Jer 26:1-24. Jeremiah Declared Worthy of Death, but by the Interposition of Ahikam Saved; the Similar Cases of Micah and Urijah Being Adduced in the Prophet's Favor.
The prophecies which gave the offense were those given in detail in the seventh, eighth, and ninth chapters (compare Jer 26:6 here with Jer 7:12, 14); and summarily referred to here [Maurer], probably pronounced at one of the great feasts (that of tabernacles, according to Ussher; for the inhabitants of |all the cities of Judah| are represented as present, Jer 26:2). See on Jer 7:1.
2. in the court -- the largest court, from which he could be heard by the whole people.
come to worship -- Worship is vain without obedience (1Sa 15:21, 22).
all the words -- (Eze 3:10).
diminish not a word -- (De 4:2; 12:32; Pr 30:6; Ac 20:27; 2Co 2:17; 4:2; Re 22:19). Not suppressing or softening aught for fear of giving offense; nor setting forth coldly and indirectly what can only by forcible statement do good.
3. if so be -- expressed according to human conceptions; not as if God did not foreknow all contingencies, but to mark the obstinacy of the people and the difficulty of healing them; and to show His own goodness in making the offer which left them without excuse [Calvin].
5. prophets -- the inspired interpreters of the law (Jer 26:4), who adapted it to the use of the people.
6. like Shiloh -- (see on Jer 7:12, 14; 1Sa 4:10-12; Ps 78:60).
curse -- (Jer 24:9; Isa 65:15).
8. priests -- The captain (or prefect) of the temple had the power of apprehending offenders in the temple with the sanction of the priests.
prophets -- the false prophets. The charge against Jeremiah was that of uttering falsehood in Jehovah's name, an act punishable with death (De 18:20). His prophecy against the temple and city (Jer 26:11) might speciously be represented as contradicting God's own words (Ps 132:14). Compare the similar charge against Stephen (Ac 6:13, 14).
10. princes -- members of the Council of State or Great Council, which took cognizance of such offenses.
heard -- the clamor of the popular tumult.
came up -- from the king's house to the temple, which stood higher than the palace.
sat -- as judges, in the gate, the usual place of trying such cases.
new gate -- originally built by Jotham (|the higher gate,| 2Ki 15:35) and now recently restored.
12. Lord sent me -- a valid justification against any laws alleged against him.
against ... against -- rather, |concerning.| Jeremiah purposely avoids saying, |against,| which would needlessly irritate. They had used the same Hebrew word (Jer 26:11), which ought to be translated |concerning,| though they meant it in the unfavorable sense. Jeremiah takes up their word in a better sense, implying that there is still room for repentance: that his prophecies aim at the real good of the city; for or concerning this house ... city [Grotius].
13. (Jer 26:3, 19).
14. Jeremiah's humility is herein shown, and submission to the powers that be (Ro 13:1).
15. bring ... upon yourselves -- So far will you be from escaping the predicted evils by shedding my blood, that you will, by that very act, only incur heavier penalties (Mt 23:35).
16. princes ... all the people -- The fickle people, as they were previously influenced by the priests to clamor for his death (Jer 26:8), so now under the princes' influence require that he shall not be put to death. Compare as to Jesus, Jeremiah's antitype, the hosannas of the multitude a few days before the same people, persuaded by the priests as in this case, cried, Away with Him, crucify Him (Mt 21:1-11; 27:20-25). The priests, through envy of his holy zeal, were more his enemies than the princes, whose office was more secular than religious. A prophet could not legally be put to death unless he prophesied in the name of other gods (therefore, they say, |in the name of the Lord|), or after his prophecy had failed in its accomplishment. Meanwhile, if he foretold calamity, he might be imprisoned. Compare Micaiah's case (1Ki 22:1-28).
17. Compare Gamaliel's interposition (Ac 5:34, &c.).
elders -- some of the |princes| mentioned (Jer 26:16) those whose age, as well as dignity, would give weight to the precedents of past times which they adduce.
18. (Mic 3:12).
Morasthite -- called so from a village of the tribe Judah.
Hezekiah -- The precedent in the reign of such a good king proved that Jeremiah was not the only prophet, or the first, who threatened the city and the temple without incurring death.
mountain of the house -- Moriah, on which stood the temple (peculiarly called |the house|) shall be covered with woods instead of buildings. Jeremiah, in quoting previous prophecies, never does so without alteration; he adapts the language to his own style, showing thereby his authority in his treatment of Scripture, as being himself inspired.
19. Hezekiah, so far from killing him, was led |to fear the Lord,| and pray for remission of the sentence against Judah (2Ch 32:26).
Lord repented -- (Ex 32:14; 2Sa 24:16).
Thus -- if we kill Jeremiah.
20. As the flight and capture of Urijah must have occupied some time, |the beginning of the reign of Jehoiakim| (Jer 26:1) must not mean the very beginning, but the second or third year of his eleven years' reign.
And ... also -- perhaps connected with Jer 26:24, as the comment of the writer, not the continuation of the speech of the elders: |And although also a man that prophesied ... Urijah ... (proving how great was the danger in which Jeremiah stood, and how wonderful the providence of God in preserving him), nevertheless the hand of Ahikam,| &c. [Glassius]. The context, however, implies rather that the words are the continuation of the previous speech of the elders. They adduce another instance besides that of Micah, though of a different kind, namely, that of Urijah: he suffered for his prophecies, but they imply, though they do not venture to express it, that thereby sin has been added to sin, and that it has done no good to Jehoiakim, for that the notorious condition of the state at this time shows that a heavier vengeance is impending if they persevere in such acts of violence [Calvin].
22. Jehoiakim sent ... into Egypt -- He had been put on the throne by Pharaoh of Egypt (2Ki 23:34). This explains the readiness with which he got the Egyptians to give up Urijah to him, when that prophet had sought an asylum in Egypt. Urijah was faithful in delivering his message, but faulty in leaving his work, so God permitted him to lose his life, while Jeremiah was protected in danger. The path of duty is often the path of safety.
23. graves of the common people -- literally, |sons of the people| (compare 2Ki 23:6). The prophets seem to have had a separate cemetery (Mt 23:29). Urijah's corpse was denied this honor, in order that he should not be regarded as a true prophet.
24. Ahikam -- son of Shaphan the scribe, or royal secretary. He was one of those whom King Josiah, when struck by the words of the book of the law, sent to inquire of the Lord (2Ki 22:12, 14). Hence his interference here in behalf of Jeremiah is what we should expect from his past association with that good king. His son, Gedaliah, followed in his father's steps, so that he was chosen by the Babylonians as the one to whom they committed Jeremiah for safety after taking Jerusalem, and on whose loyalty they could depend in setting him over the remnant of the people in Judea (Jer 39:14; 2Ki 25:22).
people to put him to death -- Princes often, when they want to destroy a good man, prefer it to be done by a popular tumult rather than by their own order, so as to reap the fruit of the crime without odium to themselves (Mt 27:20).