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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.

We have said that the princes were roused by a popular clamor; nor is there a doubt but; that the king had sent them to quell the commotion. It must be especially noticed, that they were engaged in other matters, as it was seldom the case that courtiers spent their time in hearing the prophets. It is indeed true, that the occupations of those are sacred, who have the care of the commonwealth, who dispense justice, and who have to provide for the public safety; but it behoves them so to divide their time, that they may be able to consecrate some portion of it to God. But courtiers think themselves exempted by a sort of privilege, when yet the truth is more necessary for them than even for the common people; for not only the duty of the head of a family lies on each of them, but the Lord has also set them over a whole people. If, then, private men have need of being daily taught, that they may faithfully rule and guide themselves and their families, what ought to be done by those rulers who are as it were the fathers of the commonwealth? But as I have already said, such men usually exempt themselves from the yoke of the faithful.

Hence then it was, that none of the princes were present, when Jeremiah had been commanded to proclaim his message, not only on the day when few came to the Temple, but when they came from all the cities of Judah to sacrifice at Jerusalem. It was, indeed, a very shameful sign of gross contempt, that no one of the king’s counsellors appeared in the Temple, when there were present, from remote places, those whom religion and the desire to sacrifice had brought there. But he says that they came to know the cause of the commotion; for it is said, that they sat at the new gate, which some say was eastward; and they conjecture that it was called new, because it had been renewed; the king’s palace was also towards the east, and the eastern gate was his tribunal. I am disposed to embrace this opinion, that they sat at the eastern gate. 164164     The present Hebrew text is, “the new gate of Jehovah.” “House,” before Jehovah, is found in many MSS., and is given by all the Versions, except the Sept., where Jehovah as well as house, is left out. The true reading no doubt is, “the house of Jehovah.” It was called “the new gate,” says Gataker, because it had been renewed by Jotham. See 2 Kings 15:35. It is rendered “the eastern gate” by the Targ. It was in the porch of this gate, according to some, that the great consistory sat. — Ed. It now follows, —


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