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Jeremiah, Chapter 36
GOD'S WORD Written in a Book; The Book read to the people; to the princes; and to the king; The book burned by the king; and the Book rewritten.
The Chapter heading also serves as a list of the chapter divisions. It was a critical hour in Israel's history. Babylon had just defeated the Egyptians in the Battle of Carchemish and were at that time moving into Palestine. The disaster was at hand, and it was time for Jeremiah to make a last-minute appeal for Jerusalem and Judea to repent and turn to the LORD.
Jehoiachim hated Babylon. He was a vassal (subject) of Egypt, and for the moment compelled to be instead a vassal of Babylon; but he was planning a revolt. He had clearly appointed a fast day to lead the people in mourning over that Chaldean victory which had made him and Jerusalem a branch to Babylon, with the purpose, no doubt, of increasing opposition to Nebuchadnezzar.
Jeremiah himself was for the time restrained from appearing in the Temple; and that situation prompted the commandment of God to convert all of his prophecies to a written record, and the commandment for them to be read to the people in the Temple.
As I have pointed out before, the prophecies of Jeremiah are not in chronological order but sort of skip around, so it is important to check the beginning of each Chapter where Jeremiah identifies the time and usually the place of the prophecy so that you will be able to be able to fit it into the historic events. In Chapter 36, we have the prophecy of Jeremiah that came to him from the LORD.
Introduction to Jeremiah 36
Here is another attempt to work upon this heedless and stubborn people, but it is just another effort done in vain. A Roll of a Book is provided, containing a brief or summary of all the sermons or messages that Jeremiah had preached to them, that they might be put in mind of what they had heard and might better understand it, when they had it all before them at one view. So here we have, (1). The writing of this roll by Baruch (Jeremiah’s secretary), as Jeremiah dictated it (vs. 1-4). (2). The reading of the roll by Baruch to all the people publicly on a fasting day at the Temple (vs. 5-10), and afterwards by Baruch to the princes privately (vs. 11-19), and finally by Jehudi (an officer of King Jehoiakim) to the king (vs. 20-21). (3). The burning of the roll by the king, with orders to prosecute Jeremiah and Baruch (vs. 22-26). (4). The writing of another roll, with many large additions, mainly of Jehoiakim's doom for burning the former roll (vs. 27-32).
Theme: Zedekiah's captivity foretold; Jeremiah obeys God and Jehoiakim destroys the Word of God. Chapter 36 reveals the attitude that Jehoiakim had toward the Word of God and the messages God sent to him through His prophet, Jeremiah.
The Writing of This Roll by Baruch,
As Jeremiah had Dictated It (Jer. 36:1-4)
Jer. 36:1 And it came to pass in the fourth year of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah king of Judah, that this word came unto Jeremiah from the LORD, saying, (KJV)
And it came to pass in the fourth year of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah king of Judah . . . eighteen years before the destruction of Jerusalem.
That this word came unto Jeremiah from the LORD . . . the following order to write in a roll (a book) all his prophecies he had until now delivered.
Saying . . . as follows:
Jer. 36:2 Take thee a roll of a book, and write therein all the words that I have spoken unto thee against Israel, and against Judah, and against all the nations, from the day I spake unto thee, from the days of Josiah, even unto this day. (KJV)
Take thee a roll of a book . . . a roll of parchment, which when written on, and rolled up, was called a book. Books, in those times, did not have pages that were cut and stitched together, and bound as our books are, but sheets of parchments being written upon, and were glued together, and then rolled up. Such writings then were called volumes; which name we still retain, and give to books, although that same practice is not used today.
And write therein all the words that I have spoken unto thee against Israel, and against Judah . . . for although Israel was carried captive before the times of Jeremiah, and his prophecies were mainly directed against Judah; yet there were some of the ten tribes mixed in with them, they were included in these prophecies, and therefore mentioned.
And against all the nations . . . such as Egypt, Edom, Ammon, and Moab (Jer. 9:26).
From the day that I spake unto thee, from the days of Josiah, even unto this day . . . that is, from the time the LORD called him to prophesy in His Name, which was in the 13th year of Josiah, who reigned thirty one years; and this being the fourth year of Jehoiakim, it must be the and twenty third year of his prophesying, with the course of a full twenty two years (Jer.1:2). All the sermons, discourses and prophecies, Jeremiah had delivered against them during this time, must all be written in one roll or book, that that they might be read.
Jer. 36:3 It may be that the house of Judah will hear all the evil which I purpose to do unto them; that they may return every man from his evil way; that I may forgive their iniquity and their sin. (KJV)
It may be that the house of Judah will hear all the evil which I purpose to do unto them . . . there was no uncertainty in God as to the knowledge of future events, nor was there any change in His purposes. He had determined to bring evil upon them, which purpose would NOT be canceled; for He knew that the Jews would NOT listen to the prediction of it, nor would they be concerned about it. They would NOT repent of their sins, they would NOT reform. He was pleased to take this method, as being a possible one to wake them up, and which would leave them with NO excuse!
That they may return every man from his evil way . . . repent of it, reform their ways.
That I may forgive their iniquity and their sin . . . by not inflicting on them the punishment and ruin threatened . . . for where repentance is and remission of sin, for both these are the gifts of God’s grace, when people turn from their sins.
