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While Jerusalem was besieged, the Egyptians came to help Zedekiah,
and the Chaldeans drew off 10 fight the Egyptians ; during this time the events related in this chapter happened.
i THE word which came unto Jeremiah from the LORD,
1 when Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, and all his army, and all the kingdoms of the earth of his dominion, and all the
people, fought against Jerusalem, and against all the cities 2 thereof, saying, Thus saith the Lord, the God of Israel; Go
and speak to Zedekiab king of Judah, and tell him, Thus saith the LORD; Behold, I will give this city into the hand of the king of Babylon, and he shall burn it with fire : And thou shalt not escape out of his hand, but shalt surely be taken, and delivered into his hand ; and thine eyes shall behold the eyes of the king
of Babylon, and he shall speak with thee mouth to mouth, in a 4 stern angry manner, and thou shalt go to Babylon. Yet hear the
word of the LORD, O Zedekiah king of Judah ; Thus saith the 5 LORD of thee, Thou shalt not die by the sword : (But] thou
shalt die in peace : and with the burnings of thy fathers, the former kings which were before thee, so shall they burn [odours] for thee ; and they will lament thee, [saying,] Ah lord! for I have pronounced the word, saith the LORD ; thou
shalt die a natural death, and receive the usual marks of respect 6 which are paid to kings at their decease. Then Jeremiah the
prophet spake all these words unto Zedekiah king of Judah in 7 Jerusalem, (for which he was imprisoned, chap. xxxii.) When
the king of Babylon's army fought against Jerusalem, and against all the cities of Judah that were left, against Lachish, and against Azekah : for these defenced cities remained of the cities of Judah.
[This is) the word that came unto Jeremiah from the LORD, after that the king Zedekiah had made a covenant with all the people which were] at Jerusalem, to proclaim liberty unto
them, when he thought judgments were coming he began a refor. 9mation according to the law in Exodus xxi. 2; That every man
should let his man servant, and every man his maid servant, [being) an Hebrew or an Hebrewess, go free ; that none should
serve himself of them, (to wit,] of a Jew his brother, though sold 10 either lo pay their debts, or by the judges for their crimes. Now
when all the princes, and all the people, which had entered into the covenant, heard that every one should let his man servant, and every one his maid servant, go free, that none should serve
themselves of them any more, then they obeyed, and let (them) Il go. But afterward they turned, and caused the servants and
the handmaids whom they had let go free, to return, and brought them into subjection for servants and for handmaids ; when the
siege was raised for a while, they laid hold of them, and brought them into bondage again ; which was worse than if they had never
let them go free. *12 Therefore the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah from the 13 LORD, saying, Thus saith the LORD, the God of Israel ; I made
a covenant with your fathers in the day that I brought them forth out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondmen, saying, At the end of seven years, or within the term of seven years, let ye go every man his brother an Hebrew, which hath been sold unto thee ; and when he hath served thee six years, thou shalt let him go free from thee : but your fathers hearkened not unto me, neither inclined their ear. This law, and that concern.
ing the sabbatical year, have been neglected for several ages. 15 And ye were now turned, and had done right in my sight, in
proclaiming liberty every man to his neighbour ; and ye had
made a covenant before me in the house which is called by my 16
namie : But ye turned and polluted my name, and caused every man his servant, and every man his handmaid, whom he hath set at liberty at their pleasure, to return, and brought them into
subjection, to be unto you for servants and for handmaids, 17 Therefore thus saith the LORD ; Ye have not hearkened unto
me, in proclaiming liberty, every one to his brother, and every man to his neighbour : behold, I proclaim a liberty for you, saith the Lord, to the sword, to the pestilence, and to the famine ; and I will make you to be removed into all the kingdoms of the earth. A remarkable contrast ! Ye have not given liberty to your brethren and neighbours, therefore I will give the sword, the pes. tilence, and the fumine, full commission and liberty to attack you
without control ; and ye shall be slaves among strangers and 18 enemies. And I will give the men that have transgressed my
covenant, which have not performed the words of the covenant
which they had made before me, when they cut the calf in twain, 19 and passed between the parts thereof, The princes of Judah and
the princes of Jerusalem, the eunuchs, and the priests, and all
the people of the land, which passed between the parts of the 20 calf ;* I will even give them into the hand of their enemies, . and into the hand of them that seek their life: and their dead
bodies shall be for meat unto the fowls of the heaven, and to the 21 beasts of the earth. And Zedekiah king of Judah and his prin
ces, will I give into the hand of their enemies, and into the hand
of them that seek their life, and into the hand of the king of 22 Babylon's army, which are gone up from you. Behold, I will
command, saith the LORD, and cause them to return to this city ; and they shall fight against it, and take it, and burn it with fire : and I will make the cities of Judah a desolation without an inhabitant.
