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Jeremiah 36

PARAGRAPH DIVISIONS OF MODERN TRANSLATIONS

(The parentheses represent poetic literary units)

NASB NKJV NRSV TEV NJB
Jeremiah's Scroll Read in the Temple The Scroll Read in the Temple Jehoiakim Burns a Scroll of Jeremiah Baruch Reads the Scroll in the Temple The Scroll Written in 605-604 b.c.
36:1-3 36:1-3 36:1-3 36:1-3 36:1-4
36:4-8 36:4-8 36:4-8 36:4-8  
        36:5-8
36:9-10 36:9-10 36:9-10 36:9-10 36:9-10
  The Scroll Read in the Palace   The Scroll is Read to the Officials  
36:11-19 36:11-19 36:11-19 36:11-17 36:11-20
      36:18-19  
The Scroll Is Burned The King Destroys Jeremiah's Scroll   The King Burns the Scroll  
26:20-26 36:20-26 36:20-26 36:20-26  
        36:21-26
The Scroll Is Replaced Jeremiah Rewrites the Scroll Jeremiah Dictates Another Jeremiah Writes Another Scroll  
36:27-31 36:27-31 36:27-31 36:27-31 36:27-31
36:32 36:32 36:32 36:32 36:32

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.

 

WORD AND PHRASE STUDY

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 36:1-3
1In the fourth year of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah, king of Judah, this word came to Jeremiah from the Lord, saying, 2"Take a scroll and write on it all the words which I have spoken to you concerning Israel and concerning Judah, and concerning all the nations, from the day I first spoke to you, from the days of Josiah, even to this day. 3Perhaps the house of Judah will hear all the calamity which I plan to bring on them, in order that every man will turn from his evil way; then I will forgive their iniquity and their sin."

36:1 "In the fourth year of Jehoiakim" This is the same introductory phrase used in chapters 25, 45, and 46. The year is 605 b.c. This was the year of the Battle of Carchemish in which the Babylonians defeated the Egyptian and the remnants of the Assyrian armies. Daniel had been in exile for one year (cf. Dan. 1:1). This Judean king was a son of the godly King Josiah. He grew up under godly teachers but his heart turned away from God. Ezekiel 18 uses him and his father or Hezekiah and Manasseh as types.

36:2 Jeremiah's message was not his own! YHWH wanted His message delivered to that generation in writing so it could be a witness to us also (cf. Rom. 4:23-24; 15:4; I Cor. 10:6,11; I Pet. 1:10-12). He spoke to a particular culture, at a particular time, but the basic message has relevance for all believers for all times! The best book I have read that discusses this issue is Gordon Fee, Gospel and Spirit. I commend it to you.

▣ "concerning Israel and concerning Judah, and concerning all the nations" YHWH is not a God of the Israelites only (see Special Topic at 1:5) but a God of all the world (cf. Gen. 3:15; 12:3; Exod. 19:5; Ps. 22:27; 66:1-4; 86:8-10; Isa. 2:2-4; 12:4-5; 25:6-9; 42:6-12; 45:22-23; 49:5-6; 51:4-5; 56:6-8; 60:1-3; 66:23; Jonah; Micah 4:1-4; Mal. 1:11; John 3:16; 4:42; I Tim. 2:4; Titus 2:11; II Pet. 3:9; I John 2:1; 4:14)!

36:3 "all the calamity which I plan to bring on them" This is a difficult phrase to understand. Does this mean that every physical tragedy is from the hand of God? I think not! But sometimes it is or at least He allows the consequences of a fallen world to manifest in the lives of nations and individuals. If this occurred every time we sinned, we would all live in constant crises. Here is a problem.

1. God does use problems (physical, emotional, relational, spiritual) to cause us to recognize His presence and purpose for our lives. There are consequences for disobedience (cf. Leviticus 26; Deuteronomy 27-28, 30).

2. Everything that happens to us in our lives is not the hand of God but the consequences of living in a fallen world.

3. I never know if what happens to me is a result of #1 or #2, so I choose to use the circumstances (good or bad) to seek God and His will and pleasure for my life. He is with us and for us (my worldview). I filter everything through this truth.