Jer. 36:4 Then Jeremiah called Baruch the son of Neriah: and Baruch wrote from the mouth of Jeremiah all the words of the LORD, which he had spoken unto him, upon a roll of a book. (KJV)
Then Jeremiah called Baruch the son of Neriah . . . Baruch (Jer.32:12). Baruch was Jeremiah's scribe and personal secretary, who likely wielded considerable influence in the editorial process. He was probably a better penman than the prophet, or was able to write faster; whichever, he thought proper, for quicker dispatch, to make use of him as his secretary.
And Baruch wrote from the mouth of Jeremiah all the words of the LORD . . . Baruch wrote what Jeremiah told him to write.
Which he had spoken unto him, upon a roll of a book; from the mouth of Jeremiah . . . he accompanied the prophet to Egypt (Jer.43:5-7) and there, we might think the book was prepared into its official form.
*****It seems that Jeremiah had before not put any of his prophecies in writing; and yet it cannot be thought that by the mere strength of memory he could repeat every discourse and prophecy he had delivered in the time period of twenty two years; so it must be determined, that that exact same Spirit, which first dictated the prophecies to him, brought them fresh again to his memory; so that he could easily repeat them to Baruch, who wrote them down on a roll of parchment.
The Reading of the Roll by Baruch to All the People Publicly On a Fast-Day (Jer. 36:5-10)
Jer 36:5 And Jeremiah commanded Baruch, saying, I am shut up; I cannot go into the house of the LORD: (KJV)
And Jeremiah commanded Baruch, saying, I am shut up . . . some think he was forced by the king's order to stay at home; and too, possibly he might be restrained by the Spirit of God, or had no freedom in his own mind to go abroad; there might be a restraint, an impulse upon his spirit, by the Spirit of God. Some think he was under some legal pollution, which made him unfit to go into the Temple: for it follows:
I cannot go into the house of the LORD . . . he could have been laboring either under some bodily infirmity, or ceremonial defilement, or was forbidden by the king. What the true cause was is not certain; but either he was discharged, disabled or disqualified from going into the House of God.
*****I am shut up, while this could mean that he was imprisoned or in custody, the statements in 36:19, 26 suggest that this was not the case. He was prevented or restricted in some way. A restraining order of some kind, from the LORD or the king, may have been slapped on the prophet which forbid him to speak publicly in the Temple grounds. Because of this, Jeremiah asks Baruch to go to the Temple and publicly read the new book.
Jer. 36:6 Therefore go thou, and read in the roll, which thou hast written from my mouth, the words of the LORD in the ears of the people in the LORD'S house upon the fasting day: and also thou shalt read them in the ears of all Judah that come out of their cities. (KJV)
Therefore go thou, and read in the roll, which thou hast written from my mouth . . . the roll (book) being finished, Baruch is now ordered to read it, and since the prophet could not go himself, he sends another in his room, to read,
The words of the LORD in the ears of the people, in the LORD'S house, upon the fasting day . . . the Day of Atonement; the great fast, which was on the tenth day of the seventh month, in the fourth year of Jehoiakim; and so this was a different time of reading from that in verse 9. This was a very proper time to read it in, when the people were fasting and humbling themselves before the LORD; although some think this was a special fast proclaimed by Jehoiakim, to try to prevent the vengeance threatened by the Chaldean army.
And also thou shalt read them in the ears of all Judah that come out of their cities . . . . to keep the feast of tabernacles; as they did five days after the fast, or Day of Atonement; and this seems to be the second reading of the roll ordered.
*****The fasting day, Verse 9 suggests that this was a special fast, in the ninth month. The fast on the great Day of Atonement was on the tenth day of the seventh month (Lev. 16:29; 23:27-32). This fast was apparently called by the king due to the specific crisis at hand. The Babylonians had apparently just captured Ashkelon in Philistia, making the Judeans nervous about their future. The fast was no doubt to be an occasion on which Jeremiah would find the population more softened, as well as gathered together in larger numbers.
Jer. 36:7 It may be they will present their supplication before the LORD, and will return every one from his evil way: for great is the anger and the fury that the LORD hath pronounced against this people. (KJV)
It may be they will present their supplication before the LORD . . . present their supplication . . . Jeremiah's hope is that the people will be sincerely ashamed, and not merely gather for a show. The way to evaluate their sincerity would be to see how they responded to God's Word read to them by Baruch.
And will return every man from his evil way . . . not only pray for mercy, but repent of sin, and reform their ways, for if they do not, God’s mercy would not to be expected.
For great is the anger and fury that the LORD hath pronounced against this people . . . a very sore judgment, no less than the utter destruction of their city, Temple and nation.
Jer. 36:8 And Baruch the son of Neriah did according to all that Jeremiah the prophet commanded him, reading in the book the words of the LORD in the LORD'S house. (KJV)
And Baruch the son of Neriah did according to all that Jeremiah the prophet commanded him . . . Baruch followed the prophet's commands, being obedient; which he considered without a doubt as the will of the LORD, Who directed the prophet to give the orders He did; and which he promptly did, in all respects, as to things, time and place.
Reading in the book the words of the LORD in the LORD'S house . . . the prophecies of Jeremiah, which came from the LORD, and which he had written down in a book from the mouth of the prophet. These he read before the people in the Temple, a first and maybe a second time, before the reading of it recorded in the following verses.
