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Jeremiah 22

PARAGRAPH DIVISIONS OF MODERN TRANSLATIONS

(The parentheses represent poetic literary units)

NASB NKJV NRSV TEV NJB
Warnings of Jerusalem's Fall Message to the House of David
(21:11-22:10)
Oracles Concerning the Royal House
(21:11-23:8)
Jeremiah's Message to the Royal House of Judah Address to the Royal Family of Judah
(21:11-22:9)
22:1-7 22:1-5 22:1-7 22:1-5 22:1-5
(6b-7) 22:6-9
(6b-7)
(6b-7) 22:6-7 22:6-7
(6b-7)
22:8-9   22:8-10 22:8-9 22:8-9
      Jeremiah's Message Concerning Jehoahaz Prophecies Against Various Kings: Against Jehoahaz
22:10
(10)
22:10
(10)
(10) 22:10
(10)
22:10
(10)
  Message to the Sons of Josiah      
22:11-12 22:11-12 22:11-17 22:11-12 22:11-12
Message About the Kings     Jeremiah's Message Concerning Jehoiakim Against Jehoiakim
22:13-17
(13-17)
22:13-14
(13-14)
(13-17) 22:13-17
(13-17)
22:13-17
(13-17)
  22:15-17
(15-17)
     
22:18-23
(18b-23)
22:18-19
(18b-19)
22:18-23
(18b-23)
22:18-19
(18b-19)
22:18-19
(18b-19)
      Jeremiah's Message About the Fate of Jerusalem Against Jehoiachin
  22:20-23
(20-23)
  22:20-23
(20-23)
22:20-23
(20-23)
  Message to Coniah   God's Judgment of Jehoiachin  
22:24-30
(28-30)
22:24-28
(28)
22:24-30
(28-30)
22:24-27 22:24-30
(28-30)
      22:28-30  
  22:29-30
(29-30)
  (29-30)  

READING CYCLE THREE (see introductory section)

FOLLOWING THE ORIGINAL AUTHOR'S INTENT AT PARAGRAPH LEVEL

This is a study guide commentary,which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

Read the chapter in one sitting. Identify the subjects (reading cycle #3). Compare your subject divisions with the five translations above. Paragraphing is not inspired, but it is the key to following the original author's intent, which is the heart of interpretation. Every paragraph has one and only one subject.

1. First paragraph

2. Second paragraph

3. Third paragraph

4. Etc.

 

CONTEXTUAL INSIGHTS

A. Brief outline of messages to Judah's royal house, cf. 21:11-23:8

1. Zedekiah (Mattaniah) - 21:1-14

2. Jehoahaz (Shallum) - 22:10-12

3. Jehoiakim (Eliakim) - 22:13-19

4. Jehoiakim (Coniah) - 22:24-30

 

B. Zedekiah (BDB 843), another of Josiah's sons, was placed on the throne by Nebuchadnezzar II, king of Babylon (cf. II Kgs. 24:17). He reigned from 597-586 b.c. He was king when Jerusalem fell. He was loyal to Babylon for eight years. Then a pro-Egyptian nationalist party persuaded him to revolt. See Appendix Four: Kings of the Divided Monarchy.

 

C. This section of Jeremiah is much more clearly linked to its historical settings. The specifics of

1. time

2. place

3. proper names

abound!

 

D. The house of David had all the wonderful ("eternal") promises of II Samuel 7, but they too were conditional!

 

E. Remember Nebuchadnezzar's army captured Jerusalem several times: 605 b.c., 586 b.c., and 582 b.c. They destroyed the city and temple in 586 b.c.

 

WORD AND PHRASE STUDY

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 22:1-7
1Thus says the Lord, "Go down to the house of the king of Judah, and there speak this word 2and say, 'Hear the word of the Lord, O king of Judah, who sits on David's throne, you and your servants and your people who enter these gates. 3Thus says the Lord, "Do justice and righteousness, and deliver the one who has been robbed from the power of his oppressor. Also do not mistreat or do violence to the stranger, the orphan, or the widow; and do not shed innocent blood in this place. 4For if you men will indeed perform this thing, then kings will enter the gates of this house, sitting in David's place on his throne, riding in chariots and on horses, even the king himself and his servants and his people. 5But if you will not obey these words, I swear by Myself," declares the Lord, "that this house will become a desolation."'" 6For thus says the Lord concerning the house of the king of Judah:
"You are like Gilead to Me,
Like the summit of Lebanon;
Yet most assuredly I will make you like a wilderness,
Like cities which are not inhabited.
7"For I will set apart destroyers against you,
Each with his weapons;
And they will cut down your choicest cedars
And throw them on the fire.

