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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.

He not only confirms here what he had taught, but also reproves the hardness and obstinate wickedness of the priests and prophets; for though he addressed the princes and the people, he yet no doubt designed to touch more sharply those ungodly men who set themselves up against God; and at the same time his discourse referred to them all, when he said, “How have I sinned? I have endeavored to promote your safety, must I therefore die?” We hence see that the Prophet not only confirmed what he had said, but also accused his adversaries of ingratitude; for nothing could have been more kind, and ought to have been more acceptable, than to be called to repent, that they might receive mercy from God: “What was the object of my doctrine? even that ye might repent; and what does repentance bring? even salvation; for God is ready to forgive you. Now ye cannot bear to hear, that God would be merciful to you. What madness is this?” We now then see the design of the Prophet.

And this passage deserves to be noticed; for God will render to all the ungodly their own reward; not only because they harden themselves against every instruction, but also because they are manifest and, as it were, sworn enemies to their own salvation, inasmuch as they refuse the necessary remedy, and do not allow themselves to be restored to the right way, that they may be forgiven. Very weighty, then, is what he now says, that no fault could be found in his doctrine, except that it proved galling to the wicked, but that they could yet obtain peace, provided they sought reconciliation with God. 166166     The words are, —
   13. And now make good your ways and your doings, etc.;

   or, But now, etc. It reads better than “therefore,” as in our version, borrowed from the Vulg. The Sept. is “and,” and the Targ. also. “Amend” of our version, is the Syr.; “make good” is the rendering of the other early versions. He mentions what is posterior first; to hear God’s voice is in order previous to the making good our ways; but this is according to the practice often adopted by the prophets. — Ed.

He adds, Hear ye the voice of Jehovah, in order to shew that he required nothing new from the people, that he imposed on them no hard yoke, but only called them to the duty of obeying the Law; and he adds to this, your God, in order to take away from them every excuse, lest they should object and say that what Jeremiah alleged was unknown to them. Here, then, he triumphantly declares that he had taught them nothing that was alien to the Law, and that the Jews were inexcusable who professed Jehovah to be their God, and yet hearkened not to his voice, which ought to have been familiar to them.


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