Jer. 36:9 And it came to pass in the fifth year of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah king of Judah, in the ninth month, that they proclaimed a fast before the LORD to all the people in Jerusalem, and to all the people that came from the cities of Judah unto Jerusalem. (KJV)
And it came to pass in the fifth year of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah king of Judah, in the ninth month . . . this was a different time of reading the book from before, ordered by the prophet, and performed by Baruch (verse 6), that was on the tenth day of the seventh month, in the fourth year of Jehoiakim . . . this was in the fifth year of his reign, and in the ninth month of the year, a year and two months after the first time, as it seems; but Jehoiakim's fifth year beginning in the seventh month after the day of atonement, this ninth month is to be considered not from the beginning of his fifth year, but from the beginning of the ecclesiastical year in the spring; so that this was just two months after the first reading.
That they proclaimed a fast before the LORD . . . this was not an ordinary fast, or a common annual one of divine appointment, which came in course, but an unexpected one, because of some particular occasion. Some think it was on account of the scarcity, drought and famine in the land (Jer.14:1); and others, which seems more likely, take it to be because of the calamity that threatened the nation by the Chaldean army. This fast was proclaimed by the order either by the king and his council; maybe at the request of the people, at least they agreed and consented to it, and indeed are represented in the text as the proclaimers; for so the word they is explained in the following clause, which should be rendered, not,
To all the people . . . but to all the people in Jerusalem.
And all the people that came from the cities of Judah unto Jerusalem . . . these people either declared the fast; they applied to the government for one, or else obeyed the king's orders, and published and proclaimed a fast; not only the inhabitants of Jerusalem, but those who came from other cities on business, or for safety, or for worship.
*****The government appointed a public fast to be religiously observed (v. 9), either because of the distress they were brought into by the Chaldean army or of the lack of rain (Jer.14:1): They proclaimed a fast to the people; whether the king and princes or the priests, ordered this fast, is not certain; but it was plain that God by His wisdom called them to it. Great shows of piety and devotion may be found even among those who, even though they keep up these forms of godliness, are strangers and enemies to the power of it. 2 Tim. 3:5 Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away. (KJV) . . . What will such hypocritical services profit? Fasting, without repentance and reforming and turning away from sin, will NEVER turn away the judgments of God (Jon.3:10). Aside from this fast, God proceeded in His disagreement with these people.
Jer. 36:10 Then read Baruch in the book the words of Jeremiah in the house of the LORD, in the chamber of Gemariah the son of Shaphan the scribe, in the higher court, at the entry of the new gate of the LORD'S house, in the ears of all the people. (KJV)
Then read Baruch in the book the words of Jeremiah in the house of the LORD . . . the prophecies of Jeremiah he received from him when he wrote on a roll of parchment; these he read in the Temple, in a part of it, now described.
In the chamber of Gemariah the son of Shaphan the scribe . . . chamber, some of the chambers were large enough to hold a considerable number (Neh.13:5). Baruch read from the window or balcony of the chamber looking into the court where the people were assembled. Gemariah the son of Shaphan the scribe . . . a scribe is a secretary of state, or he who presided over the public records, not a scribe of the law, or an officer of the Temple, but the king's chancellor or secretary of state; for this is the title, not of Gemariah, who had a chamber in the Temple here mentioned, in which Baruch read his roll, and was an officer there, but of Shaphan, as the accents show, and as his title runs elsewhere (2 Ki.22:9).
In the higher court . . . that of the priests, the court of the people being lower (2 Chr.4:9). Some say it was the court of the priests; but into that Baruch, not being a priest, could not enter: so it had to be the court of Israel, on the same ground with it, although parted from it, and divided from the court of the women by a wall, to which they went up by fifteen steps; so that it might with great propriety be called the higher court.
At the entry of the new gate of the LORD'S house . . . the eastern gate, as the Targum interpret it. It was here Baruch read his roll.
In the ears of all the people . . . that were in the court; so that Baruch being in a chamber, he must read out of the chamber window, or in a balcony before it.
Afterwards by Baruch to the Princes Privately (Jer. 36:11-19)
Jer. 36:11 When Michaiah the son of Gemariah, the son of Shaphan, had heard out of the book all the words of the LORD, (KJV)
When Micaiah the son of Gemariah, the son of Shaphan . . . who was present when Baruch read in the roll to the people in his father's chamber; but his father was absent, and was with the princes in the secretary's office at the same time, which verse 12 shows. The son seems to be a more religious man than the father, unless he was placed as a spy, to hear and see what he could: however, when he,
Had heard out of the book all the words of the LORD . . . which were spoken by the LORD to Jeremiah, and which Baruch read out of the book he had written in his hearing; for it is a vain conceit of one, that Micaiah did not hear the words when Baruch read out of the book, but that he out of the book which he looked into . . . for then it would have been said, which he had seen or read out of the book, and not heard Baruch read.
Jer. 36:12 Then he went down into the king's house, into the scribe's chamber: and, lo, all the princes sat there, even Elishama the scribe, and Delaiah the son of Shemaiah, and Elnathan the son of Achbor, and Gemariah the son of Shaphan, and Zedekiah the son of Hananiah, and all the princes. (KJV)
Then he went down into the king's house . . . the royal palace, which was not on the same mountain on which the Temple stood, but lay lower, therefore Micaiah is said to go down to it; with what plan he went there is not certain, whether out of ill will to Jeremiah and Baruch, or out of good will, being affected with what he had heard, and wanted that some steps might be taken by the government to prevent the calamities coming upon them, according to these prophecies; which the latter seems most likely, since no charge or accusation is brought by him; and since his father, with others, to whom he gave the account afterwards, interceded with the king that the roll might not be burnt (verse 25); yet, immediately after he had heard the roll read, he went to the king's house.
