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Zedekiah sendeth to Jeremiah to inquire the event of Nebuchadnezzar's war. Jeremiah foretelleth a hard siege, and miserable captivity: he counselleth the people to fall to the Chaldeans, and upbraideth the king's house.
Before Christ 589.
Jeremiah 21:1. The word which came unto Jeremiah— Nebuchadrezzar having besieged Jerusalem a second time, under Zedekiah, the king sent to consult Jeremiah concerning the success of this war. This happened in the second year of the siege, in the year of the world 3415. There are some who think that the Pashur here mentioned was different from him who is spoken of in the preceding chapter.
Jeremiah 21:4. And I will assemble them— That is "the Chaldeans, to destroy you with your own arms."
Jeremiah 21:7. I will deliver Zedekiah— See the execution of these menaces in chap. 52: and 2 Kings 25:0. We may just observe, that Zedekiah himself was not slain, but carried to Babylon, where he died, though his sons and his great men were slain by the command of Nebuchadrezzar: but it is common with all writers to express that it indefinitely, which is true of the greatest part of the persons concerned.
Jeremiah 21:13. Behold, I am against thee— Behold, I am against thee, who sittest in the valley of Segor, in the midst of the plain: Houbigant; who thinks that Jerusalem is here meant, which, like another Segor, was to be utterly destroyed. See his note. Bishop Newton remarks, that the Jews confided in the strength and situation of Jerusalem, as the Jebusites had done before them: yet how many times, says he, was Jerusalem taken, though it was a very strong place, and wonderfully fortified both by nature and art! It was taken by Shishak king of Egypt, by Nebuchadnezzar, by Antiochus Epiphanes, by Pompey, by Socius, and Herod, before its final destruction by Titus. See Prophesies, vol. 2: p. 120.
REFLECTIONS.—1st, When the danger is distant, many affect to despise it who tremble at its approach, and instantly fly to those ministers in their distress, whose warnings in their prosperity they disregarded.
1. Zedekiah is no sooner besieged by the Chaldeans, than he sends to consult with Jeremiah, under whose predictions he had refused to humble himself, 2Ch 36:12 and by the most honourable messengers intreats him to inquire of the Lord for them, to rid them of their enemies, and raise the siege; thus magnifying his mercy, and adding to his former wondrous works, manifested to Hezekiah in the like distress, 2 Chronicles 32:20-21. Note; (1.) Many in trouble are willing enough to cry to God to ease them of their sufferings, who express little concern about their sins. (2.) They who have scorned the prayers of good men, will be glad of an interest in them in the day of evil. (3.) The gracious interpositions of God in behalf of the penitent and pious, are no precedents to embolden the hope of the unhumbled.
2. A tremendous answer is given to the inquiry from Israel's God, who, though he disclaimed not the relation, and still had mercy in store for the nation, had decreed to give up the men of that wicked generation to deserved punishment. Therefore he informs them, that all their efforts against their enemies would prove unsuccessful, and their city be taken by the Chaldeans: that resistance was vain, since God was their enemy, whose wrath burned like fire against them, and whose outstretched arm would destroy them with a terrible destruction. The famine, pestilence, and sword should consume them; and when at last the case proved desperate, and the few that remained with their king attempted to save themselves, they should be seized and massacred without remorse and pity, by their cruel enemies who sought their life, and, having taken the city by storm, would glut their bloody revenge for their resistance. Note; They who fight against God, rush on their own ruin; and there is no escape when the decree is gone forth; flight is then as fruitless as resistance.
2nd, The messengers being dismissed with this rough reply, the prophet is sent to the people,
1. To admonish them of the only way that remained of saving their lives, by surrendering themselves up to the Chaldeans, as inevitable ruin would be the consequence of persisting to defend themselves; God's wrath being upon the city, the devouring fire ready to seize its palaces, and whoever abode in it being doomed to perish by the sword, the famine, or the pestilence. A dreadful alternative! either an ignominious slavery, or a miserable death.
2. To warn their king and princes, and call them to repentance at the peril of their souls. In vain they boasted their descent from the house of David, who were so degenerate from the piety of their fathers: they should, as his successors, discharge the duties of their high station; execute judgment in the morning, speedily, not spending their days in sloth and luxury; and deliver the spoiled from the hand of the oppressor, against whom he cried for justice: this they had grievously neglected, and therefore God was about to visit them; nor should their greatness be any protection from the fire of his wrath. One moment's respite is yet afforded them, one warning more given them, in the hope that by an immediate return they may suspend, if not avert, the descending blow. Note; (1.) They who are entrusted with the administration of justice should be speedy as well as impartial in their decisions: the delays of justice are almost as intolerable as oppression. (2.) Faithful prophets will not fear great men's faces, but plainly rebuke their sins. (3.) The sins of rulers will be most severely brought to account, as their influence and example are most pernicious.
3. To confound the folly of the hopes which they entertained. They thought their city by situation, as well as art, impregnable; fortified by surrounding hills and craggy rocks, which rendered the approach of an enemy difficult; and therefore with confidence of safety they defied all invaders; Who shall come down against us, or who shall enter into our habitations? but what defence is available when God saith, Behold, I am against thee, since his vengeance awoke to punish them according to the fruit of their doings, their munition of rocks is levelled to the ground. In righteous judgment, the fire is kindled; and Jerusalem with all her palaces, like a forest, perishes in the flames. Woe to the sinner against whom this devouring fire of wrath is stirred up! who can dwell in everlasting burnings?
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Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Jeremiah 21". Coke's Commentary on the Holy Bible. https://studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 8 / Ordinary 13