4. In the OT all causality is attributed to God to affirm monotheism (see Special Topic at 1:5). The OT does not recognize or designate "secondary causes"!

 

▣ "every man will turn from his evil ways" This is a continuing emphasis of individual responsibility (i.e., a conditional covenant, cf. 31:31-34; Ezek. 18:2-4). Notice how YHWH desires that all Judah repent, one person at a time.

▣ "I will forgive their iniquity and their sins" This is the continuing promise of the graciousness of God, that if humans (i.e., Judah) will turn to Him in repentance and faith (cf. 7:5-7; 26:3; Ps. 103:6-14; Isa. 1:16-19; Mark 1:15), He will turn to them (cf. Zech. 1:3; Mal. 3:7). Note the implied "if. . .then" conditional covenant.

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 36:4-8
4Then Jeremiah called Baruch the son of Neriah, and Baruch wrote on a scroll at the dictation of Jeremiah all the words of the Lord which He had spoken to him. 5Jeremiah commanded Baruch, saying, "I am restricted; I cannot go into the house of the Lord. 6So you go and read from the scroll which you have written at my dictation the words of the Lord to the people in the Lord's house on a fast day. And also you shall read them to all the people of Judah who come from their cities. 7Perhaps their supplication will come before the Lord, and everyone will turn from his evil way, for great is the anger and the wrath that the Lord has pronounced against this people." 8Baruch the son of Neriah did according to all that Jeremiah the prophet commanded him, reading from the book the words of the Lord in the Lord's house.

36:4 "Baruch" This man functions as Jeremiah's scribe. He was of an important family in Jerusalem (i.e., his brother, Seraiah, was a high official, cf. 51:59). It is uncertain how much he contributed to the book (i.e., helped grammatically, lexically, structurally), but v. 17 implies he simply wrote down what Jeremiah said to him.

▣ "on a scroll" This scroll would have been written on (1) long pieces of leather with the writing in small columns or (2) papyrus pages glued together. The leather scroll of Isaiah, found in the Dead Sea Scrolls, is 29 feet long.

This phrase (BDB 166 construct 706) is found only here and in Ps. 40:7; Ezek. 2:9.

36:5 "I am restricted" The root term is "debarred" (BDB 783, KB 870). It means (1) he had been put under house arrest (cf. 32:2; 33:1) and barred from the Temple area or (2) he had become ceremonially unclean and, therefore, could not enter the Temple area.

36:7 Notice the interplay between the corporate ("everyone") and individual ("his"). I often wonder if God holds me responsible, not only my own sins but also the sins of my culture/society. Often in the OT God's leaders prayed for their sins and their people's sins! Somehow these are related. The same theological question could be asked about Adam/Eve's sin. Am I responsible for Adam's sin or my own? Yes!

▣ "for great is the anger and the wrath" This is anthropomorphic language. See Special Topic at 1:9.

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 36:9-10
9Now in the fifth year of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah, king of Judah, in the ninth month, all the people in Jerusalem and all the people who came from the cities of Judah to Jerusalem proclaimed a fast before the Lord. 10Then Baruch read from the book the words of Jeremiah in the house of the Lord in the chamber of Gemariah the son of Shaphan the scribe, in the upper court, at the entry of the New Gate of the Lord's house, to all the people.

36:9 "in the ninth month" This is the first mention in the OT of the Babylonian calendar (NET Bible #11, p. 1398). In this same month, Ashkelon, a major Judean city forty-five miles from Jerusalem, fell to Babylon. This may be the reason for this fast (i.e., not "the Day of Atonement," Leviticus 16 or the fall of Jerusalem in 605 to Babylon).

36:10 "Shaphan, the scribe" This was an official in Josiah's court. He was comparable to modern America's Secretary of State (cf. II Kgs. 22:3).

