The Prophet begins here to shew that it could not be otherwise but that the king’s palace as well as Jerusalem must be destroyed, for their wickedness had arrived to the highest pitch; but he now, as it will appear presently, reprehends the father of Jeconiah.
He then says that the city was full of robberies, and especially the palace of the king. Yet I do not think that the Prophet speaks only of the king, but also of the courtiers and chief men. We must also bear in mind what I said yesterday, that the common people were not absolved while the king was condemned. But as dignity and honor among the people belonged both to the king and the princes, the Prophet exposes them publicly, that, it might be made evident how deplorable the state of things was throughout the whole community. We must at the same time add, that the chief among them were first summoned to judgment, not only because every one had privately offended, but because they had by their bad examples corrupted the whole body of the people; and also, because they had taken more liberty, as they feared nothing. We indeed know that the rich exercise tyranny, because they deem themselves exempt from all laws. This, then, is the reason why the Prophet here denounces, in a special manner, a curse on the king and the chief men.
He says, that they built unjustly; his words are, with no justice and with no judgment, by which he designates cruelty, frauds, and robberies; he, in short, includes under these words all kinds of iniquity. The way in which these things were done is stated; they wronged their neighbors, by demanding and extorting labors without rewarding them. Here, indeed, the Prophet only refers to one kind of injustice; but it may hence be easily concluded, how unjustly and wickedly they ruled who were then in authority; for they employed their neighbors, as though they were slaves, in building houses and palaces, for they denied them their wages. But nothing can be more cruel than to deprive the poor of the fruit of their labor, who from their labor derive their daily support. It is, indeed, commanded in the Law, that the wages of the laborer should not sleep with us, (Lev_19:13 ) for that would be the same as to kill him. (47) There is also another indignity; when a robber kills a man, his object is the spoil; but he who extorts labor from a poor man, and sucks, so to speak, his blood, afterwards sends him away naked and needy; this is more atrocious than by violence to kill him. We now perceive the meaning of the Prophet. But as he continues the same subject, I shall defer any further remarks till to-morrow.
Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown
Not only did Jehoiakim tax the people (2Ki_23:35) for Pharaoh’s tribute, but also took their forced labor, without pay, for building a splendid palace; in violation of Lev_19:13; Deu_24:14, Deu_24:15. Compare Mic_3:10; Hab_2:9; Jam_5:4. God will repay in justice those who will not in justice pay those whom they employ.
Keil and Delitzsch
The prediction as to Jehoiakim begins with a woe upon the unjust oppression of the people. The oppression consisted in his building a magnificent palace with the sweat and blood of his subjects, whom he compelled to do forced labour without giving the labourers wages. The people must have felt this burden all the more severely that Jehoiakim, to obtain the throne, had bound himself to pay to Pharaoh a large tribute, the gold and silver for which he raised from the population according to Pharaoh’s own valuation, 2Ki_23:33. With “Woe to him that buildeth,” etc., cf. Hab_2:12; Mic_3:10. “That maketh his fellow labour,” lit., through his neighbour he works, i.e., he causes the work to be done by his neighbour (fellow-man) for nought, without giving him wages, forces him to unpaid statute-labour. עָבַד בּ as in Lev_25:39, Lev_25:46. פֹּעַל, labour, work, gain, then wages, cf. Job_7:2. Jehoiakim sought to increase the splendour of his kingship by palace-building. To this the speech points, put in his mouth at Jer_22:14 : I will build me בֵּית מִדֹּות, a house of extensions, i.e., a palace in the grand style, with spacious halls, vast chambers. מְרֻוָּח from רָוַח, to find vent, cheer up, 1Sa_16:23; not airy, but spacious, for quite a modest house might have airy chambers. וְקָרַע is a continuation of the participle; literally: and he cuts himself out windows, makes huge openings in the walls for windows. This verb is used in Jer_4:30 of opening up the eyes with paint. חַלֹּונָי presents some difficulty, seeing that the suffix of the first person makes no sense. It has therefore been held to be a contracted plural form (Gesen. Lehrgeb. S. 523) or for a dual (Ew. §177, a), but without any proof of the existence of such formations, since גֹּובַי, Amo_7:1; Nah_3:17, is to be otherwise explained (see on Amo_7:1). Following on the back of J. D. Mich., Hitz., Graf, and Böttcher (ausf. Gramm. §414) propose to connect the ו before סָפוּן with this word and to read חַלֹּונָיו: and tears open for himself his windows; in support of which it is alleged that one cod. so reads. But this one cod. can decide nothing, and the suffix his is superfluous, even unsuitable, seeing that there can be no thought of another person’s building; whereas the copula cannot well be omitted before סָפוּן. For the rule adduced for this, that the manner of the principal action is frequently explained by appending infinitives absoll. (Ew. §280, a), does not meet the present case; the covering with cedar, etc., does not refer to the windows, and so cannot be an explanation of the cutting out for himself. We therefore hold, with Böttcher (Proben, S. 40), that חַלֹּונַי is an adjective formation, with the force of: abundant in windows, since this formation is completely accredited by כִּילַי and חֹרַי (cf. Ew. §164, c); and the objection alleged against this by Graf, that then no object is specified for “cutteth out,” is not of much weight, it being easy to supply the object from the preceding “house:” and he cuts it out for himself abounding in windows. There needs be no change of וְסָפוּן into וְסָפֹון. For although the infin. absol. would be quite in place as continuation of the verb. fin. (cf. Ew. §351, c), yet it is not necessary. The word is attached in zeugma to וְקָרַע or חַלֹּונַי: and he covers with cedar, to: faces or overlays, for this verb does not mean to plank or floor, for which צִפָּה is the usual word, but hide, cover, and is used 1Ki_6:9; 1Ki_7:3, for roofing. The last statement is given in infin. absol.: וּמָשֹׁוחַ :.los, and besmears it, paints it (the building) with שָׁשַׁר, red ochre, a brilliant colour (lxx μίλτος, i.e., acc. to Kimchi, red lead; see Gesen. thess s.v.).
Jer 22:13 Shallum, or Jehoahaz, in his short reign of three months, had no opportunity of distinguishing himself for good or for evil It was otherwise with Jehoiakim, whose eleven years were marked by the worst characteristics of idolatry and despotism. He “had, besides, a passion for building splendid and costly houses; and as he esteemed his own position secure under the protection of a superior power, he did not scruple severely to oppress his helpless subjects, and wring from them as much money as possible”. (Ewald, “History of Israel,” 4:252; see 2Ki_23:33-35) The building mania, to which Oriental sovereigns have always been prone, had seized upon Jehoiakim. The architecture of the original palace no longer, perhaps, suited the higher degree of civilization; the space was as confined as that of a Saxon mansion would have appeared to a Norman. That buildeth his house by unrighteousness; i.e. , as the second half-verse explains, by not paying the workmen. (comp. Hab_2:12)
Jer 22:14 A wide house; literally, a house of extensions. Large chambers. The Hebrew specifies “upper chambers the principal rooms in ancient houses. Cutteth him out windows; and it is ceiled with cedar; rather… his windows, roofing it with cedar. (This involves no change of letters, but a very slight rearrangement, and the alteration of one point; grammar gains greatly by the change.) “Cutteth out” is, literally, rend-eth; it is the word used in Jer_4:30 of the apparent enlargement of the eyes by putting powdered antimony upon the eyelids. Windows are, as it were, the eyes of a building. (Graf compares Ecc_12:3) Beams of cedar wood were used for the roof of the palace, as being the most costly and durable. (comp. Isa_9:10) And painted rather, and painting it with vermilion; a taste derived from the Egyptians rather than the Babylonians, who seem to have had a difficulty in procuring red.
