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Jer 29:1-32. LETTER OF JEREMIAH TO THE CAPTIVES IN BABYLON, TO COUNTERACT THE ASSURANCES GIVEN BY THE FALSE PROPHETS OF A SPEEDY RESTORATION.
1. residue of the elders--those still surviving from the time when they were carried to Babylon with Jeconiah; the other elders of the captives had died by either a natural or a violent death.
2. queen--Nehushta, the queen mother, daughter of Elnathan
(2Ki 24:8, 15).
(Elnathan, her father, is perhaps the same as the one mentioned in
She reigned jointly with her son.
3. Zedekiah . . . sent unto Babylon--In
Zedekiah himself goes to Babylon; here he sends
ambassadors. Whatever was the object of the embassy, it shows that
Zedekiah only reigned at the pleasure of the king of Babylon, who might
have restored Jeconiah, had he pleased. Hence, Zedekiah permitted
Jeremiah's letter to be sent, not only as being led by Hananiah's death
to attach greater credit to the prophet's words, but also as the letter
accorded with his own wish that the Jews should remain in Chaldea till
5. Build . . . houses--In opposition to the false prophets' suggestions, who told the captives that their captivity would soon cease, Jeremiah tells them that it will be of long duration, and that therefore they should build houses, as Babylon is to be for long their home.
6. that ye . . . be . . . not diminished--It was God's will that the seed of Abraham should not fail; thus consolation is given them, and the hope, though not of an immediate, yet of an ultimate, return.
7. (Ezr 6:10; Ro 13:1; 1Ti 2:2). Not only bear the Babylonian yoke patiently, but pray for your masters, that is, while the captivity lasts. God's good time was to come when they were to pray for Babylon's downfall (Jer 51:35; Ps 137:8). They were not to forestall that time. True religion teaches patient submission, not sedition, even though the prince be an unbeliever. In all states of life let us not throw away the comfort we may have, because we have not all we would have. There is here a foretaste of gospel love towards enemies (Mt 5:44).
8. your dreams which ye caused to be dreamed--The Latin adage says, "The people wish to be deceived, so let them be deceived." Not mere credulity misleads men, but their own perverse "love of darkness rather than light." It was not priests who originated priestcraft, but the people's own morbid appetite to be deceived; for example, Aaron and the golden calf (Ex 32:1-4). So the Jews caused or made the prophets to tell them encouraging dreams (Jer 23:25, 26; Ec 5:7; Zec 10:2; Joh 3:19-21).
10. (See on
This proves that the seventy years date from Jeconiah's captivity, not
from the last captivity. The specification of time was to curb the
impatience of the Jews lest they should hasten before God's time.
11. I know--I alone; not the false prophets who know nothing
of My purposes, though they pretend to know.
&c.). When God designs mercy, He puts it into the hearts of His people
to pray for the mercy designed. When such a spirit of prayer is poured
out, it is a sure sign of coming mercy.
13. (Le 26:40-42, 44, 45).
15. Because--referring not to the preceding words, but to Jer 29:10, 11, "Jehovah saith this to you" (that is, the prophecy of the continuance of the captivity seventy years), "because ye have said, The Lord hath raised us up prophets in Babylon," namely, foretelling our speedy deliverance (this their prophecy is supposed, not expressed; accordingly, Jer 29:16-19 contradict this false hope again, Jer 29:8, 9, 21). He, in this fifteenth verse, turns his address from the godly (Jer 29:12-14) to the ungodly listeners, to false prophets.
16. people . . . in this city . . . not gone forth--So far from your returning to Jerusalem soon, even your brethren still left dwelling there shall themselves also be cast into exile. He mentions "the throne of David," lest they should think that, because David's kingdom was to be perpetual, no severe, though temporary, chastisements could interpose (Ps 89:29-36).
17. vile figs--Hebrew, "horrible," or nauseous, from a root, "to regard with loathing" (see Jer 24:8, 10).
23. villainy--literally, "sinful folly" (Isa 32:6).
24-32. A second communication which Jeremiah sent to Babylon, after
the messenger who carried his first letter had brought a letter from the
false prophet Shemaiah to Zephaniah, &c., condemning Jeremiah and
reproving the authorities for not having apprehended him.
25. in thy name--without sanction of "the Lord of hosts, the God of
Israel," which words stand in antithesis to "thy name"
26. thee . . . in the stead of Jehoiada--Zephaniah's promotion as
second priest, owing to Jehoiada's being then in exile, was unexpected.
Shemaiah thus accuses him of ingratitude towards God, who had so highly
exalted him before his regular time.
27. of Anathoth--said contemptuously, as "Jesus of Nazareth."
28. Referring to Jeremiah's first letter to Babylon (Jer 29:5).
29. Zephaniah . . . read . . . in the ears of Jeremiah--He seems to have been less prejudiced against Jeremiah than the others; hence he reads the charge to the prophet, that he should not be condemned without a hearing. This accords with Shemaiah's imputation against Zephaniah for want of zeal against Jeremiah (Jer 29:26, 27). Hence the latter was chosen by King Zedekiah as one of the deputation to Jeremiah (Jer 21:1; 37:3).
30. This resumes the thread of the sentence which began at Jer 29:25, but was left there not completed. Here, in this thirtieth verse, it is completed, not however in continuity, but by a new period. The same construction occurs in Ro 5:12-15.
32. not . . . a man to dwell--