20. And there was also a man that prophesied in the name of the Lord, Urijah the son of Shemaiah of Kirjath-jearim, who prophesied against this city, and against this land, according to all the words of Jeremiah:
20. Atque etiam vir fuit prophetans in nomine Jehovae, Urias, filius Semeah ex Cariath-iarim, et prophetavit contra urbem hanc et contra terram hanc secundum sermones Jeremiae:
21. And when Jehoiakim the king, with all his mighty men, and all the princes, heard his words, the king sought to put him to death: but when Urijah heard it, he was afraid, and fled, and went into Egypt;
21. Et audivit rex Joakim et omnes magnates ejus et Proceres sermones ejus, et quaesivit rex interficere ipsum, et audivit Urias et timuit, et fugit et transivit (vel, concessit) in Egyptum;
22. And Jehoiakim the king sent men into Egypt, namely, Elnathan the son of Achbor, and certain men with him into Egypt:
22. Et misit rex Joakim viros in Egyptum, Elnathan filium Achobor et viros cure eo in Egyptum:
23. And they fetched forth Urijah out of Egypt, and brought him unto Jehoiakim the king; who slew him with the sword, and cast his dead body into the graves of the common people.
23. Et eduxerunt Uriam ex Egypto, et adduxerunt eum ad regem Joakim, qui percussit eum gladio, et projecit cadaver ejus in sepulchra populi (vel, plebis potius.)
Another example is brought forward, partly different, and partly alike, -- different as to the king, the like as to a Prophet. Uriah, mentioned here, faithfully discharged his office; but Jehoiakim could not bear his preaching, and therefore slew him. Some explain the whole in the same manner, as though the elders designed to shew that the wicked can gain nothing by resisting God's prophets, except that by contending they make themselves more and more guilty. But others think that this part was brought forward by the opposite party, and the words, "And also,"
But as to the present passage, both expositions may be admitted; that is, either that the malignants adduced the death of Uriah in order to overwhelm Jeremiah, -- or that God's faithful followers intended to shew that there was no reason of acting in this manner, for the state of things had become worse, since King Jehoiakim had cruelly slain God's servant.
But the time ought especially to be noticed. We have seen that this prophecy was committed to Jeremiah, and also promulgated at the beginning of Jehoiakim's reign; but this beginning is not to be confined either to the first or second year; but as he became tributary to the king of Babylon, he afterwards endeavored to throw off the yoke and was at length disgracefully dethroned; hence the beginning of his reign must be during the time that his power was entire. While then Jehoiakim retained his dignity, Jeremiah was bidden to proclaim this message. However this may have been, the King Jehoiakim thus enjoyed a tranquil reign; he was at Jerusalem. It is not therefore said here, that Uriah had threatened the city in his days; but the history is given as of a present thing. One thing then is evident, that this discourse was delivered, when King Jehoiakim was not afar off. His palace was nigh the Temple; his counsellors were present who had come down, as we have seen, on account of the tumult. For the affair could not be hidden; since the priests and the false prophets everywhere inflamed the rage of the people. The king's counsellors therefore came to quell the disturbances. If this part of the address is to be ascribed to the defenders of Jeremiah, then they must have been endued with great courage and firmness, to allege against the king a nefarious murder, and also to condemn him for a sacrilege, for he had not only done an injury to a holy Prophet, but had directly opposed God himself. There are on both sides probable conjectures; for if we follow this opinion, that the servants of God, who favored Jeremiah and sought to deliver him from danger, spoke these words, it might be objected and said, that no such thing is expressed But the narrative goes on continuously,
But if the other view be more approved, that the enemies of Jeremiah did here rise against him, and alleged the case of Uriah, there is also some appearance of reason in its favor; the king was living, his counsellors were present, as we have said. It might then be, that those who wished the death of Jeremiah, referred to this recent example in order to have him destroyed, -- "Why should he escape, since Uriah was lately put to death, for the cause is exactly the same? Uriah did not go any farther than Jeremiah; he seems indeed to have taken the words from his mouth. As, then, the king did slay him, why should Jeremiah be spared? Why should he escape the punishment the other underwent, when his crime is more grievous?" It hence appears that this view can without absurdity be defended, that is, that the enemies of Jeremiah endeavored to aggravate his case by referring to the punishment the king inflicted on Uriah, whose case was not dissimilar; and I do not reject this view. If any approve of the other, that this part was spoken by the advocates of Jeremiah, I readily allow it; but I dare not yet reject wholly the idea, that Jeremiah was loaded with prejudice by having the case of Uriah brought forward, who was killed by the king for having prophesied against the city and the Temple.1
Let us now consider the words;
They then added, he
It then follows,
It is afterwards added that the king
It is at length added, that they
Thus they who spoke intimated that the king's wrath so burned, that he not only put him to death, but followed up his vengeance, so that a new disgrace awaited the Prophet, even when dead, for he was cast among the obscure and ignoble common people.
