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serve the king of Babylon seventy years.
Yet to let them see that he would not, even then, give them quite up, he told them that at the expiration of the seventy years he would punish the Assyrians and Chaldeans, and all the other nations that had afflicted them, for their iniquities.
Jehoiakim, having continued three years in subjection to Nebuchadnezzar, in the fourth, refused any longer submission to liim. Upon which, Nebuchadnezzar ordered him to be attacked by some Chaldean troops, joined by the Syrians, Moabites, and Ammonites. This war lasted some time, during which God frequently admonished Jehoiakim and bis people, by various means, to return to their duty. The first of which was this : the approach of Nebuchadnezzar's army having driven the Reclabiles f from their habitation, they fled to Jerusalem for safety. The Lord intending by these to convince and reprove Jchoiakim and the Jews, he commanded Jeremiah the prophet to bring them into an apartment in the temple, and to offer them wine; which they refused, alledging that it was contrary to their institution, which they had hitherto religiously observed. The prophet commended their obedience, and promised them a reward from God; and applying this to the Jews, he reproached them, who were the peculiar people of the Lord, for being less obedient to him, than the poor Rechabites were to the appointment of their ancestor. But this method not having the intended effect, the Lord commanded Jeremiah to make a book, and to write in it all the prophecies which the Lord had given him against Israel and Budalı, from his beginning to prophecy; in order to see if the Jews, upon hearing all the judgments summed up together against them for their disobedience,
* Seventy. See Jeremiah xxv.11.
† Rechabiles. They were the posterity of Rechab, who came from Jethro, or Hobab, the Kenite, and by the institution of Jonadab their founder, were obliged to build so liouses, but to dwell in tents, and to drink no wine.
would return to their duty, that he might forgive them. In compliance with this command, Jeremiah employed Baruch as his Amanuensis, to write what he should dictate to him;, and when it was finished, the prophet ordered Baruch to take it, and because he was shut * up, that he might not enter into the house of the Lord, to go and read it to the people in the temple upon the Fast-day. † Baruch pursues his instructions, and going to the temple, read what he had wriiten in the book. This was done in Gemariah's apartment, and afterwards in the secretary's office, before all the princes ; who being satisfied that what Baruch read was the prophet Jeremiah’s inditing, they advised him and Baruch to withdraw to some place of security, till they knew the king's pleasure concerning the book. They then secured the book in the secretary's office, and went and informed the king of what they had heard. Upon which, sending Jehudi, one of his attendants, for it, he commanded him to read it : but he had not proceeded for in it, when the king, impatient at the judgments that threatened him, took the book out of his hand, and cut it into pieces, and, notwithstanding the importunity of some of the first persons of his court, he threw it into the fire, where it was burned. And to shew his want of penitence, he dispatched officers to apprehend the prophet Jeremiah and his amanuensis, Baruch; but Providence had secured them. This wilful act of Jehoiakim, in burning the roll, so provoked the Lord, that he commanded the prophet to providle another, and write the same words in it that were in the first, with this addition, that Jehoiakim should have none to sit on the throne of David, and that his dead body should be cast out, in the day to the heat, and in the night to the frost, and that he would bring upon the inhabitants of Judah all the evils pronounced against them. And to let him see that God was in earnest, he permitted this obstinate prince to fall into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar, who put him in irons, intending to have carried him to Babylon, if he had not died on the
* Shut up. It is uncertain what the prophet meant here, (Jeremiah xxxvi. v. 5,) by saying, “ He was shut up.” Some say he was shut up in prison by the malice of the priests, who, no doubt, were malicious enough to do so : but the contrary appears from v. 19, where the princes advised him and Baruch to hide themselves, which they did, v. 26. Tremellius and Junius suppose three ways of his being shut up, and leave us to take which of the three we like best. The first is that the king had forbidden him to go into the temple to speak to the people : but the prophets of God did not use to observe such prohibitions of their prophetic ministry. The second is, that the chief priests had excommunicated him, and therefore he might not go. But that, in all probability, he would have less regarded, for the same reason. The third is, that God, to provide for the safety of his prophet, and to punish the people, would not let him go amongst them. This of the three seems the most probable, and so his being shut up was by a restraint in his spirit or mind.
+ Fast-Day. This, it seems, was a Fast of their own appointins, as was usual when they feared war, or any great plague from God, as now they did by the Babylonians. .