Here the Prophet expresses more clearly how much Jehoiakim differed from Josiah his father. He indeed shews that he was wholly unlike him, because Josiah had endeavored to observe what was equitable, while he set all his thoughts on fraud, plunder, and cruelty; for by the eye and the heart he means all the faculties of his soul and body. One of the main senses of the body, as it is well known, is the sight. Hence the Prophet includes here whatever is external and internal in men, when he says, thine eye, that is, all thy bodily senses are set on covetousness, and also thine heart, that is, all thy thoughts, feelings, designs, meditations, and purposes are employed in the same way. He intimates, in short, that Jehoiakim was corrupt both in body and mind, so that having cast aside every fear of God, he abandoned himself to avarice as well as to plunder and all acts of oppression. Thine eye, he says, and thy heart is not, except on covetousness
The verb בצע, betso, means to covet; hence the noun signifies not only avarice, but also any sinful lust. He adds cruelty, for it, cannot be but that all are bloody who give loose reins to their lusts. He mentions in the third place rapacity, or violent seizure; for עשק, oshek, means to take by force what belongs to another; hence the noun signifies rapacity. What follows in the last place is oppression, or disquietude. As רוף, ruts, means to run, Jerome renders it “the course of thy work,” as though ל, lamed, prefixed to עשות, oshut, were not one of the serviles, ם, ל, כ, ב, beth, caph, lamed, mem, but this cannot be admitted. The clear meaning of the Prophet indeed is, that Jehoiakim was not only intent on taking possession on what belonged to others, but that he also oppressed and distressed all he could. It is lastly added, to do; the verb to do is to be applied to what has gone before, that Jehoiakim employed all his thoughts, and was wholly engaged in evil deeds, that he not only contrived acts of cruelty and of avariciousness in his mind, but also carried fully into execution what he had contrived. It follows, —
Keil and Delitzsch
For thine eyes are set upon nothing but gain. בֶּצַע, gain with the suggestion of unrighteousness about it, cf. Jer_6:13; Jer_8:10. His whole endeavour was after wealth and splendour. The means of attaining this aim was injustice, since he not only withheld their wages from his workers (Jer_22:13), but caused the innocent to be condemned in the judgment that he might grasp their goods to himself, as e.g., Ahab had done with Naboth. He also put to death the prophets who rebuked his unrighteousness, Jer_26:23, and used every kind of lawless violence. “Oppression” is amplified by הַמְרוּצָה (from רצץ, cf. Deu_28:33; 1Sa_12:3), crushing, “what we call flaying people” (Hitz.); cf. on this subject, Mic_3:3.
Jer 22:17 But thou, O Jehoiakim, art the opposite of thy father. For (not, But) thine eyes and thine heart are not but for thy covetousness. “Covetousness” includes the ideas of injustice and violence; (comp. Jer_6:13 Jer_8:10) hence the second half of the verse emphasizes the cruel tyranny which marked the internal policy of Jehoiakim.
The Prophet here derides the foolish confidence of King Jehoiakim, because he set up empty things against his enemies instead of strong defences. Kings are wont to indulge themselves when there is quietness and security; that is, when they fear nothing; when no danger appears, they then give way to their own gratifications; and this is commonly the case with all; for we see that kings especially indulge in excesses, when there is no war, when no one gives them trouble, and no one threatens them; but Jehoiakim, had he the least particle of wisdom, might have known that he had many dangers to dread. Now, when he applied all his thoughts to the painting of his walls, and to the splendor of his palace, to its wainscotting and other trifles, must he not have been insane, and not of a sound mind?
It is this madness that Jeremiah now condemns when he says, Shalt thou reign, because thou surroundest thyself with cedar board? that is, “Can this confirm thy kingdom to thee? or, shalt thou be more happy on this account, because thou art surrounded by cedars?” The meaning of the Prophet may be more fully learnt from the remaining part of the verse; for it immediately follows, Thy father, did he not eat and drink when he did judgment and justice?
Some so understand the passage, as though the Prophet meant to obviate an objection; for Jehoiakim might have referred to the example of his father Josiah, who had not been a sordid man, but had displayed some royal dignity and grandeur through the whole course of his life. Some interpreters, then, think that the Prophet answers here what Jehoiakim might, have objected: “What! did not my father also make a royal display?” Thus they explain the words, as though the Prophet made at first a concession, but that by adding a correction, he shewed that the excuse of Jehoiakim was frivolous: “I allow that thy father was royally adorned, but he executed judgment and justice; why dost thou not imitate thy father in his virtues? God forgave what was superfluous or excessive, for through his great indulgence he bears with many things in kings; but thou art far different from thy father, for thou extortest labor from thy poor subjects, and buildest thy palaces by means of extortion and plunder. There is, therefore, no reason for thee to seek for thyself a covering from thy father, for thou art wholly fallen away from his integrity.”
Others elicit an entirely different meaning, — that Josiah had prolonged his life, and conciliated the favor of God by ruling with justice. So, then, they connect the words thus: “Did not thy father eat and drink,” that is, “did he not live happily, because God had blessed him? Inquire the cause, and you will find it to be this — he faithfully discharged his duties, for he executed judgment and justice. As, then, thou seest that the equity and moderation which thy father had practiced, was the cause of his happy life, why dost not thou also imitate him?”
But the Prophet seems to me to mean simply this, “Thy father doubtless lived happily, and nothing was wanting to him while he executed judgment and justice.” For thus appears better the contrast between the tyranny of Jehoiakim, and the uprightness of his father Josiah; as though he had said, “Thou deemest now thy state better than that of thy father, because thou surpassest him in luxury and splendor.
As then thou exultest in vain things, thou seemest to thyself to be happier than thy father: but thy father was contented with his lot; nay, if his condition be duly regarded, God honored him with every abundance and variety of blessings; he did eat and drink.”
By eating and drinking I understand nothing else, but that he lived cheerfully, enjoyed prosperity, spent a peaceable life. Thy father; he says, did eat and drink; that is, he had nothing to desire, and his condition was an evidence of God’s favor when he expected judgment and justice. And not unsuitable to this view is what follows, Then it was well with him.
We hence see that the foolish ambition of Jehoiakim is here laughed to scorn; for he seemed not to think himself a king unless he conducted himself like a madman. Such is the case with kings at this day; they are ashamed to appear humane, and devise means only to exercise tyranny; and they also contrive how they may depart as far as possible from the common usage and practice of men. As then kings are so ingenious in their own follies, which seem to be like veils, lest anything humane should be perceived in them, the Prophet justly inveighs here against Jehoiakim; “It was well,” he says, “with thy father; and yet he acted kindly and courteously towards his people; nor had he such haughtiness as to despise the common habits of men. Since then he was happy, if thou regardcst what belongs to real happiness, why dost thou please thyself so much? What hast thou that is better or more excellent than what he had!”
We now perceive what the object of the Prophet was to shew, that it is the only true glory and the chief honor of kings, when they discharge their duties, and that the image of God shines forth in them, when they execute judgment and justice; and that when they ambitiously seek through a blind zeal to be the slaves of pride, it is a vain attempt, and contributes nothing towards that happy life which they foolishly imagine. To the same purpose he adds, —
Keil and Delitzsch
In Jer_22:15 Jeremiah pursues the subject: kingship and kingcraft do not consist in the erection of splendid palaces, but in the administration of right and justice. The reproachful question הֲתִמְלֹךְ has not the meaning: wilt thou reign long? or wilt thou consolidate thy dominion? but: dost thou suppose thyself to be a king, to show thyself a king, if thy aim and endeavour is solely fixed on the building of a stately palace? “Viest,” as in Jer_12:5. בָּאֶרֶז, not: with the cedar, for תחרה is construed with the accus. of that with which one vies, but: in cedar, i.e., in the building of cedar palaces. It was not necessary to say with whom he vied, since the thought of Solomon’s edifices would suggest itself. The lxx have changed בארזֹ by a pointless quid pro quo into באחז, ἐν ̓́Αχαζ, for which Cod. Alex. and Arabs have ἐν ̓Αχαάβ. The fact that Ahab had built a palace veneered with ivory (1Ki_22:39) is not sufficient to approve this reading, which Ew. prefers. Still less cause is there to delete בארזֹ as a gloss (Hitz.) in order to obtain the rendering, justified neither by grammar nor in fact, “if thou contendest with thy father.” To confirm what he has said, the prophet sets before the worthless king the example of his godly father Josiah. “Thy father, did not he eat and drink,” i.e., enjoy life (cf. Ecc_2:24; Ecc_3:13)? yet at the same time he administered right and justice, like his forefather David; 2Sa_8:15. Then went it well with him and the kingdom. אָז, Jer_22:16, is wider than אָז טֹו: in respect that he did justice to the poor and wretched, things went well, were well managed in the kingdom at large. In so doing consists “the knowing of me.” The knowledge of Jahveh is the practical recognition of God which is displayed in the fear of God and a pious life. The infinitive nomin. דַּעַת has the article because a special emphasis lies on the word (cf. Ew. §277, c), the true knowledge of God required to have stress laid on it. – But Jehoiakim is the reverse of his father.
i. e., Will thy buildings make thy reign continue? These words imply that Jehoiakim was looking forward to, and taking measures to secure, a long continuance of power (compare Hab_2:9-13. If so, Jeremiah probably wrote this prophecy before Jehoiakim revolted 2Ki_24:1; and it, therefore, probably belongs to the same date as Jer_36:30, written in the interval between Nebuchadnezzars first conquest of Jerusalem, and Jehoiakim’s rebellion, and when Jeremiah was out of the reach of the tyrant’s power.
