Lecture One Hundred and Forty-Fifth



Jeremiah 37:1-2

1. And king Zedekiah the son of Josiah reigned instead of Coniah the son of Jehoiakim, whom Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon made king in the land of Judah.

1. Et regnavit rex Zedechias, filius Josiae, pro Choniah (Jechania) filio Joiakim, quem constituit regem Nebuchadnezer, rex Babylonis, in terra Jehudah:

2. But neither he, nor his servants, nor the people of the land, did hearken unto the words of the Lord, which he spake by the prophet Jeremiah.

2. Et non audivit, neque servi ejus, neque populus terrae sermones Jehovae, quos loquutus est per manum Jeremiae Prophetae.


The Prophet tells us here, that after Jeconiah the king had been led into exile, the Jews had not on that account repented, though God had as it were forced them to return to him; for it was so severe a chastisement, that to become worse was an evidence of monstrous stupidity. Jeremiah, however, says that they were not reformed by that punishment; for Zedekiah, who had succeeded Jeconiah, rejected sound doctrine, and did not obey the counsel of the Prophet.

But we must bear in mind the history of that time, that we may understand the meaning of the Prophet: the Jews made Jeconiah king in the place of his father, but in the third month the army of the king of Babylon came. Then Jeconiah surrendered himself to them of his own accord. Now the Prophet had said, that there would be no legitimate successor to Jehoiakim; and this was fulfilled, though his son was set on the throne, for a three months' reign was so unimportant that it was deemed as nothing. And when Nebuchadnezzar saw that the people could hardly be kept in order without a king, he made Mattaniah king, whom he called Zedekiah. And he immediately revolted to the Egyptians and made a treaty with them, in order that he might shake off the yoke of the king of Babylon. Hence the Prophet says, that though Zedekiah had been taught by the example of Jehoiakim and of his nephew Jeconiah, he yet became nothing the better, he does not shnply blame his ingratitude: it is indeed certain that he had been severely reproved by the Prophet for having acted perfidiously towards the King Nebuchadnezzar, for he ought to have kept faith with him to the last. He feigned a reason of his own for revolting from him; no new cause had occurred; but it was only that he might be exempt from tribute, and also lest the malevolent should object to him that he reigned by permission, and that. he was the slave of another king. As, then, he saw that his reign would be exposed to many reproaches, except he revolted from the king of Babylon, he made a treaty with the Egyptians. This deserved reproof: but the Prophet speaks here generally of his obstinate wickedness, and also of that of the whole people.

King Zedekiah, he says, the son of Josiah, reigned instead of Coniah. Here the word, Jeconiah, is curtailed, as it is probable, for the sake of degrading him; and we have seen that this has been the common opinion. He is then called Coniah by way of reproach, when yet his full name was Jeconiah. He says that Zedekiah was made king by Nebuchadnezzar: hence his perfidy and ingratitude became manifest. It is added, that he hearkened not to the word of Jehovah, nor his servants, nor his people. I have said that Zedekiah was condemned, not simply because he obeyed not the Prophet by keeping faith with the King Nebuchadnezzar, but also because he retained the superstitions of his fathers, and corrupted the true worship of God, and would not be called back to the doctrine of the Law.

The disobedience then, mentioned here, extended to the whole Law of God, or to the two tables; for the Jews had then become degenerate together with their king; they did not purely worship God, but polluted themselves and the Temple by impious and filthy superstitious, and they were also libidinous, avaricious, cruel, violent, and dishonest, and had thus cast off the whole teaching of the Law. And this was a proof of strange blindness, as they had before their eyes the calamities of the city and the reproach to which their king had been subjected; for as we have already said, his sons had been slain in his presence, his own eyes had been pulled out, and he was bound with chains, after having been judged guilty of a capital offense. Such an example ought surely to have terrified Zedekiah and all the rest, so as to make thenl at length wise, and to seek reconciliation with God. But the Prophet says, that they did not hearken to the word of Jehovah.

He mentions the king, then his counsellors, and in the third place, the whole people; as though he had said, that this madness was found not only in the king, but also in his counsellors and in the whole community, so that no one was excusable. He then begins with the head, even the king himself, and shews also that his counsellots were nothing better, and afterwards adds the common people, in whom the fault seems to have been less; for we know that the lower orders go astray through want of wisdom and ignorance. But the Prophet here shews that even the lowest of the people were disobedient to God.

We ought to notice especially the words, that they hearkened not to the word of Jehovah which he had spoken by Jeremiah. For he intimates, that though God did not appear from heaven, it was sufficient to condemn the unbelieving, that he spoke by his Prophets. There was, then, no reason why the wicked should make evasions and say, that it was not their purpose to reject God and his doctrine, but that they only refused deference to mortals, and would not regard the words of men as heavenly oracles. This evasion availed them nothing, for God would have them to hearken to his servants. Though he did not shew himself from heaven, nor addressed them in a visible form, it was yet enough that he had once for all testified, that after the promulgation of the Law, there would always be Prophets among the people, and had commanded them to be reverently attended to. Nor could the Jews avail themselves of that evasion, which the ungodly commonly resorted to, that they could not distinguish between true and false Prophets; for if they had examined the doctrine of Jeremiah, they would have found that it had certain marks by which they could have easily seen that it was altogether consistent with the Law. That they then rejected the Prophet and his heavenly doctrine, was a proof of their obstinacy and contempt, but not through ignorance. It follows, --


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