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DURING THE BABYLONIAN CAPTIVITY.
SECTION I. ON THE BOOK OF THE PROPHET JEREMIAH. 1. Author and date. - II. Occasion of his prophecies
- - different collections of them. - III. Synopsis of their contents. - IV. Prophecies concerning the Messiah. – V. Observations on their style.
BEFORE CHRIST, 628586.
1. THE prophet Jeremiah was of the sacerdotal race, being (as he himself records) one of the priests that dwelt at Anathoth (i. i.) in the land of Benjamin, a city appropriated out of that tribe to the use of the priests, the sons of Aaron (Josh. xxi. 18.), and situate, as we learn from Jerome, about three Roman miles north of Jerusalem. Some critics have conjectured that his father was the same Hilkiah, the high priest, who found the book of the law in the temple, in the eighteenth year of the reign of Josiah (2 Kings xxi. 8.): but for this opinion there is no better ground than that he bore the same name, which was of frequent occurrence among the Jews : for, if Hilkiah had really been the high priest, he would doubtless have been distinguished by that title, and would not have been placed on a level with priests of an ordinary and inferior class. Jeremiah appears to have been very young when he was called to the exercise of the prophetic office, from which he modestly endeavoured to excuse himself, by pleading his youth and incapacity; but being overruled by the divine authority, he set himself to discharge the duties of his function with unremitting diligence and fidelity during a course of at least forty-two years, reckoned from the thirteenth year of Josiah's reign. In the course of his ministry he met with great difficulties and opposition from his countrymen of all degrees, whose persecution and ill-usage sometimes wrought so far upon his mind, as to draw from him expressions, in the bitterness of his soul, which many have thought difficult to reconcile with his religious principles; but which, when duly weighed, may be found to demand our pity rather than censure. He was, in truth, a man of unblemished piety and conscientious integrity ; a warm lover of his country, whose miseries he pathetically deplores; and so affectionately attached to his countrymen, notwithstanding their injurious treatment of him, that he chose rather to abide with them, and undergo all hardships in their company, than separately to enjoy a state of ease and plenty, which the favour of the king of Babylon would have secured to him. At length, after the destruction of Jerusalem, having followed the remnant of the Jews into Egypt, whither they had resolved to retire, though contrary to his advice,
I Heronymi Commin
upon the murder of Gedaliah, whom the Chaldeans had left vernor in Judæa, he there continued warmly to remonstrate against their idolatrous practices, foretelling the consequences that would inevitably follow. But his freedom and zeal are said to have cost him his life; for there is a tradition, that the Jews at Tahpanhes were so offended at his faithful remonstrances, that they stoned him to death, which account of the manner of his decease, though not absolutely certain, is at least very likely to be true, considering the temper and disposition of the parties concerned. Their wickedness, however, did not long pass without its reward; for, in a few years after, they were miserably destroyed by the Babylonian armies which invaded Égypt, according to the prophet's prediction. (xliv. 27, 28.)? Some Jewish writers, however, affirm that he returned to Judea, while others say that he went to Babylon, and died there; and a third class are of opinion that he died in Egypt, far advanced in years, and broken by the calamities which had happened both to himself and his country. This prophet's writings are all in Hebrew, except the eleventh verse of the tenth chapter, which is Cbaldee.
II. The idolatrous apostacy and other criminal enormities of the people of Judah, and the severe judgments which God was preparing to inflict upon them, though not without a distant prospect of future restoration and deliverance, form the principal subjects of the prophecies of Jeremiah ; except the forty-fifth chapter, which relates personally to Baruch, and the six following chapters which respect the fortunes of some particular heathen nations.
It is evident, from various passages of this book, that there were four distinct collections of Jeremiah's prophecies. The first was that mentioned in chapter xxxvi. 2. and made by divine command in the fourth year of the reign of Jehoiakim. In this collection were contained all the predictions which he had delivered and published, to that time, as well against other nations, as against the Jews: the prophecies against the Gentiles are, in our Bibles, placed by themselves at the end of the book, as being in some measure unconnected with those denounced against the Jews; but in the present copies of the Septuagint, they follow immediately after the thirteenth verse of the twenty-fifth chapter. This first collection comprised chapters i.-XX. XXV. xxvi. xxxv. xxxvi. xlv. i. inclusive.
The second collection is that mentioned in chap. xxx. 2, and contained chapters xxvii.-xxxi. inclusive: it was made in the reign of Zedekiah, and, as may be inferred from xxviii. 1., after the fourth year of the reign of Zedekiah.
The third collection was made soon after the destruction of Jerusalem, as is plainly indicated by the prophet himself in the general preface to bis book, where he says that the word of Jehovah came to
Dr. Blayney's Translation of Jeremiah, pp. 221, 322. 2d odit.
Carpzov, has written an elaborate disquisition on the variations between the Hebrew and the Septuagint, in the order of Jeremiah's prophecies; and has given 2 table illustrating those variations. See his Introd. ad Libros Biblicos Vet. Test. para ii. c. iii. $ 4. pp. 144-152.
him " in the days of Josiah the son of Amon king of Judah, in the thirteenth year of his reign; and came in the days of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah king of Judah, until the completion of the eleventh year of Zedekiah the son of Josiah king of Judah, until the carrying away of Jerusalem into captivity in the fifth month.” (i. 1-3.) Consequently, this third collection included chapters xxi.- xxiv. xxxii. -xxxiv. and xxxvii.-xxxix.
