1. And it came to pass the same year, in the beginning of the reign of Zedekiah king of Judah, in the fourth year, and in the fifth month, that Hananiah the son of Azur the prophet, which was of Gibeon, spake unto me in the house of the Lord, in the presence of the priests, and of all the people, saying,
1. Factum est anno illo, principio regni Zedechiae, regis Jehudah, anno quarto, mense quinto, loquutus ad me Chananiah, filius Assur, propheta qui erat e Guibeon (oriundus e Guibeon) in Templo Jehovae, coram oculis sacerdotum et totius populi, dicendo,
2. Thus speaketh the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, saying, I have broken the yoke of the king of Babylon.
2. Sic dicit Jehova exercituum, Deus Israel, confregi (aut contrivi) jugum regis Babylonis.
The Prophet relates here with what haughtiness, and even fury, the false prophet Hananiah came forward to deceive the people and to proclaim his trumperies, when yet he must have been conscious of his own wickedness.1 It hence clearly appears how great must be the madness of those who, being blinded by God, are carried away by a satanic impulse. The circumstances of the case especially shew how great a contempt of God was manifested by this impostor; for he came into the Temple, the priests were present, the people were there, and there before his eyes he had the sanctuary and the ark of the covenant; and we know that the ark of the covenant is everywhere represented as having the presence of God; for God was by that symbol in a manner visible, when he made evident the presence of his power and favor in the Temple. As Hananiah then stood before God's eyes, how great must have been his stupidity to thrust himself forward and impudently to announce falsehood in the name of God himself! He had yet no doubt but that he falsely boasted that he was God's prophet.
And he used the same words as Jeremiah did,
As to Jeremiah, his heart must have been grievously wounded, when he saw that unprincipled man boldly profaning God's name. But, as I have already said, God in the meantime supported the minds of the godly, so that they were not wholly cast down, though they must have been somewhat disturbed. For we know that God's children were not so destitute of feeling as not to be moved by such things; but yet God sustained all those who were endued with true religion. It was indeed easy for them to distinguish between Jeremiah and Hananiah; for they saw that the former announced the commands of God, while the latter sought nothing else but the favor and plaudits of men.
But with regard to Hananiah, he was to them an awful spectacle of blindness and of madness, for he dreaded not the sight of God himself, but entered the Temple and profaned it by his lies, and at the same time assumed in contempt the name of God, and boasted that he was a prophet, while he was nothing of the kind. Let us not then wonder if there be many mercenary brawlers at this day, who without shame and fear fiercely pretend God's name, and thus exult over us, as though God had given them all that they vainly prattle, while yet it may be fully proved that they proclaim nothing but falsehoods; for God has justly blinded them, as they thus profane his holy name. We shall now come to the words:
He says afterwards, that Hananiah
1 Was he thus conscious, or given up to believe a lie? Was he led by ambition to act a part, or a conscientious bigot under the delusive influence of the evil spirit? In either case he was the servant of Satan; and are there not many like him still in the world? -- Ed
2 Gataker mentions various attempted solutions of this difficulty, the one stated here; another, that eleven years, the extent of his reign, being divided into three parts, the three first and the beginning of the fourth might be deemed the beginning of his reign; and a third, which he prefers, that the fourth year refers not to Zedekiah, but to the Sabbatical year, it was the fourth in that cycle; and it appears that according to chronologers the destruction of Jerusalem happened on a Sabbatical year, the fourth in the eighteenth jubilee. In this case the first year of Zedekiah being the fourth after a Sabbath-year, his eleventh would correspond with the next period of their kind, allowance being made as to the commencement of the year in which he began to reign. Blayney adopts the second solution. Perhaps it would be best to take "beginning," as Scott does, as meaning the early or former part of his reign.
3 Hananiah was, as some think, a priest, for Gibeon in the tribe of Benjamin was one of the cities allotted to the priests; he was, no doubt, by profession, a prophet, he is so called throughout by Jeremiah. There was among the Jews, from early times, an order of men called prophets; they were not all endued with the gift of prophecy, but were trained up in seminaries for the purpose, to be the interpreters of the law and teachers of the people. See 1 Samuel 19:20; 2 Kings 2:3; 6:1. Hananiah was probably a prophet of this kind, and was on this account called a prophet by Jeremiah; but he appears here in another character, as a prophet endued with the spirit of prophecy. The scribes in the New Testament seem to have been the teaching prophets of the Old.
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