Closest thyself in cedar – Rather, viest “in cedar;” i. e., viest with Solomon.
Did not thy father eat and drink … – i. e., he was prosperous and enjoyed life. There is a contrast between the life of Josiah spent in the discharge of his kingly duties, and that of Jehoiakim, busy with ambitious plans of splendor and aggrandisement.
Jer 22:15 Shalt thou reign rather, dost thou reign; i.e. dost thou prove thy royal qualities)because thou closest thyself in cedar? The second part of the clause must at any rate be altered. Some render, “because thou viest (with thy forefathers) in cedar” (i.e. in building cedar palaces). Hitzig would strike out “in cedar,” as having intruded from the preceding line (such a phenomenon meets us occasionally in the received Hebrew text), but this does not help us to a “connected translation of the passage. Graf”s rendering is grammatical, and not against usage; it is, “Dost thou reign because thou art eager about cedar-wood?” and yet the impression left on the mind is that there is some error in the text. The Septuagint finds a reference to one of Jehoiakim”s predecessors, “because thou viest with Ahaz” (so the Vatican Codex), or, “… with Ahab” (so the Alexandrine and the Sinaitic or Friderico-Augustan). The latter king is celebrated in the Old Testament on account of his buildings, especially his ivory palace. (2Ki_22:3-9) The former was at any rate addicted to the imitation of foreign ways. (2Ki_16:11 2Ki_20:11) Did not thy father eat and drink? There was no call upon Jehoiakim to live the life of a Nazarite. “Eating and drinking,” i.e. enjoying the good things within his reach, was perfectly admissible; (Ecc_2:24) indeed, the Old Testament view of life is remarkable for its healthy naturalness. There was, however, one peremptory condition, itself as much in accordance with nature as with the Law of God, that the rights of other men should be studiously regarded. Josiah “ate and drank,” but he also “did judgment and justice,” and so “it was well with him.
He more fully expresses what he had said, that Josiah lived usefully, and was honored and esteemed, for royal majesty shone forth in him. He then repeats in other words what he had said, but he did this for the sake of explanation.
He undertook, he says, the cause, or the quarrel, of the poor and needy There is here a part stated for the whole; for when any one deals kindly with the poor, he may yet plunder the wealth of the rich, which cannot be deemed right; but as the case most commonly is, that those who rule neglect the poor and helpless, the Prophet includes under one thing the whole duty of rulers, and says that King Josiah was upright, just, and equitable, that he not only abstained from wrongs, but also assisted the innocent whom he saw oppressed, and of his own accord interposed to prevent any to molest them. He then under one thing comprehends everything that belongs to the office of a just and upright judge. For it is the first thing for judges to abstain from all rapacity and violence; and the second thing is to extend a hand to the poor, and to bring them aid, whenever they see them exposed to the wrongs of others. He then judged the judgment, or undertook the cause, of the poor and needy; and it is added, Then well; that is, as I have explained, “This was the happiness of thy father Josiah, so that he was not despised by the people, nor had he any desire for anything more.”
It then follows, Was not this to know me, saith Jehovah? The Prophet shews again whence proceeded the liberty which King Jehoiakim took in luxury and superfluous display, as well as in plunder, cruelty, and oppression, even because he had cast away every care and concern for religion; for where a real knowledge of God exists, men must necessarily have regard to uprightness and moderation. He then who thus acts cruelly towards his neighbors, clearly shews that every thought of religion and every care for it is rooted out of his heart. In short, the Prophet means that Jehoiakim was not only unjust towards men, but was also guilty of impiety; for except he had become a profane despiser of God, he would not have thus unjustly oppressed his neighbors.
But this passage deserves to be noticed, as it shews that piety leads men to all the duties of love. Where God then is known, kindness to man also appears. So also on the other hand we may conclude, that all regard for God is extinguished, and all fear of him is abolished, when men wilfully do wrong to one another, and when they seek to oppress or defraud one another. There is therefore no doubt but that gross impiety will be found where the offices of love are neglected. For when Jeremiah commended the piety of Josiah on this account, because he executed judgment and justice, he doubtless condemned Jehoiakim, as though he had said, that he was an abandoned and irreclaimable apostate; for had he retained a spark of religion, he would have acted more justly and humanely towards his people. It now follows, —
Jer 22:16 He judged the cause of the poor and needy,…. Who could not defend themselves against the rich and the mighty; he took their cause in hand, and, having heard it, determined it in their favour, and did them justice, as princes and civil magistrates ought to do:
then it was well with him; this is repeated, not only to show the certainty of it, but that it might be observed, and his example followed:
was not this to know me? saith the Lord; it is not by words only, but by deeds, that men show that they know the Lord; for some in words profess to know him, who in works deny him; when princes do the duty of their office, they thereby declare that they know and own the Lord, by, and under whom, they reign; that they have the fear of him before their eyes; this is a practical knowledge of him, and is well pleasing to him. The Targum is, “is not this the knowledge with which I am well pleased? saith the Lord.”
He judged the cause of the poor and needy; by himself in person, for the kings of Israel and Judah often sat personally to judge causes; or by setting such judges as did it, administering justice impartially, particularly to such as in respect of their low condition were most exposed to the power of others: and doing thus he prospered.
Was not this to know me? saith the Lord; this was for him truly to own and acknowledge me. They only truly know God who obey him; and men vainly pretend to piety who are notoriously defective in duties of justice and charity.
The Prophet having inveighed against Jehoiakim, now shews what kind of punishment from God awaited him; he would have otherwise despised the Prophet’s reproof; but when he heard that a reward was prepared for him, he must have been roused. Inasmuch then as he was seized with a foolish and even a sottish lust for glory, so that he cast aside every care for uprightness, the Prophet declares that disgrace was prepared for him; and hence he compares him after his death to an ass.
Therefore thus saith Jehovah to King Jehoiakim, or concerning King Jehoiakim, the son of Josiah the king, etc. He is not called the son of Josiah for honor’s sake, but for the purpose of touching him to the quick, because he had degenerated from the piety of his father. But as he hoped that the religion of Josiah would be to him a sort of covering, the Prophet derides and checks this vain confidence. “Thou gloriest in being the son of King Josiah, but thy holy father will avail thee nothing, for thou seemest avowedly to shew that thou art wholly different from him. Though then thou art, descended from Josiah, and though God has raised thee to the royal throne, yet there is no reason for thee to be confident as to thy safety; for these benefits of God will not preserve thee from that ignominious treatment which thou deservest.”
