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Jeremiah 26:1 . In the beginning of the reign of Jehoiakim. See the note on Jeremiah 26:3.
Jeremiah 26:2 . Stand in the court of the Lord’s house. See the note on Jeremiah 19:4. The great court was the place where both men and women generally worshipped when they brought no sacrifice, according to Dr. Lightfoot. When they offered a sacrifice they were to bring it into the inner court, otherwise called the court of Israel, or of the priests, as the same learned author has observed in his treatise concerning the temple service: chap. 8. sec. 1.
Jeremiah 26:3 . And turn every man from his evil way. The promises of grace which follow, are repeated finally in Jeremiah 36:3, and are specially noticed there.
Jeremiah 26:7 . The priests and the prophets heard Jeremiah. The Septuagint rightly understand the word of the false prophets, such as Hananiah, mentioned in Jeremiah 28:1. Compare also Jeremiah 39:1; Jeremiah 27:19. So the word prophet is taken in Hosea 9:8.
Jeremiah 26:8 . Thou shalt surely die. As a disturber of the government, and a discourager of the people, from defending their country against the enemy. Compare Jeremiah 38:4, and see the note on Jeremiah 26:14 of this chapter. These priests accused their brother of saying, that the temple should be burned like Shiloh, but they concealed the conditions, in case they repented not, as is fully stated in chap. 22, 23. Such is the factious wickedness of man: in the storm of passion he forgets the golden rule, of doing to another what he wishes another should do to him.
Jeremiah 26:14 . As for me, behold I am in your hand. Compare Jeremiah 38:5. It was the proper business of the Sanhedrim to pass sentence upon prophets; and if they found them guilty of making false pretences to prophecy, to put them to death, the punishment which the law had provided in that case. Deuteronomy 18:20-22. In this sense those words of Christ are to be understood, Luke 13:33. “It cannot be that a prophet perish out of Jerusalem,” where the Sanhedrim sat, whose office it was first to try and to condemn him.
Jeremiah 26:16 . Then said the princes; the Sanhedrim, or at least some considerable men among them, as in Jeremiah 26:17; Jeremiah 26:21. Compare also Jeremiah 36:12; Jeremiah 37:15; Jeremiah 38:4.
And all the people this man is not worthy to die. They who before were forward to condemn him, Jeremiah 26:8, now, upon hearing his apology, were as ready to acquit him.
Jeremiah 26:17 . Then rose up certain elders of the land. See Jeremiah 26:10; Jeremiah 26:16. From the seventeenth verse to the end of the chapter are rehearsed the debates that passed in the Sanhedrim upon this subject, and the arguments offered on both sides. St. Luke gives an account of a like conference with relation to the apostles. Acts 5:33-34.
Jeremiah 26:18 . Micah prophesied in the days of Hezekiah. They alleged this precedent, taken from the practice of a good king, in favour of Jeremiah. See Micah 3:12.
Zion shall be glowed like a field. The Jews suppose this prophecy to be fulfilled in the utter destruction of the second temple by Titus, when Terentius, or as some of the modern Jews call him, Turnus Rufus, rased the very foundations of the city and temple. Thus also was fulfilled the prediction of our Saviour, “that there should not be left one stone upon another.” See Joseph. Bell. Jud. lib. 7. chap. 7. When conquerors would signify their purpose that a city should never be rebuilt, they used to break up the ground where it stood. See Judges 9:45. Horace alludes to this custom: Imprimeretque muris Hostile aratrum exercitus insolens. Lib. 1. Obadiah 1:16.
Jeremiah 26:19 . Did Hezekiah and all Judah put him to death? Did the people come together in a body to accuse Micah, and demand sentence against him, as they had now done in the case of Jeremiah? Did he not fear the Lord? See 2 Chronicles 32:25.
Jeremiah 26:24 . Nevertheless the hand of Ahikam the son of Shaphan was with Jeremiah. Both he and his father Shaphan were the chief ministers under Josiah. 2 Kings 22:12-14. And the brothers of Ahikam, Gemariah, Elasah, and Joazoniah, were considerable men in those days with Ahikam, and members of the great council. Jeremiah 29:3. Ezekiel 8:11. So Ahikam made use of his interest with them, to deliver Jeremiah from the danger that threatened him.
We have here a festival sermon, which Jeremiah delivered in the court of the temple; a sermon of grace and justice, the very reverse of what the false prophets had preached. He opens his commission with the repetition of all the blessings of the covenant, in case they should repent, and turn to the Lord with their whole heart. But if, on the contrary, they should despise the Lord, and not seek him, as Josiah did, he showed them their city, and the temple of which they had made their boast, all in flames, as had been the case before at Shiloh, when the Philistines defeated their armies, captured the ark of God, and burned the cherubim. 1 Samuel 4:12.
The effect of this sermon was, a general uproar in the temple. The priests, the false prophets, and Pashur the priest and captain being at their head, with one voice they cried out for the blood of Jeremiah. The princes were summoned to take their seat in the gate, that the true prophet might instantly be put on trial for his life, and massacred as a sacrifice to their fury. The priests and the prophets seemed resolved neither to eat nor drink till Jeremiah’s tongue could disturb them no more. Their impetuous passions allowed of no time for pause and reflection. But would not such a massacre have imprinted his sermon indelibly on the nation? Could all the waters of the Gihon, or of the Kedron have washed out the stains of his blood?
God turns the hearts of kings as he turned the flood of Jordan. The princes declare that Jeremiah had done nothing worthy of death. Elders from the country second the voice of the princes, that Jeremiah had said nothing against the temple but what the prophet Micah had said, that Zion for their sakes should be plowed like a field; that the prophet Urijah had said the same. These elders from the country were no doubt lawyers; they entered the vista left open by the accusers with a host of eloquence. They said that Jeremiah had threatened the burning of the temple with the noble motive of saving the sanctuary by converting the people, and by asking mercy for his country, as in the days of Samuel at Mizpeh. So the princes, inspired with equity to resist popular clamour, the brightest trait of a magistrate, drove away the wolves, and delivered the lamb out of their hands. Jeremiah retired with his bones unbroken!
But oh what sorrows must invade the prophet’s breast a country gone too far to be reclaimed. St. Augustine’s doctrine of a day of grace seems applicable in this case, as well as Christ’s lamentation over the same city. This doctrine I find repeated in our old sermons, by John Shower, by Robert Russel, and by Richard Baxter. A man may long sport on the precipice: ah, but one step more, and he is for ever gone. Oh Lord, take not thy Holy Spirit from us.
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Sutcliffe, Joseph. "Commentary on Jeremiah 26". Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments. https://studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 22 / Ordinary 27