Into the scribe's chamber . . . the secretary's office; formerly his grandfather Shaphan's, now Elishama's:
And, lo, all the princes sat there . . . some of them are mentioned by name:
Even Elishama the scribe . . . or secretary; the prime minister, the principal secretary of state, and therefore named first, in whose chamber or office they were.
And Delaiah the son of Shemaiah . . . who this person was, or his office, is not known; he is nowhere else made mention of; and who his father was is not certain.
And Elnathan the son of Achbor . . . the same that Jehoiakim sent to Egypt to fetch Uriah from there (Jer.26:22).
And Gemariah the son of Shaphan . . . who was Micaiah's father, and in whose chamber Baruch read the roll.
And Zedekiah the son of Hananiah . . . of this prince also no account is given anywhere else.
And all the princes . . . the rest of them, who were either members of the great Sanhedrim, or attendants; it appears from here that this court was very profane and ungodly; for even though they had proclaimed a fast, to make a show of religion, or at the insistence of the people; yet they did not attend Temple worship and service themselves, but were all together in the secretary's office, most likely about political affairs. It is uncertain whether this Michaiah went to bring this news to the princes who sat in the secretary's chamber, as a piece of news only, or out of a malicious plan to accuse the prophet and Baruch for what was done as a rebellious practice.
*****Jeremiah 36:7-12. It may be they will present their supplication before the LORD, and they will return every man from his evil way: for great is the anger and the fury that the LORD had pronounced against this people. Baruch did according to all that Jeremiah the prophet commanded him, and he read from the book the Words of the LORD in the LORD’S house. And it came to pass in the fifth year of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah the king of Judah, in the ninth month, that they proclaimed a fast before the LORD to all the people in Jerusalem, and to all the people that came from the cities of Judah unto Jerusalem. Baruch then read in the book the words of Jeremiah in the House of the LORD, in the chamber of Gemariah the son of Shaphan the scribe, in the higher court, at the entry of the new gate of the LORD’S house, in the ears of all the people. Now when Michaiah the son of Gemariah, the son of Shaphan, had heard out of the book all the words of the LORD, he went into the king’s house, into the scribe’s chamber: and all of the princes were sitting there. Why he went is not stated.
Jer. 36:13 Then Michaiah declared unto them all the words that he had heard, when Baruch read the book in the ears of the people. (KJV)
Then Micaiah declared all the words that he had heard . . . the sum and substance of them; because it cannot be thought that he would keep in his memory every word that he had heard; although, as it is very likely that he was much struck and affected with what he had heard, he might remember and tell a much of it.
When Baruch read the book in the ears of the people . . . and this he no doubt also declared, that what he had heard, and then related, were read by Baruch out of a book; as is clear from the princes sending for Baruch, and ordering him to bring the roll along with him (verse 14).
Jer. 36:14 Therefore all the princes sent Jehudi the son of Nethaniah, the son of Shelemiah, the son of Cushi, unto Baruch, saying, Take in thine hand the roll wherein thou hast read in the ears of the people, and come. So Baruch the son of Neriah took the roll in his hand, and came unto them. (KJV)
Therefore all the princes sent Jehudi . . . who, according to one, was the king's official sent to carry out his orders, he is described by as,
The son of Nethaniah, the son of Shelemiah, the son of Cushi . . . him the princes sent, being not one of their body, but a servant of the court.
To Baruch . . . who was most likely still in the Temple, where Micaiah left him.
Saying, take in thine hand the roll wherein thou hast read in the ears of the people, and come . . . to the king's palace, to the secretary's office, where they were, and bring the roll along with him that he had been reading to the people, and of which Micaiah had given them some account; and which had such an effect upon them, as to make them want to hear it themselves.
So Baruch the son of Neriah took the roll in his hand, and came unto them . . . which showed great boldness and lack of fear in him, to go at once, without hesitating, to court, and appear before the princes with his roll, which contained things that were very disagreeable to the king. But as he had not been afraid to read it publicly before the people in the Temple, so neither was he afraid to read it before the princes at court.
Jer. 36:15 And they said unto him, Sit down now, and read it in our ears. So Baruch read it in their ears. (KJV)
And they said unto him, sit down now . . . they received him very courteously, showing much respect to him, in asking him to sit down by them.
And read it in our ears . . . as he had done in the ears of the people, clearly and distinctly, that they might be able to hear it, so as to understand it.
So Baruch read it in their ears . . . without any fear or dread, even though he was in the king's palace, and before an assembly of princes; neither did he excuse himself because of weariness, having just read it to the people; or scold the princes with not being in the Temple, where they could have heard it.
Jer. 36:16 Now it came to pass, when they had heard all the words, they were afraid both one and other, and said unto Baruch, We will surely tell the king of all these words. (KJV)
Now it came to pass, when they had heard all the words . . . in the roll or book read by Baruch; they heard them read patiently, which was what the king later, would not do.
They were afraid both one and another . . . both the good and bad; for there was some of both hinds among them; they looked at one another, and knew not what to say to each other, as men amazed and astonished; they trembled at what they heard, the threats were terrible, and the calamity threatened so abundant; and they consulted together what they should do with this roll, or what course they should take to prevent the threatened vengeance, and especially whether they should tell the king about it or not; trying to figure which would the safest and most careful thing to do.