He says first, They shall not bewail him, Ah my brother! Ah sister! The Prophet mentions by way of imitation the words of the mourners. That people, we know, were very vehement in expressing their sorrow. And this ought to be borne in mind, because some being persuaded that nothing is related by the Prophets but what ought to be taken as an example, do therefore think that these modes of lamentation were approved by God. But we have before seen what the Prophet said in Jer_22:4, “Enter through these gates shall the kings of Judah and their princes in chariots,” yet we know that kings had been forbidden to make such ostentations; but God did not scrupulously refer to what was lawful or right in speaking of royal splendor; so also when he spoke of funeral rites. We ought not then to make a law of what the Prophet says, as though it were right and proper to bewail the dead with howling. There is indeed no doubt, but these excesses which the Prophet mentions were not only foolish, but also wholly condemnable; for we often vie with one another in our lamentations; and when men intemperately express their grief in funerals, they excite themselves into a sort of madness in crying and bewailing, and then when they compose themselves and simulate grief, they act a part as in a theater. But the Prophet here speaks only according to the common practice of the age, when he says, “They shall not bewail him,” etc.; that is, he states what was usually done, when one embraced another, when a sister said, “Ah, my brother!” and when a brother said, “Ah, my sister!” or, when the people said, “Ah, lord, O king, where is thy glory! where is thy honor! where thy crown! where thy scepter! where thy throne!“ Very foolish then were the lamentations which the Prophet mentions here. But as I have already said, it is enough for us to know, that he refers to these rites, then commonly practiced, without expressing his approbation of them.
They shall not, he says, bewail King Jehoiakim; they shall not say at his funeral, Ah, my brother! Ah, sister! And, Ah, lord! Ah, his glory! There shall be no such thing; and why? because he shall be buried with the burial of an ass We have before said, that it was justly deemed one of God’s curses when a carcass was cast away unburied; for God would have burial a proof to distinguish us from brute animals even after death, as we in life excel them, and as our condition is much nobler than that of the brute creation. Burial is also a pledge as it were of immortality; for when man’s body is laid hid in the earth, it is, as it were, a mirror of a future life. Since then burial is an evidence of God’s grace and favor towards mankind, it is on the other hand a sign of a curse, when burial is denied.
But it has been elsewhere said, that temporal punishments ought not always to be viewed alike; for God has suffered sometimes his faithful servants to be unburied, according to what we read in Psa_79:2, that their bodies were cast forth in the fields, that they were exposed to be eaten by the beasts of the earth and by the birds of heaven. Those spoken of were the true and sincere worshippers of God. But we know that the good and the bad have temporal punishments in common; and this is true as to famine and nakedness, pestilence and war. The destruction of the city Jerusalem was a just punishment on the wicked; and yet Daniel and Jeremiah were driven into exile together with the wicked, and suffered great hardships; and, in short, they were so mixed with the ungodly, that their external condition was in nothing different. So, then, the state of things in the world is often in such disorder, that we cannot distinguish between the good and the bad by outward circumstances. But still it is right ever to hold this truth, that when burial is denied to a man, it is a sign of God’s curse.
They shall not lament for him, saying, Ah my brother! – These words were no doubt the burden of some funeral dirge. Alas! a brother, who was our lord or governor, is gone. Alas, our sister! his Queen, who has lost her glory in losing her husband. הדה hodah is feminine, and must refer to the glory of the queen.
The mournings in the east, and lamentations for the dead, are loud, vehement, and distressing. For a child or a parent grief is expressed in a variety of impassioned sentences, each ending with a burden like that in the text, “Ah my child!” “Ah my mother!” as the prophet in this place: הוי אחי hoi achi, “Ah my brother!” הוי אחות hoi achoth, “Ah sister!” הוי אדון hoi adon, “Ah lord!” הוי הדה hoi hodah “Ah the glory.”
There is another intimation of this ancient and universal custom in 1Ki_13:30, where the old prophet, who had deceived the man of God, and who was afterwards slain by a lion, is represented as mourning over him, and saying, הוי אחי hoi achi, “Alas, my brother!” this being the burden of the lamentation which he had used on this occasion. Similar instances may be seen in other places, Jer_30:7; Eze_6:11; Joe_1:15; and particularly Amo_5:16, Amo_5:17, and Rev_18:10-19.
Keil and Delitzsch
As punishment for this, his end will be full of horrors; when he dies he will not be bemoaned and mourned for, and will lie unburied. To have an ass’s burial means: to be left unburied in the open field, or cast into a flaying-ground, inasmuch as they drag out the dead body and cast it far from the gates of Jerusalem. The words: Alas, my brother! alas, etc.! are ipsissima verba of the regular mourners who were procured to bewail the deaths of men and women. The lxx took objection to the “alas, sister,” and left it out, applying the words literally to Jehoiakim’s death; whereas the words are but a rhetorical individualizing of the general idea: they will make no death-laments for him, and the omission destroys the parallelism. His glory, i.e., the king’s. The idea is: neither his relatives nor his subjects will lament his death. The infinn. absoll. סָחֹוב וְהַשְׁלֵךְ, dragging forth and casting (him), serve to explain: the burial of an ass, etc. In Jer_36:30, where Jeremiah repeats this prediction concerning Jehoiakim, it is said: His dead body shall be cast out (exposed) to the heat by day and to the cold by night, i.e., rot unburied under the open sky.
As to the fulfilment of this prophecy, we are told, indeed, in 2Ki_24:6 that Jehoiakim slept with his fathers, and Jehoiachin, his son, was king in his stead. But the phrase “to sleep with his fathers” denotes merely departure from this life, without saying anything as to the manner of the death. It is not used only of kings who died a peaceful death on a sickbed, but of Ahab (1Ki_22:40), who, mortally wounded in the battle, died in the war-chariot. There is no record of Jehoiakim’s funeral obsequies or burial in 2 Kings 24, and in Chr. there is not even mention made of his death. Three years after the first siege of Jerusalem by the Chaldeans, and after he had become tributary to the king of Babylon, Jehoiakim rose in insurrection, and Nebuchadnezzar sent against him the troops of the Chaldeans, Aramaeans, Moabites, and Ammonites. It was not till after the accession of Jehoiachin that Nebuchadnezzar himself appeared before Jerusalem and besieged it (2Ki_24:1-2, and 2Ki_24:10). So it is in the highest degree probable that Jehoiakim fell in battle against the Chaldean-Syrian armies before Jerusalem was besieged, and while the enemies were advancing against the city; also that he was left to lie unburied outside of Jerusalem; see on 2Ki_24:6, where other untenable attempts to harmonize are discussed. The absence of direct testimony to the fulfilment of the prophecy before us can be no ground for doubting that it was fulfilled, when we consider the great brevity of the notices of the last kings’ reigns given by the authors of the books of Kings and Chronicles. Graf’s remark hereon is excellent: “We have a warrant for the fulfilment of this prediction precisely in the fact that it is again expressly recounted in Jer 36, a historical passage written certainly at a later time (Jer_36:30 seems to contain but a slight reference to the prediction in Jer_22:18-19, Jer_22:30); or, while Jer_22:12, Jer_22:25. tallies so completely with the history, is Jer_22:18. to be held as contradicting it?”
Boldly by name is the judgment at length pronounced upon Jehoiakim. Dreaded by all around him, he shall soon lie an unheeded corpse, with no one to lament. No loving relative shall make such wailing as when a brother or sister is carried to the grave; nor shall he have the respect of his subjects, Ah Lord! or, Ah his glory!
Jer 22:18 Josiah had been bitterly missed and universally lamented; (2Ch_35:25) and so, only perhaps with less heartiness in most cases, Jehoiakim”s other predecessors. (Jer_34:5) The Babylonian kings, too, received the honors of public mourning, e.g. even the last of his race, who surrendered to Cyrus, according to the British Museum inscription translated by Mr. Pinches. Ah my brother! or, Ah sister! The Septuagint omits the latter part of this phrase, apparently because it seemed inappropriate to the death of Jehoiakim; but the parallelism requires a two-membered clause. According to Movers, the funeral procession is to be conceived of as formed of two parts, condoling with each other on having to share the same fate (“Die Phonizier,” 2. 248). Or perhaps mythology may supply a reason; it is possible that the formulae of public mourning were derived from the ceremonies of the Adonia; Adonis was an androgynous deity (Lenormant, “Lettres assyriologiques,” 2:209), and might be lamented by his devotees as at once “brother” and “sister.” (For another view, see Sayco”s edition of G. Smith”s “Chaldean Genesis,” p. 267). Ezekiel (Eze_8:13) testifies to the worship of Tammuz, or Adonis, and the highest compliment a king could receive might be to be lamented in the same terms as the sun-god. Jeremiah does not approve this; he merely describes the popular custom. The recognition of the deeply rooted heathenism of the Jews before the Exile involves no disparagement to Old Testament religion; rather it increases the cogency of the argument for its supernatural origin. For how great was the contrast between Jeremiah and his semi-heathen countrymen! And yet Jeremiah”s religion is the seed of the faith which overcame the world. Ah lord! or, Ah his glory! Lord is in the Hebrew adon (comp. Adonis and see above). His glory is against the parallelism; we should expect “lady” or “queen.
