 Then Jeremiah took another scroll and gave it to the secretary Baruch son of Neriah, who wrote on it at Jeremiah’s dictation all the words of the scroll that King Jehoiakim of Judah had burned in the fire; and many similar words were added to them.


But the Prophet immediately shows that the ungodly in vain resist God, when they kick against the goad; they must necessarily be torn in pieces by the stone with which they contend, because their hardness cannot hinder God from executing his judgments. It is therefore added, Thus saith Jehovah of the king Jehoiakim, Be shall have no one to succeed him on the throne of David By saying, that he should have no successor, he means that he should have none of his own posterity; for though his son Jeconiah was made king in his stead, yet as he reigned only for three months, this short time was not counted. Then Jeremiah declares, by God’s cmnmand, that King Jehoiakim should not have a legitimate successor, for his son Jeconiah was led into exile at the end of three months; and Zedekiah was not counted as a legitimate successor, because he was the uncle. And there is also no doubt but that Nebuchadnezzar, from ill-will and hatred, set him on the throne, for he thus raised him in order to degrade Jehoiakim and Jeconiah.

We now then perceive in what sense God threatened that there would be none to succeed King Jehoiakim; for it is not simply said, “There shall be none to sit on the throne of David;” but, “There shall be none to him,” לא יהיה לו la ieie lu, that is, “There shall be none of his children, or of his offspring, to succeed him on the throne of David.” For the last king was Zedekiah, and he, as I have said, was the uncle; so that the whole royal seed were cast off, for no one after this time ever succeeded to the throne.

But it may be asked, How can this prophecy agree with the promise, that the posterity of David should continue as long as the sun and moon shone as faithful witnesses in the heavens? (Psalm 89:37, 38) God had promised that the kingdom of David should be perpetual, and that there would be some of his posterity to rule as long as the sun and moon shone in the heavens; but what does our Prophet mean now, when he says, that there shall not be a successor? This is, indeed, to be confined to the posterity of Jehoiakim; but yet we must bear in mind what we have seen elsewhere, and that is, that he speaks here of an interruption, which is not inconsistent with perpetuity; for the perpetuity of the kingdom, promised to David, was such, that it was to fall and to be trodden under foot for a time, but that at length a stem from Jesse’s root would rise, and that Christ, the only true and eternal David, would so reign, that his kingdom should have no end. When, therefore, the Prophets say, that there would be none to sit on David’s throne, they do not mean this strictly, but they thus refer only to that temporary punishment by which the throne was so overturned, that God at length would, in his own time, restore it, according to what Amos says,

“For come shall the time when God shall raise up the fallen tabernacle of David.”
(Amos 9:11)

We now perceive in what sense hath stood firm the promise respecting the perpetuity of the kingdom, and that the kingdom had yet ceased for a time, that is, until Christ came, on whose head was placed the diadem, or the royal crown, as Ezekiel says. (Ezekiel 21:26) There is yet no doubt but this great inconsistency was made an objection to Jeremiah:

“What! can it be that the throne of David should be without a legitimate heir? Canst thou draw down the sun and moon from the heavens?”

In like manner, when the Prophets spoke of the destruction of Jerusalem, they said:

“What! Is it not said, ‘This is my rest for ever, here will I dwell?’ (Psalm 83:14)

Can it be that God will be without his habitation on earth, especially when he calls it his rest?” But the answer to all this was not difficult, even that God remained faithful to his promises, though his favor was, for a time, as it were, under a cloud, so that the dreadful desolation both of the city and of the kingdom might be an example to all.

There is no doubt, then, but that they shewed to the Prophet that the kingdom would be hid, as though it were a treasure concealed in the earth, and that still the time would come when God would again choose both the city and the kingdom, and restore them to their pristine dignity, as the Papists say, who boast in high terms of everything said in Scripture respecting the perpetual preservation of the Church:

“Christ promises to be with his people to the end of the world, that he will be where two or three meet together in his name, that the Church is the pillar and ground of the truth.”
(Matthew 28:20; 1 Timothy 3:15)

They heap together all these things, in order to shew that God is in a manner tied and bound to them. But we can easily dissipate these frivolous objections; for God does wonderfully and invisibly preserve his Church in the world; and then the outward face of the Church does not always appear, but it is sometimes hid, and afterwards it emerges and recovers its own dignity, which, for a time, might seem to have been extinguished. Hence we give now the same answer to the Papists as the Prophets formerly did to the ancient people, — that God is a faithful preserver of his Church, but not according to the perception of the flesh, for the Church is in a wonderful manner sustained by God, and not in a common way, or as they say, according to the usual order of things.

