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Up to this point we have a collection of Jeremiah’s prophecies concerning Judah and Jerusalem, with some related historical incidents. The following nine chapters are made up of historical material which is arranged to make a continuous narrative. The first three chapters embrace events before the capture of Jerusalem, and the last six events after the capture. In this chapter we have, THE COMMAND, FIRST WRITING, AND PUBLIC READING, Jeremiah 36:1-8.
1. Fourth year of Jehoiakim This is also the date of chapter 25. (See Jeremiah 25:1.) But probably the twenty-fifth chapter belongs in the beginning of this year, while this chapter should fall near its close. For the reading “in the ears of the people,” did not take place until the ninth month of the following year. (See Jeremiah 36:9.) From the first verse of Daniel we learn that the capture of Jerusalem took place in the fourth year of Jehoiakim. It is not unlikely that this event falls between the two chapters above mentioned.
2. A roll of a book A book-roll; that is, a roll properly prepared for writing.
And write Not copy as if into one volume what already existed in a written form but detached, but reduce to writing the things which had, from time to time, been spoken. There is nothing in the form of language, either excluding or including written aids to the memory, in doing this work. The purpose of this writing, as shown in Jeremiah 36:3, was to influence the people by means of it. A writing is something more staid and impressive than the fleeting utterances of oral discourse can be.
4. Wrote from the mouth of Jeremiah That is, at his dictation. The writing was done under his supervision; but, as stated above, there is no conclusive reason why the scribe might not avail himself in making his record of any earlier ones if they existed. This matter of writing would seem to have been the most honourable of employments. Hence in this case the scribe is Baruch, a member of a noble family.
5. Shut up Rather, hindered. There is no proof that Jeremiah was in custody at this time.
6. The fasting day The fast day mentioned in Jeremiah 36:9 is here intended. This was not a stated, but an extraordinary, fast. It would be a favourable time in which to read the book, because a day of holy convocation and because a day of solemnity and humiliation.
7. They will present their supplication The original is more beautiful their supplication shall fall; alluding to the prostrate attitude of the supplicants.
PARTICULARS OF THE READING, Jeremiah 36:9-18.
9. In the ninth month… proclaimed a fast This would fall about December. The ordinary fast was in the seventh month. Keil conjectures that this was a fast appointed in view of the capture of Jerusalem in the previous year.
10. In the chamber of Gemariah Probably from the window or balcony.
Higher court That of the priests; the court of the people being lower. “The chamber,” then, would seem to be between the two courts.
12. The scribe’s chamber A public office where the king’s decrees were formulated and recorded; as has properly been suggested, the office of the secretary of state. The presence of all the princes may indicate the critical condition of public affairs.
14. Take… the roll… and come Had these princes been where they perhaps should have been, they would have heard the reading at the first. The man who is in the congregation of God’s worshippers is in the way of the best things; the man who is not there is without the circle of God’s choicest blessings.
15. Sit down A token of respect. This attention probably intimates the favour with which the “princes” regarded both Baruch and Jeremiah.
16. They were afraid Literally, they trembled each to his fellow. They showed the alarm with which these words filled their minds. This was due, not to the novelty of the predictions, as with many of them they must have been acquainted, but to the solemnity of the occasion, the gravity of the subject-matter, the earnestness of the scribe himself, and the cumulative force of the predictions.
We will surely tell Rather, we must tell. These matters, so important, we may not hide from the king.
17. How didst thou write Two points seem to be involved in this question, which is not one of mere curiosity, but of earnest interest: namely, authority and accuracy. As to both the answer was most conclusive.
THE READING TO THE KING, Jeremiah 36:19-26.
22. Winter house A special part of the palace used for that season.
Fire on the hearth Brazier. The houses of the Jews, as usual in the east, were warmed not by means of chimneys or living fires, but by open vessels containing coals.
23. Three or four leaves Rather, columns. The exact word here is doors. This was a continuous roll, but the writing, as is customary, was in sections or columns. Cut it, etc. That is, the king, not Jehudi, “cut it.” The act illustrates the violence of the king’s temper. The book had made a deep impression on the princes, and they were careful to provide for its safe keeping when they sent to tell the king, but he incontinently destroys it. It is manifestly an error to interpret, as some do, that as often as three or four columns were read they were cast on the brazier, and that this process was kept up until the entire roll was read through and burned up, as this would be silly and incredible.
24. Were not afraid A contrast with the emotion of the princes, Jeremiah 36:16.
25. Made intercession… not burn the roll The insane rage of the king is brought out into a stronger light by the counter requests of the scribes.
26. The Lord hid them See Psalms 31:20; Psalms 83:3; Isaiah 26:20. PUNISHMENT DENOUNCED AGAINST JEHOIAKIM, 27-32.
30. None to sit The three months’ reign of Jeconiah was too trivial and insignificant to be counted.
His dead body shall be cast… day to the heat,… night to the frost These are individualizing expressions, and add solemnity and graphic force.
32. Were added… like words Implying that the first record by no means contained every thing which Jeremiah had said as a prophet, but only such things as were especially suited to the uses of this time. The second record received additions, but we are not warranted in concluding that even this was complete.
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Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Jeremiah 36". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 21 / Ordinary 26