I have hitherto so explained this passage as to leave it doubtful whether the probability is that the speakers were Jeremiah's enemies or his advocates. And though, as I have declared twice or three times, I reject not the view which is different from that which I embrace, yet it seems most probable to me that the words were spoken by the godly men who defended the cause of Jeremiah. All the various reasons which lead me to this conclusion I will not here specify; for every one may himself see why I prefer this view. The common consent of almost all interpreters also influences me, from which I wish not to depart, except necessity compels me, or the thing itself makes it evident that they were mistaken. But we have seen from the beginning, that the two examples consecutively follow one another, and that nothing intervenes; it may hence be supposed, that the enemies of Jeremiah had previously performed their part. The words themselves then shew that those who commenced the discourse were those who carried it on. And that they did not mention the reason why they adduced this example is not to be wondered at; for the displeasure of the king was feared, and he had given no common proof, in his treatment of the holy Prophet, how impatiently he bore anything that trenched on his own dignity. They therefore cautiously related the matter, and left what they did not express to be collected by those who heard them. But it was easy from their words to know what they meant, -- that God's vengeance was to be dreaded; for one Prophet had been slain; what if there was to be no end to cruelty? would not God at length arise to execute judgment when his servants were so unworthily treated? As, then, the words are not completed, it seems probable to me that God's true servants spoke thus reservedly and cautiously, because they dared not to express their thoughts openly.
Further, these words,
1 There are two other views taken of this subject; some say that the second example, that of Uriah, was introduced by the writer of the narrative, whether Jeremiah himself or Baruch, and that this was mentioned to shew, that according to this precedent, Jeremiah would have been killed, had it not been for the interposition of Ahikam. This is the view taken by Gataker and Blayney.
But what appears most consistent with the whole passage is the view given by Venema; he considers that the 17th verse (Jeremiah 26:17) has been removed from its place between the 19th and the 20th (Jeremiah 26:19-20), and that the "princes" mentioned the case of Micah in favor of Jeremiah, and that "the elders of the land" adduced the case of Uriah against him, and that notwithstanding this it is at last added, that Ahikam, one of the princes, succeeded in his deliverance. That chapters have been transposed in this book is indubitable; the same thing may also have happened as to verses.
Then the passage would read thus, --
16. Then said the princes and all the people to the priests and to the prophets, "Against this man there is no judgment of death, for in
18. the name of Jehovah hath he spoken to (or against) us. Micah the Morasthite was a prophet in the days of Hezekiah, the king of Judah, and he spoke to all the people of Judah, saying, 'Thus saith Jehovah of hosts, Sion, being a field, shall be plowed, and Jerusalem shall become heaps, and the mountain of the house like the heights of
19. a forest.' Slaying, did Hezekiah, the king of Judah, and all Judah, slay him? did he not fear Jehovah and intreat the favor of Jehovah? then Jehovah repented as to the evil which he had pronounced against them; but we are doing a great evil against our own souls."
17. Then rose up men from the elders of the land and spoke to the
20. whole assembly of the people, saying, "But there was also a man, who prophesied in the name of Jehovah, Uriah, the son of Shemaiah," etc. etc.
This arrangement makes the whole narrative plain, regular, and consistent. The conclusion comes in naturally, that notwithstanding the adverse speech of the "elders" Jeremiah was saved by the influence of Ahikam, one of the princes. -- Ed.
2 To avoid what may seem a tautology in this verse, Blayney renders the word for Egypt, adversaries, -- "But Jehoiakim the king sent adversaries, Elnathan the son of Achbor, and certain men with him, into Egypt." Were the words rendered literally, the repetition would not appear different from many that we meet with; "Then sent the king Jehoiakim men into Egypt with Elnathan the son of Achbor, even men with him into Egypt." The repetition seems to have been intended to shew that there was a strong force, and not one man, sent to take the Prophet, and that this force was to go even as far as Egypt. The version of the Sept. is, "And the king sent men into Egypt;" the Vulg. and the Targ. are the same with our version; but the Syr. is, "And the king Jehoiakim sent a certain Egyptian, Elnathan the son of Achbor, and some with him, into Egypt."
It is singular that in one MS. the word
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