And said unto Baruch, we will surely tell the king of all these words . . . this they said, not to terrify Baruch, or out of any ill will to him; but partly for their own security, lest they would bring on the king's displeasure, if he were to come to the knowledge of it any other way; and hoping it might have some effect on him, to cause a reformation; though of this they were doubtful, and instead feared it would infuriate him. So, therefore they wanted Baruch and Jeremiah to hide themselves (verse 19). This was what some of them, the good men among them wished things were different than they were.
Jer. 36:17 And they asked Baruch, saying, Tell us now, How didst thou write all these words at his mouth? (KJV)
And they asked Baruch . . . the following question, which may seem at first as odd, needless, and trifling as some have called it.
Saying, tell us now, how didst thou write all these words at his mouth? . . . this seemed to be a reasonable question, considering they were what Jeremiah had been prophesying for so many years. The thing seemed strange to the princes, because prophets did not write their sermons, but spoke the words spontaneous.
*****This question regards the manner of writing the words in the roll. They wanted to know if the material contained in the roll was what Jeremiah had dictated. Baruch had told the princes that the prophet had dictated all the things in the roll to him, and he had written them down as Jeremiah spoke. But, now they wanted more satisfaction about the truth of this matter. It was hard for them to understand how it was possible for Jeremiah to remember so many different sermons, speeches and prophecies, delivered at different times, and some many, many years ago, and so freely dictate them to Baruch. When Jeremiah would dictate them, Baruch would write them down. So, they wanted him to tell them plainly the truth of the matter, how it was, so that they might tell it with certainty to the king; since, if this were really true which he had related, and these prophecies were original, and freshly dictated, they must be from the Spirit of God, and would most certainly have their accomplishment.
Jer. 36:18 Then Baruch answered them, He pronounced all these words unto me with his mouth, and I wrote them with ink in the book. (KJV)
Then Baruch answered them . . . at once, without hesitation, plainly and fully:
He pronounced all these words unto me with his mouth . . . Jeremiah delivered by word of mouth, the precise words of it, and every one of them, and all clearly and distinctly, without hesitation, or premeditation; by which it is plain it was by the Spirit of the LORD that he did this. Neither the matter nor the words were Baruch's, but were exactly as they were delivered to him.
And I wrote them with ink in the book . . . Baruch wrote what he heard from Jeremiah, with ink in the book, which was the way of writing with the Jews back then. Baruch had nothing more to do in this matter except to provide pen, ink and parchment, and to make use of them as he did, exactly as the prophet dictated and directed him.
*****This simply added to the princes' fear and alarm. They considered that the thing that was done, was from God, for without a special power from God it would have been impossible for Jeremiah to have remembered all that he had spoken at so many different times in so many years. And since this proceeded from the God of Truth, they feared that the prophecies would have their certain and just accomplishment in their time.
Jer. 36:19 Then said the princes unto Baruch, Go, hide thee, thou and Jeremiah; and let no man know where ye be. (KJV)
Then said the princes unto Baruch . . . being satisfied with his answer,
Go hide thee, thou and Jeremiah, and let no man know where ye be . . . at least some of these princes seemed to be good men, and believed what was read to them, and believed the prophet was from God and Baruch was under command of Jeremiah to write the book. They were concerned for their welfare; knowing the violent temper of the king, and that he had no regard for the prophets; they feared he would resent what had been so publicly read to the people. They provided against the worst; and in caution advised Baruch and his master to flee, and not let anyone know where they were, lest they would be betrayed. Jeremiah might have been in prison, as some have thought, at the first reading of the roll, which was in the fourth year of Jehoiakim, and be at liberty now, which was in the fifth year (verse 1).
And Lastly by Jehudi to the King (Jer. 36:20-21)
Jer. 36:20 And they went in to the king into the court, but they laid up the roll in the chamber of Elishama the scribe, and told all the words in the ears of the king. (KJV)
And they went in to the king into the court . . . these princes went into the king's court, where he usually resided. They probably did not rush in, but first sent to know find out if the king would admit them, they having something to communicate to him; which they might do by the person in waiting, by whom they were introduced.
But they laid up the roll in the chamber of Elishama the scribe . . . they did not take it with them, but left it in the secretary's office; and no doubt, put it up safe in some chest as something valuable, and not to be exposed to everyone; or to be thrown around, torn or trampled on, as a book of no use and value. Most likely it was with the consent of Baruch that it was left with them: and this was a point of caution in them not to take it with them when they went to the king.
And told all the words in the ears of the king . . . the sum and substance of them; for it cannot be thought they would remember every word in the roll; just the main part of it and rehearsed it in a very audible manner.
Jer. 36:21 So the king sent Jehudi to fetch the roll: and he took it out of Elishama the scribe's chamber. And Jehudi read it in the ears of the king, and in the ears of all the princes which stood beside the king. (KJV)
So the king sent Jehudi to fetch the roll . . . Jehudi was an officer of King Jehoiakim, and was the same person the princes sent for Baruch to come to them, and bring the roll with him (verse 14). This the king did, out of curiosity, and to be satisfied of the truth of what the princes said; and by this it appears they had told him of the roll, which contained what they had given him a summary of, and where the roll was.
And he took it out of Elishama the scribe's chamber . . . or out of the chamber of Elishama the scribe; who knew where it was, being present at the reading of it in the secretary's office, and saw where it was laid.
