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Jeremiah, Chapter 26

Jeremiah was tried on capital charges.
This Chapter is dated early in the reign of Jehoiachim, which is supposed to be a term indicating the time between his accession to the throne and the New Year following that event. Some have differences of opinion on this; and there are several opinions held by various scholars regarding the date, which seems certainly to have been at some point in the reign of Jehoiachim. Most of the present-day commentators date the Chapter in 609-608 B.C.

Another disputed interpretation relates this Chapter to Chapter 7, in which is recorded the prophecy of God's forthcoming destruction of Jerusalem; and the same prophecy, or another one much like it, is in Jer. 25. Some suppose that the specific prophecy of the seventy years captivity in Jer. 25 was what actually caused the death-threatening procedure against Jeremiah, while others do not agree with the alleged connection between Jer. 7 and Jer. 25. The similarities between the chapters are too many for them not to belong to the same speech.
Some understand that this Chapter as a story of the danger to which Jeremiah was exposed by reason of his prophecy in Jer. 7. Jer. 26:6-7 here contain a summary of that prophecy; and that is only an outline of what was a long speech.

The violation of all conceptions of chronological order is an occurrence of Biblical literature; and as some say, it is only natural to expect it in Jeremiah.

There are two ways to divide the remaining part of this Book of Jeremiah: (1). lumping the rest of the book (Jer. 26 through 52) into a single division titled Historical Narratives.
Or (2). Dividing the rest of the book as follows:
(1). Jeremiah and the False Prophets (Jer. 26 - 29).
(2). The book of Consolation (Jer. 30 - 33).
(3). In the Days of Jehoiachim, Zedekiah (Jer. 35 - 39).
(4). After the Fall of Jerusalem (Jer. 40 - 45).
(5). Prophecies Concerning the Nations (Jer. 46 - 51).
(6). A Historical Addition (Jer. 52).  

The divisions of this chapter are: Jeremiah announces the doom of Jerusalem as God commanded him (Jer. 26:1-6); the false prophets and the priests at once accuse him of blasphemy and declare him to be worthy of death (Jer. 26:7-11); Jeremiah pleads he is innocent (Jer. 26:12-15); the elders and princes decide in favor of Jeremiah (Jer. 26:16-19); the execution of Uriah (Jer. 26:20-23); and Ahikam rescues and protects Jeremiah (Jer. 26:24).
Some think the uncertainty that exists about the connection between the various Chapters in this part of Jeremiah and in the next three chapters, is a historical supplement regarding the distinction between true and false prophecy. Some think that the purpose of Jer. 26 was to prove that the Jews had rejected the prophets. One relates it to the proof of the truth of the prophecy that the captivity would last seventy years. I think it is better to treat the Chapter as a unit, complete in itself, and as connected with Jer. 7.

Jeremiah announces the doom of
Jerusalem as God commanded him (Jer. 26:1-6)

Jer. 26:1 In the beginning of the reign of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah king of Judah came this word from the LORD, saying, (KJV)

In the beginning, the time was 609 B.C. The message is about 4 years earlier (than that in 25:1 and about 11 years before 24:1).
Chapters 26 to 45, focus on Israel’s place among the nations. Scholars disagree as to whether the details of Chapter 26, are to be connected with the Temple discourse in Chapters 7 to 10. Whether or not this chapter is directly related to the same incident as those messages, the theme is mainly the same: unless the citizens of Jerusalem repent, the presence of the Temple in their midst will not guarantee their survival. Instead, God’s chastening Judgment will be as certain as that of Shiloh. Jer. 7:12 But go ye now unto my place which was in Shiloh, where I set my name at the first, and see what I did to it for the wickedness of my people Israel. (KJV) The earlier lodging place of the tabernacle was (1 Sam. 4:3; 7:1-2).
Jehoiakim reigned many years, and all through his reign Jeremiah brought warnings from God of imminent danger IF they did not repent. As we have seen, the Chapters in Jeremiah are not in chronological order. Some of the chapters came at the end of the reign of Jehoiakim's reign. What is important, is not when something happened, but to know that it did happen, just as the LORD said it would! The Book of Jeremiah is not a chronological study, it is a spiritual study . . . and the Word from the LORD came through the mouth of the LORD’S servant, Jeremiah.

