20. Hear ye therefore the word of the LORD, all ye of the captivity, whom I have sent from Jerusalem to Babylon:
20. Et vos audite sermonem Jehovae cuncta captivitas, quam misi Jerosolyma Babylonem;
21. Thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, of Ahab the son of Kolaiah, and of Zedekiah the son of Maaseiah, which prophesy a lie unto you in my name; Behold, I will deliver them into the hand of Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon; and he shall slay them before your eyes;
21. Sic dicit Jehova exercituum, Deus Israel, ad Achab filium Colaniah, et ad Zedechiam filium Maassiae, prophetantes vobis in nomine meo mendacium, Ecce ego ponam eos (vel, tradam) in manum Nebuehadnezer regis Babylonis; et percutiet eos coram oculis vestris:
Jeremiah announces a special prophecy, but in confirmation of his former doctrine. His object is still the same, to prevent the captives, as they had begun, to listen to flatteries, and to make them feel assured that they were to bear their exile till the end of seventy years. But he speaks here of three impostors; he connects two of them together, and mentions the third by himself. He directs his discourse especially to all the captives, for he deigned not to address those who professed to be God's enemies, and sold themselves as slaves to the devil for the purpose of deceiving. It was therefore useless to spend labor on them. But he addressed the whole people, and at the same time foretold what would happen to these two false prophets, even Ahab and Zedekiah. He calls one the son of Kolaiah, and the other the son of Maaseiah; for Ahab was a name then in frequent use, and Zedekiah was a name which, on account of the memory of a pious and godly king, was in high esteem among the good. To prevent then any mistake, he mentioned their fathers.
The import of the prophecy is, that a judgment would soon overtake them, as they would be killed by King Nebuchadnezzar. They were in exile, but such madness had possessed them, that they hesitated not to provoke the wrath of that tyrant whom they knew to be cruel and bloody. Then Jeremiah declares, that as they thus deceived the people, they would soon be punished, as Nebuchadnezzar would slay them. There is yet no doubt but that Nebuchadnezzar had regard to his own private advantage; for before they were brought before him, he wished to allay every cause of tumult. As they ceased not to encourage the hope of a speedy return, without some check, it could not be otherwise but that frequent disturbances would arise. Therefore Nebuchadnezzar, as it is usual with earthly kings, consulted his own benefit. But he was in the meantime the servant of God; for those two impostors who had promised a return to the people, were to be exposed to contempt. Their death then disclosed their vanity, for it thereby appeared that they were not sent by God. It is indeed true that God's faithful servants are often cruelly treated, nay, even slain by the ungodly. But the case was different as to these two. For they were not proved guilty of falsehood, because they happened to have unhappily prophesied, but because they raised up a standard as it were, and said, that the people would soon return to their own country; and hence it was that they were slain. We then see that what would take place was not without reason foretold by Jeremiah; for from their death it might have been concluded, that whatever they had promised respecting the return of the people, were mere fallacies; and they were slain even before the time which they had predicted. We now perceive the meaning. We shall now notice the words.
He says, Hear ye, the, whole captivity, the word of Jehovah He would have the Jews to be attentive, for if a thousand impostors had been killed, yet their faith in falsehood would never have been destroyed, had not Jeremiah prophesied before the time what would take place. He then sits here as a judge; for though Nebuchadnezzar ordered them to be killed, yet it appears evident that it was ordained by God, and indeed for this end, that the people might learn to repent. We hence see that Jeremiah was their judge; and Nebuchadnezzar afterwards executed what God by the mouth of his servant had pronounced as a judgment. This is the reason why he addressed his words to the whole people.
He yet at the same time adds, that they had been sent by God, whom I have sent, etc. and he said this, in order that they might not imagine that they went there by chance or by adverse fortune, and that they might acknowledge that when they were deprived of their own country, it was a just punishment for their sins.
By saying, I will give (or deliver) them into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar, the Prophet still more clearly expresses what I have just said, that they would be thus slain by the order of the king, because God had determined what was to be done to them. And he assigns the cause of their death or mentions its author, that the Jews might not fix their eyes on the king of Babylon. What had Nebuchadnezzar in view? to preserve a peaceable kingdom; he saw the danger of a tumult if he pardoned these two men, who had disturbed the people. Lest, then, the Jews should look only on the design of the king, God here sets before them another and a higher reason, even because they prophesied falsely in his name. A clearer explanation follows, --