22:1-2 The directions to Jeremiah are emphatic.

1. go - BDB 432, KB 434, Qal imperative ("go down" refers to the palace, being on a lower hill than the temple, cf. 26:10)

2. speak - BDB 180, KB 210, Piel perfect

3. hear the word of the Lord, O king of Judah - BDB 1033, KB 1570, Qal imperative

 

22:1 "the house of the king of Judah" All of this chapter is a word play on "house," meaning

1. descendants (cf. II Samuel 7)

2. king's palace (vv. 13-14 speak of enlarging and beautifying the palace in an attempt to be a great king)

Only God can build a house (cf. Ps. 127:1-3). God's house is depicted as

1. His temple (cf. II Samuel 7)

2. His king (cf. II Samuel 7)

3. His people

All will be captured, destroyed, or exiled!

22:3 There is a series of commands addressed to the Davidic King which addresses covenant faithfulness.

1. do justice - BDB 793, KB 889, Qal imperative (see Special Topic at 4:2)

2. do righteousness - same as #1 (see Special Topic at 4:2)

3. deliver the one who has been robbed - BDB 664, KB 717, Hiphil imperative

4. do not mistreat the stranger, the orphan, or the widow - BDB 413, KB 416, Hiphil imperfect used in a jussive sense

5. do not do violence to (the group mentioned in #4) - BDB 329, KB 329, Qal imperfect used in a jussive sense

6. do not shed innocent blood (lit. "pour out") - BDB 1049, KB 1629, Qal imperfect used in a jussive sense (this could refer to murder or child sacrifice)

 

▣ "the stranger, the orphan, or the widow" This is a key phrase from Deuteronomy. It characterized YHWH's action and care (Deut. 10:18; Ps. 146:8-10). It is mentioned several times in Deuteronomy.

1. help them - 14:29; 24:17,19

2. rejoice with them - 16:1

3. special offering for them - 26:12-13

4. cursings if one distorts their justice - 27:19

 

22:4 "if" The verse states the conditional element which is related to the actual doing of the covenant commands of v. 4. Verse 4 is first found in 17:25.

▣ "then" Here are the promises to the king if he will be faithful to the covenant.

1. kings (i.e., generations of kings) will enter the gates of this house

2. sit on David's throne

3. riding in chariots and on horses with his household

 

22:5 Again the conditional "if." YHWH swears (BDB 989, KB 1396, Niphal perfect) by Himself that if covenant faithlessness continues, Jerusalem and the temple will become a desolation (BDB 352)! YHWH's oath has a sense of certainty and finality (cf. Gen. 22:16; Amos 6:8; Heb. 6:13).

22:6-7 This is a brief poem describing the desolation.

1. Judah will become a wilderness (BDB 184)

2. Judah's cities will be uninhabited (BDB 442, KB 444, Niphal perfect [Qere])

3. YHWH will consecrate (i.e., "set apart for His service," BDB 872, KB 1073, Piel perfect, cf. 6:4) the armed destroyers (i.e., this is "holy war" terminology. The point being YHWH is not on Judah's side).

a. cut down your best forest (i.e., cities, cf. Isa. 10:33-34)

b. burn them

Just a textual note, the last verb of v. 6, "inhabited" (BDB 442, KB 442), in the MT, is a Niphal participle, singular, but the Masoretic scholars suggested (Qere) a Niphal perfect, plural.

▣ "You are like Gilead to Me" These first two lines of poetry in v. 6b and c are parallel and address the royal house. The imagery is that as Gilead and Lebanon were beautiful and forested, so too, the house (palace) of Judah. But it will be destroyed! The house of the king (physical and seed) and the house of the Lord will both be destroyed! Leviticus 26 and Deuteronomy 27-28 have come to painful reality!

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 22:8-9
8"Many nations will pass by this city; and they will say to one another, 'Why has the Lord done thus to this great city?' 9Then they will answer, 'Because they forsook the covenant of the Lord their God and bowed down to other gods and served them.'"