*****Jeremiah 7 contains almost the same message as that delivered here in Jeremiah 26 which is dated to the beginning of Jehoiakim's reign, officially the accession year (609/608 B.C.). Jeremiah 26 deals with the result of the message delivered by Jeremiah in Chapter 7.

Jer. 26:2 Thus 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: (KJV)

Thus saith the LORD; Stand in the court of the LORD'S house . . . stand in the court, which was the largest public gathering place at the Temple. The court of the LORD's House is the same as the outer court of the Temple. Three times a year, all the Jews from around Jerusalem came to the Temple to worship. This would have included all of Judah, as well as Benjamin. When they came to worship, Jeremiah was to stand and give the exact words the LORD had put in his mouth to say. He was not to alter the Word of God in any way.
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 . . . Jeremiah did as he was told.
Diminish not a word . . . diminish means to shave off or remove. Jeremiah was not to change anything that the LORD had given him to say. As for us today, we must not water down God's Word, or add to it, or teach any commandments of men. Mat. 15:9 But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. (KJV)

Verses 3-7: At this point in Jeremiah’s ministry, it was still possible for Judah to turn from their sinful ways and avoid the judgment the LORD planned. One of Israel’s central confessions about the LORD was that He was merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abounding in goodness (Ex. 34:6). Isa. 1:16 -19 Wash you, make you clean; put away the evil of your doings from before mine eyes; cease to do evil;
17 Learn to do well; seek judgment, relieve the oppressed, judge the fatherless, plead for the widow. 18 Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool. 19 If ye be willing and obedient, ye shall eat the good of the land: 20 But if ye refuse and rebel, ye shall be devoured with the sword: for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken it. (KJV)

Jer. 26:3 If 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.
(KJV)

If so be they will hearken, and turn every man from his evil way . . . listen and obey; which does not express the guesswork in God, but His patience and long suffering. He gives space and time for repentance, and shows us the way of it; which when ignored, leave us without excuse. And turn every man from his evil way . . . their course of life was evil, and was the case of every one of them.
That I may repent me of the evil which I purpose to do unto them . . . the LORD was thinking or planning what to do to them. Dear one, God’s repentance must not be understood as a change of mind, but of the course of His wisdom towards them, which, by His threats, and some steps already taken, foretold ruin and destruction. However, IF they would repent and reform, God would change His method of action to agree to His will. When a person truly repents of their sin, God steps in with blessings to them.
Because of the evil of their doings . . . their evil doings was the reason why God had threatened them with punishment, because of the wickedness of their actions. What they did broke His law, and provoked the Eyes of His glory.

*****This seems very repetitious and it is. Any time something is repeated, it is important! We must remember that God is patient and kind. He wants to make sure all of them have been warned, and that they have had plenty of time to repent and turn from their wicked ways. The desire of God's Heart, is that they will repent. They deserve to die for the evil they have done, but God wants them to repent and be saved. Consider the following Promise God made His people. 2 Chr. 7:14 If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land. (KJV) . . . This goes for us today as it did in Jeremiah’s day!

Jer. 26:4 And 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, (KJV)

And thou shalt say unto them . . . what follows is the body of the prophecy, and the sum of the sermon or message Jeremiah was sent to deliver, without diminishing a word of it.
Thus saith the LORD, if ye will not hearken to me, to walk in my law which I have set before you . . . the Law was first brought by Moses, by whose hands it was given to their fathers; and by the prophets, the interpreters of it to them. The Law was set as a way for them to walk in, and a rule to walk by. The Law was a reference book for them in their lives and which continues to be so, because it is set before us Christians by our King and Lawgiver Jesus Christ.

*****If ye will not hearken to me . . . this verse makes it clear that at this point in time, national salvation was still possible IF the divine message was received and repentance resulted. When interpreting prophetic literature, this warning must be kept in mind . . . not every message was to be actually fulfilled. God, like a father, often warns His children, IF you do not change your ways, you will be punished. IF the desired behavior results, the punishment is stopped. Jonah's message to Nineveh is a good example of this principle at work (Jon. 3:4-10).