. Here is an allusion to their manner of making covenants; they killed a calf, and before it was laid on the altar, the covenanting parties waikel between the parts of it, and so made a kind of imprecation, that God wonlı so cut them asunder if they broke the covenant : this was a cominon custom among the beachen, and as old as Abraham's time. See G473. XY. 17.
BSERVE a remarkable instance of the goodness and U severity of God, in the case of Zedekiah. He was not one of the worst of their kings ; but by his disobedience to God, and treachery to the king of Babylon, to whom he swore allegiance, he was dethroned, carried captive, indi had his eyes put out. Yet he lived in honour at Babylon, died in peace, and was buried with royal pomp. Thus judgment and mercy were mingled together : God punished his disobedience and falsehood ; yet showed him some favour on account of his freedom from some of the vices of his predecessors. God will not suffer disobedience and treachery to go unpunished ; nor any degree of virtue and obedience to go unrewarded.
2. It may be useful to bind ourselves by solemn engagements to our duty. Thus the Jews did, when they were informed what the law of God was concerning the release of their servants. The covenant was solemnly made and ratified in the house and presence of God ; and attended with imprecations of his wrath if they brake it. It may be serviceable to us to bind ourselves by solemn vows to what is our duty ; and often to remind ourselves of them, and of the authority, omniscience, and power of God; and thus to keep up a due apprehension of his wrath in case of disobedience; and all is little enough to fix our unsteady minds, and keep them firin to his commands. But we learn also,
3. That if we break our vows to God, he will severely punish it. What could be more vile and infamous than the conduct of this people to their servants ! It was not only an injury to them, but a high affront to God, and a contempt of his law. They, as it is here said, polluted his name, and brought a reproach upon his religion ; and therefore he gave them over to all kind of calamities. This is too often the case with the vows men make in the time of sickness and trouble ; they promise, and perhaps begin to reform ; but when the trouble is over, their good resolutions are gone ; they repent of their repentance, and become as bad, yea worse than before. But be not doceived, God is not mocked ; dissembled repentance, and partial reformation, are highly provoking to him ; and therefore only adding deceit and treachery to other sins. In this case God will repent of the good he intended us, and make our punishment more remarkable and dreadful. When thou hast vowed a vow, defer not to pay it.
Jeremiah is here ordered to go to the Rachabites, who on the approach
of the Chaldeans took refuge in Jerusalem, and to try their obedience to the command of their father by offering them wine 10 drink : which they refused : hence occasion is taken to upbraid the Jews with their disobedience to the commands of God; and a blesisng is pironounced on the Rechabites.
imTHE word which came unto Jeremiah from the Lord in
1 the days of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah king of Judah,* 2 saying, Go unto the house of the Rechabites,t and speak unto
them, and bring them into the house of the LORD, into one of
the chambers, and give them wine to drink, which Jonadab had 3 forbidden them. See v. 8. Then I took Jaazaniah the son of Je
remiah, the son of Habaziniah, and his brethren, and all his sons, 4, and the whole house of the Rechabites; And I brought them
into the house of the LORD, into the chamber of the sons of Hanan, the son of Igdaliah, a man of God, which (was] by the chamber of the princes, which was] above the chamber of Maaseiah the son of Shallum, the keeper of the door, and
near the place where the sanhedrim or council was held, to make the 5 affair more public and solemn : And I set before the sons
of the house of the Rechabites pots full of wine, and cups, 6 and I said unto them, Drink ye wine. But they said, We will
drink no wine : for Jonadab the son of Rechab our father com. manded us, about three hundred years before this time, (2 Kings x.