And Jehudi read it in the ears of the king, and in the ears of all the princes that stood by the king . . . which no doubt he was ordered to do; and which he did so loudly, clearly and distinctly, that the king and all the princes could hear; which princes were those who had heard it before, and were come to the king to acquaint him with the material of it; and who stood by the side of the king, or around him, in honor to him; though there might be also others besides them, who were before with the king, and waiting on him; and one thinks that other princes, besides those that went to the king are meant. When it is said that Jehudi read the roll in the hearing of the king and princes, it must be understood of only a part of it, not the whole of it; as verse 23 shows.
The Burning of the Roll by the King, with Orders to Prosecute Jeremiah and Baruch (Jer. 36:22-26)
Jer. 36:22 Now the king sat in the winterhouse in the ninth month: and there was a fire on the hearth burning before him. (KJV)
Now the king sat in the winter house, in the ninth month . . . the ninth month, would be part of November and part of December. The winter house was a separate part of the palace was used for living in the winter.
This winter house probably was a winter parlor, as distinguished from a summer parlor (Jud.3:20); and both were probably under the same roof, where the one might be more airy and cool, and the other more closed and warm. Kings had their summer and winter houses (Am.3:15). This incident is mentioned for the sake of what follows, the burning of the roll; and accounts for there being a fire at hand to do it.
And there was a fire on the hearth burning before him . . . there was a stove or fireplace, in which a large fire of wood was made, at which the king sat to keep himself warm while the roll was being read, and around which the princes stood.
The Jewish calendar has the following months:
1. Nissan 30 days March-April
2. Iyar 29 days April-May
3. Sivan 30 days May-June
4. Tammuz 30 days June-July
5. Av 30 days July-August
6. Elul 29 days August-September
7. Tishri 30 Days September-October
8. Cheshvan 29 or 30 days October-November
9. Kishlev 30 or 29 days November-December
10. Tevet 29 days December-January
11. Shevat 30 Days January-February
12. Adar I (leap years only) 30 days February-March
13. Adar (leap years only) 29 days February-March
Jer. 36:23 And it came to pass, that when Jehudi had read three or four leaves, he cut it with the penknife, and cast it into the fire that was on the hearth, until all the roll was consumed in the fire that was on the hearth. (KJV)
And it came to pass, that when Jehudi had read three or four leaves . . . either three or four of the breadths of parchment, which were glued together, and rolled up; or three or four of the columns in those breadths. The meaning is, he had read a few of them.
He cut it with the penknife . . . he cut the roll to pieces with a penknife he had in his hand, or lay near him. It is difficult to say who it was that did this; whether Jehudi that read the roll, or Jehoiakim the king that heard it; most interpreters understand it to be the king.
And cast it into the fire that was on the hearth, until all the roll was consumed in the fire that was on the hearth; that is, he cast it into the fire, and there let it lie, until it was wholly consumed; a very bold and irreverent action, to burn the Holy Word of God; an evidence of an ungodly mind; clear proof of the hatred and hostility of the heart against God, and of its anger against His Word and His servants. Yet people vainly try to frustrate and discourage the divine predictions in it, or try to avoid and stop the judgments threatened. But what God has promised in His Holy Word about Promises to the righteous, and threats to the wicked, shall be accomplished exactly as prophesied!
*****The king, not having patience to hear over three or four columns, or periods, or titles, took the penknife that Jehudi had, and cut it in pieces, and burned it in the fire that was before him, not considering that it was the revelation of God’s will, but boldly and arrogantly exalting himself. This showed both the wickedness and violent temper of this king, and his utter contempt of God and His prophets.
Three or four leaves . . . their books were in the form of a scroll, and consisted of several pieces of parchment rolled upon each other. It must also be noted, that by leaves, some understand columns or partitions, into which the width of the parchment was divided. The parchments are sewn on the side of each other; which are read by unfolding the roll either to the right or left; so that there are as many pages as there are parchments.
Jer. 36:24 Yet they were not afraid, nor rent their garments, neither the king, nor any of his servants that heard all these words. (KJV)
Yet they were not afraid, nor rent their garments . . . the king and those with him when they heard the roll read to them . . . were not struck with horror at such an wicked action as the burning of the holy roll; nor were they afraid of the judgments and wrath of God threatened in it; nor did they tear their garments as a token of sorrow and mourning on account of either, as was done when anything blasphemous was said or done, or any bad news was brought. The Jews from this conclude, that whenever a man sees the Book of the Law torn or cut in pieces, he should rend his garments, he should mourn! The persons here meant are not the princes that first heard the roll read in the secretary's office, for they were afraid (verse 16); unless they now had shook off their fears in the king’s presence.
Neither the king, nor any of his servants that heard all these words . . . not all the Words that were in the roll, for they only heard a part; but all that they heard, should have been enough to make them tremble with fear. But . . . they did NOT have any fear because they were hardened in their sins; and by the hardness and impenitence of their hearts (Jer.17:9), which they treasured up wrath against the day of wrath (Rom.2:5-11). These servants of the king seem to be those in waiting, and not the princes that came to him about the roll; but, they were not all of this nature and character, since it follows.
Jer. 36:25 Nevertheless Elnathan and Delaiah and Gemariah had made intercession to the king that he would not burn the roll: but he would not hear them. (KJV)
Nevertheless, Elnathan, and Delaiah, and Gemariah . . . three of the five princes mentioned in verse 12. These three princes seemed to have had a greater dread of God in their hearts than the rest of them, for they boldly dared to intervene, and begged the king not to burn the roll; but he would not listen to their advice.