Jer. 26:5 To 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; (KJV)

To hearken to the words of my servants the prophets, whom I sent unto you . . . the TRUE prophets spoke for God. To resist the prophet and his message was to reject God and His Word. They had their mission and commission from the LORD, who was careful to send them early, so they might be instruments to do good to the people and prevent their ruin.
Both rising up early, and sending them, but ye have not hearkened . . . the appeals, cautions and reproofs were given by them in the Name of the LORD, whose servants they were. Therefore, they should be listened to; since listening to them is listening to the LORD himself, for it is in His Holy Name they speak, and whose message they deliver.
But ye have not hearkened . . . neither to the LORD, nor to His prophets, but went on in their own evil ways, neglecting the Law of the LORD and the directions of His servants.

Jer. 26:6 Then will I make this house like Shiloh, and will make this city a curse to all the nations of the earth. (KJV)

Then will I make this house like Shiloh . . . like Shiloh (Jer.7:12, 14; 1 Sam.4:10-12; Ps. 78:60). Shiloh was the former dwelling place of God before Jerusalem (Jer.7:12). Shiloh was where the Ark was until it was taken by the Philistines; and then the LORD forsook His Tabernacle there, and He threatens to do the same to the Temple at Jerusalem, IF they continue their disobedience to Him (Jer. 7:12-14).
And will make this city a curse to all the nations of the earth . . . curse which means object of ridicule, or to make light of something or someone (Jer.24:9; Isa. 65:15), and meaning the city of Jerusalem, which would be taken up, and treated badly in all countries, who, when they would curse anyone would say, the LORD make thee as Jerusalem, or do unto thee as He has done to Jerusalem.

*****This was a stubborn people who would not hear the Word God had sent them by His prophet Jeremiah. Much of this was said to the priests in the Temple area, and they did not accept it at all. They wanted everyone to believe they were the voice speaking for God. They not only did not hear themselves, but caused others not to hear also. Shiloh had been the earliest location of the sanctuary and had been destroyed, because of unrepentant sin of the people. It appears the Philistines had destroyed it. God is trying to make it clear that the Sanctuary was to remain only as long as TRUE worship was kept up.

The false prophets and the priests accuse him of blasphemy, And declare him to be worthy of death (Jer. 26:7-11)

Jer. 26:7 So the priests and the prophets and all the people heard Jeremiah speaking these words in the house of the LORD. (KJV)

Verses 26:8 through chapter 29 deal with Jeremiah’s controversy with a corrupt bureaucracy and priesthood. Jeremiah boldly brought the Truth God had revealed to him. He did not diminish it, nor make it lighter just because the priests were listening. They all heard the prophecy as God intended.
 
Verses 8-9: The people, priest and prophets call for Jeremiah’s death for preaching against the Temple. They probably believed that Jeremiah would be executed as a blasphemer or false prophet for daring to speak against the LORD’S House, as was Jesus Himself (Lev. 24:16; Deut. 18:20; Mark 14:58).

Jer. 26:8 Now 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. (KJV)

Now 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 . . . when Jeremiah finished telling all the people what the LORD had told him to say, they accused him of being a lying prophet who had not only spoken without divine authority but who worked outside of the will of God. These charges constituted a capital offense (Deu.18:20-22). Only the protests of the people (verse 16), and the special interceding of important friends (verse 24), saved Jeremiah from death at this time. Another TRUE prophet did feel the weight of the king’s wrath (verses 20-23).
That the priests and the prophets and all the people took him, saying, Thou shalt surely die . . . they waited until Jeremiah stopped speaking and then they grabbed him. They wanted to kill him, because they did not like the message he had brought. Priests and those in authority, did not like the message that Jesus brought either and they did kill Him (John Chapter 19). Death was the penalty for blasphemy, or for pretending to be a prophet when you were not. Thou shalt surely die is found 90 times in the Holy Word of God, starting with Gen.2:17, on through to Am.7:17. When God says it, He means it. 

