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Jer 52:1-34. WRITTEN BY SOME OTHER THAN JEREMIAH (PROBABLY EZRA) AS AN HISTORICAL SUPPLEMENT TO THE PREVIOUS PROPHECIES
(See on Jer 51:64). Jeremiah, having already (thirty-ninth and fortieth chapters) given the history in the proper place, was not likely to repeat it here. Its canonical authority as inspired is shown by its being in the Septuagint version. It contains the capture and burning of Jerusalem, &c., Zedekiah's punishment, and the better treatment of Jehoiachin under Evil-merodach, down to his death. These last events were probably subsequent to Jeremiah's time.
3. through . . . anger of . . . Lord . . . Zedekiah rebelled--His "anger" against Jerusalem, determining Him to "cast out" His people "from His presence" heretofore manifested there, led Him to permit Zedekiah to rebel (2Ki 23:26, 27; compare Ex 9:12; 10:1; Ro 9:18). That rebellion, being in violation of his oath "by God," was sure to bring down God's vengeance (2Ch 36:13; Eze 17:15, 16, 18).
4. forts--rather, towers of wood [KIMCHI], for watching the movements of the besieged from the height and annoying them with missiles.
7. (See on Jer 39:4).
"I will bring him to Babylon . . . yet shall he not see
12. tenth day--But in 2Ki 25:8, it is said "the seventh day." Nebuzara-dan started from Riblah on the "seventh" day and arrived in Jerusalem on the "tenth" day. Seeming discrepancies, when cleared up, confirm the genuineness of Scripture; for they show there was no collusion between the writers; as in all God's works there is latent harmony under outward varieties.
13. all the houses . . . and all the houses of the great--the "and" defines what houses especially are meant, namely, the houses of the great men.
17. brake--that they might be more portable. Fulfilling the prophecy
1Ki 7:15, 23, 27, 50.
Nothing is so particularly related here as the carrying away of the
articles in the temple. The remembrance of their beauty and
preciousness heightens the bitterness of their loss and the evil of sin
which caused it.
18. (Ex 27:3).
19. of gold in gold--implying that the articles were of solid gold and silver respectively, not of a different metal inside, or alloyed [GROTIUS]. Whole: not breaking them as was done to the "brass" (Jer 52:17).
20. bulls . . . under the bases--But the bulls were not "under the bases," but under the sea (1Ki 7:25, 27, 38); the ten bases were not under the sea, but under the ten lavers. In English Version, "bases," therefore, must mean the lower parts of the sea under which the bulls were. Rather, translate, "the bulls were in the place of (that is, 'by way of'; so the Hebrew, 1Sa 14:9), bases," or supports to the sea [BUXTORF]. So the Septuagint. 2Ki 25:16 omits the "bulls," and has "and the bases"; so GROTIUS here reads "the bulls (which were) under (the sea) and the bases."
21. eighteen cubits--but in 2Ch 3:15, it is "thirty-five cubits." The discrepancy is thus removed. Each pillar was eighteen common cubits. The two together, deducting the base, were thirty-five, as stated in 2Ch 3:15 [GROTIUS]. Other ways (for example, by reference to the difference between the common and the sacred cubit) are proposed: though we are not able positively to decide now which is the true way, at least those proposed do show that the discrepancies are not irreconcilable.
22. five cubits--so 1Ki 7:16. But 2Ki 25:17 has "three cubits." There were two parts in the chapiter: the one lower and plain, of two cubits; the other, higher and curiously carved, of three cubits. The former is omitted in 2Ki 25:17, as belonging to the shaft of the pillar; the latter alone is there mentioned. Here the whole chapiter of five cubits is referred to.
23. on a side--literally, (on the side) towards the air or wind, that is, the outside of the capitals of the pillars conspicuous to the eye, opposed to the four remaining pomegranates which were not seen from the outside. The pomegranates here are ninety-six; but in 1Ki 7:20 they are two hundred on each chapiter, and four hundred on the two (2Ch 4:13). It seems there were two rows of them, one above the other, and in each row a hundred. They are here said to be ninety-six, but immediately following one hundred, and so in 1Ki 7:20. Four seem to have been unseen to one looking from one point; and the ninety-six are only those that could be seen [VATABLUS]; or, the four omitted here are those separating the four sides, one pomegranate at each point of separation (or at the four corners) between the four sides [GROTIUS].
25. seven men--but in
it is "five." Perhaps two were less illustrious persons and are
28. seventh year--in 2Ki 24:12, 14, 16, it is said "the eighth year" of Nebuchadnezzar. No doubt it was in part about the end of the seventh year, in part about the beginning of the eighth. Also in 2Ki 24:1-20, ten thousand (Jer 52:14), and seven thousand men of might, and a thousand craftsmen (Jer 52:16), are said to have been carried away, But here three thousand twenty-three. Probably the latter three thousand twenty-three were of the tribe of Judah, the remaining seven thousand out of the ten thousand were of the other tribes, out of which many Israelites still had been left in the land. The thousand "craftsmen" were exclusive of the ten thousand, as appears, by comparing 2Ki 24:14 with Jer 52:16. Probably the three thousand twenty-three of Judah were first removed in the end of "the seventh year"; the seven thousand and a thousand craftsmen in the "eighth year." This was at the first captivity under Jehoiachin.