He says that the dead body of Jehoiakim would be cast out, to be exposed to the cold in the night, and to the heat in the day This might seem unimportant, like what we threaten children with, when we mention some phantoms to them; for what harm could it have been to Jehoiakim to have his dead body exposed to the cold in the night? for no injury or feeling of sorrow can happen to a dead body, as a dead man as to his body can have no feeling. It seems then that it is to little purpose that the Prophet says, that his dead body would be exposed to the heat in the day, and to the cold at night. But this is to be referred to the common law of nature, of which we have spoken elsewhere; for it is a sad and disgraceful thing, nay, a horrid spectacle, when we see men unburied; and the duty of burying the dead has from the beginning been acknowledged, and burial is an evidence of a future resurrection, as it has been before stated. When, therefore, the body of man lies unburied, all men shun and dread the sight; and then when the body gets rigid through cold, and becomes putrid through the heat of the day, the indignity becomes still greater. God then intended to set forth the degradation that awaited Jehoiakim, not that any hurt could be done to him when his body was cast out, and not honored with a burial, but that it would be an evidence of God’s vengeance, when a king was thus cast out as an ass or a dog, according to what we have seen elsewhere, “With the burial of an ass shall he be buried,” that is, he will be deemed unworthy of common honor; for as it falls to the lot of the lowest of men to find a pit where their bodies lie buried, it was a rare and unusual proof of God’s vengeance, that a king should he exposed as a prey to birds and wild beasts. We know what Jehu said of Jezebel,

“Let her be buried, for she is a king’s daughter.”
(2 Kings 9:34)

She was worthy to be torn to pieces a hundred times. She had been cast out from a chamber, and the dogs licked her blood; yet an enemy ordered her to be buried — and why? because she was a king’s daughter, or descended from a royal family, (1 Kings 21:23:) then, he said, let her be buried.

We now then understand the meaning of the Prophet, or rather of the Holy Spirit, that it would be a remarkable proof of God’s vengeance, when the body of King Jehoialdm should be exposed at night to the cold, and in the day to the heat. This has also happened sometimes to the saints, as we have before said; but it was a temporal punishment common to the good and to the bad. We ought yet always to consider it as God’s judgment. When a godly man is left without burial, we must know that all things happen for good to God’s children, according to what Paul says, whether it be life or death, it is for their salvation. (Romans 8:28) But when God gives a remarkable proof of his wrath against an ungodly man, our eyes ought to be opened; for it is not right to be blind to the manifest judgments of God; for it is not in vain that Paul reminds us that God’s judgment will come on the ungodly; but he would have us carefully to consider how God punishes the reprobate in life and in death and even after death. It follows —

Here a reason is given for what the former verse contains; for if the Prophet had only said, that the dead body of the king would remain unburied and cast out in dishonor to be exposed in the night to the cold and in the day to the heat, the narrative would not have produced the effect intended; but God shews here the cause, which was this, that he had forewarned King Jehoiakim and all his counsellors, (called here servants) and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and all the Jews universally: as then they had been in due time clearly told what calamity was near at hand, and yet no one had repented, for this so great an obstinacy God says now that he would take vengeance, I will visit him and his seed and the whole people for their iniquity — what was the iniquity? even that they had so grievously and in so many ways provoked God, and had not returned to a sound mind, though reproved by the Prophet, but had become more and more hardened.

The extremity of their iniquity the Prophet thus points out, because they hearkened not to the threatenings, by which God had endeavored to rescue them from the coming ruin: for there would have been some hope of deliverance, had they deprecated God’s wrath; but as his threatenings had been despised, it was, as I have said, an extreme iniquity. And we see elsewhere how much God abominates this diabolical presumption of men,

“I have called to sackcloth and ashes; but ye have called to the harp and to joy, and have said, ‘Let us feast and drink, for to-morrow we shall die:’ as I live, this iniquity shall not be blotted out.”
(Isaiah 22:12, 13)

God swore by himself, that this sin should not be expiated, for the Jews repented not when he kindly invited them to himself, and declared to them that they could not escape extreme punishment. It is therefore no wonder that God in this place also represents their obstinate wickedness as being the greatest, the Jews having not hearkened to the reproofs conveyed to them by the mouth of Jeremiah. It follows —

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