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The Sign of the Yoke


In the beginning of the reign of King Zedekiah son of Josiah of Judah, this word came to Jeremiah from the L ord. 2Thus the L ord said to me: Make yourself a yoke of straps and bars, and put them on your neck. 3Send word to the king of Edom, the king of Moab, the king of the Ammonites, the king of Tyre, and the king of Sidon by the hand of the envoys who have come to Jerusalem to King Zedekiah of Judah. 4Give them this charge for their masters: Thus says the L ord of hosts, the God of Israel: This is what you shall say to your masters: 5It is I who by my great power and my outstretched arm have made the earth, with the people and animals that are on the earth, and I give it to whomever I please. 6Now I have given all these lands into the hand of King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon, my servant, and I have given him even the wild animals of the field to serve him. 7All the nations shall serve him and his son and his grandson, until the time of his own land comes; then many nations and great kings shall make him their slave.

8 But if any nation or kingdom will not serve this king, Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon, and put its neck under the yoke of the king of Babylon, then I will punish that nation with the sword, with famine, and with pestilence, says the L ord, until I have completed its destruction by his hand. 9You, therefore, must not listen to your prophets, your diviners, your dreamers, your soothsayers, or your sorcerers, who are saying to you, “You shall not serve the king of Babylon.” 10For they are prophesying a lie to you, with the result that you will be removed far from your land; I will drive you out, and you will perish. 11But any nation that will bring its neck under the yoke of the king of Babylon and serve him, I will leave on its own land, says the L ord, to till it and live there.

12 I spoke to King Zedekiah of Judah in the same way: Bring your necks under the yoke of the king of Babylon, and serve him and his people, and live. 13Why should you and your people die by the sword, by famine, and by pestilence, as the L ord has spoken concerning any nation that will not serve the king of Babylon? 14Do not listen to the words of the prophets who are telling you not to serve the king of Babylon, for they are prophesying a lie to you. 15I have not sent them, says the L ord, but they are prophesying falsely in my name, with the result that I will drive you out and you will perish, you and the prophets who are prophesying to you.

16 Then I spoke to the priests and to all this people, saying, Thus says the L ord: Do not listen to the words of your prophets who are prophesying to you, saying, “The vessels of the L ord’s house will soon be brought back from Babylon,” for they are prophesying a lie to you. 17Do not listen to them; serve the king of Babylon and live. Why should this city become a desolation? 18If indeed they are prophets, and if the word of the L ord is with them, then let them intercede with the L ord of hosts, that the vessels left in the house of the L ord, in the house of the king of Judah, and in Jerusalem may not go to Babylon. 19For thus says the L ord of hosts concerning the pillars, the sea, the stands, and the rest of the vessels that are left in this city, 20which King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon did not take away when he took into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon King Jeconiah son of Jehoiakim of Judah, and all the nobles of Judah and Jerusalem— 21thus says the L ord of hosts, the God of Israel, concerning the vessels left in the house of the L ord, in the house of the king of Judah, and in Jerusalem: 22They shall be carried to Babylon, and there they shall stay, until the day when I give attention to them, says the L ord. Then I will bring them up and restore them to this place.

Jeremiah said, in the passage we considered yesterday, that it was more to be desired that God should keep what remained at Jerusalem, than that what had been taken away should be restored, for the time of punishment had not yet passed away; and thus he condemned the false teachers, because they had presumptuously and boldly promised a quick return as to the king as well as to those who had been led with him into exile, he now confirms the same thing, and says that what remained as yet at Jerusalem was already destined for their enemies the Babylonians, and would become their prey. Nebuchadnezzar had in part spared the Temple and the city; he had taken away chiefly the precious vessels, but had not entirely spoiled the Temple of its ornaments. As, then, some splendor was still to be seen there, the Jews ought to have learned that he had acted kindly towards them. He now says, that the Temple and the city would be destroyed; and this may be gathered from his words when he says, that there would be nothing remaining.

Thus saith Jehovah concerning the pillars, etc. There is no doubt but that Solomon spent much money on the pillars, as the Scripture commends the work. He adds, concerning the sea, which was a very large vessel, for from it the priests took water to wash themselves whenever they entered the Temple to perform their sacred duties. And though it was made of brass, it was yet of no small value on account of its largeness; and for this reason it was called sea. He mentions, in the third place, the bases 190190     Or foundations, those on which the sea or pillars stood. See I Kings 7:27-37. — Ed. Jerome reads, “To the bases,” for the preposition is אל, but it means often of, or concerning, as it is well known. He then declares what God had determined as to the pillars as well as the sea and the bases. There were, indeed, other vessels besides; but he specified these in order that the king, and also the people, might know that nothing would be left remaining in the Temple.

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