Had made intercession to the king, that he would not burn the roll . . . or allow it to be burned; they begged him not to destroy it. If they had from the first shown themselves, as they should have done, being affected with the Word, maybe they might have persuaded him to bear it patiently; but far too often those that will not do the good they should, but put it out of their own power to do the good they might have done.
But he would not hear them . . . or he would not listen to them, but either cast the roll into the fire himself, or permitted Jehudi to do it; nor would he allow it to be taken out until it was consumed.
Jer. 36:26 But the king commanded Jerahmeel the son of Hammelech, and Seraiah the son of Azriel, and Shelemiah the son of Abdeel, to take Baruch the scribe and Jeremiah the prophet: but the LORD hid them. (KJV)
The king was not satisfied just with burning the roll, but gives an order to apprehend both Jeremiah and Baruch, and commanded these three men to do it. But God in His wisdom kept them both out of their hands. How or where the LORD hid them we are not told. The princes (as we read before) advised Baruch that they should both hide themselves (verse 19). This verse means no more than, God directed them to find such a place where the king's messengers could not find them, nor understand where they were, until the king's wicked passion was over. But the LORD hid them; the princes advised them to hide themselves, and they did, very probably in a house of some of their friends; but this would not have been sufficient, had not the LORD taken them under His protection. There was absolutely no doubt a special divine concern for them; but by what means this preservation was is not known. One suggests that these messengers looked for them in the very place where they were, but could not find them; and supposes that the LORD set darkness around them, or weakened the eyesight of those that searched for them, that they simply could not see them.
*****Verses 8-26. It seems that Baruch made great use of this roll, and read in it to the people continually! It was in the fourth year of Jehoiakim that he wrote it, and began reading it; and here we find him on the fast day in the fifth year and he is still reading from it. We have only a circumstantial account of the proceedings at this fast. Possibly, the fear and the terror in their looks are remarkable proofs of the alarm generally felt in their consciences. The hiding both of Jeremiah and Baruch for the apprehension of the King's wrath, is another testimony of it. But we must also see, that there is NOT one single word said of their hearts turning to the LORD. Sad to say, until the LORD turns a person’s heart, not a tiny bit of love, will the heart turn towards the Almighty God! We must look yet further, that although their consciences were as a result alarmed and terrified, yet when the bold wickedness of the king was carried to such a height, as to cut the roll and cast it into the fire, not even one soul rent his garment as to mourn, not even one showed panic and shame on their face. Do we really see how the LORD sheltered His faithful servants? Do you really see how the awesome Hand of the LORD was revealed? Dear one, when the LORD hid them, He revealed Himself!
The Writing of Another Roll, with Large Additions, Mainly of Jehoiakim's Doom for Burning the Former (Jer. 36:27-32)
Jer. 36:27 Then the word of the LORD came to Jeremiah, after that the king had burned the roll, and the words which Baruch wrote at the mouth of Jeremiah, saying, (KJV)
Then the word of the LORD came to Jeremiah . . . in the place where he was hidden; the LORD knowing where he was, for he hid him, and therefore could send His Word to him.
After the king had burnt the roll . . . either with his own hands, or had ordered it to be burned.
And the words which Baruch wrote at the mouth of Jeremiah . . . King Jehoiakim took a sad course by burning the roll . . . for God’s Word cannot be burnt, no more than it can be bound. Ps. 56:7 Shall they escape by iniquity? in thine anger cast down the people, O God. (KJV) 2 Tim. 2:9 Wherein I suffer trouble, as an evil doer, even unto bonds; but the word of God is not bound. (KJV)
Saying . . . as follows:
*****Even though the attempts of Hell against the God’s Word are very daring and bold, not even one tiny bit of His Holy Word shall ever fail, nor shall the unbelief of any man, no matter how powerful, make God’s Word of no effect. Enemies may triumph as they burn many Bibles, but they can NEVER abolish the Word of God, for they can neither destroy nor defeat the success of it. Although the tables of the Law were broken (Ex.34:1; Deu.10:2), they were renewed again; and so out of the ashes of the roll that was burned, there shall rise another. The word of the LORD endures forever.
Jer. 36:28 Take thee again another roll, and write in it all the former words that were in the first roll, which Jehoiakim the king of Judah hath burned. (KJV)
Take thee again another roll . . . or a piece of parchment; or rather several pieces of parchment glued or rolled up together.
And write in it all the former words that were in the first roll, which Jehoiakim the king of Judah hath burnt . . . just as when the two tables of the Law were broken, two others were made, and the same laws written on them; and so too here the same Spirit of God, which brought to the mind of the prophet all his former sermons and prophecies, so that he could easily dictate them to Baruch. He could and did renew them again; so that Jehoiakim's burning of the roll meant nothing. All attempts to destroy the Word of God are in vain; they always have been, and always will be; for the Word of the LORD endures forever.
Jer. 36:29 And thou shalt say to Jehoiakim king of Judah, Thus saith the LORD; Thou hast burned this roll, saying, Why hast thou written therein, saying, The king of Babylon shall certainly come and destroy this land, and shall cause to cease from thence man and beast? (KJV)
And thou shall say to Jehoiakim king of Judah . . say concerning the king; since the prophet was hidden, and he was in search of him; nor was it safe for him to appear in person before him. This may be understood as to what should be put into the second roll, and in what he addressed to the king.