*****Priests had become guardians of the current situation, and were continuing the false doctrine of the Temple's holiness (Jer. 7:4), and the prophets were false prophets.
The charge against Jeremiah was that of uttering falsehood in God's Name, and was an act punishable with death (Deu.18:20). These false prophets were calling Jeremiah a false prophet. His prophecy against the Temple and city (vs.11) might falsely be represented as contradicting God's own Words. Ps. 132:13-14 For the LORD hath chosen Zion; he hath desired it for his habitation. 14 This is my rest for ever: here will I dwell; for I have desired it. (KJV) . . . Compare the similar charge against Stephen. Act 6:12-14 And they stirred up the people, and the elders, and the scribes, and came upon him, and caught him, and brought him to the council, 13 And set up false witnesses, which said, This man ceaseth not to speak blasphemous words against this holy place, and the law: 14 For we have heard him say, that this Jesus of Nazareth shall destroy this place, and shall change the customs which Moses delivered us. (KJV)

Jer. 26:9 Why 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. (KJV)

Why hast thou prophesied in the name of the LORD . . . they said that Jeremiah made use of God’s Name in declaring a falsehood . . . and had he said what he thought fit to say in his own name, they said it would not have been as bad. But since he voiced his own opinions in the Name of the LORD, this they said was wicked and blasphemous, and deserved death, especially since what he said was against their city and Temple.
Saying, This house shall be like Shiloh . . . forsaken and destroyed, meaning the Temple.
And this city shall be desolate without an inhabitant . . . so, they twisted his words; for this he did not say, only that it should be a curse to all the nations of the Earth.
And all the people were gathered against Jeremiah in the house of the LORD . . . those that were in the Temple that heard him. Others, upon a rumor that he was apprehended by the priests, prophets and people in the Temple, got together in a mob around him, to hear what he had to say in his own defense. And it appears afterwards that they were on his side (vs.16).

*****The reason Jeremiah had prophesied is because the LORD told him to do it. He did not have a choice. The priest had much authority over the people at this time, and they usually went along with his decision. He wanted Jeremiah killed because Jeremiah made him look bad before the people. These people including the priest, were so full of sin that they did not recognize the sin.

Jer. 26:10 When 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. (KJV)

When the princes of Judah heard these things, then they came up from the king's house unto the house of the LORD . . . there was an uproar in the Temple when Jeremiah brought God’s Words. The princes were those of the blood, or the nobles of the realm, especially the self-seekers, who were of the king's private council. Some think this meant the great Sanhedrin, consisting of seventy persons, and were the chief court of justice. The Sanhedrin were assemblies of either twenty-three or seventy-one rabbis appointed to sit as a tribunal in every city in the ancient Land of Israel.
The princes came up to the Temple, where Jeremiah and the priests were, which, being built on a hill, was higher than the king's palace, therefore they are said to come up to it.
And sat down in the entry of the new gate of the LORD'S house . . . as a court of justice, to hear and try the case between Jeremiah and his accusers. This gate of the Temple is thought to be the higher gate, which Jotham built (2 Ki.15:35). Some call it the eastern gate; and some call it the new gate, according to the Rabbis, because there they renewed the constitutions and traditions, and some new building was added to it. When Jehoiakim was carried captive along with some of the vessels of the Temple, that’s when king Nebuchadnezzar's army broke the eastern gate, which Zedekiah afterwards repaired, and made new.

*****They were just about to try to convict Jeremiah when the princes came up. The princes were the ones who usually tried the people on charges. They have come to the rescue of Jeremiah. The entry of the new gate was where trials were conducted.