22:8-9 Verse 8 expressed the theological question connected to YHWH's judgment of His own covenant people (cf. 16:10; Deut. 28:24-26; I Kgs. 9:8-9; II Chr. 7:20-22).

Moses' prayer of intercession for Israel entreated YHWH about this very issue (cf. Exod. 32:11-13) and YHWH changed His mind (cf. Exod. 32:14). But the covenant people had become so idolatrous (cf. 1:16; 5:19; 8:2; 16:11) and rebellious that only radical surgery could save their corporate life.

Remember, in that day every nation had its own national deity. The more powerful deity won the battles for its people. Some might think that YHWH was weak because

1. the northern kingdom (Israel) was exiled by Assyria

2. the southern kingdom (Judah) was defeated and exiled several times by Babylon (605, 597, 586, 582 b.c.)

The real problem was the sin of the covenant people (cf. v. 9; II Chr. 34:25), not YHWH!

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 22:10
10Do not weep for the dead or mourn for him,
But weep continually for the one who goes away;
For he will never return
Or see his native land.

22:10-12 This brief poem and prose conclusion addresses the issue of the Davidic seed (Shallum or Jehoahaz, son of Josiah) exiled! This seems to violate II Sam. 7:13-17, but the reality of Ezekiel 18 must also be taken into account. YHWH's promises are sure but they are conditional in relation to individual leaders' volition. Sin has consequences!

There is a series of commands in v. 10.

1. do not weep for the dead - BDB 113, KB 129, Qal imperfect used in a jussive sense

2. do not mourn for him - BDB 626, KB 678, Qal imperfect used in a jussive sense

3. weep continually - BDB a Qal imperative and infinitive absolute from the same root (BDB 113, KB 129)

The king shall never return from captivity! There may be a word play on "return" (BDB 996, KB 1427), which can mean

1. repent

2. return

He was capable of neither!

The AB and UBS Handbook suggest that "the dead" of v. 10a refers to King Josiah, killed by the Egyptian army at Megiddo in 609 b.c. (Cf. II Kgs. 23:28-35; II Chr. 35:20-25). The phrase "who departs" (v. 10b) refers to Jehoahaz (Shallum, cf. I Chr. 3:15), who was Josiah's son who succeeded him but was exiled to Egypt three months later by Pharaoh Necho (cf. II Kgs. 23:31-34; II Chr. 36:2-4).

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 22:11-12
11For thus says the Lord in regard to Shallum the son of Josiah, king of Judah, who became king in the place of Josiah his father, who went forth from this place, "He will never return there; 12but in the place where they led him captive, there he will die and not see this land again.

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 22:13-17
13"Woe to him who builds his house without righteousness
And his upper rooms without justice,
Who uses his neighbor's services without pay
And does not give him his wages,
14Who says, 'I will build myself a roomy house
With spacious upper rooms,
And cut out its windows,
Paneling it with cedar and painting it bright red.'
 15Do you become a king because you are competing in cedar?
Did not your father eat and drink
And do justice and righteousness?
Then it was well with him.
 16He pled the cause of the afflicted and needy;
Then it was well.
Is not that what it means to know Me?"
Declares the Lord.
17"But your eyes and your heart
Are intent only upon your own dishonest gain,
And on shedding innocent blood
And on practicing oppression and extortion."

22:13-23 This long strophe is addressed to King Jehoiakim and is related to the Davidic promises of II Samuel 7.

Notice the "woe" (BDB 222) of v. 13 and "alas" (DB 222, four times) of v. 18.

Jehoiakim is condemned because

1. he builds his house without righteousness (i.e., II Kgs. 23:34-35)

a. palace

b. royal family

2. so opposite of Josiah (cf. vv. 15-16) who "knew" (BDB 395) YHWH. To know YHWH is to live in covenant obedience and compassion. David's reign is described by these terms in II Sam. 8:15.

a. Josiah did justice

b. Josiah did righteousness

c. Josiah pled the cause of

(1) the afflicted

(2) the needy

d. it was well with him (vv. 15d, 16b)

3. Jehoiakim (v. 17)

a. intent on dishonest gain

b. shed innocent blood

c. practiced oppression

d. practiced extortion (note 5:20,29, like King, like people)