Hence, the Prophet says now, He shall be buried with the burial of an ass He mentions the ass because it is a mean animal; he might have named a horse or an ox, but as the ass is a meaner and more contemptible animal, it is the same thing as though he had said, “Jehoiakim shall be cast away with the dogs.” This prophecy no doubt grievously wounded not only the mind of the king himself, but also that of the whole people; for as yet his throne stood, and all highly regarded the family of David, and thought the kingdom sacred, as it was under the guardianship and protection of God. But the Prophet hesitated not to denounce what was afterwards confirmed by the event; for Jehoiakim was buried with the burial of an ass, as he was cast forth far beyond the gates of Jerusalem. Here the Prophet amplifies the disgrace by which the King Jehoiakim would be branded, for he might have been left dead in a journey; but he expresses what is more grievous than the casting forth; Drawn out, he says, and cast forth, etc.; that is, Jehoiakim shall not only be cast forth, but also drawn as an ass or a dog, lest his foetor should infect the city; as though he was unworthy not only of a grave, but also of being seen by men.
And this is to be especially noticed, for we hence conclude how great his perverseness was in despising the threatenings of God, since the Prophet could not otherwise storm the mind of the king, and terrify the people, than by exaggerating the indignity that was to happen to him. For if there had been any teachable spirit in the king and the people, the Prophet would have been content with making a simple statement, “Jehoiakim shall not be buried;” that is, God will punish him even when dead; the curse of God will not only be upon him while living, but he will also take vengeance on him after his death. He was not content with this kind of statement; but he shall be buried, he says, as an ass, and shall be cast far off; and further still, his carcass shall be drawn or dragged; so that it was to be an eternal mark of infamy and disgrace.
Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown
burial of an ass — that is, he shall have the same burial as an ass would get, namely, he shall be left a prey for beasts and birds [Jerome]. This is not formally narrated. But 2Ch_36:6 states that “Nebuchadnezzar bound him in fetters to carry him to Babylon”; his treatment there is nowhere mentioned. The prophecy here, and in Jer_36:30, harmonizes these two facts. He was slain by Nebuchadnezzar, who changed his purpose of taking him to Babylon, on the way thither, and left him unburied outside Jerusalem. 2Ki_24:6, “Jehoiakim slept with his fathers,” does not contradict this; it simply expresses his being gathered to his fathers by death, not his being buried with his fathers (Psa_49:19). The two phrases are found together, as expressing two distinct ideas (2Ki_15:38; 2Ki_16:20).
Jer 22:19 Jehoiakim”s miserable death, without even the honor of burial. The prediction is repeated in Jer_36:30, where the statement is made in plain language. At first sight it appears to conflict with 2Ki_24:6, “So Jehoiakim slept with his fathers: and Jehoiachin his son reigned in his stead;” but it is only appearance, and when we remember that the complete formula for describing the natural death of a king of Judah is, “slept with his fathers, and was buried with his fathers in the city of David”, (1Ki_14:31 1Ki_15:24 1Ki_22:50 2Ki_8:24 2Ki_15:7, 38 16:20) and that the phrase, “slept with his fathers,” is used of Ahab, who fell on the field of battle, (1Ki_22:40) we are naturally led to the conjecture that Jehoiakim did not die a natural death, but fell in battle in some sally made by the besieged. Buried with the burial of an ass; i.e. cast out unburied. Beyond the gates; rather, far from the gates.
Jeremiah triumphs over the Jews, and derides their presumption in thinking that they would be safe, though God was against them. He then shews that they were deceived in promising to themselves impunity; but he bids them to ascend Mount Lebanon, and to cry aloud on Mount Bashan, that they might know that there would be no aid for them when God’s judgment came. But the whole verse is ironical; for they would in vain cry and howl. Indeed, the Prophet thus treated them, because he saw that they were wholly irreclaimable. They were not worthy then that he should give them counsel, or faithfully warn them. He was therefore under the necessity ironically to deride their madness in promising safety to themselves, while they were continuing to provoke God’s vengeance against themselves.
But at the same time he accommodates what he says to their intentions; for there is no doubt but that they ever cast their eyes either on Egypt or on Assyria for any aid they might want. Hence he says, Ascend Mount Lebanon, and cry, and then cry on Mount Bashan, and cry all around, (for by sides he means all parts;) but thou shall gain nothing, he says, for consumed are all thy lovers We learn from the end of the verse that the Prophet said, Ascend, and cry, by way of derision. By lovers he means the Egyptians and the Assyrians, and other neighboring nations; for the Jews, when they feared any danger, were wont to flee to their neighbors, and God was in the meantime neglected by them; and for this reason they were called lovers. God had espoused the people as his own, and hence he often called them his wife, and he speaks here in the feminine gender; and thus the people are compared to a wife, and God assumes the character of a husband. When, therefore, the people, according to their self-will and humor, wandered here and there, this levity was called adultery; for the simplicity of faith is our spiritual chastity; for as a wife who regards her husband alone, keeps conjugal fidelity and chaste conduct, so when we continue to cleave to God alone, we are, in a spiritual sense, chaste as he requires us to be; but when we seek our safety from this and that quarter, we violate the fidelity which we owe to God. As soon, then, as we cast our thoughts here and there, it is to act like a woman who seeks vagrant and unlawful connections.
We now see the reason why the Prophet compares the Egyptians and Assyrians to lovers, for he intimates that the people of Israel did in this manner commit adultery, as it has been stated in other places. It follows, —
Keil and Delitzsch
It is the people personified as the daughter of Zion, the collective population of Jerusalem and Judah, that is addressed, as in Jer_7:29. She is to lift up her wailing cry upon the highest mountains, that it may be heard far and near. The peaks of the mountain masses that bordered Palestine are mentioned, from which one would have a view of the land; namely, Lebanon northwards, the mountains of Bashan (Psa_86:16) to the north-east, those of Abarim to the south-east, amongst which was Mount Nebo, whence Moses viewed the land of Canaan, Num_27:12; Deu_32:49. She is to lament because all her lovers are destroyed. The lovers are not the kings (Ros., Ew., Neum. Näg.), nor the idols (Umbr.), but the allied nations (J. D. Mich., Maur., Hitz.), for whose favour Judah had intrigued (Jer_4:30) – Egypt (Jer_2:36) and the little neighbouring states (Jer_27:3). All these nations were brought under the yoke by Nebuchadnezzar, and could not longer give Judah help (Jer_28:14; Jer_30:14). On the form צֳעָקִי, see Ew. 41, c.
The cause of this calamity: because Judah in its prosperity had not hearkened to the voice of its God. שַׁלְֹות, from שַׁלְוָה, security, tranquillity, state of well-being free from anxiety; the plur. denotes the peaceful, secure relations. Thus Judah had behaved from youth up, i.e., from the time it had become the people of God and been led out of captivity; see Jer_2:2; Hos_2:17.
The third example, Jehoiachin. With him all the best and noblest of the land were dragged from their homes to people the void places of Babylon.
The passages – Really, Abarim, a range of mountains to the south of Gilead, opposite Jericho (see Num_27:12; Deu_32:49). Jeremiah names the chief ranges of mountains, which overlook the route from Jerusalem to Babylon, in regular order, beginning with Lebanon upon the north, then Bashan on the northeast, and lastly Abarim on the southeast.
Thy lovers – i. e., the nations in alliance with Judah, especially Egypt, whose defeat at Carchemish Jer_46:2 gave all western Asia into the power of Nebuchadnezzar.