15.) saying, Ye shall drink no wine, (neither) ye, nor your sons 7 for ever : Neither shall ye build house, nor sow seed, nor plant
vineyard, nor have [any :) but all your days ye shall dwell in
tents ; that ye may live many days in the land where ye [be] 8 strangers. Thus have we obeyed the voice of Jonadab the
son of Rechab, our father, in all that he hath charged us, to
drink no wine all our days, we, our wives, our sons, nor our 9 daughters ; Nor to build houses for us to dwell in : neither have 10 we vineyard, nor field, nor seed : but we have dwelt in tents,
and have obeyed, and done according to all that Jonadab our 11 father commanded us. But it came to pass, when Nebuchad
rezzar king of Babylon came up into the land, that we said, Come, and let us go to Jerusalem for fear of the army of the
. This was in his fourth year, when Jerusalem was besieged, and many captives taken, and in which Daniel and his companions were carried to Babylon.
+ These people were a branch of the family of the Kenites, descended from Moses's father in law Hobab. In Fudges i. 16. we read of Jonadab tbe son of Kechab, who was anan of considerable eminence, and whom Jehu took with him into his chariot to witness his zcal for the honour of God.
1 The design of this conimand was, that they should live quietly among the Israclitas, and not be envied or ill used, as they might have been had they bien tradesmen or husband men; it might also be intended to preserve the in frein the temptations of luxury and intein. prance, and the contagion of ill examples ; and that in troublesonne times tbcy miche more easily get away. Accordingly they were never incorporated with the Jews, nor circumcised, but lived anong them as friends, and worshipped the iTue Cod.
Chaldeans, and for fear of the army of the Syrians :* so we dwell at Jerusalem ; being obliged for our own security to break
through this rule in part, and take shelter in this city. 12 Then came the word of the LORD unto Jeremiah, saying, 13 Thus saith the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel; Go and tell
the men of Judah, and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, Will ye not
receive instruction to hearken to my words ? saith the LORD, 14 The words of Jonadab the son of Rechab, that he commanded
his sons not to drink wine, are performed ; for unto this day they drink none, but obey their father's commandment : not
withstanding I have spoken to you, rising early and speaking ; 15 but ye hearkened not unto me. I have sent also unto you all
my servants the prophets, rising up early and sending [them,] saying, Return ye now every man from his evil way, and amend your doings, and go not after other gods to serve them, and ye shall dwell in the land which I have given to you and to your fathers : but ye have not inclined your ear, nor hearkened unto
me ; they have showed greater regard to a man, than you have 16 done to God. Because the sons of Jonadab the son of Rechab
have performed the commandment of their father, which he
commanded them ; but this people hath not hearkened unto me: 17 Therefore thus saith the Lord God of hosts, the God of Israel ;
Behold, I will bring upon Judah and upon all the inhabitants of Jerusalem, all the evil that I have pronounced against them : because I have spoken unto them, but they have not heard ;
and I have called unto them, but they have not answered. 18 And Jeremiah said unto the house of the Rechabites, Thus
saith the Lord of hosts the God of Israel ; Because ye have obeyed the commandment of Jonadab your father, and kept all
his precepts, and done according unto all that he hath com19 manded you: Therefore thus saith the Lord of hosts, the God
of Israel; Jonadab the son of Rechab shall not want a man to stand before me forever ; that is, they shall continue to be a people a long time : or perhaps the meaning may be, none of them shall be slain in the assault upon the city ; according to the marginal reading, there shall not a man be cut off from Jonadab the son of Rechiab to stand before me for ever.t
BSERVE how acceptable to God, obedience and subU jection to parents are. A reverence for the memory of a pious ancestor led these people to observe his ordinances; and God put a mark of honour upon them. How reasonable is it then, for children and young people to obey their parents, when they require
• Nebuchadnezzar, having conquered the Syrians, recruited his army with them, and brought them on this expedition.
4 In 1 Chron. ii. 55, we find that some of them returned with the Jews after the captivity, and so liad the privilege of worshipping at Gud's temple.