Jer. 26:11 Then 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. (KJV)

Then spake the priests and the prophets unto the princes and to all the people . . . the priests and the prophets were the accusers. The princes were the court before whom the case was brought, where the people heard it, although it does not seem as if they were any kind of jury, or had any vote in deciding the outcome. There were times when they brought about a court and the judges of it, to take the side of the question they were for.
Saying, this man is worthy to die . . . or the judgment of death is to this man. He is guilty of a capital crime, and judgment should be given to him, and he be condemned to die.
For he hath prophesied against this city . . . the city of Jerusalem. Jeremiah said that it would be a curse to other nations, or, as they interpreted it, that it would be utterly destroyed, and become desolate, and none would inhabit it.
As ye have heard with your ears . . . Jeremiah was accused of treason, compare the apostle Paul’s arrest. Acts 21:27-28 And when the seven days were almost ended, the Jews which were of Asia, when they saw him in the temple, stirred up all the people, and laid hands on him, 28 Crying out, Men of Israel, help: This is the man, that teacheth all men every where against the people, and the law, and this place: and further brought Greeks also into the temple, and hath polluted this holy place. (KJV)

*****They had no good reason for killing Jeremiah. The duty of a prophet was to speak whatever God had put in his mouth. Had he been a false prophet, then they could have accused him, but they had no proof whatsoever that he was a false prophet, only that he prophesied disaster against their city.

Jeremiah pleads not guilty (Jer. 26:12-15)

Jer. 26:12 Then 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. (KJV)

Then spake Jeremiah unto all the princes and to all the people, saying . . . the LORD sent me, which was a valid justification against any laws alleged against him.
The LORD sent me to prophesy against this house and against this city all the words that ye have heard . . . Jeremiah indicates that there is still room for them to repent. His prophecies main purpose is for the good of the city and the Temple.  

Jer. 26:13 Therefore 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. (KJV)

Therefore now amend your ways and your doings, and obey the voice of the LORD your God . . . this he added, commanding them to amend their ways and obey the Voice of God, for He would yet repent and turn away His judgments pronounced against them.
And the LORD will repent him of the evil that he hath pronounced against you . . . this Jeremiah spoke, and the leaders and people threatened to kill him (verse 8). The prophet defended himself while in extreme danger. He did not compromise, but displayed tremendous spiritual courage. He was ready to die (verse 14), yet warned the crowd that God would hold all the guilty accountable (verse 15). Jeremiah speaks in his own behalf, saying, if you kill me, you are coming against God who sent me.

*****Leave your evil ways and walk in good ways. Forsake your evil works, and do good works, and obey the Voice of the LORD your God, because He is your God. You are wise if you do what His Words directs you to do, for it is only for your good. Jeremiah’s boldness came from the LORD. Again he tells them to repent. Jeremiah does not alter or diminish his message even a little, even in the face of death. He still warns them to repent.

Jer. 26:14 As for me, behold, I am in your hand: do with me as seemeth good and meet unto you. (KJV)

As for me, behold, I am in your hand . . . Jeremiah was in their power, as they were the chief court of judicature. And to whom it belonged to judge the prophets, and to acquit or condemn them, as they saw fit. Because of this, he submits to their authority.
Do with me as seemeth good and meet unto you . . . he willingly submitted to them, and would patiently endure what they thought fit to inflict upon him. He knew that his life was in their hands. He was satisfied he had done what he should have done, therefore, they could proceed just as they pleased with him.

*****In this, Jeremiah is saying, you may kill my body, but I will not alter the message God sent to you. Consider what Jesus said about fear of man. Mat. 10:28 And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. (KJV) . . . Dear one, telling God's Truth was much more important to him than physical life. It should be to us as well.

Jer. 26:15 But 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. (KJV)

But know ye for certain, that if ye put me to death . . . Jeremiah said that if you take my life because of this, you bring trouble on yourselves, for nothing is more certain than this.
Ye shall surely bring innocent blood upon yourselves, and upon this city, and upon the inhabitants thereof . . . you shall be guilty of innocent blood, which would cry for vengeance upon them that brought the accusation, and insisted upon my being found guilty, and also upon those that sat in judgment and condemned me. And too, upon all the inhabitants of the city of Jerusalem, who agreed to the putting me to death.
For of a truth the LORD hath sent me unto you to speak all these words in your ears . . . I am no false prophet, and I am clear of the charge brought against me. I have said nothing except what I had a duty and an order from the LORD to say, of which you may be sure. Because of this, the LORD shall avenge my blood, should it be shed on that account. Then you will only increase your guilt, and add to that great load that lies upon you, and will be your ruin, unless you repent and reform.