29. eighteenth year--when Jerusalem was taken. But in
and 2Ki 25:8,
"the nineteenth year." Probably it was at the end of the eighteenth and
the beginning of the nineteenth [LYRA].
30. Not recorded in Kings or Chronicles. Probably it took place
during the commotions that followed the death of Gedaliah
32. set his throne above--a mark of respect.
IN the Hebrew Bible these Elegies of Jeremiah, five in number, are placed among the Chetuvim, or "Holy Writings" ("the Psalms," &c., Lu 24:44), between Ruth and Ecclesiastes. But though in classification of compositions it belongs to the Chetuvim, it probably followed the prophecies of Jeremiah originally. For thus alone can we account for the prophetical books being enumerated by JOSEPHUS [Against Apion, 1.1.8] as thirteen: he must have reckoned Jeremiah and Lamentations as one book, as also Judges and Ruth, the two books of Samuel, &c., Ezra and Nehemiah. The Lamentations naturally follow the book which sets forth the circumstances forming the subject of the Elegies. Similar lamentations occur in 2Sa 1:19, &c.; 3:33. The Jews read it in their synagogues on the ninth of the month Ab, which is a fast for the destruction of their holy city. As in 2Ch 35:25, "lamentations" are said to have been "written" by Jeremiah on the death of Josiah, besides it having been made "an ordinance in Israel" that "singing women" should "speak" of that king in lamentations; JOSEPHUS [Antiquities, 10.5.1], JEROME, &c., thought that they are contained in the present collection. But plainly the subject here is the overthrow of the Jewish city and people, as the Septuagint expressly states in an introductory verse to their version. The probability is that there is embodied in these Lamentations much of the language of Jeremiah's original Elegy on Josiah, as 2Ch 35:25 states; but it is now applied to the more universal calamity of the whole state, of which Josiah's sad death was the forerunner. Thus La 4:20, originally applied to Josiah, was "written," in its subsequent reference, not so much of him, as of the throne of Judah in general, the last representative of which, Zedekiah, had just been carried away. The language, which is true of good Josiah, is too strong in favor of Zedekiah, except when viewed as representative of the crown in general. It was natural to embody the language of the Elegy on Josiah in the more general lamentations, as his death was the presage of the last disaster that overthrew the throne and state.
The title more frequently given by the Jews to these Elegies is, "How" (Hebrew, Eechah), from the first word, as the Pentateuch is similarly called by the first Hebrew word of Ge 1:1. The Septuagint calls it "Lamentations," from which we derive the name. It refers not merely to the events which occurred at the capture of the city, but to the sufferings of the citizens (the penalty of national sin) from the very beginning of the siege; and perhaps from before it, under Manasseh and Josiah (2Ch 33:11; 35:20-25); under Jehoahaz, Jehoiakim, and Zedekiah (2Ch 36:3, 4, 6, 7, 10, 11, &c.). LOWTH says, "Every letter is written with a tear, every word the sound of a broken heart." The style is midway between the simple elevation of prophetic writing and the loftier rhythm of Moses, David, and Habakkuk. Terse conciseness marks the Hebrew original, notwithstanding Jeremiah's diffuseness in his other writings. The Elegies are grouped in stanzas as they arose in his mind, without any artificial system of arrangement as to the thoughts. The five Elegies are acrostic: each is divided into twenty-two stanzas or verses. In the first three Elegies the stanzas consist of triplets of lines (excepting La 1:7; 2:19, which contain each four lines) each beginning with the letters of the Hebrew alphabet in regular order (twenty-two in number). In three instances (La 2:16, 17; 3:46-51; 4:16, 17) two letters are transposed. In the third Elegy, each line of the three forming every stanza begins with the same letter. The stanzas in the fourth and fifth Elegies consist of two lines each. The fifth Elegy, though having twenty-two stanzas (the number of letters in the Hebrew alphabet), just as the first four, yet is not alphabetical; and its lines are shorter than those of the others, which are longer than are found in other Hebrew poems, and contain twelve syllables, marked by a cæsura about the middle, dividing them into two somewhat unequal parts. The alphabetical arrangement was adopted originally to assist the memory. GROTIUS thinks the reason for the inversion of two of the Hebrew letters in La 2:16, 17; 3:46-51; 4:16, 17, is that the Chaldeans, like the Arabians, used a different order from the Hebrews; in the first Elegy, Jeremiah speaks as a Hebrew, in the following ones, as one