4. results

a. no lament for him in his death (v. 18)

b. had a donkey's burial (v. 19)

c. no one to lament (v. 20) because all political alliances (i.e., "lovers") have been crushed

5. YHWH spoke to him (v. 21) or a way of referring to Jerusalem

a. in your prosperity

b. in your youth 

c. but he would not (same verb)

(1) listen

(2) obey

 

22:16

NASB, NJB"Is not that what it means to know Me?"
NKJV"Was not this knowing Me?"
NRSV"Is not this to know me?"
TEV"That is what it means to know the Lord"
JPSOA"That is truly heeding Me"
JPSOA(footnote)"That is the reward for heeding Me"
LXX"Is not this so, because you do not know me?"
REB"Did not this show he knew me?"

The MT has "not this to know me?" Knowing YHWH involves several aspects.

1. personal faith relationship (i.e., prayer and worship)

2. cognitive belief (i.e., Scripture truly reveals God)

3. volition (i.e., acting on the truth you know; lifestyle faith)

All are crucial! All reflect biblical faith (cf. Deut. 10:12-13; Hosea 6:6; Micah 6:8).

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 22:18-23
18Therefore thus says the Lord in regard to Jehoiakim the son of Josiah, king of Judah,
"They will not lament for him:
'Alas, my brother!' or, 'Alas, sister!'
They will not lament for him:
'Alas for the master!' or, 'Alas for his splendor!'
19He will be buried with a donkey's burial,
Dragged off and thrown out beyond the gates of Jerusalem.
20Go up to Lebanon and cry out,
And lift up your voice in Bashan;
Cry out also from Abarim,
For all your lovers have been crushed.
21I spoke to you in your prosperity;
But you said, 'I will not listen!'
This has been your practice from your youth,
That you have not obeyed My voice.
22The wind will sweep away all your shepherds,
And your lovers will go into captivity;
Then you will surely be ashamed and humiliated
Because of all your wickedness.
23You who dwell in Lebanon,
Nested in the cedars,
How you will groan when pangs come upon you,
Pain like a woman in childbirth!"

22:20-23 The NJB thinks that these verses address Jehoiachin, who reigned only three months, before being removed and exiled by Nebuchadnezzar. However, the TEV and UBS Handbook think these verses are addressed to Judah/Jerusalem (feminine singular verbs).

It is difficult to know exactly which verses refer to which Davidic king. The NKJV version simply titles the section "Message to the sons of Josiah."

22:20 There are three mountain ranges mentioned.

1. Lebanon (i.e., Mt. Hermon or its foothills)

2. Bashan (i.e., mountains in TransJordan to the northwest)

3. Abarim (i.e., mountains of Moab, cf. Num. 27:12; Deut. 32:49)

One wonders why these places?

1. the higher elevations were used as places of Ba'al worship

2. these are the places to which some Judeans fled to hide from and escape the invasion

3. this is sarcasm of the grief Judah felt over the loss of her foreign alliances

4. they describe the full extent of David's kingdom and the limits of the Promised Land

 

▣ "your lovers" This refers to all of Judah's political alliances (cf. 2:25; 3:1) in the armies of foreign nations instead of YHWH (cf. Ps. 20:7; 33:16-17; Isa. 31:1; also note Eccl. 9:11).

22:21 "I will not listen!

This has been your practice from your youth" The covenant people had been a stiffnecked, rebellious people (cf. 7:22-26) from the beginning (i.e., two early examples: Exodus 32 and Numbers 16).

22:22 Notice how "shepherds" (Judah's civic and religious leaders, cf. 1:18; 2:8; 10:21; 23:2) are paralleled with "lovers" (foreign alliances). What a sad situation!

22:23 "You who dwell in Lebanon,
Nested in the cedars" This seems to be a literary figure of speech referring to the royal family in Jerusalem. The king's palace was known as "the House of the Cedars of Lebanon" (cf. I Kgs. 7:2; 10:17).

NASB, NKJV,
NJB, LXX,
Peshitta,
Vulgate"How you will groan"
NKJV"How gracious will you be"
MT, TEV"How pitied you will be"

The MT has נחנת from חנן, BDB 335, KB 334, Niphal perfect. The LXX reflects ננחת (there are several roots starting with an "n" meaning "groan" (cf. NIDOTTE, vol. 3). Either fits the context and parallelism.