To Jehoiakim succeeded his son Jehoiakin, * a youth of about eighteen years of age : who treading in the steps of his wicked father, the Lord sent him his doom by the prophet Jeremiah, † which was soon executed upon him; for in the fourth month of his reign, Nebuchadnezzar having conceived some ill suspicion of this young prince, who was viciously inclined, came and be. sieged Jerusalem in person, at the head of a powerful army. Jehoiakin finding himself too weak to defend the place, surrendered himself, his mother, his princes, officers, and servants, to the king of Babylon, who carried them all away prisoners, taking with them all the treasure of the temple and the royal palace, and all the useful artificers ; leaving none but the poorest sort of people behind.
* Jehoiakin. In 1 Chron. iii. 16, he is called Jechoniah. In 2 Chron. xxxvi. 9, he is said to be but eight years old when he began to reign, and in 2 Kings xxiv. 8, he is said to be eighteen. The latter is the most reasonable, because of the message which God sent to him by the prophet Jeremiah, which he would scarce have done to a child of eight years old. And as 10 the book of Chronicles saying he was eight years old, it must be supposed that his father had created him his partner in the kingdom at eight years of age, out of jealousy, that if he (Jehoiakim) should die, and leave his son young, his brother Mattaniah might take the advantage of his childhood, and put him by the crown.
† Teremiah. See ch. xxii. v. 24.
The conqueror having thus disposed of the captives, above seven thousand in number, substituted to Jehoi. akin his uncle Mattaniah, the third son of good king Josiah, whose name he changed to Zedekiah, who though he had seen the ruin of his two brothers, Jehoahaz and Jehoiakim, and of his nephew Jehoiakin, yet persisting in their wicked ways, God sent the prophet Jeremiah to admonish him, who related to him the vision* of the two baskets of figs, the one good, and the other naught. By the first, representing the captivity of those that were in Babylon, which being limited to a time, was for the good of their posterity : the latter, the condition of Zedekiah, and those that remained in the land of Judah, all which the Lord threatened to deliver up to their ene. mies, and to make them a reproach and curse in all places; adding, that the Lord would send the sword, famine, and pestilence, among them, till they were consumed.
In the reign of Jehoiakim, the prophet Jeremiah, † by God's command, had made bonds and yokes, and put them upon his neck in token of the bondage with which the Lord had threatened Judah, and other nations; and now he was commanded to send the bonds and yokes to the kings of Edom, Moab, Ammon, Tyre, and Zidon, to let them know that God had given their countries to Nebu. chadnezzar, king of Babylon, his servant,f and to warn them of their idolatry, and to submit to him. But to Ze. dekiah, king of Judah, the prophet went in person, and advised him to submit to the king of Babylon, and not
Vision. See Jeremiah xxiv. 1, &c. + Jeremiah. See ch. xxvii. v. 2.
| Servant. See Jeremiah xxvii. 6.
to believe the false prophets, who flattered him with hopes of Judah's recovering her former state, and foretold the destruction of Babylon. Among these was Hananiah, who gave Jeremiah much trouble : however, when the Lord commanded bim, he readily went on his prophetic ministry. And taking the opportunity of Ze. dekiah's sending an embassy to Babylon, he sent a letter to the captive priests and people, to admonish them, that their captivity was for their benefit, and that their posterity should return; but that God would severely judge those that were left at Jerusalem, both king and people, with sword, pestilence, and famine, and afterwards deliver them up to their enemies, to be a reproach and curse among all nations.
Upon the receipt of this letter, Shemaiah, a popular man among the captive Jews at Babylon, took upon him to write to Zephaniah, who was next in place to Seraiah the high-priest at Jerusalem, and to the rest of the priests there, representing Jeremiah as a madman, and a prophet of his own making, and advising them to confine him. Jeremiah hearing this letter of Shemaiah read, was commanded by God to send again to the captives of Babylon, to let them know that the Lord would punish Shemaiah and his posterity, because he had prophesied falsely to them. And to warn those who still remained at Jerusalem, God commanded Jeremiah to shew them by the emblem* of the potter's bottle, that it was in his power to destroy the despisers of his word. But notwithstanding this, and the threats of the Lord by his prophets, they desperately resolvet to go on in their own ways, and plot against Jeremiah, abusing him with words and blows, and putting him into the stocks.
About this time was Ezekielt called to the office of a prophet, and made to see the visions of God. He having
See Jeremiah xviii.
of Resolve. See Jer. xviii. 12, 18.
| Ezekiel. He was a priest, and carried to Babylon among the captives of Jehoiakim