*****Put me to death. They put the LORD Jesus to death! Mat 23:31-37 Wherefore ye be witnesses unto yourselves, that ye are the children of them which killed the prophets. 32 Fill ye up then the measure of your fathers. 33 Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell? 34 Wherefore, behold, I send unto you prophets, and wise men, and scribes: and some of them ye shall kill and crucify; and some of them shall ye scourge in your synagogues, and persecute them from city to city: 35 That upon you may come all the righteous blood shed upon the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel unto the blood of Zacharias son of Barachias, whom ye slew between the temple and the altar. 36 Verily I say unto you, All these things shall come upon this generation. 37 O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not! (KJV)
Jeremiah is innocent of any wrong doing and he tells them that. He boldly says again, God sent him to bring this message to them. Their sins are already bad enough, without killing an innocent prophet of God.

The elders and princes decide in favor of Jeremiah (Jer. 26:16-19)

Jer. 26:16 Then 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. (KJV)

Then said the princes and all the people unto the priests and to the prophets . . . hearing Jeremiah's defense, it seemed that he should be justified in what he had done, they took his part, and acquitted him. And the people, who before were on the side of the priests and false prophets; yet hearing what Jeremiah had to say for himself, and also the judgment of the princes, took his part also, and joined with the court in an address to the priests and prophets, who were the chief accusers. And who would willingly have had him brought in guilty of death.
This man is not worthy to die . . . we cannot give judgment against him; he is not guilty of any crime deserving death (verse 11).
For he hath spoken to us in the name of the LORD our God . . . not in his own name, and of his own head; but in the Name of the LORD, and by His command. Therefore, Jeremiah was not a false but a TRUE prophet. What methods they took to figure this, and to make it appear to the people, is not said. Most likely this settled the character of the prophet and their long acquaintance with him, and knowledge of him. His integrity and firmness of mind; the plain marks of seriousness and humility, and a disinterested view, made them decide in his favor.

*****The princes and the people believed what Jeremiah had to say. The priests and the false prophets had been bringing an entirely different message and this made them look bad. The people believed Jeremiah was a prophet of God speaking the Words of their God to them.
 
Verses 17-19: The elders spake. These spokesmen cited the prophet Micah (Mic. 3:12), who before and during Hezekiah’s reign (715 - 686 B.C.), prophesied the destruction of Jerusalem and its Temple. They figured that because they did not kill Micah, God withdrew the judgment. They must not kill Jeremiah so God might change His mind. Micah’s and Jeremiah’s prophecy would come true in time.

Jer. 26:17 Then rose up certain of the elders of the land, and spake to all the assembly of the people, saying, (KJV)

Then rose up certain of the elders of the land . . . the elders speak for the people. They are their spokesmen. The elders were some of the princes mentioned (verse 16) those whose age and dignity, would give weight to the examples of past times which they present. After the princes acquitted Jeremiah of any wrongdoing, certain elders of the land spoke to the mob of Micah's prophecy in the days of Hezekiah, when Israel repented and God turned away His wrath (Jer. 26:17-19); and also of Urijah's prophecy in their own day when Jehoiakim and Israel refused to repent, and put him to death (Jer. 26:20-23). After this Jeremiah was rescued through the influence of Ahikam (Jer. 26:24).
And spake to all the assembly of the people . . . to justify the vote of the court, and to confirm the people in a good opinion of it, by giving them examples and instances of the same kind.

Jer. 26:18 Micah 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. (KJV)

Micah the Morasthite prophesied in the days of Hezekiah king of Judah, and spake to all the people of Judah . . . very openly and publicly, and just as Jeremiah had done (verse 2).
Saying, Thus saith the LORD of hosts, Zion shall be ploughed like a field, and Jerusalem shall become heaps . . . Mount Zion, on the part where the Temple was built, and on the other the city of David, together with the city of Jerusalem, would be so demolished, as if  they had been plowed, and become cultivated.
And the mountain of the house as the high places of the forest . . . covered with grass and shrubs, thorns and briers. Even Mount Moriah, where the Temple stood, which is intended by the house. This was saying as much against the city and Temple as Jeremiah did. And was said in the days of a good king too. Who encouraged reforming, and carried it to a great length (Mic. 3:12).