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 36:11-19
11Now when Micaiah the son of Gemariah, the son of Shaphan, had heard all the words of the Lord from the book, 12he went down to the king's house, into the scribe's chamber. And behold, all the officials were sitting there-Elishama the scribe, and Delaiah the son of Shemaiah, and Elnathan the son of Achbor, and Gemariah the son of Shaphan, and Zedekiah the son of Hananiah, and all the other officials. 13Micaiah declared to them all the words that he had heard when Baruch read from the book to the people. 14Then all the officials sent Jehudi the son of Nethaniah, the son of Shelemiah, the son of Cushi, to Baruch, saying, "Take in your hand the scroll from which you have read to the people and come." So Baruch the son of Neriah took the scroll in his hand and went to them. 15They said to him, "Sit down, please, and read it to us." So Baruch read it to them. 16When they had heard all the words, they turned in fear one to another and said to Baruch, "We will surely report all these words to the king." 17And they asked Baruch, saying, "Tell us, please, how did you write all these words? Was it at his dictation?" 18Then Baruch said to them, "He dictated all these words to me, and I wrote them with ink on the book." 19Then the officials said to Baruch, "Go, hide yourself, you and Jeremiah, and do not let anyone know where you are."

36:12 "all the officials were sitting there" This was an official meeting of the leaders of both the Temple and the royal court (cf. 26:20-23).

36:14 "Jehudi" His name means "man of Judah" (BDB 397 II). His lineage is listed to the third generation because

1. he was a man of some renown

2. he was of the royal line (cf. Zeph. 1:1)

3. he had an ancestor name Cush (i.e., "black" or from Cush, cf. Gen. 10:6-8)

 

36:15 "Sit down, please, and read it to us" Apparently these leaders were very cordial to both Baruch and to Jeremiah. This shows that at some level the leadership recognized the truthfulness of Jeremiah's prophecy.

The LXX and Aramaic Targums change the vowels to read "read it again." They had heard it before but wanted to hear the message of doom again (cf. vv. 10-11). They were hoping and praying for royal repentance (cf. vv. 24-25).

36:16 Notice the reaction of these leaders to Jeremiah's message - "they turned in fear (BDB 808, KB 922, Qal perfect) one to another."

▣ "We will surely report all these words to the king" The infinitive absolute and imperfect verb of the same root (BDB 616, KB 665) are used to denote the urgency and intensity of their feelings about Jeremiah's prophecy.

36:17-18 Apparently these leaders wanted to know how Baruch received this message. Baruch assures them that these are exactly the words Jeremiah spoke to him with the implication that these are the very words YHWH spoke to Jeremiah. See Special Topic at 23:21-22.

36:19 "Go, hide yourself, you and Jeremiah, and do not let anyone know where you are" "Go" (BDB 229, KB 246,Qal imperative) and "hide" (BDB 711, KB 771, Niphal imperative) are their strong suggestions because they feared the King's reaction (i.e., v. 26; 26:23) and wanted to protect Jeremiah and Baruch.

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 36:20-26
20So they went to the king in the court, but they had deposited the scroll in the chamber of Elishama the scribe, and they reported all the words to the king. 21Then the king sent Jehudi to get the scroll, and he took it out of the chamber of Elishama the scribe. And Jehudi read it to the king as well as to all the officials who stood beside the king. 22Now the king was sitting in the winter house in the ninth month, with a fire burning in the brazier before him. 23When Jehudi had read three or four columns, the king cut it with a scribe's knife and threw it into the fire that was in the brazier, until all the scroll was consumed in the fire that was in the brazier. 24Yet the king and all his servants who heard all these words were not afraid, nor did they rend their garments. 25Even though Elnathan and Delaiah and Gemariah pleaded with the king not to burn the scroll, he would not listen to them. 26And the king commanded Jerahmeel the king's son, Seraiah the son of Azriel, and Shelemiah the son of Abdeel to seize Baruch the scribe and Jeremiah the prophet, but the Lord hid them.

36:22 "winter house" This was not a separate structure but a two story dwelling. In the summer the ancients lived on the second story which had many open windows, and in the winter on the first floor which had few windows.

36:23 "read three or four columns" Remember this was a scroll written in columns on rolled material. As the scroll was unrolled several columns would appear. The king would cut off the columns that had just been read and burn them. Thus, bit by bit the whole scroll was destroyed!

