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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.

Here is added the cause of Jeremiah’s condemnation, that he had dared to threaten with so much severity the holy city and the Temple. They did not inquire whether God had commanded this to be done, whether he had any just cause for doing so; but they took this principle as granted, that wrong was done to God when anything was alleged against the dignity of the Temple, and also that the city was sacred, and therefore nothing could be said against it without derogating from many and peculiar promises of God, since he had testified that it would be ever safe, because he dwelt in the midst of it. We hence see by what right, and under what pretense the priests and the prophets condemned Jeremiah.

And by saying, in the name of Jehovah, they no doubt accused him as a cheat, or a false pretender, because he had said that this had been commanded by God, for they considered such a thing impossible and preposterous. God had promised that Jerusalem would be his perpetual habitation; the words of Jeremiah were, “I will make this city like Shiloh.” God seemed in appearance to be inconsistent with himself, “This is my rest for ever,” “this shall be a desert.” We hence see that the priests and the prophets were not without some specious pretext for condemning Jeremiah. There is therefore some weight in what they said, “Dost thou not make God contrary to himself? for what thou denouncest in his name openly and directly conflicts with his promises; but God is ever consistent with himself; thou art therefore a cheat and a liar, and thus one of the false prophets, whom God suffers not in his Church.” And yet what they boasted was wholly frivolous; for God had not promised that the Temple should be perpetual in order to give license to the people to indulge in all manner of wickedness. It was not then God’s purpose to bind himself to ungodly men, that they might expose his name to open reproach. It is hence evident that the prophets and priests only dissembled, when they took as granted what ought to have been understood conditionally, that is, if they worshipped him in sincerity as he had commanded. For it was not right to separate two things which God had connected; he required piety and obedience from the people, and he also promised that he would be the guardian of the city, and that the Temple would be safe under his protection. But the Jews, having neither faith nor repentance, boasted of what had been said of the Temple, nay, they bragged, as we have seen elsewhere, and spoke false things; and hence the Prophet derided them by repeating three times,

“The Temple of Jehovah, the Temple of Jehovah, the Temple of Jehovah,” (Jeremiah 7:4)

as though he had said, — “This is your silly talk, you ever cry boastingly, ‘The Temple of God;’ but all this will avail you nothing.”

It then follows, that the people were assembled Here Jeremiah passes to another part of the narrative, for he reminded the princes and the king’s councillors that they were not without reason roused to go up to the Temple. 163163     It appears better to connect this sentence with the following verse, in this manner, —
   10. While the whole people were assembled against Jeremiah in the house of Jehovah, then the princes of Judah heard these things, and went up from the king’s house into the house of Jehovah, etc.

   This seems to be the beginning of another section. The ו repeated ought often to be thus rendered, while or when, and then; and indeed in our language, then may be sometimes omitted. Were it here rendered and in both instances, the meaning would be the same, only the connection appears more evident when rendered as above; the report of the people congregated against Jeremiah reached the princes — Ed

If the dispute had been between few, either Jeremiah would have been slain, or in some way intercepted, or it might have been that the princes would have circumvented the king and his councillors, and thus the holy man would have been privately crushed. But here he introduced these words, that the whole people were assembled against him. Hence it was that the report, reached the king’s court; and so the princes and councillors were commanded to come. In short, Jeremiah shews the reason why the princes came unto the Temple; it was because the city was everywhere in a commotion, when the report spread that something new and intolerable had been announced. The king therefore could not neglect this commotion; for it is a dangerous thing to allow a popular tumult to prevail. And therefore Jeremiah thus adds, —


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