1. The word that came to Jeremiah from the LORD in the tenth year of Zedekiah king of Judah, which was the eighteenth year of Nebuehadrezzar.
1. Sermo qui datus fait Jeremiae a Jehova anno decimo Zedechiae regis Jehudah; hic annus est decimus octavus Nabuchadnezer:
2. For then the king of Babylon's army besieged Jerusalem: and Jeremiah the prophet was shut up in the court of the prison, which was in the king of Judah's house.
2. Et tunc exercitus regis Babylonii obsidebat Jerosolymam, et Jeremias propheta erat indusus in atrio custodiae qum est in palatio regis Jehudah;
3. For Zedekiah king of Judah had shut him up, saying, Wherefore dost thou prophesy, and say, Thus saith the LORD, Behold, I will give this city into the hand of the king of Babylon, and he shall take it;
3. Quia incluserat ipsum Zedechias rex Jehudab, dicendo, Quare tu prophetizas dicendo, sic dicit Jehova, Ecce ego trado urbem hanc in manum regis Babylonii, et capiet eam.
The Prophet here declares, that though he was shut up in prison, the Word of God was not bound, and that he himself was not less loose and free in his confinement than if he rambled through the whole city and visited all the lanes and the streets. He then did not desist from his office as a Prophet, though he was cast into prison. And thus we see that the course of heavenly truth cannot be impeded, how much soever the world may rage against all its ministers, and bind them in order to make them mute: and then also we see here that the constancy of the Prophet was invincible, because he was not cast down with fear, though he was a captive and not beyond the reach of danger; for we find that even then he proceeded in the discharge of his office.
He points out then the circumstances of that time, and not without reason, when he says, that he was then shut up in prison, and also mentions the year, even the tenth of Zedekiah and the eighteenth of king Nebuchadnezar. It was about the end of the ninth year that the army of Nebuchadnezar came up to Jerusalem; the city was besieged for two months in that year. The tenth year followed, in which this vision was given to the Prophet. The siege continued for a year and a half; but there was some interruption; for the Egyptians came to its aid. Thus for a short time, while the Chaldeans went to meet them, it had some liberty. But the Egyptians, as we shall hereafter see, were forced to retire in disgrace, and afterwards suffered punishment for their audacity and rashness. It was then about the middle of the siege that God, as we shall see, foretold to the Prophet the future return of the people. But though God shewed a regard for the miserable exiles, he yet at the same time confirmed what he had previously said of his future vengeance; for the people could not be restored before they had been driven into exile. It was indeed a dreadful instance of hardness and obduracy, that having been so often scourged they received no benefit. They had experienced the heavy judgment of God under Jehoiakim, and also under Jeconiah; but the memory of these calamities had soon vanished, and they lived as securely as though they had never heard a word from the mouth of Jeremiah: and he was not the only one who had threatened them, but there were before him Isaiah and others, and at the same time with him was Ezekiel, who had been exiled into Chaldea. Then from the number of years we conclude how great must have been the obstinacy of the people.
At the same time we must observe how seasonable was this prophecy for alleviating the minds of the godly, as they were not far from extreme calamity; for it was in the eleventh year of Zedekiah and in the fourth month that the city was taken and demolished, the people driven into exile, and the Temple burnt. Then there were not more than six or seven months, perhaps, to the time of their utter ruin; there is indeed no mention made here of the month in which the Prophet received the vision, but the tenth year is only mentioned. Now, the city was taken at the beginning of the eleventh year, as we have stated. Hence then comes more fully to light the extreme perverseness of the people; for while the enemy surrounded the city, they held Jeremiah captive. He had already foretold many years past what experience then taught them to be true. For forty years he had not ceased to cry out and to strive by warning, exhorting, and threatening them to lead them to repentance. As then nothing new happened to them, and as they found by the evils which came on them that Jeremiah had been a true and faithful servant of God, what was their object in shutting him up in prison? was not this to carry on war with God? for what had they to do with Jeremiah? He had not evidently acted a private part, nor had he only dreamt of what he had so often foretold them. Then they did not fight with a mortal man, but like the giants they dared to raise up their horns against God himself.
For the same reason also, he calls himself a Prophet This indeed he often did, but there is no doubt but that the indignity offered to him is pointed out, that even at the time when the Chaldeans surrounded the city with their army, Jeremiah the Prophet was shut up in the court of the prison. He might have only said, that Jeremiah was shut up, but for honor's sake he assumed the title of a Prophet, that hence might appear more evidently the baseness of the people's contumacy, that though they perceived that God was angry with them, they yet ceased not from their presumption; for they then held the Prophet in prison as though they were fighting with God himself. We know that fools, according to the old proverb, being chastised, become wise. If then the Jews had a particle or a spark of wisdom, they might have been so subdued by evils and calamities as to cast aside their haughtiness and obstinacy. But we see that they were untameable, and through a mad fury persisted in their wickedness; for though besieged by their enemies, they yet attempted to hold God as it were captive in the person of his servant.
As to the court of the prison, I doubt not but it was a milder sort of imprisonment, for we shall hereafter see that the Prophet prayed that he might not be thence thrown into the dark prison where he had been. He sought it as no common favor to remain in some prison; and he was as yet exposed to the mockeries of all. However this may have been, we see that the people had then become nothing better, though they had already been chastised and scourged by God.
We ought at the same timeto bear in mind what I have already said, that though the ungodly sought in all ways wholly to extinguish the word of God, they yet did not attain what they wished; for God broke through all hinderances, and continued the course of his word notwithstanding all their attempts. And this ought to be carefully noticed, for we see at this day all sorts of contrivances made by the wicked to impede the course of celestial truth. Let then this history be remembered, that though Jeremiah was a captive, yet his word was free and his tongue at liberty, as Paul also boasts, that though he was bound with chains, yet God's word was not bound. (2 Timothy 2:9)
Then the reason is added why he was shut up in prison, -- he had dared to prophesy against the city and the king himself. It was no wonder that the king's mind was exasperated when Jeremiah boldly said that he would come into the hands of his enemies, for he had not only spoken of the ruin of the city, but also of the fall of the king; he had said that he would be brought before king Nebuchadnezar, and be led to Babylon, and be there until God visited him. We know how delicate are the ears of kings; it was then no wonder Zedekiah became incensed against Jeremiah; but yet he ought to have been softened and humbled when he found that this oracle had come from God. That he then still kept Jeremiah a prisoner, proves his madness and stupidity, for he had no regard for God. I shall proceed with the subject to-morrow.