Jer 22:20 A new strophe begins here, relative to Jehoiachin, the son and successor of Jehoiakim. Go up to Lebanon, and cry. The people of Judah is addressed, personified as a woman. (comp. Jer_7:29) The penetrating character of the long-toned cry of an Arab has been mentioned by Dr. Thomson. In Isa_40:9 a similar command is given to Zion; but in what different circumstances! From the passages; rather, from Abarim. The range of Abarim Nebo, from which Hoses surveyed the land of Israel, belonged to it (Deu_32:49) completes the circle of mountain stations; Lebanon was in the north, Bashan in the northeast, Abarim in the southeast. All thy lovers; viz. the nations whom self-interest had combined against Nebuchadrezzar, and between whom and Judah negotiations had from time to time been entered into. (Jer_2:36 Jer_27:3) “Lovers”. (comp. Jer_4:30 30 Eze_16:33, Eze_16:37)
Here God shews that the people were worthy of the reward he had mentioned, even to mourn and to seek aid on every side without finding any. It, indeed, often happens that the excessive severity of a husband alienates his wife from his society; and when a husband, through want of thought, attends to other things and neglects his domestic affairs, and thus his wife goes astray; or when he connives at things when he sees his wife exposed to dangerous allurements and flatteries, the fault is in part to be ascribed to him. But God shews here that he had performed the duties of a good and faithful husband, and also that it was not his fault that the people did not perform their part.
I spoke to thee, he says; that is, thou canst not say that thou hast gone astray through ignorance; for they who are proved guilty are wont to flee to this kind of excuse, — “I did not think; had I been warned, I would have attended to good advice; but on slippery ground it is easy to fall, especially when no one stretches forth his hand to give any help.” But God takes away here every pretext of this kind, and says, that he had spoken; as though he had said, “I warned thee in time; thou hast not then sinned through ignorance or want of thought.” In short, God condemns here the perverseness of the people, that they knowingly and wilfully abandoned themselves to every kind of wickedness. Now this passage deserves special notice; for we see that it is a twofold crime, when God in due time speaks to us and calls us to the right way, and we refuse to hear; for our wickedness is inexcusable when we suffer not ourselves to be corrected by him.
I spoke to thee, he adds, in thy tranquillity. By this circumstance also their crime is aggravated; for God not only by his Prophets made known to his people what was right, but had also, by his blessing, conciliated them to himself. For when a husband counsels his wife, and is at the same time austere or peevish, his wife will disregard whatever she may hear, for her mind will be preoccupied with dislike; but when a husband treats his wife kindly, and proves by his benevolence the love he entertains for her, and at the same time shews prudence in his conduct towards her, she must necessarily be of a very bad disposition if she is not moved by such advice, kindness, and benevolence on the part of her husband. Now, God shews here that he had sent Prophets in order to keep his people in the faithful discharge of their duties, and that he had also been kind and bountiful to them, that thereby they might be sweetly drawn to obey him. Therefore, by the word “tranquillity,” the Prophet sets forth God’s kindness and bounty towards his people.
It is, indeed, true what Moses says, that men are like mettlesome and wanton horses when they become fat. (Deu_32:15.) So fatness and tranquillity have such effect as to render us more refractory. Yet this cannot avail for an excuse when God kindly invites us, and connects with his doctrine kind and paternal benevolence, and confirms it by the effects when we are teachable and yield him willing obedience. Thus the Prophet closed the mouths of the Jews, for they would have sought probably to make this objection, — that vengeance was too vehemently denounced on them, and that God suddenly assailed them; but he shews that when in tranquillity and prosperity they might have acknowledged God’s paternal kindness, they had yet been rebellious and had abused the indulgence of God.
I spoke to thee, he says, in thy tranquillity, and thou didst say, I will not hear It is not, indeed, probable that the Jews had spoken so insolently as to say openly and in such plain words, that they would not be obedient; but the Prophet regards their life and not their words. Though, then, the Jews did not express these words, — that they would not obey God; yet such language might have been clearly inferred from their conduct, for they were so perverse as not to render obedience to God and to his counsels.
He adds, in the third place, that it had been the custom of the people from their childhood not to hear the voice of God. It is the height of impiety when we are not only refractory for one day or a short time, but when we pursue wickedness continually. God in the meantime intimates that he had from the beginning been solicitous for the safety of his people, but in vain. It sometimes happens that he who has become hardened in his vices, begins to be taught after the thirtieth or fortieth: year, but he is not very pliable; for men become hard by long usage; we see that old men are less teachable than the young; and why? because age in a manner makes them sturdy, so that they cannot bear to be turned and ruled. But God shews here, that such was the wickedness of his people, that they had been rebellious from their childhood; as though he had said, “Thou canst not make this excuse, that thou hast been for a long time without a teacher that thou hast been without any wisdom and understanding, and that on this account thou hast become hardened in evils; no, because I have found thee wholly unteachable from thy very childhood; it was thy custom, or manner, not to hear my voice,” or, “This has been thy custom, that thou didst not hear my voice;” literally, “because thou didst not hear my voice;” but it ought to be rendered as above, for כי, is not here a connective, but all expletive or an exegetical particle. It follows, —
Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown
I admonished thee in time. Thy sin has not been a sin of ignorance or thoughtlessness, but willful.
prosperity — given thee by Me; yet thou wouldest not hearken to the gracious Giver. The Hebrew is plural, to express, “In the height of thy prosperity”; so “droughts” (Isa_58:11).
thou saidst — not in words, but in thy conduct, virtually.
thy youth — from the time that I brought thee out of Egypt, and formed thee into a people (Jer_7:25; Jer_2:2; Isa_47:12).
jē̇-hoi´a-kim (יהויקים, yehōyāḳīm, “Yahweh will establish”; Ἰωακείμ, Iōakeím): The name given him by Pharaoh-necoh, who raised him to the throne as vassal king in place of his brother Jehoahaz, is changed from Eliakim (אליקים, ‘elyāḳīm, “God will establish”). The change compounds the name, after the royal Judean custom, with that of Yahweh; it may also imply that Necoh claims Yahweh’s authorization for his act, as in a similar way Sennacherib had claimed it for his invasion of Judah (2Ki_18:25). He has represented the campaign with which Josiah interfered as undertaken by Divine command (‘Ēl, 2Ch_35:21); this episode of it merely translates the authorization, rather arrogantly, into the conquered nation’s dialect.
A king of Judah, elder (half-) brother and successor of Jehoahaz; reigned 11 years from 608 bc.
I. Sources for His Life and Time
The circumstances of his accession and raising of the indemnity to Pharaoh-necoh, followed by a brief résumé of his reign, are narrated in 2 Ki 23:34 through 24:6. The naming of the source for “the rest of his acts” (2Ki_24:5) is the last reference we have to “the book of the chronicles of the kings of Judah.” The account in 2Ch_36:5-8, though briefer still, mentions Nebuchadnezzar’s looting of the temple at some uncertain date in his reign. Neither account has any good to say of Jehoiakim; to the writer of 2 Kings, however, his ill fortunes are due to Yahweh’s retributive justice for the sins of Manasseh; while to the Chronicler the sum of his acts, apparently connected with the desecration of the sanctuary, is characterized as “the abominations which he did.” For “the rest of his acts” we are referred, also for the last time, to the “book of the kings of Israel and Judah.”
For the moral and spiritual chaos of the time, and for prophecies and incidents throwing much light on the king’s character, Jeremiah has a number of extended passages, not, however, in consecutive order.
The main ones clearly identifiable with this reign are: 2Ki_22:13-19, inveighing against the king’s tyrannies and predicting his ignominious death; 2 Kings 26, dated in the beginning of his reign and again predicting (as had been predicted before in 2Ki_7:2-15) the destruction of the temple; 2 Kings 25, dated in his 4th year and predicting the conquest of Judah and surrounding nations by Nebuchadnezzar; 2 Kings 36, dated in the 4th and 5th years, and telling the story of the roll of prophecy which the king destroyed; 2 Kings 45, an appendix from the 4th year, reassuring Baruch the scribe, in terms of the larger prophetic scale, for his dismay at what he had to write; 2 Kings 46, also an appendix, a reminiscence of the year of Carchemish, containing the oracle then pronounced against Egypt, and giving words of the larger comfort to Judah. The Book of the prophet Habakkuk, written in this reign, gives expression to the prophetic feeling of doubt and dismay at the unrequited ravages of the Chaldeans against a people more righteous than they, with a sense of the value of steadfast faith and of Yahweh’s world-movement and purpose which explains the seeming enormity.