*****In Micah 3:9, we see the prophecy that is spoken of here. Mic. 3:9-12 Hear this, I pray you, ye heads of the house of Jacob, and princes of the house of Israel, that abhor judgment, and pervert all equity. 10 They build up Zion with blood, and Jerusalem with iniquity. 11 The heads thereof judge for reward, and the priests thereof teach for hire, and the prophets thereof divine for money: yet will they lean upon the LORD, and say, Is not the LORD among us? none evil can come upon us. 12 Therefore shall Zion for your sake be plowed as a field, and Jerusalem shall become heaps, and the mountain of the house as the high places of the forest. (KJV) . . . king Hezekiah let him speak because Micah tried to do right in God's sight.

Jer. 26:19 Did 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.
(KJV)

Did Hezekiah king of Judah and all Judah put him at all to death? . . . no, they did not. Neither the king, by his own authority; nor the Sanhedrim, the great court of judicature, for the nation. They never sought to take away his life, nor did they sit in council about it. They never charged him, much less condemned him.
Did he not fear the LORD, and besought the LORD . . . meaning Hezekiah. He did, as knowing that Micah was a prophet of the LORD, and sent by him. Wherefore he received his prophecy with great awe and reverence, as coming from the LORD. And made his supplications to Him that He would avert the judgments threatened.
And the LORD repented of the evil which he had pronounced against them? . . . the king and his people repented of the evil, and therefore the threatened evil did not come upon them in their days, nor on the city or the Temple.
Thus might we procure great evil against our souls . . . IF we put Jeremiah to death? It is much more advisable to do as Hezekiah did, pray unto the LORD to stop the threatened evil, or else it will be worse with us. This instance is urged to strengthen the decree of the council in favor of Jeremiah.

*****Most of them should have been familiar with this, since it happened just a few years earlier in their own land. This example should have made them think twice before killing Jeremiah. They knew that if he was of God, they would be damning themselves. The elders have made a good point.
 
Verses 20-24: Jehoiakim’s execution of the prophet Urijah in the scene that follows reflects his wickedness and hostility toward the Word of God. An angry response to the preaching of God’s Word is often the reflection of a guilty conscience. Urijah’s only crime was faithfully proclaiming the same message of judgment as Jeremiah. Jesus would later remind Israel that they were guilty of the blood of the prophets from Abel to Zechariah (Luke 11:47-51).
Uriah, like Micah and Jeremiah, had warned of doom on Jerusalem, speaking in Jehoiakim’s day only a bit earlier than Jeremiah’s present warning (609 B.C.). He was executed. The decision could have gone either way since there was an example for killing and for sparing.

The Execution of Urijah (Jer. 26:20-23)

Jer. 26:20 And 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: (KJV)

And there was also a man that prophesied in the name of the LORD . . . these are not the words of the same persons, because the following incident is against them. These were some other persons in the Sanhedrim, who were on the side of the priests and prophets, who in effect said, why tell us of an instance in Hezekiah's time, when there is one recent in the present reign, of a man that prophesied just as Jeremiah has done, and was put to death.
Urijah the son of Shemaiah of Kirjath-jearim . . . Kirjath-jearim was a city of Judah (Jos.18:14). Who Urijah was is not known, there being no account of him anywhere else.
Who prophesied against this city, and against this land, according to all the words of Jeremiah . . . just as he had done, in much the same words, so their case was similar.

Jer. 26:21 And 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; (KJV)

And when Jehoiakim the king, with all his mighty men, and all the princes, heard his words . . . either his self-seekers, or his soldiers or both.
And all the princes, heard his words . . . heard the words of the Prophet Urijah, not with their own ears, but most likely from the report of others.
The king sought to put him to death . . . as being a messenger of bad tidings, tending to discourage his subjects, and calm the joy of his own mind upon his advancement to the throne.
But when Urijah heard it, he was afraid, and fled, and went into Egypt . . . which some understand as caution within him. But instead it was the lack of courage and cowardice. It seems to show lack of faith and confidence in the LORD, and the fear of man, which always brings a snare. It was not being cautious to go to Egypt, since there was a treaty between the kings of Egypt and Judah, with Judah being dependent on Egypt. For the king of Egypt would easily please him in delivering up a subject of his, and a person of such a character.