The fourth collection, containing chapters xl. xliv. inclusive, presents us with an account of Jeremiah himself, and of the other Jews who were left in Judea by the command of Nebuchadnezzar. The fifty-second chapter was probably added by Ezra as a preface to the book of Lamentations. It is chiefly taken out of the latter part of the second book of Kings, with additions, which Ezra might supply out of the inspired records, and forms a very useful appendage to the prophecies of Jeremiah, as it illustrates their fulfilment in the destruction of the kingdom, city, and temple, which are the subject of the Lamentations.
II. From the preceding statements, it is obvious that the prophecies of Jeremiah are not arranged in the chronological order in which they were originally delivered; the cause of their transposition it is now impossible to ascertain. The late Rev. Dr. Blayney, to whom we are indebted for a learned version of, and commentary on, the writings of this prophet, has endeavoured, with great judgment, to restore their proper order by transposing the chapters wherever it appeared to be necessary. According to his arrangement, the predictions of Jeremiah are to be placed in the following order, viz.
1. The prophecies delivered in the reign of Josiah, containing chapters i. --xi. inclusive.
2. The prophecies delivered in the reign of Jehoiakim, comprising chapters xiii. --XX. xxii. xxiii. xxxv. xxxvi. xlv. xlviii. and xlix. 1-33.
3. The prophecies delivered in the reign of Zedekiah, including chapters xxi. xxiv. xxvii.—xxxiv. xxxvii.-xxxix. xlix. 34–39. and l. li.
4. The prophecies delivered under the government of Gedaliah, from the taking of Jerusalem to the retreat of the people into Egypt, and the prophecies of Jeremiah delivered to the Jews in that country : comprehending chapters xl.--xliv. inclusive.
As this arrangement throws much light upon the prophecies of Jeremiah, it has been adopted in the following synopsis, which accordingly consists of four parts.
THE INTRODUCTION to the book contains its title (i. 1-3.), the call of Jeremiah to the prophetical office and the commission given him by God (4–10.); the purport of which is explained by two visions, that of an almond-tree (11.), indicating the nearness, and the vision of a seething-pot, typifying the severity of the divine judgments. The face of the pot being turned from the north de
Carpzov ascribes it to Baruch or some other inspired man. Introd. pars üi.
noted that they were to be inflicted by the Babylonians and Chaldæans, whose empire lay to the north of Judæa, and poured forth its multitudes like a thick vapour to overspread the land. Part I. comprises such prophecies as were delivered in the reign of
Josiah. (ch. ii.---xii.) DISCOURSE 1, God, by his prophet, expresses his continued regard for the Jews (ii. 1-3.), with whom he expostulates on account of their ungrateful returns for his past goodness (4-13.), and shows that it was their own extreme and unparalleled wickedness and disloyalty which had already subjected, and would still expose them to calamities and misery. (14-30.) This discourse concludes with a pathetic address, exhorting the Jews to return to God, and forewarning them of the fatal consequences of their disobedience. (31–37. ii. 1-5.) Dr. Blayney thinks that this prophecy was delivered soon after the commencement of Jeremiah's prophetic commission. DISCOURSE 2. consists of two parts. The first part contains a complaint against Judah for having exceeded the guilt of her sister Israel, whom God had already cast off for her idolatrous apostacy. (iii. 6–12.) The charge of Judah with hypocrisy in the 10th verse points out the date of this prophetic discourse to have been some time after the eighteenth year of Josiah's reign, when the people, under the influence of their good king, were professedly engaged in measures of reformation, which however are here declared to have been insincere. The prophet is then commissioned to announce to Israel the promise of pardon upon her repentance, and the hope of a glorious restoration in after times, which are plainly indicated to be the times of the Gospel, when the Gentiles themselves were to become a part of the church. (12_21.) In consequence of these declarations of mercy, the children of Israel, confessing and bewailing their sins, have the same comfortable assurances repeated to them. (22-25. iv. 1, 2.) In the second part, which is prefaced with an address to the people of Judah and Jerusalem, exhorting them to prevent the divine judgments by a timely repentance (iv. 3—5.), the Babylonian captivity is clearly and fully predicted, with all its attendant miseries ; and the universal and incorrigible depravity of the people is represented at large, and stated to be the justly provoking cause of the national ruin. (iv. 6—31. v. vi.) DISCOURSE 3. Although the date of this prophecy is not precisely marked, Dr. Blayney thinks it probable that it was delivered shortly after the preceding, and, it should seem, on the following occasion. Besides the prophets who were commissioned to announce the approaching calamities of Judah and Jerusalem, there were others who took upon themselves to flatter the people with opposite predictions. They taught them to regard such threats as groundless; since God (they said) would have too much regard for his own honour to suffer his temple to be profaned, and the seat of his holiness to be given up into the hands of strangers. In the former part of this discourse, therefore, Jeremiah is commanded openly to reprove the falsehood of those assertions, and to show, by an example in point, that the sanctity of the place would afford,
no security to the guilty; but that God would assuredly do by his
the unbelieving would utterly perish. (14-17.)