II. Character and Events of His Reign
1. The Epoch
The reign of Jehoiakim is not so significant for any personal impress of his upon his time as for the fact that it fell in one of the most momentous epochs of ancient history. By the fall of Nineveh in 606 to the assault of Nebuchadnezzar, then crown prince of the rising Babylonian empire, Assyria, “the rod of (Yahweh’s) anger” (Isa_10:5), ended its arrogant and inveterate sway over the nations. Nebuehadnezzar, coming soon after to the Chaldean throne, followed up his victory by a vigorous campaign against Pharaoh-necoh, whom we have seen at the end of Josiah’s reign (see under JOSIAH) advancing toward the Euphrates in his attempt to secure Egyptian dominion over Syria and Mesopotamia. The encounter took place in 605 at Carehemish on the northern Euphrates, where Necoh was defeated and driven back to the borders of his own land, never more to renew his aggressions (2Ki_24:7). The dominating world-empire was now in the hands of the Chaldeans, “that bitter and hasty nation” (Hab_1:6); the first stage of the movement by which the world’s civilization was passing from Semitic to Aryan control. With this world-movement Israel’s destiny was henceforth to be intimately involved; the prophets were already dimly aware of it, and were shaping their warnings and promises, as by a Divine instinct, to that end. It was on this larger scale of things that they worked; it had all along been their endeavor, and continued with increasing clearness and fervor, to develop in Israel a conscience and stamina which should be a leavening power for good in the coming great era (compare Isa_2:2-4; Mic_4:1-3).
2. The King’s Perverse Character
Of all these prophetic meanings, however, neither the king nor the ruling classes had the faintest realization; they saw only the political exigencies of the moment. Nor did the king himself, in any patriotic way, rise even to the immediate occasion. As to policy, he was an unprincipled opportunist: vassal to Necoh to whom he owed his throne, until Necoh himself was defeated; enforced vassal to Nebuchadnezzar for 3 years along with the other petty kings of Western Asia; then rebelling against the latt er as soon as he thought he could make anything by it. As to responsibility of administration, he had simply the temper of a despotic self-indulgent Oriental. He raised the immense fine that Necoh imposed upon him by a direct taxation, which he farmed out to unscrupulous officials. He indulged himself with erecting costly royal buildings, employing for the purpose enforced and unpaid labor (Jer_22:13-17); while all just interests of his oppressed subjects went wholly unregarded. As to religion, he let matters go on as they had been under Manasseh, probably introducing also the still more strange and heathenish rites from Egypt and the East of which we see the effects in Eze_8:5-17. And meanwhile the reformed temple-worship which Josiah had introduced seems to have become a mere formal and perfunctory matter, to which, if we may judge by his conspicuous absence from fast and festal occasions (e.g. Jer 26; 36), the king paid no attention. His impious act of cutting up and burning Jeremiah’s roll (Jer_36:23), as also his vindictive pursuit and murder of Uriah for prophesying in the spirit of Jeremiah (Jer_26:20-23), reveal his antipathy to any word that does not prophesy “smooth things” (compare Isa_30:10), and in fact a downright perversity to the name and w ill of Yahweh.
3. The Prophetic Attitude
With the onset of the Chaldean power, prophecy, as represented in the great seers whose words remain to us, reached a crisis which only time and the consistent sense of its Iarger issues could enable it to weather. Isaiah, in his time, had stood for the inviolability of Zion, and a miraculous deliverance had vindicated his sublime faith. But with Jeremiah, conditions had changed. The idea thus engendered, that the temple was bound to stand and with it Jerusalem, an idea confirmed by Josiah’s centralizing reforms, had become a superstition and a presumption (compare Jer_7:4); and Jeremiah had reached the conviction that it, with its wooden rites and glaring abuses, must go: that nothing short of a clean sweep of the old religious fetishes could cure the inveterate unspirituality of the nation. This conviction of his must needs seem to many like an inconsistency – to set prophecy against itself. And when the Chaldean appeared on the scene, his counsel of submission and prediction of captivity would seem a double inconsistency; not only a traversing of a tested prophecy, but treason to the state. This was the situation that he had to encounter; and for it he gave his tender feelings, his liberty, his life. It is in this reign of Jehoiakim that, for the sake of Yahweh’s word and purpose, he is engulfed in the deep tragedy of his career. And in this he must be virtually alone. Habakkuk is indeed with him in sympathy; but his vision is not so clear; he must weather disheartening doubts, and” cherish the faith of the righteous (Hab_2:4), and wait until the vision of Yahweh’s secret purpose clears (Hab_2:1-3). If the prophets themselves are thus having such an equivocal crisis, we can imagine how forlorn is the plight of Yahweh’s “remnant,” who are dependent on prophetic faith and courage to guide them through the depths. The humble nucleus of the true Israel, which is some day to be the nation’s redeeming element, is undergoing a stern seasoning.
4. Harassing and Death
After Syria fell into Nebuchadnezzar’s power, he seems to have established his headquarters for some years at Riblah; and after Jehoiada attempted to revolt from his authority, he sent against him guerrilla bands from the neighboring nations, and detachments from his Chaldean garrisons, who harassed him with raids and depredations. In 2Ch_36:6, 2Ch_36:7, it is related that Nebuchadnezzar carried some of the vessels of the temple to Babylon and bound the king in fetters to carry him also to Babylon – the latter purpose apparently not carried out. This was in Jehoiada’s 4th year. In Dan_1:1, Dan_1:2, though ascribed to Jehoiakim’s 3rd year, this same event is related as the result of a siege of Jerusalem. It is ambiguously intimated also that the king was deported; and among “the seed royal and of the nobles” who were of the company were Daniel and his three companions (Dan_1:3, Dan_1:6). The manner of Jehoiakim’s death is obscure. It is merely said (2Ki_24:6) that he “slept with his fathers”; but Josephus (Ant., X, vi, 3) perhaps assuming that Jeremiah’s prediction (Jer_22:19) was fulfilled, states that Nebuchadnezzar slew him and cast his body outside the walls unburied.
Fausset’s Bible Dictionary
JEHOIAKIM or ELIAKIM (“whom El, God, established”) at first; 25 years old at his accession. Second son of Josiah and Zebudah, daughter of Pedaiah of Rumah (Arumah in Manasseh, near Shechem? Jdg_9:41); Johanan was the oldest son. Raised to the throne by Pharaoh Necho, who named him Jehoiakim (whom Jehovah establishes), having deposed Jehoahaz, the people’s nominee, his younger brother. (See JEHOAHAZ.) Pharaoh bound Jehoiakim to exact tribute from Judah, for Josiah’s having taken part with Babylon against him: one talent of gold and 100 talents of silver (40,000 British pounds). So “Jehoiakim valued (‘taxed’) the land to give the money to Pharaoh … he exacted the silver and gold of every one according to his valuation” (“taxation”): 2Ki_23:33-34; Jer_22:10-12; Eze_19:4. In Jehoiakim’s fourth year Necho suffered his great defeat from Babylon at Carehemish, wherein he lost his possessions between Euphrates and the Nile, and returned no more to Judaea; so that Josiah’s death was not unavenged (2Ki_24:7; Jer_46:2).
The change of Jehoiakim’s name marked his vassalage (Gen_41:45; Ezr_5:14; Dan_1:7). The names were often from the pagan gods of the conqueror. In this case not so; the pagan kings Pharaoh and Nebuchadnezzar made Jehoiakim and Zedekiah (“Jehovah’s righteousness”) confirm their covenant of subjection with the seal of Jehovah’s name, the Jews’ own God, by whom they had sworn fealty. Jehoiakim reigned 11 years, doing evil throughout, as his forefathers before him. “His eyes and heart were only for covetousness, shedding innocent blood, oppression, and violence” (Jer_22:13-17). “He built his house by unrighteousness and wrong, using his neighbour’s service without wages,” using his people’s forced labour to build himself a splendid palace, in violation of Lev_19:13; Deu_24:14-15; compare Mic_3:10; Hab_2:9; Jam_5:4.