Jer. 26:22 And Jehoiakim the king sent men into Egypt, namely, Elnathan the son of Achbor, and certain men with him into Egypt. (KJV)

And Jehoiakim the king sent men into Egypt . . . Jehoiakim had been put on the throne by Pharaoh of Egypt (2 Ki. 23:34). He sent men into Egypt . . . which explains the readiness with which he got the Egyptians to give up Urijah to him, when that prophet had sought an asylum in Egypt. Urijah was faithful in delivering his message, but was wrong in forsaking his work, so God permitted him to lose his life, while Jeremiah was protected in danger. The path of duty is often the path of safety.
Namely, Elnathan the son of Achbor, and certain men with him into Egypt . . . Elnathan was a high ranking official who on another occasion sided with Jeremiah (Jer. 36:12, 25).

Jer. 26:23 And 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. (KJV)

And they fetched forth Urijah out of Egypt . . . having found him, they seized him, and brought him back, with the permission of the king of Egypt, which was no doubt easily gotten.
And brought him to Jehoiakim the king, who slew him with the sword . . . maybe with his own hand, or done by his order, and most likely, in his presence.
And cast his dead body into the graves of the common people . . . possibly where they were buried in heaps shamelessly, as some think, or in the common burying ground. He was not placed where persons of distinction were laid, such as prophets and others. This the king did to show dishonor to the prophet.

*****Graves of the common people was in the Kidron Valley, east of the Temple. (2 Ki. 23:6). Urijah had been put to death by Jehoiakim for prophesying. It appeared he had brought a message similar to Jeremiah's. Maybe the reason that Jeremiah was treated more fairly was because his father was a priest. They would think twice before declaring that the son of a priest was a false prophet.

Ahikam rescues and protects Jeremiah (Jer. 26:24)

Jer. 26:24 Nevertheless 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. (KJV)

Nevertheless the hand of Ahikam the son of Shaphan was with Jeremiah . . . Ahikam was the son of Shaphan the scribe, or royal secretary. He was one of those whom King Josiah, when struck by the words of the book of the law, sent to inquire of the LORD (2 Ki.  22:12, 14). Therefore his interference here in behalf of Jeremiah is what we should expect from his past association with that good king. His son, Gedaliah, followed in his father's steps, so that he was chosen by the Babylonians as the one to whom they committed Jeremiah for safety after taking Jerusalem, and on whose loyalty they could depend in setting him over the remnant of the people in Judea (Jer. 39:14; 2 Ki. 25:22).
 
That they should not give him into the hand of the people to put him to death  . . . the people to put him to death . . . princes often, when they want to destroy a good man, prefer it to be done by a popular tumult rather than by their own order, so as to reap the fruit of the crime without hatred to themselves (Mat. 27:20).

*****Even in times of national apostasy, there were some faithful individuals who followed the LORD and seriously considered the messages of His prophets. Ahikam had a long record of faithful service at the highest levels. He had been a member of Josiah’s delegation to the prophetess Huldah (2 Ki.22:12). His continued influence was to be felt through his son Gedaliah, who was appointed governor of Judah by Nebuchadnezzar at the fall of Jerusalem in 586 B.C.
He used his influence to free Jeremiah free from the death threat. This civil leader under King Josiah (2 Ki. 22:12, 14), was the father of Gedaliah, who was appointed governor over Judah by the Babylonians after Jerusalem’s final fall in 586 B.C. (Jer.39:14; 40:13 to 41:3).
Even though they had killed Urijah for almost the same message that Jeremiah brought, they decided Jeremiah was a TRUE prophet of God and did not kill him. It seemed that Ahikam was the one who swayed the group into believing in Jeremiah. Both of Ahikam's sons seemed to believe in Jeremiah as well.

Book of Jeremiah

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