Thus saith the LORD, thou hast burnt this roll . . . or had allowed or ordered it to be burnt, giving this as a reason for it,
Saying, why hast thou therein written . . . what the king thought be a great lie, which he never thought came from the LORD; but was a scheme of Jeremiah, to whom he credited the writing of them, although it was Baruch who really wrote the words.
Saying, the king of Babylon shall certainly come and destroy this land, and shall cause to cease from thence man and beast? . . . by killing some, and carrying off others, so that the destruction would be complete. The king never thinks of himself and his family, as if his concern was only for the nation; and that he took it hostile that anything would be said which expressed the ruin of it, and might discourage the inhabitants of it.
Jer. 36:30 Therefore thus saith the LORD of Jehoiakim king of Judah; He shall have none to sit upon the throne of David: and his dead body shall be cast out in the day to the heat, and in the night to the frost. (KJV)
Therefore thus saith the LORD, of Jehoiakim king of Judah . . . or concerning him; for Almighty God is not here said to be the LORD of Jehoiakim, although He in fact was, since He is KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS (Rev.17:14; 19:16).
He shall have none to sit upon the throne of David . . . none of Jehoiakim’s descendants would reign after him, or succeed him in the throne of David and Kingdom of Judah. His son Jeconiah reigned just three months, which is considered as nothing, and could not be called sitting upon the throne; and besides, he was never confirmed by the king of Babylon, in whose power he was, and by whom he was carried captive; and Zedekiah, who followed, was not his lawful successor, was brother to Jehoiakim, and uncle to Jeconiah, and was set up by the king of Babylon in contempt by the latter; and as for Zerubbabel, he was no king, nor was there any of this family until the Messiah came (Lk.2:4-11).
And his dead body shall be cast out in the day to the heat, and in the night to the frost . . . meaning he would have no burial but that of an ass (Jer. 22:19); he would be cast into a ditch, and be exposed to the heat of the sun in the daytime, and to frosts at night . . . and though his body would not feel it, it would be very perilous to the character of a king, and shocking to any to behold.
Jer. 36:31 And I will punish him and his seed and his servants for their iniquity; and I will bring upon them, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and upon the men of Judah, all the evil that I have pronounced against them; but they hearkened not. (KJV)
And I will punish him and his seed and his servants for their iniquity . . . in cutting the pieces of the roll, and burning it, which was done either by the king or by his order, and with his support; and at which possibly his sons were present, and expressed pleasure in it; and his servants that stood by agreed to it, except for the three (verse 25); nor were they afraid of the judgments of God in it, nor in the least shocked at it (verse 24); though this may be understood of all their iniquities they had been guilty of.
And I will bring upon them, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and upon the men of Judah, all the evil that I have pronounced against them . . . the famine, pestilence and sword, and the destruction of their land, city and Temple; and their captivity in Babylon.
But they hearkened not . . . they did not listen to what was said to them, not in the first nor roll, and not in the second roll.
Jer. 36:32 Then took Jeremiah another roll, and gave it to Baruch the scribe, the son of Neriah; who wrote therein from the mouth of Jeremiah all the words of the book which Jehoiakim king of Judah had burned in the fire: and there were added besides unto them many like words. (KJV)
Then took Jeremiah another roll . . . of parchment; several sheets joined together, which made up a roll or volume.
And gave it to Baruch the scribe, the son of Neriah . . . who was by office a public notary or scribe of the Law, as well as the secretary of the prophet.
Who wrote therein from the mouth of Jeremiah all the words of the book which Jehoiakim king of Judah had burnt in the fire . . . not one word was lost; every one was recovered through the fresh inspiration of the Holy Spirit, by which Jeremiah dictated the same things in the same words to Baruch again . . . so that the king achieved nothing by his burning it, except an addition of guilt, and a heavier condemnation of God’s wrath and vengeance, as follows:
And there were added besides unto them many like words . . . of the same nature and argument, especially of the threatening kind. Not only the original material was found in the second scroll, but new words were also added. The Law was also similarly rewritten after the first tables had been broken owing to Israel's idolatry (Ex. 32-34). A symbolic connection between these events is clear.
*****Compare Jer. 36:32 with the following.
Jer. 22:18 Therefore thus saith the LORD concerning Jehoiakim the son of Josiah king of Judah; They shall not lament for him, saying, Ah my brother! or, Ah sister! they shall not lament for him, saying, Ah lord! or, Ah his glory! (KJV)
Very boldly, by the Holy LORD, is the judgment in detail pronounced upon Jehoiakim. Dreaded by all around him, he would soon lie an ignored corpse, with not one to mourn for him. No loving relative will mourn, as when a brother or sister is carried to the grave; neither shall he have any respect from any of his subjects.
Ah my brother! or, Ah sister! . . . this was the usual method in lamenting a death (1 Ki. 13:30), the weeping of subjects and friends, those outside his family.
They shall not lament for him . . . the words contrast the death as well as the life of Jehoiakim with that of Josiah. For him there would be no lamentation such as was made for the righteous king (2 Chr.35:25). For the funeral ceremonies of Israel, (1 Ki.13:30; 1 Ki.14:13; Mat. 9:23; Mk. 5:38). Jehoiakim was an evil king, and no one would grieve when he was gone. He had been trouble for all who knew him.
Book of Jeremiah
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