God will repay those who repay not their neighbour’s work. His “abominations which he did, and that which was found in him,” are alluded to 2Ch_36:6. God finds all that is in the sinner (Jer_17:11; Jer_23:24). Sad contrast to his father Josiah, who “did justice, and it was well with him.” Nebuchadnezzar from Carchemish marched to Jerusalem, and fettered him as Pharaoh Necho’s tributary, in the third (Dan 1) or fourth year of his reign (the diversity being caused by reckoning Jehoahaz’ reign as a year, or not), intending to take him to Babylon; bat afterward for the sake of his former ally Josiah, his father, restored him as a vassal. At this time Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, were taken to Babylon. Three years subsequently Jehoiakim rebelled with characteristic perfidy, sacrificing honour and truth in order to spend the tribute on his own costly luxuries (Jer_22:13-17). Nebuchadnezzar, not able in person to chastise him, sent marauding “bands” of Chaldaeans, Syrians, Moabites, and Ammonites (2Ki_24:1-7).
Ammon had seized on Gad’s territory, upon Israel’s exile, and acted as Nebuchadnezzar’s agent to scourge Judah (Jer_49:1-2; Eze_25:3). Jehovah was the primary sender of these scourges (rebellion against Nebuchadnezzar, after promising fealty, was rebellion against God: Jer_27:6-8; Eze_17:16-19), not only for Jehoiakim’s sins but for those of his forefather Manasseh, in whose steps he trod, and the “innocent blood which Jehovah would not pardon.” Jeremiah (Jer_22:18-19) foretold “concerning Jehoiakim, they shall not lament for him, Ah, my brother! or Ah, my sister!” (his queen, the lamentation of blood relatives for a private individual) nor, “Ah, lord; ah, his glory (the public lamentations of subjects for a king; alas, his majesty), he shall be buried with the burial of an ass, drawn and cast forth beyond the gates of Jerusalem”; again, Jer_36:30, “he shall have none to sit (i.e. firmly established and continuing) upon the throne of David (for his son Jeconiah’s reign of three months is counted as nothing, and Zedekiah was not his son but uncle); his dead body shall be cast out in the day to the heat, and in the night to the frost.”
Jehoiakim was probably slain in a battle with Nebuchadnezzar’s Chaldean and other “bands,” and had no burial; possibly his own oppressed subjects slew him, and “cast out” his body to conciliate his invaders. Nor is this inconsistent with “Jehoiakim slept with his fathers” (2Ki_24:6); it simply expresses his death, not his burial with his royal ancestors (Psa_49:16); “slept with his fathers” and “buried with his fathers” are found distinct (2Ki_15:38; 2Ki_16:20). He reigned 11 years. Early in his reign (Jer_26:1-20, etc.) Jehoiakim showed his vindictive malice against Jehovah’s prophets. Urijah, son of Shemaiah, of Kirjath Jearim, prophesied against Jerusalem and Judah in the name of Jehovah thereupon Jehoiakim sought to kill him; he fled to Egypt, but Jehoiakim sent Elnathan of Achbor, and men with him, who brought Urijah back from Egypt, the Egyptian king allowing his vassal Jehoiakim to do so. Jehoiakim “slew him with the sword, and cast his dead body into the graves of the common people,” instead of burial in the cemetery of the prophets (Mat_23:29).
Jehoiakim gained by it only adding sin to sift, as the argument of the elders in Jeremiah’s behalf implies, the notorious prostration of the state at the time intimating that heavier vengeance would ensue if Jeremiah too, as was threatened, should be slain. By God’s retribution in kind Jehoiakim’s own body fared as he had treated Urijah’s body. 1 Esdras 1:42 speaks of “his uncleanness and impiety.” His intense selfishness and indifference to the people’s sufferings appear in his lavish expenditure upon building palaces for himself at the very time the people were overwhelmed with paying heavy tribute to Pharaoh (Jer_22:13-18). His crowning impiety, which had no parallel in Jewish history, was his cutting up, and burning in the fire before him, the written roll of Jeremiah’s inspired prophecies (Jeremiah 36). Jeremiah being “shut up,” i.e. prevented by fear of the king, sent Baruch to read them to the people assembled out of Judah to the Lord’s house on the fasting day.
“In the fifth year of Jehoiakim they (the princes) proclaimed a fast to all the people,” or (Michaelis) “all the people proclaimed a fast”; in either reading Jehoiakim had no share in appointing it, but chose this season of all seasons to perpetrate such an audacious act. On hearing of the roll, Jehoiakim sent Jehudi his ready tool to fetch it from Elishama the scribe’s chamber; for sinners fleeing from God yet, by an involuntary instinct, seek to hear His words against them. Then, as often as Jehudi read three or four columns of the long roll, Jehoiakim cut the parts read consecutively, until all was destroyed. Yet he and his servants “were not afraid,” a contrast even to the princes who “were afraid both one and other when they had heard all the words”; a still sadder contrast to his father Josiah whose “heart was tender,” and who “rent his clothes” on hearing the words of the law just found (2Ki_22:11; 2Ki_22:13; 2Ki_22:19-20).
Even Elnathan, who had been his tool against Urijah, recoiled from this, and interceded with Jehoiakim not to burn the roll; but he would not hear, nay even commanded his minions to apprehend Baruch and Jeremiah: but the Lord hid them (Psa_31:20; Psa_83:3; Isa_26:20). Judicial blindness and reprobation! The roll was rewritten, not one word omitted, and with awful additions (Mat_5:18; Act_9:5; Act_5:39; Rev_22:19); his body should be exposed to the sun’s “heat,” even as he had exposed the roll to be burnt by the heat of the fire. Sinners only gain additional punishment by fighting with God’s word, which is a sharp sword; they cut themselves, when trying to cut it. Compare the rewriting of the law’s two tables (Exo_34:15-16; Exo_31:18; Exo_34:1-23; Deu_31:9). The two-edged sword of God’s Spirit converts the humble and tender as Josiah, draws out the latent hatred of the ungodly as J. (2Co_2:15-16; Heb_4:12-13). Jehoiakim reigned from 609 B.C. to 598 B.C.
McClintock and Strong Cyclopaedia
Josephus’s history of Jehoiakim’s reign is consistent neither with Scripture nor with itself. His account of Jehoiakim’s death and Jehoiachin’s succession appears to be only his own inference from the Scripture narrative. According to Josephus (Ant. 10, 6), Nebuchadnezzar came against Judaea in the 8th year of Jehoiakim’s reign, and compelled him to pay tribute, which he did for three years, and then revolted, in the 11th year, on hearing that the king of Babylon had gone to invade Egypt. Such a campaign at this time is extremely improbable, as Nebuchadnezzar was fully occupied elsewhere; it is possible, however, that such a rumor may have been set afloat by interested parties. Josephus then inserts the account of Jehoiakim’s burning Jeremiah’s prophecy in his fifth year, and concludes by saying that a little time afterwards the king of Babylon made an expedition against Jehoiakim, who admitted Nebuchadnezzar into the city upon certain conditions, which Nebuchadnezzar immediately broke; that he slew Jehoiakim and the flower of the citizens, and sent 3000 captives to Babylon, and set up Jehoiachin for king, but almost immediately afterwards
was seized with fear lest the young king should avenge his father’s death, and so sent back his army to besiege Jerusalem; that Jehoiachin, being a man of just and gentle disposition, did not like to expose the city to danger on his own account, and therefore surrendered himself, his mother, and kindred to the king of Babylon’s officers on condition of the city suffering no harm, but that Nebuchadnezzar, in direct violation of the conditions, took 10,832 prisoners, and made Zedekiah king in the room of Jehoiachin, whom he kept in custody.