▣ "Pain like a woman in childbirth" This imagery (BDB 408) was used earlier in 4:31; 6:24; 13:21 (also note 30:6; 49:24; 50:43). The pain, though expected, is sudden and intense! The imagery is often used in judgment contexts.

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 22:24-30
24"As I live," declares the Lord, "even though Coniah the son of Jehoiakim king of Judah were a signet ring on My right hand, yet I would pull you off; 25and I will give you over into the hand of those who are seeking your life, yes, into the hand of those whom you dread, even into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon and into the hand of the Chaldeans. 26I will hurl you and your mother who bore you into another country where you were not born, and there you will die. 27But as for the land to which they desire to return, they will not return to it.
28Is this man Coniah a despised, shattered jar?
Or is he an undesirable vessel?
Why have he and his descendants been hurled out
And cast into a land that they had not known?
29O land, land, land,
Hear the word of the Lord!
30Thus says the Lord,
'Write this man down childless,
A man who will not prosper in his days;
For no man of his descendants will prosper
Sitting on the throne of David
Or ruling again in Judah.'"

22:24-30 This is specifically addressed to Coniah (i.e., Jeconiah, cf. 24:1), also known by his throne name, Jehoiachin (cf. v. 24). He was exiled in 597 b.c. to Babylon (cf. II Kgs. 24:8-17; 25:27-30). Verses 28-30 are poetry, while vv. 24-27 are prose.

22:24 "As I live" This is a recurrent oath formula where YHWH swears by Himself (cf. v. 5; 44:26; 49:13; 51:14; Gen. 22:16; Deut. 32:40; Isa. 45:23; Amos 6:8). It is a word play on His covenant name, YHWH, from the Hebrew verb "to be." Covenant people were "to swear by His name" (cf. 4:2; 12:16; Deut. 6:13; 10:20).

22:24 "signet ring on My right hand" This is Hebrew imagery for the Davidic royal family, especially the current reigning descendant of David (cf. Hag. 2:23).

22:25 Notice how specific and repetitive is the reference to Jehoiachin's captors.

1. into the hand of those who are seeking your life

2. into the hand of those whom you dread

3. into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar, King of Babylon

4. into the hand of the Chaldeans

For the idiom using "hand" see Special Topic at 1:9.

22:27 "they desire" The UBS Handbook for Translators (p. 489) points out that this English phrase is a translation of a Hebrew idiom "they will lift up their souls" (cf. 44:14).

22:28-30 The poem is addressed to Coniah/Jehoiachin (cf. I Chr. 3:16). He has become a vessel of dishonor (cf. 25:34; Hos. 8:8). The potter (YHWH) makes different vessels. Some are spoiled.

1. remade (unfired)

2. destroyed (fired)

The promises of II Samuel 7 are vacated/annulled. No more descendants on the thorne (i.e., he had children but none ruled, cf. v. 30)! This was absolutely shocking to Judeans. YHWH's promise nullified! They forgot that the promises to individuals are always conditional! This opens the theological door for a "new" covenant (cf. 31:31-34; Ezek. 36:22-38)!

It is very clear who is being described but it is not clear who is speaking.

1. the people of Judah/Jerusalem

2. the prophet Jeremiah (cf. v. 29)

 

22:29 "O land, land, land" The threefold repetition was a Hebraic idiom of intensity (cf. 7:4; Isa. 6:3; Ezek. 21:27), although some grammarians think it was a liturgical chant. It is even possible that "the land" (see Special Topic at 6:18-19) was functioning as a legal witness in this court genre. The land of Palestine is experiencing the judgment of God because of the sin of God's people. The curses of Leviticus 26 and Deuteronomy 27-28 have come in full force! After one reads this text, they are so grateful for Rom. 8:18-25! The new covenant is wonderful!

The word translated "land" has several connotations. See Special Topic at 6:18-19.

22:30 "Write this man down childless" This command from YHWH seems to be unfulfilled because Jehoiachin had several children (cf. I Chr. 3:16-17). However, they never sat on David's throne. A good discussion of the seeming contradiction is found in Hard Sayings of the Bible, p. 310. Another good source for interpreting prophetic literature is D. Brent Sandy, Plowshares and Pruning Hooks, especially pp. 151-154.