The word translated "columns" is literally "doors" (BDB 195). It is used in this sense only here. The columns of the scroll would be the same dimensions (i.e., rectangular) as a door.

▣ "a scribe's knife" This was a small penknife used to sharpen quills for writing. This word is found only here (BDB 789 construct 707).

36:24 What a contrast between the leaders' hearing of the prophecy (cf. v. 16) and the king's (cf. Ps. 36:1).

For the phrase "rend their garments" see Special Topic at 2:37.

36:26 "the king's son" This was probably not a true son of the king but a title for a member of the royal family or even possibly an official at court (cf. Jer. 38:6; I Kgs. 22:26; II Chr. 28:7).

▣ "but the Lord hid them" This is similar to YHWH's protection of Elijah from King Ahab in I Kgs. 17:3-7. As Hebrews 11 shows, some prophets are killed and some are spared! Either way, YHWH is in control. Circumstances do not affect the love and presence of YHWH.

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 36:27-31
27Then the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah after the king had burned the scroll and the words which Baruch had written at the dictation of Jeremiah, saying, 28"Take again another scroll and write on it all the former words that were on the first scroll which Jehoiakim the king of Judah burned. 29And concerning Jehoiakim king of Judah you shall say, 'Thus says the Lord, "You have burned this scroll, saying, 'Why have you written on it that the king of Babylon will certainly come and destroy this land, and will make man and beast to cease from it?'" 30Therefore thus says the Lord concerning Jehoiakim king of Judah, "He shall have no one to sit on the throne of David, and his dead body shall be cast out to the heat of the day and the frost of the night. 31I will also punish him and his descendants and his servants for their iniquity, and I will bring on them and the inhabitants of Jerusalem and the men of Judah all the calamity that I have declared to them-but they did not listen."'"

36:29 "the king of Babylon will certainly come" This is the infinitive absolute and the imperfect verb of the same root (BDB 97, KB 112) used for certainty/emphasis.

▣ "destroy this land" The verb (BDB 1007, KB 1469) form is Hiphil perfect. The destruction is complete and assured (i.e., a prophetic perfect)!

36:30 "He shall have no one to sit on the throne of David" Was this a false prophecy? Jehoiakim was succeeded by his son, Jehoiachin, for three months before he was taken into exile by Nebuchanezzar II.

It has been a lifelong process for me to understand OT prophetic literature. A book that has really helped me is D. Brent Sandy, Plowshares and Pruning Hooks. For this subject chapters 6 and 7 are especially helpful. Modern westerners expect literal, complete fulfillment of every detail, but ancient easterners did not. They recognized the hyperbolic and idiomatic nature of this genre.

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 36:32
32Then Jeremiah took another scroll and gave it to Baruch the son of Neriah, the scribe, and he wrote on it at the dictation of Jeremiah all the words of the book which Jehoiakim king of Judah had burned in the fire; and many similar words were added to them.

36:32 "and many similar words were added to them" It is almost a good thing that the king burned Jeremiah's prophecy because his second copy included many more words. It is not certain what part of our current book of Jeremiah was included in this scroll, although many scholars believe the LXX, which puts the judgment of the nations (i.e., chapters 46-51) after chapter 25, is the original form.

Obviously Jeremiah used some notes to help recall YHWH's messages. Moderns are not certain how or when the OT books were collected and edited. It is a faith presupposition that they are uniquely inspired and preserved at every stage of their development (see Special Topics at 23:21-22)!

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

This is a study guide commentary, whichmeans 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.

These discussion questions are provided to help you think through the major issues of this section of the book. They are meant to be thought provoking, not definitive.

1. Did King Zedekiah heed Jeremiah's warnings?

2. Why are vv. 8-11 so characteristic of the need for judgment?

3. Why was the removal of the Babylonian army so badly misinterpreted by the defenders of Jerusalem (cf. Isa. 33:20)?

4. Does chapter 35 speak to the modern use of alcohol?

5. Why do the Rechabites in chapter 35 want to continue in their nomadic existence?

6. List God's terms for "forgiveness" in 35:15.