Jeremiah 29

CHAPTER XXIX

This chapter contains the substance of two letters sent by the

prophet to the captives in Babylon. In the first he recommends

to them patience and composure under their present

circumstances, which were to endure for seventy years, 1-14;

in which, however, they should fare better than their brethren

who remained behind, 15-19.

But, finding little credit given to this message, on account of

the suggestions of the false prophets, Ahab the son of Kolaiah,

and Zedekiah, the son of Maaseiah, who flattered them with the

hopes of a speedy end to their captivity, he sends a second, in

which he denounces heavy judgments against those false prophets

that deceived them, 20-23;

as he did afterwards against Shemaiah the Nehelamite, who had

sent a letter of complaint against Jeremiah, in consequence of

his message, 24-32.

NOTES ON CHAP. XXIX

Verse 1. Now these are the words of the letter] This transaction

took place in the first or second year of Zedekiah. It appears

that the prophet had been informed that the Jews who had already

been carried into captivity had, through the instigations of false

prophets, been led to believe that they were to be brought out of

their captivity speedily. Jeremiah, fearing that this delusion

might induce them to take some hasty steps, ill comporting with

their present state, wrote a letter to them, which he entrusted to

an embassy which Zedekiah had sent on some political concerns to

Nebuchadnezzar. The letter was directed to the elders, priests,

prophets, and people who had been carried away captives to

Babylon.

Verse 4. Thus saith the Lord of hosts] This was the commencement

of the letter.

Verse 5. Build ye houses] Prepare for a long continuance in your

present captivity. Provide yourselves with the necessaries of

life, and multiply in the land, that ye may become a powerful

people.

Verse 7. Seek the peace of the city] Endeavour to promote, as

far as you can, the prosperity of the places in which ye sojourn.

Let no disaffection appear in word or act. Nothing can be more

reasonable than this. Wherever a man lives and has his nourishment

and support, that is his country as long as he resides in it. If

things go well with that country, his interest is promoted by the

general prosperity, he lives at comparative ease, and has the

necessaries of life cheaper; and unless he is in a state of cruel

servitude, which does not appear to have been the case with those

Israelites to whom the prophet writes, (those of the first

captivity,) they must be nearly, if not altogether, in as good a

state as if they had been in the country that gave them birth. And

in this case they were much better off than their brethren now in

Judea, who had to contend with famine and war, and scarcely any

thing before them but God's curse and extermination.

Verse 8. Neither hearken to your dreams] Rather, dreamers; for

it appears there was a class of such persons, who not only had

acquired a facility of dreaming themselves, but who undertook to

interpret the dreams of others.

Verse 10. For thus saith the Lord] It has been supposed that a

very serious transposition of verses has taken place here; and it

has been proposed to read after Jer 29:9 the

sixteenth to the nineteenth inclusive; then the tenth, and on to

the fourteenth inclusive; then the twentieth, the fifteenth, the

twenty-first, and the rest regularly to the end.

That after seventy years be accomplished] lephi meloth,

"at the mouth of the accomplishment," or "fill to the mouth."

Seventy years is the measure which must be filled;-fill this to

the brim;-complete this measure, and then you shall be visited and

released. The whole seventy must be completed; expect no

enlargement before that time.

Verse 11. Thoughts of peace] Here God gives them to understand,

1. That his love was moved towards them. 2. That he would perform

his good word, his promises often repeated, to them. 3. That for

the fulfilment of these they must pray, seek, and search. 4. That

he would hearken, and they should find him; provided, 5. They

sought him with their whole heart, Jer 29:10-13.

Verse 14. I will gather you from all the nations] A quotation

from De 30:3, and see also De 4:7.

Verse 15. Because ye have said] The Septuagint very properly

insert this verse between the twentieth and the twenty-first, and

thus the connexion here is not disturbed, and the connexion below

completed.

Verse 17. Behold, I will send upon them the sword] Do not envy

the state of Zedekiah who sits on the throne of David, nor that of

the people who are now in the land whence ye have been carried

captive, (Jer 29:16,) for "I will send the sword, the pestilence,

and the famine upon them;" and afterwards shall cause them to be

carried into a miserable captivity in all nations, (Jer 29:18;)

but ye see the worst of your own case, and you have God's promise

of enlargement when the proper time is come. The reader will not

forget that the prophet is addressing the captives in Babylon.

Verse 20. Hear ye therefore the word] Dr. Blayney thinks there

were two letters written by the prophet to the captives in

Babylon, and that the first ends with this verse. That having

heard, on the return of the embassy (Elasah and Gemariah, whom

Zedekiah had sent to Babylon, and to whom the prophet entrusted

the above letter, Jer 29:3,) that the captives had not received

his advises favourably, because they were deceived by false

prophets among them, who promised them a speedier deliverance, he

therefore wrote a second letter, beginning with the fifteenth

verse, and going on with the twenty-first, &c., in which he

denounces God's judgments on three of the chief of those, Ahab,

Zedekiah, and Shemaiah.

Verse 21. He shall slay them before your eyes.] Nebuchadnezzar

would be led by political reasons to punish these pretended

prophets, as their predictions tended to make his Israelitish

subjects uneasy and disaffected, and might excite them to

rebellion. He therefore slew them; two of them, it appears, he

burnt alive, viz., Ahab and Zedekiah, who are supposed by the

rabbins to be the two elders who endeavoured to seduce Susanna,

see Jer 29:23. Burning

alive was a Chaldean punishment, Da 3:6, and Am 2:1. From them

other nations borrowed it.

Verse 23. Have committed adultery with their neighbours' wives]

This is supposed to refer to the case of Susanna. See above.

Verse 24. Speak to Shemaiah] Zephaniah was the second priest,

sagan, or chief priest's deputy, and Seraiah, high priest, when

Jerusalem was taken. See Jer 52:24. Shemaiah directs his letter

to the former, and tells him that God had appointed him to supply

the place of the high priest, who was probably then absent. His

name was either Azariah or Seraiah his son, but called Jehoiada

from the remarkable zeal and courage of that pontiff. See the

passages in the margin.-Dodd. After the taking of Jerusalem,

Zephaniah was put to death by Nebuchadnezzar at Riblah, see

Jer 37:3. The history of Jehoiada may be seen 2Ki 11:3, &c.

Verse 26. For every man that is mad, and maketh himself a

prophet] Mad, meshugga, in ecstatic rapture; such as

appeared in the prophets, whether true or false, when under the

influence, the one of God, the other of a demon. See 2Ki 9:11;

Ho 9:7.

Verse 32. I will punish Shemaiah] 1. He shall have no posterity

to succeed him. 2. His family, i.e., relations, &c., shall not be

found among those whom I shall bring back from captivity. 3. Nor

shall he himself see the good that I shall do for my people. And

all this shall come upon him and his because he hath taught

rebellion against the Lord. He excited the people to reject

Jeremiah, and to receive the lying words of the false prophets;

and these led them to rebel.

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